39 Comments
Apr 2Liked by Experimental Fat Loss

I agree, and also I note that both words in 'nutrient deficiency' are doing a lot of heavy lifting. People can't agree what a vitamin is. Do they know what nutrients are either? And deficient in what sense? For instance, I'm not sure at this point I regard fructose as much of a 'nutrient', and you probably don't consider anything else in fruit as much of a nutrient either. And in evolutionary time, there's a distinction a bit like short-term vs long-term. We're supposed to overeat fruit when we get it -- seeds too. It's only for a season, and then the snow falls.

As for the specifics of this experiment, I did a bit more reading and feel vindicated on my 'fermented foods' guess. The most common explanation for humans liking 'sour' is connected with our inability to make our own vitamin C, but some (e.g. professor Rob Dunn) connect it to fermentation. In an interview, he says, “The acid produced by the bacteria kills off the pathogens in the rotten food. So we think that the sour taste on our tongue, and the way we appreciate it, actually may have served our ancestors as a kind of pH strip to know which of these fermented foods was safe.”

Craving for "spicy" food is explained by some (people are saying) as due to the endorphins -- not everyone produces them equally in response to all stimuli, and for some spicy foods do a good job of it (for some, running does -- we both know you're not that one).

Craving for salt of course is well-known and well-understood.

So. Even when you're fully metabolically healthy, would it be unreasonable for you to overeat salty spicy sour foods, especially when your brain thinks it's the end of summer (or some other strange period in which you went months without sour fructose)? Is keto truly an evolutionary-enough state that your 'deficiency' system is throwing no error codes at all, even below the surface? Would you have so intense a craving for a humble salsa if it weren't? These aren't rhetorical questions, I do genuinely wonder.

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Good questions, could definitely be that this is "normal" in the "system not broken" sense. That ancestral-me, on stumbling upon these foods, would've gained 5lbs, made it through the winter, and then gotten lean again.

The spicy one is interesting because genetically I shouldn't (and probably am not) adapted to spices very much. The Northern Europeans who eat lots of dairy are typically the ones with the blandest food of all. And I've never been a real spicy food guy.

But maybe that makes me more "vulnerable" to overeating spicy flavor, not less?

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Apr 2Liked by Experimental Fat Loss

Interesting.

But I don't see how "palatable" means overeating, and I guess that's hard to understand for some people. Something can be good and you can still not want to eat more than you need. That's what healthy people do everyday.

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Yea we'd have to define "palatable" and "overeating" both of which are usually meaningless terms and therefore always true/false because the definitions just shift.

Does "palatable" mean "tastes good" or "induces overeating?" Of course, if it's the latter, it induces overeating - by definition.

And if we define overeating, do we mean "ate more than would've eaten in absence of e.g. the spicy flavor?" or "overate cArOlieS compared to normal intake" or "compared to caloric needs" or "compared to caloric needs AND was unable to compensate by increasing burn rate?"

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Apr 3Liked by Experimental Fat Loss

There's a chicken-and-egg aspect to this (and maybe also a no-true-scotsman). You can take a brand-new healthy mouse and it'll overeat the 'cookie-dough chow' until it gets fat. Well, it won't overeat the first day. Is it already unhealthy the second day? The third? The fourteenth? Is someone who just smoked a joint for the first time and now has the munchies a no-true-healthsman already?

I'd say it's likely that not everyone, even if in a 'healthy' state, will refrain from eating a whole pound of salsa. There's probably a big range, with anyone who can have a blog about losing 100 pounds far out on one end.

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Apr 3·edited Apr 3Liked by Experimental Fat Loss

You're right I've seen studies when mice binge-eat and become fat, but to my knowledge it's on high-PUFA chow, like in this study: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0087478 (21% total fat, of which 21% PUFA as opposed to 3% total fat for control). The control mice did not overeat. They even day that "it seems that the acute activation of the mesolimbic pathway [that makes mice overeat] is mainly mediated by the HFD [read "high-PUFA diet"] itself, rather than the eaten weight or the caloric content."

Now if you have other examples I'm all ears.

My guess is that there's probably some variation as you say, but none that would lead to the situation we have know.

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Apr 3Liked by Experimental Fat Loss

No, that is the point I'm making -- the mice are 'healthy' when they start eating the high-PUFA diet, aren't they? If there exists even one food that a healthy animal will overeat (and become unhealthy), there you are.

