Category Archives: Diet

The progression principle (ctd)

I just wanted to highlight another example of the progression principle in action, this time in the dieting world. This comes from a post discussing the current thinking about cheat days and dieting over at While I encourage you to read the whole post, here are the important bits:

  • Psychologically, it may be effective to accept that it’s only possible to stick to a diet about 80 percent of the time. The other splurges are totally natural and a-okay.

Here’s what they had to say about guilt, slipping up, and back-sliding:

The key, according to Joe, is getting past the guilt of assigning “good” and “bad” tags to various foods. Rather than turning a minor slip-up into a major back-slide, she says cheaters should simply accept what they ate, and continue with their diet as planned.

So what are we talking about here? We’re essentially talking about the progression principle, or the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time, you will stay on target for your diet plan. 20% of the time, you will slip-up now and then. You may even back-slide. That is OK. As long as you accept the slip up, and then return to your plan as normal, in the long-term you will continue your upwards progression. This holds true in diet as well as training or any behaviour you’re trying to change.

Remember, when you’re habit-forming — and that’s what dieting, exercise training, or learning a skill is — you are building new pathways in your brain. Through repetition, you are making those pathways easier to access. But sometimes your brain will revert to old habits; it’s a resilient organ, and that’s in it’s nature. Expect these slip-ups to happen from time to time, but just make sure you stay on target the rest of the time. If you can manage that, you’ll find that the new behaviours slowly become easier, and the slip-ups will reduce. Torturing yourself over missing a calorie goal or missing a workout once in two weeks is not worth it. Simply accept the slip, adjust your timelines, and move on.

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Say it again: watch calories, not fat

Just wanted to highlight this little tidbit in the Vancouver Sun which reiterates something I’ve believed for a while now: it’s not so much important where you get your calories from, so much as how many you get, if you want to lose weight.

Bray, of Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and his colleagues randomly assigned several hundred overweight or obese people to one of four diets: average protein, low fat and higher carbs; high protein, low fat, and higher carbs; average protein, high fat and lower carbs; or high protein, high fat and lower carbs.

Essentially, they were testing high-carb diets, low-fat diets,  low-carb diets, and high protein/fat diets (like paleo). The results?

At six months, people had lost more than nine pounds of fat and close to five pounds of lean mass, but some of this was regained by the two-year mark.

People were able to maintain a weight loss of more than eight pounds after two years. Included in that was a nearly three-pound loss of abdominal fat, a reduction of more than seven per cent.

The team found no differences in weight loss or fat reductions between the diets.

Mainly saying, it doesn’t matter where you get your calories, just as long as you stay under your caloric limits. Now that being said, different diets will have an effect on other health factors, like heart health, cholesterol, insulin resistance, and so on. But for straight weight loss, it’s less calories, not less fat.


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Healthy Bastard’s Road to Fitness Part 1: Diet

So I promised in my previous post to talk about how I’ve been approaching this whole lose-weight-and-become-a-healthy-bastard thing. However, I was a bit puzzled, initially, by how to break it all down. For those of us who are looking to shed the pounds and haven’t spent a lot of time learning about how to lose weight and build muscle, this can be the most confusing part of the process. But as far as I have discovered, weight loss  and muscle gain consists of five discrete factors that combine to form a fit and healthy lifestyle. These are all big topics, so I’m breaking this notion into five posts. This post is about diet.

Healthy Bastard’s Road to Fitness Part 1: 80% of Weight Loss is Diet

Read on for more:

Continue reading

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