Stephan Guyenet Recommendations - Reduce Food Reward in Paleo Setting
Does anyone follow Stephan Guyenet? I have been mulling over his ideas and I think he is correct.
Reducing food reward increases leptin sensitivity and reduction in appetite - that is what hooked me while I was listening to a Chris Kresser podcast interview of Stephan Guyenet (second of two podcast interviews).
I have been fascinated with the "potato hack" and learned that his idea is that part of the reason it works (Stephan was commenting on the WA potato commissioner's unexpected weight loss from his potato fast he staged to protest WIC's rejection of potatoes) is food reward.
He commented about the Shangri-la diet working because of food reward. I don't know what that is, but I gather it involves drinking completely flavorless oil 2x per day.
So, I'm about a week into a potato hack, I listen to this podcast, I remove the salt from the equation, eat saltless, flavorless potatoes for breakfest and lunch, and eat other bland foods for dinner, and I dropped two more pounds. Hmm....
Now, I think we should eat the potatoes for breakfast and lunch, and then eat dinner foods with no flavorings (I'm going to roll shrimp sushi tonight in plain seaweed and serve with no soy sauce).
I'll write up his other recommendations soon (I understand it involves avoiding cooking at high heat, following paleo with safe starches (rice and potatoes acceptable), some fermented foods (as condiments)...Oh, wait, I just found a summary he posted:
Google: Whole Health Source: Food Reward: a Dominant Factor in Obesity, Part VII
I've organized this weight loss strategy into five different "levels" based on the desired outcome. Some people may want to use this strategy in a preventive manner, or to address metabolic disorders other than overweight that are related to excess energy intake (insulin resistance, fatty liver, etc.), in which case they would probably want to stick to levels 1-3. Levels 4 and 5 are primarily for people who are not losing weight at the lower levels, and would like to further reduce food reward and the body fat setpoint.
The goal is to adopt a diet that allows fat mass to return to a healthy level, while eating nutritious food to fullness. You may initially feel deprived, but you should become more satisfied by simple food over time.
The low-hanging fruit:
1.Avoid the highest reward foods: candy, sweetened chocolate, ice cream, cake, cookies, other sweet baked goods, fast food, pizza, and other foods that you know are particularly problematic for you. Don't put yourself in a position to be tempted by these if you can avoid it.
2.Minimize liquid calories, particularly sweetened beverages, beer and sweet cocktails. Modest quantities of milk, wine, and unsweetened spirits are fine.
3.Don't snack. In France and many other countries with strong food traditions, snacks are for children. Adults eat at mealtime, in a deliberate manner.
In addition to everything in level 1:
1.Avoid industrially processed food in general, particularly packaged food with many ingredients. Minimize restaurant food. Cook your own food from single ingredients to the extent that you're able.
2.Avoid adding sweeteners to food and drinks-- including artificial sweeteners. The sweet flavor itself is a reward factor.
3.Avoid seed oils (corn, soybean, sunflower and safflower
4.Include a regular source of omega-3 in your diet. This can come from some mixture of wild-caught fish, flax seed/oil, pastured meat/dairy/eggs and green vegetables.
In addition to everything in levels 1 and 2:
1.Reduce the overall energy density of your food (calories per volume) while keeping it nutritious, but don't go overboard. This can be accomplished by adding extra vegetables to the meal, and using potatoes and sweet potatoes as the main source of starch (rather than bread, pasta, rice, etc.).
Microwaving is a fast and effective way to cook potatoes and sweet potatoes for those who are short on time.
2.Focus on minimally processed foods.
3.Don't add fat to your food. That doesn't mean don't eat fat, it just means keep it separate from your cooking. If you want to eat butter, eat it separately rather than mixing it in with your dish.
