Why should you bother spending time tracking calories or eating something so monotonous as “The Robot Diet” when there are plenty of dietary approaches out there that allow a variety of delicious foods, don’t require time spent tracking calories, and work for so many people?
These approaches are “the low-hanging fruit of weight loss.” Is there low-hanging fruit available to you? How do you know when you’ve picked it all? That’s what I answer in this episode.
This episode is brought to you by Testing Nutritional Status: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet. Everything you could ever need to know to optimize your nutrition, all in one place. Easier to find and use than ever before. Get your copy at https://chrismasterjohnphd.com/cheatsheet
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Why should I invest my time in tracking calories or sacrifice the variety in my diet to eat something so monotonous as the robot diet when there are so many approaches out there that allow people to eat a variety of delicious foods without spending time tracking calories and people are losing weight because they work? Today I’m going to answer these questions for you.
Hi I’m Dr. Chris Masterjohn of chrismasterjohnphd.com and this is Chris Masterjohn Lite where the name of the game is “Details? Shmeetails. Just tell me what works!” And today we’re going to talk about the low-hanging fruit of weight loss.
In anything in life we will be able to find some things that we can do that are easy and generate quick results. That’s the low-hanging fruit. Once we pick it, it’s gone. After that we need to work harder to continue getting results.
The same thing is true in weight loss. And the more weight we have to lose, the more likely there is to be low-hanging fruit and the more low-hanging fruit there’s likely to be. So someone who is very, very overweight can probably lose weight at a fairly rapid pace for quite a long time by following some simple rules that don’t require tracking calories.
But someone who’s moderately overweight may only have 5 pounds of low-hanging fruit, and someone who only has a few pounds to lose to get in their leanest shape probably doesn’t have any low-hanging fruit. It gets even more complicated because what’s low-hanging fruit or one person might look very different from what is low-hanging fruit for another. What’s low-hanging fruit for me may look very different from what’s low-hanging fruit for you.
And we can kind of see that when we look at the different approaches that are used successfully for weight loss. They are often contradictory. Low fat works; low carb works; keto, a more extreme version of low carb, works; paleo works; vegan works. There are so many different permutations of these diets that work on average that we also have to try to navigate between which one do we choose.
Now, to some degree they’re all effective because they all induce a caloric deficit. In tracking calories you induce the caloric deficit on purpose. With most of these other approaches, you make some more simple intuitive dietary changes, and that acts on presumably the brain to regulate your appetite or some other aspect of your eating behavior that leads to a spontaneous—or some other aspect of your energy balance that leads to a spontaneous caloric deficit.
And so it may be that to some degree these approaches all share that property so they’re interchangeable, but some of these approaches may work better for some people and others for others. There’s probably going to be a lot of trial and error and guesswork in this, but I’ll try to give you some rules that you could try.
So first of all, if you’re eating a lot of processed junk food – stop. Anyone who’s overweight who cuts out processed junk food will probably lose weight and even if you’re not overweight, you should be cutting out processed junk food because it’s not as
will be better if you cut out the processed junk food. That’s easy.
Number 2: if you’re completely sedentary, institute an exercise program. Going from completely sedentary to exercising will probably result in some weight loss. Exercise is going to help your energy regulate your body composition. It’s even going to help regulate your appetite. And if you are an athlete, there are very detailed questions that you need to address to perfect your training program, but when you’re sedentary, all you need to do is start moving.
Number 3: I don’t think the science is in on this, but it’s probably the case that if you have signs of insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, or diabetes, low carb may work better for you than low fat. I’m not saying that’s true. I’m saying the probability might be greater; it’s pretty reasonable to think that that might be true.
So maybe that’s an indication of trying one versus another. But another big thing that comes here is just your individual reactions to these foods. For example, are there some foods that you tend to overeat? Are there some foods that satiate you better? Do you feel hungrier on lower fat or on lower carb?
Pick the dietary approach that seems like it’s going to satisfy you. You’re going to enjoy the food, and you’re less likely to overeat it, and you’re more likely to feel full. Whatever that approach is for you as an individual is going to be the most likely approach to find your individual low-hanging fruit.
Now, the other part of this equation is knowing when it’s time to move on. So, let’s say that you try these approaches and you eventually lead to a plateau, you double down on the approach, you’re strict with the approach, you’ve stopped losing weight. Or, let’s take another case where you try several of these approaches and none of them work.
What you should never do is say, “Why is this approach no longer working?” Because the answer is obvious.
The approach is no longer working or it didn’t lead to a spontaneous caloric deficit. Once we acknowledge that, it becomes a lot easier to move on. It doesn’t matter that other people are losing weight with that approach and you’re not. It doesn’t matter that you were losing weight with that approach and now you’re not.
You have picked your low-hanging fruit or you didn’t have any low-hanging fruit to pick. Now, is it possible that you could look and look and look and eventually find more low-hanging fruit? Yes, but what is the cost of spending that time and effort getting no results looking for the next low-hanging fruit that might not be there when you can simply move on and use something that more reliably induces a caloric deficit?
So the point at which you no longer get results, or you can’t find results after trying a few approaches, that’s the point at which you want to move on to something more reliable like tracking calories or in the last episode the “robot diet.”
The audio of this episode was enhanced and post-processed by Bob Davodian of Taurean Mixing. You can find more of his work at taureanonlinemixing.com.
This episode is brought to you by Testing Nutritional Status: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet. Everything you could ever need to know to optimize your nutrition all in one place. Easier to find and use than ever before. Get your copy at chrismasterjohnphd.com/cheatsheet.
All right, I hope you found this useful. Signing off, this is Chris Masterjohn. This has been Chris Masterjohn Lite. And I will see you in the next episode.
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