The Yoda Guide to Becoming a Fat Loss Jedi

You don’t want to look like Jabba the Hut.

You’re tired of fighting your weight.

You’re sick of fat loss gimmicks and fad diets.

Learn what Yoda the Jedi master can teach you about losing body fat.

Learn what Yoda the Jedi master can teach you about losing body fat.
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You’re ready for some real results. You want answers, and that means you listen to one person:

Yoda.

There’s a reason he lived to 900 years old and never got fat. He always had the right answers. He knew what it took to stay lean (and defeat the Empire).

You want to be like Yoda. You want to be a fat loss Jedi.

Here’s how.

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

Hard work is necessary, but not sufficient to lose fat.

Fat loss Jedis work hard toward the right actions. The people who fail either don’t work hard enough toward the right actions, or work too hard toward the wrong actions.

If you want to lose fat, you have to do more than try.

You either create a caloric deficit or you don’t.

You either eat that extra bowl of ice cream, or you don’t.

You either make time for exercise, or you don’t.

Stop trying to lose weight and start actually losing weight. Focus on exactly what you need to do, and ignore everything else.

Stop talking about it.

Stop thinking about it.

Stop “trying.”

Just do it.

You either do what needs to be done, or you don’t. It’s that simple.

“Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will.”

You’ve been good all day — sticking to your calorie and macronutrient targets. It’s mid-afternoon, you’re starving, and you just can’t help yourself.

You reach into your desk drawer and pull out a cookie. You eat it…

And another…

And another.

You’re thinking “Shit. I’ve blown it now. Might as well finish the box.”

Suddenly the entire box is empty, and your diet is finished.

This kind of polarized “all-or-nothing” approach will destroy your efforts. You’ve probably dealt with this in the past. You stick to your diet for a few weeks, and then give up after one small mistake.

A fat loss Jedi stays calm in this kind of situation. They realize that eating three cookies isn’t a big problem, or even eating the whole box. It’s giving up on your long-term weight loss goals that leads to failure.

Don’t let small blunders cloud your vision and consume your efforts. Keep your mistakes in perspective, and be flexible about your eating habits.

“In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.”

You’re confused, frustrated, and desperate.

You hear conflicting information everywhere you look.

You’ve tried every diet.

You still don’t have the body you want.

That’s because you’re looking in the wrong places.

In The Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan referred to science as “a candle in the dark.”

If you can’t justify your approach to fat loss scientifically, it’s time to make a change. If you’re confused as to why a certain food or macronutrient is supposed to make you fat, ask why. If you can’t find a convincing answer, there probably isn’t one.

Be careful however — don’t assume that more knowledge equals better results. It doesn’t. The key to smashing through weight loss ruts is learning just enough to achieve your goals in the simplest, fastest way possible. Focus on the advice that works, and ignore everything else.

“If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are … a different game you should play.”

You followed your last diet exactly:

  • You only ate “clean foods.”
  • You didn’t eat any carbs.
  • You never combined fat and carbs.
  • You never ate grains, dairy, or legumes.
  • You never ate after 6:00 PM.

You followed the same “rules” as everyone else, yet you still didn’t lose weight.

Why? Because the game was stupid.

If you want to lose weight, the only game you need to play is the “create and maintain a caloric deficit” game. The rules are simple: Eat less. Move more.

If you win that game (and it really can be a game), you’ll lose weight.

“Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.”

You want to lose weight, but you’re also scared to change your methods.

Once you’ve committed yourself (even halfway) to a specific diet, whether it’s low-carb, high-carb, high-fat, fat-free, food combining, metabolic typing, vegetarianism, paleo, or whatever, it’s hard to try something different.

Once you’re devoted to a diet, you tend to only look for information that confirms your beliefs. Your ideas become even more entrenched, and it becomes even harder to admit that what you’re doing isn’t working.

If you haven’t been losing fat, you need to change your approach. You need to create a caloric deficit through simple changes, like:

  • Counting calories.
  • Biking or walking to work.
  • Standing at your desk.
  • Eating more filling foods.
  • Not drinking your calories (e.g. replacing soda with diet soda).

… or whatever else helps you not overeat.

We’re all influenced by our personal biases, previously held beliefs, and past experiences. The people who lose weight are the ones who do what needs to be done, even if it conflicts with their current ideas.

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

You’ve probably gotten too attached to your ideas at times — to the point where you were fearful of change. You got angry when you heard someone say their diet was better, or even suggest their might be another option.

