From Papa Vox

Hacking yourself: Losing weight by reducing your "Set Point."

Most of this is taken from the fascinating "Self-experimentation as a source of new ideas: Ten examples about sleep, mood, health, and weight"
by Seth Roberts, University of California, Berkeley.

Roberts has written a book on this subject. 

The Fructose method:
The Oil method:
You may use either method, or alternate between them. Some people tolerate one well, but not the other.

Fructose / Chia combined formula:

Introduction: the Set Point.

The set-point theory of weight control assumes that adipose fat is regulated by a feedback system with a set point. Its core assumption is that when the amount of fat is less than the set point, changes occur (e.g. more hunger) that increase the amount of fat. This idea is widely accepted.

Although the set point may change with age, it does so according to a fixed genetic program; diet or exercise can move you away from your set point, at least for a time, but the target itself cannot change. (Some studies have shown that a half-year exposure to a high-fat diet can irreversibly raise the set point.)

Simple "starvation" dieting -- trying to thwart the set point twenty-four hours a day -- results in ever-increasing feelings of deprivation and resentment, and a nearly instant return to the pre-diet weight, as a result of the set point reasserting itself. Unless you have an iron will and are completely comfortable feeling deprived -- all of the time -- a simple "dieting" approach is doomed to failure. The set point will win, every time.

It is well proven that taste and exercise can affect the set point, at least temporarily. There is a theory that, over long periods of time, a set point may be permanently changed as a result of dietary changes, exercise, and living at a healthier weight for a sustained period of time.

If you lose substantial weight easily and stay at the lower weight, your set point must have decreased.

Flavor-calorie associative learning is very important. Foods with a high-calorie / intense flavor profile raise the set point. Fast-food products and packaged "ready to eat" snack foods are classic examples of high calorie / intense flavor foods. They are also devoid of genuine nutrition, which will increase your hunger intensely between meals. Fast Food is a perfect recipe for raising your set point through the roof. (Fast food is, simply put, bad for you.)

The following changes have been observed as being effective at lowering the set-point:
  1. Consistent prolonged exercise, especially weight/resistance training.
  2. Careful attention to eating a balanced, nutritious diet.
  3. Reducing portion size / eating only until no longer hungry (instead of eating to stuffed satiation.)
  4. Eating less-processed food. 
  5. Eating bland food. 
  6. Reducing the variety of foods at each meal. 
  7. Drinking large amounts of water. 
From the above tried-and-true list, it is easy to see why there are only three discrete methods of weight loss that enjoy any long-term success: falling in love with exercise (#1, above); a paradigm shift in ethical / moral / health ideas about diet which result in a change to vegan / macrobiotic foods (#s 4, 5, 6); and Weight Watchers (#s 2, 3, 4, 5.) Aside from #1, there are virtually no examples of long-term weight loss using only one factor. As people age, #1 drops off, and rapid weight gain can be dramatic.

Clearly, any weight-loss program with a chance of success -- and a wish for good health -- will include #s 1 & 2.

Unless factor #3 is taken into account, no method will work: you can't eat until your belly is nigh unto bursting every single time you sit down at a table and expect to lose weight. The macrobiotic approach seems to short-circuit the problem by giving you such bland, low-variety foods that once you are no longer hungry, your appetite basically says "why bother" and you naturally gravitate towards #3 without specifically working at it.

#6 is apparently a biggie: a wide variety of foods at one sitting tells your body that you are food-wealthy, which triggers the signal to pack on fat in times of plenty. Eating a wide variety of foods at a sitting raises the set point.

Seth Roberts may have discovered an additional method; using unflavored fructose water to lower the set point. The fructose water raises blood sugar (thus reducing feelings of hunger) but since it is bland, it does not have a high calorie / intense flavor association, so drinking it lowers the set point. The resultant decrease in overall calorie consumption is not perceived as deprivation.

Unflavored fructose water = weight loss (link to complete article)

In June 2000, I visited Paris. The food was excellent. I wanted to eat three meals per day but to my surprise and disappointment I had little appetite, even though I felt fine and was walking a lot. I realized that the new weight-control theory suggested an explanation: It had been hot and I had drunk two or three sucrose-sweetened soft drinks each day, about 630 kJ (150 kcal) each. All of them had been new to me because they were brands not available at home. The novelty meant that their flavors were not yet associated with calories and therefore would not have raised my set point. They had been sweet, of course, a familiar flavor that presumably was associated with calories. But the sweetness was effectively a weak flavor, an instance of bland food reducing the set point.

After the trip, I tested this idea. I began drinking fructose-sweetened water in addition to normal food. I used fructose alone because in rat experiments it produces weaker flavor-calorie associations than sucrose and because it has a much lower glycemic index (23) than sucrose (65). I made the fructose water by mixing crystalline fructose and filtered tap water, so that no flavor/calorie associations would form aside from sweetness/calorie associations.

To prevent the calorie signal generated by the fructose from becoming associated with the rest of my diet, I never drank the fructose water at meals or within an hour of meals. After experimentation, I settled on 90 ml fructose (3 fluid ounces), in 1 l water, about 1,040 kJ (250 kcal).

My hunger between meals was zero or close to it. Eating seemed optional but plainly it was unwise to eat nothing so I ate about one small meal per day (in addition to the sugar water). After I started eating I developed some appetite and it was easy to continue, but not hard to stop. I tried to get adequate amounts of protein, fat, and calcium, and I took a multivitamin pill every day. I lost weight so easily that it seemed I could end up at whatever weight I chose.

At my final weight, about 12 kg (26 lb) below my initial weight, I ate much less to stay there than I had eaten to stay at my initial weight. Before losing weight, I had eaten about 11 MJ (2600 kcal) per day, two large meals. Afterward, I ate about 5 MJ (1200 kcal) per day, one normal-sized meal plus two pieces of fruit and the fructose. (My daily activity, which never changed, included 30 minutes of aerobic exercise plus about 2 hours of walking.)

At the lower intake, I noticed two desires I had not noticed before: a desire for taste, which could be satisfied with calorie-free tea, and a desire for crunchy food, which could be satisfied with crackers, carrots, popcorn, and apples. I had no difficulty staying at the lower weight.

After 16 months, it appeared I would never regain the lost weight... There is no precedent for losing so much weight so easily.

The new ["high calorie / intense flavor" set point] theory suggests a broader explanation for worldwide increase in obesity: the worldwide increase in wealth. Wealth brings choice. When we are given a choice between two otherwise similar foods, we prefer the one with the stronger flavor-calorie association – the more fattening one. An increase in wealth allows the purchase of foods with stronger flavor-calorie associations [as well as a dramatically wider variety of foods.]

According to the evolutionary argument for the theory, our body-fat regulatory system is designed, like any good storage system, to make us fatter when food becomes cheaper. The worldwide increase in obesity indicates it is working properly.

 -- Seth Roberts, University of California, Berkeley