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Machine Learning and Ketosis (github.com)
706 points by ddv 283 days ago | hide | past | web | 295 comments | favorite



What's interesting about this post isn't the actual diet advice, but the guidance to track and see what works for you. Different people react to fasting differently - some continue to burn calories and drop weight, some just go into starvation mode, have their BMR crash through the floor, and end up exhausted all the time because their body is fighting like crazy to conserve energy.

Likewise - some people, when they start to eat carbs, see their BMR ramp up, are full of energy, and end up running 5-10 miles a day to burn that energy off, and are pumped the rest of the day.

Also, focussing on weight to the exclusion of everything else is really horrible. It's pretty easy to lose 40-50 pounds and end up being much less healthier than you were before if you aren't careful. Having some sense of your V02 max, your strength, endurance, flexibility, etc.. are sometimes as important, if not more important, than what your weight is to +/- 20 pounds.

Everybody is somewhat different in how they'll react to various diet and exercise regimes. Understanding that, and taking a bit of time to watch how your body responds, is the important insight here.


> It's pretty easy to lose 40-50 pounds and end up being much less healthier than you were before

Maybe if you amputate your legs or catch AIDS or syphilis in the process. Otherwise, I can't see how losing 50 pounds will leave you less healthier than before.


What I was trying to say, perhaps poorly, that is if you were heavy because you were working out a lot, and eating a lot, and then decided to lose weight by reducing the eating/working out, you can end up being skinny/fat/weak.

At the very least, doing regular body-weight resistance training (pushups, situps, pullups, air-squats), helps to reduce the amount of muscle you are losing while you are losing weight.


>doing regular body-weight resistance training (pushups, situps, pullups, air-squats), helps to reduce the amount of muscle you are losing while you are losing weight

Can you explain why archaeologists, astronomers and professors have the highest life expectancy and athletes and body builders have that among the lowest?


>Can you explain why archaeologists, astronomers and professors have the highest life expectancy and athletes and body builders have that among the lowest?

That's a pretty serious statement hidden as a question. Can you point to your source(s) claiming this to be true? I am sure a huge % of HN population would be interested in this.

For those interested, I found parent's claim very intriguing so I spent a few minutes Googling and the best I came close to answering yes/no was this -

The life-prolonging benefits of a scrupulous life have come to light from a comparison of 20 previous studies which together rated 8900 people for conscientiousness using a standard psychological survey, and also recorded the age they died.

Howard Friedman and Margaret Kern at the University of California at Riverside found that people who were less conscientious were 50 per cent more likely to die at any given age, on average, than those of the same age who scored highly (Health Psychology, DOI: 10.1037/0278-6133.27.5.505). This exceeds the effects of socioeconomic status and intelligence, which are also known to increase longevity.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20026794-800-conscien...

Do elite athletes live longer? TLDR; - In most cases, not really http://www.athletesheart.org/2013/11/do-elite-athletes-live-...

https://www.quora.com/Which-professions-have-the-longest-lif...


Do you have a link to data saying that is the case? I've always figured that would be the case, but I have never seen a study/meta-study about it. A quick Google didn't yield much either.


Sure, because excess muscle causes excess work from your body in order to keep it. However, bear in mind that for some that is a profession and not a matter of choice.


And you can lose weight but look bigger if your muscle to fat ratio goes down. Fat is less dense, it takes up more volume per equal masses of muscle or fat. It should never be about weight loss, but muscle to fat ratio, as I wrote about in the thread above. You will be healthier when you lower your fat percentage and boost your muscle mass. Weight does not differentiate between between fat or muscle.


Two possible ways:

Being underweight is dangerous, just as being overweight is dangerous. Instead of heart disease and joint damage, you end up with osteoporosis, anemia, etc.

Losing weight without paying attention to nutrient intake and balance can have similar effects, even if you'd be at or above healthy weight losing 50lbs.


Erhm, yeah, good luck losing that amount of weight easily and ending up underweight...


Stop eating carbs and see what happens. It's surprisingly easy to end up underweight when sugar isn't present.


Meth. I suspect being 50 pounds overweight is preferable to smoking meth daily for a few months to the exclusion of all else, even if that would lead to pretty rapid weight loss.


When you say BMR crash, what exactly do you mean? In what proportion?

While I understand that going on a diet can make you feel less energetic, depressed and a variety of other things, the "base" in BMR is there for a reason.

I've seen many people suggest that your BMR could significantly lessen, but I've never seen anything scientific demonstrating that, and all our understanding points to it not being possible, unless you stop breathing and your blood stops pumping.

Maybe a diet could interfere with your exercise regimen and be counter-productive, but for someone who is completely sedentary and who's TDEE is close to his BMR, I don't think it could significantly go down.


I do a lot of rock climbing, so most of my body is muscle. I'm currently floating at 170 lbs, but would love to lose 10 lbs so I can get up the wall faster. I think that fasting might be foolish because my body needs energy for climbing. In fact, if I wait too long after eating lunch, I tend to get really hungry during climbing and I start yawning a lot (not sure why).


There is an often-forgot other situation where your body needs some stored energy: sickness and accidents.


I experienced this. I never needed to lose weight, always been lean. But I wanted to see if I could reduce my blood sugar since it was borderline high. So I went very low carb for a while. Did not intend to but lost 5 kilos right away and felt fine, although it seemed like I was a bit underweight. A few weeks later got a miserable case of flu and couldn't eat for a few days. Lost even more weight, felt terrible, looked like death. It seems like the little reserves I previously had were gone from my change in diet.


My research indicates those 5 kilos were probably mostly water because when you go low carb your body uses up all of its glycogen, which is stored with 3-parts water, and that takes a lot of salt with it. So you have to drink more often and consume more salt. Then it can take 2-4 weeks for your body to ramp up the right chemicals to switch to fat burning.


That's interesting. I did drink more water but I did not give any consideration to salt. What's the best way to get that salt balance right?


Ingesting more salt goes against common knowledge (which doesn't mean it's wrong).

Usually people state that the salt keeps the water in the body, so if you want to lose weight you need to lower your salt intake.

But what you say kinda makes sense, I'm interested in hearing more of your ideas.


Does it really need stored energy? Parenteral nutrition in hospital works fine with plain glucose. One would assume you could just eat fruit (or drink soda, I guess) when sick, to get the energy you need right then.


One problem for athletes is that they take an energy drink or bar and then feel dopey. This is because as soon as a surge of glucose hits your blood your pancreas pumps out insulin and sweeps it all up leading to a crash. Instead drink milk or eat complex un processed carbs like oat cakes (but not ones that have a ton of honey).


People who consider themselves "athletes" should know that.


Yes, your body can't carry that much energy in your blood - it gets shunted off to glycogen or fat quickly because if it didn't the chemistry would start to go horribly wrong.

You could maybe do what you suggest by just slowly sipping a glucose solution over the course of a few hours but it would be very inefficient.


Just fast on rest days, or don't climb those days. Go for a a short/easy hike or something. I do a lot of cardio. Some days I will burn 5000+ cal. I am absolutely unable to lose weight or restrict calories on those days because I always feel insatiable hunger.


Interesting - I can do 3000-4000 calories through cycling and get away with only a small protein rich meal (scrambled eggs + steak) after. Even today, another 2 hour mild session (appx 1000 cal) and have only had light breakfast, coffee + pie. Hunger is there, but not at the forefront at all.... unless I eat a few sugary meals in a row.


Might be lacking glucose; I believe that is why marathon runners eat glucose before they run.


Some corrections from the point of view of an endurance athlete (triathlon). First of all you don't really "eat glucose", that would be an oversimplification. Glucose is produced by your own body when metabolizing carbohydrates. As a backup mechanism your liver can also produce glucose by converting amino acids (muscle) and even fat, a process known as gluconeogenesis.

Now, if we replace "eat glucose" with "eat carbohydrates", then the statement is still not quite accurate. Experienced marathon runners (and other endurance athletes) will not consume carbs before the run because doing so would spike insulin and effectively shut down breakdown of fatty acids in the liver. Liver can more or less either convert glucose to glycogen and fat, or break down fat, and is not great at doing both simultaneously. Maintaining fat metabolism is hugely important when going the distance since it's the largest energy reserve available in your body (50,000+ calories vs <2000 calories as glucose).

Marathon runners consume moderate amounts of carbohydrates DURING exercise when insulin response is blunted. The idea here is to maintain glucose levels and avoid going into hypoglycemic state (low blood sugar). Ingesting moderate amounts of simple and complex carbs during exercise spares glycogen without necessarily spiking blood glucose to where liver has to regulate toxicity. This way you can keep on going longer.


> As a backup mechanism your liver can also produce glucose by converting amino acids (muscle) and even fat, a process known as gluconeogenesis.

Just a quick note, and your explanation is fantastic otherwise: this isn't quite correct. The (human) liver doesn't use fat directly for gluconeogenesis. It's just not efficient for humans: We wouldn't gain enough energy from it. The liver uses fat indirectly through glycerol (which is a product of fatty acid catabolism), but it's important to draw a distinction here because this is why ketosis occurs - if the liver could efficiently break down fat directly, ketosis would never happen at all! Most tissues would much rather use glucose directly if it's an option.

While muscle breakdown occurs in small amounts normally it's mostly a last resort that occurs after an extended period of starvation. Which makes sense: You wouldn't want to break down the thing (skeletal muscle) you need to get more food except as a last resort. The amino acids involved in more typical gluconeogenesis largely come from other sources.


Thank you for this clarification. I agree, I took a few too many shortcuts with that statement and it can be misleading.


All of this with the qualifier 'marathon runner' or 'endurance athlete', since explosive, short-duration, powerful sports require immediate energy reserves, which they readily deplete when you do this type of exercise. Fat metabolism would be too slow for the quick, short types of activities.

I also believe endurance or extreme endurance activities are more for your enjoyment than fitness. They take their toll on the body's joints, organs and regulatory systems. Moderation is good advice in lots of things.


How does blunted insulin response feel? Is that as simple as feeling burnt out early?


This is probably it -- after exhausting the contents of the digestive tract, the body resorts to glycogen reserves in muscle and the liver. Your glycogen reserves are your "blood-sugar" and consuming them requires a burst of oxygen, so depleted oxygen typically follows low blood-sugar, ergo yawning.

Energy gels are usually high-energy but low-everything-else, which is probably what the parent is referring to ("eat glucose"). This is to supplement blood-sugar levels without affecting the digestive process too much, or, more to the point, without affecting their marathon performance.


Only muscles can use glycogen stored in muscles. Brain, digestive tract can only use glycogen energy from liver. Also note that eating just glucose or table sugar before marathon also helps to minimize digestion energy expenditure so most stored glycogen in liver will be used on brain and nervous tissue, not on processing food.


What do you mean by glucose exactly? What kind of foods should I be eating? I usually just get whatever for lunch at my company - tacos, Indian food, whatever is being served.


From experience, you'll need to spend a lot of time learning about macros before advice on what food to eat will do you much good. For example, if someone says "eat two cups of green salad with 2 tablespoons of olive oil" you'd have to A) already know what all that means or B) spend a couple hours researching how to estimate volume and source predictable ingredients and prepare them or C) just wing it and end up with some bullshit from a store that's lettuce covered in croutons, cheese, and sugary dressing.

A good heuristic is that if you bought it, or it was bought for you, it's got too much refined carbohydrate in it and the serving size is too large. This is because to consumers value=(volume*taste)/dollar


Depends, how long are you training?

I'm not familiar with the effort required for mountain climbing, but eating a varied meal beforehand would help. Personally, a peanut butter sandwich, banana, half an avocado (depending on the size of the avocado), tall glass of milk, and celery with hummus will prepare me well for the following few hours. Adjust this for yourself as needed.

A healthy balance between fat, fiber, carbs, and protein is what you're looking for. I can't give any any hard numbers but a good macro-nutrient balance is the first step to a healthy diet, with the second step being fresh food.


All that, and fat/muscle ratio over watching weight. I can weigh 200 lbs at 14% body fat and be in great shape, or 175 lbs at 21% body fat, and be lethargic and weak.

I am now around 180 lbs at 14% body fat, and the combination of low body fat, and weight for my 6 ft frame, makes it easier to climb, run, do handstand pushups, whatever, and generally move around more effortlessly with less impact and pain.

