Less Peasant, More Bodybuilder

In previous posts, I’ve discussed my version of the Peasant Diet. Check out How I Used the Peasant Diet to Lean Out which was posted a year ago. In that post, I covered how I used a diet of high-volume unprocessed food – mostly carbs – to drop from 222 to 200 pounds without feeling hunger.

I strongly believe that if you design a diet that minimizes hunger, you will minimize the risk of regaining the weight.

After an inactive winter due to an injury, it would have been normal for me to gain some weight back. But I didn’t. By April, I was down to 197. That is when I declared victory.

I had lost weight without experiencing hunger and I was able to maintain that loss for a year even during a period where I was sidelined with an injury. I consider 197 to be the upper bound of my ideal weight.

The Peasant Diet was a great tool to get to that point, but as I recovered from my injury, I knew my activity would increase. I’d likely regain some muscle and get leaner. As you get leaner, you need higher levels of protein to preserve lean muscle mass. This was discussed in my P-Ratio post.

So starting in July, I began increasing protein and scaling back on potatoes. It is working. I’m down to 192 and look great. I know winter is coming, but I think I’m ready for it, just like I was last year. The skills I learned from the Peasant Diet easily apply to the higher-protein version (Bodybuilder).

Seattle fall

Seattle fall photo I took years ago.

Approach Fat Loss Like You Would Approach a Cat

I’ve had this analogy I’ve been thinking about for a long time now regarding successfully losing weight and then keeping that weight off. It has to do with dogs and cats.

Dogs are easier to understand than cats. They are either friendly or not and you determine that fact rather quickly. Cats, on the other hand, are more complicated.

Although there are always exceptions, cats usually do not like to be directly approached by strangers. They need a level of trust first. Trust is built in a few ways. First is patience. Noticing the cat. Letting the cat notice you. Waiting. Maybe approaching by a meter and then ignoring. Then notice the cat again. Repeat the process. Move a little towards the cat and stop. Let the cat come to you.

This trust-building with a cat is like a dance. An action is followed by an inaction. Recognition is followed by ignoring. If done correctly, the cat will slowly build trust with you. A trust that rarely would be established if you walked directly toward the cat. In those cases, the cat sees you coming and takes off.

This is just like sustainable fat loss. If you sharply reduce your calories and exercise a lot, you will get closer to the cat. You may even catch the cat. But the moment you let your guard down, the cat will wiggle free and escape. The cat in this analogy is your brain dealing with signals it views as threatening to your survival, which are fewer calories and higher energy demands.

Contrast this will a diet that cycles strategies of building trust with the brain such as high-volume (Peasant Diet, Potato Hack Diet) and higher-protein. Those diets quiet the hunger hormones. They are the graceful and respectful steps that don’t frighten the cat. A gradual increase in exercise doesn’t alarm the brain. Charging the cat at full speed may get you closer to the goal of reaching the cat quicker, but is unlikely to work in the end.

We all know stories of people that treated fat loss like a dog and lost weight. The vast majority regained that weight. The brain is really a cat and not dog. Trust was never established. Last year, I approached fat loss like a cat and today I’m sitting on the porch next to a purring kitten 25 pounds lighter.

Although there will always be exceptions, I believe that approaching fat loss like you would approach a cat is a better long-term strategy for maintaining fat loss. And this means using techniques to reduce hunger (higher-volume, higher-protein) and not trying to force an outcome using grit and willpower.


Photo by Erik-Jan Leusink


Declaring Victory! How I Lost and Kept Off 25 Pounds

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:

  1. Volume (Peasant Diet, Potato Hack, Volumetrics)
  2. 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 weight 197. That is a 25-pound loss. (Height 6′ 2.5) 

Why did I wait so long before declaring victory? A few reasons:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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