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Ask HN: Most sustainable diet long term?
89 points by lignux on April 14, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 125 comments
I am on a weight loss journey and lately i see a lot of diet trends happening like intermittent fasting, keto, carnivore etc. I tried some of those but found that nothing restrictive like that would work for me long term. What i mean by that is that i cannot be healthy for me to avoid fruit if i am doing the keto diet or just eat meat and nothing else.

I am trying to be more healthy and changing what i eat is part of that so i am wondering what has worked for you guys? Exercise is also important but i've been told that i cannot do weightlifting since i have neck hernia.


Reading all the comments on this thread is pretty funny.

I was a trainer for many years and the strategy (note that it’s a strategy rather than a diet) that was most successful takes years to complete with the goal of never doing too much at once.

Take the worst thing in your diet. Over the next few weeks, replace it with something slightly better. When your body starts accepting it, move on to the next worst food you consume on your list and repeat the process.

A year or two years down the road, you’ll notice that your entire diet has changed without much effort.

This process isn’t sexy and won’t solve any problems quickly. However, it is aimed at long term change.

As for working out...

To start off, just move around. it doesn't matter. After that starts becoming comfortable, use machines @ the gym that don't require any stabilization on your part--just push & pull. This is because you're not going to be strong. You should be focusing on major muscle groups and that's it when you start out--chest, back, legs. For a few months, just focus on getting your proper form down. Over these first three or so months of working out, even without putting on any further muscle mass, your strength will increase by 20%-30%.

Exercises to do: - Machine Chest Press: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlXTzUUR9AE

- Machine Pull Down: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwJeh3QyhVE

- Machine Row: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNUztYbC0G0

- Machine Leg Press: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2KtIZn2vOc

How do you select the weight to use? - Pick something that you can't do more than 20 times the first set.

How many sets: - 3 sets should be good starting off.

How many reps should you do each set? - Up to 20, yet if your form breaks down, stop that set. - Your form is the primary goal at this point.

To add to this: meal habits are important. Try eating 20% slower and more mindfully. Note how full you feel at any given moment, and stop when you're 80% full.

This is still my biggest problem. I'll still scarf down a 2LB steak and then regrets it.


Can you please elaborate on different methods you've used in the past (current) to help slow down your eating habits, please.

I had (have) the same problem. I have realized it is rooted in me eating in the kitchen, the second the dish is ready.

If I serve it in a plate, sit down on a table and eat it as I consume some media, then it helps slow down the eating process. Having a glass of water with me also helps. Similarly, eating lunch with coworkers is usually helpful to slowing down the eating process too.

One tip is to not wait until you're ravenous to start eating. Another is to try and savour each bite, noting the flavours, letting the fat melt in your mouth, etc. And finally, counting the number of times you chew each bite is supposed to be effective, if not tedious.

Me and my wife get her tablet in the kitchen and play a video of a game tournament on it while eating and discussing it.

It helped us enjoy our meals and eat slower.

Having a slight distraction while eating is IMO the key.

You can also try reading the book Joy of Half Cookie. It gives some practices in section two on how to eat more mindfuly

This is only really accurate if you are fairly sedentary, and are trying to lose weight. If you are active, chances are you are not getting enough calories.

I would absolutely recommend against doing any machine-supported exercises. I have watched tons of people ruining their fitness with these. May be it is beneficial with expert supervision but why do you want to take chances? The best exercises are the ones where you use your body's weight itself for exercise such as squats, pushups etc.


how to replace sugar in coffee? I can not live without it.

Maybe don't drink coffee? Or replace coffee with some other caffeine source.

Or find a less bitter coffee. There are a lot more varieties of coffee that aren't mainstream that don't have the bitterness of mass produced stuff. I detest coffee/food snobbery but have found some lighter roasts that aren't as bitter.

Or try different brewing methods.

Try replacing the sugar with fat. Use cream or half and half.

For a latte, ask for it to be made "brevee" (brev-aye) which indicates half and half usage.

For coffee, I will do 50/50 half and half with coffee.

It is quite delicious.

Anyone considering this, breve is almost 3 times the calories of 2% milk (standard latte). While I agree that fat is probably better than sugar, it’s not a calorie cutting decision here.

First: you can unless there's some medical reason you can't. However, I highly doubt that.

Second: I'm sure you're smart & I'm going to presume you know how to use google.

Last: I'm not a nutritionist, so I can and won't recommend foods to eat.

Why would you leave a comment as unhelpful as this one

1/3 sugar and 2/3 stevia or Splenda.

Artificial sweeteners (including stevia) have a tasteable "bite" to them which I don't like. Using a bit of sugar helps smooth out the bite while the bulk of the sweetness is provided by the sweetener.

You should try replacing some of the artificial sweetener with glycine, a sweet amino acid, which also happens to be pretty healthy.

Thanks, I'll check for amino acid packets at my local café.

Do you like beer? Do you remember how gross it was the first time you had it? Black coffee is much the same. I would recommend buying an aero press and a grinder and start making good coffee. Coffee sitting in a pot all day is horrible. Find the best coffee shop around you and try some French press. It takes a few weeks to get over the flavor of black coffee but I can’t imagine drinking coffee with sugar in it anymore.

The milk helps retain the bitterness in your mouth for a while. The bitterness of black coffee goes away as soon as its swallowed.

Half stevia half sugar. You can use about 2g sugar per cup, which is 8 calories, and have it taste like you used 5-10g sugar. Once down to this level, unless you're having 10+ cups per day, there are far more important calorie sources to optimize for.

I used to be a light and sweet guy but just slowly tapered back on the sugar. I eventually switched to half and half and currently go no sugar with a bit of half and half. I seriously can’t stomach the sweetness of how I used to drink it.

Just use half the sugar you usually use and go from there. Your taste will adjust and then you can half it again. If you get as far as one molecule or less of sugar, STOP!

