Over years I tried so many diets that I lost count. They made me feel good short-term. They helped me lose weight. In the long run, they made things worse. Every time I came off another crash diet, I consequently gained it all back and more. And more. And more. Eventually I said, ‘no more diets!’
Yet, here I am, starting on a new diet. What? Well, let me explain. My new diet is not a crash diet, I look at it as a life-time commitment, as my new lifestyle. It won’t be overly restrictive and it will include natural foods eaten in moderation, to help lose and maintain healthy weight. If you think about it, that’s how everyone should be eating naturally. So, what’s the problem? Why do I need a diet?
The problem is with our modern society where food is abundant. Crap food is ubiquitous. It’s in big corporations’ best interest to make you stuff your pie hole as much and as often as possible, driving their profits up. The big corporations did their research and laced food with fat, salt and sugar – the three components most responsible for making food taste good and be addictive. We can no longer tell easily tell which prepared food is good for us and which is not. We can no longer easily tell when we are hungry. We no longer just need food to sustain ourselves. We want food, we crave it.
How many times have you eaten a sugar laden dessert only to crave for something salty 30 minutes later, only to crave for something sweet again after that, only to… you get the point. It’s a vicious cycle. I’ve experienced it many, many times.
The secret to eating healthy and being fit is not a secret. As a matter of fact, eating healthy and maintaining a healthy weight is surprisingly easy for most of us. All you have to do is eat less and be active more. Yet, we fail miserably. I know I did. I came to realize that my problem is not the abundance of food around me, not genetics, not anything other than my own willingness do be fit.
I once read that highly successful people are hard workers, those who set goals and constantly and consistently work towards their goals. There is no other way. That’s why crash diets only short term – most of time they are not a part of a life-long plan. And that’s why I need a diet – it’s my long-term plan to become fit and stay fit. It will show where I am and where I want to be, it will show me that way and it will keep me on track.
NYPD stands for Natural Yummy Planned Diet. It reflects my eating philosophy going forward. Being a foodie, I want to eat tasty, yummy food, while it being natural and healthy. While thinking about it, NYPD acronym suddenly popped up in my head. Natural, yummy… diet… That sounded precisely what I wanted my eating plan to be. Letter ‘P’ fell into place pretty quickly as well – I can’t control my eating on my own, so I need my eating to be pre-defined, planned. And that’s how NYPD diet was born.
Natural and Yummy
For this diet to become my lifestyle, and not just another short-term crash diet, it needs to consist of healthy and great tasting food. Hence it’s natural and yummy. Natural means unprocessed to me. Also, no chemicals, no additives and no preservatives. No canned foods and so forth.
I think of NYPD as somewhat of a Paleo diet, but not as restricted. For example, I see absolutely no reason not to enjoy dairy or grains. These are good tasting, natural products.
Foods on this diet must taste great at the same time. I am a foodie and I love cooking. I like gourmet food. No one can live on grilled chicken breasts and steamed broccoli for an extended period of time. Not if you want to feel satisfied and happy. I know it’s very true in my case.
For this diet to work for me, it must be planned. As much as I’d like to say that I know when I am full and I know how to not over-eat, I don’t. As a matter of fact, very few of us can. My biggest problem has always been not eating crappy food necessarily, but eating more than I should. In the end, it doesn’t matter if you stuff yourself to wazoo with potato chips or quinoa – you will still be gaining weight. Yes, you will consume less sodium and saturated fat, and your arteries will thank you for it, but you will be getting fatter nevertheless.
But what does ‘should’ mean? I know I can’t self-regulate my caloric intake to lose or maintain healthy weight, so I will resort to a more or less scientific approach to guide me.
The word diet has two definitions. One is the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats. The other one is a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons. The ‘D’ in NYPD easily takes on both definitions. It’s the kinds of food and the eating regimen that will help me lose weight. It’s also the kinds of food that I plan on eating habitually for the rest of my life, to stay fit, well-fed and healthy. As you can see, it’s less of a diet and more of my lifestyle and eating habit adjustment.
A little bit of math
For most of us calorie consumption is directly related to fat gain. Eat what your body needs and you don’t gain fat. Eat more and your body will store excess as fat. How much gets stored as fat and where on your body depends on age, genetics and metabolism. No formula will be 100% correct for everyone, or even majority of us. But you’ve got to start somewhere and then make necessary adjustments as you go. That’s the surest way that I know of.
There are a number of good caloric requirement formulas out there, they tend to vary only slightly and give the results that are in the same ballpark. I decided on using the following Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) formula by John Hussman:
For men the BMR formula is:
66+ (6.23 x weight (lbs)) + (12.7 x height (inches)) – (6.8 x age)
For women the BMR formula is:
655 + (4.35 x weight (lbs)) + (4.7 x height (inches)) – (4.7 x age)
The 66 and 655 aren’t typos. The BMR for women is less dependent on height and weight, which is why BMR is never less than about 1100 calories a day.
According to this calculator, my BMR is 2,756 calories per day. At a light activity level (I plan to do full body workouts and do some light cardio about 3-5 times a week), my body needs 3,791 calories per day to maintain its weight, and 2,791 calories per day to lose 2 lbs of fat per week, which is generally considered a healthy weight loss rate.
The adjusted calorie requirement calculation
According my body fat calculations (more on that later), my lean weight right now is 183 lbs. If I consume just the amount of calories needed for my lean weight maintenance, the fat will just melt away naturally. Why feed the fat while I am busting my butt to lose weight?
In reality, the numbers came in pretty close of each other, 2,791 vs 2,446 calories, or a 346 calorie difference. Still, it would translate to about 3 lbs of additional fat loss every month. I’ll take that.
As I will be losing fat, some muscle tissue will be lost as well, that’s unavoidable, and my lean weight will be going down. Along with the lean weight changes, my caloric requirements will be adjusted accordingly.
There are so many different ways to measure body fat that it’s mind boggling. They range from uber expensive and impractical to ridiculously imprecise and subject to great result variability. A while ago I found the US Navy body fat calculation formula, and for me it’s the best. The body fat percentage it produces is fairly true, within 1-3% range. Measurements are quick and not prone to variability. That’s all that matters. It’s great for tracking BF loss progress.
For men, use the following formula:
body fat = 86.010 x log10(abdomen – neck) – 70.041 x log10(height) + 36.76 
For women, use the following formula:
body fat = 163.205 x log10(waist + hip – neck) – 97.684 x log10(height) – 78.387 
Tracking progress by weight only is hardly informative, so I will employ other measures to give me a better picture of how my fat loss is progressing. Here are the things that I will be tracking:
- Weight (daily/weekly)
- Body fat changes (weekly)
- Body measurement changes (neck and abdomen weekly, shoulders, waist, chest, pant line, hips, thigh calf, ankle, bicep, forearm, wrist – monthly)
While it all looks fine and dandy on paper and I should turn into a Marc Fitt lookalike by mid-summer of 2018, I know it’s not going to be so clear-cut and predictable. Depending on my weekly results, adjustments will be made to the diet, amount of calories, exercise and whatever else I need to do to reach my goal.
My ultimate goals
- 12%-15% body fat
- All the perks that come with a 12%-15% BF body, such as good health, being mistaken for Marc Fitt, etc.