His focus on moving to America may be a statistical correlation, but I have lived in SE Asia for over 7 years, the last year in the rice fields of East Java, and I can tell you that there are plenty of poor diets and obesity over here. Also, I noticed that even among the average thin-looking person over here, muscle tone is poor. Skinny people with flappy arms and other body masses. Of course this does not apply to the fitness practioner or to the rice farmers who work all day and are active. They do like a lot of fried foods, and think I am a goat for eating raw veggies or even cooked veggies ;)

The rice served here is almost always white rice, which is the same rice as the healthier brown rice, but Asians just prefer white rice. It's all about how much you 'polish' or remove the outer layers of the rice grain that gives you a brown, fibrous shell of brown rice, or a soft white cooked rice. Again, here is where weight is not a good indicator, but muscle tone, and muscle mass/fat mass ratio. Skinny shouldn't be your goal, but fit should, since muscle weighs more than fat, you can weigh the same and look thinner and more defined.

I also went vegetarian almost 3 years ago, and I have never been in better shape than I am now. I get my healthy fats from walnuts, flax seeds and flax oil mainly. A plant-based diet, and regular exercise. That and I have not drank alcohol for about 7 years (good money saver too!). Although, it has been proven, diet is the biggest contributing factor, even over intense exercise. Exercise polishes off the remaining percentage aside from any enjoyment factor you might gain from it.

Life is also about your goals. Some people want to bodybuild for size, rock climb, run, do yoga, fight MMA, swim, golf, what have you, and each has a trade-off. It is about achieving your goals and happiness, so different strokes for different folks; there is no one right way.

At my age, I am shooting for maintaining flexibility, dexterity, moderate strength, and aesthetics comes in last (52 now, so not in the courting game ;) ). Functional fitness, and body movement per the work of Ido Portal [1]. Trying new activities to ward off becoming too efficient at the ones I have practiced for many years keeps me honest and burning more calories. I swim too efficiently to burn calories. A new swimmer thrashing about is an inefficient swimmer, but will burn more calories in 5 minutes than me in 20!

The biggest revelation to me was that most people tend to be tight up front, and loose in back. In other words, we focus on the front muscles due to common daily activities in the office-bound Western world: carrying kids, groceries, leaning forward at a desk, to the detriment of our posterior. I gained this from a marvelous book by Judy Alter 'Stretch and Strengthen'. The single most valuable piece of advice I have every taken up. Our backs are weak in general. It's amazing what a few weeks of squats without weights, superman poses on the floor to strengthen the lower back, and some pull-ups or hanging exercises can do for back flexibility and warding off pain. Stretching the front chest, arms, and thighs while strengthening the back muscles and back leg muscles is a good counter strategy.

I did yoga too, which is good, but I agree with some physiologists that the hyperextension of knees or other joints stretches the ligaments, which when you're older and your muscles are not as toned or strong, your joints are floppy due to stretched out ligaments. Think old leather belt stretched over the years, never regaining it's original length.


>Everybody is somewhat different in how they'll react to various diet and exercise regimes. Understanding that, and taking a bit of time to watch how your body responds, is the important insight here.

This exactly. I did the same thing to lose a bit of extra weight, except the machine learning part was just using my noodle. I found it interesting that the author didn't notice sleep reducing weight right away. He only measures morning weight. If he measured morning and at night before bed, he would have noticed right away. Some other things the author seems to have overlooked in his analysis.

1) While sleep is good for weight loss, eating before sleep is not. I give at least a 2 hour window before bed where no food is allowed.

2) Track how often you poop. When I'm not pooping, I'm putting on weight. I don't mean poop is heavy. The stuff floats. Weigh before and after a big poop and be prepared to be surprised. People will commonly say that weight loss is just energy in < energy used. Well, it's more like energy in < (energy used + energy out). Poop has calories. It burns. Eating foods that keep you regular will keep you leaner.

3) Weigh before bed too. I noticed some foods were "soft" weight and some are "hard" weight. Soft weight goes on fast but drops quickly. I found some things shoot my night weight way up, but it's mostly gone by the next morning. Other foods, hard weight, put on fewer pounds, but take days to lose again. For me, fried potatoes are the absolute worst hard weight. Anyway, if you only weigh in the morning, you may see you gained a pound from the day before. If it's soft weight, no worries. That will be gone before lunch. If it's hard weight, it will still be there tomorrow, and the next day too.

4) Be on the lookout for magic combos. Some foods individually are weight gain, but combined are weight loss. Take coconut rice as an example. Rice by itself is a soft weight gain for me. It's not hard to lose, but it puts on pounds. Coconut rice on the other hand is weight loss for me. My spouse made it with some spicy thai chicken and I fully expected to gain, but I didn't. Now I can eat it without reservations. Apparently, I'm not alone, and there's some science behind this one

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3009374/Want-rice-...


Never believe anything in the Daily Mail, especially when it is about food and diet. http://kill-or-cure.herokuapp.com


You say much more about youself and you're implicit excuse-system why you are overweight, than any kind of factual information. Been there, lost weight, normal now. The brain is the biggest hurdle.


I'd really like to see this kind of analysis applied to a larger sample.

If someone were to put together a little app to make this sort of data collection trivial and upload it to a central (preferably cheap) repository, would people be interested in contributing their data in exchange for analysis?

Also, since this is HN, is anyone interested in building something like this? I've got an hour or two a week of spare time to chip in.

Unrelated question, mostly for OP: do you know of any publicly available databases of GI/GL info? It's really important for people with type 1 diabetes (a subject rather dear to my heart), and could also be useful for OpenAPS stuff (https://github.com/openaps).


We are working with a few groups to make this sort of this possible. Feel free to reach out if you are interested.


I'm interested!


I'd like to also contribute with my data from fitbit: heart rate and resting hr evolution, sleep time, exercises, a few months of tracked food eaten and water drank, weight and body fat percentage, daily burned calories, etc. Where do I sign up?


> would people be interested in contributing their data in exchange for analysis?

I am not overweight but I would certainly not mind doing this if it helps others.


I'd be willing to contribute my data.


I can also spare a couple of hours a week.


I don't have a weight problem, I learned about ketosis researching natural ways for improving focus and concentration, and somehow came across "bulletproof coffee". (I'm only using BP for lack of a better name and I don't endorse the stuff they sell online).

To my utter surprise, something as stupidly simple as coffee blended with butter with coconut oil (or MCT) first thing in the morning did unbelievable things for mental productivity. After much googling I learned that this is not a fluke, and that there is real science behind it - beta-oxidation, etc, all that good stuff.

What's most incredible to me is that (1) I didn't know about it, I always thought glucose is the only fuel (and I consider myself fairly knowledgeable as far as basic physiology is concerned) and (2) that sugar, especially the industrially produced kind, is about as close to being the root of all evil as it gets and there is nothing wrong with fat at all.


"Bulletproof Coffee"(TM) is snake oil stuff. It's based on the assumption that all other coffee on the market has mycotoxins, yet literally none of the brands in first world countries have them anyway. This was confirmed by tests.


He started off by selling high-fat coffee creamer and sugar-free hot chocolate, which are reasonable. It's only later he's gone on to try to convince everyone coffee and wine are full of secret mold toxins.


The mycotoxins stuff is yet to be determined, but from what I seen so far there doesn't seem to be a lot of truth in that part.

The ketosis and positive effects on the brain thereof is backed by a lot of solid science.


From what I've seen "bulletproof coffee" has become a generic term for Coffee + Coconut Oil + Butter in most of the keto communities.


Magic beans ? This sounds familiar.


The power of the placebo effect.


> I consider myself fairly knowledgeable as far as basic physiology is concerned

No offense, but after learning you were dead wrong about a pretty fundamental concept, have you reevaluated this belief?


This is not necessarily needed. Because this is a rare case where not only is the mainstream media wrong but so are most other common viewpoints.


I would say he did...there is no substitute for personal experience but that doesn't mean turning you back on common knowledge (as evidenced by his continued research after making the changes).


> To my utter surprise, something as stupidly simple as coffee blended with butter with coconut oil (or MCT) first thing in the morning did unbelievable things for mental productivity.

Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. If that doesn't work for you, talk to a doctor.


Not helpful. Michael Pollen's pithy advice is a rather trite and even he will say it's misleading adage. For example, if one ate mostly starchy or sugary plants, they'd probably be a lot less healthy than someone who ate mostly wild game and greens. Nutrition is incredibly complicated and variable.


Why not both?


Doctors are way more expensive than food.


I was referring to bulletproof coffee and plants.


As a counter point, I did keto for several months last year and found that my concentration and mental clarity were significantly worse while on the diet. My mind operated at about the capacity as it would have, had I slept only 5 hours the night before.


Most people find that their alertness and focus improve significantly on keto.

The trick is that

a) it takes quite a while for your body to get adjusted to ketosis. 6 months to fully adjust, but the primary adjustment will take at 2-4 weeks for most people

b) during this adjustment period, you'll usually feel like shit. since you're running empty on the fuel your body is used to. but many people cheat, or accidentally ingest too many carbohydrates, persistently keeping their body out of ketosis and ensuring they feel terrible endlessly and blame keto for it.


I wonder if anybody on Ketosis has ever done an endurance event and not ended up feeling absolutely miserable/exhausted. I was on a fairly low carb regime (< 15 grams/day) for about 6 weeks, and something as simple as climbing fifty stories would always end up with me breathing heavy, and sweating. A simple 500 gram carb-load the day before, and I could that same climb 4x over without being anywhere near as exhausted.

The research that I've read says that the ideal training regime is to work-out in a carb-exhausted state, so as to encourage your body to develop the low-carb metabolic pathway, but for actual endurance events, definitely carb load as your primary fuel.


I've been training for triathlons while adhering to a ketogenic diet since October 2015. Initially I struggled. It definitely felt like a step back. Over time my body adapted and 3-4 months later I was performing on the same level without consuming copious amounts of carbs as prior to going keto.

These days I can wake up from a 12-18 hour fast and run a marathon at an easy pace while ingesting zero carbs in the process.

I ingest some carbs during actual races when glucose utilization is higher due to higher intensity. You will always need some glucose and the ratio of fat/glucose metabolism depends on intensity. Basically if you push the pedal to the metal your body will utilize what it has got. With that said, I feel like keto adaptation definitely broadened my options for how to pace myself and how to use my energy reserves during training and races.


Yes, Peter Attia is good source of knowledge on ketosis + endurance. Check out his amazing blog at eatingacademy.com



50 stories? Or 50 steps? Because 50 stories sounds like a lot, not something you should be able to do without a lot of endurance training beforehand. At my best I could climb maybe 15 stories without running out of breath.


Plus you have to up your electrolytes of sodium, magnesium, and potassium. If you don't you tend to have a foggy head.


100%. i take pills for the sodium and magnesium (they usually have potassium too but usually not enough). and avocados are a staple when it comes to potassium


I've never found potassium in sufficient quantities in pill supplements - but low-sodium salt gives you 500 mg per 5g teaspoon (and another 1000 mg of Sodium, Ironically)


Unsweetened Almond Milk is also an awesome source of both sodium and potassium - a staple for me while doing Keto.


Thanks! Really appreciate the recommendation - I'm going to hit up all our local stores for some. Went jogging this evening, and for the first time in about 2+ months didn't get any cramping in the legs (which happens to me 100% of the time for any run longer than about 8-10 minutes), and the only change I've made is supplementing potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

In keeping with this thread - I guess I could vary different dozens of variables, one or more at a time, apply the same Ketosis machine learning algorithm, and see what really makes the difference.


So, pedialyte? Or does that still contain too much glucose?


I'm finding mixed info online but always assumed it had too much sugar. I think it has 25g but some sites are saying 6g. 25g would be more than you are allowed in a day on most keto programs.

I typically take ZMA and potassium then drink something like Propel while at the gym. Then I have chicken broth when I get home to get some salt back.


A keto checking strip[1] would help to be in the know of whether the body is really doing keto.

1. Its available online


This probably had to do with too little salt consumption. I had to increase my salt intake from 2 to ~5 grams per day. If I don't, I have a mental fog (and cramps and stuff).

This talk digs into it a little bit:

http://quantifiedself.com/2015/12/effects-year-ketosis-jim-m...


Did you measure ketone levels in any way?

