How I Lost 50 Pounds in 5 Months

I’ve lost about 50 pounds in the past six months, plus another 10 pounds before that. Most if it has been due to healthy eating, water fasting, and 5:2 calorie restriction. I’m writing this post to share a little more information about how I did it.

I’m not giving advice on how to do it, but am only sharing my own personal experiments. Please consult with your doctor or health provider before following random diets on random blogs, like this one. 🙂

My General Diet

I eat a very restrictive diet. For additional information about my eating, see my post on healthier cooking.

I also do water fasting for 2-5 days every month.

When I’m not fasting, I do 5:2 calorie restriction, where I limit my intake to 500 calories on two, non-consecutive days per week.

If you have questions about water fasting and calorie restriction, leave a comment below.

My diet is focused on high nutrient content. Because of the caloric restriction, I can’t afford to eat empty calories.

Cooking Equipment

A good steamer has been essential. I use these two steamers most of the time. The larger one has two baskets.

Steaming Vegetables

I steam a lot of vegetables separately and then store them in containers. I can then mix-and-match them for different dishes — restaurant style.

Examples of things that can be steamed:

  • okra
  • sweet potatoes
  • turnips
  • green beans
  • snap peas
  • rutabagas
  • chard
  • kale
  • collards
  • cabbage
  • radish greens (I salt them for 20-30 minutes and then rinse them before steaming or adding to soups)
  • broccoli
  • summer squash
  • winter squash
  • bitter melons
  • beets
  • spinach
  • etc.

Example Steamed Vegetable Salads

I often combine the cooked vegetables by chopping them an making cooked salads.

Here is one example:

First layer: chopped, steamed turnips, mushrooms, beet roots, plus some whole-grain rice and a yellow split pea soup (described below).

A sample salad

A sample salad, step 1

Second layer: more vegetables, chopped sauerkraut, cooked kale, tahini, scallions, etc.

Healthy salad, step 2

Healthy salad, step 2

Last step: mix it together and eat it.

Healthy salad step 3

Healthy salad step 3

I often make a sauce out of tahini, lemon juice, and water to go over the chopped, steamed vegetables:

Cooked salad with sauce

Cooked salad with sauce

Fresh Salads

In addition to the cooked salads, I also try to make a large, fresh salad the main course once per day.

Green salad

Salad with nuts

Food Groups

I’m mostly-vegan, except that I eat fish a couple of times per week.

I think about food in these groups:

  • grains (rice, corn) and grain-like seeds (buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth seeds)
  • colors — I try to choose foods from different color groups: red, green, blue, yellow, orange, etc.
  • vegetables — I try to eat a wide variety of both raw and cooked vegetables
  • beans — daily
  • nuts and seeds — daily
  • fats — I get most fats from avocados, nuts, and seeds

These are not allowed in my diet:

  • no sugar (a little honey is okay rarely, but no other sweeteners)
  • no alcohol, caffeine, etc.
  • limited grains (except the ones listed above) — no bread, no white flour, etc.
  • no refined food — almost everything is made from scratch. There are only a few exceptions
  • no oils, except a tiny bit of coconut oil occasionally. Most food gets boiled or steamed, so no oil is necessary.
  • no dairy
  • no supplements, except for vitamin D (because of a deficiency). If I think I need a supplement, I research what kinds of foods have that supplement, and then I eat the food. For example, if I want vitamin E, I eat sunflower seeds.

See my other food posts for a longer description about that.

Boiling and Stocks

Another thing I do is make stocks by boiling vegetables. In the photos below, I put fresh and dried mushrooms, chopped onions, and chopped celery in a pot and covered everything with water. Then I boiled it for about 20 minutes, leaving me with mushrooms that I can add to other dishes, and about a quart of stock.

Mushroom stock

Mushroom stock

The stock can then be used for cooking soups or grains, like this rice:

Sweet brown rice and black rice

Sweet brown rice and “forbidden” rice

Beans and Soups

I try to eat beans every day. Here is an example soup:

First, I started cooking a yellow split pea soup with leeks.

Yellow split pea soup step 1

Yellow split pea soup step 1

When it was nearly done, I added mashed, steamed kabocha squash and sweet potato.

Yellow split pea soup with squash

Adding squash and sweet potatoes to the yellow split pea soup

Final product, full of nutrients:

Yellow split pea soup

Yellow split pea soup

Monterey Market in Berkeley has a great selection of heirloom beans:

bean-selection-monterey-market

I keep a variety of beans on hand:

Beans from the store

Beans from the store

Most of them get soaked overnight before the cooking. The beans on the left are called “Christmas lima beans” and are especially good boiled with turnip roots.

Heirloom beans

Soaking heirloom beans

Pickles

I like to make homemade pickles. This pickled garlic doesn’t smell good, but it tastes great. It’s fermented for two weeks.

Pickled garlic

Garlic pickled in salt and lemon juice with fresh turmeric

I was given a pickled turmeric recipe, so I’m trying it out here. This contains fresh turmeric, apple cider vinegar, salt, cumin seeds (I didn’t have a grinder), and black peppercorns (added after the photo was taken). This one is marinating in the refrigerator at the moment.

Pickled turmeric

Pickled turmeric with vinegar, cumin, and black pepper

What About Low-carbs?

I don’t intentionally reduce carbs, but I make sure to only eat whole foods — never refined carbs. This works well for me. Many cultures around the world eat carbs and still don’t have the diet-related health problems that are found in the US.

See also this and this. Diets like Paleo and Atkins tend to not have great ratings, and I am a bit skeptical about their premises.

I have experimented with high animal product diets, and I gained weight and felt terrible on them.

What It’s Like

It does require a lot of discipline for me to eat like this. If I’m in a place where I can’t get to food that I can eat, then I don’t eat, or I only eat fruit.

I generally don’t eat at restaurants any more. If I end up at a restaurant, and they have steamed vegetables with nothing on them, then I can eat that.

I don’t drink juice normally, but if I’m at a cafe where I have to order something, I might buy an orange juice and mix it with water.

Overall, the benefits of losing the 60 pounds outweighs any hardships from the diet, so I’m happy with it. I didn’t start this diet for weight loss, but just to improve my health. It’s working well for me.

If you have questions, leave a comment below.

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