This kind of mindset makes you miserable and often keeps you fat.

Blindly defending your ideas without evidence is exhausting, stressful, and embarrassing. It only leads to suffering.

You spend so much time defending your diet, whether or not it works, that you lose the ability to listen. You stop thinking critically. You blindly attack anyone with a different opinion, even if it’s obvious that what you’re doing isn’t helping you lose weight.

If you want to feel relaxed and secure about your diet, never get too attached to it. While we all have to live by some common rules (calories count), there are many diets that will work for many different people.

There’s no reason to fear change, to get angry over minor disagreements, or to hate someone else because of what they eat.

When you fear changing your habits, you also begin to blame others. You’re angry because you can’t lose weight, so you blame food companies… for making tasty food.

You blame your sedentary job for not allowing you to exercise.

You blame your doctor for not offering better advice.

Ultimately, you decide how much, and what, you eat.

Don’t fear change. Embrace it. If you’re angry at someone or something because you can’t lose weight, ask yourself: “What are you afraid of?”

Changing your diet?

Being wrong?

Staying fat?

You can banish that last fear with Yoda’s next piece of advice:

“Named must your fear be before banish it you can.”

You’re ready to lose weight. Maybe even desperate.

But when it comes time to put your goal in writing, you flinch.

You’re scared that if you set a concrete goal, in writing, with a deadline, and a specific target weight, that you’ll fail. If you never set clear goals, you never have to be accountable to them.

You also never achieve them.

Here’s how to set a weight loss goal like a Jedi:

1. Decide how much weight you want to lose. Cut that number in half.
2. Decide how long it will take to reach your goal weight (a deadline). Add 20% to that number.
3. Write that number and the date on a piece of paper. Put it on your bathroom mirror, your fridge, or your scale.

It’s okay to be afraid of failure. Just don’t let that fear stand in the way of your efforts to lose weight.

“[Luke:] I can’t believe it. [Yoda:] That is why you fail.”

If you don’t believe calories count, you’re probably never going to have the body you want.

You can convince yourself that the reason you can’t lose weight is because of carbs, fructose, fat, insulin, toxins, nutrient deficiencies, or any number of other things.

Or you can accept that any diet that helps you lose weight does so by helping you create a caloric deficit.

If you accept the following truths, your weight loss efforts will be much easier:

  • Calories count.
  • Exercise can help you lose weight.
  • Carbs don’t make you fat.
  • Fructose doesn’t make you fat.
  • You aren’t fat because of toxins.
  • Most fat loss supplements don’t work.
  • Food companies and the medical industry are not trying to keep you fat.

Clinging to false beliefs distracts you from seeing the truth.

If you haven’t lost weight, you’ve failed to establish a caloric deficit.

“… if you choose the quick and easy path as Vader did — you will become an agent of evil.”

You aren’t evil, but you will stay fat and unhappy if you look for shortcuts, hacks, and quick-fixes to lose weight.

The people who lose weight — and keep it off — are the ones who focus on exactly what they need to do. They create and maintain a caloric deficit, they eat enough protein, and they ignore the stuff that doesn’t matter.

Even if you haven’t reached your goal, sometimes the best you can hope for is to maintain your weight loss. That’s still more than most people do.

You’ll be tempted to lose yourself in a fairytale where calories don’t count, exercise is useless, and avoiding certain foods, toxins, or macronutrients will help you stay slender forever.

The second you embrace this fantasy, you’re done.

It will become harder and harder to maintain a caloric deficit. You’ll become distracted. You’ll lose your resolve.

There are no shortcuts. Focus on what works. Ignore the rest.

“You think Yoda stops teaching, just because his student does not want to hear? A teacher Yoda is.”

Yoda’s advice was simple, though not always easy. He didn’t spoon-feed you answers that you wanted to hear. He gave you the facts.

No one likes to hear that calories count. It would be wonderful if you could lose weight by avoiding certain foods, taking a few supplements, and eating a specific macronutrient ratio.

The truth is that if you want to lose weight, you need to eat less and move more. Fat loss experts like Alan Aragon, James Krieger, Anthony Colpo, and Lyle McDonald get endless flak because they’ve been saying this for years.

Calories count. It may not be what you want to hear, but that’s the deal.

“PATIENCE YOU MUST HAVE my young padawan.”

Your weight loss will plateau.

It happens to everyone. Whether or not you succeed in the long-term depends on your ability to endure these setbacks.

