This 3D Eating Approach Drastically Transformed My Physique

Transform your relationship with food with this 3D approach to eating.

man meal prepping putting food in the fridge Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

Note from author: This article is going to be pretty long. That’s because, with this article, I intend to transform how you approach this major aspect of your life: food. This system has revolutionized my life, and I feel very intensely about it. I strongly believe that it’ll be truly helpful to many people — and hence, I want to explain it in as much detail as I can. That’s why it’s going to be long — and consequently — a little hard to digest. (Pun intended). If you decide to adopt this system in your life, it’ll be a slow but life-changing process. That’s why, I recommend bookmarking it for future reference. Let’s dive in.


My current approach to eating is one that I’m going to stick to for the rest of my life. It has three dimensions.

  • Fixed eating: Eating the same meals every day. (~85%)
  • Variable eating. Allowing room for some spontaneity and indulgence. (~15%)
  • Extended fasting: Not eating anything at all for about 24–36 hours. (~ once a week)

This strategy has completely changed my life in so many ways.

  • It has super-simplified this major aspect of my life: food.
  • It’s caused me to develop a very healthy relationship with food. I’m no longer a person who obsesses about every single calorie he consumes. Instead, it has taught me to approach eating very intuitively.
  • It’s helping me achieve my dream physique very easily.
  • It has allowed me to explore and exploit the social benefits that one can gain through food.

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In this article, I’ll discuss this system's intricate details and benefits and tell you exactly why and how to adopt it in your life. But before I do that, let me discuss how this strategy has specifically changed my outlook on fat loss.

Note: Eating is more than just about fat loss. However, eating for fat loss is a major aspect of many people’s lives. So much so that eating begins to overwhelm many people’s lives to extraordinary degrees. Some even end up with eating disorders.

Hence, while my 3-Dimensional eating system has optimized my relationship with food in numerous ways, I want to begin this article by emphasizing how it has changed my approach to fat loss.


Later in the article, I’ll address the other aspects of this strategy.

The core philosophy behind my 3D eating approach

Extended Fasting >> Chronic Caloric Restriction

The conventional approach to fat loss is to achieve a small caloric deficit every day. For instance, if your maintenance calories are 2500 (calories needed to maintain weight), this approach suggests that you should eat only 2000 calories daily.

This will lead to a daily deficit of 500 calories and a weekly deficit of 3500 calories — which converts to approximately 500g of fat loss per week.

Another approach to fat loss might be to use extended fasting.

The idea is instead of achieving your weekly caloric deficit by eating less on a daily basis, you eat at maintenance (or even a slight surplus) six days a week. On the seventh day, you do an extended fast to achieve your weekly caloric deficit all at once.


For instance, if your maintenance calories are 2500, you would:

  • Eat 2400–2600 calories six days a week.
  • And on the seventh day, you would eat 0 calories. (Don’t worry. I will provide a detailed guide to teach you how to do this and alternatives if eating nothing for an entire day intimidates you.)

Now, I realize that you might have a lot of questions like:

  • “Wouldn’t I lose muscle mass if I eat nothing at all for an entire day?”
  • “Wouldn’t an extended fast negatively impact my health?”
  • “And wouldn’t this be much more difficult as compared to the traditional approach of chronic caloric restriction?”

Don’t worry: As I elaborate more, all your questions will be answered.

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Why Extended Fasting Is Better Than Chronic Caloric Restriction

1. In the context of muscle loss

Chronic caloric restriction causes muscle loss.

During their cutting phase, many fitness enthusiasts lose muscle in addition to losing fat.

They might minimize this muscle loss by:

  1. Lifting heavy and
  2. Eating enough protein

However, some muscle loss is going to be inevitable because chronically restricting food intake is unavoidably going to slow down your metabolism.

Extended fasting does not cause muscle loss (conditions applied).

At this moment in life, I’m trying to lose weight. To that end, I do one extended fast (~36 hours) every Thursday. This simply means that after dinner on Wednesday, my next meal is directly in the morning on Friday.


