Woman loses 17kg in six months via 'reverse' diet

By Thuy Quynh   February 19, 2024 | 05:00 pm PT
Starting her meals with vegetables served as soups or boiled along with slightly sweet fruits, then fish and meats before concluding with rice, Do Thi Khanh Thu lost 17 kg in six months.
Thu poses confidently everywhere she goes after losing 17 kg. Photo courtesy of Thu

Thu poses confidently everywhere she goes after losing 17 kg. Photo courtesy of Thu

Currently living in Hanoi, Thu, 30, is the CEO of a souvenir business. She weighed 67 kg despite being only 1.58m tall in 2022. Hence, she sought out a nutrition coach who introduced her to the "reverse" diet, which involves consuming vegetables at the beginning of meals, followed by proteins, and finally carbohydrates. This eating order helps control calories and blood sugar, causing Thu to lose 17 kg in six months.

Adapting her diet habit, Thu still consumed foods from all nutritional groups. She mainly ate whole grain starches such as brown rice, whole grain bread, sweet potatoes, and oats, while limiting refined starches like white rice and white bread. In addition to three main meals, she had one or two snacks per day with fruits to feel satiated quickly while reducing cravings.

To avoid monotony, Thu diversified her diet with various types of vegetables and fruits. She particularly selected low-sugar fruits such as cucumbers, jicama, pomelo, dragon fruit, guava, apple, pear, oranges, and tangerines, while limiting mangoes and durians. For protein, she avoided red meat and oily dishes, opting for poultry and seafood instead.

Water played a crucial role in her weight loss journey. Thu drank two to two and a half liters of water a day and limited consuming soft drinks, tea, and coffee.

Thu confidently poses in her family photo. Photo courtesy of Thu

Thu confidently poses in her family photo. Photo courtesy of Thu

Dr. Truong Cong Hau, Thu's nutrition coach, explained that eating vegetables before main dishes helps slow down the process of food absorption and digestion, especially carbohydrates, aiding in blood sugar control, preventing sudden blood sugar increases while also helping avoid feeling excessively hungry between meals. Moreover, it can also help people better control the amount of food consumed in each meal, leading to improved weight management.

The reverse diet is also recommended by many nutrition experts. Dr. Truong Hong Son, director of the Applied Medicine Institute of Vietnam, said that eating vegetables at the beginning of meals stimulates the digestive system's activity. This activity occurs gently and smoothly because vegetables are rich in fiber and not excessively dry or tough.

Compared to that, consuming rice and meat at the beginning of a meal can lead to increased secretion of digestive fluids in the stomach to digest dry, tough foods, potentially causing stomach discomfort.

Therefore, the habit of eating vegetables before other dishes is beneficial for both the digestive system and the way the body absorbs food. Filling the empty stomach with vegetables will quickly make one feel full, reducing the desire to eat more afterward, helping better control the amount of sugar and fat consumed in foods.

Thu also prioritized certain cooking methods. She prioritized steaming and boiling dishes, followed by stir-frying, frying, and grilling without a direct flame, such as over foil, or using an air fryer, and even frying without oil. She used healthy oils and fats like olive oil and avocado oil to cook and make salads, while limiting animal fats, vegetable oil, and butter.

Furthermore, Thu adhered to the principle of eating slowly, chewing thoroughly, and focusing on sensing the texture, color, and flavor of the foods, alongside eating at the right mealtime and prioritizing clean, safe, and health-beneficial foods.

Besides diets, Thu also started the habit of going to the gym five times a week, initially focusing on cardio exercises to primarily increase and control heart rate, enhance metabolism, burn excess fat, and support blood circulation. She also incorporated strength training exercises, which involved using resistance equipment such as weights, resistance bands, and resistance belts to build muscle strength and endurance.

Thu now has a balanced and firm physique. Photo courtesy of Thu

Thu now has a balanced and firm physique. Photo courtesy of Thu

According to Dr. Hau, by creating pressure, the muscles are forced to work harder, leading to stronger development. In addition to improving muscles, resistance training is considered a highly effective workout method to enhance strength and improve physical health. It is also effective in aiding in creating a calorie deficit.

"A crucial element in any weight loss strategy is establishing a calorie deficit," the doctor said. "This involves ensuring that the calories you consume are fewer than or equal to the calories you expend."

Caloric intake, or 'calories in,' derives from food and drinks, while calories burned, or 'calories out,' result from metabolic processes and everyday activities such as breathing, sleeping, and physical exercise.

"Having knowledge about selecting suitable foods, distributing meals properly, and understanding the roles of each nutrient group helps with effective weight loss and makes it easier," Thu added.

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