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What's your personal favorite theory?

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rs-px

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What's your personal favorite theory?
« on: June 26, 2008, 08:39:11 AM »

I know this is a perennial favorite of newbies to this forum, and you might expect better from me, but recently I've been trying to work out how SLD works.

Seth gives a good explanation in the book but the whole thing about set points seems awfully nebulous. It concerns me that there's no way to measure set point and it's not explained how the body communicates this magical set point between stomach and brain (especially bearing in mind that digestion doesn't "happen at once" but can take 12-24 hours). Sure, we can point to hormones, but which hormones? Is there a system already documented that might explain this?

So do you buy the set point theory, or do you think something else is at work? If so, what? What's your personal favorite theory? :)

Personally I think that calories without flavor is key. I just can't take it any further than that. Our bodies measure the "usefulness" of food by its taste. It uses a sense to do this. No surprise or argument. Flavorless calories somehow bypass this. That's where I get a little lost :(
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VeganKitten

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Re: What's your personal favorite theory?
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2008, 05:28:07 PM »

Quote
That's where I get a little lost

You an me both!  :?
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stainless

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Re: What's your personal favorite theory?
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2008, 06:02:03 AM »

In trying to make sense of the flavor-calorie association it seems plausible to me to use the caveman arguement.  Our distant ancestors likely had to deal with periods of feast and famine  throughout the year.  During the spring/summer/early fall, there is an abundance of food.  Not just amount of food, but variety.  Since different plants are harvestable at roughly the same times there were a number of different flavors during the good times.  Also, I believe it's true to say many animals are easier to hunt during spring/summer/fall as compared to the winter.  Your body senses all these different flavors and says, "Stock up!  Gain weight!  Eat as much as I can!" 

Now compare it to winter (or other times of famine).  Food is scarce.  Maybe there's some dried/salted food available, but little in the way of fresh food.  Animals are less active so hunting is harder.  Whatever food supply you have is likely to be limited, monotonous, dull.  Your body now says, "Now's the time to make use of those fat deposits.  Burn that fat!  Don't waste energy!"  So now your body isn't hungry, and it's losing weight. 

Who knows if that theory is anything close to accurate?  But I know the principles of SLD are working for me.
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rs-px

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Re: What's your personal favorite theory?
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2008, 11:46:54 AM »

In trying to make sense of the flavor-calorie association it seems plausible to me to use the caveman arguement.  Our distant ancestors likely had to deal with periods of feast and famine  throughout the year.  During the spring/summer/early fall, there is an abundance of food.  Not just amount of food, but variety.  Since different plants are harvestable at roughly the same times there were a number of different flavors during the good times.  Also, I believe it's true to say many animals are easier to hunt during spring/summer/fall as compared to the winter.  Your body senses all these different flavors and says, "Stock up!  Gain weight!  Eat as much as I can!" 

Now compare it to winter (or other times of famine).  Food is scarce.  Maybe there's some dried/salted food available, but little in the way of fresh food.  Animals are less active so hunting is harder.  Whatever food supply you have is likely to be limited, monotonous, dull.  Your body now says, "Now's the time to make use of those fat deposits.  Burn that fat!  Don't waste energy!"  So now your body isn't hungry, and it's losing weight. 

Who knows if that theory is anything close to accurate?  But I know the principles of SLD are working for me.

How do you account for the cravings for flavor, such as what Seth describes in the book, and I think most of us have experienced? Could this simply be an addiction to flavor? Might some good advice be that, for the best SLD results, try and break that addiction by only eating bland foods?


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karky

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Re: What's your personal favorite theory?
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2008, 02:01:41 PM »

My theory:
We crave flavor because:

In times of plenty, everything tastes good, is fresh, has plenty of good flavor.  We want to eat a lot of it to make up for what we weren't getting in the dark times of famine/hunger (winter)

In winter, everything tastes not as good, it is stored food, not so tasty, particularly since the only way to store anything until very recently was dried or salted, or in the root cellar hopefully not spoiling, which is why there is a saying, One bad apple can spoil the whole barrel.  Not to mention, you couldn't eat all you wanted, you had to make your stored food last all winter long, and pray for a short winter and a mild spring.  I think this is why flavorless calories work, you are tricking your stomach into thinking it is a time of low quality food with low quality flavor, so it shuts off your hunger mechanisms.

