Easy Weight Loss with the “Kill It or Grow It” Diet Plan


Body composition is 90% diet. If you are looking for a simple method of losing weight then try this — its track record is tough to beat. Actually, it’s not a diet at all, just a way of looking at food. A way of defining food, really.


Real food, of course.


What Is Real Food?


I’ve written about real food before. I tried to define what “real food” is in my “Real Food Primer.” But I wasn’t very specific so I tried to elaborate in “Real Food Redux.” That was a little better, but it began to complicate things.


And you know how I hate complication.


Things should stay simple for as long as they stay simple. Seems simple, right?


But people like to make things more complicated than they need to be. Or, at least, too complicated for the level where they currently stand.


So let’s save the complicated diets for when you’ve been training for years and you’re getting ready for your first bodybuilding contest. Or maybe for when you’ve been drafted to the pro’s and it’s time to start eating like a world class athlete.


If you’re not there yet, however, then let’s just keep it simple for now.


Kill It or Grow It


I realized, and I’m not the first, that the simplest way to define “real food” is with the idea that if you can kill it or grow it then it’s a likely candidate for food.


Now obviously, you can kill or grow many things that are not food. I can grow an elm tree, but it probably doesn’t taste very good. Likewise, I can kill a cat, but I won’t be eating one anytime soon (don’t worry, I love cats and would never kill one . . . unless it looked at me funny).


A Slippery Slope


Here’s the rub: this plan does require a bit of interpretation. And it’s up to you to determine what is allowed under this plan and what isn’t.


But if you’re looking for a guide, here’s how I approach things . . .


If I can’t tell right off by looking at it that it’s killable or growable, then it’s not food – at least, not food ideal for weight loss.


For instance, what about bread? Bread is made from wheat, and wheat is grown. Right?


But that’s not the question we should be asking. The question should look like this: can we grow a loaf of bread?




We can’t grow a loaf of bread. Therefore it’s not “real food.”


How about a burger? Can we grow a burger?




Can we kill a burger?


I can kill a couple burgers in one sitting. But, no . . . we can’t really kill a burger.


What about cereal? Can we grow Fruit Loops? No.




Depends on what you classify as oatmeal. Apple cinnamon flavored instant oats from a package? Not growable. Steel cut oats? Possibly.


You’ll have to navigate the gray area yourself.


A New Perspective


Once you begin to see food through the lens of “kill it or grow it,” it should become much easier to recognize “real food.”


And if we’re looking to lose weight, then “real food” is what we should be eating.


Now, not every meal has to be composed solely of real food. We can always follow the 80/20 rule (though I prefer the 90/10 rule for those who are very serious about losing weight). The point is to make deliberate informed choices about what foods we put into our bodies.


So next time you’re getting ready to cook up some dinner and aren’t quite sure what to have, consider using the “kill it” or “grow it” criteria. You may not be able to grow or kill that lasagna in your freezer, but steak and green veggies certainly fit the mold.



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  1. The last few years, I’ve been trying to get away from as much processed foods as I can. I definitely noticed I felt so much better just eating protein and vegetables at most of my meals. Eggs + beans + meat for breakfast, salad and veggies for lunch, protein + veggie for dinner. Of course, I still use condiments and I eat chocolate, etc etc…but trying my best to make my meals simpler has made a world of difference.

    • Hi Lisa, you’re right about that: Protein + Veggies = Health. The more and more we process our food, the more and more our health declines. Getting back to real food is a simple way to cut out the processed crap and retake control of our health. And I don’t think the occasional condiment here and there is a big deal at all . . . so long as you don’t typically down a quater bottle of ketchup with your fries as I do (I know, I know . . . you can’t grow fries).


  2. We featured you on our website today. Great article!

  3. Now that’s a very interesting perspective! Made me think for a moment, and that’s in a good way.

    Loads of things have already run through my mind since reading that, for instance I had rye bread this morning… Not exactly unhealthy, but that’ll definitely have to fit into the 10 or 20%.

    Very insightful, Trevor!

    • Thanks Nick. I’d agree that rye bread should be in the 10% – 20%, but it also depends on the quality of the rye. Fluffy supermarket white rye? Forget about it. Heavy artisnal sour rye made from coursely cracked grain? Better. Much better. (I was a bread baker for 10 years.)

      The idea is not so much to make a list of foods we can or can’t eat, but to understand which foods are natural and which aren’t. If we know where our food is coming from, and the level of processing that goes into it, we can make educated choices about what we put into our bodies. And if we’re trying to lose weight, the more natural and less processed the better.


      • I was just cooking dinner, so I thought I’d stop by, mainly because I was subconsciously following this idea, am cooking some chicken legs/thighs with swede and spinach 😀

        Oh, and by the way, it was homemade heavy rye, so that’s not too bad. And 10 years, that’s impressive!

        • That sounds like one helluva dinner Nick. I might need to pick up some chicken thighs next time I go shopping. I love cooking them over roasted vegetables with loads of butter and simple seasonings (salt, pepper, rosemary). Mmmm . . . I just ate steak and eggs for dinner, but that sounds damn right delicious to me right now. Yeah, chicken & veggies with a slab of buttered home made rye — that’s what I need.

          Thanks for sparking the cravings Nick! I’ll be dreaming of this stuff tonight.


  4. I think it’s processed foods that are a concern. Some foods, such as old-fashioned oatmeal seem to be quite “real” to me, and pretty healthy, too. In a perfect world we’d all go back to growing our own: food that is.

    • So true! But the days of growing our own food are gone. At least for most of us. I wish it weren’t so.

      And you’re right — it is the processed crap that is killing us. I love old-fashioned oatmeal too, but I have to admit it’s not for everyone. And the manner in which it’s prepared is important as well. Let it soak overnight with a little whey or natural buttermilk and it becomes far more nutritious . . . and tasty.


  5. Kill it or grow it, surprisingly enough I’ve not heard about this rule of thumb myself. Good thought – thanks for sharing. I’m enjoying a cup of coffee right now, I hope that falls under “grow it”. Yum.

    • Ha! I hadn’t even thought about coffee. I’ve never grown a cup myself, but that won’t keep me from drinking my 2-3 each morning (and more on the weekends).

  6. When I was diagnosed with celiac disease my wife and I had to make drastic dietary changes. About that same time we had moved out of the city and onto a 2 acre lot. Our goal is to raise and grow as much of our own food as possible. If you don’t have chickens, get them. They are the easiest animals to raise and care for and if you don’t get roosters they aren’t annoying.

  7. Question. If you can only eat what you can kill or grow, then how do you cook your food? You can’t cook it with olive oil?

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  1. […] place that the 80/20 rule pops up, for a good ratio would be 80% of your food is tier 1 (you kill it or grow it, or at least somebody else does), and that last 20% is where the processed items lie. That could be […]

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