Eliezer and I have put together this first pass at a recipe for DIY ketogenic soylent--or, as he prefers to call it,The Mildly Surprising Super Ketonic Dietary Replacement Weight-Loss Fluid - It's Not Food, It's Dietary Replacement Fluid!(R) (I am not in full support of this particular preference...)

So let's play Make a Prediction. It seems more likely to be useful than "free associate with why soylent/ketosis is awesome/stupid". Imagine that Eliezer has around a week's worth of infinite willpower (that can only be spent on resisting food cravings etc.). Further, imagine your crystal ball shows you that a month from now, he hasn't lost any weight. What does it tell you about why?

Ketogenic Soylent v1

  • 1 scoop Gold Standard whey protein

  • 1½ tsp calcium citrate powder

  • 1 tsp creatine

  • ½ cup+1 tbsp ground flax

  • 4 tbsp Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder

  • 2 tbsp lecithin

  • ⅗ tsp potassium citrate on day 1, increase gradually to 1tsp by day 5, don’t exceed 2tsp

  • ½ tsp iodized salt

  • ⅛ packet Emergen-C

  • ⅕ cup olive oil

  • 1¼ tbsp flaxseed oil

  • ⅗ cup MCT oil

  • Sucralose to taste

  • We might need to add water to get the consistency right.


Totals Per Day

  • Calories: 1866

  • Fats: 193.5g

  • Carbs: 12g

  • Protein: 54g

  • Fiber: 25g

  • Biotin 250mcg

  • Calcium 150mg

  • Chromium 120mcg

  • Copper 2mg

  • Folic Acid 600mcg

  • Iodine 200mcg

  • Iron 18mg

  • Magnesium 75mg

  • Manganese 5mg

  • Methyl-Sulfonyl-Methane 1000mg

  • Molybdenum 70mcg

  • Niacin 20mg

  • Pantothenic Acid 20mg

  • Potassium: 5g

  • Riboflavin 20mg

  • Selenium 70mcg

  • Sodium 3g

  • Thiamin 20mg

  • Vitamin A 5,000IU

  • Vitamin B6 20mg

  • Vitamin B12 100mcg

  • Vitamin C 250mg

  • Vitamin D 1600IU

  • Vitamin E 100IU

  • Vitamin K 80mcg

  • Zinc 15mg

[FYI: Due to feedback along the lines of "AIIEEE", we junked this recipe before trying it and went with a completely different one, redesigned from scratch according to the advice in Perfect Health Diet by the Jaminets.]


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What does it tell you about why?

That all looks very weaksauce.

If EY really has an unusual metabolism, it seems to me he (rationally) should be willing to spend considerable time and effort to figure it out.

Ideally, he should go into some university's metabolic ward and spend a week or two there while his personal biochemistry and the way it reacts to stimuli is being carefully looked at.

While that may not be very practical, going Tim Ferriss is considerably easier: get a lot of tests done and keep on repeating them, keep a food diary, keep a log of parameters of interest (sleep, energy, mood, etc.), get a blood glucose meter, get keto strips, run controlled experiments on yourself, etc.

If one does have an unusual metabolism, statistical expectations based on normal people don't apply. That's a big issue.

I cross-checked this against the Wikipedia vitamins and B-vitamins articles, with attention to things listed there that aren't considered essential nutrients but which someone thought were important to mention anyways. Consider adding carnitine and choline.

The two multivitamin capsules should come from different manufacturers, to mitigate the risk that one of their ingredients is missing or degraded.

It is commonly said that a higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid is better, but this is in the context of a typical diet which is omega-6 weighted. I have no idea what happens if you go all the way to 4.5:1 omega-3:6 (what you'll be getting from flax as your sole polyunsaturated fat source). Also, while I haven't really researched this, I am suspicious of having a very high total polyunsaturated fat content, independent of the ratio of polyunsaturated subtypes, as you do, and would suggest weighting fat intake more towards palmitic acid (based on the heuristics "eat what you're made of" and "get calories from things that have fewer chemical steps between them and ATP").