As a gym-goer who’s into building muscle, I was worried that this might cause muscle breakdown. But after understanding the biochemistry behind fasting, I’m convinced that it won’t.

Of course, the biochemistry of fasting is complicated. I understand it because I’ve read about it extensively in medical school. However, I won’t bore you with the details. I’ll simplify the points so that you understand what’s important for you.

The idea is simple. When you’re fasting, your body wants to maintain its blood glucose levels. And hence, it breaks down fat (not muscle) and converts it into sugar.

Think about it logically. If you don’t eat for a day or two, why would your body break down muscle when it has fat stored exactly for that purpose?


That would be as if you stored firewood to burn during winter to generate heat. But when the winters arrive, you burn your sofa set instead of burning the firewood. That’s stupid, right? Our bodies aren’t stupid. (Analogy courtesy: Dr. Jason Feung)

Even if your body needs amino acids during the period of fasting, your body has tons of old and dysfunctional proteins that can be broken down. It won’t break down healthy, useful muscle tissue for that.

Conclusion: If you’re eating enough protein on the other six days of the week and lifting heavy to stimulate your muscles to stay or grow, fasting won’t cause muscle breakdown.

2. In The Context Of Ease Of Fat Loss

Losing fat is difficult with chronic caloric restriction.


It’s not easy to lose fat — as anyone who’s tried to do it might admit. It’s especially difficult to do it if you’re an endomorph. You have to constantly watch what you eat. Every bite of food has to be accounted for.

Self-help gurus may sugarcoat this struggle and say that this helps develop discipline and self-control. And it does. I won’t lie. However, we can’t ignore the fact that constantly watching what you eat takes a toll on your cognitive resources and psychological construct.

Research even shows that people are much quicker to give up on solving problems after they’ve been asked to resist eating a cookie.

So yeah. Maybe sticking to a diet increases your self-control. But it can also chip away at your willpower and make you give up more easily on other problems in life. Who wants that?


Losing fat is relatively much easier with extended fasting.

Earlier, I used to watch everything I ate. I wanted to lose fat, and I believed this was the price I had to pay. However, now, I’m not so strict with my diet.

Six days a week, I eat mostly clean. However, I also indulge whenever I feel like it. I'm in if my friends ask me to go to a cafe. If I feel like eating ice cream after a workout, I do it. I’m able to do so because I know deep down that my one day of fast will more than compensate for my lack of extreme strictness on the other days.

Of course, I’ve not given myself complete freedom to eat anything I wish, but I don’t feel the need to do that anyway. A scoop of ice cream or a pizza every once in a while keeps me satisfied and makes the process a cakewalk.


One might believe that an entire day of fasting might be very difficult. And if you’ve never tried it, it might be. However, it’s actually much easier than you might think, and it gets progressively easier the more times you’ve done it.

We’ll discuss exactly how to approach fasting later in the article.

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3. In The Context Of Basal Metabolic Rate & Sustainability Of Fat Loss 

Chronic caloric restriction reduces your BMR and makes fat loss progressively harder

Fitness gurus often say that fat loss is simple. They claim there are only two factors you should focus on:

  1. Calories in: (Calories consumed through food) v/s
  2. Calories out: (Calories burnt through exercise)

They say that if you want to lose weight, you must eat fewer calories and burn more by:

  • “doing more cardio” or
  • “walking 10,000 steps every day”

However, it’s not so simple.

You see, there’s a third relevant component: your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is the number of calories your body burns by itself — not considering any extra physical activity.

Note: Technically BMR also falls under “Calories out”. However, you cannot directly control your BMR like you can control calories burnt through exercise. That’s why we’re taking it as a separate component.

What’s important to understand about BMR is that the tug of war between your calories consumed and calories burnt affects your BMR.

  • Eating less than your maintenance calories slows down your metabolism and decreases your BMR over a period of time.
  • On the other hand, eating more than your maintenance calories revs up your metabolism and increases your BMR or at least maintains your BMR over a period of time.

