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The Hacker's Diet

The Hacker's Diet

Concept or Theory Behind this Diet:

The Hacker's Diet

The Hacker's Diet, also known as "How to Lose Weight and Hair Through Stress and Poor Nutrition," is a diet and fitness program that approaches weight management from an engineering perspective. Created by John Walker, the founder of software company Autodesk, the diet presents weight loss in terms of data, charts, and computations rather than focusing on traditional dieting or exercise tactics.

Underlying Principles

The core principle of the Hacker's Diet is the concept of energy balance, as understood through the lens of an engineer or a computer programmer. It applies the principle of energy conservation, stating that your body can't create energy out of nothing—so if you consume more calories than your body uses, you'll gain weight, and if you use more calories than you consume, you'll lose weight.

Walker emphasizes that weight management is primarily a control engineering problem, not a moral or social issue. He argues that our bodies are complex systems that follow the laws of thermodynamics, just like any other system.

Dietary Guidelines

The Hacker's Diet doesn't advocate for a specific menu or eating plan. Instead, it operates on the concept of a 'food budget.' This is the number of calories a person can consume each day while still losing, maintaining, or gaining weight, depending on their specific goal.

To maintain a calorie deficit (and thereby lose weight), Walker suggests simple strategies like reducing portion sizes, opting for low-calorie foods, or skipping certain meals when you're not particularly hungry. There's no prohibition on any type of food, but the idea is to make conscious choices to stay within the daily calorie budget.


Walker includes an exercise component in the Hacker's Diet, but it's relatively minimal compared to many other fitness programs. The exercise regimen, known as the "Exercise Ladder," is a series of bodyweight exercises that gradually increase in intensity. You start at the level you can handle and then work your way up. The ladder includes exercises like bending, stretching, sit-ups, and leg-lifts, all of which can be done at home without specialized equipment.

Weight Tracking

The Hacker's Diet places a heavy emphasis on tracking weight trends over time. To manage the daily fluctuations in body weight that can be caused by fluid retention or other factors, Walker proposes using a 'moving average,' which smooths out the trend line and provides a clearer view of your overall weight trajectory.

Walker has even created an online tool that uses the concept of signal processing to filter the 'noise' of daily weight fluctuations and extract the 'signal' of the underlying trend. This allows dieters to see whether they're generally gaining or losing weight over time.


The Hacker's Diet is an unconventional approach to weight management that appeals to those with a logical, data-driven mindset. It strips away many of the complications associated with traditional diet plans and focuses on the basic principle of calories in versus calories out. The emphasis on data, control, and system balance can make this diet an attractive option for those who appreciate a scientific and methodical approach to weight loss.

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