I've decided to try this for 30 days and see what happens. My proposed foods are:
I'm not planning to include the starch he proposes. No seasonings or added flavors. I plan to continue to drink coffee although only black (kill me now please.)
My questions are first do these food choices look to be in line with his proposal? Second, is my lack of carb intake going to nullify or skew any findings? Would this be more valid if I added a sweet potato? I hope to continue with daily water kefir to drink. Do you think that's too flavorful? It's mostly tangy with a tiny hint of sweet. I hardly feel rewarded by it but who knows? I calculate about 5g carbs in what I ingest daily. I can give it up but would prefer not to.
My other uncertainly is what things I should take note of each day. Obviously weight but I was thinking I would keep a journal regarding hunger and cravings as well as general mood each day. I'll record food volume and corresponding macros as well as times eaten. Anything else I should take note of?
I'm open to any and all suggestions on how best to do this. I hope to NEVER repeat this little experiment as I'm already feeling supremely bitchy just thinking about it. I need to get it as right as possible for this one shot deal.
Edit: I just emailed Stephan to see if he had any input. Not sure if he'll respond but I'd love to hear any thoughts he may have.)
This is interesting. One bit of advice: instead of just recording how you feel each day, report it on a quantitative scale, e.g., a 7-point scale ranging from extremely lethargic to extremely energetic, and so on. You could report on a dozen scales like this in about a minute. Doing it this way will make it easier to distinguish one day from the next, and, more importantly, it will make it possible to graph your data, which will allow you to see possible trends. Good luck!
OK. Here are the pertinent instructions from section for doing the Stage 5 reducing reward experiement.
This level reduces variety, which is another reward factor (4). This is something that you attempt at your own risk, as there may be downsides to eating the same foods every day. I think the risk is small if you choose your three foods carefully. I wouldn't recommend doing this indefinitely, but rather as a short-term strategy to lose fat, followed by a more relaxed maintenance phase.
Pick three foods, and eat nothing else. Try to pick foods that will provide a relatively balanced diet. A starch, a meat and a green vegetable is one possibility. For example: potatoes, broccoli and beef. Again, cook everything gently and add no seasonings to your food whatsoever, including salt. Macronutrients
Some people have lost fat simply by avoiding carbohydrate or fat. I've heard people say that a low-carbohydrate diet in particular curbs their cravings and allow them to have a healthy relationship with food again (although others have developed strong cravings on low-carbohydrate diets). I believe this is mostly, if not exclusively, driven by the fact that carbohydrate and fat are major reward factors.
I believe that all things being equal, it's best not to restrict any macronutrient to an extreme degree (there may be some exceptions, such as diabetes). That being said, as carbohydrate and fat are major reward factors, they are additional tools in the toolbox that you can use to further reduce reward if you choose.
Don't be a Drill Sergeant
Ultimately, for any diet to work, it needs to be sustainable. It's probably a good idea to allow yourself a meal or two a week that you really enjoy. Just don't indulge in the worst offenders-- foods that will stay on your mind, and reinforce your cravings for days or weeks. You know what your own trigger foods are. Don't even put yourself in the vicinity of those foods if you can avoid it. If your diet is balanced and nutritious, your cravings should subside over time, and you will become more satisfied by simple food.>
Now, he says he believes it is best not to restrict macronutrient groups, but from my reading of it, this is not an absolute.
"That being said, as carbohydrate and fat are major reward factors, they are additional tools in the toolbox that you can use to further reduce reward if you choose."
I think each individual with be obviously a bit different. In your case, you have written about the need to greatly restrict calories and to not be able to eat to satiety - to have to endure hunger to some degree on an ongoing basis.
I believe that you could specifically target these two issues with this experiment.
The other thing is, he writes re: avoiding trigger foods. Much like you, for me to do a potato of any kind is a major treat event and occurs, maybe twice to three times in a typical year. A potato, as I want to eat potatoes is a major trigger food and if I were counting calories, a caloric nightmare.And of course, it is a starchy carb and I don't do them with any regularity. However, a potato with NO salt, NO butter, NO sour-cream, NO bacon bits...NO NOTHING...I can say without skpping a beat that that naked potato would in reality, most likely, be hard for me to even finish. (Trigger GONE - detriggered potato!) If I did the experiment, I'd go with the white potato as it has rock bottom palatability for me.
I think I would do better with a sweet potato, (as in gagging it down!) but it would still really have negligible reward value for me.
I also want to suggest that you consider doing it for maybe multiple, but shorter periods of time. I think 2 weeks, for instance, solid, could get you alot of noticeable bang. I am actually betting that a solid seven days could yield real results.
I have been considering doing it for 5 days to a week at a time as one of my change-it-up rotations...ongoing...
Given your response to black coffee, I think there is no reward value, there, lol! So, I think it fits fine. If you began to want to throw down an escalating number of cups for a caffeine blast...you'd experience and know this.
Lastly, Stephan is really very accessible via his blog. He responds to comments and questions regularly.