When you try to lose fat through chronic caloric restriction — for instance, eating only 2000 calories daily when your maintenance calories are 2500 — you will lose weight.



But sooner or later, you will face a plateau. This is because your maintenance calories are not going to be fixed. They’ll decrease because your BMR will decrease.

At this point, the advice you’ll hear is that you’ll have to decrease your calorie intake even further — perhaps by 100 calories at a time — and increase your cardio a bit more.

However, the story would repeat itself, and you will face a fat loss plateau again — inevitably. I know this to be true both scientifically and experientially.

This implies that trying to lose fat through chronic caloric restriction keeps getting progressively harder.

Regular extended fasting can increase your metabolism, and fat loss gets progressively easier.


As I mentioned before, losing fat with one extended fast per week is not that difficult. But the more important point is that the difficulty does not progress as it does in the case of chronic caloric restriction.

You see, your BMR is maintained because you’re not restricting calories on the other days of the week. In fact, Dr. Jason Feung — author of The Obesity Code and The Diabetes Code and a leading expert on fat loss physiology, says that fasting may even increase your basal metabolism due to the rise of counter-regulatory hormones.

And hence, fat loss can get easier with time through extended fasting. Or, at the very least, it doesn’t get harder.


  • Not only is fat loss difficult to begin with through chronic caloric restriction — but it also gets harder with time due to the slowing of metabolism.
  • Fat loss is relatively easier with extended fasting; if done right, it can get progressively easier.

This makes extended fasting a more sustainable approach to fat loss.

Now that we’ve discussed the unifying principle philosophy of my 3-Dimensional approach to eating, I want to address each dimension separately and tell you exactly why each dimension is powerful and how to incorporate it correctly into your life.

Dimension Number 1: Fixed diet (~85%)

Roughly 85% of my diet is fixed. I eat the same meals every single day for lunch and dinner.

My lunch comprises of:

  • Some oats or quinoa.
  • I soak around half of the 100–150g Green-grams overnight.
  • A protein bar or a scoop of protein.
  • And a fruit — most often a banana.

My dinner comprises of:

  • Around 150–200g of cottage cheese that’s stirred in some Ghee and spices. We call it Paneer Bhurji here in India.
  • Four to six slices of brown bread — again toasted in Ghee.
  • The other half of the soaked Green grams.

In addition, I drink another scoop of whey protein, depending on when I go to the gym, and some veggies to take care of my micronutrients.

I won’t get into much detail about why I chose this diet because that’s an article. However, the take-home idea is that about 85% of my diet is fixed. And don’t worry. You don’t have to eat the same thing daily if that doesn’t appeal to you. You can fix the menu for a week to add in some variability. We’ll get back to how you can do that.

But first, let’s discuss why fixing a part of your diet may be a good idea.


How fixing a part of your diet may help you:

1. Reduced decision fatigue

You might have heard that people like Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg wear the same outfit daily. Their reasoning is simple. They’ve made a one-time decision to wear the same thing every day so that they don’t have to worry about what they wear every single day.

This helps them prevent decision fatigue so they can spend their cognitive energy making big decisions that truly matter. The same philosophy applies to fixing your diet.

If you (mostly) eat the same thing every single day, you simplify a big part of your life. If you don’t have a fixed diet as of now, the benefits may not be so easy to imagine. It’s only after practicing this for months and years can you appreciate how much mental energy it actually saves.

2. A guarantee that you’ll hit your macros without having to count every day

Most people have a daily caloric and protein goal they desire to achieve. However, it’s awfully hard to do if you’re going to eat different food every single day. What are you going to do — keep counting calories and macros all the time? That’s not at all practical.


However, if you take the time to fix your diet once — keeping in mind your caloric and protein goals — and stick to it for months, you’re guaranteed to more or less achieve your goals.