You want immediate results. You feel like you have to take drastic action, make huge changes, and lose fat as soon as possible.

You don’t. You need to make small, simple, sustainable changes that help you maintain a caloric deficit in the long-term.

You might not see weight loss on the scale at first due to changes in water weight, but it will happen.

Weight loss is a process. Sometimes you’ll struggle. It won’t always be fun or easy.

Nothing worth doing ever is.

Expect to take at least 20% longer to reach your goal weight than you initially planned.

Be patient. If you’re in a caloric deficit, you’re losing weight. You just might not see it at first, and your progress may not be linear.

“Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future…”

You’re losing weight.

You’ve finally found a diet that works for you.

Then one day, you get bored.

Your amazing fat loss diet suddenly doesn’t seem so appealing anymore.

Many dieters have a strange idea that they need to find the ultimate diet that will work for them forever. They’re wrong.

You don’t have to follow the same macronutrient ratios, eat the same foods, or follow the same meal schedule till the end of time.

Your tastes and preferences may change. Instead of attaching yourself to a specific diet, follow principles that allow you more flexibility (e.g. “if it fits your macros” and counting calories).

You can lose weight on any macronutrient ratio as long as you’re in a caloric deficit.(1) If you get tired of low-carb, eat more carbs. Tired of low-fat? Eat more fat. Add some variety. (Just keep your protein intake up).

It’s okay to change your diet over time. As long as you’re in a caloric deficit and eating enough protein, you’ll lose the same amount of fat on virtually any diet.

“Smaller in number are we, but larger in mind.”

About 66% of people in the United States are overweight or obese.

That’s not to say that all of these people are stupid, but they aren’t making the right decisions when it comes to weight loss.

There is a minority — the rebel army if you will, of those who are able to maintain a healthy weight without going nuts. These people make the right choices:

  • They watch (and sometimes track) what they eat.
  • They read food labels.
  • They exercise.
  • They don’t chronically overindulge.
  • They’re flexible about their diets.

Millions of people believe in absolute nonsense. That doesn’t make them right. It keeps them fat.

Here are a few examples:

  • Eat Right for Your Type and other blood type diets have been best sellers since 1996. There has never been any evidence they work.(2)
  • Detox diets are more popular than ever.
  • Fat loss supplements are a multi-billion dollar industry.

It doesn’t matter how few or how many people believe something — the evidence is what matters. The only proven way to lose weight is to create a caloric deficit. Only the minority achieve this, but they reap the benefits. You can be one of them.

“A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind.”

Talk is cheap. And so is fast food.

If you really want to lose weight, you need to commit to your goal. You need to stop procrastinating. You need to act.

Commit to small actions like tracking your calories and getting a little exercise every day. Take them seriously. These little commitments add up to big results.

“May the Force be with you.”

You don’t have to believe any of this. Not yet anyway.

You can continue to believe that calories don’t count.

You can continue to spin your wheels, looking for the next best diet, supplement, or fat loss workout.

You might lose weight, but you probably won’t.

If you do, you’ll have created a caloric deficit without even realizing it. Congratulations. Seriously.

If not, you can always choose to leave the dark side.

Calories will still count, and you can still use that knowledge to lose fat.

It might be hard to follow the advice of a little green man name Yoda, but it’s the fastest path to getting the body you want.

Here’s a final message from master Yoda:

“Enjoyed this article, did you? Then share it on Twitter and Facebook will you, hmm? The Force is strong there.”

 

Disclosures: None

References

1. Dansinger ML, Gleason JA, Griffith JL, et al. Comparison of the Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, and Zone diets for weight loss and heart disease risk reduction: a randomized trial. JAMA. 2005;293(1):43–53. doi:10.1001/jama.293.1.43.

2. Cusack L, De Buck E, Compernolle V, et al. Blood type diets lack supporting evidence: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013. doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.058693.

Comments

  1. Jason says

    Wow, I simply can’t express how good this article is. I literally had to stop reading after every single paragraph (or even a number of sentences) just to reflect on how accurate everything you’ve written is with respect to my personal journey and the lessons I’ve learnt myself after making many, many mistakes.

    Armi you are truly doing some good work here. Not only is your message one of great quality but you are able to communicate it in a way so it is received – I truly salute you for your work and can only look forward to seeing more content coming out for my personal enjoyment.

    Thank you.

    Jason.