So, basically, your body makes you crave flavor in order to make up for the lean times (which aren't coming).
During the lean times, your body would shut the hunger mechanism down somewhat so you could make it through the winter without going too crazy.

This has been going on for as long as there have been humans, except for the last 100 years, when, with the advent of electricity, food storage and production became easier.  And for most of us, there have been no times of famine, or winters with no food.  So, while our brains know we aren't going to starve come wintertime, our stomach never got the memo, and now food is very tasty and plentiful all year round, and the human body has been programmed for YEARS to eat A LOT when food is plentiful and tasty.  So we crave flavor and lots of it, and we eat.  And HFCS is not helping matters at all, neither are food manufacturers, who engineer their products to taste good, taste the same EVERY time, and give us an awesome calorie hit, which our bodies mistakenly think we need a lot of because "winter is coming". 
So we crave, and we eat, and we gain.




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suddenly_sane

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Re: What's your personal favorite theory?
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2008, 08:35:28 PM »

My theory:
We crave flavor because:

In times of plenty, everything tastes good, is fresh, has plenty of good flavor.  We want to eat a lot of it to make up for what we weren't getting in the dark times of famine/hunger (winter)

In winter, everything tastes not as good, it is stored food, not so tasty, particularly since the only way to store anything until very recently was dried or salted, or in the root cellar hopefully not spoiling, which is why there is a saying, One bad apple can spoil the whole barrel.  Not to mention, you couldn't eat all you wanted, you had to make your stored food last all winter long, and pray for a short winter and a mild spring.  I think this is why flavorless calories work, you are tricking your stomach into thinking it is a time of low quality food with low quality flavor, so it shuts off your hunger mechanisms.

So, basically, your body makes you crave flavor in order to make up for the lean times (which aren't coming).
During the lean times, your body would shut the hunger mechanism down somewhat so you could make it through the winter without going too crazy.


This is my theory too!
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rs-px

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Re: What's your personal favorite theory?
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2008, 12:36:25 AM »

My theory:
We crave flavor because:

In times of plenty, everything tastes good, is fresh, has plenty of good flavor.  We want to eat a lot of it to make up for what we weren't getting in the dark times of famine/hunger (winter)

In winter, everything tastes not as good, it is stored food, not so tasty, particularly since the only way to store anything until very recently was dried or salted, or in the root cellar hopefully not spoiling, which is why there is a saying, One bad apple can spoil the whole barrel.  Not to mention, you couldn't eat all you wanted, you had to make your stored food last all winter long, and pray for a short winter and a mild spring.  I think this is why flavorless calories work, you are tricking your stomach into thinking it is a time of low quality food with low quality flavor, so it shuts off your hunger mechanisms.

But if this is true then traditional calorie controlled diets would cause AS. I've been on diets where I've eaten vegetables, and rice cakes and cottage cheese -- bland foods. I didn't get AS. The opposite happened, in fact. Carbs tend to preserve well without effort (preserving meat generally takes an outside agent, such as salt or cold), so we would have been eating carbs across winter. Yet, again, eating carbs doesn't cause AS. Again, quite the opposite.

Personally I don't buy Seth's assertion that bland foods cause AS. I've never experienced this myself and it's certainly not common wisdom, as you might think it would be. For example, the fact protein causes AS is common knowledge -- here in the UK, a meal of just vegetables is considered "insubstantial". You have to have meat or a source of protein in the meal to make it "substantial" -- to make it "fill you up"... to make it suppress your appetite at least until the next meal.

No, I still think there's a different mechanism at work here. I'm not sure flavor is central to this but somehow calories entirely without flavor causes something to happen in our brains.

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rs-px

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Re: What's your personal favorite theory?
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2008, 12:41:25 AM »

Here's an interesting question:

What does it mean to be "full up"?

