The Hacker Diet

The Hacker diet is a simple diet in which you can use a computer program to keep track of how many calories you consume and consume. This way you can easily make adjustments to your diet.

What is the Hacker Diet

The Hacker Diet is a diet created by the inventor of ‘Autodesk’, John Walker, and which can be found in an electronic book of the same name. The book is intended to stimulate weight loss by showing very precisely how many calories you take in and how many you consume. This makes it clear what its effects are on your weight.
He records all this data using a program in which you can make graphs (Excel is used in the book). By exercising and counting calories you can calculate how much energy you use. To lose weight, you can consume fewer calories or exercise more. John Walker has nothing to do with medicine or nutrition in his professional life. For example, he writes that his book is a diet book, written by someone who was fat most of his life. Consuming too few calories can not only result in losing fat, but your muscles can also be damaged.

‘Engineering problem’

According to Walker, his diet approaches the problem of obesity as if it were an ‘engineering problem’, an error in your construction. He claims that this enabled him to lose weight from 98 kilos to 66 kilos in one year. A weight loss of 32 kilos that he managed to maintain. According to Walker, it is important to look at the essence of the problem. He ignores the little variables like the type of food you consume, the frequency of eating, your metabolism and even exercise. The key to weight loss is comparing calories consumed to calories expended. If you consume fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight and vice versa, you will gain weight, it’s that simple. To maintain consistent weight loss at the desired rate, it is necessary to accurately track your intake and weight loss and make dietary adjustments accordingly to achieve your goal.

The body as a system

Walker also introduces the reader to simple feedback and control systems. He shows spreadsheets demonstrating feedback, fluctuations and data smoothing to illustrate his arguments. ‘Data smoothing’ is a key element of the system, so you don’t get discouraged if you don’t lose weight for a while and so you can focus on long-term weight loss. The diet has a fairly simple approach of counting calories, but what makes it so successful is its unique focus on feedback by tracking your weight loss in an appropriate program. Certain techniques are shown to apply ‘data smoothing’ in Excel or when using pen and paper so that you can adjust your diet and not be discouraged by short-term fluctuations due to water retention or other factors. Using the linear trend in your graph as a control system is also a very important factor of the diet. This way you can quickly see whether you are relapsing and will gain weight again after you have reached your target weight. Walker states that ‘the vast majority of people who lose weight gain the pounds back in a short time. If you quickly look at the linear trend in your graph, you can easily make small adjustments to your intake. This way you have greater control over your weight throughout your life.


Walker uses Excel spreadsheets to enter data, which gives you graphs that accurately track how much weight you lose and what you need to adjust. But in his book he suggests other software packages you can use. There are also several programs online that allow tracking and graphing of your weight data.

To play sports

Walker says that “you don’t exercise to lose weight (although it helps). You exercise because you will live longer and feel better. Although Walker says weight loss is not the goal of exercise, he devotes an entire chapter of his book to exercise. Walker suggests that you can combine the diet with exercises he derived from the ‘Royal Canadian Air Force 5BX’ exercise program.