It was just over a year ago that I decided I needed to lose 20-25 pounds. But before I started on my diet, I knew the challenge wasn’t losing the weight, but keeping it off. That is where many people fail. There is no shortage of success stories, but they often regain. I’ve read estimates that between 70 and 95% of people that successfully lose weight will regain the weight. Often they gain more.
My belief based on the research I did a year ago was that using willpower would be a long-term losing strategy. If setpoint theory has any validity then the brain will both remember the higher preferred weight and the hunger signals experienced during any weight loss. Then when your willpower drops, the brain will ramp up hunger and take you back to your setpoint.
So following a simple “eat less, move more” plan without addressing how the brain would respond to hunger is a poor strategy. The key that I tested and proved for myself during my diet is to create a calorie deficit by minimizing hunger.
My 2 tools were:
- Volume (Peasant Diet, Potato Hack, Volumetrics)
- Protein (Old School Bodybuilder)
I’ve talked about these approaches at length in other posts, but the short versions are that foods with a high volume and low calories fool the brain. The stomach doesn’t measure calories. It measures volume. Given the same volume, boiled potatoes will have far fewer calories than French fries. And protein is known to crush appetite.
I have more ideas and thoughts here: Fat Loss Cheatsheet: What Works and What Doesn’t (for me)
Why Victory Now?
In March 2017, I weighed 222.
By August 2017, I was down to 202.
Today, I weigh 197. That is a 25-pound loss. (Height 6′ 2.5)
Why did I wait so long before declaring victory? A few reasons:
- When I reinjured my knee, my activity fell. I needed to maintain my lower weight at a lower activity level. If I didn’t, I’d need to change my plan.
- If setpoint theory is correct and I use a conservative 1/2 pound per week reset, then my fat loss moved much faster than my setpoint. But now that we are just over a year, it has caught up. This means that because I’ve been at my lower weight for several months now, I’ve likely locked in the new lower setpoint. This is all my speculation. The science is still being debated. I took a conservative view of the debate.
- I have spent more than a year building habits with the Peasant Diet and the Potato Hack. And lately, the Fasting Mimicking Diet. I’m very skilled with these tools. I’m well past the learning curve. I know how to use these methods to get immediate and predictable results. Muscle memory. Like driving a stick-shift.
I know that thousands of people have read my various posts on the Peasant Diet and the Potato Hack and it is likely that I inspired a few people and hopefully they are having success. If you are, leave a comment. May your success inspire others.
Photo by Japheth Mast
May 1, 2018 — 5:56 am
Well done MAS. That is impressive sustained fat loss by anyone’s standards especially as you were not dramatically overweight to begin with. Am currently experimenting with 3 day potato hacks twice a month to hit my fat loss goals. Couldn’t agree more about your point about the learning curve. When I first tried the hack last year I made mistakes which I have learned from. It is now much much easier each time and I am seeing results!
May 1, 2018 — 10:53 am
This is wonderful! You may have covered this elsewhere, but did you do anything differently during your “maintenance” phase, in terms of eating? Or did you continue your regimens throughout the year?
Also — would you consider weight gain to be your primary trigger that it’s time to resume the full-court press? I monitor my weight but also notice how tightly or not I cinch my belt, how my clothes feel on me, etc.
BTW: I’m 56 yo, 6’3″ and 209.4 as of today and would like to get down to about 195. I wavered around 250lbs in my 20s, tried various diets and programs, and with the help of a nutritionist got from 235 to 217 in the early 2000s. The only time I was 195 was when I was stressed out of my mind in grad school, eating crap, but walking everywhere; I think my bodymind remembers that 195=stressed out. Your posts have inspired me to try some new things (i.e., hard-boiled eggs are in the office fridge in case of hunger pangs) and read up on others.
Thanks for sharing your journey and congratulations!
May 1, 2018 — 1:04 pm
Thank you MAS, this has become one of my favorite sites, appreciate you sharing this info. I started the potato hack a few months ago. My weight last year was 221, with a 42 waist. I’m just a hair over 6 feet tall. That was partly due to a hellish job that I eventually quit. Today I am about 197 or so. This is mainly due to intermittent fasting, time restricted eating and potato hacking. My goal is to to get down to 185-190 which would put me at a BMI just above 25. I am fairly well muscled due to many years of pumping iron and lifting Kettlebells along with cycling up mountain passes on the weekends. What was so encouraging was going on a week vacation to the islands, eating/drinking like an animal and gaining only 2 pounds, which i have since lost doing a several day hack. I strongly recommend the potato hack to others and I have read the book by Tim, thanks to you. Keep up the good work. By the way, i suffer from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which caused my some weight gain the last decade. I finally got disgusted with myself and I altered my diet, quit my job and started working on taking care of myself physically, mentally and spiritually. Recently i have been mostly avoiding grains (using potato instead) and my thyroid numbers are greatly improved. I also cut down on red meat and get protein from plant sources, when possible. I take a moderate approach to all things now, trying to balance food enjoyment with health and other ethical concerns. So far, I am very pleased with the results.
May 1, 2018 — 1:55 pm
@Ritesh – Thanks for checking in. Best of luck.
@Mike – Good question about maintenance eating. It is a question I will ponder further, but my initial thought is that I’m still in Peasant mindset for the majority of my meals. If I started to drop pounds too rapidly or become underweight, I could address that issue then. Most likely with ice cream. 🙂
I weigh myself at the gym 1-2x a week and I tape measure my widest point 2-3x per week. With those 2 numbers, you know if the weight you are dropping or gaining is fat or muscle. If I drop weight but the tape measure doesn’t move, that tells me I am losing muscle. If I’m gaining weight, but the tape measure is the same, then I’m gaining muscle.
It is a crude but effective way to know where you are heading and to make adjustments quickly. To me, this is far better than having a body fat test every X number of months – and usually from a different person.
@Mitch – Congrats on your success. Thanks for sharing.
Jul 26, 2020 — 2:35 pm
It is 2020 and I have been enjoying the heck out of your site, MAS. Thank you. After 4+ month of sedentary sheltering in place and binge eating and comfort eating, my already-fat body has become intolerable. I’m not a bodybuilder, not even an exerciser. I have just finished the 4th potato hack I have tried in the past few years. (Usually within the context of otherwise out of control lazy Peatish eating that just evolved into a veggie-heavy SAD plus sugar and coffee.) Three days of potatoes followed by my current couple of days of potatoes and protein plus some veg has me down 10 pounds. I have 50 to go, and I won’t be a success story until I get some basic movement and more sleep down, and reach and maintain a goal weight. But today I feel really good and really thankful for all of the work you’ve put in here. Stay safe!
Jul 27, 2020 — 6:40 am
@Kiki – I’m glad some of my posts have been of value. We wish you the best.