Your symptoms is very common during the ketosis adaptation phase which shouldn't last more than two weeks at most.

If they persist any longer than that you are probably not in ketosis.

The best way to measure ketone levels are through blood ketones (beta-hydroxybutyrate) with a blood tester such as the precision extra or similar.

There are some breath analyzers such as the ketonix that measures acetone levels in your breath - and they are alos pretty good.

Urine sticks don't generally don't work very well after the first month.


Bulletproof coffee is really the strangest of any strange fad beverage/weight loss ritual I've ever encountered.

But even weirder is that it really doesn't taste bad, and it did didn't do terrible things to my innards.

The sound of it is really counter-intuitive:

  oily coffee, black. 
But then you realize that these flavors have been mixed together for years, whenever you have buttered toast and coffee. (now, minus the toast)


I mean, if you put cream in your coffee... that's basically liquid butter with some whey in it.


No, the actual experience is a significant departure from using cream, or milk products, or imitations of milk.

It floats on the top, in beads, like a soup broth.


One of those immersive hand mixers for 10s or so can turn it into an emulsion, which is much more pleasant.


Just needs an emulsifier. Butter and egg coffee, now that'd be something.


glucose is the only fuel

Can you expand? Like, you thought that cells only metabolize glucose, and dietary fats & proteins are converted to glucose? Or...?


> you thought that cells only metabolize glucose, and dietary fats & proteins are converted to glucose

Pretty much. I don't know where that may have come from, but I suspect I'm not the only one who naively thinks that this is the case. Somehow "ketone bodies" aren't mentioned in dietary conversations nearly as frequently as glucose.


Here is a detailed explanation: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2129159/

From the abstract:

During very low carbohydrate intake, the regulated and controlled production of ketone bodies causes a harmless physiological state known as dietary ketosis. Ketone bodies flow from the liver to extra-hepatic tissues (e.g., brain) for use as a fuel; this spares glucose metabolism via a mechanism similar to the sparing of glucose by oxidation of fatty acids as an alternative fuel. In comparison with glucose, the ketone bodies are actually a very good respiratory fuel. Indeed, there is no clear requirement for dietary carbohydrates for human adults. [...] Contrary to popular belief, insulin is not needed for glucose uptake and utilization in man.


LOL yeah, I just spoke to a dietician the other day who swore that glucose is the only thing your brain can use for fuel.

It's easy to be ignorant about a situation you never experience. Every single person they deal with is going to be in a carb-adapted state and never miss a meal, so their body will run entirely off of glucose.


I vaguely remember reading about this in "The Ketogenic Diet". There are some functions that do require glucose. However, your body can convert enough fat and protein into glucose to satisfy that.


Yeah, that was a TIL moment for me when I found out the body can make glucose without carbohydrate. There were others, like how mitochondria burn fat more efficiently than glucose.


What you are experiencing is called the placebo effect. Google it.


It's astonishing (and really awesome) that they were able to extract such a strong signal from daily weight swings! This makes me a lot more optimistic about the possibilities of quantified-self-type stuff.

Three things I'm really curious about:

- How significant are the estimates of lifestyle factors? Do you have p-values? If you bootstrap resample, how much do the rankings change at the extremes?

- How much cognitive overhead did it impose to collect the data for this? Did you put a lot of effort into designing the tags beforehand or making sure you weighed yourself at a consistent time?

- It looks like the predicted delta from going from a "nosleep" day to a "sleep" days is about 1.4 pounds (sleep coef minus nosleep coef). That seems fishy, or at least like it will stop working fairly soon because you can't actually lose 1.4 pounds/day sustainably. Is it possible there's something weird going on with the data or those variables don't have the obvious meanings?


> - How significant are the estimates of lifestyle factors? Do you have p-values? If you bootstrap resample, how much do the rankings change at the extremes?

His VW script does do bootstrapping ('--bootstrap 16') but he doesn't report it anywhere I see. https://github.com/JohnLangford/vowpal_wabbit/wiki/using-vw-... seems to not report any sort of p-value or confidence interval which might be derived from the bootstrapping. (The 'relevance' is 'the relative distance of each variable from the best constant prediction', not sure what that means.)

So if you want to know, it looks like you'll have to run it yourself and visualize the output. I would guess that the uncertainties are huge and none of them reach even p<0.05 - it simply should not be possible to get mean loss of like 0.2 and reliable estimates of hundreds of variables like 'melon' out of less than 4 months of data when the random measurement error of the scale itself is on the order of half a pound (I have an Omron body fat scale, and even taking 2-3 measurements daily, there's a lot of error) unless his VW regression is grossly overfitting.


I mean, the uncertainties in the middle are less interesting than the uncertainties at the extremes. I'm sure you can't say anything useful about melon, but it would be interesting to know if (e.g.) "sleep" was consistently that big. He did regularize somewhat (`--l2 1.85201e-08`) but unclear whether that's enough regularization.

Basically I'd love to see some actual diagnostics I guess :)

PS I believe the "relevance" is just the coefficient divided by the biggest coefficient (the `RelScore` column in the printout in the README file).


Well, he also disables the holdout set (`--holdout_off ariel.train`), so between that and not reporting the uncertainties and his absolutely tiny dataset with high measurement error and the low prior probability that any of these effects could be that big... Nah. It's just overfitting noise.

I tried to run the makefile, but apparently the version of Vowpal Rabbit that ships on my Ubuntu (7.3) is so outdated that it doesn't support the bootstrap option.


Thanks so much for all the excellent comments. There was definitely an over-fit with 4-passes.

No more. I've updated the Makefile to run only one pass, changed the options so it runs with older-version vw, Fixed misspellings of 'gioza', removed 'mayo' which found itself on the wrong side because it appeared only twice and always alongside the bun and regenerated the chart.

All the main conclusions remain intact.

In the end, I urge everyone to use their own data, that was the main purpose of sharing this code. My data-set is small, awfully noisy and insufficient. There are no p-values and no rigorous statistics, so please don't read too much into the minute details. It is the discovery journey into the top factors that is the important part, in my view. The ML was just one aid in this discovery process. The proof for me was my actual, and sustainable, weight loss that came after (very slowly) realizing the top factors that eventually worked for me. Thanks again.


I don't think it matters whether you run 4 passes or 1 pass, it's still going to overfit. You can run an online linear regression in a single pass too, but that doesn't magick away the uncertainties. The results are still going to be garbage, and any effects you get are due to your health-consciousness and not any specific dietary choices you make (how could it be, when the data is so weak and noisy that each item can easily flip signs?).


Thanks so much. Your comments are really helpful.

I realized early on that the data is hopelessly noisy, due to the small daily changes and the scales resolution so rather than trying to build a perfect model to gauge the variable importance of each and every kind of food, I focused on the few days when weight change was more significant hoping I could detect some signal in those, and extrapolate and further explore from that. That's why I sorted the data-set by abs(delta) and that's what consistently pointed me towards sleep/fasting as the #1 factor. I do agree that the full list/model is garbage in the sense that probably 80% or so of it is woefully inaccurate/flipped, noisy, overfitted etc. The main point was to lead me in the right direction by looking at the big picture and what stood out.

And what stood out were 2 things 1) sleep (fasting duration), and 2) fat vs carbs. I think everything else should be ignored. I think we're in total agreement on this point.

Does this sound more sensible to you?


Is it possible weight loss made you sleepy?


> - It looks like the predicted delta from going from a "nosleep" day to a "sleep" days is about 1.4 pounds (sleep coef minus nosleep coef). That seems fishy, or at least like it will stop working fairly soon because you can't actually lose 1.4 pounds/day sustainably. Is it possible there's something weird going on with the data or those variables don't have the obvious meanings?

That weight loss doesn't add up in the long term. You lose a lot of weight during your sleep both due to evaporation of water and by burning glucose/fat which you exhale. Obviously longer sleep translates into more water lost and more glucose/fat burned, but it will quickly be compensated by the body taking that water back up again and a larger appetite. You can't consistently lose water weight.

After a night of drinking, I can lose up to 3 kilos due to dehydration. But of course, I've probably gained weight due to the calories in the booze.


This is all good if your goal is weight loss. However weight loss doesn't necessarily means higher fitness. Glycogen is fundamental if you do sports, and exercise is a major ingredient in getting fit. If I read correctly, exercise was not a big part of your experiment, how would you suggest modifying the experiment to accommodate one's exercising needs?

On a side note, I reached a similar conclusion on the role of "carbs at night", sleeping, and fats, and I read this interesting article https://aeon.co/essays/hunger-is-psychological-and-dieting-o... on the importance, for effective weight loss, of feeling satisfied (I believe there is also a reference to the relationship between eating fats and feeling satisfied).


Glycogen is necessary for high intensity exercise, but you are mistaken that carbs are necessary for glycogen. When you are keto-adapted and eat low carb, two things happen that most people overlook. First, you get enough "trace carbs" in your diet that you have glycogen in your muscles for exercise. Second, your body can synthesize glycogen!

I've eaten LCHF for 10 years and regularly exercise with CrossFit (arguably the highest intensity workout most people will do) and yoga intermixed with athletic activities like hiking, skiing, and surfing.

My suggestion is to properly keto-adapt over 3 to 6 weeks before concluding that you can't exercise without eating carbs.


The rate of glycogen synthesis is directly mediated by glucose availability, and the glycogen synthase enzyme is also activated by an insulin induced signalling cascade. Glycogen replenishment still occurs on a low carb diet, it just takes longer.

If you only do crossfit every 2-3 days, and rotate the exercises you do somewhat (as is typical at most boxes) you might not notice a big difference between a low carb and higher carb diet. If you train daily and you're doing similar movements every day, you will definitely notice a difference. Since that is pretty much the modus operandi of serious athletes, that is where the whole "athletes don't do well on keto" idea comes from; it definitely doesn't apply to your garden variety recreational athlete though.


I'm in ketosis. I can tell when the glycogen in my liver depletes. I hit a wall and can't keep going. I find that it has to do with intensity - for low intensity exercise, I can go forever. When I have to exert more (like running up an SF hill), it depletes me more.

To fix this, you more or less have to keep intensity lower. I think that's why it works well for bicyclists who can change gears.

Good news is that, after endurance exercise, you can replenish glycogen stores - meaning you can have more sugar than normal without leaving ketosis.


Look into BHB supplements. We're doing a lot of research on them and they may be just what you're looking for.


Yes. I have MCT oil every day, but haven't experimented with exogenous ketones.


Have you keto-adapted?


Another anecdote. I tried keto on and off for 2 years while trying to achieve my former triathlete performance. I felt good at the beginning; lost some weight and felt more energy, but it quickly declined and I was never able to perform well.

Last year I was introduced to books like Finding Ultra, Whole and Proteinaholic, and went on a high carb diet.

Today my diet is based on beans, lentils, potatoes and fruits and I'm performing 15-20% better than my previous peak from 15 years ago (I'm 37 now). As a bonus, with the amount of fibber I consume, I never had digestive issues again.


I was in Ketosis for 12 months, and the last 6 months was training for my first Ironman (age 37).

I would say most of the benefit from Ketosis while training is the recovery. I had plenty of energy for my long rides, but the lower inflammation was making recovery quicker.

My race was cancelled (Tahoe) and I went to Spain two weeks later and did Barcelona instead.. 10h and 3 minutes. Pretty happy with sub-5h for the bike leg!


What's your caloric intake, and how do you feel as far as satiety? I don't always enjoy keto-ish food, but fatty stuff is so filling so fast.


Any good ways to prepare lentils?


Too many to count. I like allrecipes or some website like that.

Dal Bhat is one of my favorites after living in Colorado.


In addition to Joof's comment, remember there are several types of lentil. Red lentils, puy lentils, all delicious in an appropriate recipe.


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24979615

TL;DR A ketogenic diet is net-positive for aerobic exercise activities.


You will see greater endurance adaptations in response to exercise in the short term on a ketogenic diet, though this effect decreases the longer you maintain the diet. The downside to a ketogenic diet is your total training volume for work above the lactate threshold is more limited.

As a result, high level athletes tend to spend the majority of their time consuming a carb-rich diet, then switch to a ketogenic diet for 2-3 weeks prior to competition. During this low carb period, they just focus on a very high volume of low/moderate intensity work. Finally, 2-3 days before competition, they will carb-load to glycogen super-compensate, getting the best of both worlds.


