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An Outrageous Experiment, Part 1

Carol’s coming home tomorrow, finally, after two and a half weeks in Chicago helping her mom. This was nothing sudden, and I had had a crazy idea in reserve, at which I hinted in my 2009 plan file, which I posted on New Year’s Eve. Some of you mailed me, puzzled, about this item:

  • Eat Less Sugar. Eat More Meat. Lose More Weight. (More on this shortly.)

One woman, whom I’ve known for a number of years, scolded me: “You’re crazy! You don’t need to lose any weight!”

That’s true. I do not need to lose any weight. However, when I do lose weight, I damned well want to know why.

Ok. There is some backstory that I haven’t given you yet. This may take me a couple of days to get through, but I think it’s important. So let’s get underway.

For a number of years now, I’ve weighed 155, and I consider that my ideal weight. I’m 5’9″ tall and lightly built. My blood chemistry is good and I have no major health problems. I walk regularly, and do weight training once a week. This has been my regimen (such that it is) since we moved to Colorado in 2003.

My customary breakfast all this time has been a bowl of Cheerios in 2% milk, and half of a 6 oz cup of fat-free, low-sugar “light” yogurt, mixed with organic blueberries. (The organic is incidental. I don’t care how they were grown; they just taste better.) I’m used to a certain period of muzziness that follows breakfast, and assumed it was just my blood rushing to my stomach. Morning is my productive time for writing, and my post-breakfast fuzzies slowed me down. I resent that, but I considered it inevitable until I read something online about the phenomenon. Eating carbs for breakfast will do that to you. Hmmm. So some months back, I just stopped eating Cheerios in the morning, hoping that I would be mentally sharper until lunch. And wham! It worked. I got a little hungry at 10:30 AM, but I did not lose my edge after breakfast. I was writing more, and better, from 7 AM all the way until noon. So I bought dry-roasted almonds to snack on mid-morning, and kept to the regimen.

Well, something else happened: In about three weeks, I lost five pounds.

I did not think that had five pounds to lose, but I shed another inch of waistline, and had to punch another hole in a couple of my belts. Carol told me she wanted me back at 155. However, I am unwilling to lose my morning edge. It was a bit of a conundrum, but I knew that, come January, I would be batching it again for almost three weeks, eating alone. So a totally outrageous experiment suggested itself…

More tomorrow.

6 Comments

  1. Jack Isberner says:

    Jeff…

    Diets are like politics or religon,,,everyone has at least one opinion on what is right. I have done alot of research here, and found a diet called the Ornish diet that makes alot of sense. Dr. Ornish has clinical trials backing up his diet that shows significant improvement in the most common ailments that modern Americans have, heart disease and diabetes. The medical reports are widely published. He puts food in five catagories from best to worse, and then lets the reader pick how much they want / need to improve their diet. I have been on this diet for about 6 months, and yes it is difficult to do, but my energy level is so much higher today than it was before the diet. I like you have lost weight (unlike you, I needed to). This diet is a very low fat diet with no animal cholesterol. It is also very low in refined carbohydrates which tend to make people tired during the day. Anyways…just my opinion and like I said must people have many of them on this issue…I wish you well on your endevor.

    1. If it works, God love ya–there’s plenty of clinical studies on both sides of the fat/carb question, and I’m coming to believe that different racial or ethnic types respond differently to different foods. I find Ornish troubling because he’s so, well, certain, and very combative at times. I’d respect him more if he would simply admit that the science is all the hell over the map.

  2. not so sure about that says:

    It shouldn’t be surprising that cutting out some carbohydrates resulted in losing some weight. That you seemed to find it surprising is just more illustration of the generally poor understanding of how the body deals with the food we take in.

    I think it might be more fine-grained than racial or ethnic types governing response to foods, but I don’t believe any reliable studies have been done on that topic. Mercola promotes the idea of “metabolic typing” quite a bit and sells a test to tell you whether you are a carb, protein, or mixed type, but I don’t believe he has much research to back it up.

    I think the low-fat part of Ornish’s approach will turn out to be irrelevant once anyone gets to studying the topic carefully — the low carbohydrate part probably is the key. To the extent that Ornish’s low-fat approach eliminates unhealthy fats, it is good, but I think he’s thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

    What makes the most sense to me is the argument that concentrated carbohydrates — grains and sugar — are unnatural foods in that humans evolved without those foods. They were introduced only with the agricultural revolution, a short time ago, evolutionarily speaking. Diets based on fiber, healthy fats and oils, and just enough protein to meet the body’s growth and replacement needs make the most sense to me. I just wish there were enough interest in funding decent study of diets that weren’t biased by the current agricultural interests. The food pyramid is a cruel joke on the public.

    I’ve certainly not reviewed all the available material, but one book that seems to do a pretty good job of defending this approach is “The Rosedale Diet”, in case you are interested in doing some reading on that general view. It explains some of the biochemistry that justifies that view. It made sense to me, but I’m no biochemist, so I might be being misled. I think Atkins had a glimpse of the truth, but went off the rails shortly after that glimpse.

    I’m a little surprised that you feel 155 pounds is the ideal weight for your 5’9″ height, since you describe yourself as having a slight build. I think there is a good chance that’s about 20 or 25 pounds above ideal for you. Again, we could use some unbiased study of what really are ideal healthy weights. So much of the current accepted truth is just reporting what average observed weights are, assuming that is ideal.

  3. […] Part 1 of this series, yesterday: Back in the summer of 2008 I stopped eating a bowl of Cheerios every morning, to see if I could […]

  4. […] couple of cookies or an ice cream cone now and then) I lose weight. I was even more intrigued when I spent a few weeks eating almost no carbs at all (basically, lots of protein and animal fat) and lost even more weight. I’ll have my latest […]

  5. […] me, oh my, oh me, oh my…I’m just such a bad boy. Last year, I violated the Laws of Thermodynamics by eating more calories…and losing weight. Now, since we all know that every calorie is exactly like every other calorie (settled science!) […]

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