Potential Flaws and Shortcomings of Asymptotic Nutrition Approach

Asymptotic Nutrition Approach is not ideal. It has its flaws and shortcomings. However I believe it’s one of the best approaches to tackling obesity out there. Nevertheless, it still has certain shortcomings and flaws:

1. It is based on certain caloric intake, therefore it requires calorie counting

Yes, the key to Asymptotic Nutrition Approach is finding a caloric intake level, that in long term leads to a target weight as we approach the weight asymptote at that intake level. To work perfectly, it requires counting how many calories you take each day, and striving to arrive at the same level each day. Which can be difficult.

However, in practice you might count calories just during first couple of days, later on you’ll pretty much know approximately how much stuff you need to consume.

Also if we apply the principle of least intervention, we can do the following:

  • study your previous eating habits
  • learn how many calories you need to eat less (it’s typically just a few hunderds)
  • instead of adding up all you eat each day to arrive at your target level of intake, you can just subtract from your old eating habits that which was an excess.

So it’s called the principle of least intervention, because we don’t want to mess much with your eating habits and we don’t want to cause much disruption, so we just remove these 200-300 excessive calories, and leave the rest pretty much the same. To reach that goal instead of counting calories all day, you might, perhaps just need to skip that extra coke.

2. It only talks about calories, it couldn’t care less about what you eat, and whether it is healthy or not

Asymptotic Nutrition Approach at its core is just an idea, a principle applied to treating obesity, or excessive body mass, an idea that instead of restrictive low calorie diets, it’s better to skip the restrictive phase altogether, and to immediately put a person on a normocaloric diet, but not for their current body mass, but instead – normocaloric for their target body mass – and then wait until their body weight asymptotically approaches that new equilibrium. That’s all.

Indeed there’s no talk about what is healthy and what isn’t. This is a serious shortcoming, if one exclusively applies just Asymptotic Nutrition Approach, while being careless about what they eat. However, this is at the same time a big advantage of Asymptotic Nutrition Approach, for the two main reasons:

a) It can be combined with any other, more comprehensive nutrition plan… it can be combined with any diet in exsistence, so it’s incredibely flexible: You can do Asymptotic Nutrition + DASH, or Asymptotic Nutrition + diabetic diet, or Asymptotic Nutrition + vegetarian nutrition, or any other nutritional approach you can think of. Asymptotic Nutrition has only one requirement, and it’s that you take certain amount of calories, and all the rest is left to personal choice or consultation with your doctor or a nutritionist. I encourage you to consult with your doctor and dietician, especially if you have additional health conditions apart from obesity.

b) It follows the principle of least intervention, because it has been shown in practice that any type of messing with nutrition, any kind of intervention can backfire. Even just striving to eat healthy foods can lead to a certain obsessive type of behavior, known as orthorexia nervosa. So Asymptotic Nutrition Aproach points out: if you’re mostly healthy and just overweight or obese, it might be best to just make the smallest required intervention to go back to healthy weight, without seriously messing with your eating habits.

3. This whole principle of least intervention is bollocks as well – if one is eating in unhealthy ways that are causing them not only to gain weight, but also a host of other health conditions – of course they need to change their eating habits

If one is eating in unhealthy ways, such as relying on fast food and sweets as their main source of nutrients, one indeed needs to change their eating habits, and drastically. Relying only on Asymptotic Nutrition Approach is wrong in that case, as it would resolve the weight issue, but they would still be eating in unhealthy ways. For this reason I encourage you to consult with your doctor or dietician before making any changes to your diet.

However I also believe that one should only make those changes that are truly required. Anything more than that is excessive and can lead to obsession and eating disorders.

For example, it’s good to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet and to cut down the consumption of processed foods. But if you obsess about having 5 portions of fruits and 5 portions of veggies every single day and if you avoid sweets even at parties (unless you’re a diabetic)… well then you’re on your way of becoming obsessed with food – maybe next the step will be checking your food intolerances (which I generally don’t recommend), then starting avoiding all these foods, then eating only raw foods, etc… the quest for eating clean and healthy food is a neverending spiral that can easily get out of control.

4. It can give people false hope of easy solution, and it can discourage them from taking more serious care about their nutrition. Perhaps even some sick people might skip talking to doctors, and waste their precious time applying Asymptotic Nutrition Approach when they were in need of serious and urgent medical intervention.

My no.1 recommendation that I repeat many times is: work together with your doctor or dietician. Asymptotic Nutrition Approach is just a principle, it’s not a whole eating plan. So utmost care and some reality checking is indeed required. Once again, here are my recommendations:

  1. If you have any sort of medical issues, including just being overweight – go see your doctor!
  2. Before making any changes to your diet – go and talk to your doctor!
  3. Always be aware that Asymptotic Nutrition Approach is just a principle, and idea, and that it is incomplete… it’s NOT a full and comprehensive nutrition plan. It’s not even intended to be used on its own. Ideally it should be used with doctor’s supervision and in combination with some other, comprehensive nutrition plan.

5. It’s not suitable for people who need to urgently lose weight, for medical or any other reasons

Asymptotic Nutrition, as it’s name explains, leads to a slow, gradual, asymptotic approach to your target weight. It can take more than one year until you approach your target weight within one kilogram. If you have a medical reason that requires you to lose weight quickly, a restrictive, low calorie diet is a better option.

6. With Asymptotic Nutrition Approach weight loss is too slow, which can be discouraging and demotivating

Indeed, it’s true. However you can help yourself by focusing on adopting a healthier level of energy intake, and on health benefits of doing so, instead of focusing on weight yourself. After all, you aren’t on a weight loss diet. Weight loss will happen nevertheless, in a long term, as a consequence of switching to normal nutrition, from your previous excessive nutrition.