Iron is tricky; the RDAs are different for men and women, both deficiency and excess matter... (read more)

Do ketogenic diets have benefits even if you're not trying to lose weight?
It increases the ratio of the main inhibitory neurotransmitter (GABA) of the cortex to the main excitatory neurotransmitter (glutamate) relative to a brain that's not keto-adapted. Vide [http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1471-4159.2012.07670.x/full] for theories on why we observe this phenomenon. This makes strict ketogenic dieting a viable treatment for reducing seizures in epileptics. In non-epileptics, I've been told some claim a 'zen' feeling when in ketosis. Objectively, more inhibition means less firing of neurons, and less firing of neurons can either be a good or bad thing. With more inhibition comes more control, which could increase focus at the expense of creative insight. Relegating problems to the subconscious might become a less useful solution to overcoming mindblocks, while at the same time lightening unwanted cognitive load.
Speculative, or do you have any sources on that? It could be vice versa: consider e.g. the basal ganglia, with e.g. the striatum inhibiting the globus pallidus, which in turn inhibits e.g. the nucleus subthalamicus. The net effect of relatively more GABA in such a network (inhibiting the inhibition) is a priori unclear (it could go either way, depending on the relative weights of the two sequentially networked inhibitory structures). While the overall effect is probably inhibitory (hence the usage for epilepsy), not all circuits are created equal in terms of facilitating creative insights, nor does increased overall activity necessarily translate to increased creativity. Note that stimulants such as methylphenidate can be used to treat ADHD, of all things.
Low carb diets are linked to better teeth and dental health. I'm on shitty internet right now, or I'd link sources. For me, the best part about being in ketosis is that my mental state was no longer directly affected by food. I'd been very used to the "Eat Food -> Feel Good! -> Get Hungry -> Feel Bad!" cycle that's promoted by a higher carb diet. Skipping a meal would destroy productivity and make me grumpy. Ketosis made it easy for me to skip a meal (or two) without any hit to my productivity or mental state.
Already have choline. That's what the lecithin is for. Sorry I didn't make that explicit. Brienne has no intention of losing weight and will be making a non-ketogenic version of this in the future since I'm tired of cooking and eating.

So what happened?

I'm a little curious too. It's been a while since this was posted.

Have you tried it yet?


What's 1 scoop in liters?

Figured out it's a thing that comes with some protein powder packages and googled some more, it seems to be something around 0.5 decilitres.

I would post this question in a keto specific forum like reddit/r/keto

Carbs: 12g Protein: 54g

Needs more Carbs and Protein. Prediction: this diet is not sustainable and will lead to loss of muscle.


Even when in Ketosis the brain will still needs around 50-75 g of Carbs daily. Either you provide the carbs or you eat more protein than can be converted to carbs(glucose) by the body(gluconeogenesis).

Protein: you need a certain amount of protein to maintain your muscle mass(I think it was 1.5g per kg of muscle but please check) so you need to add this much protein at least. Also consider that part of the protein you consum... (read more)

1.5g/kg is ludicrously high. No benefit has been shown beyond around .5g/kg. http://mennohenselmans.com/the-myth-of-1glb-optimal-protein-intake-for-bodybuilders/ [http://mennohenselmans.com/the-myth-of-1glb-optimal-protein-intake-for-bodybuilders/]
Not really. I linked this blog post [http://suppversity.blogspot.com/2013/06/evidence-from-metabolic-ward-16-24gkg.html] elsewhere in the thread which reviewed a study that indicated that 1.6g/kg was the optimal protein amount for fat loss. Even higher protein resulted in more weight loss, but less fat loss proportionally. The blog post you linked is very good, but it doesn't support your claim. In fact, the article pretty clearly supports 1.6-1.8g/kg. The lowest recommendation I can infer is the ~0.9g/kg, which is the level at which muscle protein synthesis is maximized in sedentary individuals, though that's an entirely irrelevant metric to make a recommendation from.
My math was totally off on the original post. 1.8g/kg is a pretty reasonable intake. My bad.

The shake needs more protein. This blog post cites a study that indicates 1.6g/kg being the optimal protein amount for fat loss. Two scoops of whey instead of one would probably be fine.

If Eliezer consumed this for a month and didn't lose any weight, I'd conclude that his maintenance metabolism is, on average, 1866 calories.

I don't know what he's tried to do to lose weight (just signed up here recently and only read the sequences), but any competent nutritionist or coach starts off by collecting data. Height, weight, body fat percentage, waist measure... (read more)

Some relevant information can be found here [http://lesswrong.com/lw/h2m/solved_problems_repository/8ny5?context=1#comments]

Cool idea! Some suggestions:

Use ground sprouted flax seed powder instead to avoid phytate bodies potentially binding with the minerals.
I assume you're using flaxseed oil for omega-3 fatty acids? Use krill oil instead.

Cocoa has the same problem, and is hard to replace in terms of taste. Coconut, avocado, hemp (seeds or oil), acai berries, and nutritional yeast might work in some combination, but can all be prohibitively expensive depending on the intended application.

Adjusting the amount of cocoa should lower the amount of fat intake. For optimal rete... (read more)

Xylitol triggers insulin release which may be undesirable
That's true in humans, not just dogs? Good to know, if so.
[-][anonymous]9y 1

An alternative is egg yolk. It's a massive kitchen sink multivitamin, and way cheap. Alternatively, cook a whole load of fish soup for weeks at a time?