Losing weight means that your muscles (and also your bones) need to carry less weight, so while technically you're not getting more fit, the fitness you have becomes more effective. So losing excess fat is definitely one of the most important steps towards becoming fit.

If anything, I would question how healthy ketosis is, long term... But I'm pretty sure it's way healthier than any processed-food diet typical in the west...


Doesn't it depend on what type of sport you play? If you're doing marathons wouldn't ketosis work? and if you're doing high intensity, and short bursts ketosis might not be the best choice?


I can give a personal anecdote.

About 3 years ago I began experiments with paleo, I am 5'6-5'7 started over 190lbs and in about 4 months was down to 152lbs. Weekends I would have cheat meals usually a pizza day and burger/fry day.

Around then I began running for the first time in my life. I started out the first 3 months at 1 mile everyday, which I thought was a lot until a high school buddy laughed when I told him.

I stopped eating paleo and increased to 3 miles about 5 times a week. This went on for about a month, when I decided to register for a half marathon and started a basic 12 week training. I tried to restart paleo, but about a month in my legs began to hurt which I attributed to lack of carbs so I again got off. During Summer in Miami I decreased the mileage due to the heat and would get back on paleo still weekend cheat days.

During any of that time I didn't know about Ketosis or I never experienced anything I would call Ketosis.

Fast forward to this year, I completed the Disney Goofy (half day1, full day2), then another 2 halfs during the spring. I was back to about 170, and despite running more mileage than I ever had, I was not pleased with my physique, feeling I looked better even at the same weight while on paleo. So I decided after my last half of the season, I would try to go full paleo without any cheat meals on the weekend with the goal of 5 mile runs 4-5 times per week. I just completed a half the weekend before and Tuesday I did my 5 mile on paleo and felt fine/normal.

Wednesday/Thursday during my runs I got light head and basically though I might blackout, never experienced that before, but I stuck with it. Then by the 3rd week, I honestly felt I was tapping into a different energy source, not that I was running faster but it was just a different feeling and it was amazing.

Despite having combined paleo and running before, my body had never responded like this before. Having read up on high endurance athletes who do paleo after the fact, I believe what was happening is my body was tapping into and burning fat as its main source of energy and I also learned about Ketosis at that time (I believe/understand these to be one in the same, but they may not be). I will note, even my mind seemed different as I began to really think/feel that sugars were a poison and I was disgusted by the thought of breads/sugars, meaning I didn't even want cheat days on the weekend. This lasted for about 2 months without a cheat day and eventually there was a craving for carbs and I had no hesitation about giving in, so I am back off the paleo, and basically the very next run my body was not performing the same as it was. I look forward to implementing a strict paleo diet again without cheat days when the weather cools and I will try to build my mileage up in that state for the next running season.


One thing. Paleo has nothing to do with Ketosis. While meat and vegetables are encouraged and are the basis of the paleo food pyramid, carbs like from sweet potatos, honey, vegetables with higher amount of carbs and nuts are considered paleo.

You can argue about what is paleo and what not, but carbs are considered totaly fine as long as they come from a good source.

So if you did paleo and ended up in ketosis you probably did something wrong in regards to the paleo idea.


I think your comment it accurate. As I mentioned doing paleo multiple times before I never reached ketosis. Cheat meals on the weekend aside, I also included sweet potatoe (after runs), honey and nuts (almonds, cashews).

This last time around, where I experienced the change (I believe ketosis) I can basically say my diet consisted of: eggs, chicken (mostly dark meat), red meat, green leafy vegetables, and sometimes pork. Honestly before this thread I thought of ketosis as a state, and not a diet, so I will look into it a little more and see if this last diet I was on was more consistent with ketosis than paleo.


I guess you can also look at ketosis as a state. Maybe paleo diet even gets you from time to time into ketosis without really intending to do so.

What I also wanted to say is that you can find sources for carbs in the paleo diet... especially if you do sports (and you did it actually as you mentioned)


How did people fight off lions before there was sugar and pasta?


They got carbs from fruits, starchy root vegetables and whole grains. Ketosis isn't some magic thing that all our ancestors did all the time.


Just for what it's worth, there are several Soylent-like meal replacement products that are explicitly formulated for ketogenesis. This could be an aid for a person who wants to try a keto diet without having to research a lot of new recipes.

Biolent has a keto variant: http://biolent.ca/

Keto Chow: https://www.thebairs.net/product-category/ketochow/

Keto Fuel: http://superbodyfuel.com/shop/keto-fuel/

KetoSoy: https://www.ketosoy.com/

PrimalKind is "paleo": http://primalkind.com/

Edit: added Keto Chow, which I forgot on first pass!


In my experience KetoSoy is incredibly bland and grainy and KetoChow is much better with varied tastes.


Also remember, his diet is a function of not taking carbs at all (or very little) for a short time.

For someone who eats lots of carbs already, a plum/orange isn't going to cause an increase in weight. It is primarily just calories. It is of course easier to eat more calories in carbs than in protein, but overall, carbs aren't "bad".

Moreover, such Atkins diets tend to work only temporarily, until atkins-diet homeostasis is achieved, unless calorie restriction is practiced as well [1,2].

[1] Many studies show that long-term weight rebounds if you forgo carbs and overall weight loss depends only on calories. One article: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/90/1/23.long

[2] http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=200094


Quite a few people do keto long term for overall health or maintenance after weight loss (or without weight loss in the first place). I have never used it for weight loss but those who do often talk about the rebound in weight you mention with short term diets. This is sometimes one reason they end up making this more a lifestyle change than a short term diet for them. As you get adapted keto becomes very manageable, and the higher intake of fat can make it easier to consistently consume fewer calories than they used to eating carbs.


Atkins is not a keto diet. Atkins starts keto, then reintroduces carbs.

Weight loss is simple: calorie deficit. However, switching from carbs to fats and taking advantage of some of the metabolic processes your body has to offer makes the process easier for many people. Calorie deficit with less hunger and decent energy. It helps a lot.


>Weight loss is simple: calorie deficit

Not that simple. People touting this are usually genetically endowed with great metabolism. I've tried this many times and reach a plateau pretty quickly and have to keep decreasing calories until it's not practical anymore.

On the other hand, watching the glycemic index/load does the magic for me.


What do you mean by "great metabolism"?

Metabolic rate does not vary that much: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15534426

And to be clear, you can't not lose weight with a calorie deficit.


> And to be clear, you can't not lose weight with a calorie deficit

That's true, but in a useless way.

You can't die of cancer if you get rid of all the cancer cells in your body -- that doesn't help us treat cancer.

The problem isn't whether caloric deficit works. The problem is why some people are unable to maintain caloric deficit.

This appears to be complex, and includes stuff like gut flora, medication, strong cognitive biases, among others.


I guess I meant it as an umbrella term for all the things that I think matters for weight loss. Insulin resistance and the propensity to store more fat than to keep it as glycogen in the blood ready for burning.


I have only tried Keto Chow out of all of these - some of the flavors were a bit mediocre, but banana and mint chocolate were to die for.


I lost 15 kg (33 lb) over a period of 7 months.

* Stopped drinking juice, coke etc. completely * Ate sweets strictly only once a week (like one cake every sunday) * Ate carbs mainly at lunch when doing sport afterwards. In the evening I ate carbs too, but much less.

There's one thing that all these fasting-guides and tips fail to mention:

The fastest way to loose weight is to heighten your resting-energy-consumption, and the fastest way to do this is to gain muscle mass by training.


Indeed. A muscular person at 185lb will burn more energy sitting still than their more rotund counterparts.

Another thing to keep in mind -- muscle weighs more than fat. When participating in a workout regimen, some may be discouraged by their lack of weight loss and mistake it for stalling. This should be overcome.

Frankly I think the greatest innovation in this would be a bathroom scale that shows both body-fat percentage and weight.


Such scales exists, but they do it by measuring electric resistance between your feet. So not very accurate. However, if you do it under the same conditions every day (same amount of water in your body etc) you can at least show the trend.


Here's a good scale that does that: https://www.fitbit.com/aria



Your Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) apparently determines a lot more of your daily calorie expenditure than your resting-energy consumption does. As in, how much you fidget, pace, shiver, etc.

New stupid weight-loss product: antipsychotics, to induce muscle dystonia! (Which, sadly, wouldn't even work; antipsychotics, despite causing massive amounts of NEAT, cause weight gain—by the opposite mechanism by which stimulants make you not hungry, antipsychotics make you very hungry.)


Source?


There was a study comparing the two that hit the HN front page some time within the last six months (which is where I first read about it), but I can't seem to dig it back up now.


I read recently that basically we do not know why gaining muscle mass alone leads to weight loss. Energy expenditure theory alone cannot explain it. So latest modern speculation is that muscles affects insulin sensitivity etc. But it could be something else.

That does not change the conclusion - gaining muscle is sure thing for weight loss. It is just we do not know why.


Do you have a source for this?

I think that training puts your body in a constant circle of growing and adapting tissue, which should be relatively exhausting.


I read it in "Antifrigile" book by Nassim Taleb. Location 6221 in Kindle app.


Totally anecdotal, but I want to second the recommendation of a longer fasting period.

I switched to a strict-but-not-religious "no food between 7 pm and 11 am" system (with exceptions for weekends and social occasions).

Within a few months I was down 15 pounds (~182 to around ~167) and had shed 4 inches off my waist (~34 to ~30). I'm about 5'10" and 41 years old.

It's definitely helped with physical activity (mostly parkour/free running) and I look better. It's also more convenient than what I was doing before, since I don't have to cook breakfast.

The only negative side effect (possibly unrelated) has been that I need a much cooler sleeping environment to be comfortable.

The only thing I would add is that I'm starting to (upside-down) plateau at around 165 and (what my scale says is) 20% body fat. I would love to lose another 5-10 pounds but it'll probably be a slow process.


If you can afford it (usually around $150 here in Singapore), it might be worthwhile going into a sports clinic to get a RMR reading. It's possible that your body has significantly dropped your metabolism after the weight loss, and is fighting to restore its previous weight - making further fat loss (particularly while retaining most of your lean body mass) really difficult.

Ironically, in that scenario, it might be worth occasional days of increased caloric input, to attempt to trigger your body into believing that it isn't starving, and really can continue to run a high BMR.

At the very least, having the data in hand is pretty cool - and it only takes about 40 minutes, inclusive of the time they need to set up the gear (just an face mask) and get you into a calm/resting state.


I'm sorry, this sounds like you're talking about "starvation mode". Do you have a decent source for this because everything I've seen around it is pseudoscience. You're suggesting that they, while feeling fine, have an enormous problem with one of the most fundamental processes which keeps us alive.

Your BMR drops as you lose weight, it might simply be that this hasn't been taken into account.

Or they're not tracking their calories.


Fair point. There is research which shows your BMR may drop after sustained reduction in caloric intake, far below what your body weight would indicate. Probably one of the more well known recent ones was: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/oby.21538/abstrac... - which shows the effect can go on for several years.

Here's a really good article discussing caloric-reduction, impact on Leptin (key hormone involved in regulating the body metabolism): http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/muscle-gain/calorie-partiti...

Though, careful reading suggests that the author believes that a day of refeeding (ala 4-hour body), is unlikely sufficient to trigger Leptin such that the body's BMR kicks back into high gear.


in case some people are confused how they can get your RMR from a face mask:

they just have to measure how much oxygen you use and how much co2 is exhaled.

> When a triglyceride is oxidized (or "burned up"), the process consumes many molecules of oxygen while producing carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O) as waste products [0]

[0] http://www.livescience.com/49157-how-fat-is-lost-body.html


The only negative side effect (possibly unrelated) has been that I need a much cooler sleeping environment to be comfortable.

Should that be warmer instead of cooler? I find that my body temperature goes down when I'm fasting, so I need the room to be warmer to compensate.


I can confirm the anecdote, I run significantly warmer when I am losing weight and colder when I am gaining. It's a very strange state of affairs.


You would think that less food would make me cold, but I've found the opposite. My hypothesis is that my metabolism switched from consuming carbs (with limited energy storage) to fat (with literally weeks worth of energy) and that that somehow ramps up my metabolic rate.


