Ten Years of Weight Measurements

Alex Chernavsky, whose Shangri-La Diet experience I described recently, has recorded his weight for almost ten years, with the results shown in this graph. During that period, he’s changed his diet and exercise several times.

The first change was to a low-carb diet (Atkins-like, with lots of meat and fat). He made this change after reading Gary Taubes’s New York Times article “What If It’s Been A Big Fat Lie?”. As advertised, the low-carb diet caused him to lose a lot of weight but — not as advertised — after about a year he started to regain the lost weight. For other reasons, he changed to a vegetarian and later a vegan diet. They slowed down the weight regain but did not stop it. In 2005 and 2006 he managed by walking a lot — in 2006, 90 minutes/day or more 5 or 6 days every week — to lose almost 30 pounds, but then his weight resumed creeping upward. Then he lost about 30 pounds due to the Shangri-La Diet. He did the diet by drinking 3.5 tablespoons of flaxseed oil instead of lunch. He drank a glass of water afterwards to get rid of the flavor.

I have never seen a weight record this long. It suggests several interesting points:

1. A low-carb diet, as advertised, quickly produces substantial weight loss.

2. Not as advertised, the weight loss is followed by regain after a year or so. This implies that studies of low-carb diets and weight loss need to last several years to give a clear picture of how much weight loss to expect.

3. Low-intensity long-duration exercise (walking for 90 minutes almost daily) causes substantial weight loss. This isn’t surprising.

4. … but it is surprising the effects of the exercise appeared to last at least a few years after the exercise was stopped. I have never seen this reported.

5. The Shangri-La Diet worked well. Alex did the diet somewhat differently than other people so it was not obvious this would be true.

6. After he stopped losing weight on SLD, his rate of weight gain was roughly the same as his rate of gain before he started the diet.

11 Replies to “Ten Years of Weight Measurements”

  1. I’ve a friend who went to no flour, no sugar, lost 190 lbs in about twelve months and has kept it off for four years, tomorrow (he was a day short this morning when we talked).

    But his Taubes style diet is rigorous. He is part of a group using it and they’ve noted that any deviation and the weight starts to come back.

    Interesting, my weight has gone up and down (my rest point is 189 +/1 10 lbs, though it went up to 205 over Christmas, is down to 197 this morning).

    I’ve been paying attention to various inputs that seem to make a difference and find the whole very interesting. If I switch to a noseclipped meal in addition to my normal regimen, I drop weight. If I increase ditto food I can push weight up.

    I’m not sure how far I can push weight up with ditto food, I bailed out at 205. I lack the willingness to embrace weight gain for scientific study, at least past a certain point where my comfort zone ends 😉

  2. Seth –

    Why does daily low intensity long duration exercise such as walking reduce weight vs. other forms of aerobic exercise? Does it have anything to do with keeping blood sugar stable?

    1. I’ve never heard a good answer to why exercise causes weight loss. Obviously it lowers the set point (which will come as news to 99% of doctors) but I’ve never heard anything convincing that goes deeper than that.

  3. I have rough data for weight/bf since 2003

    The 2005-2009 weight drop was caused by me being on ADHD medication.
    The early 09/11 weight spikes were caused by massive amounts of dairy intake.
    In 2005 I changed my weight scale body fat analyzer measurement from “athlete” to “regular” which is why the bf% shot up. Otherwise my bf% is highly correlated with my total weight.

    I’ve been eating paleo/primalesq/lc since around September 2009.

    1. Thanks. How tall are you? On the weight chart, what’s the difference between red and green? On the percent body fat chart, shouldn’t the percent change abruptly when you changed the setting on your body fat analyser? Instead, it changed gradually.

Comments are closed.