After the revelations I had analyzing all my previous dieting failures, it's time for a new approach. No more diets, no more goal weight. Instead, the new plan is to develop a simple system of sustainable, healthy habits that will lead me to success over time.
So rather than getting psyched for a new approach, jumping in with both feet and sprinting to my desired body composition as soon as possible (like I've always done), my goal now is to get into a rhythm for long term fitness.
Learning how to listen to my body and eat intuitively is a huge part of this.
By the way, it's important to me that the rhythm is daily, and not 48h-based or more (such as alternate day fasting), because doing the exact same thing every day minimizes the brain power requirement and makes it easier to turn that thing into a long term habit.
So without further ado, here are the 3 habits that make up my new system for success:
1) Focus on satiety
The first and by far the most important component is focusing on satiety, because satiety is the only thing that is sustainable in the long run.
As I've personally proven: it is possible to control how much you eat in the short term.
But in the long-term, how much you eat is not an independent variable and is completely dependent on WHAT you are eating.
What I learned from dr. Ted Naiman and his P:E diet is that not all macronutrients are created equal in terms of satiety signals, because not all macros are of equal importance.
Protein and minerals are essential nutrients for your body to function and not fall apart, while energy, in the form of fat or carbohydrate, is only of secondary importance. This is mainly because the average person has weeks (sometimes months) worth of stored energy on their body at any given point, while protein is not stored at all: you consist of it.
For this reason, your body prioritizes protein and minerals in its satiety signals.
Any animal will always keep eating until it at least gets all the nutrients it needs, even if it has to dramatically overconsume energy to do so.
Ted Naiman (paraphrased)
Researchers figured this out long ago. If they want to create obese rats to do studies on, they know exactly what to feed them, namely obesogenic rodent chow that consists of 45% fat, 40% carbs and only 15% protein. This is impossible for the rats not to overeat on, so they'll get fat easily.
It's scary to realize that after decades of diluting the nutritional density of the food supply by adding cheap refined carbohydrates (sugar, flour) and refined fats (oils) to everything, the standard western diet of today now trails these macros exactly.
This is the one simple cause of obesity and why 91% of Americans are overfat. It also explains why, like so many other people, I don't do well with moderation and portion control.
Focusing on satiety means choosing foods that are high in protein and low in energy.
In practice, for me, this still looks like an almost 100% carnivore diet, but with generally leaner meats and no added fats.
- Eggs (main fat source)
- Ground beef
I eat these foods to satiety. I don't track macros/calories during the day because I know it will interfere with my ability to listen to my satiety signals.
For the same reason, I don't track my weight every day. Instead, I plan to only weigh myself once a month.
2) 16:8 two meals a day
The second component to my system of habits is 16:8 two meals a day.
I've found that living on stored energy for an extended amount of time (i.e. not eating constantly from dawn to dusk) has numerous benefits, such as improved mental clarity, and increases in desirable hormones such as testosterone and hGH.
Some people call this practice fasting, although others would say that it's only really fasting if you're actually hungry and you still choose not to eat.
To be clear, I'm not planning to ignore hunger signals anymore, because my mission here is to learn how to listen to my body and achieve the holy grail of intuitive eating (see #1).
That being said, many "fasting" routines are easy to maintain without getting hungry, especially when focusing on satiating foods.
I have tried OMAD (one meal a day) in different formats for a long time. During this time, I've run all the experiments as to when to eat that one meal: breakfast, lunchtime, dinner and anything in between.
Breakfast time didn't really work for me, because a big meal in the morning made me feel a lot less mentally sharp throughout the day.
But whenever I chose any other time of the day for my one meal, I usually ended up getting hungry about 4 hours before my eating window would open – regardless of how much I ate the day before. This would result in me always being really hungry when it was finally time to eat.
So I would wolf down an absolutely massive meal in a relatively short amount of time, without much regard for satiety signals. I ended up eating until I was full, rather than satiated.
I've found that smaller meals help me listen to my satiety signals better.
Still, I do find it really easy to skip breakfast, because I'm almost never hungry in the morning. So 16:8 strikes the perfect balance for me.
Two meals a day, lunch and dinner, generally eaten within a 6-8 hour eating window, and no calories outside of that.
I have to stress that I'm not religious about this eating window. Satiety and hunger signals are still going to take precedence. It just helps to have some general rhythm as to when I usually eat, for habit building.
3) Iron for breakfast
With muscle being the organ of longevity, it's clearly vital to have exercise be part of my system for success.
Besides, I don't want to end up like I did the first time I tried to get fit: reaching my goal weight as a weakling.
That being said, I also have plenty of experience with jumping into heavy exercise regimens that yield great results in the short run, but are unsustainable in the long run.
I've come to the conclusion that small but consistent contributions over time are less motivating in the short run, but they're easier to sustain and pay off hugely in the long run.
Compound interest is the strongest force in the universe.
Albert Einstein (allegedly)
So I've invested in a home gym (barbell + squat rack) and set out to create a routine that would be easy enough so that I could do it every day, but still challenging enough to actually yield results.
This is the full body workout I do every morning now (Sundays excluded):
- Air squats
- Push ups
- Pull ups
- Press (military)
- Bent over row
- Power clean
- Bench press
- Pull ups
Seeing that I do this every day, I only do one set per exercise.
I'm also free to choose the reps and weight according to how I feel that particular day. If I only do one rep with the empty bar for every exercise, I would still count that as a non-zero day. ✅
This flexibility makes my workout less intimidating, which makes it more likely that I will actually do something every day – hopefully more than the bare minimum on most days.
It also allows my workout to feel like play.
After all, I'm free to decide to do an AMRAP set, a deload or a PR set whenever I feel like it. While this may not sound optimal to strength programming purists, it will make it more likely that I will actually keep this up for years, or hopefully decades, to come.
I've started this routine 10 days ago and I'm planning to reevaluate and readjust where necessary on a monthly basis. So I'll report back on July 1st.