That logic is fine normally, that's awake and working hours. But sleeping brings in melatonin hormonal effects and the sleep jerk mechanisms into play. So it might be true that his hypnic jerk mechanism triggers on body-env temperature differential and if he lives a warm/hot place.


What is your caloric intake/deficit? Not eating will reduce that. But as your bodyweight drops, your baseline goes down too. So you might just be eating the same amount of food and are at a stable point. Need to cut more food to cut.


I've been doing ketosis for about 6 months, after having done twice in the past. From my heaviest to today over the last 2 years, I'm down 50 pounds.

The data in this post was cool. I found Dr. Peter Addia's analysis to be one of my favorite resources. He's a medical doctor who was an overweight endurance athlete, then began doing ketosis. I appreciated an honest scientific analysis of the benefits and drawbacks of ketosis.

His blog:

http://eatingacademy.com/

As an aside, I think that our attitude toward insulin from a public health perspective is going to change a lot in the next few years.


What do you mean about insulin?


I am very interested as well and hope there is a response. Since he was working with an MD, my guess is as follows: insulin is the devil.

Whereas if you look at the old FDA food pyramid and the new food plate, carbs/sugars/fruits take up a significant percentage of the recommended daily diet. Take fruit for example, prevailing norm would be fruit is healthy (especially in its natural state where it is accompanied by fiber), fruit aside most people would believe carbs (especially in whole grain form) are perfectly fine in moderation. My big guess is that an M.D. recognizes any amount of carb (fruit or whole grain being no different that high fructose corn syrup) triggers the bodies production of insulin. More and more, I think M.D.'s will have negative perspective on any/all insulin production if it can be avoided. I have more thoughts on the impacts of insulin on the body, but I hope OP will chime in with a response to see if my instincts are on point.


Basically this. I think it's more about insulin spiking, though, because insulin stops healthy people on a nutritional ketogenic diet from going into diabetic ketoacidosis.


Interesting. But I thought there's always some insulin after every meal so it's not something that can be avoided. Maybe you mean insulin spikes are the devil?


s/Addia/Attia/


This is delightfully nerdy and overly analytical, but I can't believe someone would go to the extent of creating this yet never think to look for counterarguments against their dieting regimen. Doing this would have given him the answer much sooner.

Trying to figure out how the consumption of certain foods correlates with weight gain/loss is a waste of time because it's simply the caloric content, not the macronutritional content (eg protein vs carbs vs fats). There are dozens of studies showing that only calories matter for weight loss, including vs low-carb, low-fat, and more[1].

The author is acting like each food has arbitrary properties that make them food or bad for weight loss. It's a good reason to play with ML, but it's easier to just count calories. I hate seeing people go down the "good food/bad food" path of thinking because they end up overanalyzing the shit out of everything they eat and for no good reason.

The glycemic index doesn't realistically matter either for a ton of reasons. It hasn't been taken seriously as a useful marker when chosing foods for quite some time now. It's not a reliable indicator of anything. I posted a summary a few years back that debunks all the insulin/GI spike voodoo[2].

Low carb diets work, but they only work because they're a trick to get you to reduce calories. Look at what you're eating and remove all the carb foods. Notice how much your calorie intake dropped. It's a simple way of losing weight without counting calories, but that's it. The weight loss on keto, atkins, etc have nothing to do with carbs, and everything to do with calorie restriction.

It's worth noting that low carb diets have great health benefits, however [3].

[1]: http://examine.com/nutrition/what-should-i-eat-for-weight-lo...

[2]: https://reddit.com/r/Fitness/comments/j853z/insulin_an_undes...

[3]: http://examine.com/nutrition/are-there-health-benefits-of-a-...


Food does have properties (not arbitrary) that make them good or bad for weight loss. I agree, calories count. But if you eat food that makes you hungry, it is harder to cut calories. The reason low-carb high fat diets work is that you feel full on fewer calories.


This is it. Its easy enough to say that only calorific intake is a factor. It is but there are many indirect factors that influence the success of a regimen.

I'm not gonna eat my daily allowance in spoonfuls of sugar am I?


All calories are not equal. Ask a diabetic to chow down on carbs. The body clearly doesn't treat all the macronutrients as interchangeable units of energy. To say, "a calorie is a calorie" helps none and allows people to behave as thought-terminating parrots.


There are also dozens of studies showing exactly the opposite (I've googled up just two): http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa022207, http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa022637. It's pretty safe to assume that currently science is not overly conclusive about this subject.

From the point of biochemistry that claim doesn't make much sense either, as calories measured in the food (which is done by measuring the heat when you burn it) are not the same calories that you end up having as ATPs in your blood stream. No digestion is 100% efficient and it's much more complex process than just the simple oxidation. Different foods and food combinations and different gut bacterias in each human create hundreds of variables in how efficient the conversion process is. We have variable food quality, variable food combinations interacting chemically, variable gut bacteria and digestion chemistry, variable metabolism for each person. Our body is a chemistry lab and making stuff repeatable and simple in the lab is usually very hard. Digestion itself also uses energy itself and how much depends on the type of the food. It also matters how often do you eat, eating all your calories all at once and than starving for the rest of the week is definitely not the same as having a balanced calorie intake. Presuming that it's all simple "just sum it all up from standardized tables" is overly simplistic look on a highly complicated chemical process that has many bio-feedbacks involved and is far from being a constant. Which of course doesn't mean that it's not a good enough simplification for the purpose of keeping the dieting simple enough for people who are not interested in the biochemistry, but that is just the same kind of approximation that all other technics do: "Follow these rules and you'll probably lose some weight".


See, studies like these are the problem. They aren't calorie matched making them fully, completely invalid for debunking the point I'm trying to make.

The first study says "[the low carb diet] involves limiting carbohydrate intake without restricting consumption of fat and protein", which means calories aren't controlled for at all. Only carbs are counted. The second study has the same problem, read the methodology section.

Please, link me to "dozens of studies" that refute the link I provided above that: 1) have calories controlled in both groups 2) account for the non-permanent water weight in low carb diets and 3) find statistically significant differences in weight loss vs a regular calorie-restricted diet. You won't find a significant amount, if any.

Your second argument is a really common one and I have never understood it. Agreeing that calorie management is all that is needed for weightloss DOES NOT imply that calories are equal. Calories being equal is not a requirement for counting calories. I understand the concept of TEF and that there are several other factors that can impact what the "effective" calorie amount of foods are. I understand that the human body is incredibly complex and there is no formula for accurately determining an individual's calories.'

But none of these things realistically matter for counting calories as a tool of weight loss. You estimate your calorie intake using one of several googlable methods, then you adjust your intake over time to hit your desired weight loss rate. Any personal variances your body has or any dietary habits you have just get accounted for in the amount as you adjust it.


The other problem is they do it wrong.

One of the ones he linked limited to 20g per day, which is OK, but then increased the amount gradually to be "manageable." Uh, that's not true keto, that's Atkins half-assed keto, which is the exact book they used.

The other one limited to 30g a day, which people over at /r/keto would consider too high, as would most low-carb dieters.

Additionally, they both encourage (or, at best, don't prohibit) consumption of things which can be eaten in small amounts but still have a high GI, such as fruits and other things. It's not just about keeping the carb count below a certain number, it's about avoiding sources of glucose spikes as much as possible, too. They ignored that, and even flew in its face, which, in my opinion, invalidates the testing methodology.


> calories measured in the food (which is done by measuring the heat when you burn it)

They're not measured like this any more, the macros are measured and an average figure for each is applied. It's called the Atwater method.


> The author is acting like each food has arbitrary properties that make them food or bad for weight loss.

But they might for him. The point is that he's analyzing what he feels like eating without worrying about caloric content in order to achieve a steady state where he's losing weight.

If he can eat eggs until he's sated and lose weight, or he can eat cereal until he's sated and gain weight, the caloric difference is irrelevant to the question of what foods he should be eating to not have to think about counting calories while feeling sated. This is a personal question about what foods count as good or bad, not a general conclusion, and the author says as much.

This kind of personalized analysis via machine learning is probably going to be a big thing in the coming years.


One of the arguments OP used was that fatty foods satisfied his hunger faster. That still means the diet would be more effective, even if in theory all tha matters are calories.

Another big point was that fasting, particularly during sleep, was very effective. Is there any studies on if this is true or a real effect? Or perhaps it also just has a indirect effect by reducing calories consumed, but he argued it was more than that.


The satiation thing is a valid point (as others have pointed out). I just don't like the super high level view he took of it. I'd prefer something more controlled like eating calorically equal foods and then ranking them by how long they satisfied his hunger.

Fasting is a very effective tool for losing weight. By itself it doesn't really cause any magic (meaning, it doesn't increase the rate of fat loss on its own or anything like that). It's a great tool for diet adherence because your body eventually gets used to its eating hours. If you only eat in an 8 hour window each day, you're fuller during that 8 hour window and generally less hungry in the 16 hour foodless window. You can read more here - http://www.leangains.com/2010/10/top-ten-fasting-myths-debun....

The whole site is dedicating to intermittent fasting and is a good resource.


I really like your reading because I went to a time period when everything I read was so misleading even words from doctors. That's the time when I tried very hard to improve my health (I gained about 30 lbs since the time I came to this country 15 years ago). To do that, I ate less fat, avoid carbs, getting a lot of exercises (1-3hrs a day, at least 5 days a week), eating oatmeal, even taking statins. And all one failed after another. I went through a lot of things mentioned here. And finally I decided to forget about everything doctors and researchers said. I look at my parents diet and how I was raised and started slowly from there. My health then got improved much better. I'm glad that you wrote something here for everybody to read. But there's one point I would like to add to the recipe: improve mental state by listening to the body (meditation, yoga, brisk walking are good methods), eat only when the body feels hungry and stop eating when it feels full, eat the food that it feels good after eating (you will develop your own list). I lost about 10lbs and I don't gain/lose any weight for the last 3 years.


As a long-term ketogenic eater (10 years), here are my top simple tips. Unfortunately they were not gleaned using machine learning.

1. Watch your protein. Most people when first going keto will eat too much protein and not enough fat. Protein has an insulinogenic effect when eaten in quantity. Keep protein below 8 oz per meal. Don't be afraid to eat more fat.

2. Avoid cheese. Yes, it's technically low carb, but it repeatedly throws me and my girlfriend off (also a low carber).

3. Avoid nuts. Yes, like cheese, nuts are delicious. But they're a slippery slope. Life will be easier if you avoid them.


Have to disagree and vote for nuts and cheese.

I've never been really overweight, but still, even the slight problem I had is gone with the change of some eating habits. Mostly, a lot less carbs - I really don't need a bakery and I have to tell the Thai or Chinese waiter that I need only 10% of that huge load of rice (they always pack more rice than the rest - which already is a large amount).

Next to zero extra sugar (outside food items like fruit), no cake, no cookies. I don't need to, zero appetite for any of it. I don't even touch that honey jar in the corner any more. This is great for my teeth! (also according to the dentist, no sugar - no cavities, general rule). Always had trouble, now non, zero, with much less brushing.

I eat very high amounts of nut cream, which is just nuts but crushed to cream, expensive stuff but soooo tasty. A slice of toast, than add almost 1/3 jar of nut cream (mixed and/or cashew and/or almond white/brown and/or hazelnut) - so, really a lot - add quark (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quark_%28dairy_product%29) and some (not too much) fresh fruit and some non-crushed nuts from varieties that I don't have as cream, like walnuts.

No problem at all with my weight, unlike years ago when I really had to watch myself and did a lot of sports and running, so it's not like I can eat anything I want.

Same with cheese, but it's very little hard cheese, and all of it is high quality. A lot of my cheese is from sheep and goats.

Lots of veggies - but always with some meat. Can't eat as much as I used to any more though, my body has settled on wanting only a little bit of it.

Also, I found it important to NOT cut the (easy) carbs completely! Some white bread or rice etc. is absolutely necessary. It's just not very much, not even a full slice of white bread for the nut breakfast, for example. I think the diet that tries to brute force you into eating nothing at all of that kind of food is too extreme.

I can't eat a lot of whole nuts though, only the cream works. Which is just mechanically different, there are zero add-ons in my (organic) nut cream purchases.

Oh and I get plenty of sleep too, I don't use an alarm clock. Advantage of working from home.

