As I start out with intermittent fasting in January 2021, I’ve been reflecting on diet principles and frameworks. A framework that has resonated with me the most is from Peter Attia (link below). It’s a 2-min read and has a quick video, and it’s very simple and easy to understand.
He describes dieting as having 3 levers of restriction you can pull: 1) caloric restriction (i.e. calorie counting); 2) dietary restriction (cutting out certain foods); and 3) time restriction. He goes on to say you should always be doing 1 of the 3, and using combos of 2 and up to 3 for max pushes.
In most of my adult life I’d say I’ve been actively pulling one of the levers, usually 1 or 2. But as I’ve dabbled in various caloric and dietary restriction methods, my success has been fairly spotty and usually with yo-yo effects post-diet. I’ll briefly describe here.
For 1) Caloric Restriction, this has always seemed to me to be the fundamental diet rule. Dial your input below your output and you’ll lose weight. This was the first diet I tried back in high school, when I limited myself to 1 plate of whatever my parents made (as opposed to 3–4). Which worked, until I went to college and started drinking.
I’ve tried this in my adult life, and my consistent challenge has been that any big eating or drinking weekends can wipe out week(s) of progress. Slow, steady weight loss over weeks can be wiped out very quickly. It can definitely work, but requires the most discipline and generally restricts most of my favorite pleasures (wine, dining out).
For 2) Dietary restriction, I’ve tried the slow-carb diet from Tim Ferriss several times. One time with great success, as I cut out alcohol and stuck to it for over 6 months (and got the most cut I’ve ever been). Other times have been less successful, as I’ve over-done cheat days or had just enough drinks to lose the primary benefits.
My other challenge with this one, is that as soon as you integrate white carbs back in, weight comes back on. I’ve also tried cutting out sugar, cutting carbs below 100 grams per day, etc., all with similar impact — as soon as I add those items back in or go above the threshold, the weight yo-yos.
I’m just now trying lever 3) Time restriction, and the biggest reason I’m excited about it is that there are no food restrictions. And thus I don’t see the potential yo-yo effect coming if I choose to break from the IF trial.
Starting day 3 I’m already seeing some nice side effects that I didn’t anticipate — but I’ll get in to those in a future post.