One of my clients calls my program “The no willpower diet,” because the foods I had him eat were so satisfying and delicious. He also lost 50 pounds (and counting), with minimal exercise. I freaking love that. My only regret is that I didn’t think of the term myself. Here’s how it works.
If your diet requires willpower you will eventually fail. Such a failure. With enough time willpower always fails…ALWAYS. Ever heard of Yo-Yo dieting? Guy musters up willpower and begins a diet, willpower runs out unexpectedly, guy ends diet. Repeat ad nauseam. Sadly, this guy feels weak, discouraged and his self-confidence takes a hit. He might give up dieting altogether, thinking he doesn’t have the necessary willpower. Sidenote - I was that guy. The problem wasn’t lack of willpower or discipline, it was the unfulfilling DIEt food.
Listen to cravings
The human body has evolved over millions of years to crave healthful, fatty, nutrient-dense foods. Why would we ever crave bland unsatisfying foods if they were so good for us? It makes no sense from an evolutionary biology perspective. If we craved foods that were bad for our health, the human race would perish. That didn’t happen, obviously, we’re now the planetary apex super predator. Rawr!
When you force yourself to eat a low-fat, bland diet, your body rebels with cravings. You have to ramp up meal frequency (6 meals a day) and cover everything with flavorings…manmade, chemical flavorings. Mmmmmm….Monosodium Glutimate….
“Ok smart guy if that’s true then why do I crave Krispy Kreme and Flaming Hot Cheetoes?” (totally my favorites btw)
I said, we crave healthful "FOODS.” Krispy Kreme and Flamers are not food, they are food-like products. Processed carbs are not real food, but they're technically edible. Processed foods hijack the craving reward mechanism in our brain, because they contain a fuck-ton of energy and chemicals (MSG) engineered to illicit a massive dopamine dump. I wrote about this concept, and donuts and cocaine, here.
The body loves absorbing energy because energy=survival, at least in ancient times it did. Currently, energy=muffin top. Hundreds of thousands of years ago energy was scarce. It makes sense that we would crave instant-energy “foods” like sugar. It was evolutionarily advantageous.
Got it? OK, moving on!
The trick to successful “dieting”
The trick to successful “dieting” (I hate that word) is choosing a diet that requires ZERO willpower. Eat only foods you absolutely love. People need no willpower for things they love. A diet of delicious foods you enjoy is sustainable because it requires no willpower. I literally haven’t eaten anything I don’t fully enjoy in 5 years. My diet foods are better than most cheat meals.
Willpower is like a gas tank. Finite. Good sleep replenishes willpower and we awaken each morning feeling strong and confident. Daily responsibilities drain willpower and by nightfall we feel vulnerable and weak.
I’m most likely to drink booze after a long, challenging day, when my willpower is low. Abstaining from alcohol requires willpower for me. I like to party and it gets me into trouble sometimes. I hack my willpower as it relates to booze. I don’t keep beer in the fridge, I don’t go out with the boys during happy hour and I schedule training for weekends to keep busy. This removes the need for willpower.
With high willpower responsibilities are easy. Diets, work and rude people…easy, even enjoyable. This is the warrior moment. When I feel like I can do anything in life...also coffee. With low willpower everything is difficult. I’m easily triggered, I suddenly hate my job and that carton of ice cream looks like a good idea. This is the “DGAF” (Don’t Give A F*%k) moment. This is the moment your willpower diet will fail you.
This concept should carry over into the logistics of your entire health practice. Design everything around no willpower. I only exercise when I want to and I do movements that I find fun. I don't meal prep because thats a time consuming chore and I only eat once or twice a day, when I'm hungry. Fat-adaptation makes meal prep unnecessary. My meal prep is on my body...body fat...and it comes conveniently packaged and insulated under my skin. Thanks nature.
Maintaining a high level of fitness and abs year round requires almost no willpower. I dont bulk and cut. I look the same mid winter as I do poolside mid summer. Why? beause science, thats why. I'm working with, not against, my biology. #Keto
Wasting willpower on dieting is a bad call. Eating should be enjoyable and willpower should be reserved for more important things like parenting, career, school or exercise.
I'll be posting an article on how cravings fit into this picture and how to reprogram them, tomorrow.
Thanks for reading,
Coaching inquiries - Gabe@ancientgains.com