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It's a question though if salsa mice would become unhealthy upon "overeating" salsa-laced (otherwise healthy, i.e. non-PUFA) food. Or would they just gain a bit of fat, not be hungry for a while, and balance out?

In presence of a common "metabolic poison" though, even short-term hyperphagic agents like sour and spicy and sweet flavor (aka good tasting food lol) would become "obesogenic" agents.

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Apr 1·edited Apr 1Liked by Experimental Fat Loss

"I don’t buy the argument that we are now constantly swimming in much more hyper-palatable food." why not? it seems very obvious that food producers have been specifically manufacturing food to be exponentially more palatable over the years. its not as if our grandparents were eating seed oils or the 600-900 number of compounds referred to as artificial flavors.

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> why not?

I don't see any evidence for it. It also doesn't match my personal experience at all - home-cooking 95%+ of meals from whole, natural ingredients I still regained 100lbs. I wasn't eating any of those "palatable" foods.

And in fact I don't even buy the idea that they are more palatable, or more processed. People ate all kinds of refined, hyper-palatable stuff in the 1920s.

If "palatable == seed oils" then sure; but that's not usually what people mean.

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Apr 2Liked by Experimental Fat Loss

I'd wager tallow fries are much more "palatable" than seed oils fries. And sugar and salt can online take you so far. In fact the most common denominator to palatable food is "seed oils fried", not taste.

This would be really surprising if we discovered how to make stuff we eat taste great in the last decades.

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> This would be really surprising if we discovered how to make stuff we eat taste great in the last decades.

This. Our grandparents had MUCH better tasting foods. Especially compared to the fast food junk many people eat now.

But then "palatable" probably doesn't mean "tastes good" in the technical nutrition scientist sense, it means "makes you overeat."

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Apr 2Liked by Experimental Fat Loss

You’re not going to like the book “Ultra Processed People” which I just read. Still, I enjoyed hearing that perspective in order to clarify my own. “Coloring in the negative space,” as one might say.

I got a good laugh out of “diabesityheimer”! And I enjoy imagining that you have “CaRoLiEs” on autocorrect.

I had my own hyperphagia episode this weekend. Got invited to a breakfast that was serving Belgian waffles and bacon and eggs. I never eat breakfast (haven’t in the last 5 years more than 4 or 5 time) but this time I ate 4 slices of bacon and a waffle covered in coconut flavored butter syrup. It felt like I hadn’t eaten anything, like I had only eaten air. Such a weird feeling. So I ended up eating double that, and way overeating the rest of that day. When I woke up this morning I weighed 5 lbs heavier (2 days later)!

I’m curious if you think the best policy to cut global obesity would be to eliminate all seed oils from the global food supply? I’d love to see a clinical trial like this NIH-led one (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31105044/) except they make all of the “ultra processed food” have an omega balance of at least 40%. i.e. match the two diets as much as possible on macros as well as omega balance and then see what happens.

This seems to be the missing link at the heart of the “seed oils” vs “hyperpalatable” wars. Just have Nabisco make an all-butter Oreo and feed it to a group of people in a highly controlled environment and see what happens.

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Ha yea "eating air" is the best case with hyperphagia.. often times it feels like I'm eating a big hole and now I need to fill it by eating more!

What gets me about the UPF people is the active lack of interest. Aren't they curious what about "muh processing" causes this? No, "it's processed, don't you see!?" case closed nothing to see here move along people. Which strikes me as curiously anti-curious.

Is it the cutting of foods into smaller pieces? Heating? Dehydrating? Changes in texture? Certain ingredients? Mixing of certain ingredients?

We ate plenty of foods processed af with added everything in the past (pound cake, cakes, ice cream). FFS the American diet of 1940 was basically made up entirely of refined flour & sugar with some dairy and meat for flavor.

The part about the highly controlled environment is, you'd need to unPUFA these people for 4-7 years first, which is impossible.

About the best policy: that would probably be the best step, yea. I think it'd for sure be healthy for everyone, and the only downside would be cost (since seed oils are cheaper than many/most other fats).

It probably wouldn't end obesity for everyone immediately, but I suspect we'd see the next generation have much lower obesity, and most currently-obese people would probably slowly lose weight, even if some might need drastic interventions like myself with the low protein.

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Apr 3Liked by Experimental Fat Loss

You're right! I forgot about the super-long half-life of PUFAs stored in adipose tissue.

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Apr 2Liked by Experimental Fat Loss

I think you should try sour cream again at some point just without the salsa- because it seems pretty clear that you’ve proven that salsa/chili’s does that for you

Also agree that for me,I also have had certain foods that set off crazy overeating- so much that part of my ‘diet’ for years now has been “no foods that I can’t stop eating “ because as long as I don’t eat the first bite I am fine- and agree those foods are NOT the same as what people are calling “hyper platable foods” (in fact like you, I’ve has them be foods I disliked, all while I kept eating it anyway)

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Sour cream and yogurt have always been "whoa I can't stop until it's empty" foods for me, so I think the effect is already there just from the sourness. Just like the lemon juice had some effect here, just not as much as the spice hit.

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Apr 1Liked by Experimental Fat Loss

I'm not ready to throw out the "hyperpalatable food" hypothesis just yet. There are a lot non-diet factors that play into it. I don't have an answer, but these peak my interest -

- regional culture i.e. new york vs. the south. In the south, people don't exercise, or even walk anywhere. Very common for people to get in the car and drive 1 block. It's HOT out. All homes are air conditioned and very pleasant to stay in. You don't really have to interact with other people. In dense cities people have to walk because driving sucks. Apartments are noisy and have no A/C. If you want to escape you have to leave and walk places. Meet people. Probably have lots of sex (I can't imagine any other reason to live in NY). Social functions are the only reason to live in a city, and that changes the incentive structure.

- marketing. Marketing, branding and ads work. Once you start looking at successful businesses it's obvious, and we are MUCH better at marketing (in this case for junk food) than in the past. So even if snickers and snickers equivalents were available and eaten in 1920, they were not consumed as much because the marketing for them sucked.

- Less socializing in general (driven by electronics in the 90s, and now social media) means less time spent with other people means many more meals are eaten alone. Let me tell you if I had to eat every meal with others I would exercise more self control (incentives!). I know this is true because I've deployed and have done exactly this. Binging would have been very difficult in the past, you would literally would have to wake up at night and sneak down to the kitchen, I Love Lucy style. Or, be some kind of outcast eating bachelor chow which had it's own social implications.

- Poor people eat less. People were poorer in the past and had less money to spend on food. Yes our poor today are fat, but they live a heavily subsidized life (no judgement, government assistance to the poor is good!). If you didn't have money for food then you just didn't eat. There were, like, convents for the truly destitute but those you basically had to go to church whereas assistance today is judgement free. We didn't emerge from the one-two punch of the great depression, then WWII rationing, into the utopian vision of the 50s. Large swaths of the country didn't have indoor plumbing, I refuse to believe everyone was, on average, eating as much as and whenever they wanted like we can today.

All that being said I'm still avoiding seed oils, even though it's comically difficult.

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For one, none of those 4 seem to be related to the hyper-palatability of the food? You got walking/other activity, marketing, social norms, and subsidies.

I've seen numbers as high as >4,000kcal/day for sedentary office workers in (IIRC) 1920s NYC. Were they walking to the subway? Probably. But they weren't farmers or anything. Plus, activity barely seems to have an effect on fat gain/loss. Unless you do pro athlete amounts of it.

Another thing is, this doesn't mesh with my own experience. If all these things are true, I should've never gotten fat to begin with. I've cooked nearly every meal since I turned 18 or 19 or so. I was never a big restaurant guy. I've never owned a TV (for ads).

And, in reverse, how did I just lose 75lbs? Certainly not by being more active (at least for the first 60lbs or so), changing anything about marketing.. if it was really just all these macro factors, there shouldn't be any crazy weight loss stories from doing "one weird thing" type diets, should there?

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Apr 3Liked by Experimental Fat Loss

I appreciate your response - I admit I am privy to very little nutritional data regarding previous generations, if that exists this part of the debate would be settled quickly.

As to your personal experience, doesn't the sour cream/salsa thing at least make you reconsider hyperpalatable food theory? It proves that there are foods out there that tip the body over into binge territory. I share your love of these things (although I usually add mexican food) and have the same phenomena myself. You have successfully avoided the snickers, but ultimately found other foods you can make at home to trigger the exact same overeating response. Therefore, the binge response exists and can be triggered by food alone, food which I content is far more available today, combined with reduced incentives to be in shape.

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> I admit I am privy to very little nutritional data regarding previous generations, if that exists this part of the debate would be settled quickly.

We don't have great data, but we have some. People can't even really agree on the data for today - it's hard to accurately describe the habits of 350 million people. Especially 100 years ago.

> Therefore, the binge response exists and can be triggered by food alone, food which I content is far more available today, combined with reduced incentives to be in shape.

The question is, is binging alone enough to create long-term obesity? This is like the "overeating cArOliEs" thing, which I also don't believe in.

We know the body is a somewhat regulated system in that most animals stay in a somewhat narrow range. E.g. a healthy animal will overeat, and then not be hungry for a longer time, or increase metabolic rate/thermogenesis for a while to get rid of all the energy.

Would salsa be able to completely throw off this system? And why only starting in maybe the mid 1800s, accelerating, and now more and more? Plenty of people ate spicy food without getting obese in the past.

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Oh interesting! So do you have any problem with just sour cream? Or was it the salsa? I found sour cream to work just like plain cream, but it does taste better, so if that's a problem for you I can see it going either way...

I'm wondering if you've got some sort of micronutrient deficiency and that's where the hyperphagia's coming from. You might want to try eating a bucketload of tasty yet calorie free things and see if you can satisfy those cravings. If your body's crying out for salsa it may know something you don't.

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I think I've always had a "small problem" with sour foods. Sour cream was always kind of a drug-like food for me, but yogurt (very sour) was much worse, even 10% fat full fat fancy yogurt.

The salsa just made it that much worse.

I have eaten a bucketload of tasty yet calorie free things, and the cravings never stopped. The salad experiment :)

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Apr 16Liked by Experimental Fat Loss

Food scientists: big brains with labs, money, assistants, internet et cetera - try to make food cheaper per calorie and more addictive; I believe there has been progress. Pringles Habaneras are my most recent error: a 900-calorie can vanishes instantly and leaves me hungrier.

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Apr 16Liked by Experimental Fat Loss

Oh, the progress part; previously I would, once or twice per year, buy a can of sour cream and onion Pringles; it probably wouldn't last a day. The current addiction is getting hit once or twice per month and doesn't last half an hour.

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Apr 3Liked by Experimental Fat Loss

Great stuff!

You're right, the terms of this whole debate are completely off. No wonder we're getting nowhere. They do not mean anything consistent. Only the memes can get us out of this situation!

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Apr 3Liked by Experimental Fat Loss

I’ve certainly eaten a head of roasted cabbage which had negligible calories, and was bulk, but not satiating. I’m just annoyed that “this is a thing”.

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Apr 1Liked by Experimental Fat Loss

Thanks X. Loved the article! Gonna enjoy reading about the other diets. Just for a laugh!

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Apr 1Liked by Experimental Fat Loss

This may sound simplistic - but my experience with successful weight loss has been that the body works hard to rebound to its previous state. In my case it was fasting, aka the biggest loser and it all came back. In your case what is metabolically “not from weight loss perspective” optimal is probably the question.

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> my experience with successful weight loss has been that the body works hard to rebound to its previous state

Sure, that's almost everybody's experience - but why? It's not an explanation, it's an observation :)

The "biggest loser" starving/overworking yourself type seems pretty obvious; you'd have massively decreased your metabolism. That's one reason I don't like to use this for fat loss, it's a temporary measure at best and often people rebound worse than they started.

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Apr 1Liked by Experimental Fat Loss

Given that your t-levels are healthy? Is there an improvement in thyroid levels?

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Not sure, my TSH has been tested super low (hyperthyroid?) and t3/4 are normal. So I don't think I've ever had any thyroid issues.

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What are your actual values? One reason I ask is because my doctors tell me that 'normal' ranges have changed quite a bit over the years (and I can even see some of this over my past 14 years of thyroid labs). And in particular, the current normal ranges include levels that, at least according to my docs, are definitely unhealthy.

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TSH: 0.342 ulU/mL

T3: 3.3 pg/mL

T4: 1.09 ng/dL

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Those look like excellent numbers to me, although my perspective is perhaps warped because I have (the autoimmune disease) Hashimoto's thyroiditis: when my TSH goes above 0.4 µIU/mL, my thyroglobulin antibodies increase.

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I honestly know very little about thyroid stuff :) I mainly started testing these because John from https://theheartattackdiet.substack.com/ also has thyroid issues, and Peaters like that stuff, so I got curious.

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