Do we literally have to fill our stomach (the small fist-shaped bag about chest height)? I've eaten waaaay more than the capacity of my stomach in the bad old days and not felt full. So have we all. That's why we're here :roll:

So is there another mechanism involved? If so, it must be endocrinological. It's about stomach signals, surely? Maybe the reason SLD works is not so much about flavorless calories, than about "pure foods" --- pure calories undiluted by flavor...?

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lynne

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Re: What's your personal favorite theory?
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2008, 07:52:15 PM »

rs-px, I got your name wrong on my last reply to you, sorry! I too have been wondering about AS. On low calorie diets I have been on in the past, especially with bland/low fat foods, I felt very hungry too. But I have noticed that after a few weeks the hunger goes away and my appetite seems to adjust to the lower calorie intake and I just have normal hunger at meal times. What has been my experience is that I gradually lose discipline once I come close to my goal and relax a bit and start to eat more and more calories over time, at first I feel full quite quickly, but then seem to train my appetite to expect more and more food again. I am also pretty certain that eating carbs (particularly refined) makes me hungrier and hungrier and it becomes a downward spiral. And I agree that 'feeling full' seems to have nothing to do with stomach size, and there is some brain mechanism going on. The set-point theory definately seems right to me, but the question is exactly how it goes up and down, and I wonder how eating refined carbs regulary seems to jack it way up.
I am interested in the paleolithic diet because I really think the highly refined food that we eat so much of now seems to send our bodies into all kinds of confusion and imbalance because we simply havent had enough time to adapt. Not sure either, if we would have had much in the way of carbs over winter in our early history though. From what I have read eating grains in any quantity has only happened since got into agriculture (around 10 000 years ago, not long really) and proir to that it was just a few root type veges that need to be well cooked to be digestible. Most of our evolutionary history we have eaten a diet of meat/game, vegetables, nuts/seeds and fruit. (ie hunter/gather diet). So I reckon winter would have been culinarily pretty bleak!
Which just brings me back to wondering what is the real reason the flavourless calories have such a dramatic effect on appetite/weight set-point.
I guess I will go on entertaining myself by coming up with theory after theory until someone more disciplined does the scientific work and discovers the answer!
Meanwhile I am losing weight without any pain.....Yeeeehaaaa!
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Eman Resu

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Re: What's your personal favorite theory?
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2008, 11:47:41 PM »

I've put some brain time into this one since my last posts here. At this point, here's what I think is going on. Forgive me if some of this overlaps with Seth's book--I found what's now called SLD from the original NYT article and haven't read the book.

1) The ability to discern poisonous or rotten foods from beneficial ones was extraordinarily crucial to our ancestors from an evolutionary standpoint. How else to survive all those millennia without television commercials to tell them what tasted good? As a result, they developed loads and loads of taste buds to the job--10,000 or so. And a highly developed sense of smell which, as an adjunct to those taste buds, served (serves) the same purpose.

2) Thanks to those same ancestors, our bodies understand the properties of food--recognize That Which Is Food--and are devestatingly efficient at using it for whatever purpose they may need it today--activity, recovery, hibernation, recuperation, etc.

3) Those ancestors handed down digestive system that developed hundreds of thousands of years before Ray Kroc made crappy hamburgers and owned a perennially bad baseball team. Hundreds of thousands of years before, even, we first began planting and eating grains, which is its own interesting side story.

Take 1, 2, and 3 together, and here's what I think is happening: That which has calories and no taste--that is, a substance that subverts the massive flavor-detection complex operating in our mouths, short-circuits our inherent biological and physiological expectations, is, quite simply, That Which Is Not Food.

When our body ingests That Which Is Not Food, bells ring, sirens wail, and our internal Terrorist Alert System goes to red. Nothing good can be happening outside if we're eating That Which Is Not Food. It could A) be poison, or B) be that no real food is available. Both meant death to our predecessors who got it wrong.

So just in case That Which Is Not Food is poison or famine, we shut down, go to our reserves, and lie low. The last thing we want is to eat more of whatever that was.