3. Zero or minimal need to worry about cooking

I don’t know how to cook — and I’ll learn how to cook someday. However, even then, the idea of cooking every day doesn’t appeal to me. I believe that cooking every day becomes a chore. But cooking only once in a while makes it fun. To that end, when you fix most of your diet, you can try weekly meal preps or pay someone else to cook for you on a daily basis. This saves both time and money in the long run.

4. You’re much less likely to overeat

It’s ridiculously easy to overeat when you don’t have a fixed diet. You can overeat if you’re hungry, sad, bored, frustrated, or if the food is delicious.

There’s this rule in Japan to prevent overeating that says that you must stop eating when you’re about 80% full: Hara Hachi Bu. However, I don’t think that’s a practical solution to prevent overeating.

  • First of all, it’s very easy to fool yourself.
  • Second, it’s hard to intuitively know when you’re 80% full.
  • Third, to stop eating when you’re 80% full twice a day is a highly recurring decision — and you’re bound to get it wrong more times than right.

However, fixing most of your diet once and for all (after taking some time to find the ideal fixed diet) almost ensures that you’ll eat only as much as you need to.

A fixed diet relies on objective calculations (done only once) and logic to decide how much you’ll eat. A completely spontaneous diet relies on your present subjective self to decide how much to eat. Who do you think is better at preventing overconsumption or gluttony?

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How to do a fixed diet: A few guidelines

Step 1: Calculate your caloric and protein requirements

  • Use this simple online calculator to determine your maintenance calories (the calories at which you won’t gain or lose weight).
  • Do some research to figure out your protein requirement. I’m going to refrain from providing a number because that’s a controversial topic in itself, and I’m afraid I’m not an expert on the issue. As a 24-year-old healthy male who weighs around 78 kg, is into strength training, and wants to build muscle, I eat around 150g of protein every day. That is what I believe works for me, it may differ for you. I urge you to do your own research.

Note: I realize it’d be easier for you if I provided you with a number to aim for or a guide to refer to. However, while I want to simplify the process for you, I don’t want to oversimplify it. My expertise lies in figuring out how to holistically approach eating to achieve your fitness goals, not in telling you how much protein to eat. I’m sure you can find an expert online worth listening to.


Step 2: Figure out your caloric goal

This is where my 3-dimensional approach to eating differs from other approaches. This is going to be tricky and counterintuitive — so pay attention. Depending on your broad fitness goals, these are some flexible guidelines on how you should choose your caloric goals:

  1. If you want to lose weight — eat at maintenance calories or even a 100–200 caloric surplus.
  2. If you want to maintain weight — eat at a 200–300 caloric surplus.
  3. If you want to gain weight — eat at a 400–500 caloric surplus or even more, depending on your goals.

The first point wouldn’t have made any sense to you without the context I gave before.

We’re eating at a slight surplus six days a week to increase our BMR and teach our body not to gain weight even at higher caloric consumption. And regarding the fat loss for the week, we know that one extended fast will more than compensate for our mild surplus on the other days of the week — and the net effect would be fat loss.

Step 3: Decide how much fixedness is best for you

Fixing your diet has many benefits as I mentioned above. However, fixing your diet can also cause lots of boredom and mundanity. These can affect the sustainability of your approach.


This is why finding the perfect balance between fixedness and spontaneity is very important.

My ratio is approximately 85:15.

  • 85% of my diet is fixed. I eat the same meals every day. This provides me with all the benefits I mentioned earlier.
  • 15% of my diet is variable. This helps me not get bored and frustrated — and allows me to stick to my fixed diet over the long term.

The level of fixedness might differ for you. You should fix only one meal for your day. Or you could fix your diet over the course of a week and eat the same meals in a week instead of eating the same meals every day.

Either way, choose what works best for you. I highly recommend fixing your diet as much as possible — but not all of it. Allowing room for some variability goes a long way.


Step 4: Choose your meals for the long-term

While choosing meals, there are two factors you should take care of.