Try honey or even just a pinch of salt.

try a good light roast. surprisingly flavorful in itself. helped me.

Go on, let's hear the Intermediate version :)

What part? overall?

How to replace ice cream?

My answer is I don’t. When I started paying closer attention to my diet, I realized that while cutting so many things out, I needed a mental release valve.

So ice cream gets a pass. I allow myself how ever much I want whenever I want.

So yeah, initially I found myself eating a pint occasionally. Or twice a day. But I also found myself feeling like crap afterwards. Since I’m paying more attention to my body’s signals, I noticed it where I wouldn’t have previously.

And magically, I eat less ice cream than I used to, in addition to all the other diet improvements I’ve made. Sure, I still throw back a big bowl occasionally when I feel the want, but usually not. And my other results have been good. Partly because i have this vice available. Which is, let’s face it, a pretty mild vice.

For us we started making ice cream at home. It didn't replace it, but by making it ourselves we were able to tune the recipe over time to be something that we enjoy, but slowly replace or reduce the things we didn't want. The recipe we make now is:

    0.5 c.    Cream
    1.5 c.    Milk
    0.5 c.    Sugar (or substitute; we use Splenda)
    1.0 pinch Salt
    0.5 tsp.  Vanilla
    Up to one cup of flavor
For flavor we just blend whatever we think will be good. Bananas are good, strawberries, raspberries. Most fruits are pretty good, but weakly flavored. A spoonful of sugar-free jelly helps add a little punch to the flavors.

We got a good deal on a Breville [1], but you can get by just fine with a ~$50 one and some experimenting.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Breville-BCI600XL-Smart-Scoop-Cream/d...

I don't know how you would replace ice cream. I still eat it--not too often, yet i still eat it.

Personally, I switched over to Voskos Greek Yogurt (Fig flavor [which they don't make anymore]). After getting used to that, I started eating other viscus yogurts and that helped me.

I'd suggest talking w/ a nutritionist if you're having difficulties finding substitutes to ice cream

Mix frozen bananas (the key for texture), some chia seeds, and frozen fruit in a blender.


And then ice cubes & artificial sweetener.

Eh, maybe upgrade to decent fruit based sorbet first.

The canonical advice, as someone already wrote is: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

I'd add:

- Eat mostly what your grand-grandparents would identify as food (e.g. no preprocessed stuff, no chips, etc).

- Don't eat constantly. Leave 14+ hours that you don't much (if you sleep 8 hours that's just 6-wake hours off of food).

- Don't eat refined sugars, wheat, etc. Whole grain is OK.

- Mediterranean diet has been proven good time and again. Go for more greens, fruit, olive oil, fish, legumes, scarce meat etc.

- Don't overdo it in any direction (too much protein, too much fat, too many carbs, etc).

- Don't tax your stomach with too much complicated meals to digest. Keep it simple but balanced.

- Drink enough water (not too much - 2 lt per day is fine, can do less if you eat fruits and watery food - tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, soups, etc)

Basically that. Easier said than done of course...

>Exercise is also important but i've been told that i cannot do weightlifting since i have neck hernia.

Maybe you can still lift small one-hand weights? Check with a doctor.

Very great advice. A little nitpick - lifting small dumbbells is probably useless. The main benefits from weightlifting come through Progressive Overload, where those small weights must necessarily\* turn into big weights. If (s)he must stick to small weights, there is a very small window of benefit to weight lifting.

\* - note that in Progressive Overload you can also increase total number of reps (the true metic is increased volume over time, where volume = reps \* sets \* weight), but again, there is a small window of benefit. 100 reps of 10 lb curls isn't much better than 80 reps of 10 lb curls.

This is not true at all. You CAN achieve hypertrophy and strength with small weights and resistance bands. Just ask a glute girl.

There's a guy who does that. But he does things like 1000 situps, pushups, etc. Massive volume.

With weights, one can put forth a decent workout in an hour.

> lifting small dumbbells is probably useless.

Depends on what your goals are.

If your goal is improved health, any type of exercise that gets your heart rate going is better than doing nothing at all.

If your goal is building habits and routine, getting to a gym and exercising is better than not exercising.

If your goal is increased strength or muscle mass, then you're right.

There are a lot of benefits to lifting small amounts, just look at the huge number of physical trainers who add small weights to aerobic exercise routines, or runners who add ankle weights, etc. There is a ton of material out there for why it's beneficial that I won't bother getting into it all. Using small weights will add measurable difficulty to your workout, which is great if you start to plateau.

That being said, it's not the most effective way to achieve certain desirable results, like optional strength or muscle mass gain. However, OP wants to lose weight in a healthy way and has a health condition that should be taken into account, and adding small weights to an aerobic exercise program is a fantastic way to increase calorie burn and build a little strength at the same time.

> "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

Where does this come from? Why do a lot of people keep parroting it?

I'm not sure I'd trust a food activist to arrive at nutritional truths. I'd rather listen to someone with scientific background: https://www.diagnosisdiet.com/foods/

Intermittent fasting is, for the most part, just skipping breakfast. I do that in combination with a mostly low carb/high fat thing, but I'm not too strict with anything. I also don't track my calorie intake.

More importantly, I believe that cutting sugar is the key to weight loss and maintenance. I mostly drink water, black tea, and black coffee.

You should make sustainable changes that fit your lifestyle, not follow a diet trend.

Skipping breakfast is wrong, in any context.

The result of not eating anything for breakfast is that the body reduces consumption ("metabolism"); this is exactly what one wants to avoid in diets.

This can be tested very simply. Compare the time of the morning when you start feeling hunger between when you have a breakfast (even a relatively light one, which is what one would do in a weight-loss diet), and when you don't have it.

Most people will paradoxically feel hunger earlier when they have a breakfast compared to when they don't.