This level is about simplicity. Here, we are approximating the reward value of certain non-industrial diets. In addition to everything in levels 1-3:
1.Eat only single ingredients with no flavorings added. No spices, herbs, salt, added sweeteners, added fats, etc. If you eat a potato, eat it plain. If you eat a piece of chicken, eat it plain. It can be in the same meal as other foods, but don't mix anything together. If you would like to keep salt in your diet, dissolve it in water and drink it separately.
2.Cook foods gently. Minimize grilling, sauteing, broiling, frying, and particularly deep frying. Add a bit of water to the pan, rather than oil, when cooking meat or vegetables, and cook gently with the lid on.
3.Minimize all liquid calories.
4.Only eat foods that taste good when you're hungry; avoid foods that you'd be inclined to snack on even when not hungry. A lot of foods move from the latter category to the former when they're completely unseasoned.
5.Some people will benefit from avoiding wheat. Your mileage may vary on this.
This level reduces variety, which is another reward factor (4). This is something that you attempt at your own risk, as there may be downsides to eating the same foods every day. I think the risk is small if you choose your three foods carefully. I wouldn't recommend doing this indefinitely, but rather as a short-term strategy to lose fat, followed by a more relaxed maintenance phase.
1.Pick three foods, and eat nothing else. Try to pick foods that will provide a relatively balanced diet. A starch, a meat and a green vegetable is one possibility. For example: potatoes, broccoli and beef. Again, cook everything gently and add no seasonings to your food whatsoever, including salt.
Some people have lost fat simply by avoiding carbohydrate or fat. I've heard people say that a low-carbohydrate diet in particular curbs their cravings and allow them to have a healthy relationship with food again (although others have developed strong cravings on low-carbohydrate diets). I believe this is mostly, if not exclusively, driven by the fact that carbohydrate and fat are major reward factors.
I believe that all things being equal, it's best not to restrict any macronutrient to an extreme degree (there may be some exceptions, such as diabetes). That being said, as carbohydrate and fat are major reward factors, they are additional tools in the toolbox that you can use to further reduce reward if you choose.
Don't be a Drill Sergeant
Ultimately, for any diet to work, it needs to be sustainable. It's probably a good idea to allow yourself a meal or two a week that you really enjoy. Just don't indulge in the worst offenders-- foods that will stay on your mind, and reinforce your cravings for days or weeks. You know what your own trigger foods are. Don't even put yourself in the vicinity of those foods if you can avoid it. If your diet is balanced and nutritious, your cravings should subside over time, and you will become more satisfied by simple food.
An Alternative Strategy
In his book The Shangri-La Diet, psychology researcher Dr. Seth Roberts outlines a simple strategy that he claims can lower the body fat setpoint without significantly altering the diet. The technique involves taking flavorless calorie-containing foods between meals, which lowers overall energy intake by suppressing appetite (according to him, by lowering the setpoint). I'm not going to steal his thunder, so you can read his book, or visit his website or forum if you want more information about how to implement it.
I tried Dr. Roberts' strategy for a week out of curiosity, and it did suppress my appetite somewhat. According to the theory, the more excess fat mass you begin with, the more your appetite should be suppressed. I didn't have much fat to lose, but I noticed a modest effect on my appetite nevertheless. I have a few reservations about the technique. I don't know much about its long-term effectiveness or safety, and neither does Dr. Roberts, according to our communications. It doesn't strike me as having the potential to be very dangerous, but as our ancestors didn't sip refined olive oil between meals, the precautionary principle applies. Still, it's an interesting technique that I'll be keeping my eye on in the upcoming years.
Posted by Stephan Guyenet at 7:00 PM
Very interesting! :)
It is the same exact theory of the Shangri-La. :agree: I believe I will try this, no spices would be rather difficult, but it would be worth a trial. I have been eating cold baby dutch potatoes and many veggies only for dinner for the last week. I haven't weighed yet, but will on Sat. I have been at a bit of a stall since losing 8 lbs when I became so ill. I gained 3 back, so if I dropped more just by using this that would be great.
Something tells me if I just ate the 1 lb of veggies as PHD suggests for dinner each night after having my filling lunch, I would lose regularly as well. :confused:
Good to see you here!
