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Pulling Dietary Levers

“I guess I just encourage people to be much more attuned to all of the tools, right? So caloric restriction, dietary restriction, time restriction, right? You’ve probably heard me go on and on about my framework, the three levers; always pull one, sometimes pull two, occasionally pull three, never pull none.

So time restriction… restricting when you eat, but otherwise not restricting how much or what. Dietary restriction is restricting some of the content in what you eat. So not eating carbs, not eating wheat, not eating meat… not eating sugar. Those are all forms of dietary restriction. And then caloric restriction is restricting the amount.

And so if you are never pulling one of those levers, which means you are eating anything you want, any time, how much, whatever, that’s called the Standard American Diet (SAD)…. We’ve been running a very good natural experiment on that for the last fifty years and the data are in. So it turns out that less than… 10% of the population are genetically robust enough to tolerate the SAD… But for the rest of us the 90% of us schmucks… the SAD is lethal. And so you’ve got to come up with a way to escape the gravitational pull of the SAD.” – Dr. Peter Attia, on The Tim Ferriss Show

We all know this at a certain level, don’t we? We’ve all seen what the standard American diet does to those who eat it. But escaping the gravitational pull of it is the trick. What I love about this statement by Attia is how he lays it all out there, simplifying it to three basic levers. Always pull at least one, sometimes two or all three. And never none.

Chart your food consumption over the last week and ask yourself, how many days did I pull none of the levers? For most of us, it’s most days. Notice there’s nothing in here about exercise either. We tend to think that exercising cancels out the crap we eat. That might help burn off the calories, but doesn’t account for whatever that crap is doing to your body as it circulates through your system.

When it comes to things like diet I like simplicity. Doing a no carb diet is a pain in the ass when you travel a lot, so maybe you don’t pull that particular lever and opt for intermittent fasting or limiting the number of calories you consume that day is the better way. Pull one to three levers in a day and see how it transforms your body over time. With discipline and work we might just reach escape velocity. Pull a couple of levers and get in at least an hour of moving to drop the SAD from your days. I’m happy just thinking about that.

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