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Here’s something non-nerdy presented in as nerdy a way as I can. (Translation: Boring.) Many of you know of my relatively recent weight loss. That context may be important for this post, but hardly necessary. This week, I was off work for Winter Fantasy, and I spent most of that time at home. That gave me the opportunity to completely control my diet. Eating at home was never inconvenient. So, for the second time in recent times (I lost 17 pounds in two months last time), I decided to go on the carnivore diet for one week. Today is day seven, so my report is actually for only six days. I enter my weight and nutritional information into MyFitnessPal. Here’s my weight chart for most of the past 3 months.
Yeah, that’s the carnivore diet at work.
In case you don’t know, the carnivore diet is what I call a starvation diet. As far as I know, my use of that phrase differs from what you’ll find on Google. I define that as any diet that insists you starve yourself of one or more food groups (e.g., no carbs, vegetarian, carnivore). The carnivore diet allows you to eat only meat: chicken, lamb, pork, fish, and beef. When you do so, you eat whenever you’re hungry without concern for calorie count. For example, on my first day (Wednesday), I ate 1,039 more calories than I should have ( based on my usual 1,850 daily calorie limit and factoring in my workout), and on the next day, I ate 1,388 to many. By the time I woke up on Friday morning, I had lost 1 pound. There was a strange blip on Friday morning’s weigh in, but then things started to drop again.
The results are as follows: When I started, I weighed 230.4 lbs. This morning, I weighed 223.8 lbs. Almost 7 pounds lost in 6 days. I stayed with meat this morning for breakfast, am skipping lunch, and have clearly broken this diet for dinner (National Pizza Day!), so these are the final results.
Note well that the carnivore diet may not work for you. In fact, it’s not necessarily good for me. As with all of these starvation diets, the results vary greatly from one person to another, and some of them are too new to address concerns for long-term effects. Sure, there are people who’ve been on the carnivore diet for years, and their kidney still work. However, I still have 24 years left (according to the statistical average for my demographic), and the data doesn’t go that long. Moreover, I don’t think it’s much better than any other starvation diet, and the losses aren’t sustainable. I wouldn’t disappear after 32 weeks on the diet.
What I do know is that the most important factor in losing weight is willpower. You can lose weight in a lot of different ways, and while the science remains unsettled, the most important thing is to pick a diet with which you’ll remain consistent. Studies seem to suggest that diet is the most important factor, outweighing cardio and strength training. I have a strong suspicion that those studies are more a measurement of human psychology than nutrition. After all, one reason they say to eat a big breakfast is to avoid hunger pains that will lead to extra eating later in the day. When I’m on my normal diet, I eat 100 calories for breakfast. Yes, I get hungry, but I ignore it. My willpower overrides their science not because the science is bad, but because it’s based on a psychological trait that simply doesn’t apply to me anymore (I was once 303 pounds!). I stick with the plan.
So, find yourself a diet that works for you, but once you’ve gotten to a reasonable weight (or sooner), make sure to add cardio and weight training to it. I personally focus on cardio because, like you, I have only so much time to workout, and perhaps unlike you, I’m getting old. Having a strong heart is more important long term than being able to lift things up and put them down. It seems that the studies suggest that strength training is a bit more important than cardio for weight loss. For what it’s worth, my anecdotal experience agrees. You have to figure out those things for yourself, because again, nothing will work unless you stick with it.
Do what works best for you.
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