Q: What 'diet' is right for fat loss?

A: I’ve become a bit of a diet nerd: Zone, Paleo, Slow-carb, Bulletproof, Low-fat, Atkins, French paradox, plain old starvation/caloric restriction, intermittent fasting, and so on.  I’ve tried many of them. 

Here’s what I’ve learned in these two years:

  • ‘Diets’ are not what you’re looking for.  You want a lifestyle change that comes from a long-term Food Plan or outlook.  This is how you live the rest of your life.  Not how you live the next twelve weeks.  This doesn’t mean you can no longer have fun eating on occasion.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Don’t worry about the scale or metrics in the short-term.  Weighing yourself more than once every few months is a bad idea.  There’s just too much ‘noise’ in water weight, menstruation (not for me obv), how much fun was the weekend, etc.
  • Any ‘food plan’ worth its salt is drop-dead simple.  If it can’t be described in a single page, then don’t bother.
  • You’re NOT supposed to be ‘starving’ or feeling like you are.  You shouldn’t feel deprived.
  • Don’t tell people you’re making a change.  Don’t tell people your goals.  It’ll slow you down or derail you entirely.
  • Exercise isn’t required for weight loss, but it makes it so much easier.
  • Get involved in exercises where the participants look how you want to look.  Yoga practioners vs cyclists vs powerlifters vs rec soccer vs Crossfit vs aerobics vs jogging.  Look around.
  • Analyze any ‘plan’ or prescription for weight loss by the motivation that the originator has for you to follow the plan.  Weight Watchers wants to sell you food.  The Low-Fat movement wants to sell grains and so on.
  • No plan fits everyone.  Experimentation is key.  Try a plan.  See what works.  Try a different one.  Modify.
  • Yes, it’s supposed to be hard.  If one is fat now, you likely need to make radical change.  You might be that jerk (I am) who packs lunches to everything including big, fancy French dinners.  If it wasn’t hard to avoid Burger King, everyone would be thin.

If you’re trying to lose the first 50 lbs, it’s likely that your big problem is quantity and ratio of foods.  The Zone is ideal for this.  Weigh and measure.  Cheat once in a while.

Losing that last 15 lbs to get ‘lean’, it’s a toss-up amongst the other plans work best.  However, the common thread is that most limit the consumption of sugar and low glycemic index carbohydrates like wheat, honey or bread.

Michael Girdley