A Diet Programmers Can Relate To

February 6, 2009

Consider this: programmers are typically overweight.  It's our nature.  Ninety-five percent of our job is sitting behind a desk and hacking at a keyboard.  The most movement we get is walking to the bathroom, and going to our car to go to the drive thru.

About a month ago, I was turned onto the Weight Watchers plan, and it immediately occurred to me that this is the perfect diet plan for developers.  Here is the gist of the plan:  You're allotted x number of points a day.  Points come from the foods and drinks you put into your body.  The number of points you're allowed is based on your gender, weight, height, and activity level.

The points in a piece of food is determined by the number of calories, total fat, and fiber content of the food.  Anyone that pays to join Weight Watchers is given a calculator for determining the points.  In reality, it's just an equation.  Developers like equations.  We can understand equations.  Here is the equation for Weight Watchers Points:

POINTS = (Calories / 50) + (Total Fat / 12) - (MIN(Fiber, 4) / 5)

Ooooh.  That could easily be plugged into a script.  How does this fit into the real world?  My number of points allotted per day is 39.  There is a formula for figuring that out, but I've been unable to find it.  If/when I do, I'll post it here.  But for the record, I'm 6'1, 259 pounds and sit at a desk all day.  If you weigh more than I do, add 1 point per 10 pound increment (260 pounds is technically 40 points).  If you weight less, subtract 1 point per 10 pound increment.  If you are taller than me, add a point or two.  If you're shorter, subtract a point or two.  You should see what I mean.

Say I go to Burger King, and buy a Whopper with cheese.  That weighs in at 19 pounds (the mayo kills it).  After eating a Whopper, I've already had half my number of points for the day.  Weight Watchers says that's cool, but be careful with your other 20 points.  You still eat what you want, just eat less of it and try to find better alternatives.

So now you can do the Weight Watchers plan for free.  Use the points equation to do whatever you want.  Lose weight mathematically!