Intermittent fasting - A do it yourself guide

How to lose weight quickly? Ways to lose weight fastest, Weight Loss Plan... etc. etc. etc....

We all (most of you reading this anyways) have been there... How do we sustainably but quickly lose weight? The cherry on top would be if we could do so without much exercise or cutting down drastically on food right?

There have been and will always be several diets and exercise regimes that claim to be the optimal for losing weight quickly.

My aim is to share tips and my own experience from one such dietary regime - namely Intermittent Fasting.

I will not be going into the bio mechanics of the process since most of you wouldn't really be interested in that. What I do have to offer to all of you is a self-help guide to intermittent fasting, along with my own recent experiences as well as my rationale on why certain things work and don’t work while fasting.

Firstly, let me show you what a combination of 21 days of Intermittent Fasting and 8 days of a Long Liquid Fast can do for your weight.

My Weight Reduction in March 2023 (Kg vs Number of Days)

The dramatic reduction in weight in the last 8 days was due to the Navratri (Leading up to Ram Navami) fasting that I undertook. But you can still see that in the first 21 days of March, I lost around 3.5 Kgs. Extrapolating that to 28 days, it comes to around 4.5 Kg per month.

I won’t be going into water fasting in this article (that is something that i will definitely cover in later articles), so let’s stick to what I did in the first 21 days.

Some History First.

I’d been weighing in around 80-82 Kg for a few years now. I had sort of ballooned to around 93 Kg in 2020 (just before the Covid Lockdown) mostly due to a terrible diet and no exercise in the year or so after my MBA course.

I had read up on the One Meal A Day Diet and during the first few months of the Lockdown, used it to superb effect losing around 12 Kg. But like all extreme dieting, the effects started reversing once I came out of it though I did manage to keep off most of the weight.

Then come my Wedding. Honestly, while it was one of the best times of my life, I realised much later than in the festivities and the binging that followed, I had reverted to my old state and what the stubborn fat I had painstakingly lost over 2 years was back with a vengeance.

So First Lesson and Probably the most important one.

Always watch what you eat over the long period - Unless your under 25 years of age, the poundage comes back pretty quickly and hence any fad dieting will almost always backfire when you revert.

So once things started to settle down in Jan - Feb 2023, I decided to get back to my old habits but in a more sustainable manner.

The OMAD diet though effective initially, had led me to overcompensate my eating /portion size subconsciously. So the first thing I decided was to not go to that extreme but to stick to the more traditional 18:6 intermittent Fasting Cycle (Fast 18 Hours, Finish eating in the remaining 6).

This moderation turned out to be quite effective as can be seen from the graph.

So what are some of the other tips that I can share to make Intermittent Fasting more successful?

  1. Go for the 18:6 Cycle at the minimum for effective Intermittent Fasting. Many People start off with 16:8 But in my opinion this isn’t really any different than having a late breakfast. You need the body to feel like its fasted for a while.
  2. Have an early dinner - say 7:30 pm latest. This seems to be the most difficult for people most of whom don’t eat before 9. The earlier you finish dinner; the more time you get in the fasting zone. Assuming you finish dinner at 7:30 pm, if you eat your next meal at 1:30 pm the next day, you have already fasted 18 hours easily (6-9 hours of that time is spent asleep).
  3. The Best Breakfast is "No Breakfast". Especially for us Indians who love a carb heavy affair. So many people have this misconception that one cannot function without a good breakfast. My experience has shown otherwise. I personally feel energetic and alert when I don’t eat in the morning (I still have a cup of black coffee or green tea) and that issues like acidity, lack of energy etc., are vastly overstated. Youre more likely to suffer from acidity from eating crap later in the day (those samosas and biscuits during tea time are a real pain in the long run).
  4. The best items to have in the morning would be black coffee, black tea or green tea. Technically any zero calorie drink. This will get you through the day and in case you’re new to the regime, you can have a few almonds or milk. Nothing else as that would seriously reduce the efficacy of the fast.
  5. No (and I really mean it) snacks whatsoever. Snacking is your number one enemy on a diet and more so on a fast. Believe me when I say this, but you’d rather have a larger meal and have no snacks in case you’re hungry while going through Intermittent Fasting.
  6. Keep your meals Protein Rich. Again as Indians, we don’t have issues with carbohydrates and fats. So it’s the protein that we need to keep an eye out for. Vegetarians may have some concerns but my suggestion would be to include existing sources like Paneer, curd, milk, soya chunks (not a big fan considering the supposed side effects but in moderation, it shouldn’t be an issue), moong dal and various other lentils and beans. Supplementing with whey is a good option for those also exercising while fasting (my current favourite is a Mango flavoured whey protein from Muscle Blaze: The affiliate link is as mentioned
  7. Keep yourself hydrated. Many times, what one thinks is hunger is actually thirst. So many of your cravings can be reduced by drinking sufficient water. Im not going to say something outrageous like drink 4 Litres of water etc. Just listen to your body and don’t be lazy to drink water.

These are some basic pointers for Intermittent Fasting. My next piece would be on specific aspects like exercises while on intermittent Fasting, Meal hacks and so on. Hopefully, some of these points will help you all in your own journeys towards a fitter self.

Note and Disclaimer: Nothing here or in any other article therein on this website is medical advice. These are my musings on intermittent fasting and what I have done to tweak the concept to work for me.