This is the major paradox of weight loss: eating less by itself is not necessarily more productive (diet-wise) than eating more.

> Skipping breakfast is wrong, in any context.

Different things work for different people, so saying something is always wrong is itself wrong.

> The result of not eating anything for breakfast is that the body reduces consumption ("metabolism");

Any evidence for this?

> Most people will paradoxically feel hunger earlier when they have a breakfast compared to when they don't.

So if they don't have breakfast they'd feel hungry later. Isn't that what you want?

Overall, I think skipping breakfast is a trick that reduces the window of time available to eat and thereby restricts your caloric intake. It also trains you to only eat when you actually feel hungry instead of being a slave to set mealtimes.

Metabolism does drop under a caloric deficit, but it has to be longer term deficit afaik.

Skipping breakfast has the nice effect of making dinner available for social outings, while still having a fasting window.

Old wives tale. Meal timing has no effect on 24h metabolism.


> Skipping breakfast is wrong, in any context.

Conclusion of a recent Vox video[1]:

> That means if you’re a breakfast eater, (…) you can carry on. And if you’re a breakfast skipper, (…) don’t worry. The best science we have suggests we’re probably just fine either way.

In the video description, they link to the studies they based their information on:

* https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/364/bmj.l42.full.pdf

* http://faculty.seattlecentral.edu/jwhorley/Breakfast_BMI.pdf

* https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4473164/

[1]: https://youtu.be/9Ffceu672c4

I'm 43, and I eat breakfast about once every three months. Sure I might eat lunch earlier than most, but since I was 14 I stopped eating breakfast and it largely haven't been missed.

What most people call breakfast is cereal of some kind, loaded with sugar. That's not even a proper meal in my humble opinion. (Sure some people might have fruit, toast, rice, or something more interesting. I guess this is very location-specific. In the UK my parents insisted I ate frosties, or corn-flakes, up until I was about 14 when I just said "no".)

Breakfast for me is coffee. Black. Strong.

Look, everybody is different, but as someone for whom losing weight is pretty easy, skipping breakfast is one of the easiest ways I do it.

I routinely skip breakfast and I have an extremely high metabolic rate and my weight stays within a normal range for my height. I just don't feel hungry in the morning. There is no one rule that applies to everyone.

Calorie counting can work, though I have a hard time keeping up with that long term. I tend to fall days behind and then just give up. It's yet another thing that I then "have" to do.

I started doing a diet similar to keto, but tried to keep things as simple as possible. ~25g of protein at every meal, < 100g of carbs per day. No carbs at dinner. Meal prepping can help big time with this. It also saved me a ton of money.

The fitness coach who helped me start my weight loss journey insisted that I stop thinking and calling it a diet. A diet implies something temporary, and what you're after is a lifestyle change. The mental aspect of "lifestyle change" has helped me a lot for whatever reason.

So far I'm 2 months in and down over 20 pounds, with very minute amounts of exercise. Weightlifting is great for building muscle, but isn't the end-all-be-all of exercise. Start as simple as possible. I go for a 30-45 min walk with my dog after I get home from work. And that's about it.

Best of luck on your journey, I've done a lot of different things professionally but being successful with changing my eating habits and lifestyle (even if it's been relatively short) has been one of the greatest things I've ever felt. It turned me from obese and cranky into slightly overweight and waking up with a smile.

One personal observation I can make about my own journey... there are foods that I never would have touched 10 years ago that today I find enjoyable and foods that have become more palatable and even decent over time.

I was never a “salad person”. Now there are several salads that I enjoy. I would never touch beans, now I recently found I can sub them for rice in some dishes and still enjoy it.

This is something that happened over years of trying to eat better. There are little things you may find hit more quickly but the macro stuff just takes time.

For example, cutting out soda completely for a month. Not even diet soda. Just find something else to drink, ideally which isn’t fizzy. It’s a relatively small ask as far as “diets” go. After a month or two, you may go back to taste a soda and wonder how the heck you ever liked it.

There are diets which focus on deprivation. And if you actively trying to cut fat then you will need to be in a deficit and you will feel hungry.

But there is also the long term “diet” of just trying to eat better and the good news is that the more you eat healthier foods (e.g. lower sugar) the more your palate will adapt and you will eventually find the sweeter things too sweet and the less sweet things more pleasing. Which makes the whole thing much more sustainable.

I'm curious, when you say "Just find something else to drink, ideally which isn’t fizzy", do you include fizzy water?

I only ask as I bought a sodastream machine after realising what I liked most about soda was the fizz - I actively disliked the sweetness. Now I drink around 3 litres of fizzed water a day and haven't looked back.

I think whatever works as a substitute as long as it helps keep you away from the sweetened drinks (artificially or otherwise) is a win. For non-diet sweetener the 150 calories is basically burning the majority of any deficit you might have had that day, and if it's artificial sweetener... well two things;

1) I'm just paranoid what that could be doing to your gut bacteria,

2) It's keeping your taste buds acclimated to that hardcore sweet flavor (sucrose), which is something you have to train yourself off of, in my experience, to increase your sensitivity to the natural sweet which comes in the healthier options.

It might be different for a person who was drinking a liter of soda daily. As someone who never drank a lot of soda, I switched to carbonated water when I wanted something more, but didn't want sugar. My significant other (who regularly drinks soda) says carbonated water just tastes "bitter".

It is definitely acquired. I got some Pellegrino but it was bitter, but I had a case to kill, so I drank it anyway. All of a u sudden, it stopped being bitter, and became refreshing.

I think what a healthy diet is fairly individual-specific. I think there are probably general guidelines that are pretty good for most people, but the details depend on how different people metabolize different things, their taste preferences etc.

