I don’t believe much of the nutrition “science.” The studies are poorly defined and the results are rushed to a mostly illiterate media. I do, however, believe a broken clock is right two to three times a day depending on daylight savings.
I haven’t found any of the studies about paleolithic diets convincing. I neither believe their historic time-lines or their claims for understanding the complex biology involved. But, I do believe in energy barriers. It’s with this self-analysis that I started my own diet. This is a diet based on inconvenience.
The problem: It’s easy to eat low value food and hard to know what’s low value.
The diet: Eat as little grain-based food as possible. If I think it might have grain in it, I avoid it. I also avoid food based on sugar. A little sugar is fine here and there but if the point of the food is to embellish the sweetness of sugar, I avoid it.
The result: I’ve lost 25 pounds in 6 months. The amount of weight is less notable than to total duration. Six months is a good amount of time to do anything.
The main feature of this diet is that it is incredibly inconvenient to eat food. Almost everything I can have in a restaurant is made from or with grain products. The consequence is that I almost never go out to eat. Not for dinner, not for lunch. The knock-on effect of this is that I plan my food because if I want to stick to the diet there’s almost no way to go out or quickly grab something convenient. I can’t eat a burrito. I can’t grab a bagel. I can’t even eat most meal replacement bars.
I keep a giant supply of nuts at home and at the office. I eat two to three apples every day. I eat at least one Rx Bar per day. I eat way more dates than I ever have. I also eat a stupid amount of protein from eggs and meat because that’s the only way to fight back hunger so I can focus.
Without a plan, I settled on a few exemptions so that I can stay on the diet. The worst thing about dieting is that it makes me think about what I’m missing. So, on friday night I allow myself some good beer. Doing this helps me avoid bread because when I look at bread I see the beer that I can’t have instead. I prefer a good New England IPA over any bread in the world.
Second, dates and honey are good ways to quell the desire for traditional sweets. I love ice cream. I don't allow myself to eat ice cream. Instead, I'll eat a few bites of a date roll or have some honey and yogurt. I'm not kidding myself though. It's not as good as ice cream.
25 pounds isn't dramatic, but neither is the effort. Beyond the new availability of clothes that fit, there's been an improvement in my digestion. I generally feel better in ways that have nothing to do with the weight. It's been a worthwhile experiment that I plan to continue.
I believe in simple algorithms. Rules are hard enough to follow so I like obvious choices. I found calorie counting and complex diets too mentally taxing for me to be consistent and too easy to justify a landslide of "small" cheats. A simple rule of no grain and less sugar is a easy to grok. This is not a prescription. It's just a study in how I thought about my own motivations and weaknesses and developed a model I could live with.