The Truth about Dietary Needs

Read time: 1 minute

Whether you’re doing intermittent fasting, eating a paleo diet, counting your calories, or all of the above, your weight loss success comes down to the concept of needs… or more accurately, what you don’t need.

The common thinking is that you need to eat more fruit, more vegetables, more grass-fed meat.

Or you need to include more colors in your diet. Or maybe you need to eat more antioxidant.

Or you need to eat 6 small meals a day, keeping your eye on the clock. Or you need to eat more protein. Perhaps you need to eat less fat, or less carbs, or less meat. Or you need to eat at certain times.

You need, need, need.

The reality is this: you need to have less need.

If you eat whole, real food, you don’t need to think about colors, nor do you need to think about antioxidants, proteins, carbs, or fat.

If you truly listen to your stomach, and stop believing you have dietary needs, you don’t have to eat by the clock, and you don’t have to eat all the time.

People believe they need to eat this or that, or eat like this or like that, when they simply don’t need to eat.

Eating needs have been mutated so much through the generations that we no longer know its true meaning.

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17 Responses to The Truth about Dietary Needs

  1. balancingbrianne says:

    Johnny, this post is spot on – I’m with a coworker out of town this week and he’s been SHOCKED that I actually “skip” both breakfast AND lunch sometimes. I think it goes back to something you’ve posted about before – it’s more a habit, rather than a need, to eat at noon everyday, or even upon waking. It can be changed…and personally I feel like it should be : ) Thanks for the post.

    • Johnny says:

      You’re welcome, Brianne.

      I remember when years ago I was on some low-carb diet and ate lunch with a couple colleagues. When I pushed aside the breads or the buns, they’d give me a hard time.

      I love intermittent fasting because I can still accompany my friends and colleagues to lunch and enjoy just a glass of sparkling mineral water without hassle from anyone. For some reason, when you’re just drinking a glass of iced tea or sparkling water, they let you off the hook or straight-up ignore your choice of intake. But the moment you scrape aside the carbs or potatoes or bread, they ridicule you for being “on a diet.”

      They may be shocked you’re not eating anything, but to them that’s not the same as “dieting.”

      Odd. But just another benefit of using Intermittent Fasting.

      Best,
      Johnny

  2. Lee says:

    Great post. I always wondered why I just couldn’t lose the weight and now I know!!! I eat too much – go figure!!! Thanks for the insight.

    • Johnny says:

      It’s really that simple.

      I think people enjoy things that are fancy — even if that means making something fundamental more complicated. It’s sort of like upgrading to a higher trim level. The basics are boring — add features to make it more interesting.

      Losing weight is simple, but actually doing it takes hard work. As such, making weight loss more complicated may provide an excuse for our failure at hard work.

      Best,
      Johnny

      • balancingbrianne says:

        I like the last line of this reply: “making weight loss more complicated may provide an excuse for our failure”…

        -Brianne

  3. Kevin says:

    Hey Johnny, just like I did a few years ago … right now I am finding it super easy to lose fat. And a big part of it is not over thinking or worrying about everything and just doing it.

    Eating whole foods later in the day + 2 or 3 basic workouts and walking throughout the week. That’s it. I’m never hungry, sleep good, and have tons of level energy all day.

    Already lost just a tad under 4″ off my stomach since finding your blog & MDA a couple of months ago.

  4. Al says:

    Johnny,

    Is the reason why you eat so little is because you CHOOSE to not exercise hardly at all? It seems that most people diet really hard because they just do not feel like exercising. I figured that collegiate/professional athletes get it right by putting more focus on the exercise instead of the diet. Your thoughts!

    • Johnny says:

      Hi Al,

      Firstly, how much exercise is “hardly at all” and how much is enough?

      Secondly, what exactly is “it” that collegiate and professional athletes “get right”?

      Thanks,
      Johnny

  5. Kat Eden says:

    I was at a festival on the weekend and got some really odd stares at the hotdog stand when I ordered a dog, hold the bun. “But how can you just eat the meat?” the said. “Don’t you need the bun?” Um no, not really. Don’t want it, either.
    Anyway, just found your blog, wanted to comment and say I LOVE the idea of putting a read time on the posts. Thanks for that.
    One thing though – what if someone only gravitated toward natural but no-protein foods? Wouldn’t you say we at least need protein at a certain base amount and that all else is more about choosing what we feel like as long as it’s natural?