    • says

      Thanks a ton Jason, that means a lot. Seriously, you made my day. Let me know if you ever have any questions or specific topics you’d like covered.

      Thank you,

      - Armi

  2. James says

    Hi Armi, I’m interested to understand what changed your views on fat loss. I’ve followed you from back in the Bulletproof days and always been impressed with your knowledge and attitude given your relative inexperience (you are young after all!). You’re clearly on a journey of discovery and appear to have the right attitude to ultimately focus on good science and proven research rather than any hype or mainstream pressure and I applaud this. Given the many parallels your approach shares with someone like (for example) Gary Taubes I’d like to understand what key research has influenced you away from the “Carbs not calories make you fat” mantra that Taubes stands by and (closer to home) the “4500 calorie a day no exercise but still have a six pack” story from Dave (Asprey).

    • says

      Good question James. I’m going to write a (long) series of articles on fat loss soon that will cover that research, but here’s the short story:

      Every controlled trial that’s measured people’s food intake and energy expenditure accurately has found that when they’re forced to eat less, they lose weight. Period. This is true no matter what macronutrient ratio they eat. Here’s a good study illustrating this point:

      Johnston CS, Tjonn SL, Swan PD, White A, Hutchins H, Sears B. Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83(5):1055–1061. Available at: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/83/5/1055.long.

      There are also mountains of data showing that overweight and obese people underestimate how much they eat, often by staggering amounts (~2000 calories in some cases), and vastly overestimate how much they exercise and how many calories they burn.

      For a good refutation of Taube’s and Asprey’s claims, I suggest reading The Fat Loss Bible by Anthony Colpo, and this article by James Krieger.

      - Armi

      • says

        Armi,

        Being that most people (not just overweight, but also athletes) underestimate their calorie intake, what do you think about the low-carbers claims of huge daily caloric intakes with little or no weight gain? The latest example is Sam Feltham’s 21-Day experiment where he ate 5,000+ calories/day and gained just 1.3kg over three weeks. http://live.smashthefat.com/5000-calorie-challenge-day-21/

        Do you think there is any merit to these claims?

        -Matt

        • says

          Hey Matt, thanks for commenting.

          There is evidence that health conscious people generally overestimate how much they eat, often to a similar extent that overweight people underestimate their calorie intake.

          This is probably even more of a problem among people who used to eat a moderate or high carb diet and switched to a low-carb diet. When you’re used to consciously restricting fat intake all of the time, it can feel like you’re eating a ton of food when you do let yourself eat more of it.

          Some people are able to eat massive amounts of food without gaining weight, but whether or not those calories from from carbs or fat isn’t going to have any affect (i.e. the people saying “I could never have eaten like this if it were from carbs,” are incorrect). If anything, overfeeding on carbohydrate would probably result in slightly less fat gain as it has a larger effect on thyroid and leptin, and a higher thermic effect (though the difference would probably be minimal, if it even exists).

          I actually happen to be one of these people. But it’s not because I use some special macronutrient ratio. It’s because I fidget and move like nuts unconsciously (NEAT).

          So yes, there is some validity to these claims, but it’s not for the reasons most people think.

          Thanks again for the interesting question,

          - Armi

  3. Mike says

    Best. Post. Ever.

    Seriously, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this is the perfect fat loss/weight control mindset and Armi does a phenomenal job pulling it together in various contexts in these posts. Again, nice work.

    Mike

    • says

      Thanks so much Mike. I was hesitant to publish this given the insane geek factor, but I figured I couldn’t be the only one who thinks Yoda is a badass. Thanks for the comment.

  4. cs82much says

    Hey Armi, outstanding read. I needed the slap in the face again . . . really! I too would be interested in knowing what influenced your distance from Asprey’s stance. Afterall I followed YOU over there! Thanks for your honesty and telling it like it is. I’ve been a fan of your work since before your bulletproof days, you are one of the few trustworthy sources left out there.

    • says

      Wow, thanks so much! I feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

      The main reason I left was because I felt the information being spread on that site was inaccurate (actually, I know it was wrong, and still is). Dave and I also had a personality clash, and I felt it was best to leave.

      Here are a few things that especially forced my decision:

      The claim that ketosis accelerates fat loss, or makes calories irrelevant.
      The claim that toxins make you fat.
      The claim that coffee builds muscle.
      The claim that artificial sweeteners are dangerous.
      The claim that mycotoxins are everywhere and are causing all sorts of mayhem, and making people fat.

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