----------

About the link, this is just statistics. These days "machine learning" has replaced the word "statistics", and now everything is called that, it seems.


> "is too extreme"

That sounds reasonable and all, but it isn't actually a scientific justification. If the nutritional theories behind a low carb diet are sound, then it would make no sense to introduce high-carb sources to mix in just to "be less extreme." Science shouldn't care about our superficial perceptions.


Cheese is the only way I can stay on Keto. Nuts are good but in small amounts. It's way too easy to over eat nuts in calories and carbs. Especially since the better they taste, to me, the more sugar they have. I'm looking at you cashews.


I've been trying to be low carb for the last couple years and I think it's overall gone well, but I really struggle with what to eat still.

I hear your points about protein, cheese, and nuts, but then what do you eat? Can you list out a few complete days of your meals?


Breakfast: eggs + bacon or sausage or leftover steak

Lunch: salad and leftover protein (with oil, vinegar, and mustard dressing)

Dinner: meat, fish, or poultry (simply prepared) with roasted vegetables and salad

Snacks: coffee with butter and coconut oil, raw veggies, leftover meat


I want this so badly but I feel I'm set up to fail due to how much I hate vegetables. I just can't enjoy salads.

I wonder if the "this tastes awful" response will change as I move away from carbs?


keep adding fat to your salad until you start to like it - bacon, cheese, eggs, olive oil. Then you can start to pull back on the fat a bit.


Not all salads are equivalent. A mashed avocado kale salad is simply wicked:

http://www.food.com/recipe/kale-salad-with-avocado-for-two-4...

The avocado makes it really creamy and rich.


Can you confirm that when you say 8 oz you're only referring to the amount of protein as opposed to the total weight of the food delivering the protein (meat, eggs, etc)?


Got to be the opposite. 8oz is ~240g and 240g of protein is ~1000 calories. For most people that's ~1/2 their daily caloric needs. If in one sitting you are getting half your daily calories from protein alone, something is wrong.


Sorry, I _did_ mean the opposite.


Sorry that was unclear. 8 oz of meat, fish, poultry, etc (before cooking), not 8 oz of protein itself. It's recommended to not eat more than 200 grams of protein per day on any diet.


> It's recommended to not eat more than 200 grams of protein per day on any diet.

Wat? Your protein intake depends strictly on your body's requirements.


Apoligies, what is LCer?


Low carber


Low Carb-er?


The author is wrong that sleeping more just gives less time for eating. Truth is that sleeping more reduces insulin resistance, increases testosterone production in males and puts leptin under control. All three reduce carb craving, push us towards meat and fat and increase natural fat burning.


Thank you. Getting plenty of sleep also lowers levels of "stress hormones" like cortisol, which tend to promote fat storage.

Which is sort of what those hormones are for. It's easy to see how ancient humans or proto-humans who had this tendency to store extra calories during times of stress, would've had survival/evolutionary advantages.

Therefore don't mimic times of high stress by shorting yourself on sleep!


I guess if we're sharing fitness plots, here's 1300 measurements and 7 DXA scans:

http://i.imgur.com/J4Ls2bQ.png


Woah!

I thought I might be over-doing it with 2 DXA scans :)

I should dig mine up, I got down to 10% body fat a few weeks before completing my first Ironman. I'm normally around 17-19% from memory.


Wow. This is a beautiful and data-rich chart. Thanks for sharing.

Would be great if you could put this on github as well, and add some explanations to all the details in README.md.


So in the maintenance phases were you lifting, and were you pushing lifts? That's pretty scary that you can lose weight so quickly during a slack fitness period.


In males, over time testosterone decreases which causes muscle mass to decrease. Building up the large muscles through resistant exercise or any exercise (eg, gluteus maximus -- thigh) increases the muscle mass. Increased muscle mass increases the basic metabolic rate (BMR) which is the number of calories consumed even while at rest, even while sleeping.


I might have missed it, but doesn't look like ketone levels was one of the factors being measured. You can actually buy ketone pee strips at any drugstore for cheap. Would have been an interesting thing to track, since conventional wisdom says that ketosis is binary, you're in it or your not, and the actual ketone level doesn't affect the weight loss. I'm sure this has been put to the test in some experiments already, but maybe applying learning could teach us more and validate/invalidate this hypothesis


On a related note; NuSI (Gary Taubes's Nutrition Science Initiative for better nutritional testing) has not published their first results for the carbohydrate/insulin link to obesity, but Dr. Kevin Hall discusses the upcoming results in this video and some people may be surprised (including Gary).

_No Metabolic Advantage for Ketosis Found_

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiUyjMjuLl0


This situation has been highly debated among the keto science community. I call it a situation and not a study because they're publishing preliminary results for a pilot study. Hardly conclusive.

https://proteinpower.com/drmike/2016/05/06/contradictions-an...


I wish I had data to back this up, but there is no chance I was in caloric deficit on the keto diet. I lost lots of weight at the time. Not claiming my body violated energy conservation, but clearly this is more complex than "you don't get weight loss for free so you have to exercise more". So many folks doing the keto diet are sucking down ungodly amounts of bacon, heavy cream, etc and losing weight


They are replacing even more ungodly amounts of calories in the form of carbohydrates with that bacon/cream. Honestly, you can only eat so much bacon before you get sick of it, and your body just screams "Yuck. Stop eating. I'm full".

That's not true of things like rice, noodles, bread, etc.. where for many people eat some, and your body is like, "Awesome. Bring it on" in a never ending cycle.

Put another way - Satiation happens a lot faster, and lasts longer, when you are eating protein/fats, than it does when you are eating refined carbohydrates.

I think that what made it clear to me, is that there are no metabolic chamber studies (where people's activity and diet are perfectly controlled) that have ever demonstrated significant variation from the calories in/calories out model. Carbs, Protein, Fats - doesn't seem to make a difference, your weight is simply a reflection of your metabolic output and caloric-intake.

Stephan Guyenet also has an interesting perspective here:

http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.sg/2011/08/carbohydrate-hy...


I don't doubt for many that reduction in carbs amounts to reduction in calories. For others though, eating a lot, and not worrying about consequences, is a coping mechanism for how shitty the diet is. I'm super biased from my own past experience, but I was having 3000+ calorie days with minimal exercise and losing weight on keto. Open to the idea that I'm somehow wrong though :-)


They've tried all sorts of diets in metabolic chambers - and it's really quite amazing how closely the observed results track the predicted results. Determine a person's BMR, and then feed them a variety of diets higher, or lower, than that BMR, and watch their body mass (exc. water) increase, or decrease as expected.

Possibly the case that when you were eating carbs, you were putting away 3500 calories a day, and that dropped to 3000 calories a day when it was just meat? I know that just a casual stroll through the mall on a refeed day for me, I have zero difficulty putting away 6000+ calories - refined carbs are shockingly calorically dense.

Also - for some time on a Keto Diet, you are going to be dropping a ton of water - so the scale will be dropping like a rock, regardless of what your actual body weight is doing. Getting a DexaScan, or whatever lean/fat body mass assessment you prefer to see what's really going on.


The water loss is one thing I like about a low carb diet--you get positive feedback right away. It isn't real weight loss, but that doesn't matter. The point is to get started and feel like you have made progress in the right direction. Then the real, much slower, weight loss can begin.


Completely agree with you. And, even though I realize exactly what's happening, I also like it. You can even make the up/down swings work for you. The 4-hour body slow-carb approach has you "refeed/binge" once a week, where you usually put on 8-10 pounds in a single day. But because you know it's going to happen, it's not particularly worrisome, and then you get the bonus the next week of dropping 2-3 pounds on the scale every day.

But, I think it's also a good idea, in addition to enjoying that little bit of gamification on your scale numbers, to also have a good sense of what's actually happening in the body mechanics.

That way, you get the best of both worlds.


I don't contest that ketone level affects weightloss, but just to be clear, ketone pee strips don't tell you anything about your "ketone levels". They tell you the concentration of ketones expelled in your urine, which varies by a lot of things, like time of day and hydration levels.

Precision Xtra test strips will give you a far more precise and accurate measure of ketones in your blood and if you wanted to do anything quantitative like in this case study, you'd want to use those.


Hmm I don't think you're right. I'm looking at an old bottle of ketostix brand, and it specifies Acetoacetic Acid, which seems to be some kind of ketone. Or maybe it's another byproduct?

Edit - Also, presumably the other factors like hydration and time of day could be tracked as well used to apply learning


you're correct; had my terms jumbled. edited my comment for correctness.


An interesting thing to note about the pee strips, is that your urine only contains significant ketone bodies if your body is not using them all up.

I use a glucose monitor with beta-hydroxy-butyrate (ketone body) test strips for accurate measurement.


I collect some of my own data in 1/0 form in regard to whether I was productive the day before as well as a few other things (I have a google form for myself that I fill out each morning). I only have a month of data but here is what it spat out:

  FeatureName       HashVal   MinVal   MaxVal    Weight   RelScore
  ^dreams         24546     0.00     1.00   +0.0705     47.11%
  ^shower           215555     0.00     1.00   -0.0239    -15.96%
  ^exercise         190069     0.00     1.00   -0.0350    -23.41%
  ^vitamins         252959     0.00     1.00   -0.0442    -29.56%
  ^write                129676     0.00     1.00   -0.0687    -45.90%
  ^publish            12600     0.00     1.00   -0.1496   -100.00%
Which is to say that when I write and publish I also have the willpower and combined other factors to lose weight.

Interestingly I was tracking dreams because I made various changes all at once:

  -phillips hue bulbs
  -new mattress
  -new exercise routine (up from nothing)
  -started taking vitamins
  -stricter on my diet
And was wondering what the cause might be.

When I say "dreams" I mean - "did I wake up remembering vivid dreams?". I wonder now if it's related to caloric surplus.

I also have minutised step data, nightly minutised sleep data and hourly mood self-reported data that I might try to throw in to the system and see what it says.


This is pretty hilarious. Thanks for sharing. It may be showing how much noise there is in a random data-set with too few data-points to draw statistically significant conclusions. It might also mean that you're on the right track and now that you have the tool, you can keep going until you find real enlightenment.

I really like your comment because you're one of the very few that actually tried the idea. Thats the #1 reason I put this on github, to help others conduct their own experiments on whatever they care about. If you ignore all my weight-loss journey story and data and just use some of these ideas to improve your own life, it was all worth it for me.


> The 'stayhome' lifestlye, which fell mostly on weekends, is a red-herring, I simply slept longer when I didn't have to commute to work.

Is it?

First, whatever method you use should already take into account that sleep happens together with stayathome. Even basic regressions take into account that.

Second, staying at home means your eating binges are constrained by what's around you. If it is healthy stuff it might mean weight loss, if it is bread and chips the opposite


Thanks for the comment. You're absolutely right. I stand corrected and updated the README accordingly.


Of course you're going to gain weight when you eat carbs. Glycogen contains mostly water and carbs, so if you store glycogen you gain weight, up to 20 lbs from completely depleted.

So let's say you eat low carb and train very hard for a week. Your muscles will be depleted, your liver will be depleted. You see that you lost 10 lbs! Great! But is it? Maybe you lost one pound of fat and 9 pounds of water. Then you eat NOTHING BUT carbs for three days and you gain 20 lbs. Oh no! But actually it's your muscles expanding their capacity to store glycogen (since you trained hard and depleted yourself they will regain even more glycogen than before). You may have not gained ANY FAT AT ALL!

I have had great success dieting with medium fat medium carb diets. I try to keep between 180lbs and 220lbs (I'm 6'4"). I'm saying that this kind of tracking is oversimplifying the issue of fat loss - you need to see that you're losing fat tissue which involves at least caliper measurements.


I was wondering when someone was going to mention this. I can add about 11-12 pounds of body-weight by scale reading in a single day simply by eating food rich in carbs the day prior. Cutting the Carbs out of my diet see's that weight disappear (thought it takes 4-5 days). Adding Potassium, Sodium, Magnesium supplements to meals reduces the water loss somewhat.

Agreed - that the real question isn't weight, per se, but Lean Body Mass. DexaScan is also a good approach to nailing down that number.


Yeah, I had a DEXA scan T 191lbs and I was 16% BF. It's not practical to do this every day, though.