We close the borders. Result: appetite suppression.

When we're ready to venture out again, we go very slowly. We look for those "safe" foods that signal most directly That Which Is Food. Fruits, vegetables, meats. Whole foods, nothing processed. (Processed food, to our caveman body, is essentially another dose of That Which Is Not Food.)

Here a distinction needs to be made between eating That Which Is Not Food intentionally--as in a famine--and by mistake, as in a poisonous flower.

In a famine, we'll continue to eat That Which Is Not Food. Our set point may kick in, if it's real, and we'll assume it's essentially winter. Hunker down and hibernate.

But--and this is important, to me--that doesn't happen with SLD. SLD is the other kind of TWINF--the one eaten by mistake. Poison. Later today (a meaningless span of time, in bodies perfected during less plentiful times), we will find and eat That Which Is Food. We may start slowly at first, but we'll eventually become convinced that there is That Which Is Food around, our appetite will begin to return, and as more real food enters our system, we will grow more and more comfortable that we may now eat as we please.

Until we take another dose of That Which Is Not Food and it all starts again.

On SLD, we stop eating because This Way Danger Lies. Sure, we go to Plan B, which is to use up our fat stores. But I don't think it's because we're flipping any kind of switch so soon. I think it's because we're sending our bodies under the bed with duct tape on the windows for so many hours a day that it simply can't take in enough calories to avoid gaining weight. Eat few enough calories, you will lose weight. Eat shag carpet and the results will be pretty much the same.

Now, having said all that, I think even that is perhaps 70 percent of the story, at best. I think--know--we eat like we do out of habit and convenience. Certainly it's not out of need, since our systems could care less about our Fast Food Nation. They developed with very different needs and available food sources and habits.

So I think that once we begin developing a new habit--not eating like fat dumdums--we greatly augment the hiding-under-the-bed effect with our own brainy additions. Like, "Now that I know I'm able to say no to potato chips, I think I'll pass." 70 percent Code Red, 30 percent behavior modification.

Add to that the cascading effect of enjoying your new body and well-being, and I think the percentage shifts over time--to perhaps, oh, 40 percent Intruder Alert, 60 percent "Hey, I'm looking pretty good, how do I keep THIS going?" So we add in an extra gym day, skip an extra glass of juice, etc, and suddenly we've taken over our own weight loss from the Department of Homeland Security.

That's my take. Set point uses the same mechanisms--fat storage and consumption--but does not account for all or even most of the physiological responses to eating That Which Is Not FoodTM by mistake.

Speaking of benefits: 12 pounds in nine weeks. No wonder they keep raising that damned terror alert down in Washington DC.

Josh

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rs-px

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Re: What's your personal favorite theory?
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2008, 12:39:51 AM »

Hi Josh.

I like your theory but really you're back to Seth's original "famine or plenty" theory, just by a different route. Flavorless calories fool our body into thinking it's famine time.

I'm not sure our bodies need a poison detection method, because we know what was poisonous via folk knowledge. For example, aboriginals in Australia know that a certain kind of carb-heavy root is poisonous if eaten raw, so they hang it in the river for days to wash it. This must have been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. They've been eating the same food for thousands of years. They know what's bad for them.

The other thing about poisonous food is that it rarely kills you. Here in Europe we're all told not to eat wild mushrooms but only about two actually kill you. What we call toxic might give us a stomach ache, or a rash, but we'll usually recover. So I'm not sure a mechanism is needed to detect it -- toxic foods are just not that much of a risk.

And I'm not sure that all this discussion of "evolution" is useful. None of us really truly understand evolution unless we're studied anthropology. We're just guessing -- a kind of "pop" evolution, just like "pop" psychology, and really just as useless. Even genuine anthropologists are essentially guessing about how our ancestors ate. There's little real evidence when you get past about 4000 years ago.

We're better just looking at the facts. Eating flavorless calories causes AS. Why? What biological mechanism is at work? Why would this benefit our body RIGHT NOW, rather than looking for a sketchy evolutionary perspective?