I sympathize with liquid diets because I do find it easier to stick to such diets. For some reason not chewing some things -- a blanket ban on chewing -- makes it easier to resist little cravings.

What is the experiment?

Has Eliezer tried a ketogenic diet in the past? If so, the result of that seems an important input to predicting the result of this. If not, shouldn't you (also) try giving this to someone who has used ketogenic diets in the past? Experiment with small changes and good controls.

He has tried a ketogenic diet, and he did not enter ketosis. You'd have to ask him for more details than that, for I know them not.
Options: * Ketosis Resistance * Too many carbs? Did the diet wrong? * Didn't stay on the diet for a long enough? Less than a month? * Drank lots of water, diluted urine test? If he can rule out the other options, and he didn't lose any weight, it might be ketosis resistance. By the way, metabolic disorders are usually a sign that a person will get diabetes at some point. There is this thing called Ketosis Resistant Diabetes Mellitus. At least one person has fixed it using diet. [http://jcem.endojournals.org/content/49/6/830.short]. I'm pretty sure that this paper is describing a previously known diet-based insulin sensitivity improving procedure, although it's hard to tell without access to the full paper. I'm not sure whether the ketosis resistance and the diabetes are linked, or whether both ketosis resistant and ketosis susceptible people both acquire high insulin resistance at equal rates, but the interaction matters if you want to use ketosis for weight loss. I doubt Eliezer Y. has full blown diabetes yet, since it would have been diagnosed already, but since metabolic syndrome is usually a diabetes precurser and a sign of insulin resistance I consider it worth looking into. Diabetes type-2 proper is just the extreme end of the insulin resistance spectrum coupled with the pancreas not compensating properly. (Disclaimer: my field is neuroscience, not medicine. I just idly read about metabolism sometimes because it's important for brain things, and because people I care about have diabetes.)
Well, this seems like a major hint. Weak prediction: He won't enter ketosis this time either, and will instead get weaker and/or faint. I assume he's done the standard genetic tests that are available, but I'd be concerned he isn't capable of ketosis.
Are you thinking of any in particular?
The one that comes to mind is 23AndMe, but I know there are others. It may or may not be useful. I'd expect him to have checked that, though.
I've done the test on 23andMe, but I didn't find anything related on ketosis resistance. If you know where to look, please point it out because I'm interested as well.
Sorry, I don't. Figuring out what genetic markers might or might not help seems like the kind of thing Metamed might be helpful for, but it's pretty expensive. A cursory literature search turned up one or two things, but as I'm neither expending a lot of time on it nor an expert in the area, I don't think it would be useful to pass on. A lack of actual ketosis, in a ketosis-inducing situation, is a pretty strong indicator of that something is going on - figuring out what is potentially valuable, if you could find a friendly geneticist. Pointing that out is the most I can do.

Why creatine?

If Eliezer eats less calories than needed for maintenance, he'll lose weight just like anyone else. It'd be physically impossible not to, unless he can absorb nutrition from the air somehow. Normally, eating a ketogenic diet should make it easier to eat less, so he'd need less willpower. Having to lose weight sucks for anyone (I'm trying to lose weight again myself), because there's no way around it: you have to eat less than you burn. And I gather that Eliezer has worse problems than usual, trying to do that. I remember reading about that, and IIRC is not... (read more)

If Eliezer eats less calories than needed for maintenance, he'll lose weight just like anyone else. It'd be physically impossible not to, unless he can absorb nutrition from the air somehow.

Or his body will just stop the maintenance and make him sick and eventually dead. Depends on how messed up it is.

