Deprivation Works. And Doesn’t.


Of course deprivation works!

What does it mean to lose fat? It means to burn fat because:

  • you are starving to death, and
  • you are not giving your body enough fuel to do the functions it needs to do

If you ARE getting enough fuel, then you’re NOT going to burn fat. There’s no magic. You’re just NOT going to burn fat without depriving your body of what it needs – fuel.

..And that’s why losing weight feels shitty. No matter how you do it.

You can lose weight:

  • Slowly, by eating SLIGHTLY LESS than you need over a long period of time;
  • Quickly, by eating FAR LESS than you need over a shorter period of time;  and/or
  • *Optional* by increasing your need for fuel by increasing your energy output (exercise) [slowly or quickly]

You can also:

  • Set yourself up for success by understanding habit formation;
  • Set yourself up for success by removing addictive foods from your diet and life (at least for a short period);
  • Set yourself up for success by understanding how willpower and motivation actually work.
  • Set yourself up for success by understanding the basics of appetite, and also becoming mindful of your appetite.
  • Set yourself up for success by understanding the basics of metabolism

Deprivation works to lose weight, NOT to maintain it.

I CAN’T lose weight slowly.  Healthy or not healthy – I just can’t do it. I spent 20+ years trying. I can’t deprive myself ‘slightly’ day after day for months, hoping to lose 1-2 pounds per week.  I can’t continue to eat a diet of processed foods, while counting calories. It just doesn’t work for me.  I can’t do it, and I won’t do it.

I CAN lose weight quickly through “RESPONSIBLE Deprivation.”  Here is what I CAN do:

  • lose weight (relatively) quickly in spurts, and *IMPORTANTLY* punctuate these periods with periods of maintenance.
  • use methods like intermittent fasting to lose weight
  • cut out processed foods that I find addicting for long periods of time during weight loss periods

I CAN’T maintain my weight through responsible deprivation. I CAN’T maintain my weight through:

  • counting calories,
  • cutting out food groups, and/or
  • dieting.

To me, that’s not a life – it’s too much deprivation. In the end, too much deprivation will cause me to gain weight.   To maintain my weight – I eat a mostly whole foods diet. Here is how I eat. My weight maintains itself:

  • mostly plants, most days (including starchy plants)
  • mostly whole foods, as little processed food as possible
  • watch my alcohol intake
  • never eat unless I’m hungry
  • lot’s of soups and salads

We need to separate “weight loss” from “maintenance.”

Weight loss is hard! Somewhere along the line, something got messed up and now you need to fix it. The only way to do that is by giving your body less fuel than it needs. And that’s fucking hard! Your body thinks it’s dying. So it’s best not to gain weight in the first place!  (duh!). 

..but once you do find yourself in a position where you need to lose weight, then forget the weight loss myths. Lose weight however you can, and forget the lies. Just be careful of the following:

  • don’t give yourself nutritional deficiencies
  • don’t give yourself electrolyte imbalances
  • don’t physically exert yourself while suddenly eating less
  • listen to your body

Weight maintenance should NOT be hard! 

Why? Because if weight maintenance is hard, you’ll gain the weight back. You can’t deprive yourself forever. You can only do it for short periods.

If maintaining weight is hard, that means you’re eating the wrong things. What are “wrong things”? “Wrong things” = foods meant to addict you aka processed foods.

Being Fit in an Unfit World

This post is largely an oversimplification.

But my point is this: many of the things you hear about weight loss are myths and fantasies.

When it comes to weight loss, do whatever you CAN do. Because weight loss is hard, and you need to fight this uphill battle in whatever way works for you. Just be careful not to hurt yourself, and be smart.

And once you lose weight, be mindful! You can’t deprive yourself forever, so you need a system for success.

My system is sticking (mostly) to foods that human beings are suppose to eat. This means avoiding things that come out of boxes, but enjoying these things in moderation to whatever extent I find reasonable.


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14 thoughts on “Deprivation Works. And Doesn’t.”

  1. Hey. I lost 20kg quite quickly by just eating veg. I didn’t cut down my portions or anything.. Infact I made food so abundent that it wasn’t even desireable.
    Thought I’d share!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing, Celina.

      I think a veg based diet is great, and a veg only diet can be really good too, provided that you are knowledgeable of how to get your proteins, iron, and B-vitamins.

      I’m also with you on portions. If you eat a veg-based diet, suddenly you can eat the large portions that your body craves. While I’m maintaining my weight, I never find myself hungry or deprived. I also had a far easier time losing weight than ever before, because I was eating such a large variety of plants.


      1. oh yes! I forgot that I ate alot of pulses/legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils..). Also fell inlove with spinach and chia seas!
        Also you realise how great veg is! The flavors etc..

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I would probably also suggest that anyone who is considering deprivation/fasting consult with a healthcare professional. In your case it may be helpful but there are certain medical conditions in which it can be detrimental of counterproductive for long term health.

    And unfortunately, deprivation doesn’t necessarily guarantee rapid weight loss due to individual differences in metabolism, genetics, stress, etc.

    I am glad you have found what works for you and can be maintained. That is the biggest key.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kris – I agree completely.

      When it comes to fasting, or even any diet plan – it’s important to know where you start in terms of your blood work and pre-existing conditions. I’d add honestly to be sure to find a doctor who cares about nutrition, because sadly I think there are many doctors who dispense of outdated weight loss advice (such as eat low fat foods etc) or worse – go straight to a pharmaceutical approach without also incorporating nutrition or at the very least emphasizing the importance of nutrition.

      …Which isn’t to say pharmaceutical approach is never appropriate – it all depends on how quickly the doctor turns to it and whether or not they consider viable alternatives.

      I hope to elaborate more on this soon, but although I mention fasting in this post, my biggest thought while writing it was about the many years I spent doing plans like weight watchers and listening to standard dieting advice. So much of it emphasized never skipping meals, adding exercise, and aiming to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

      While this can work for some people, it just never worked for me. I needed a more punctuated approach. I definitely could not have lost weight (about 60 lb) slowly and straight through. I lost a little quicker than 2 lb per week (usually about 10 lb/month for about 1-2 months). And then I took long breaks in between periods of weight loss.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree with you on finding a healthcare practitioner who looks at a more homeopathic approach. I had a GYN once suggest weight watchers to me based on my weight but never once asking me what I was actually doing in my life (I was at the time training for an Olympic distance triathlon).

        I just get somewhat cautious about fasting approach without researching it for most people. Many people have a tendency to follow a certain trend without weighing the pros and cons for them as an individual. In some cases in my teenage students I have seen the fasting approach used quite often and that is not good for growing bodies…in terms of overall health and brain development.

        And in terms of deprivation I have consumed less calories than I burn everyday and still take off no weight. Hence the need to revisit my doctor AND do blood work.

        But I like that you have obviously done research into what works best for you.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I totally agree. Deprivation works if you’re trying to cut down to a certain weight (ie: training for a “fitness show”) – however, long term, it’s not a healthy lifestyle to maintain. Also, deprivation can actually lead to overeating since you’re denying yourself constantly. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! I hate to say there’s any single right or wrong way, but I just keep on touting whole foods because that’s what works for me. I used to be in this constant cycle of losing and gaining weight. Cutting out processed foods (most of the time) just changed everything – so now I can’t talk about it enough. And of course a little bit of processed food is Ok every once in a while. Thanks for the comment 🙂


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