With the end of the world nigh, and a public panic about to start, this seems an ideal time to worry about weight loss and the obesity epidemic. 

Coincidentally, for the first time in my life, I'm getting fat.

SlimeMoldTimeMold's 'Chemical Hunger' series 


seemed to draw a lot of interest round these parts, and even if it's not lithium


it does seem to me that the molds raise some most interesting questions.

I find the whole 'seed oil' craziness to be a compellingly interesting argument, although, as Scott Alexander wrote:


it does seem to be flat wrong. But I think it's important to be interested in ideas that look like they have to be right but aren't.


I want to draw everyone's attention to the 'Experimental Fat Loss' substack


Which seems to me the very model of sanity and empiricism, a little like reading the early Proceedings of the Royal Society, were Robert Hooke to have become interesting in losing weight.

In particular his definition of what it would mean for a diet to 'work'


He does seem to have found something that works for him, 


and I find him sufficiently trustworthy-seeming that I'm going to see if it will work for me, and if it doesn't, use his methods to play around and see if I can find something that does. 

But I would welcome the comments of wiser and more sceptical persons on all these things.

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4 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 1:01 PM

I assume you're familiar with Vilhjálmur Stefánsson's work if you are interested in low protein carnivore diets, but I was really was surprised to see how similar the 'ex150' sounds compared to the classic ~80:20 fat:protein experiments. These aren't really new ideas - although I'm sure there's a lot more information available on the details.

Anyway, dieting seems like something where while people on average fail, you do see some individual successes, so it's worth poking around the edges and giving things a go. It's always nice to see results from the coalface.

Ultimately the new GLP-1 agonist weightloss drugs seem to be awesome by both data and anecdata. So the food composition experimentation might fade away a bit over the next few years for the express purpose of weight loss.

I'm a complete innocent in all this. I've never needed to lose weight before, hence appealing for help here. And I don't know anything about Vilhjálmur Stefánsson or ketogenic diets in general.

I do know that sloth and gluttony aren't the explanation, because I have been a slothful glutton for most of my life and I never gained much weight, nor lost it in the long periods when I was a sporty glutton. That's gone wrong recently, hence my search for reasons and techniques.

Wikipedia seems to imply that Vilhjálmur Stefánsson was interested in eskimo-style all-meat diets. 

exfatloss seems to be deliberately holding the amount of protein low, and that does seem to be a load-bearing part of his approach. Also the anti-polyunsaturated fats bit, which I find intriguing because it's such a good theory, and yet it makes predictions which don't seem to be true.

Ultimately the new GLP-1 agonist weightloss drugs.....

I'm irritatingly fat, not dying of morbid obesity. I wouldn't touch such things with someone else's bargepole, absent twenty years of widespread use and researchers motivated to find the unintended consequences.

Chemical patches as a remedy for chemical poisoning is ok, if it's the best we can do, but unless the problem is some permanent environmental contaminant, I'm sure we can do better than that!

Stefánsson's "The Fat of the Land" is not really worth reading for any scientific insight today, but it's entertaining early 1900s anthropology. 

I don't have much of an opinion on any specific diet approach, but I can tell you my own experience with weight loss: I've always been between 15-22% bodyfat, but I have always tended to slowly gain weight if not actively dieting. My routine for about 10 years now has been to diet to 15%, and then at some point notice that I've been getting fatter and diet back down to 15% by counting calories and CICO logic. I find dieting annoying but consistent, predictable, and doable. 

This routine isn't ideal, so I too am a 'victim' of the weight gain phenomenon. I can't say that I've established a truly sustainable diet for myself - but it works well enough.

I have no satisfying answers for "why are we getting fatter" or "what makes caloric deficits so hard to maintain". I appreciate the diet blogging community that tries to tackle these questions with citizen science.

It's a lot easier to be thin if you also have a lot of muscle mass - many bodybuilders have to force-feed themselves in order to maintain their physiques because their appetites don't scale with their metabolism.

If you're a novice lifter, it shouldn't be too hard to pack on 10kg of lean mass. It won't always be enough to halt weight gain by itself, but it should help a little.