But what I've found is that calipers actually do a good job at showing body fat changes. They're horrible for absolute values (if they say 12%, they might be off by 4%), even at multiple measurement sites. But if calipers measure more or less, you can still be fairly sure that you have gained or lost fat mass.

Measuring like that I found that nothing beats lots of caffeine and plain low calorie diet.


Warning: unpopular opinion here. Long term low carb dieting and ketosis is not without risk. Yes, you will see weight loss, but what about other health markers? Check out some of the information here: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/low-carb-diets/ What has worked for me was a plant based diet without added oil and processed foods: https://medium.com/@borkdude/tl-dr-of-my-long-term-weight-lo... Been doing that for five years now. Never hungry, still happy with it.


For once I want someone who isn't morally opposed to eating animals tell me that low carb diets are bad.

Vegans and animal lovers don't like low-carb-high-fat diets because it requires eating a lot of animals, so I find it hard to trust them.


OK, then watch this lecture by Denise Minger. She is known within paleo circles and is pretty unbiased when it comes to eating animal foods:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFfK27B_qZY


Can you give a short overview of what you are eating and why? Just plants? Also including nuts? What about eggs? If you go full vegan it's not without risk either, you know.


Sure. My diet looks like this for example:

- Breakfast: oatmeal with fruit

- Lunch: rice and beans with vegetables (cooked or raw)

- Dinner: mashed potatoes with carrots and onions or whole wheat pasta with tomatoes and spinach, etc.

Snacks: fruits (usually bananas and tangerines because they are so portable), dried fruits, unsalted/unroasted nuts

Condiments: all herbs, spices, salt (limited), nuts, seeds. No oil.

I'm aware of the risk of an all plant based diet. The main risks is B12 deficiency which is easily solved by taking a little pill one or few times a week.

Excellent explanation of why both approaches (high fat or high carb) may work: https://www.facebook.com/drgarth/posts/1213478802006359

Lecture about high carb vs high fat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFfK27B_qZY

http://www.forksoverknives.com is an excellent resource to get started on this plan, including a documentary and recipes.


If you malnourish your body so much so that it loses the ability to store any fat, it is possible to lose weight. However, it is the unhealthiest option there is.


Carbohydrates do not make you fat. I am eating a high carb vegan diet and have lost 63 pounds since last October.

My weight loss: http://imgur.com/a/cGb4X

I do not restrict the amount of food I eat. I snack and have big meals.

Carbs do not make you fat. Eating high caloric density foods makes you fat.

More resources: http://nutritionfacts.org/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5wfMNNr3ak

http://www.forksoverknives.com/category/success-stories/


"Carbohydrates do not make you fat."

Yes, they can, though it is rare.

More accurately:

- Fat loss is ultimately about caloric deficient sustained over time and adjusting for metabolic adaptation.

- Sustaining that deficit over time (diet compliance) is highly variable. For some is easier with carbs than it is with protein or fat. YMMV.

So, yes, your diet works, but the problem is that many people wouldn't be able to physiologically stick with it for longer than a few weeks. This isn't just about mind over matter, this is about body over mind. (Insulin response in particular)

- Protein itself cannot make you fat (the amount of protein you would need to consume relative to other carbs and fats in the diet renders this physiologically highly improbable).

- Carbohydrates can make you fat if that's all you eat (de novo lypogenesis becomes a thing if you injest < 10% daily calories as dietary fat); Carbs also can increase weight a few lbs due to glycogen storage.

- Fat will be stored unless there is insufficient protein or carbs in the diet, then fat will be metabolized.

source: http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/how-we-get-fat.htm...


I kinda have to agree. But I also have to add, that it's actually the combination of fat and carbs.

As a vegan you are probably eating almost no fat and this is most likely the reason you lost weight. If you would start eating higher amounts of vegetable fats... maybe even some sugar (pure carbs) you will gain weight.


Carbohydrates make me fat. Maybe not you, but definitely me. There is no way around that and I've made peace with it.


Have you tried going on the starch solution strictly for two weeks? How do you eat your carbs - is there any oil along with those carbs? Any meats or dairy?


Can you describe your diet and the amount of carbs in it?


I eat most of my calories from rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, and other starches. I round out the diet with green and orange vegetables. Fruits are snacks.

For breakfast I have oatmeal with a banana and raisins with cinnamon.

For lunch I'll have brown rice with vegetable stew on top.

Dinner can be vegan whole wheat pizza, bean burritos, spaghetti with marinara sauce, moo shoo vegetable wraps, rice and vegetables.

https://www.drmcdougall.com/health/education/free-mcdougall-...


That doesn't really warrant saying "carbs don't make you fat". Eating white bread, sugary drinks, baked goods and pasta is a big step away from that.


Interestingly "gioza" and "gyoza" as factors come out with opposite signs. I guess that provides a heuristic confidence interval for the weights.


Maybe there's a correlation between weight gain and spelling ability? /s


If anybody is reading this and curious about Ketosis, I'd recommend Taubes book (https://www.amazon.com/Why-We-Get-Fat-About/dp/0307474259). It's a great review of scientific studies done over the years.

I read that 4 years ago, spent another 4 months reading the listed studies, convinced myself it was a good plan, and lost 40 pounds with no exercises. I still do LCHF after all these years, and likely will never go back to a traditional diet, it feels great.


I was told about Keto diets about three years back by a friend of mine. There's a lot of misinformation about food and health in the US and elsewhere, and for the longest time I thought low-carb diets were stupid.

But after trying it and reading a lot of the research, I was pretty amazing. I went from close to 70kg down to 58kg over the course of the next year (although I've come up to around 62 ~ 63kg stable).

I like how this person mentions in the Github readme that it's not for everyone and "listen to your body." Some people have bodies that do well with high carb intakes. Every body type is different. With all that being said though, a huge issue with being overweight is education. The food industry wants you to buy fast food, pizzas and things that are cheap to create with easy base ingredients (sugar, starch, corn, wheat, etc.)

Sadly, the only way for me to realize this was to experiment on myself, as did this person (although with totally insane amounts of metrics). Kudos!


Whenever I relate my ketosis experience to people who ask, the biggest emphasis is on how "personal" diet is. You really can't just copy someone else's eating habits and expect the same result.

Listening to your body is very underrated skill. You can learn it (helps to have been an athlete at some point in your life) but you also have to do something about it :)


This is awesome. I'd love to see something similar from someone who (intentionally) gained muscle mass. Is it really about high-protein + high-carbs + workout + sleep, or is there a more optimum diet for this.


This matches my experience of weight loss using high fat diet. I started it after hearing Sarah Hallberg's Tedx talk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=da1vvigy5tQ&feature=youtu.be For a vegetarian, starting and continuing the high fat low carb diet is difficult. Are there any resources for more vegetarian recipes for high fat low carb food?

The article was very impressive. I liked the graphs and presentation.



thanks for the pointers. will check them out.


> For a vegetarian, starting and continuing the high fat low carb diet is difficult

Is it? As far as I know you could sustain yourself in perfect condition (and weight) on nothing but butter & eggs (to satiation) for decades --- which most vegetarian regimens seem to allow.



Sorry for the crosspost/copy-and-paste:

For me personally this worked quite well for reducing bodyfat:

Intermitted fasting[1] and lifting weights 3 times a week[2] and being on a cutting regime[3] (cutting on the rest days with low carb and loading on the workout days wiht more carbs).

In the beginning IF was quite difficult but after a while the body get used to it and also I tend to have less cravings during the day. On the loading days/workout days I often have a hard time to get enoug calories because I feel full. I am using MyFitnessPal to track what I eat but it's more about the macros and not so much about the exact calories (but it's also good to get a feeling how much calories different kinds of food has)

[1] http://www.leangains.com/2011/03/intermittent-fasting-for-we... [2] http://stronglifts.com/ [3] http://www.lgmacros.com/standard-leangains-macro-calculator/ reply


It is funny but I had pretty much the exact weight loss as the OP had doing intermittent fasting. Sadly I wasn't as rigorous on the recording of weight loss but I went from 195 to 175 over roughly the same time period as the OP.

One thing I found is writing down a plan seems to really help you stick with it.

I finally wrote down my workout routine after decade of on and off training. I always logged my workouts but I never wrote the overall plan down. If you are interested in my routine it is here (it has very little to do with diet as I was going to write a follow up some day): https://gist.github.com/agentgt/f93b78dbe13870a6d0a1

I have never publicly posted the routine so if you feel the need to trash it I suppose you can do so in the comment area of the gist but routines are pretty personal anyway (to the OPs point).


A word of advice to those attempting a Ketogenic diet: get your blood work done on a regular basis.

If possible, get heart scans done once a year.

It's easy to slip into a sloppy version of the Ketogenic diet, at which point you're consuming lots of unhealthy fats and carbs, you triglycerides and cholesterol could shoot up and put you in shit street.

This is a strict diet.


What is an unhealthy fat? Also, by definition, if you are eating more than very minimal carbs, you aren't on a ketogenic diet.

Honestly, and with no sarcasm intended, I think your advice would be similarly correct for anyone considering eating bread, or white noodles/rice - get your blood work done on a regular basis, and heart scans done once a year, your triglycerides and cholesterol could shoot up and put you in shit street.

I'm willing to wager that significantly more people have cholesterol problems with rice/bread, than they do with eating meat and fat.


> What is an unhealthy fat?

Fat consumed with high levels of sugar.

Not everyone has the capacity to be strict with their diet, habits, or health in general. These people might still attempt the Keto diet.

The Ketogenic diet gets approached by lots of people with mental health issues (bipolar for one), and people who have issues being strict with their diet.

Advising them to get their blood work done, and heart checked is normal, and sensible. Getting your blood and heart checked regularly is a healthy habit, and provides vital feedback to understand exactly how your diet is impacting your health.


Among words correlated to weight-gain, the least correlated of these is cheeseburgers! Be still my heart (not literally)!


Good eye. May be random noise since most daily deltas in the data-set are so small. See comments about over-fitting and noise elsewhere in the thread. Also may be a veggie-style (without the bun) burger. It was over 2 years ago, so I don't remember. I plan to write a separate machine-learning focused doc on this exploratory experiment when I get more time.


The challenge for me is always knowing what to eat to help me accelerate my weight loss. I need structure. If I don't have structure, it's easy for me to eat things I shouldn't. I started a weight loss program 5 weeks ago called "Ideal Protein," which uses the Ketosis method. They supply breakfast, lunch, and a snack. I only need to make dinner (plus 2 cups of veggies for lunch). I love how easy it is.

I'm wrapping up week 5 tomorrow and I'm down 25lbs (~14% of my body weight)! They promise 2-5lbs of fat loss a week. I generally drop around a pound a day, but I'll get stuck a few days here and there. This method really works for me.

The best part is how fast you lose it. When I did South Beach years ago, it took me months to hit my goal. I have 14lbs left now and I should be able to hit my goal by Labor Day.

Give it a try.


I appreciate that the author shared his data because it's interesting to compare notes. I embarked on a strict ketogenic diet in 2012 from a significantly higher initial weight and observed a very different pattern of weight loss: https://i.imgur.com/mOt6P.png

I hit a loss plateau around 180 lbs that I couldn't break through until I began eating on an 8-16 fasting schedule like Ariel mentions in his "Further progress" section.

I gave up on the diet during 2015 and have since regained a significant amount of weight, but I suppose that's just an opportunity to apply some of the tracking techniques in this article to my next foray.


Yeah. I has been downvoted into oblivion by saying almost the same things without any machine learning, just by observing eating habits and traditions of "village folks" in Nepal, India, Tibet and Sri Lanka where I have spent last few years.

The message was that traditional (evolved according to local food sources and seasons) unprocessed foods of Asian tribes is the most natural and healthy. Economic and habitat selection pressures implicitly works the same way as machine learning, for hundreds of years.

Visit any rural area and try simple folk's foods. They will be way healthier that any processed crap. The similar patterns could be notices really quickly.


I don't get it, and I've really tried. I'm referring to the keto diet (though this person's approach is obviously extreme overkill). I absolutely love meat, but when I go that low on carbs, I feel like crap. And sure, some people say if I just wait 4 weeks to 6 months my body will adjust, but... why bother?

Get a calorie tracker like my fitness pal, set a goal weight loss, stick to it, and 1 lb per week will be a breeze. You don't need a fad diet. For me, meticulously paying attention to what I was putting into my body and putting a number next to it made it a no brainer. It was almost gamified at that point.