Which would involve losing weight.
I can imagine that out of billions of people, there probably are individuals whose bodies will starve before they use energy stored as fat. But I think it's pretty unusual. Consider that most people who fail at dieting have had some degree of success in the past. e.g. a few years back they lost 20 pounds with Weight Watchers before falling off the wagon. (In EY's case, I believe he has posted that he did lose weight when he initially moved away from home. ) So it seems that for most people with weight problems, their bodies are working properly to the extent of burning fat for energy when confronted with an energy shortage. Of course there are other problems which make it difficult to lose substantial weight and maintain it, but we need to be clear about what the problem is.
That seems highly unlikely. Consider the evolutionary consequences of such a trait.
For a randomly chosen person, sure (as per your reply to drethelin); but assuming he hasn't outright lied about his weight loss attempts, it's not that unlikely that EY would be one of the exceptions. (Consider the evolutionary consequences of homosexuality -- and yet gay people do exist.)
I haven't followed EY's attempts at weight loss, but it's entirely normal for people entering (or trying to enter) ketosis to feel lousy for a while. Effectively you're starving your body of glucose and until the metabolism adjusts many, probably most, will feel weak, light-headed, have headaches, suffer from low energy, etc. I wouldn't be surprised (but I have no data) if people which glucose regulation issues, e.g. pre-diabetics, would be particularly prone to this. I am also not sure what does "body will just stop maintenance" actually mean. Mitochondria will stop producing ATF? Protein synthesis will stop? What? I don't know of anyone of normal or higher weight who started to eat below maintenance level (while avoiding major nutritional deficiencies) and then just died or came close to death instead of losing weight. Do you know of any such cases?
True that. I wonder how long he tried to endure that state before giving up on each attempt. I think Nancy Lebovitz once linked to a page listing a dozen or so such cases.
She linked to http://www.dimensionsmagazine.com/dimtext/kjn/people/heaviest.htm [http://www.dimensionsmagazine.com/dimtext/kjn/people/heaviest.htm]
Um, that's a horror show of very sick people. I don't see how it's relevant to the current discussion.
There is a non-zero number of people who, if they eat less than they consume, would starve to death before reaching a normal weight. For all we know EY might be one of them.
Evidence, please? The link above didn't show people starving to death (in the causal sense). The only relevant mention that I see is for Michael Edelman about whom the text says "At about 600 lbs, he literally starved to death. (Link - 1)", but the link is dead and I'm not quite willing to take the word of this webpage for that.
It may depend on what you mean by starve to death-- from what I've heard, fat people who starve and die before reaching a "normal" weight die of heart damage from inadequate food.
Losing weight or being thin are not evolutionary goals. People's bodies are full of mutations or long-term genetic factors that can kill them, and they haven't all been evolved away. Since this is a long-term risk that hasn't killed him for years it won't have impacted his primary breeding and evolution may well have left it alone.
Surviving through periods of low food availability (=eating less calories) is a very strong evolutionary goal.
Bodies do stop (or at least slow) maintenance under stress-- this is a good short term strategy and a bad long term strategy.
Remember adaptation executors not fitness maximizers [http://lesswrong.com/lw/l0/adaptationexecuters_not_fitnessmaximizers/], and we're far from the ancestral environment.
And we eat many foods that didn't exist in our ancestral environment.
I've given a lot of thought and research to this question over the past couple years and I'm pretty confident that John Walker's explanation (as set forth in The Hacker's Diet) is the primary reason. Specifically, your body has a natural feedback system -- if you do not eat enough, you have the urge to eat more. If you eat too much, you have the urge to eat less. People who naturally gain weight have feedback systems which do not function properly in the modern environment. They don't get strong enough signals to stop eating so they have a tendency to over-eat every day and they slowly gain weight. In your husband's case, when he pigs out, he has a natural urge to eat less which results in him maintaining balance. So he can eat whatever he feels like without gaining weight.
LOL. The only incentive for that is a few billion dollars... Look at the size of the diet industry in the Western world.
Gut bacteria is the best hypothesis.
s/the best/currently fashionable/ Yes, I know about the fecal transplant papers.
are there others that are actually plausible?
What do you mean, plausible? Gut flora is not much of a hypothesis to start with -- it just says "we think the composition of gut flora affects obesity but we have no clue about the mechanism". It's a black box with gut flora involved. For a trivial example, we can substitute "leptin regulation" for "gut flora" and get a similar hypothesis -- also black-box and also quite plausible.
Fecal transplants provide a way of testing the gut flora hypothesis.
Exactly what is the hypothesis that you're testing? That gut flora affect metabolism and, as a consequence, a variety of things including weight? Sure, I agree. I suspect most everyone will agree. But that's a far cry from being the "best hypothesis" as to why some people easily gain weight and some do not.
There are known pathologies of gut bacteria that affect lipid metabolism. That less extreme and thus hard to detect variants exist seems a reasonable claim.
Yes, see my post above. Basically the idea is that everyone has an internal feedback system which sends a signal telling you whether or not to eat more food. Just like eyesight, for the most part this system worked reasonably well in the ancestral environment. However the system isn't perfect, particularly when exposed to a modern diet. (By analogy, a lot of people have trouble reading without glasses.) John Walker refers to this system as a "food clock." If your internal food clock does not work correctly, and you don't exercise conscious control over what you eat, then your weight will tend to drift upwards over time. I find this hypothesis to be very plausible and consistent with the available evidence. As far as the gut bacteria hypothesis goes, I am skeptical because if it were correct then obesity could be easily combatted with so-called "nutrtionism," i.e. by adding or subtracting a few key components from the diet but otherwise eating ad libitum. As of yet, nobody has found a nutritionistic solution to obesity.
This is my (relatively uneducated) guess as well. I think that foods which didn't exist in our ancestral environment plus antibiotics have done nasty things to many people's gut microbiome and this plays a big part in the obesity epidemic.
Maybe it depends on whether you're above or below your set point.

This may be a silly thing to ask, but for low-hanging fruit, has Eliazer ever tried just the vitamin stack from this? Or just taking a whole lot of vitamin B? My own soylent experiment failed because I couldn't make anything that tasted decent, but I also have mysterious low blood sugar (haven't talked to a dietician, but the basic advice like eating protien and avoiding simple sugar isn't enough to make me not get hungry every two hours), and the emergen-c vitamin from my soylent seems to help. (I have not blind tested this yet, so my confidence that it's not a placebo effect isn't too high.)

Eliezer has a very unusual metabolism which should be studied rather than poked at.

How would you study this without poking at it?

That's a moderately fair question. One answer is in vitro-- start with blood tests, and possibly with examining fat cells.

Another possibility is a different sort of poking. Dietary changes should be designed to be experiments for finding out what's going on rather than aimed directly at fat loss.

I'd really like to see some work on why Eliezer gets so knocked out from missing a meal or two. Frequent blood tests? I have a notion there's something in the situation about his liver, which I believe is in charge of maintaining blood sugar in the short run.

Glucagon causes the liver to convert stored glycogen into glucose, which is released into the bloodstream, and it wouldn't surprise me if he's got something wrong with that pathway.

(Yay for the well-stocked subconscious supplemented by google. I thought the liver produced glucagon, and I was wrong, but wikipedia turned up the information.)

