My Successful Weight Loss Strategy

TL;DR: 28lb/12kg lost in 3 months. Mantra: eat anything, but little.

These are my observations on myself, obviously, they may differ for others.

I could’ve made this more scientific (like finding fat % and lean body mass %, weight logging every day, other vitals, the scientific reasoning behind the observations, etc), but I guess I was just lazy to do the work and honestly didn’t expect this method would work so successfully.

I would absolutely recommend a much better article written by Andrej Karpathy on a similar topic that goes into the depths of how weight loss works. This article is what got me started with this experiment on myself. I also started reading a book titled “The Machinery of Life” which gave me an understanding of how our cells work and how energy is consumed.

What I did:

I didn’t do anything crazy
Small increments overtime becomes a large increment. There’s no sudden change of habits, I could’ve taken it at any comfortable pace. And the actual diet is not something totally different from my regular diet.

Eat Less
Just eat the amount of food you are hungry for. Not for the taste/craving.

My typical daily diet would be like

  • Morning: Only when I’m hungry: some nuts OR 2–3 spoons of oatmeal with few fruits OR nothing
  • 12 PM: A typical South-Indian food — rice with some vegetable curry. But only about 5–10 spoons of rice and just enough curry for the rice.
  • Evening: Nothing or a handful of some snacks. I had a regular habit of eating Samosa or other snacks in the evenings when I was in India which is still hard to get rid of. I cheated many times by eating a lot of potato chips in the evenings which always had an immediate effect of 0.5–1 lb increase in weight the next day.
  • 8 PM: Same as lunch

Avoid sugars
I tried to avoid ice creams, chocolates, sweets, cakes, etc. Even fruits like oranges are sugars, I had a couple of pieces once a week or so. A spoon of ice cream once a month is probably harmless. Sugars get stored as fat. I think of them as something that goes in and doesn’t come out. So it accumulates over time and builds weight (not true but helps to not increase weight).

Workout
I work out almost every day. Not a lot, just around an hour targeting one part of the body. My weekly routine is chest, back, shoulders, cardio, biceps & triceps, and legs.

No protein shake
Protein shake increases weight by a lot in a short span of time. One might argue that this increase in weight is actually lean body mass/muscle, and NOT fat. But I had no way of telling without actual measurement.

Vegan diet
Nothing new here, I’ve been on a mostly vegan diet for a very long time. (I eat paneer, but I plan to stop it). I don’t know how much of this is a factor in weight loss. I can’t verify because I don’t eat meat.

Eat in a small bowl
Keep decreasing the size of the bowl without refilling, make it impossible to eat more.
As said in one of the ending chapters of Atomic Habits, make it impossible to do bad habits. I took this idea and put it into my eating habits. One year ago, I used to eat a plate full of food, and then refill my plate. A plate is the largest bowl. I tried to restrict the quantity by eating in a regular-sized bowl, then in a smaller breakfast bowl, and sometimes even in a smaller dessert bowl which is smaller than most cups.

Drank water after eating
Drinking a lot of water after eating a meal made my stomach full and made the craving go away. This is a nice trick that makes us think our stomach is full.

Why it works

This diet works because of the simple fact that you consume fewer calories than you burn. You might ask “Alternatively, I can eat normally, but workout twice as much, right?”. Well, maybe, but the human body is highly efficient in burning energy for workouts. Surprisingly, staying alive takes a lot of energy than working out (please don’t take this as an excuse to not go to the gym, the workout is part of my weight loss). I know I can’t keep working out for hours and waste my time burning more than 2000 calories a day, so I did the opposite, consume less than 2000 calories a day.

Results:

Note: I am a metric guy, but my roommates here in the US use a weighing machine that is set to pounds by default.

Weight reduced

  • I used to weigh 168 lb (76.2 kg) on the heaviest day. Averaging at around 165 lb (74.8 kg).
  • After following the diet, I weigh 140 lb (63.5 kg) and still decreasing. A weight loss of 28 lb (12.7 kg)

Rate of weight decline

  • If I strictly follow low quantity diet, I immediately have an effect on the next day. About 1 pound (0.45 kg) of weight loss in a single day (especially in beginning).
  • However, those days are few, because on average, about 0.25 pounds (0.11 kg) a day is what I saw.
  • The chart above is taken from my Google Fit data. I know, I wish I had more data points.

Visual Changes

  • I used to struggle to pull my belly inwards when I wear a tighter T-shirt. I didn’t have a lot of belly fat, but I would consider that a medium-sized pot belly for my body size. I also had a good amount of love handles that I always hated.
  • Now, I still have thin belly fat that is visible without the shirt, but I would look absolutely flat in a t-shirt with no struggle. Good news, the love handles are gone. They exist, but not as much as I would consider fatty. I don’t think I lost fat in my thighs
  • I noticed that the volume of my body decreased. I became a tiny bit slender.

Before starting this diet:
Workout and eating a lot always increased my weight. After I stop working out for some reason, I gain a lot of weight because of the same eating habits.

Advantages of this diet:

  • You can eat whatever the hell you want. Consider some other diet that recommends eating a certain food only, then you’re likely eating the same food every day and you won’t like it after a while. Parties and gatherings mean that you must break your diet, but not with the diet I followed.
  • After following this for a couple of months, my body got comfortable with small bowls of food and I didn’t feel like eating a lot. It became a habit. A habit, good or bad, is hard to get rid of.

Disadvantages:

  • Humans have a natural craving for eating a lot of delicious food. How can one control that, especially when others around you are eating a lot of tasty food? Well, you will still eat that delicious food, albeit not as much as others. In my case, I was at an advantage because I was never a foodie. I eat whatever I have and move on to my work. So the craving factor was low.
  • I had no real metric to measure how healthy I was getting overtime. I was physically more active at most times. I didn’t get sick, no acid refluxes, no regrets. But what’s reality? “I feel good” doesn’t mean “I am healthy”. We need scientific tools to determine how healthy I was. And I have no idea what those tools are (maybe blood pressure machine, blood sugar level measuring machine? I don’t know) or how to get access to them. This is just me being lazy and ignorant. I did NOT feel better in one situation. You must have experienced almost passing out when you get up after sitting for a long time. I used to experience that many years ago AND after starting this diet plan. Once a couple of weeks, I almost fall down. This is definitely a sign that I am not gathering enough energy. I’m guessing that this is because I am running out of ATP buffer and there’s not enough glucose available in my skeletal muscle.

Conclusion

My diet, call it whatever you want (maybe low quant diet?), is really effective on me.

Once again, this is a record of an experiment on my body. I won’t say this generalizes to everybody. If a person is suffering from acid reflux, following my diet might be a bad idea. I do not know who should NOT follow this diet. I also do not say there are strict rules to this. My advice is to start the experiment, if it isn’t working for you, make some tweaks to fit it into your lifestyle. The goal is to burn more calories than you consume.

Next Experiment

I’d like to test autophagy on my body. I’ll eat a lot, but only within a time window in a day, and no snacking.

I am obsessed with Deep Learning 🧠, Productivity 👨🏻‍💻 and Space Exploration 🪐

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