One: They should help you hit your macros.
Two: They should factor in your taste.

For instance, in the beginning, in an attempt to eat enough protein and minimize my caloric intake, I used to eat 150–200g of bland cottage cheese every single day.

I hated it. But I pushed through. However, now I realize that it was not sustainable at all.

These days, I know better. So I do better.

I eat cottage cheese stirred in some Ghee, spices, and toasted brown bread. Yes, these changes increase my caloric intake by a little. However, these changes also make the meal more delicious, so I’m excited to eat it every night.


That’s why if you’re going to fix your diet, choose meals that hit your macros and appeal to your taste buds. That’s the only way to play for the long term.

Dimension Number 2: Variable diet (~15%)

Fixedness is good. But too much fixedness is bad and not sustainable. That’s why I always leave room for some spontaneity. If I feel like eating a pizza, I order one. If I feel like eating ice cream, I do that too. And I still lose weight over the week (if that’s my current goal).

However, what’s important to understand is that I can afford to indulge a little on a regular basis because I know that my extended fast of the week will compensate for it.

I didn’t have this privilege earlier. When restricting calories to lose fat, I had to count every calorie I consumed if I wanted any results. It was taxing and required extraordinary discipline.


But now, while most of my diet is fixed, I can afford to indulge responsibly with a solid underlying confidence that I’m in total control of my fat loss journey.

Here’s how leaving room for variability and spontaneity may help you:

1. Your fat loss journey will be more sustainable

Being on a super-strict diet is very difficult and by definition, not sustainable. That is why most people who diet may lose weight initially, but then they gain it back after a while.

What you want is a sustainable approach. One that can last for years and decades. And by definition, if you want your fat loss journey to be sustainable, you must make it easy.

That’s where some variability in the diet comes in. When you allow yourself to indulge every once in a while, the process becomes a lot easier and in turn, sustainable in the long term.


2. You preserve cognitive energy for other areas of your life

Gym bros often tell you that you have to be super strict about your diet. They convey that eating anything other than eggs, boiled tasteless chicken, and broccoli is no less than a sin. They take pride in their ability to resist delicious food. Some might even look down upon others who eat what they like.

However, while chronically resisting delicious food may increase your self-control and discipline, it does take a toll on your cognitive resources.

Research shows that people are much quicker to give up on solving problems after they’ve been asked to resist eating a cookie. I’ve talked about this before.

So it’s entirely possible that you may have given up on some important problems in life a lot quicker than you should have, or made a wrong decision entirely, all because you spent most of your cognitive energy on not eating that piece of cake.


Allowing yourself to indulge every once in a while frees up a lot of your cognitive resources. And these can be used to make truly important decisions in life.

Simply put, allowing room for some spontaneity ensures that thinking about food doesn’t overwhelm you.

3. You begin to enjoy the social benefits of eating

I was stunned when I realized this.

Earlier, ‘no’ used to be my favorite word.

  • My friends ask me to get dinner. I’d say, “No, I’m on a diet.”
  • My girlfriend asks me to get ice cream, again, I’d say, “No, I’m on a diet.”

At the moment, I believe that this sacrifice is necessary if I wanted to lose weight. And maybe it was. However, was it worth it?


Here’s something I’ve realized recently. Food is a major part of social relationships. People get to know each other better over food. Families bond over the dinner table. Friendships thrive over random cafe outings. Love grows over dinner dates that are followed by desserts.

When you’re obsessed with losing weight and counting calories, you miss out on all of this. And again, self-help gurus may tell you that that’s “the price you have to pay.”

However, it’s so stupid when you think about it.

Relationships and friendships are the only things that truly matter in life. They’re what truly determines your happiness.

But you sacrifice all of it obsessively — to look shredded?


No more.

With this approach, you don’t have to sacrifice the boost in your relationships that’ll occur over food. You don’t have to say ‘no’ every time. You can afford to eat out with your friends and still have the confidence that’ll you’ll lose weight over the week because of your extended fast later in the week.