Is that really so unusual?
I think so. I get hungry and unhappy, but not knocked out. There seem to be people (not a high proportion) who forget to eat-- they keep on going for two or three days and then realize that the reason they're feeling bad is that they need food.
Would you mind sharing your current weight/diet history?
Current weight 173 lb. I'm 4' 11". I've done almost no dieting. My weight gradually drifted upwards to 184 pounds from about 125 in the 1970s. I've slowly cut back on simple carbs over the years as I found they were bad for me-- a box of 8 Entemann's large chocolate covered donuts eaten in the course of a day would lead to two or three days of being knocked out, including an internal monologue of "I don't care". The current weight loss seems to be related to reading some Eric Franklin (probably in his Relax Your Neck, Liberate Your Shoulders [http://www.amazon.com/Relax-Your-Neck-Liberate-Shoulders/dp/0871272482/ref=la_B001IGOBZ0_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380361062&sr=1-5] ) about how the ribs connect to the sternum, combined with imagery for relaxation. Correction: It was actually Franklin's Dynamic Alignment Through Imagery - 2nd Edition [http://www.amazon.com/Dynamic-Alignment-Through-Imagery-Edition/dp/0736067892]. When I did that, I realized that I was holding my shoulders up all the time, and let them come down. This seemed to cause me to feel less anxious, and to my surprise, I found I was much less interested in eating when I wasn't hungry. Previously, my hunger-satiety spectrum was hungry, not hungry but food is interesting, full. This didn't mean I was eating all the time, but I was eating somewhat more than my gut wanted. I didn't binge because I don't have that sort of pain tolerance. Quite suddenly, I was spending a fair amount of time in a state of "comfortable and definitely don't want food". Sometimes I would hit a wall while eating. Comfortable and don't want food is more common if I completely avoid simple carbs.
Thanks for sharing. Anyway, here is my hypothesis which is the result of fairly intense thought and internet research over the past couple years. Although we talk about peoples' metabolic rate as if it is a specific number, e.g. 1866 Kcal/day, the reality is that there is a range. If you eat towards the top of the range, you might gain a very small amount of weight but for the most part your body will adjust by running hotter. On the other hand, if you eat towards the bottom of the range, you will lose little or no weight but your body will adjust by running cooler. People sometimes refer to the cooler situation as "starvation mode," but I think this is an overstatement. "Starvation mode," i.e. eating at the bottom of your metabolic range is completely normal and probably healthier that eating at the top. Common sense says that revving your system hour after hour, day after day, puts more wear and tear on it. Looking at your typical American in his late 20s or 30s who is slowly drifting up in terms of weight, one can infer that he must be eating at the top of his metabolic range -- otherwise he would not be gaining weight. The upshot is that he actually has a very fast metabolism at that time. Which goes against the conventional wisdom but when you think about it, it makes sense. If such a person suddenly starts fasting, his metabolism will eventually adjust but the adjustment probably takes a few hours or days. In the meantime, this person will quickly burn through most of the readily available energy in his system and he will feel terrible pretty fast. The other thing which is going on for a lot of people is mild addiction to certain foods. i.e. there are certain foods which produce a rush of good feeling (a bit like smoking a cigarette but less intense) followed later by withdrawal symptoms. Probably this is also part of the reason why it feels pretty terrible for some people to miss a meal or two. Of course I don't know EY's individual situation that well,
Your hypothesis is interesting, and to a certain extent my personal experience mimics it. When I'm eating to gain weight, I tend to be more active and fidgety, and I also tend to be warmer. When I'm eating to lose weight, I tend to be more sedentary and still, and I tend to be cooler. Yet more evidence for bulking in the winter and cutting in the summer. I think it's possible to alter your metabolism to use more calories and still maintain weight, if you do it in a controlled manner (and increase activity as well). It's certainly possible to alter your metabolism to use less-and-less calories via constant caloric restriction and excess low intensity steady state cardio. "Starvation mode" is what happens when your body is breaking down organ tissue and muscle for energy. This doesn't happen until a long time without any food; how much depends on how much fat a person is carrying. Check this study out [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2495396/], an obese patient went over a year without food (they had supplements for essential nutrients) and was healthy at the end of it.
I think you are probably right, but what would you be trying to achieve in doing so? Well it depends on how you define the phrase "starvation mode." I regularly hear people assert that their weight loss efforts (and other peoples') have stalled or plateaued because of "starvation mode." From the context, it seems that they are referring to the "running cool" which I have described and not something extreme like breaking down organ and muscle for energy.
The more food you eat, the more micronutrients you take in. If you have a higher metabolism, you'll get more micronutrients and still maintain weight. Plus, you get to eat more ice cream. If you previously damaged your metabolism (and I'd call a 1200cal maintenance 'damaged'), then raising your metabolism will be good for you. I mean, if you're using it wrong [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starvation_response], sure. "Starvation mode" is largely another bullshit meme propagated by the fitness/nutrition crowd, like 'toning' and 'heavy weights make you bulky'. Fact is, you'll downregulate your metabolism by eating less, so eventually, you have to eat even less to break the plateau. This isn't starvation mode.
This doesn't seem like the ideal way of optimizing your micronutrient consumption. I'm not sure that makes much of a difference. To illustrate, consider a strapping young man who can eat a pint of ice cream a day and stay in energy balance. Compare him with a petite girl who can only eat half a pint a day of ice cream and stay in balance. Does the man derive significantly more pleasure in life from ice cream eating than the girl? I doubt it. Well how would you define "damaged" and what does it mean? No need for a semantic debate, what's commonly referred to as "starvation mode," which I have referred to as "running cool," is perfectly normal and healthy in my non-professional opinion.
