: Do not get your health advice from cartoonists. This blog is for entertainment only. If you see something here that interests you, please do your own research or talk to someone who actually knows things.
Here's the easiest diet plan of all time: Eat as much healthy protein as you can.
That's the entire plan.
Okay, your brain just came up with several reasons why this plan is dumb and incomplete. Allow me to anticipate those objections and address them.
What about variety? You need a diet with lots of variety, not just protein. Wouldn't a focus on protein make you lose out on the variety you need?
In theory, that sounds like a problem. In practice, no one can eat the same thing day after day and feel satisfied. In my case, pursuing protein and preferring variety led me to get a blender so I could eat protein smoothies for some meals. And what do you put in smoothies to make them taste so good? Fruit and veggies.
My point is that your natural impulse for variety will lead you toward new ways to get your protein, and many of those methods will deliver variety in fruits and veggies at the same time.
You can generally gorge on fruits and veggies as much as you want without worrying about weight gain. In theory you could overeat and become fat from fruits and veggies. In practice, healthy food is almost always self-regulating in the sense that you don't crave an overdose of broccoli. You can eat as much as you want of those foods because you probably won't want enough to make you gain weight.
The beauty of protein is that it has three important properties: It suppresses appetite, it doesn't make you sleepy the way simple carbs do, and it helps build muscles that will burn more calories naturally.
Our brains are wired in such a way that it is always easier to run toward something attractive than to resist something attractive. So instead of resisting carbs, you run toward protein, which can also be delicious. There is no need for willpower when you can eat as much as you want of anything in the healthy protein category.
Simple carbs create a physical addiction. You crave your junk food and you might believe your craving is some sort of natural urge baked into your unlucky DNA. But in my experience, and in the experience of people I know, once you kick the bad carbs habit you lose the cravings in a few months. You don't need willpower to resist something you don't want.
Eating poorly is addictive. But it turns out that eating healthy can be equally addictive. It took me years to get there, but at this point junk food literally looks like poison to me. I couldn't be less interested. For me, no willpower is needed because my body is now conditioned for healthy eating.
There are lots of problems and risks with the "eat as much healthy protein as you can" diet plan. If you randomly picked ten people to try the plan, at least three of them would eat charred meat for every meal and die of cancer. But I think you have to compare my plan to all other diet plans - the ones that fail nine-out-of-ten times in the long run.
Dieting is a psychological process. Most diet plans get that wrong, focusing on portion size while relying mostly on willpower for success. My plan turns that around by removing all willpower from the equation. If you feel hungry, run toward healthy protein (some peanuts, a nice steak, a protein shake) and never feel deprived. It might take a few weeks to lose your carb addiction, but during that time you will be eating as much as you want.
Once your body is conditioned to prefer a healthy diet, it becomes almost automatic after that.
There is a lot for you to disagree with in this diet plan. So let me boil it down to one central point to focus the discussion: Your brain is wired in such a way that it is always easier to run toward something attractive than to resist something attractive. If your diet plan gets that wrong, you will fail. So, aggressively run toward good food (protein, fruit, and veggies) and the rest will happen automatically. No willpower needed.
In simpler terms, if your diet makes you hungry or makes you feel deprived in any way, you are doing it wrong. If you run toward healthy food, especially protein, you can crowd the bad stuff out of your life without even realizing you did it.
Again, I remind you not to take health advice from cartoonists. I have no idea if this plan will kill you or turn you into Hercules. But it kind of makes sense, right?
And yes, I have heard of the Atkins Diet. The Atkins diet is about "restricting carbs." That works against the way your brain is wired. My plan is about running toward protein, not away from carbs. You might say that works out the same, but you would be ignoring the psychology of it, and the psychology is hard part.
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com
Author of this book