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Hacker's Diet, The

AuthorJohn Walker Entered2004-06-11 12:17:13 by Ryanov
Editedit data record FreedomCopyrighted, doesn't cost money to read, but otherwise not free (disclaimer)
SubjectR. - Medicine
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Excellent, common-sense ideas about weight loss and maintenance
by David F. Dembinski on 2005-02-08 09:53:22, review #443
better than 95%
better than 80%

I neither know the author nor have I ever communicated with him, but I have used this book to lose over 50 lbs and am continuing to do so. Take my opinion in light of this fact.

John Walker is an engineer by training, and a programmer by trade. He's not a nutritionist, nor is he a medical professional, and by all rights he doesn't really have any place writing a diet book. In spite of this, he's used his own experiences and methods in achieving substantial weight loss and maintenance to put forth a plan that allows someone with a head for numbers and the desire to get trim to do the same. He's brutally honest, even regarding his own successes and failures, and presents the information he's gleaned in an easy-to-read, humorous way.

Essentially, this book breaks concerns of weight down into two numbers: calories in, and calories out. When you take in more calories than you burn, you gain weight. When you do the opposite, you lose. This simple formula is the basis for the construction of what he calls an "Eat Watch", which is a method for planning meals such that you end up with a set number of calories every day. Whether that number is meant to lose you weight, maintain it, or gain it is up to your goals. Beyond this, he relates a lot of invaluable personal experience on weight loss, from why the first week is the hardest to how to deal with the inevitable "bad days", to more delicate matters such as preventing constipation and ketosis.

The book reads like someone who's recently accomplished something they feel is amazing, and who wants very much to share it with anyone who'll listen. John's optimism and energy are infectious, and his sense of humour, while quirky, doesn't get in the way so much as it makes things much more memorable (take his discussion on the latest made-up dieting fad, peach fuzz). Things do bog down in a few places where he gets into details of engineering, statistics, and the Excel files he's created to help demonstrate these and track progress, but those are easily skimmed or skipped with almost no consequences in later understanding.

As I stated at the beginning of this review, I've used the methods outlined in this book to lose a substantial amount of weight, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. I like playing with numbers and making charts, and this feeds that perverse desire. In addition, Mr. Walker has a keen grasp of what works and what does not, and doesn't present his ideas as anything more than blindingly obvious, instead of the be-all and end-all of dieting and nutrition. It's valuable to its intended audience, which would be people who enjoy solving problems and using technology to do it.

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