I think I feel the best eating vegetarian, whole grains, lots of fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes, no restrictions on unsaturated fats but little or no saturated fats. I basically try to avoid processed foods, saturated fats, artificial colors, artificial flavorings, and preservatives, and meats (including fish). I try to avoid added sugars too but am not too strict about it, and don't have any restrictions on complex carbs. I've kind of done intermittent fasting before it was a "thing" and I do think that's been helpful/feel better with that at the right times, as has not eating after a certain time at night, and keeping breakfasts light or waiting a bit later.

It's worked for me but I think everyone's optimal diet is probably a bit different. I think in general you can't go wrong with whole grains and nuts, whole vegetables, and whole fruits. The rest of it is kind of tweaking for an individual.

"The best diet is the one you follow". This is preached by many people in the Fitness industry, body builders and profrssionals. I was a chubby teen, although I did a lot of sports. But I ate even more. Now I lost a lot of weight in last few months and I'm the leanest and strongest I've ever been. How?

The thing is, there is no diet required. A diet is nutrition for sick people. What most people need is a more healthy relationship to what they eat. Realizing the discrepancy between what your body needs vs. what you consume on a daily basis is a huge help. Initially I suggest to track their calories for a few weeks and then adjust your intake to serve your specific goals. After a few months you will have great intuition about the things you eat on a regular basis and don't need to track anything.

Weight is a simple game, if you want to loose weight, consume less calories than you burn. Do this over a long time and you will see progress. You always want to play the long-term game, so if you go out for dinner once in a while, enjoy yourself and don't agonize over your "diet". The progress is made in the little things you eat every day, not during a nice evening with friends.

Also, don't banish any macro nutrients, this will make your everyday nutrition harder. Eat lots of greens, some meat and fish, fruits, rice, pasta and potatoes, and an occasional donut or pizza.

It most definitely is possible to get a body builder physique on junk food. Called the iifym (if it fits your macros) method.

One of the people I follow in the fitness industry though has started that they did wish they had focused a bit more on micronutrition.

IIFYM may very well work for some individuals, as my post said: "be aware of what you eat and what your body needs". And junk food can fulfil the needs of very active individuals. But be careful when adapting diets from individuals with high amount of physical activity to someone with a sedentary job. This gets even more relevant, if recreational lifting isn't possible, as in OP's case.

Simple, old-fashioned calorie counting worked for me. Eat less energy than you need each day, and your body will draw on fat reserves to make up the shortfall.

I used the NHS 6-week weight loss plan [0] as a general guide and inspiration, calculated my daily requirement in kcal based on a steady rate of weight loss, then used MyFitnessPal to track everything I ate and drank. The first few days are really hard work and frustrating, weighing out everything and checking nutritional values everywhere, though scanning barcodes in MFP does make that slightly easier and after a few days it becomes more natural and as a stats nerd it's very satisfying to achieve a day under the target calories and with the right balance of macros (protein/fat/carbs), and even more satisfying to watch the weight reducing as the weeks go by. Try not to lose more than 2kg/month, it's not too healthy or sustainable.

[0] https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/start-the-nhs-we...

I concur that managing one's caloriee input is the only way to ensure you don't eat too much. Let's define too much as being eating above a certain calorie target. For some reason, I've never been able to really stick with calorie counting.

One thing I'm trying lately is intentionally eating a certain balance of nutrients (45% carbs, 30% protein, 25% fat). It seems to be a bit easier to do on a daily basis than purely counting calories, but it does require more upfront research on my part. Basically I am more mindful of the balance of foods, and it steers me away from blended foods with unknown proportions, and adjusting portion sizes to stay within my calorie targets is kind of an afterthought. I'm only a few weeks into it, so ask me in three or six months how it's really going :)

After watching the documentary Forks Over Knives and reading The China Study, I switched to a whole food plant based diet two years ago. The experimental, clinical, and epidemiological evidence convinced me of the danger of eating animal products. I dropped 20 pounds without even trying and my weight is stable. I walk for 20 minutes at lunch on weekdays. My cholesterol is under 150. I feel more energetic and my mood is slightly better. I occasionally eat animal products, for example when I eat at my mother’s house.

The best two things you can do long term are to learn how to cook and to make friends who like playing sports regularly. Note neither of those two things require being in shape to start making progress.

I have been really trying to make #2 happen but it is tough.

The ones who play a certain sport are so good at it that it makes no sense for them to play with me (basketball, tennis, squash) and no one plays the sport that I am good at (soccer)

It is so much easier to stay fit when you have a group that regularly do a common activity for fun. Going to the gym isn't bad, but I won't call the activity fun.

I wanted to say the same thing. Learning to cook your own food, gives you so much control. That is necessary, if one wants to control their weight.

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

Came to post this exact comment! It's the subtitle of Michael Pollan's 2008 book In Defense of Food. Simple and easy to follow. Doing physical exercise a few times a week also helps.


I'm not sure I'd trust a food activist to arrive at nutritional truths. I'd rather listen to someone with scientific background: https://www.diagnosisdiet.com/foods/

Grains are a plant, and people on average eat far too many processed grains, and too few fruits and vegetables. I like the simplicity in this statement, but it leaves too much open to interpretation. Let's not have people feeling good about themselves because everything in a PopTart comes from a plant, for example.

The author defines food as lightly processed plants and animals. The first sentence is profound.

You forgot the most important part: forever.

I suggest downloading MyFitnessPal and just learning what different amounts of food look like calorie wise, then you can eat whatever you want as long as it's within your caloric goals.

I like the Scott Adams approach to just pre-preparing carrots and celery in small containers in your fridge. Design the system so that when you go to snack, the healthy things are what is available.

For coffee, I only add cinnamon to black coffee. No sugar.

If you like ice cream, try making it yourself, once you see how much sugar goes in a pint, you kind of get sick to your stomach about eating it.

When I'm aware enough, a banana or apple replaces a Snickers bar just fine. (And it doesn't really matter if bananas aren't great food - because the alternative are cookies, ice cream.)

I always wondered if there was a calorie free (or very low calorie) way to make coffee less bitter?

Lighter roasts, and maybe different origins, if you're making your own coffee. The Strength 3 Kenyan and Rwandan coffee in my local supermarket tastes a bit sweeter than the norm to me.

I've always taken coffee with a little bit of milk and no sugar. Not a latte, just a black coffee with a drop of milk at the end to take the edge off. It's not calorie-free, but over the course of a day it adds up to about a small cup of milk, which I can live with.

Have you tried cold-brewed coffee? Water can be added as needed to reduce bitterness without affecting the flavor too hard. But you may want to ask yourself if the problem is bitterness, or that you just don't actually like the flavor of coffee.

Some cinnamon varieties add some mild non caloric sweetness

I suggest to follow research-based advises. For example, there is Harvard Schoold of Public Health:


US News publishes an annual review of diet plans, if you are interested:


If you decide to seek professional help via a diet specialist, be advised that a nutritionist and dietitian are not the same. A dietitian is a licensed medical field; in most states, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist and open a practice.

Good luck with your weight loss journey!

The most sustainable thing for me is the 50% rule: Roughly 50% by weight of your daily food intake should be unprocessed fruits and vegetables. There is no science behind this heuristic, but it's a way to a) make sure that you're eating more non-calorie-dense foods, and b) to force you to get creative in how you plan meals. There are undoubtedly more efficient ways, but it works for me because it's easy to stick to long-term.

I lost multiple dress sizes by simply eating more nutritiously. I never counted calories.

I wasn't even trying to lose weight. I was just trying to get healthier.


I think dieting follows an 80-20 rule where you can get 80% of the results with 20% of the effort required to get max results. Most people's issue is simply that they eat too many calorically dense foods, so they need to eat more calories to feel full. A lot of people fail at dieting because they recognize that they need to cut out calorically dense foods (e.g. potato chips, pastries) but then fail to replace them with less calorically dense foods, so they start feeling very hungry and go back to eating unhealthily.

So, I recommend following the typical advice of cutting out junk food and drinkable beverages (alcohol, soda, juice) but also to EAT MORE VEGETABLES. Vegetables are simply amazing, usually high in fiber, packed with micronutrients, low calorie, and they keep you full. Don't be afraid to add some butter/oil (in moderation!) and salt to them either.

1. Without exercise, you are going to lose muscle mass. There are many more exercise routines then weightlifting. Please check "High Intensity Training" (not HIIT). Drew Baye is a good example. He also has a website: http://baye.com

2. Sustainable diet is the one which you can do, obviously :) I also will suggest a book, easy to read and will help you achieve your goals. The Lean Muscle Diet. Here is the Amazon link; https://www.amazon.com/Lean-Muscle-Diet-Customized-Nutrition...

I plan my diet around whatever vegetable is on sale that week. Then pair a protein with it and maybe a staple starch like lentils or quinoa. You can roast the veggies and protein in simple seasonings and make the starch in a rice cooker with some low sodium broth. Easy weeknight dinner in 30 minutes

I'm now writing a blog post about my journey - 13kg less in less than 12 months.

The only 'diet hack' I used was replacing regular Coca Cola with Cola Zero (yeah, I know what it contains but 'this one little hack' made me stop gaining weight).

The other hack was to start jogging - for first couple weeks 3km, then 5km, now my regular route is ~7km (I've also ran 10km one time and made it under 1hour! :D ).

I tend to run at least 1 time per week, or as many as possible (due to family responsibilities 3 times is max).

While switching cola stopped me gaining weight, running made me loose it.

I've also started eating less fast-foods/sweets and more proteins (nothing fancy! e.g. homemade fried-egg burgers FTW! :) )

But the key I think to not be so strict about it - reminding yourself that you're "on diet" is the biggest pain I think.

Try eating only whole plant foods (vegan). It's better for you, for animals, and the planet.

Whole foods means unprocessed. Avoid concentrated or processed grains, sugar, and oil. So no flour, bread, or sugar. Just avoid grains entirely except for steel-cut unprocessed oats. Whole vegetables means potatoes, Japanese sweet potato, carrots, cauliflower, tomatoes, broccoli, etc. Whole fruits means bananas, oranges, avocados, etc. Eat some nuts but not too many. Drink soymilk (unsweetened) for calcium and protein. Take a vegan multivitamin. Eat from all these groups everyday, and don't snack. Don't eat after dinner. Don't eat out.

I've been doing this for years and have great digestion, feel amazing, and look great. It also feels good to know I'm not hurting and killing animals.

To tack onto this: eat legumes for energy, add spinach/kale/etc to parent's list, and take a legitimate B12 supplement[1].

Source: was an athletic vegan for a long time.

1. I use "Garden of Life B12 Vitamin - mykind Organic Whole Food B-12 for Metabolism and Energy, Raspberry, 2oz Liquid". I went from B12 deficient to B12 adequate on blood tests, so it works (for me).

It's also worth pointing out that I eat a lot of nutritional yeast, and it was not covering my B12 needs at all. AT ALL.

Yeah great points. B12 is produced by a bacteria that lives in animal (and human) small intestines. It's not clear why it lives in some humans and not others, so the only way to ensure you're getting it is to take a supplement (or eat animal products since animals are supplemented). Nutritional yeast does not contain B12 unless they're fortified with it.

Contrary to Wikipedia and popular belief, B12 producing bacteria has been found in human small intestines (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7354869). It's just not clear why it lives in some people and not in others. Prior to modern hygiene practices vegetarian humans and animals probably got it from ingesting feces (in contaminated water or food fertilized with feces).


