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.