I recall my friend's brother in high school had his mouth wired together after jaw surgery. He could only drink through a straw. He had to put his meat through a blender with mashed potatoes and suck it in through a straw.
He was heavy and he lost a LOT of weight.
Part of the Chris Kresser/Stephan Guyenet podcast talked about that. Apparently, there was an experiment where people drank some concoction through a straw, as much as they wanted. It was some flavorless oil with sugar and dairy blend. It didn't hit much of the mouth apparently the machine shot this stuff through the straw when the subjects hit a foot pedal. Guyenet thinks the straw was part of the effect since they didn't have the sensation of chewing on food/tasting so much.
It is really interesting!
I think my daughter would stage a revolt if I tried to serve her mashed potatoes through a straw, LOL!
Hmm, I do have big/wide purple straws. Sometime, I might try a week of pulverizing nutritious bland food to take through a straw and see what happens.
It would be more nutritious than optifast/medifast!
Gosh, that reminds me of an article I saw maybe last year about some clinic that was pumping liquid nutrition ithrough a straw threaded into the patient's stomach through her nose. These women were trying to lose weight for their weddings as I recall and was incredibly effective with no hunger. They ate no food at all.
SG has taken a lot of criticism for his food reward notions and they either make instinctive sense to people or they don't.
Like KT, I followed the potato hack (for 28 consecutive days in my case) and I learned a lot about my individual appetite and food preferences. I would always have thought that I could eat vast quantities of potato or rice (I had to add rice into my hack as I had repeated GI trouble). In the absence of fat or other flavourings, actually - no I couldn't. Hand me a roasting tin full of roast potatoes and don't plan on getting any back. Similarly, if the rice is mixed with vegetables or dressed in oil, or served with curry sauce, then I could eat so much that my tummy would hurt.
Without the fat or seasonings or without being part of a mixed dish? I can eat enough to satisfy my hunger and not a mouthful more.
I agree as SlowSure's hack was so successful long term. You know, this has me to thinking that even when you eat a mono food over a period, (say one week) per time, the food does become quite boring and really not something you even find satisfying but only serving the need to quell hunger. This is the reason that your calories are naturally low. Or at least, when I did the tater hack, I didn't even bother with doing Up days/down days, it became naturally low cals. So, you are not only quelling your appetite, but the appetite vanished. I bet this happened in your case as well. ;)
The potato hack or for that matter, rice is an excellent tool for folks who have a tough time fasting. I remember when we first began doing the tater hack reading of reports that people felt that it re-set their metabolism. The name escapes me, but he has a famous blog and he believed that 2 weeks of mono food could do this easily.
I am most fascinated by his comment in the podcast about leptin. I want to know if overstimulating the brain with food reward really does interfere with the brain/hypothalmus picking up the fat stores putting out leptin. If the brain can sense the leptin, it automatically shuts down systems, ramps down appetite and releases the fat stores. Lowers the body's defended fat set point. I am excited about this notion.
I am drinking my morning coffee through a straw with no sweetener. I actually do not like black coffee, so drinking it iced through a straw will help me get my caffeine without using the sweetener. I don't want the "reward" factor of the sweetener.
I have read snotty comments about his notion of food reward. His thoughts fly in the face of various theories of why certain diets work. I think now he is so right. It ties together so many different diets and why they *really* work.
If I had gone on to believe the low carb dogma without an open mind, I never would have tried the potato fast. It blew my mind. It wasn't supposed to work. It worked better than anything.
Now I want to know if I quit sweetened coffee and condiments, would my body just let go of more fat?
If I blend more nutritious food and take it through a straw without tasting it would this work just as well and be healthier?
I am so curious!
Yes, KT, the leptin! :)
I must watch his podcast! Will do that today. I will be making potato soup and drinking with a straw and will let you know how this goes. Just add extra water to your taters blend and go. :D I was salt & peppering, so it will really be bland, but it should work.
