Variable Multi-day Fasting (VMDF) for Steady and Incremental Weight Loss

Steve Roehling

September 16, 2023

Back in November 2022, my sister introduced me to 16:8 intermittent fasting (IF). I started off at a weight of 180 lbs, which ostensibly isn’t too bad for a 6’1” tall man. However, I also had a Dexa body scan confirming I had some excess fat around my midsection and could still improve my body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage.

Over the next 6 months, I lost about 10 pounds, bottoming out at 170 lbs. Unfortunately, my weight plateaued after I went on a summer vacation and otherwise wasn’t strictly following the 16:8 IF method. I then experimented with some other fasting variations, including one meal a day (OMAD) and 36 hour extended fasts (aka “monk fast”). [1] Although my weight didn’t increase above 175 lbs, it wasn’t progressing towards my 165 lb target weight either.

First a disclaimer: What I’m about to describe is for informational purposes only and you should consult with your physician before embarking on this or any other fasting method. I’m not a doctor or nutritional expert and the results described herein are solely based upon my own personal experience.

Enter Variable Multi-Day Fasting

Since the combination of intermittent and extended fasting wasn’t breaking through my plateau, I decided to ramp up my fasting regimen. I also wanted whatever method(s) I adopted to be optimized around the following 2 goals:

While 16:8 IF provided some initial results, it seemed like the last 10 pounds were the most stubborn to lose. Other fasting methods I’ve considered either (a) don’t guarantee weight loss, or (b) don’t fit my lifestyle; for example:

Based on the 2 goals above, I formulated what I’m calling variable multi-day fasting (VMDF). Basically, the whole process starts each Monday, then proceeds as follows:

  1. First thing in the morning, step on the scale and compare current weight to the previous week’s lowest weight.
  2. Either continue fasting another 24 hours or stop:
    1. If current weight is more than the previous week’s low:
      1. Fast for another 24 hours.
      2. Go back to step 1.
    2. If current weight is below the previous week’s low weight:
      1. Take note of the current week’s lowest weight.
      2. Break the fast.
      3. Resume a normal eating schedule until next Monday.
      4. Go back to step 1.

Unlike 16:8 IF, OMAD, ADF, 5:2 and other fasting methods with a more fixed and predictable schedule for time-restricted eating or fasting, the key to VMDF is the variable number of fasting days to instead achieve more steady and predictable weight loss.

To further illustrate, here’s a flow diagram to summarize the whole process:

VMDF Process Flow

Making VMDF More Flexible and Sustainable

Following the VMDF method for at least 8-12 weeks, including a 36 to 60 hour prolonged fast every week, would have been hard to bear without some leniency and flexibility. The following built-in characteristics of the process itself along with some optional variations helped me stick with the process and fit it into my lifestyle:

Weight Loss Results

The chart below shows my overall fasting results since I first started 16:8 IF in November 2022; the last few months show my transition into VMDF:

VMDF Weight Loss

As shown in the chart above, VMDF was definitely effective to break through a plateau and shed the last few pounds to reach my target weight. The following are some more detailed VMDF results:

Detailed Stats

Key Insights and Observations

Experiencing and observing the process first-hand gave me insights into numerous important factors and considerations:

Health Benefits

VMDF primarily focuses on weight loss, but the accompanying health benefits are also a major consideration.

Building on what I’d already experienced with 16:8 IF, I noticed relatively significant cognitive improvements affecting both my short-term and long-term memory, and the degree to which I could “think on my feet”. For example, emails seemed to “roll off my fingertips” and impromptu/extemporaneous verbal communications noticeably improved in business meetings and other conversations. In my line of work managing people and projects, this type of cognitive improvement can be a game-changer.

Along with the skip days and dirty fasting described above, the cognitive improvements I’ve experienced made VMDF more sustainable. Knowing I’d have heightened cognitive function during the fast and some residual positive effects for the rest of the week, I actually looked forward to fasting days.

Based upon my blood glucose and ketone levels, weeks with a 2nd fasting day also put me into a moderate to therapeutic level of ketosis; for example, the following reading was taken 60 hours (2.5 days) into an extended fast:

Example Glucose Reading

Moderate to therapeutic Glucose Ketone Index (GKI) levels are synonymous with numerous health benefits including improved insulin resistance, reduced inflammation and regenerative anti-aging effects. [2]

Final Thoughts

While achieving the primary weight loss goals, VMDF also proved to be a very balanced and sustainable process. As shown in the illustration below, the overall VMDF process aligned with my work schedule and front-loading the prolonged fasting ensured I could resume a normal schedule and enjoy the remainder of the week:

VMDF vs Lifestyle and Hunger

Although I’m not a doctor or nutritional expert, many years of experience as an engineer and system designer have given me a unique perspective to formulate VMDF as a balanced and effective fasting method. When designing a system, engineers think about tradeoffs between fixed versus variable inputs and the effects these have on the outputs (results). In this regard, VMDF trades the more fixed schedule of OMAD, 16:9 IF or other fasting methods for more incremental and predictable weight loss.

Along these lines, I also adhere to the Pareto Principle and focus on a relatively small number of things which are a “win win” and yield the greatest benefit. To this end, following the VMDF process resulted in multiple short-term and longer-term benefits; notably:

Next Steps

Looking ahead, my primary goal is to maintain a healthy weight while simultaneously improving body recomposition – essentially, swapping fat for lean muscle.

As I’ve transitioned into maintenance, I’m also making a change from my previous approach. Instead of using the previous week’s lowest weight as a target, I’ll now just aim to stay at or below my overall target weight. To provide some additional flexibility and avoid rebounding above my target weight, I’m also planning to shed a few extra pounds. I’m thinking this buffer will allow me to follow a less restrictive fasting regimen like the 5:2 method.

After another month or two focusing on maintenance and body recomposition, I’m also planning to get another Dexa scan and undergo another round of fasting-related blood tests. I’m eager to see these results and gauge my overall progress.

As part of an overall fasting lifestyle to progressively improve one’s appearance and health, different fasting methods can be leveraged at different times. Even though I’ve reached my target weight and have completed VMDF for now, I plan to continue fasting under various other methods. In this context, VMDF has been a valuable part of my journey and I’m more committed than ever to a healthy fasting-based lifestyle.


[1] This is a good video from Dr. Jason Fung about various fasting regimens and the importance of making fasting fit into your lifestyle: What is the Best Fast Length? (Fasting Basics 3)

[2] Information on GKI from my glucose and ketone meter’s website: Glucose Ketone Index [GKI]