How to do a variable diet: A few guidelines

1. Don’t overindulge

If you haven’t realized this yet, I want to make it clear that this 3-Dimensional approach is all about balance.

Hence, while it’s okay to indulge a little every day, it’s important to not overindulge. Otherwise, you’ll be back on the same path to an unhealthy life.


2. Don’t feel guilty when you indulge

Because I was so obsessed with losing weight, I felt guilty whenever I ate anything calorie-dense. I felt like I lacked self-control.

When I began being a little less strict with my eating habits, naturally, I felt a lot of residual guilt that was wired into my brain due to all these years of obsessive calorie counting.

Whenever I ate something delicious, I felt guilt — as an instinct. But I realized that’s no way to live life. So I told myself that I don’t have to feel guilty. It’s okay to cater to my taste buds.

I intentionally unlinked guilt and indulgence.

You must do the same if you also feel guilty about indulging.


And of course, I was only able to do this because I had the underlying confidence that I’ll lose weight due to my extended fast of the week.

3. Make intuitive calculations

I do not recommend counting calories. It’s a truly taxing way to live life.

However, I recommend having some intuitive practice of doing some vague math to ensure you don’t overeat over a day.

For instance, if on a particular day, I overeat during lunch with my friends, I’ll cut back a little during dinner. That’s all. No counting of calories. Just some intuitive decision-making. That’s all you have to learn to do.

Of course, it takes time to be able to learn how to do this — and in the beginning, you might have to do some actual calculations. However, with time you’ll be able to navigate the entire process very relaxed and controlled.


Dimension Number 3: Extended fast (~once a week)

I do Extended fasts of 24–36 hours regularly. However, their duration and frequency might differ based on what phase I am in my fitness journey. I’ll talk about how you can do that, but first, let’s discuss…

How extended fasts can help you:

1. They’ll cause fat loss without causing muscle loss or slowing your metabolism

We’ve already talked about it in depth at the beginning of the article.

2. Extended fasts cause autophagy

Autophagy literally means “eating oneself”. I know that doesn’t sound so good, but it’s actually wonderful for your health.

You see when your body doesn’t receive any nutrition for a while, your body doesn’t just stop functioning. It has to keep going. And to do that, your body needs two things:

  1. Energy.
  2. Building blocks like proteins, nucleic acids, etc.

For energy, your body breaks down fat cells by a process called lipolysis under the influence of growth hormones.

And for the building blocks, your body breaks down other cells and tissues within your own body. That’s what autophagy means.

However, your body isn’t stupid. It doesn’t kill healthy cells or tissues for those building blocks. It kills dysfunctional, old, and harmful cells for those building blocks.


3. Greater productivity on days of fast

You would think that not eating anything would make you tired and make you unable to do anything productive. However, that’s not the case.

First of all, you don’t really feel that hungry. Because you know beforehand that you’re keeping a fast, your body physiology actually changes. Your body doesn’t release as much gastric acid. And your stomach won’t growl as much as it would on a normal day without food. Of course, you feel a little hungry — but nowhere near as much as you would expect. I know this through lots of experience with fasts.

Second, you actually experience greater mental clarity throughout the day. You see when you eat something, blood from all over the body — including your brain — is diverted to your digestive tract. This is why people feel the need to nap post-lunch. But this doesn’t happen on the day of a fast — so you’re actually able to do more productive work on days of a fast. That’s why I try to schedule most of my writing on days of my fast.

That said, you do feel a little low on energy at the end of the day. But even that helps you go to bed quickly and recalibrate your sleep cycle once every week.

4. You don’t have to do cardio if you hate it

I hate doing cardio. But before trying this approach, I had to do a significant amount of cardio anyway if I wished to lose weight. Now, I don’t have to.

I know that my extended fasts are powerful enough to help me lose weight without having to do significant amounts of cardio.