This is really a pretty simple (not easy) thing that we tend to over-complicate. If you want just one rule, I will give this one - eat only food that you prepared by yourself - with only raw ingredients.

It excludes a lot of things (ready sauces, biscuits, chips etc) so it's not that easy. But you will be surprised at how effective it is - you will end up eating a lot of good stuff (veggies, met, simple carbs) and weight will go down very fast. By very fast I mean something like 3kg / month at least.

The biggest enemy in loosing weight is sugar - we just don't realize how much sugar we are eating / drinking every day by consuming transformed food. There is simply no way you put so much sugar in any meal you prepare by yourself.

I am avoiding diets because they only end up with me gaining more weight further down the road.

Everyone remember the 'Biggest Loser' show? Turns out some researchers followed-up with a statistically- significant sample size of contestants, a little less than 200. About 93% re-gained their weight after the show (> 1yr) and of that 93%, half gained back MORE than they lost (around 10% more). The show gave contestants access to great food, exercise, trainers, diet counselling ... on a per-person basis this was thousands and thousands of dollars that most people can never afford to spend themselves - and STILL the outcome was ... gain more weight :-(

Edging closer and closer to the idea that the only choice now is surgery (scares the HECK out of me!)

The reason they failed is because they stopped. For some reason people expect doing something healthy to their body for a few weeks is going to outweigh the years of eating bad food that they will repeat doing after losing weight.

Just look here at this prime example:

"Researchers followed 14 of the contestants from season 8 of The Biggest Loser, including the winner, Danny Cahill, for six years after the show ended. Thirteen of the 14 regained some of the weight back, and four of those gained back what they had lost – and more."

Imagine what would have happened to that person if he didn't go to the biggest loser and just ate the same unhealthy food for 6 years? Do you think he wouldn't have gained 10% more weight? It wouldn't make headlines if he did.

[0] https://people.com/bodies/the-biggest-loser-contestants-perm...

I’ve just been reading an interesting book that touches on this, it seems we have a set point that we naturally head back to. It can be reset but it isn’t easy.


As soon as you've reached your weight goal, you can switch to time restricted eating (aka intermittent fasting while circadian clock says "day") and just avoid sugary drinks/food and you'll (probably) be good.

Follow a low glycemic diet. This means don't eat sugar at all, and eat very few refined carbs like flour. Don't worry about fats. The fellow who invented this method is Michel Montignac, and it became popular enough in Europe to affect the national food purchasing statistics in the Netherlands. It is very similar to the Mediterranean diet.

Counting calories is a pain, and most people won't stick with it. Instead, you have to change your diet forever and become accustomed to following it. To maintain weight, you may find that you have to follow a more strict diet once a year (no alcohol or starch) following the holidays.

This can never be generalized. You should try to stick with things you like in moderation. ( writing this because I lose 20kgs plus last year )

Since you mentioned you cannot work out -

- Start measuring your calories - Eat in a calorie deficit - Try intermittent fasting - Try to eat vegetables with every meal ( fills you up + takes care of macronutrients ) - Cheat once in a while to keep you motivated

This cheat sheet worked for me. Try to find 4-5 dishes you can prepare easily, which you like. Repeat them - if you get bored maybe change them up after a month or so.

They key is not to feel like in a diet. Just eat normally, but eat less and eat smart.

> I tried some of those but found that nothing restrictive like that would work for me long term.

Any ideas on WHY that is?

All of us are subject to social pressures and internal weakness when it comes to staying on a nutrition plan.

OMAD has worked best for me long-term. Even after extended holiday with family, it's the easiest to get back on routine.

Black Coffee for breakfast. Skip Lunch, then a normal Man-sized dinner.

> https://blog.bulletproof.com/omad-one-meal-a-day-diet/

If You want to do it like Silicon Valley just do LSD micro-dosing with your morning coffee combined with IF a la Jack /s

Now for a real answer, It depends and No, I don't think You'll find the answer online.

You have to do blood tests, You have to meet with a nutritionist or Dr with the results of the blood tests.

Then it's a matter of adjusting your intake According to your daily activity.

If you're sedentary you have to eat less. Every body reacts different to different diets/regimes.

Take some time for yourself and set an appointment with a specialist in the subject

a balanced diet with energy input/ouput balance should be the default. avoid sugar and preprocessed food, drink enough water, exercise and you should be good to go. lost 30kg that way.

Forget all the fad diets. Eat sensible. Eat low glycemic foods. Eat smaller amounts, more frequently. You will feel full all day. AND, give yourself a cheat meal once a week to reward yourself!

The trick to weight loss is doing a variety of exercises that make you breathe heavy but not pushing your body too hard. You don't have to train like a pro athlete or do cross fit crap. Take your time. If you lose it slower there's more likelihood it becomes habit.

> Eat smaller amounts, more frequently.

Wrong. That spikes insulin unnecessarily. See The Obesity Code (Fung).

> The trick to weight loss is doing a variety of exercises that make you breathe heavy but not pushing your body too hard

What in the world? Got any scientific reference for that one?

The answer is a habit that works for you. Find healthy food that you enjoy, or at the very least you don't mind eating. Focus on building a good habit. Realize when you get cravings for unhealthy food and how to overcome them.

I'm also on a journey: https://twitter.com/charlehan/status/1117535352275648512

I found a best diet so far to just cut sugar and alcohol. The rest in my diet was unchanged - I am loosing weight very slowly but steadily, day by day.

Whole30 or Paleo.

No sugar. Read labels.

If you are just getting started I recommend trying the Whole30 plan. If you can power through for 30 days it really can change how you eat.

No evidence to support Whole30. In fact, it excludes beans and legumes which are an excellent source of protein and fiber.

What are you comparing it to as a foundation for you comment? It includes lots of meat which is also a great source or protein.

My wife and I both dropped a ton of weight and changed our eating habits for life. Like all diets your milage might vary.

