Years and years of trial and error have demonstrated for me the best ways to control my weight and eat for better health and nutrition.
So recently while reading Maggie’s Farm I posted my brief summary of what I have learned (with minor edits from original):
Any method of eating for weight loss and better health and nutrition can work but it always amounts to eating less in a week (daily consumption can vary and is not that important) along with seriously limiting terrible nutritional garbage.
Finding the right system that fits your personality preferences and energy needs is the key. Personally I like two systems: 1) eat disciplined M-F and eat what you like on weekends and 2) eat disciplined for any 2 of 3 (or 3 of 4 etc) daily meals. “Disciplined” means small portions (more like snacks) but the type of food can vary depending on energy needs during the day. Both are easy to adapt to mentally since they fit other daily/weekly patterns we already live and they both accomplish a big reduction in weekly food intake just like fasting for 18 hours a day, which is another system that can work for some people (not me).
The highlighted and italicized portions are the most important pieces to internalize.
Most people use “what” they eat to accomplish the goal of reducing calories. These are two different things, and there are other — possibly better and definitely simpler — ways to reduce calories, or food intake. The “what” is still important obviously but that is primarily about health and nutrition, not weight loss (even though you can still lose weight with that dietary change)
And at least for me, reducing food intake as a weekly (rather than daily) goal is far simpler and easier to stick with, because it allows me to enjoy a few treats of my choosing each week — but just a few — that keep me from going insane without impacting the long term goal too much. It’s more practical and sustainable.
And it works. It has to, if you make meaningful reductions weekly, say 20-40%. For each of us, there is some level of weekly food intake below which we will lose weight, regardless of other factors.
Finding that level can be tricky — that’s why the two simple systems above remove a lot of the guesswork by dividing the days and weeks into chunks of time where we do different things based on time of day or day of week. You’re already doing that, right? Of course you are, because everyone does.
This reduces food intake — calories — by dividing up your time into chunks we will call “highly disciplined” and “some treats allowed”.
Make the “highly disciplined” chunk around 75-80% of your week, either M-F or 2-of-3 (or 3-of-4) daily meals. During this time, limit meals severely, say 300 - 400 calories, and limit carbs severely too.
The “some treats allowed” chunk allows somewhat more calories and more carbs, maybe 500 - 1000 calories depending on exercise and energy needs and to feel satiated. Remember this is only about 20-25% of your waking life, so live a little. It’s okay.
It works and is a hell of a lot easier than counting calories, and more practical and sustainable.
Pictured at right: evil evil carbs in our own pantry. Watch these like a hawk.
I am not a nutritionist, I’m just a guy who tries things to see what works best — so this is not advice. I’m not telling you what you should do, just detailing what I have had success with, based on my own personal preferences, and therefore it’s logical to assume it might work for others too.
If what you’ve tried before hasn’t worked, it just means you haven’t found the right system for you yet.