Perhaps not. Supplementation seems like an easy solution, but it's been shown multiple times that you get more benefit from micronutrients from food vs micronutrients from supplementation. If you don't care about more ice cream, then FINE. More for me. Layne Norton has a few good [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHHzie6XRGk] videos [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY1DsZMNfNw] on the subject. "Damage" refers to the metabolism being downregulated to the point that a person can eat very low calories, do tons of exercise, and still not lose weight/fat. I know it's a pointless crusade, but I really dislike terms being misused. Starvation is a very real thing, and when the word is misused, it conflates "Starvation causing muscle/organ loss" with "Metabolism is downregulated," You absolutely need to avoid going into starvation, but downregulating metabolism is an inevitable effect of losing weight.
The more obvious solution is to tweak your consumption of foods which contain lots of micronutrients compared to their calorie content. i.e. eat your vegetables. What I care about is eating satisfaction. It's not obvious to me that more ice cream necessarily means more eating satisfaction. I would call that "running cool" and in my non-professional opinion, it's perfectly normal and healthy. And if such a person wants to lose further fat, they need only reduce their calorie intake further. By the way, I started listening to the video, and I simply don't believe that a person can do 2-3 hours a day of cardio, eat 800 to 1000 calories a day, and not lose weight. I think any person who makes such a claim is lying about his food intake. Fine, but if you have a semantic nitpick I think it's good practice to label it as such. Here's what I said at the beginning:
Layne is a PhD in nutrition science, record holding powerlifter/bodybuilder, and renowned coach. So he has academic credentials, personal success, and has successfully helped others. There are very few people in nutrition that you can generally trust, and he's one of them. So when he says something, it's generally OK to accept it on face value. Fair point. I'll do that from now on. "Starvation mode" is just one of those phrases that trigger an immediate "No, you're using that word wrong, stop it!!" reactions (and yes, I know about prescriptivism vs descriptivism, but I'm not a linguist, and I have an interest in phrasing having consistent meanings!)
It's a bit of a cliche, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. The claim that someone can do 2-3 hours of cardio a day; eat only 800 to 1000 calories, and not lose weight is extraordinary. To back up a claim like that, you would need to do a study where the subject was carefully monitored with doubly labeled water or confined to a live-in laboratory. Did he personally monitor these people he is describing?
Most of the people that get to that level are bodybuilding competitors. If the population weren't specified, I'd agree with your suspicion, since it is pretty well demonstrated that most weight loss issues are related to inaccurate food reporting/consumption. However, folks that are serious about bodybuilding are pretty meticulous about following diet plans, and aren't strangers to hard work, denying physical urges, and doing really uncomfortable stuff for their sport. I'd agree that a typical obese person is almost certainly just underreporting their calorie intake. There is no metabolic ward evidence for this, if that's the standard you're after. Layne hasn't had anyone do this sort of routine because he thinks its incredibly harmful for long term success in bodybuilding, so he hasn't personally seen this. However, he has coached those whose prior coaches did this, and he worked to repair the metabolism.
Respectfully, that's not even strong evidence, let alone extraordinary evidence. It's just hearsay. I would be willing to bet serious money that any healthy adult, carefully monitored, who did 2-3 hours of cardio a day and ate only 800 to 1000 calories would either lose weight or (far more likely) end the experiment because because he literally felt like he was starving to death. By the way, I was reading the other day about a study where professional nutritionists were assessed to see how well they reported their calories. And they under-reported significantly.
shrug Metabolic damage is a real problem in the bodybuilding community. I don't have any stock in the exact numbers being there; 800 calories and 3 hours of cardio per day is not much worse than 1200 calories and 1 hour of cardio per day. Both indicate a depressed metabolism and an inefficient (if not counterproductive) weight management strategy. I'd agree that 800 calories and 3 hours of cardio per day and constant weight is extremely unlikely hypothesis vs. misrepresenting food intake or activity level. I don't think it's impossible that a person can adapt themselves to that. Some coaches prescribe this caloric intake and activity level. To see how plausible it was, I hypothesized a 25 year old 5'2" 120lb female aspiring bodybuilder at around 11%BF. This RMR calculator [http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/calrmr.htm] puts the basic metabolism at 1,200-1,500 calories per day. 2-3 hours of low impact aerobics gives 662-993 calories according to this calculator [http://www.healthstatus.com/calculate/cbc]. Assuming cardio is done 5 times per week, this is an average of either 1,670-1,972(2 hours cardio) or 1,900-2,200 (3 hours cardio) calories calculated to maintain weight. The most extreme situation (2,200 calorie maintenance and 800 calories eaten = 1,400 calorie deficit) seems obviously impossible. The other bound (1,670 calorie - 800 calories eating = 870 calorie deficit) seems more possible to me. I've personally had my maintenance calorie intake down to about 1,500 (and i was meticulously measuring everything), which is ~700 calories less than calculators would have predicted given my activity level. Not surprised. Virtually everyone underreports (unless they're chronically underweight, and then they overreport). That's why I included the bit about Layne's personal success (ie what he does really works for himself) and coaching success (ie what he says works for his clients). He practices what he preaches, and his results speak for his methods.
Why is it a problem to "run cool" as I have described it? (ETA: Other than what you said above) By the way, since you disapprove of the misuse of language, I would ask that you demonstrate actual harm from what you describe as "metabolic damage" or use a less loaded phrase. ETA: I understand that someone who is "running cool" will get less micronutrients, all else being equal, than someone who is not. I also understand that someone who is "running cool" will get to eat less ice cream than someone who is not. But I don't see how any reasonable person could see these things as harm. First of all, as someone else alluded to, there is no a priori reason to think that more micronutrients is better. Second, even if more micronutrients is better, it's easy enough to get micronutrients from foods which are low in calories. Third, having to eat a bit less ice cream does not seem harmful to me. In short, I think you are misusing the word "damage." I would be willing to bet serious money that any 25 year old 5'2" 120 pound female aspiring body builder who burns 600-900 calories a day doing low impact aerobics and who eats in the 800-1000 calorie range will not be 120 pounds for very long. Yes, even bodybuilding competitors. As well as anyone who claims to be unable to lose weight through calorie restriction.
