Here’s a new graph I’ve made of Alex Chernavsky’s data. In 2001, he started weighing himself and recording his weight with the hope that it would help him lose weight. His data shows several interesting things:
1. Long walks really helped. The walks lasted 1.5-2 hours. They weren’t sustainable but the weight loss they caused lasted a remarkably long time — years, apparently, in the sense that it took years to regain the lost weight.
2. A low-carb diet worked well, but only at first. Alex lost a lot of weight initially but then started to regain it. Just before he became vegetarian, he was regaining weight quickly. I don’t know if this is typical. The popularity of low-carb diets has not been matched by availability of data about long-term effects, where by “long-term” I mean four years. Even though low-carb diets are 150 years old (Banting wrote in 1863).
3. The Shangri-La Diet is working better than other alternatives. There’s a difference between (a) showing that a diet causes weight loss and (b) showing that it works better than other ways of losing weight. In this comparison, it appears more sustainable than long walks and the weight loss it causes appears more sustainable than the weight loss from a low-carb diet.
Alex originally used Shangri-La Diet principles by ingesting 4 tablespoons of flaxseed oil washed down with water. (Details here.) He lost weight but then started to slowly regain it. I suggested he increase his intake of flavorless calories so he started to eat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil (about 100 calories) each day with his nose clipped. He stopped slowly gaining weight.
I asked Alex why he has persisted weighing himself so long. He replied:
I had at best a vague idea of what I wanted to do with the data. When I was in graduate school [in neuroscience], I enjoyed plotting the results of my experiments, so I thought it would be fun to have a dataset that consisted of my own weight measures. After I started the SLD, I had a more-concrete reason why I needed to collect the data. I explicitly set out to test the diet.