The Diet Fix

I recently read the book The Diet Fix, and it’s main points seem worth briefly summarizing. Basically, as I myself have written about, just about any reasonable-sounding diet you try will likely enable you to lose weight in the short run, but very few people manage to keep weight off in the long run. The basic thesis of The Diet Fix is that this happens because most people are miserable on their diets, which means they break them eventually, and the solution is for people to find diets they can be happy on, and only try to lose as much weight as they can lose without being miserable (because if losing the weight makes you miserable, you’ll probably gain it back).

The Diet Fix also claims that being able to consume fewer calories without feeling hungry comes down to two things: (1) timing of eating and (2) protein intake. Basically, to lose weight, you want to make sure you start your day by eating a breakfast that includes some kind of protein, make sure you get enough protein at lunch and dinner, and also eat small but high-protein snacks throughout the day. Other things the book advocates include:

  • Keeping careful track of everything you eat in a food diary.
  • Using a food scale to measure portions.
  • Avoiding eating out too much.
  • When you do eat out, erring on the high side when estimating calories/portion size, because restaurants have incentives to err on the side of large portions.
  • Exercise regularly, because exercise seems correlated with long-term weight loss, but don’t count on calories burned exercising for weight loss.

The protein hypothesis may explain why I’ve found that lentils are a great food in terms of actually making me fell full. The Diet Fix inspired me to go back to actually making lentils for myself on a regular basis, with some help from a rice cooker—I used to eat lentils a lot, but had fallen out of the habit because of difficulty finding time to cook. It also inspired me to get my hands on some vegan protein bars, which I think was a good decision.

  • L.Long

    As a dieter and failure I have found only one way that works…worker harder than the amount you take in. Couch potato eats only fiber….hard daily work eat a rounded diet.
    But the book has a few errors such as ‘make sure you start your day by eating a breakfast that’ has been debunked as a basic myth. And my own experience says the same. A ‘good breakfast’ just makes me eat even more during the day. I find that eating when ‘truly hungry’ and watching the calorie input is better. But our present ‘work ethic’ makes this hard as a kid at school can’t eat when hungry but must do so only at specified times and this is carried over into the work place.

    • Chris Hallquist

      What you say about Breakfast having been debunked is fascinating if true. Link?

      • L.Long

        Unfortunately I read and listen to a large number of science blogs/casts and don’t have an exact link. But I seem to remember SGU & Neurilogica discussing this point. Will try to dig it up.

        • Chris Hallquist


  • Luke Breuer

    Does the book mention the 7-year half-life of fat cells? According to a source I trust, a fat cell has 50% of dying if it’s been ‘starving’ for 7 years. According to another source I trust less, fat cells take a while to ‘establish’ themselves, such that going over your maximum weight briefly (at least a few days; not sure about weeks/months) is ok. But, this helps explain why staying below a maximum weight can be very hard, and it incentivizes being vigilant about not staying heavier than a certain weight for very long.

  • MNb

    “Keeping careful track of everything you eat in a food diary.”
    Just the thought makes me feel miserable …..

  • Alex SL

    The problem with dieting is that it always seems to carry the implication that ultimately you stop, go back to normal, and then of course end up where you were before. Some people may be happy with such a jo-jo effect but what one would really need is a permanent change in diet, and yes, that must then be one that makes you feel good. For this particular case it seems unlikely that weighing and tracking and estimating every meal would ever make anybody happy, so as MNb pointed out it would already fail on that front.

    East less, exercise more seems to be trivial answer except in cases where people have physiological issues, and presto! no wonder diet needed. It is so trivial that everybody who is honest with themselves should be aware of it. How to break bad habits, such as taking the car everywhere and eating that daily bar of chocolate, is then the real question.

    • Msironen

      “East less, exercise more seems to be trivial answer except in cases where people have physiological issues, and presto! no wonder diet needed.”

      This is exactly right and also how I’ve lost 70+ pounds over the last 18 month. I can’t say I’m 100% confident I could never gain it back, but I find for example the notion of going back to my old lunch portion sizes very aversion-inducing at this point.

      Also a personal tip to any fellow cola junkies out there; just bite the bullet and go zero/max. After a while it’ll taste just as good (or rather the regular will start to taste too sweet/syrupy) and you can swig that shit until it comes out of your eye sockets and not gain a pound (unlike 99% of other low fat/carb/whateverbullshit diet products which turn out to have maybe 20% less calories than the regular version).

  • John Hodges

    I recently read a book FAT CHANCE by Robert Lustig, see
    who argued that your body has a “set point”, a weight that it tries to maintain, and it adjusts your hormones for hunger and satiety and metabolic rate etc. to keep you there, or return to it ASAP if you have departed from it. Accordingly the way to lose weight permanently is to adjust your set point downward, and the way to do that is to eat a diet high in fiber and as low in sugar as possible, and get regular exercise, especially strength training.

  • Romeo Stevens

    They’re missing the other big piece of the satiety puzzle which is salts. Many don’t like to deal with the salt issue because it has more health implications than “eat more protein” or “eat fewer carbs” does. Enough sodium and potassium, and in decent ratio seems to have a large impact on satiety.

    • Chris Hallquist

      What’s the MealSquares recommended salt intake?

      • Romeo Stevens

        The Cochrane Review concluded that intake below 3g was suboptimal, but did point out that the evidence is not very strong. They recommend that higher quality studies be done specifically testing this hypothesis, since most of the studies they are drawing their data from are testing blood pressure and not mortality.

        Short version of the Cochrane Review reasoning: low salt does reduce blood pressure, and normally lowered blood pressure is highly correlated with CVD deaths, but deaths on the low salt diet are actually higher. Potassium:sodium ratio as an independent predictor has shown strong results in the limited studies it has been tested in, indicating that the salt->blood pressure->CVD causal chain is not giving an accurate picture of what is going on.

        So we need more data, but for now it looks like most should be worried more about increasing potassium intake rather than lowering salt.

  • Frances Janusz

    I lost over 2 stone on the 5:2 diet and I’ve kept it off for well over a year. It’s supported by science and not only do you lose weight, it has other health benefits too. See this link for information about the diet and about some of the food fallacies we’ve all fallen for in the past: