Woman sheds 18 kg via three diet principles

By My Y   April 11, 2024 | 03:12 pm PT
By adhering to intermittent fasting, practicing the “hand rule” to control food intake, and cutting out snacks, Vu Thi Phuong Thao shed 18 kg over two years, concurrently addressing her fatty liver disease.

At 29 years old, Thao, currently an entrepreneur, previously tipped the scales at 65 kg with a stature of merely 1.45 meters.

Thao prior to her weight loss. Photo courtesy of Thao

Thao prior to her weight loss. Photo courtesy of Thao

She also suffered from multiple health issues. In her 2021 routine health examination, Thao received diagnoses for a variety of ailments including a gastric ulcer, irritable bowel syndrome, sinusitis, allergic dermatitis, and notably, fatty liver disease.

A prevalent health issue, fatty liver disease emerges from excessive fat accumulation in the liver. A healthy liver normally harbors minimal fat, however, it becomes concerning when fat constitutes 5-10% of the liver’s weight.

Health professionals explain that an overproduction of fat, without efficient metabolism, leads to its accumulation in liver cells, precipitating fatty liver disease. Identified causes encompass overindulgence in alcohol, elevated cholesterol levels, diabetes, abrupt weight loss, certain medication side effects, and poor dietary choices.

Without intervention, fatty liver disease may progressively impair liver function, hampering metabolism and detoxification, and potentially fostering bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections from the intestines that can lead to hepatitis.

Recognizing the risks to her health, Thao committed to altering her diet for weight reduction and enhanced wellbeing. She adopted a new regimen of persistence and discipline, slimming her waist from 76 cm to 61 cm, thereby achieving a more toned physique. All her health issues showed improvement, her fatty liver condition reversed, and her bloodwork returned to normal ranges.

Thao after her significant weight loss. Photo courtesy of Thao

Thao after her significant weight loss. Photo courtesy of Thao

Thao’s successful weight management and health improvement hinged on the following dietary strategies:

4-4-12 intermittent fasting

Thao had experimented with various diet plans, including clean eating, ketogenic, and low-carb diets, yet without success. She then discovered that intermittent fasting suited her active lifestyle and chose a 4-4-12 fasting schedule.

Intermittent fasting, defined as alternating cycles of eating and fasting, provides sufficient digestion time while restricting caloric intake.

Thao’s 4-4-12 plan entailed consuming three meals daily without snacks or additional meals, maintaining at least four hours between breakfast and lunch, another four hours between lunch and dinner, and a 12-hour interval from dinner to the following breakfast.

Importantly, she ensured her diet comprised all essential nutrient groups: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

Research highlighted by the New England Journal of Medicine towards 2021’s end supports intermittent fasting for stress reduction, cancer and obesity risk lowering, lifespan extension, and aiding in weight loss. Nonetheless, experts caution that it can potentially lead to weight gain if it causes overeating post-fasting, thereby increasing fat due to uncontrolled eating at mealtime.

Extended fasting might also reduce blood sugar levels, leading to dizziness, lightheadedness, headaches, and nausea. On the other hand, excessively limiting calorie intake could cause eating disorders, nutrient deficiencies, diminished immune function, and other negative health impacts. For individuals with type 1 diabetes undergoing treatment, such a diet may trigger adverse effects.

Therefore, those with existing health conditions are advised to consult with their doctor before attempting intermittent fasting.

Thao incorporates exercise into her weight loss routine. Photo courtesy of Thao

Thao incorporates exercise into her weight loss routine. Photo courtesy of Thao

The "handful" diet

Thao adopted the "handful" diet for meal portioning, equating one hand to a serving of vegetables or two hands for raw vegetables, a hand-sized protein portion from meat, fish, or eggs, and starch intake limited to the size of a fist for every meal.

She also emphasized a varied diet, healthy fats, and supplementing with calcium, omega-3, vitamins, as well as other nutrients.

Nutritionists promote the handful diet as a straightforward, universally applicable method for daily nutritional intake estimation, as per Good Health. Dr. Nguyen Trong Hung of the National Institute of Nutrition also advocates the rule for a preliminary meal quantity estimation to aid in weight management.

Snack elimination

For Thao, who previously indulged in snacks and relied on caffeine and sugar-rich treats, eliminating these was her diet’s most challenging aspect. She permitted herself a cheat meal weekly to enjoy her favorite dishes, offering psychological comfort and aiding in more effective fat burning.

Dr. Phan Thai Tan, a HomeFiT fitness center health coach, suggests healthier snack alternatives like cereal with milk, boiled soybeans, a handful of nuts, fruit smoothies, vegetables, and protein-rich drinks such as whey protein. He also advises consumption in moderation, ideally post-meal or pre-exercise, but avoiding evening snacks.

Alongside dietary changes, Thao increased her physical activity. She frequented the gym and engaged in body combat—a fusion of martial arts and music—to boost metabolism, flexibility, and tone her body.

During her busier periods when she couldn’t drop by the gym, Thao opted for running, walking, or household chores to maintain activity.

For Thao, transforming her physique has not only uplifted her confidence and vitality but has also enabled her to assist others in enhancing their health and physical condition.

"Owing to my personal journey, I’ve been able to help numerous individuals improve their health and bodies," she shared, celebrating the impact she has made on herself and the community.

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