I am not comparing it to anything, I just work with lots of people that have needlessly put themselves through months of this senseless diet. It excludes healthy food groups for no scientifically established reason. It's unhelpful to even mention. If the habits you gained from Whole30 are that you eat less processed foods and sugars, then that's all you need to suggest.


All DIY dieting is very unlikely to work, and low-fat dieting is slightly worse than other diets.

If you can pay $200-300 a month, weight loss medication has a fairly high success rate (50%-70%)

I'll have a shorter answer than most.

Don't focus on diets. Find a lifestyle that suits you. If anything, sports if what will help you most feel healthy. Find something that you can keep doing with your condition.

Whether it is keto, fasting or anything else, you want to find something that fits you and does not frustrate you or you'll end up worse.

The null diet can be sustained indefinitely, which is longer than the competing metabolic diets.

good day to you. i understand deeply your emotion running within you considering some different hurdles, hustles and endeavors we've face daily.

we have also same situation. i do really try hard searching for a most effective weight loss minus the lifting part. oftentimes laziness and binge eating always sabotage my fitness goals.

recently i found an article, a revolutionary weight loss method perfect for fat and lazy people,, certainly this is good to all people wanting to lose weight.

this article i wanna share(https://tombautista.wordpress.com/2019/04/15/how-to-seriousl...

is this the holy grail? what do you think of it? i wanna know your opinion.


good grief...every single reply you link to your blog. How about engaging here rather.

Chew your food more thoroughly. You eat slower and stop being hungry faster.

The Mediterranean diet could be the way to go...


I think maybe intermittent fastening is okay, eating more mediterrain stuff... but for instance just eat twice from 12 to 8pm and then don't eat anything till the next day :-)

I've done so in the past (intermittent fasting). Once with success and once without, so it's not really a silver bullet kind of thing.

If you don't like restrictive diets, try just counting calories. You can eat anything you please as long as you run at a calorie deficit.

There is no one simple rule or method that leads to a good diet. Even if there were a formula, you'd probably get bored with it over a lifetime of eating, so it needs to kind of a living work that's open to evolving and being reinvented. (And only you know exactly what you like.)

There's a lot of good basic advice out there about eating healthy foods (more vegetables, more fiber, less sugar, don't binge eat, etc.), and it covers a lot. I think the only way you really get a healthy diet is to gradually learn about it all, understand your weak areas, and work through and apply all the principles. In other words, it's a process of getting good at eating.

Nevertheless, I will share some "tricks" from my journey over the last few years:

(1) Accept that if a bad diet has been a lifelong pattern for you, then fixing it is going to be a ground-up reboot of how you eat. Think about it in terms of opening your mind, questioning everything, and re-learning everything.

(2) Pay attention to what you eat. Read nutrition labels, and maybe ingredients but that's less important. You don't have to do this forever because eventually you will internalize it. You will learn a lot. You will get a sense of what to favor and what to generally avoid. Having that sense will make a difference. (I used to think of "junk food" as a term that killjoys used to demonize enjoying food, but after reading labels, I finally understood for myself that some foods have a bunch of calories but little nutritive value. If these dominate your diet, you are going to have problems just like you'll have budget problems if you spend lots of money on frivolous crap.)

(3) Learn to love healthy foods. You might be tempted to read that as "accept the unfortunate fact that you're never going to enjoy eating again", but that's not what I mean. What I'm talking about is more like Pavlovian conditioning. We all have moments where we didn't have a chance to eat, we end up really hungry, and when we finally do eat something, it feels wonderful. Eat healthy foods for long enough, and these moments will build up and reprogram what you crave. One day your dinner will be delayed, and you'll find yourself fantasizing about the big salad, a huge pile of vegetables, and lean meat that you have planned for tonight's dinner. Aside from condition, an important part of learning to love healthy foods is trying lots and lots of them. Maybe you only like 1 in 5, but if you try 100 or more of them, you'll find something.

(4) Try to evaluate foods on two axes: like/dislike and healthy/unhealthy. This gives 4 quadrants. You should basically never eat anything from the dislike/unhealthy quadrant. And rarely does it make sense to eat a neutral/unhealthy food. Foods in the like/unhealthy quadrant are OK but not often. Foods in the dislike/healthy quadrant are fine but definitely seek out and prefer things in the like/healthy quadrant.

(5) Society is against you. Not on purpose, but look at obesity statistics (or just look around you) and see that most people don't eat healthy. Get used to the idea that you will be setting your own rules, which means there is a social aspect to this. Many restaurant menus will be packed with unhealthy options. People will pressure you to eat dessert with them. Not because they want you to fail but because it's the only way of eating that they know. It's best if you can do your own thing without calling attention to yourself. Graciousness makes things easier. I find positivity helps when you turn someone down. For example, if a co-worker brings donuts, I might say something like, "Wow! That was really nice of you! Unfortunately, I already ate breakfast and I don't need anything else, but those do look good!" Try to make them feel their gesture was genuinely appreciated.

For me, the best I've been able to do over the last 6 years is this:

- No(or very low) sugar. This means not eating many fruits, although I incorporate raspberries a lot because they are fairly low sugar and high fiber, resulting in low net-carbs.

- Low carbs, and definitely no refined carbs. Having gone the no-carb route, I didn't feel great on it, but some people do. I think carbs are fine for replenishing glycogen stores. Otherwise, I just don't have enough energy to do weight lifting.

- Intermittently fast, although I haven't been doing this nearly enough for the last 6 months. This is a good reminder for me.

- Eat lots of good fats, but really don't overdo it to the point where your body gets pissed off. I love MCT oil and ghee.

