TL;DR I’m dieting again. It’s working. I describe it in detail because it is of interest to me. Feel free to skip this update if it doesn’t interest you.
I’m pretty lucky in that my body responds well to dieting: I lose weight relatively quickly, and it takes years to put it back on. But it does go back on. Part of that is that my eating habits gradually revert to bad. In the past, I’ve found that simple calorie counting works very well for me. The trouble is that calorie counting is a pain in the ass. It actually pushes me toward eating more processed/prepared foods because then I don’t have to do as much work to figure out calories. I want something that’s more sustainable and has a better exit plan than “keep counting calories for the rest of your life”.
So I’m trying something new, and I have a plan for after I hit my target. After watching a recent BBC Horizons documentary on “personalized dieting”, I took their test and figured out what category of dieter I fit into best. To be honest, “personalized” is a bit of a misnomer because they only had three types of dieters, and I think that there must be more. Two of the them were related to physiological issues (Constant Cravers and Feasters), and one was psychological (Emotional Eaters).
As I said, I took their little online test and, no big surprise, I came out as a craver. Which makes sense. When left to myself, I tend to graze a lot. I’ve never been super big (but that might be because I’m still relatively young and active), so maybe I don’t have the physiological issue that the scientists in the documentary identified, but my behaviour certainly follows this template more than the others. (If you want more details, just search “Constant Cravers BBC Horizon” and you’ll likely find the webpages devoted to this programme.)
The Constant Craver diet was recommended two consecutive days on a highly restricted calorie count (600 – 800 kcal), and low carbs.
Not willing to take a TV programme at its word, I did some poking around and seemed to find some evidence that “intermittent dieting” worked well, and sometimes even yielded better results than regular calorie restriction, or even full-time low-carb diets. The evidence wasn’t overwhelming, but I thought it was worth a try.
On the non-restricted days, no calorie counting was required, but a “Mediterranean Diet” was recommended. That diet is very hard to follow for me as a person who doesn’t eat vertebrate animals, but I’m also not as out-of-control as some of the dieters on the show were. For instance, my ideal weight (before adding more muscle) is around 70kg and my weight when I started the diet was probably around 85kg. I’m 185cm tall, just for reference, and I tend to fall within standard BMI measurements. Actually, I have a slim build, so ideal weight should skew lower for me, probably, but still, I’m looking to lose under 20kg, not 100kg. So I’ve just been eating normally and cutting portion sizes when I cook for myself. I’ve been cutting down on sweet stuff, too, but I don’t sweat it too much.
So far, the results seem to be good. I am basically constantly hungry two days a week (usually Wednesday and Thursday), which is unpleasant, but the other days I don’t sweat it. I’ve started making whole wheat chapatti and in general don’t limit carbs but try as much as possible in Japan to eat whole grain ones. I’ve lost… well, it’s hard to say, because I didn’t have scales when we started, but based on how fat I looked, my guess is that I was about 85kg. Our current scale is a bit unreliable, but it’s telling me I’m hovering around 76-77kg after 4 weeks on this diet.
But the most important part is what do I do when I hit my target weight? At that point, or maybe even when I’m getting close, I’m going to change the restricted days to low-carb only, and possibly make it just one day a week. I also plan to start doing some strength exercises (I get a fair amount of basic exercise from walking quickly over the hills near my house carting my 11kg son around), but I’ve, of course, been putting that off for the time being. In any case, it’s having a plan for afterwards that makes this different than one of my normal diets. So, uh, I guess, good luck to me?
Update: The link to the BBC test that categorizes your eating type is here http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/z2csfg8