Instructions for the Hacker's Diet
Jan 21, 2021

Reading time 2 min.

Are you tired of dieting? Eating less calories than you burn on a daily basis is a difficult thing to learn, so the best way to lose weight is quickly and efficiently so you never need to do it again. Why not lose weight with two very efficient tools – your computer and logic? And, what better way to learn how to do this than through a time-honored free method?

The only way to lose weight is by eating less food than your body needs on a daily basis. John Walker, the author of The Hacker’s Diet, went from 215 pound to 145 pounds in less than a year and has kept the weight off without drugs or gimmicks. Walker, a programmer (he developed Autodesk, Inc. and is co-author and author of several AutoCAD books), used spreadsheets to learn how to lose weight and he offers those tools for you to use as well; but, you can use his same methods with pencil and paper.

While the term, “hacker,” may bring negative connotations to mind, Walker’s states that the true essence of a hacker is “Any person who derives joy from discovering ways to circumvent limitations.” Walker uses this quote, extracted from a comment made in a Bob Bickford article, to help people understand that hacking is a liberation from tyranny. The hacker dieter is in command of his or her health and weight.

As for exercising, Walker believes that exercise is good for two things only – living longer and feeling better. You do not exercise to lose weight. But, you may want to exercise once you begin to lose weight through counting calories and by tracking body fat percentage. Walker’s approach reflects his career as a programmer, as he approaches this dieting solution as an engineering problem, and exercise is part of the solution to the overweight problem. Although Walker doesn’t mention this issue, exercising may help retain and build muscle that could be lost through dieting.

Walker models the body as a “rubber bag” that the dieter fills with less calories than that rubber bag needs (more calories makes that rubber bag expand, less makes the rubber bag shrink). This diet provides a format for control system and feedback on that rubber bag through Excel spreadsheets (Excel also can be used in Open Office’s Calc program). The spreadsheets allow users to concentrate on long-term visualization, which can encourage people who fail to lose weight over a short period of time, the inability to lose weight because of water retention or other factors that may slow down weight loss.

Since Walker is not trained in medicine or nutrition, he prefers to concentrate on monitoring intake, weight loss and configuring the desired proportional adjustments in a control system environment. So, if you are a geek, if you’re into logistics and spreadsheets or if you simply like to work outside the box, this diet may fit your temperament. But, it may not work for everyone, simply because it may seem too confusing.

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