It's not. It's a natural adaptation to a caloric deficit. If you think that's what I'm arguing, then we've got a pretty big misunderstanding. To make sure we're talking about the same things, I'd like to clarify my understanding of "running cool." You say that a person's average calorie intake per day for weight maintenance is (for example) 2000 calories. If you eat 1900 calories for a week, you won't lose the 1/5th of a pound you'd expect. Your metabolism might shift down to about 1950 per day, and you'd only lose 1/10th of a pound. Likewise, if you eat 2100 calories for a week, you won't gain 1/5th of a pound. You'd fidget more, put off more body heat, etc and maybe gain 1/10th of a pound. Is that about right? The extension that I'd make is that eventually the body completely adapts to the new calorie level, such that 1900 calories no longer results in any weight loss at all. It's the new maintenance point. This is the downregulation I am talking about. If our hypothetical-person started with a 500 calorie deficit, they'd likely get about 450 calories per day of weight loss and 50 calories of metabolic downregulation, or running cool. Eventually, 1,500 calories a day becomes the maintenance point, and you have to eat less food to continue to lose weight. Did you watch the videos or just turn them off after the extraordinary claim? The videos pretty clearly explain what happens to cause this situation. It's not like a person would start off eating 800 calories, 2 hours of cardio, and not lose weight. The situation develops over a great deal of time. A person would start off with 2,000 calorie maintenance, and then eat 1,800 calories to lose weight. Eventually, fat loss stalls, and calorie intake has to go down to 1,600. Eventually, that stalls, and calories have to go down again. This repeats until you're at a very low calorie intake level, such that the only way you can lose weight is by going into the actual starvation mode. Does that sound good to you? I
Fine, then please stop referring to it as "damage." It's not damage, it's a perfectly normal and healthy way to live and it's probably healthier than running hot. That may very well be true. Turned them off. I don't believe this either. While there may exist some people with bona fide health problems whose bodies break down muscle and organs instead of fat deposits, as far as I know that's extremely rare. Also I am extremely skeptical that calorie deprivation could cause such a problem. Anyway, the bottom line is that you have failed to point demonstrate any actual harm in people with "damaged" metabolisms. So please stop misusing the word "damage"
Sigh. Again, "running cool" is not "metabolic damage." I'm not going to explain it again, as you've demonstrated an unwillingness to listen and consider what I'm saying or looking at the links I've provided.
Yes it is, using your own definition. And you have failed to demonstrate any actual harm which comes from "metabolic damage" So please stop misusing the word "damage" Nonsense, I've considered your argument carefully. As far as the links go, it's not my responsibility to wade through an hour's worth of youtube videos looking for evidence supporting or explanations of your point. The fact is that you've made a couple extraordinary claims and you refuse to provide strong evidence, let alone extraordinary evidence to support those claims. You insist on misusing the word "damage" even while professing a distaste for the misuse of words. The problem isn't my unwillingness to consider your point; the problem is your unwillingness to consider the flaws in your own point.
Bodybuilding competitors generally don't do much cardio (aka long-duration low-intensity workouts), as far as I know, not 2-3 hours a day. That's not much evidence, it's basically "my old coach starved me and my BF% didn't go down enough" kinda thing...
I don't think micronutrients fall under the "the more the better" category. For all nutrients, micro and macro, there is an optimal range with a minimum and a maximum.
It depends on the nutrient in question. Vitamin D has significant benefits when you take 5,000IU, which is 8.3 times the US RDA for adults (600IU). Creatine has benefits with 5g of supplementation; to get that from food would require 2lbs of red meat every day. If I were to wager, I'd say that most people are consuming too few micronutrients, and would benefit from supplementation. or eating higher quality real food. Very few people are maxing out their nutrition.
No, not really. Vitamin D in particular (like all fat-soluble vitamins) is not hard to overdose on. I'd probably phrase it like this: almost every person will benefit from increased consumption of some set of micronutrients. But the issue is that this set is different for different people. Take iron as an example. Some people need more iron in their diets. But some people need less. Can you recommend more iron to some person X not knowing anything about him or her? No, you can't.
Vitamin D is actually pretty difficult to overconsume (at least, accidentally -- if you wanted to suicide by Vitamin D, it'd be a long and annoying process). According to mayoclinic [http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitamin-d-toxicity/AN02008], you'd need to consume around 50,000IU daily for several months to start getting into Vitamin D toxicity. I completely agree with the rest of your post.
One obvious question to ask is, what subtypes of fat (saturation, chain length, etc) are in the triglycerides the adipose tissues are storing? That is, take an adipose tissue biopsy, separate out the triglycerides then separate those into free fatty acids, and measure fractions of saturated, monounsaturated, omega-3/6/9, etc. fats, so that if one subtype has abnormally high concentration you can look at why it might not be metabolized properly. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be a standard test, so it might be hard to find someone to do it.

We simply don't know enough about human physiology or the physical structure of food at this time in history for an engineering project like this to be a non-ridiculous venture.

You should tell that to the medical meal-replacement people; they seem to be guilty of terrible malpractice in feeding patients foodstuffs which are impossibly to design safely.

To they feed people that stuff for a month in a row (other than in emergency situations, where it might be the lesser of two evils)?
presumably they do for coma patients