I really admire you. ALOT. No, not for contemplating just this specific experiment, but for the amazing journey you've taken and are on and the degree to which you share your experience, and not in a "yes - woman" way. You put your truth out there. You smack people in the face with the reality of your experiece, but in the most articulate, graceful and often compassionate way. And I believe that is worth far more than you will ever know to so many, especially women, who read your posts.
Thank you. (Write your blog!)
If I were to do this, I would definitely go for a better o3/6 ratio meat like lamb or beef. Living only on chicken and eggs... Even if they're pastured, seems like a bit too much o6 - too little o3, imo. Actually, it seems like it would be more productive overall to do a lean protein, like lean ground beef, a veg/starch, and a pure fat, either butter or coconut oil. That way you're getting plenty of good fats in.
As far as the starch goes, I would think adding potato would be more in line with his theory. Plain potatoes are about as bland as you can get. I personally love plain broccoli, and I've gone through over a pound of it on its own without feeling sated, but you might feel differently about it :P
So... Since the object is for bland food that would provide adequate nutrition and support weight loss, I would personally go for a fat, a lean meat/fish, and a starch. But then again, I think even if this method provides some miraculous appetite suppressant quality I wouldn't follow it quite so strictly, if only for the lack of nutrient variety. Perhaps you could try experimenting with single ingredient meals but a including wider variety of nutrient dense foods? It might be just as effective and slightly less torturous, which might make it a bit more sustainable.
(Side note: I got to that series of posts this weekend, after just having bought a weeks worth of delicious lamb sausages, herbed butters, berries, and full fat yogurts. I just had to sigh and say, "control week I guess..." Because I've been interested in trying this theory out to help out with my neo-binge-prone-edness.)
i think doing it low-carb is kind of doing a basic protein sparing modified fast- which definitely works for almost anyone for weight loss. i believe the core of what stephan was getting at was that the food reward- the food being bland and not sweetened, salted or seasoned to make more palatable- by itself, regardless of macronutrient ratios, is a powerful tool for weight loss. it sounds about right but from my experiences, you don't have to go as far as some of his suggestions recommend(i'm talking about the 4th and 5th level of recommendations) when eating a generic paleo diet in and of itself reduces food reward, reverses inflammation of the hypothalamus and clears up problems with leptin signalling for all but the most hormonally damaged. the way he has his recommendations set up, maybe that i what he's saying also...
First of all, I just wanted to tell you that I've been following your story via the comments, and really admire your courage in facing up to things (this challenge included!). So good on you for taking the plunge!
I hate to say it, but I wonder if drinking black coffee might hinder you. As well as a strong/exciting flavour (with a strong aromatic component), it's sort of the opposite of what Seth Roberts advocates to decrease the set point e.g. flavourful and calorie free, as opposed to flavourless and calorie dense. I wonder if timing is important here. Maybe someone more into Roberts’ ideas could tell you if drinking coffee away/with from mealtimes might be better. Perhaps if you really can't do without it, a caffeine pill might be a safer temporary replacement.
Have you run your planned foods through nutrition analysis software? This could highlight any potential deficiencies, although I would advise that you take a good quality multi-vitamin anyway. At the same time I wonder of starting a new supplement might compromise the experiment if you want to be really strict. Are you taking any other supplements?
Finally, the one thing that occurred to me was that if poultry (albeit skinless I presume) and eggs are your main calorie sources, it might be pretty easy to rack up an undesirable level of O6s.
Good luck, and please keep us all posted.
PS If you stop posting updates after the first week, we'll assume that you're AWOL/up a clock tower somewhere. ;)
I've basically been doing this as a PSMF with a couple extra foods, but not much. I've been eating boneless skinless chicken breasts, green beans, hard boiled egg whites and black coffee. I managed two weeks and lost 5lbs. I did have tilapia one night with my husband and ground turkey another. I was doing it for fat loss, not to reset anything with food and/or cravings so choosing the really lean meats was important. Chicken is just easiest.
I actually found it makes me think about food way too much. I managed, because I have done low calorie, bland food diets before and I can handle it. It's not super easy though.
I took a break for the holiday because we had a party. I'm fasting today, then back on the protocol tomorrow for another two weeks.
I think to make this a truly n=1 experiment you need to eliminate as many other confounders as possible.
With that in mind you should do two things:
Do not restrict macronutrients - if you do it low carb then how do you know that wasn't the determining factor?
Try your best to eat maintenance calories. If the theory is true you will be unable to do this. Otherwise you might just not make yourself enough food.
Definitely keep a record of everything and best of luck, if I'm honest it sounds brutal!
I thank my lucky stars I can lose weight eating food I enjoy eating. That's one of the main reasons I came to Paleo.
I might try sweet potato for one of the 3. You'd save yourself some of the stress of gluconeogenesis and gain a good source of potassium. Besides that, it looks fine for what it is. Not pleasant, but I think it'll be very effective for weight loss.
You might try doing it for a week and going from there. But if you think you can make a month, go for it. Good luck and make sure to update!
So what is Guyenet's thesis? From the comments and questions I gather it has something to do with the food reward system. Does it dull the appetite on a bland diet or something? How about some background for the paleo-noobs like me? Thanks!
Is food monotony helpful for weight loss? 10 Answers