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Sunday, April 23 2017

The Secrets to My Decrease


About a month ago, I mentioned that I’d recently lost a lot of weight, and would be providing a report analyzing which of my actions likely helped.

More precisely: I’ve been saying for a few years that, if I got my weight below 150 lbs. and kept it there for one month, I would starting meat again.  I was goofing around with MS Excel in August, when I realized that January 8, 2016 would be 10,000 days of being a vegetarian.  Thus, I was motivated to drop 30 pounds by December 8, 2015.

Before I present any more information, I should be clear about a few things:

  1. I’m not a doctor
  2. I’m neither a dietician nor a nutritionist
  3. What worked for me may not work for you, and may not be advisable for other reasons

So I’m going to present information, and my best guesses, and if you take actions based on this, do so at your own risk and don’t blame me.  Ok?  OK?!

At a high level, here’s what I did:

  1. Made dietary changes, mostly consistent with the “Slow Carb” diet advocated in Tim Ferris’ The Four Hour Body.
  2. Tried supplementation advocated in the same
  3. Tried exercises advocated in the same
  4. Very slightly increased the regular dog walking I was doing
  5. Made some of my own dietary changes (especially began lacto-fermenting pickles, and eating them in abundance)
  6. Recorded all of the inputs (foods, exercise, supplementation records, sleep, etc.) and outputs (weight, body measurements, etc.) on a daily basis in a spreadsheet


Now, even if you’re not interested in losing weight (or building muscle or hacking your sleep, or any of the other things in the book), I really recommend The Four Hour Body .  It’s a self-experimentation treatise that is a wonderful way to think about trying new ideas out.

The data shows that the greatest contributors to my weight loss were (in decreasing order):

  1. Caloric restriction.  I wasn’t consciously restricting calories, but it turns out that if I consumed less than 1370 calories per day, I lost weight.  And if I consumed more than 2100 calories per day, I gained weight.  The breakeven on a linear model was 1396 calories.
  2. Protein loading.  It’s hard to separate this from the first item.  But, for real, on days when I ate more than 138g of protein, I always lost weight.
  3. Pickles.  Yep, I was much more likely to lose weight on days I ate kimchi or pickled cauliflower.  TFHB has some discussion about gut bacteria, and maybe that played a role.
  4. PAGG stack.  I actually did this only for a month, and decided it wasn’t making a difference.  And at $60/month, it didn’t seem worth it.  In retrospect, the data says it did have a negligible effect.

Other things advocated in TFHB that I tried out were “Neck icing” and air squats/wall pushups.  For these, I saw negligible effect, and stopped doing them.  After the fact analysis supports the fact that they made no difference.

So, if I were to attempt to lose weight again, what would I do?

  1. I would do the slow carb diet, again (no white starches or dairy 6 days a week) (I’m doing this, anyway, less rigidly.  Sugar’s not good…)
  2. I would walk the dog, every day, for at least 2 miles in hills. (I’d do this anyway.  Dogs are great.)
  3. Kimchi, sauerkraut, pickled cauliflower.  All the time.  (I’d do this anyway.  Pickles are tasty.)
  4. I might consider looking at the PAGG stack again.
  5. Faturday*: On Saturday, cheat and eat whatever I feel like.  Pizza, French fries, pupusas, Indian buffet…(I’m still doing this, but sometimes Faturday extends into fat Funday.)


*I think Tim Ferris has some rationalization about ensuring your protein absorption remains good, or not raising your insulin floor or some such.  Honestly, I think there’s a psychological reason to do this.  It makes the other 6 days a week doable.  There are times where, on a Tuesday or Wednesday, I begin planning what I’m going to eat on Faturday. There are times where I’d totally give up the diet on Friday, except I know I can hold out for one more day.

The Secrets to My Decrease | 36 comments | Create New Account
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Authored by: dbsmall onTuesday, March 15 2016


I didn't record the data, accurately enough, but I can tell you I bet weight loss was correlated with a lack of sleep.  But that's misleading.  When I got very little sleep, I was more likely to have coffee or caffeine

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