Congrats on finding on a solution that works for your body. For me, I find eating keto gives me more even energy, allows me to sleep better, keeps me from feeling hungry, and I also lose weight.

Humans are pretty diverse; perhaps certain eating patterns work better for different body chemistries.


It's a great experiment

However I think the biggest issue with this is that it's considering only a 1 day window. Weight can vary a lot between every day (bladder and bowel contents, muscular glycogen, etc)


Yup. Current weight is a sum of several variables: body fat, muscle, water, and digestive track contents. Nearly all day to day variation (up to three pounds in my case) is water. The long term trend is mostly body fat, but I need at least a week and sometimes up to three to see the underlying fat changes. Sometimes my weight will remain almost level for two weeks, and I'll then I'll drop 5 pounds in a few days, and wind up right back where the underlying calorie consumption said I would.

By using a one day window, the author has mostly detected things that affect water weight. Carb intake is a huge driver of water weight because of muscle glycogen replacement, which includes a huge amount of water.

This isn't to knock ketosis: If you enjoy eating that way and it encourages you not to overeat, then it's probably a great strategy for you. Might be worth checking your lipids after a few months though: I've heard of the rare person who tries the Atkins diet and shoots up to 400+ cholesterol.


Indeed. I was pondering the fact that a lot of things in the experiment that are composed of mostly insoluble fiber, consistently landed on the weight gain side of the spectrum.

I assume this was a windowing flaw, in that the fiber mass was still in the digestive tract a day later, though not-at-all contributing to weight gain after later elimination.

This would also throw off all the data about oils and fats: anything that lubricates your digestive tract will make it seem like you're losing weight that day even if you're not, because other foods eaten at the same time will now get eliminated faster. (Though that really can be of help; food that spends less time in your digestive tract gets less of its nutrients absorbed.)


Semi-related. For those who want to track their weight daily, efficiently, try Fitbit Aria (or one of the cheaper no-brand WiFi scales). Hook it up to Fitbit app, connect that to TrendWeight (https://trendweight.com/), then throw away the Fitbit app.

Whatever your goals are, however serious you are, I find it a great way to keep track. I just stand on this thing once a morning, and forget about it. And now I have a near-daily record, smoothed out with a weekly moving average.


Cosign. I have one of the Withings scales and weigh in multiple times a day. I don't fret over fluctuations -- and I might fluctuate 5lbs in a day -- it's the long term trend line that matters and I can see it on the Withings site. Adding more data just helps.


Have you considered tracking skinfold measurements too? I know my weight can fluctuate a lot just from inflammation response after a hard training run. Weight seems to have too many factors that vary at different rates for different reasons.


Remarkable work. I am really pleased about the contribution of "sleep" in the whole weight loss experience. I have reached some similar anecdotal conclusions; I bet this is similarly not surprising for many persons.

I am not entirely sure sleep contributes only as "a fasting period". Sleep also means we are relaxed. All the other times of the day (when we are awake) we are relatively stressed, meaning more stress hormones (ie cortisol) which are known to be contributing to weight gain.


I'm pretty sure this is just an example of a "placebo diet"[1] at work.

[1] http://www.placebodiet.org/


Very interesting littlw study. The results seem to make sense, and I'm impressed that his model can learn what causes his weight swings given the low resolution delta-weight data he collects.

The author uses vowpal-wabbit to train his regression model. Anybody know what learning algorithm it uses (eg random forest?) Here's the link: https://github.com/JohnLangford/vowpal_wabbit/wiki


Thanks mbrundle. I'm the person behind that git repository and honestly am in a bit of a shock that this is making hacker-news.

As I say in the README.md: please ignore the noise, the scales I used had 0.2 pound resolution, and my data-set was too small (and as one snarky commenter noticed, some words were misspelled). What is important is the big picture. There are actually numerous contradictions and irregularities in the data. In particular, any food item that appears only once or twice in the data-set, and is randomly coinciding with other features that make it biased the wrong way contributes to the error of the model.

So as I say in the README, I would ignore anything that's not near the top or bottom, and even those should be taken with a healthy dose of (noise/modeling) skepticism.

Anyway, the code is free for everyone to use so people are encouraged to run the experiment on themselves using more accurate methods and contributing more data. It only requires R+ggplot2 and vowpal wabbit. Cheers.


Seems to be a slightly modified Stochastic Gradient Descent to handle the data typically seen with this sort of analysis. https://github.com/JohnLangford/vowpal_wabbit/wiki/Learning-...


The impact of sleep/no sleep. Wow.


Ketosis is the greatest thing to ever happen to me. It has been life-changing for myself and many of my closest friends. I lost over 200lbs doing keto and it was one of the easiest, most ennjoyable things I have ever done in my life.

Keto is absolutely amazing and life-changing. I encourage everyone to try it.


One thing I've never been able to get a clear answer on, is when you "lose" fat, how long does it take for the number of fat cells to go down? As I understand it, at first fat cells just deflate (not the right word) are will easily plump up again and that's one reason why it's hard to keep weight off. What's involved in actually ridding the body of the extra cells (outside of mechanical means)?


When I ditch the carbs and eliminate grain from my diet, there's no denying that I look better and feel better. I've cycled on and off several times now and there's no way to get around it: The carbs and grain have to go and they have to go forever.

If you can eat them, no problem. However, there's many of us that can't and we're going to talk about how to operate with that as baseline.


If you're looking to extend this further, I'll be privileged to work on this with you. Another great opportunity to be part of something! yay!


A couple a years ago I did keto for 8 months. During that time I lost 31 kg. While this diet was amazing for losing weight it really affected my concentration negatively, to the point where I was forced to drop the diet because it was simply interfering with my performance at work. It's a real shame though, as I've never been able to find a diet as easy and effective since.


I'd love to see something like this applied to the goal of gaining muscle. I've been a twig my whole life. In college, I gained 20 lbs of "noob gains" and then tapered off severely. I've maintained that weight, but can't gain more with any reasonable effort.

Dear ddv,

You've got a potential million+ dollar business in the works. In fact, I'd quit my job to be a programmer on your team.


The conventional advice in this situation I believe is: unless you're eating enough that you're also putting on some fat, you're not eating enough... Also consider the Gallon Of Milk A Day method.


I'm not the author of this work. I just found it earlier today and submitted it. I agree it is awesome.


I just started my keto diet about 2 weeks ago and I feel great. Did have one rough night of "keto flu" but then I started supplementing with minerals and more water. I'm super low carb right now. Funny thing is to get (about 4 weeks ago) I would get a double big mac or a double quarter pounder but no drink and no fries and that was it till breakfast. That was fun.


Do you supplement with sodium, potassium and magnesium? It might be placebo but I seem to do better when adding sodium (I drink a gram or two via a broth.) Potassium is easy to get from "lite" salt (hard to eat enough otherwise). The amounts required (several grams of sodium, several of K), according to random sites I've looked up, seem rather high for a non-keto dieter. Dunno if they are accurate.


I bought a magnesium supplement that includes potassium and sodium, albeit the sodium is the easiest to get anyway, just salt things. Apparently avocados are the potassium go to as well. I've looked at the recommended numbers, and quite frankly I'm not tracking enough to know if I'm hitting htem. The more I remind myself of the recommended and the easier it is for me to calculate on the fly, it's just a matter of looking at my bookmarked page, habit to build I guess until I memorize it. For now I just go by how I'm feeling. If I think I'm going to be frustrated I'll get a little more stringent and careful.


I think this shows how various factors correlates with the amount of water/food still in the digestive system.

I'm not surprised that for example sleeping longer would make you having less water in your body.

Most foods that gave "weight loss" were high energy foods that have lower mass per calorie.


He advocates a book "The Truth About Statins".

Is it helpful info on evidence based science or mostly zealotry and soapboxing?


"He" is me :)

Sorry, I've never read that book so rest assured, I'm not promoting it. Please note that the link is not to the book, it is a just a google search for the term "the truth about statins". Perhaps some sponsored ad for the book was added by google? If so, my sincere apologies for the unintended consequences.

Here's my personal experience with statins, I may be wrong here, but I'm following my compass and am open to be proven otherwise:

Doctor: "Your 'bad cholesterol' is borderline, I want you to take these statins". Side observation: when the 'Lipitor' patent expired and it became a cheap generic drug, the suggestion turned into 'Crestor' which I learned has a bit longer effective half-life, and way higher price. Me, researching the subject while adopting a different diet: "Hmm statins would have taken me _maybe_ 3% lower and here I am 20% lower after a year of a simple, self-studied, diet change. Maybe there are better ways to lower the so called 'bad cholesterol'? Further study: there's always a new statin the moment patent expires: check out: Compactin -> Simvastatin -> Fluvastatin -> Cerivastatin -> Atorvastatin -> Rosuvastatin on wikipedia (these are chemical names, not brand names, the last two are the brands: "Lipitor" and "Crestor")

So I don't know. I'm 100% sure all my doctors are well meaning and caring and I have nothing against them, but my confidence in these health suggestions, and in all the research that is funded by big-pharma, and in the new great statin of the era while america keeps getting obese and less healthy, is, how can I put it? a bit shaken.

No zealotry at all. Just prove me wrong, and I'll change my view.


I haven't read the book itself, but Roberts' has a reasonable publication history in the peer-reviewed lit and her letters there regarding reduced benefit of statins in women are sound and evidence-based.

That said, it's been known for a while among critical docs that statins should really only be rolled out to high-risk patients. There's been some shady business in the big sponsored trials re. low-risk patient groups that suggests there's insufficient benefit there.

As long as her book doesn't venture far past that territory, it's probably kosher.


Maybe your weight loss rate accelerated because you started watching what you eat more carefully, knowing that you want to provide the most sanitary input to your program. Anyway this is impressive for a n=1 study. Glad it worked for you.

Also, OP, what materials would you recommend for a machine learning newbie?


One should be careful extrapolating this type of data to other individuals. For example, sleep on its own may not actually be the primary factor in weight-loss --- the weight gain during periods of lack of sleep may occur simply because you have a habit of snacking while staying up late.

That said, awesome work.


Very true. The nice thing about some of this is that it's harmless if wrong. Extra sleep won't hurt me, but it'll make me feel better about sleeping rather than feeling that it's wasted time I could have been spending trying to get healthier or smarter.


I've tried keto a couple times in the past, but struggled with serious acid reflux / heartburn from having to digest so much fat all the time. Any one else struggle with this and find a way to incorporate keto without negative digestive consequences?


Tums and hydration will get you 90% of the way there. 10 months on keto so far :)


The observation that "no breakfast" is #1 way to lose weight by extending fasting period that includes sleep is pretty astonishing. Everything I have read says no breakfast is one of the contributors to weight gain.


Maybe I missed it, did he say what time of the day he does the weight measurements? Unless you do multiple measurements per day and take the average (as my fancy device does automatically), a single weight measurement should be done in the afteroon, ie after rehydrating and stopped the fasting of the night and early morning.


I've had weight graphs like that and the trouble always is that if you plot further instead of it being a flat line at a constant weight it bounces back up again. It's maintaining that's the hard part.


I understand the principles and found the low-carb diets sound scientifically but I can't understand how eating a lot of fruits and potatoes would be bad for you from an evolutionary perspective.


This is freaking genius. Kudos. I wish I could upvote this 1000x.


I don't understand what exactly he did with the data and how the calculations indicate weight loss/gain.

Can someone explain, please?


Lol bacon is associated with weight loss by 32%


so i cannot give up rice. how much can i consume of rice/carbs per day and not mess up this balance?


What about sex?


Well, you do burn a few calories, say, anywhere from 100 - 200 calories an hour depending on how active you are during the session, and like all exercise that gets your heart pumping there is some health benefit.

More interesting is what sex and orgasms do for your emotional well-being which is dependant upon your brain chemistry, if the sex is a positive experience (e.g. not forced) there is release of endorphins which affects cortisol levels. Simplified I believe this is how all exercise reduce stress. Cortisol levels will fluctuate throughout the day but chronically high levels are common for individuals too stressed out, that would be a real "starvation mode". The ways in which cortisol affects metabolic, but not limited to, processes in our bodies are intricate and many, it is very important to understand cortisol in regards to weight loss, overall health and emotional well-being.




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