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karky

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Re: What's your personal favorite theory?
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2008, 05:44:46 AM »

Quote
Eman Resu        That Which Is Not Food

I LOL'ed  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:
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Eman Resu

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Re: What's your personal favorite theory?
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2008, 07:39:10 AM »

Hi, RX--

I do see a difference between my thoughts on this and Seth's. I say we're eating poison, he says it's evidence of famine. The latter requires set point theory to work. The former only requires survival mechanisms and a natural selection process that favored poison-avoiders. It's true they both dip into fat stores to avoid requiring external nutrition, but there can be very little doubt that that is, in fact, the role of fat--whatever the trigger may be that starts us dipping in to it.

By the way, please don't try the self-experimentation technique on the "very few things can kill us" premise. Such experiments, along with the experimenter, may tend to be short-lived...

Now, with history as my guide, shall I await your post suggesting that this response was unhelpful and ill-informed?  :)

--Josh




Hi Josh.

I like your theory but really you're back to Seth's original "famine or plenty" theory, just by a different route. Flavorless calories fool our body into thinking it's famine time.

I'm not sure our bodies need a poison detection method, because we know what was poisonous via folk knowledge. For example, aboriginals in Australia know that a certain kind of carb-heavy root is poisonous if eaten raw, so they hang it in the river for days to wash it. This must have been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. They've been eating the same food for thousands of years. They know what's bad for them.

The other thing about poisonous food is that it rarely kills you. Here in Europe we're all told not to eat wild mushrooms but only about two actually kill you. What we call toxic might give us a stomach ache, or a rash, but we'll usually recover. So I'm not sure a mechanism is needed to detect it -- toxic foods are just not that much of a risk.

And I'm not sure that all this discussion of "evolution" is useful. None of us really truly understand evolution unless we're studied anthropology. We're just guessing -- a kind of "pop" evolution, just like "pop" psychology, and really just as useless. Even genuine anthropologists are essentially guessing about how our ancestors ate. There's little real evidence when you get past about 4000 years ago.

We're better just looking at the facts. Eating flavorless calories causes AS. Why? What biological mechanism is at work? Why would this benefit our body RIGHT NOW, rather than looking for a sketchy evolutionary perspective?


« Last Edit: June 29, 2008, 12:53:58 PM by Eman Resu »
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wizard

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Re: What's your personal favorite theory?
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2008, 01:24:44 PM »

I have a different viewpoint on this matter. I believe that given the present theory of the set point (Low availability of high flavour foods during certain seasons as compared to more flavour during other seasons) has some critical flaws in the equation.

First of all the above theory does not take into account temperate climates. I stay in South Africa where the climate is temperate all year round. Even in winter the temperature rarely falls below 0 degrees celisus and only for a few days in the late evenings. I believe food was avialable here all year round.

Wouldn't we have noticed a difference in weights globally a few centuries ago? Was there a difference that translated into height differences or something else?
I think there are too many questions that remain unanswered with the present theory. Even food obtained in "winter" would be flavourful to a certain extent. Maybe not as flavourful as food in summer but defeinitely have some flavour-calorie association.

I doubt ANY food would have been consumed that is flavourless. We would throw it away. Bland food diets also have proven that this is the case. They just tend to make the eater hungrier.

I believe our ancestors were always hungry. Before the advent of farming and agriculture there was a constant hunger. This explains why we have advanced more in a few centuries than we have in a few millenia. When one is hungry it's difficult to think about anything else. Now with refrigeration and fast food outlets food is off the menu so to speak and our brains can focus on inventing, creating and producing.

Just my 2 cents.


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karky

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Re: What's your personal favorite theory?
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2008, 01:47:19 PM »

another point to make is that in the past living was hard work.

you worked hard all of the time, or you either starved or froze.  Think of the fable of the grasshopper and the ant.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ant_and_the_Grasshopper

you had to plant the fields, gather the harvest, weave the cloth, sew the clothing, cook the food, chop the wood, wash clothes in the river, haul water, tend the livestock, etc.  No leisure time to speak of, but lots of hard work burning lots of calories.
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