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An Outrageous Experiment, Part 2

Recapping 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 avoid the “fuzzy” feeling that commenced half an hour after breakfast and lingered for an hour and sometimes longer. Within three weeks, I had lost five pounds. I also lost the fuzzy feeling.

I found this intriguing, since it meshed with a few other things that had happened years earlier when my diet changed abruptly for some reason. (I’ll save the deep history for Part 3.) I read a few books, some of which I will review in the near future. There is a very old and very contrarian position in the health field to the effect that if you eat more carbs, you gain weight, and if you eat less carbs, you lose weight. This seemed to be the case with me, though all the data that I could find had been gathered in the treatment of overweight people. I was not and had never been significantly overweight. (I have never weighed more than 170.) It was a head-scratcher, and the question would have remained purely academic, except that we have known since last fall that Carol was going to be in Chicago for two or three weeks in January. I was going to be cooking for myself and eating alone all that time.


I had lost weight by dropping one daily bowl of Cheerios from my diet. The hypothesis was obvious: Suppose I replaced the calories represented by a bowl of Cheerios with an equivalent number of calories, but from protein and fat. Would I gain the weight back?

I went shopping on the way home from dropping Carol off at the Denver airport. I bought more almonds. I bought a dozen extra-large eggs. I bought lots of cold meat, cube steaks, bratwurst, and frozen shrimp. And cheese, wow: sliced Havarti, a wedge of Romano, grated Parmesan, and a package of those appallingly delicious artificial Swiss-flavored cheese slice substitutes. I bought a big container of creamy cole slaw. I bought several cups of Greek-style high-fat yogurt. I bought a pint of table cream for my coffee. As a coup de gras (heh) I bought half a pound of bacon.

Slightly daunted by all that unapologetic fat, I drew up my courage, and I ate.

Now, a largish bowl of Cheerios with a half cup of 2% milk represents about 150 calories. An extra-large egg is 85 calories; fried in butter brings it up to a little over 90. A tablespoon of cream for my cafe au lait is another 29 calories. 3 oz of Greek-style yogurt gave me 115 calories, over about 85 for the light yogurt I had been eating before, for a calorie delta of 30. It was close to a wash; 150 before; 150 after.

That was breakfast. For lunch I had cold meat and cheese and occasionally an egg, and every couple of days, two strips of bacon. I did a lot of interesting things with the raw materials: I made a handcrafted Bacon Cheese Egg McMuffin. I made a new sort of ham and cheese sandwich, by sandwiching two slices of ham between two slices of Havarti cheese. I did not cut out carbs completely–I like them too much–but one Bays english muffin was it for lunch. For dinner I typically had a cube steak fried in walnut oil, another 3 oz of Greek-style yogurt with blueberries, some Romano cheese, and maybe a few Wheat Thins.

I made buffalo spaghetti sauce, enough for several nights, and served it over whole-wheat capellini. When I didn’t feel like cooking, I just thawed some shrimp and went nuts.

What I did not eat was sugar or refined carbs. I read labels like I generally read only SF, history, and theology, taking notes. There’s at least a smidge of sugar in almost everything, but if it was high-fructose corn syrup, I put it back on the shelf. I had no desserts, and I left the last two boxes of Christmas cookies in the pantry, unopened. I did not eat any potato chips. I did not eat any rice. I did not eat any white pasta. The only bread I ate was from a package of cracked-wheat bratwurst rolls. When I snacked at all, it was on dry roasted almonds.

I did not scrimp. I ate as much as I wanted; in fact, to accelerate the process (given that I only had a little over two weeks to regain my five pounds) I ate as much as I could stand. I probably ate about 25% less in terms of carbs than I generally do, but I ate a lot more protein and fat. I did not change my exercise regimen.

After ten days of this, I tallied the results: I felt great. I was never hungry.

And I had lost two more pounds. Oh, dear. If I wasn’t careful, I would be burned at the steak for heresy.

(To be continued tomorrow.)


  1. Kevin Anetsberger says:

    I’ve recently read some articles that link ADD with carbs. I’m not sure that I would go that far, but being one to have some trouble focusing as much as I’d like, I’ve been reducing the carbs and increasing Omega 3s to see if it helps. I can get pretty sleepy about 1.5 to 2 hours after each meal. That seems to be better sans carbs. The jury is still out on the focus issue. I’m pretty lean myself and haven’t noticed any weight change yet, but we’ll see…

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