Of course, I might go for a run once in a while or for a long walk — but there’s no compulsion. I run when I want to. I walk when I want to. I don’t schedule cardio sessions in the week. And I don’t count how many steps I’ve walked.

This has reduced cognitive stress in my life massively.

5. Clean gut and detoxification regularly

I actually look forward to my weekly fasts. It’s because not eating anything for 36 hours leads to an almost complete emptying of my gut. I feel super light and detoxified. Fasting will help you feel the same.

6. Greater mental strength

Our minds keep telling us to eat all the time. When you fast, you’re going against your instincts of comfort and ease. You’re doing something hard.

Better yet, you’re doing something hard once every week.

This raises your mental strength and boosts your confidence like nothing else.

How to do an extended fast: A few guidelines

1. Work your way up to long fasts

I do a 36-hour fast once weekly because I’ve been doing these fasts for a long time. However, you don’t have to do that right away if you've never done so. Start slow and work your way up.

I’m assuming you’ve already tried intermittent fasting — which is basically skipping breakfast.

The next step would be to do a 20–24 hour fast once a week — which would mean skipping your lunch and having your first meal in the evening or eating dinner directly.

Once you’re comfortable doing that, you can try a 36-hour fast, which means having dinner on day 1, eating nothing on day 2, and eating breakfast on day 3.

2. Do what works for you in the long term

Sustainability is the most important part of this approach. To that end, I want you to understand that you don’t have to do anything that doesn’t work for you in the long term.

Hence, if after trying 3–4 once-weekly 36-hour fasts, you still feel they’re too hard and don’t work for you, you can try some other options:

  • Doing one 24-hour fast every week would mean that after day 1, you directly eat dinner on day 2—which might consist of around 500–1000 calories. If you do decide to do this, you would need to be a bit more strict with your diet on the other six days as well. That’s understandable.
  • Doing two 24-hour fasts every week. This would mean that after dinner on day 1, you directly eat dinner on day 2 (500–1000 calories). And you would do this two times a week — perhaps on Mondays and Thursdays. This allows you to be less strict on other days of the week.

You have to do some experimentation to realize what works best for you. And that will take some time — but it’s important if you want to stick to the approach for the long term.

Also, I would recommend that you try 36-hour fasts a few times before ruling them out completely because 36-hour fasts have tons and tons of benefits that I wouldn’t want you to miss out on. And trust me, they’re not that difficult once you get the hang of them.

3. What to eat before and after fasts

When you do a 36-hour fast, the dinner before the fast and the breakfast after it becomes slightly more important. And it’s not super complicated. In both cases, I recommend eating healthy food with a special emphasis on complex carbs and fruits.

4. What to do on the day of the fast

Since I’ve been fasting for a long time now, I’ve learned how to make the best of them. Here are a few things that I do:

  • I take an off on my fast days and schedule the most cognitively challenging work. As I mentioned before, I’ve realized that the extended mental clarity I experience on days of fast is unparalleled. To that end, I often try to manage my hospital duties such that I get off on Thursdays. And then, I try to write as much as I can. Of course, it’s not necessary that you’ll also be able to take an off on days of your fast, but either way, I recommend doing challenging cognitive work on such days.
  • I skip the gym. I don’t feel extremely tired or hungry on days of fasting. But I don’t push myself either by going to the gym. I take a day to recover. And I go to the gym the remaining five days of the week. That works pretty well for me.
  • I chew gum at times. Sometimes, I do feel hungry on days of my fast. When I do so, the solution is simple. I chew a piece of gum. The act of chewing signals to my body and brain that I’m eating — when I’m actually not. And the calories one gets from gum are very less — so I still get the benefits of the fast.
  • I sleep early. I feel low on energy at night on days of my fast. I don’t see this as a disadvantage. Instead, I use this as an opportunity to sleep early and wake up early the next day. This recalibrates my sleeping schedule for the week. This is particularly helpful for me because I tend to be a night owl.

