‘Handful’ diet, intermittent fasting help woman shed waistline

By Thuy Quynh   August 24, 2023 | 03:00 pm PT
Tran Hai Ninh lost 19 cm off her waist in three months after applying the ‘handful’ diet alongside intermittent fasting.
Ninh after shedding 19 cm off her waistline. Photo courtesy of Ninh

Ninh after shedding 19 cm off her waistline. Photo courtesy of Ninh

Ninh, a 1.61-meter-tall sales executive, used to weigh 64 kg. Her breast and buttock measurements were both the standard 90 cm, however, her waist was nearly 83 cm. She believed it was because her office work made her sit at her desk for most of the day and she rarely exercised, combined with the fact that she gave birth twice in two consecutive years.

When she decided she wanted to lose weight, Ninh was determined to find a healthy method, even if she was going to have to be patient to see less-than-immediate results.

After experimenting with various methods, Ninh found that intermittent fasting was the most suitable for her.

The intermittent fasting method revolves around the idea of only consuming food at a certain time of day. For example, one of the "sub-method" is the 4-4-12 schedule, in which the interval between their breakfast and lunch must be at least four hours, while dinner comes at least four hours after lunch and 12 hours ahead of breakfast the next day. No eating, not even light snacking, is allowed in the time frames between the three meals.

Similarly, those that follow the 16-8 rule do not take anything into their bodies during two-thirds of the day (16 hours straight) and eat their meals in the remaining third of the day (during a set 8-hour period only).

Research published by The New England Journal of Medicine in late-2021 claimed that this method helps lose weight, reduce stress levels, lower the risk of cancers and obesity, and even lengthens people’s life expectancy.

Ninh also applied the ‘handful’ rule to her meals. She calculated the nutrition she takes in with every meal using her hand: a fist-sized portion of vegetables, a palm-sized portion of protein from meat, fish or eggs, a fist-sized portion of carbohydrates from rice, bread or rice noodles, and only a thumb-sized portion of fats. She only used lean meats, seafoods, eggs, and vegetables of the season.

Practiced wisely, this regimen provided her body with all four nutrient groups, and she never experienced feelings of exhaustion or hunger.

One of Ninh’s ‘handful’ rule meals. Photo courtesy of Ninh

One of Ninh’s ‘handful’ rule meals. Photo courtesy of Ninh

Nutrition specialists, including Nguyen Trong Hung, doctor at National Institute of Nutrition, recommend people apply the ‘handful’ rule to estimate the amount of food they should eat in a day, and by doing so, they can control their body mass.

Another weight loss tip Ninh applied was to eat fruits and vegetables first in her meal, followed by protein and then carbohydrates. Avocados, bananas, oranges, broccoli, and spinach were among the fiber sources she preferred. For sources of fat, Ninh took in good fat only, including nuts, omega 3 supplements, and olive oil.

According to Ninh, she struggled at the beginning of her journey due to the lack of knowledge about weight loss methods, which had her spending a lot of time trying different things to see what would work for her.

However, she believed that she, like other people, would be even more motivated to shed weight once she found a plan that worked for her.

It’s important to remember that she also exercised for 15 to 30 minutes a day.

Her body changed noticeably after three months, with her weight decreasing from 64 kg to 58 kg and her waist measurement going down from 83 cm to 64 cm. Her body got more toned as a whole, her body fat level decreased, and her overall health also improved.

Ninh said she now plans to maintain her healthy lifestyle and expects her body to look even better as time goes on.

Speaking from her own experience, Ninh said that people should not try to lose weight by skipping meals or cutting down on essential nutrient groups like fats and carbohydrates. Every body has its own conditions and preferences, so it is important to keep track of its reactions to the weight loss methods applied, and adapt in accordance if needed.

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