- Similar to Tim Ferriss' diet, I usually budget for cheat days. I agree with his assessment that a cheat day a week just isn't enough to negatively impact one's diet, and an imperfect healthy diet that's maintained is better than a perfect healthy diet that someone can't maintain. Plus I will get sick of the junk food and really desire to eat healthy again. This is also good because I don't want to be that guy who can't socially eat with friends, so just accepting the cheat day as an option means I can have pizza and beer and not feel bad about it when I see my friends occasionally.

- Don't overdo the protein, but have some protein. You really don't need that much protein despite what marketers are trying to sell you on, even if you are building muscle(serious bodybuilding being an exception). Excess protein can be converted to glucose. However, you can go down the frequent protein shake route if you are doing tons of exercise a day. I lost tens of fat-pounds at one point drinking lots of whey protein while hiking 6+ miles a day. No, I didn't have a full-time job at the time. ;)

When I'm maintaining it, my diet basically combines attributes of Keto, Paleo, and Mediterranean. This way I'm not too restricted or bored of what I eat. Unfortunately, it's been nigh impossible to maintain during periods where I've made little money. With the Mediterranean portion, I generally skip the rice.

By the way, if anyone's looking for a healthy shake to have in the morning, this is the recipe for the one I make all the time:

- 1 cup unsweetened pea milk (70 cal, 4.5g fat, 0g net carbs, 8g protein) (NOTE: water is just fine, and often times I'll adjust closer to 1/2 cup for a thicker consistency)

- 1/2 cup frozen raspberries (45 cal, 0 fat, 6g net carbs, 1g protein)

- 1/2 cup frozen avocado (92 cal, 8.58g fat, 2g net carbs, 1g protein)

- 1 tbsp stevia or erythritol (You might have to do it to taste)

- 1 tbsp MCT oil (130 cal, 14g fat)

- 2 tbsp sunflower seed butter (210 cal, 19g fat, 1g net carbs, 5g protein) (Almond butter tastes better, but has a few more carbs and has less omega-6 if I remember correctly.)

- 1/2 tbsp ceylon cinnamon

- 2 large raw pasture-raised eggs (71.5 cal, 6g fat, 0.5g net carbs, 6.3g protein) (make sure they're pasture-raised since they're the most safe)

Blend that in a bullet blender, and you've got yourself a sweet and fulfilling snack to start your day. Sometimes I replace the raspberries with a second 1/2 cup of avocado, use cold-brew coffee instead of water or pea milk, and add 1 tbsp high-fat cocoa powder. I'm kind of lazy with my measurements on that one, so I can't guarantee it will work out the same for you. Also, definitely don't have too many of them in one day; excess avocado causes certain phenomena in my bowels, but I feel great with just one or two shakes a day.

Some months I go "eff it" because I'm focused on work and devolve into eating junk, but I usually soon go back to my healthy diet. I've effectively maintained my weight of ~160 lbs despite sometimes going weeks or a month failing the diet.

A few generic tips:

- Don't think of it as a diet, do something that could theoretically sustainable for the rest of your life

- Learn about food and how it affects your body (that's an important knowledge investment, given you'll be eating for the rest of your life; nutrition is a complex field and studies are not super reliable, but you start to notice patterns with time)

- Try food replacement powders (or bars) to replace unhealthy meals with something more balanced (I use Huel but depending on geography)

- Eat enough proteins (how much depends on your goals and your body) - with some exercise, this will help you build muscle

- Sleep plenty

- Split your meals (and your proteins) across the day to avoid hunger

- Get a reliable scale and weight yourself at the same time every day

- Start with an online calculator (like iifym.com), try to eat that amount of calories for 2 weeks and monitor your weight

- Keep track of calories / proteins / fibres / sugar / saturated fat / salt in the food you're eating so as to reach your goals

- Do strength training to build muscle instead of tons of cardio (this will help you to build muscle, which will increase your metabolism) - I would still do some HIIT cardio for your heart's health

- When you reach a plateau and you're not losing weight anymore I'd recommend adding more cardio instead of cutting calories (mainly not to lower the amount of protein intake)

- Once you're happy with your body fat percentage I'd go back to strength training + little cardio.

On training:

Body-weight training is perfectly fine even if you can't lift weight (even though if you have health concerns you may want to consult your doctor, as body weight exercise can still be problematic).

This can be a good starting point: http://www.startbodyweight.com/p/start-bodyweight-basic-rout...

Once things get easy you can decide if you want to improve your endurance (by going for sets with high reps) or your strength (by going for sets with low reps and adding resistance - like weights).

My story (hoping you'll find something useful):

I recently lost 16kg from 84kg to 68kg over 4-5 months going from roughly 24% to 13% body fat. I may have lost some muscle but very little - my strength and my measurements seem to be increased.

What I do exactly on top of following the above tips:

- I'm on Huel 95% of the meals and "cheating" every once and then when I'm missing chewable food or for social eating (Huel helps because you know exactly how much you're eating)

- When eating food which isn't Huel I'm roughly calculating how many calories would that be and how many proteins - and then I'm adjusting my Huel meals or replacing some with protein powder

- I eat every 2 hours, 6 meals a day, from 10am to 8pm (fasting for 14 hours, which is something I've accidentally been doing all my life).

- For the first 3 months of my journey I did only strength training (push-ups, pull-ups, squats, various core exercises)

- In the last 2 months I added 1 hour of cardio per day as I wasn't losing weight anymore and I still wanted to burn more fat.

Future plans:

I plan to lose some more weight and then focus on building muscle + little cardio by going 200 calories over maintenance and cutting every once and then.

I already tried in the past to build muscle with 600 calories over maintenance and I definitely put too much fat on.

My workout regime is going to stay the same and I'll keep on eating mainly Huel (unless I create / find a tool which will help me create a diet as structured and precise as Huel and deliver the ingredients to my door).

Best of luck on your journey!

I'm not affiliated to any of the products / websites mentioned.

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