5. Tracking your weight

Earlier, I used to weigh myself every day. But the ups and downs of the scale throughout the week due to differences in water and food intake made me slightly anxious.

Now, I weigh myself after my fast. I wake up. I don’t drink any water. I take a piss. I drop a deuce if I feel like it. And then I weigh myself. This gives me a very accurate measurement of how much I actually weigh. And then, I feed this data to the health app on my iPhone week after week.

As you can see, I’ve consistently lost weight. But the important thing to know here is that:

  • I lost all this weight while actually getting stronger in the gym and
  • While being considerably lenient with my diet.

In fact, before this approach, I dreaded standing on the weighing scale. Now I’m excited to do so. Because I have complete confidence in my system.

6. Collect more data and use all of it to tweak your approach

Apart from tracking my weight, I also track other things:

  • I track how much weight I’m lifting in the gym.
  • I use a tape measure to measure my chest, arms, waist, etc.

I did this primarily to test if I was losing any muscle. After weeks of doing this, I realized that I wasn’t.

And I use all of this data and the data on my health app to tweak my approach as needed. For instance, if I’m trying to lose weight and —

  • If I feel like I’m losing weight too fast, I’ll increase my caloric intake by a little. Or move from a 36-hour fast to a 24-hour fast.
  • And if I feel like I’m not losing weight fast enough, I’ll decrease my caloric intake by a little. Or move from a 24-hour fast to a 36-hour fast. Or add in a little cardio.

If, on the other hand, I want to gain weight, I would move from a 36-hour fast once a week to a 24-hour fast once in two weeks. And increase my caloric intake.

It all depends on the data. And no, I don’t make precise calculations. That steals the joy out of the process. I make these calculations very intuitively. And it works. Of course, it takes practice — but you’ll learn how to do it as well in a month or two if you stick to the process.

7. How to ensure you don’t lose any muscle

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll mention it again.

During fasting, your body will only break down the protein it thinks is useless. So if your body feels like it doesn’t need your muscle protein, it might break it down.

To prevent that, you have to tell your body that you need the muscle you have. And you can do that by:

  • Lifting heavy in the gym. (Hit every muscle group at least twice a week)
  • And eat enough protein on normal days.

Boy, that was long! However, every point that I mentioned in this article was necessary. I’m guessing this approach is not something you might have heard of, so I wanted to guide you through it as well as I could.

To conclude, I’d like to emphasize the important principles regarding why I feel this approach is beautiful.

  • Passivity: This approach helps you stop being actively obsessed with what you eat — and still reach your health goals. This is important so that you can also focus on other areas in your life. It’ll help you move away from counting calories and towards intuitive eating.
  • Individuality: This approach is meant to guide you, not bind you. There are no strict rules. This approach is all about sustainability. And strict rules oppose sustainability. That’s why I urge you to adopt this in your life and tweak it to best fit your lifestyle. Remember, it’s all about you. If you tweak this approach to be as individualistic and as specific as it can be to you, you can keep at it for decades with a lot of ease.
  • The balance between different dimensions cancels out the cons of each dimension while retaining their benefits: It’ll take some time, but with time, you’ll learn how to find the perfect balance between fixed eating, variable eating, and extended fasting such that — you retain the benefits of all three dimensions of this approach while canceling out the cons of each of the dimension. For example, fixed eating brings boredom to your life, but variable eating cancels that out. And variable eating and indulgence might cause you to get fat, but extended fasts counter that.

These three principle benefits have had a huge impact on my life. I believe they’ll help you as well.

Disclaimer: I am a medical professional and I have a deep scientific and experiential understanding of what I talked about in this article. That said, I’m not a psychiatrist or a diabetologist. I don’t have enough expertise to comment on how this approach would work out for someone who has diabetes, eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia nervosa, or any other disease.

I recommend this approach only for an otherwise healthy individual. If you have any significant ailment, please consult your doctor before adopting this strategy in your life.

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Akshad Singi, M.D. has been published in Better Humans, Mind Cafe, and more.