Improving SLD

John Tukey once said that a good way to have new ideas is to tell others the ones you have already. This was part of why I wrote The Shangri-La Diet: It would be much easier to get better ideas about weight loss if I told people the ones I already had. Call it open source weight control.

I think it’s working. In the SLD forums, Sean Curley, who tried SLD before the book (thanks, Levitt & Dubner!), made this brilliant post:

Two years ago (before the book came out), I lost about 27 lbs on SLD, using fructose water. In hindsight, I probably lost too much weight going from 183 lbs to 155 lbs (I’m male, 6′ 1″). I stopped doing what had worked, and got sloppy about SLD in general, and put most — but not all — of it back on over the course of a year or so. So, now I’m doing it again, but having read about how hepatoxic and lipogenic fructose is, started doing oil instead — ELOO, Walnut Oil and Canola, usually mixed in equal parts, and usually not breathing through my nose when I drink it to avoid any flavor at all.

My MO, historically, and what worked well for me, was doing — don’t gasp — 750 calories/day of SW (previously) and then oil (more recently). Both worked well, although truth be told, I think SW worked even better. Because of my concerns about fructose, and sugar in general, that’s not really an option for me anymore. My one concern about SLD has always been, am I replacing too many regular, “nutritious” calories with calories that aren’t? (Although I am aware of the healthy benefits of the oils.) I have tried various protein powders — whey, rice, and some soy — with noseclips followed by a mouth rinse, but haven’t had good AS with that (maybe negative AS, actually). Not sure if it’s too much residual flavor, too “simple” in its form, but for whatever reason, they just didn’t work well for me. Also tried Tim Beneke’s flavorless mush balls, but too much of a hassle, and just a little awkward for me.

I’ve always wondered if “real” protein in some flavorless, non-processed form wouldn’t be even more effective, but for some reason, I never got around to trying it until three weeks ago. I thought that eating full-fatted cottage cheese, which is very high in protein, and pretty bland, with noseclips on, might be worth a try. And, wow, did it work! My approach to SLD has always been to have the first 750 cals of my day as flavorless, going to dinner time on nothing but flavorless calories — as needed, in 50 calorie “doses” (oil or SW), and then allowing myself to eat whatever I wanted after that. But, it usually took 750 calories to get me there, sometimes a little less, but not usually. So, 750 flavorless calories was my “benchmark.”

The first day I tried the nose-clipped cottage cheese, It took only 420 calories to get to dinner time, with a MUCH greater feeling of fullness and AS than I had ever experienced on SLD. That effect has held consistent for the last two or three weeks, sometimes needing as few as 360 cals to dinner, but never more the 560, although usually 425 is the number. That’s a substantial reduction (43%) in the number of flavorless calories required to get the same (probably better, actually) AS effect. Then, two days ago, I thought: I wonder how bland, plain chicken breast meet would work? (again with noseclips). The answer, after two days, appears to be even more effective –more on the order of 360 calories required to get the same effect.

In both cases, I use nose clips, and typically eat about 60 cals at a time, as needed for hunger, AND I rinse my mouth out two or three times before I take the noseclips off to wash out any residual flavor.

For me the effect of going from oil to flavorless “real” protein has been as remarkable as the effect I got from going from pre-SLD to SLD originally.

As I posted there, the theory behind SLD is all about regulation of energy storage. You want to store neither too little nor too much — and you want to store more when food is cheap. But food is more than energy. It is also building blocks. Which means protein, mostly. So it is quite plausible that there is a whole regulatory system designed to get the right amount of protein. Sean’s observations suggest exactly that.

Besides the conceptual plausibility the details of the new method are excellent:

1. The raw materials (cottage cheese and chicken meat) are readily available and easy to eat.

2. The notion of eating the first calories of the day flavorless and then anything for dinner matches what’s clear about self-control: We have a lot more earlier in the day. This method uses self-control when it is plentiful and not when it is scarce.

I’m not going to stop drinking flaxseed oil (nose-clipped). But I am going to try adding chicken meat (nose-clipped).

9 Replies to “Improving SLD”

  1. Is this guy eating a mouthful of cottage cheese seven times a day? I thought with SLD you should only have to take the flavorless calories once. It sounds more like he’s getting AS by keeping his blood sugar under control rather than how SLD supposedly works.

  2. Yes, that is what I am doing. That has been my MO all along with SLD, even when doing oil or sugar water . . . using it throughout the day as opposed to just one or two time a day. What’s interesting to me, though, is how much more effective the cottage cheese and chicken are than just the oil or sugar water.

  3. “The notion of eating the first calories of the day flavorless and then anything for dinner matches what’s clear about self-control: We have a lot more earlier in the day.”

    Quite a claim. Do you have a cite for the assertion that self-control is easier in the morning (preferrably controlling for alcohol consumption).

  4. No, no citation. I’ve noticed it in myself and others — unprompted — have said the same thing. One documented assertion, although I can’t give you a reference, is that people eat a large fraction of their calories in the evening. That seems to be when dietary control breaks down.

  5. Hi. My experience w/ SLD was that the effectiveness of any source of calories decreased over time, presumably because I got enough flavor to develop some association. This theory seems to fit Sean’s case, and is an alternative to the hypothesis that cottage cheese or chicken are any more efficient than oil for SLD.

    That said, nose clips + washing mouth out with water is more than I have ever tried, so I will try that and see if I get a slower efficiency decay.

    On a totally different note – Hey Seth, have you tested / written much about using fish oil for SLD to get maximum omega-3s? I’ve been using Carlson’s fish oil on and off, figuring that whether or not it works for SLD (due to having noticeable flavor) I’m getting tons of omega-3s. I’m also curious whether there is such a thing as “too much” omega 3. For the outcomes you self-study, at what dose does the response taper off? How much becomes dangerous due to too little clotting?

  6. I don’t think sugar water has any flavor at all. And its effectiveness did not noticeably decline over the three years I used it.

    I’ve haven’t tried using fish oil for SLD. I tried different amounts of flaxseed oil and found that while 3 tablespoons/day was clearly better than 2 T/day, 4 T/day was not clearly better than 3 T/day. Now I do 4 T/day to be on the safe side. I’m assuming what’s close to optimal for the brain will be close to optimal for the rest of the body — because the whole structure was shaped with the same amount of omega-3 in the blood.

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