    • Johnny says:

      Hi Kat,

      It’s all about the meat! 🙂

      Yes, you’re right that there’s a base need of protein for people.

      But what a lot of people don’t realize is that this base need is probably a lot lower than most bodybuilders and the average fitness professional would tell us. That base amount may also depend on the individual’s status — waste disease, burn injuries, recovery from major illness, etc., which may require more protein intake. But generally, the need is just a hair above the RDA’s establishment, but much less than the fitness and supplement industry tell us.

      As long as there’s sufficient intake of protein, I believe a person can chose any combination of other the macronutrients (fat and carb), so long as the total caloric intake doesn’t exceed the body’s need… unless, of course, fat gain is desired.

      As for choosing “natural” food — not everything is black and white. Not all food can be clearly labeled “natural” or “unnatural”, as a lot of so-called unnatural food contains the same chemical compounds found in so-called natural food.

      A food can also be processed without losing too much nutrients per calorie, such as a blended vegetable-and-fruit shake made fresh in a blender. Or a food can be processed and stripped of nutrients and reduced to nothing but calories.

      But neither is bad, depending on your needs. If a person is starving in a war, empty calories can extend life by a few more days. It’s different for a person in a developed nation trying to lose weight.

      But of course, we’re talking context specific, and the context here is weight loss and optimal health. While one can certainly lose weight on empty calories, health will also diminish with insufficient nutrients. Disease has been linked to a poor diet, period.

      Whole, real food generally have the kind of nutrient-to-calorie ratio conducive to weight loss while preserving health (that is, whole, real food facilitates less calorie intake while still ensuring proper nourishment). It also tends to satiate better and prevents the stimulation of later hunger.

      Having said that, I still believe in the old adage: The poison is in the dose. A person can still enjoy processed food stripped of nutrients and still lose or maintain weight, so long as that food doesn’t exceed overall caloric need. And even health can still be preserved, so long as sufficient nutrients are met elsewhere.

      So, it’s hard to really label which food is natural and which isn’t (especially in today’s food industry and genetic variations of vegetables and fruits), but most people can identify nutrient-dense food and nutrient-sparse food. Chose mostly the former, enjoy occasionally the latter. This has always been my suggestion.

      Best,
      Johnny

      • Kevin says:

        Hey Johnny,

        Got a quick question for you.

        If we’re eating whole real foods, have lots of level energy, and always feel satisfied (because of the food and fasting) … do we eat based on hunger and eat just enough to feel satisfied… even if that means not eating a whole lot?

        Reason I ask is because this is what I’m doing … and I find myself eating a LOT less than before. On a good day, it’s 2 meals (meat/veggies/fat) and maybe a small snack-ish meal (fruit, nuts, coconut, etc) … but not always even that much.

        I feel absolutely fine (and actually a lot better than before), but man, it’s really thrown me for a loop.

        Like I mentioned before, I’m a pretty big dude still … and I feel kinda weird that I’m only eating this much. I’m eating WAY less than back in my 6 meals/day … 6 workouts/week days when I was under 200lbs, always hungry and fat loss stalled.

        My workouts don’t suffer and I always feel fine … it just feels bizarre to not ever feel hungry! haha I guess this is a normal thing?

      • Kat Eden says:

        I like what you say there about processed vs natural foods, some great points. I tend to be a little too general (I think) in labeling all processed foods as ‘bad’ but you’re right in indicating that’s not necessarily true. Thanks 🙂

  6. Johnny says:

    You’re very welcome, Kat. I also can get general about food labeling, too. Generalization, however, is often useful, because it establishes clear and simple parameters for people whose knowledge about food is limited.

    By the way, Kat, I really enjoy your blog. Subscribed in my reader!

    Best,
    Johnny

  7. Marc says:

    Johnny,
    Forgot to tell you about shout out on Monday (food for the day).
    Linked to this post of yours……

    It’s my message so often to people I talk to.

    Have a good rest of the week.

    Marc

    • Johnny says:

      Mark,

      I noticed it the day you put up that post. As always, thank you for the link love. Always appreciated!

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: A lot of our meals are inspired by your blog!

      http://feelgoodeating.blogspot.com/

      Keep up the great posts, and good eatin’.

      Best,
      Johnny

  8. Pingback: Flawed Logic and Failed Weight Loss « The Lean Saloon

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