Photo: iStockphoto
Photo: iStockphoto

How I finally lost some weight

Sidin Vadukut on the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet

Today, reader, I take pleasure in telling you that this is the fittest I have been, in almost every sense, for over 10 years.

I transitioned from 34-inch trousers (business school admission interviews) to 36-inches (campus placement) between 2003 and 2005. Except for a brief respite around my wedding, in late 2006, I then proceeded to zoom to 40-inches by 2012. I was on the verge of buying 42-inch pants, in 2015 or so, when I came across an article extolling the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet.

I was, as you might imagine, sceptical. Not only because I had tried a few diets without much success, but also because most diets just seemed… snake-oily, and complicated and difficult to sustain and unduly disruptive of the way in which I ate and approached food with my family. The last thing I wanted to be was the guy who ate his own food out of a bucket in the corner during a family meal or dinner party and so on.

Also, I felt I wasn’t eating that much. And I wasn’t. The occasional weekend treat aside, I thought we ate responsibly. Sure I was the guy everyone went to to finish off the fish curry or gobble up the last slice of pizza and so on. But that wasn’t a daily thing.

The other thing that gave me pause was the fact that I had started exercising somewhat. I had completed my first 10K run in the summer of 2012 and then completed a few more. And instantly noticed the benefits to my weight and fitness. Though not so much my shape. My clothes more or less remained the same.

But the more I read about it, the more it seemed that 5:2 was worth a shot. I am not going to get into the details here. There is plenty of stuff online. But overall all you had to do was reduce your calorific intake to one-fourth of normal, two days a week. The rest of the time you ate normally. Also, the regime was the work of Michael Mosley, a BBC health presenter who is widely respected. Dr Mosley presented the whole regime with a refreshing honest tone of “worth a shot", “mileage may vary", “it is yet to be understood completely" restraint.

Now of course many of you will say that the benefits of fasting is old news to many non-Western cultures. My grandmother, for instance, routinely had one meal a day for a day or two a week. Usually for religious purposes.

But it is good, I think, to always get some scientific insight into why these things work, besides having a traditional sense that they do. And Dr Mosley threw some light on the hormonal effect of feasting (these days there is a veritable avalanche of studies).

It was hard work to get into. Especially when you give up carbohydrates. Mild headaches and irritability accompany the first few months. But two month-long stints at 5:2 were very encouraging. And now we have been at it, the wife and I, for around three months or so.

And I must tell you, I am enjoying it very much. It is not a hard thing to do, once you set a routine, and stay busy (an idle mind is the devil’s patisserie). The weight loss and slimmer silhouette is all very good.

But I think the greatest impact has been in terms of my relationship with food. I still enjoy food, of course. And eat all kinds of things in nice large portions. But I have learnt not to take it for granted. I eat each meal, even on feast days, with some thought and untangled engagement. It is hard to explain the less is more nature of this relationship.

So why not try it for yourself? Dr Mosley’s book is good and so is his website. Read widely before you start. And all the best if you are looking to shed a bit of weight. If you have any queries or questions, feel free to drop me a line.