Where were the snide comments? On Stephen's blog?
It is on Chris Kresser's website. Try googling:
Episode 10 – Stephan Guyenet on food reward and weight loss.
It is a listen-only thing.
Cool that on the potato soup!
Snotty comments - Peter from hyperlipid (for one) with his take on why the potato hack works.
Here it is:
From "Protons: Zero fat"
"I think someone in obesity research used Chris Voight's experience to support some **** and bull story about food reward and a set point of body fat. We can wait for the recant on that one, if you could care less about it. The biochemistry is, as always, the fascinating stuff.
The thing is, I think they are both right.
It is complex and multi-factorial.
Oh my goodness, I just came across something I totally forgot about. I blew it off because I don't much like green tea, but since I'm taking my caffeine through a straw now anyway to avoid having to taste unsweetened coffee, why not:
Dr. Perricone: Coffee has orgnic acids that raise your blood sugar, raise insulin. Insulin puts a lock on body fat. When you switch over to green tea, you get your caffeine, you're all set, but you will drop your insulin levels and body fat will fall very rapidly. So 10 pounds in six weeks, I will guarantee it.I kind of hate to do to many things at once, but why not...
I don't like green tea (unless it's a very specific type that I can't always purchase) but I'm fine with it if I flavour it with rose water or kewra water (which is antithetical to this, I know).
Working my way through the podcast.
Agreed that it's a complex area. I think it's Dr Jack Kruse who says something like:
I brought plain sweet potatoes raw into work today.
So far, I have had two small-ish ones and it is about 2:30 p.m. I am not a fan of microwaved plain sweet potatoes because they taste like boiled carrots to me. I can tolerate them, but I don't really like them. It seems to be working; I don't feel like eating any more.
Coffee through a straw this morning, and a tablespoon of chia seeds in plain water around lunch.
I've only had about 260 calories today.
Next caffeine will be green tea, but it is too late for any more today. Tomorrow.
Dinner - I am so making potato soup!!!
Ah, I remember another bit of snotty-ness - did you see the video where Gary Taubes 'asked a question' at the end of Guyenet's presentation? I think it was an ancestral symposium. Let me see if I can find it....
Yes, here it is. It is at the end.
Again, I think they are both right.
There isn't one cause of obesity, so there isn't one answer.
SlowSure directed me to this post, so I'm marking my spot as I have a meeting in a few minutes, and can't devote my full attention right now. I'll be back!
It sounds a bit joyless to talk about modifying food reward but it's an intriguing strategy if it can help people to work around their set points (albeit I know that some people fundamentally disagree with the existence of set points while a number of people who've been engaged in weight loss feel that they have practical experience of their existence).
I think it's an interesting personal experiment to discover the difference between eating to satiety and eating because you enjoy something. Since March, I've several times thought, 'I'll finish this slice of cheese and then stop because I'm not hungry although I'm aware that I could easily continue to eat because I'm enjoying the cheese so much'.
There's a fair amount of food research (including in so-called neurogastronomy) that indicates that most of your enjoyment in a food lies in the first couple of bites - after that, there's a sharp drop-off. So, if you are mindful of how much you're enjoying a dessert, it should be possible for a small portion to be wholly adequate.
I suppose the art lies in making sure that it's never presented to you as imposed restriction or deprivation.
[Yes, it's nearly 3 am in the UK but the heat means that I can't settle. :) ]
Since Kresser and Jaminet seem to be quite connected in the Perfect Health dynamic, I thought I would add one more piece from Jaminet about this very idea. He agrees with much of Guyenet's ideas, except he varies when it comes to toxins and malnutrition. Malnutrition can be caused by mono-diets. Not always, but when it goes to an extreme. A pro-inflammatory state promotes obesity. Research into the many ways gut flora influence obesity is in early stages, but it’s clearly important. I believe I had my gut completely out of balance by very low carb. I would have never thought this prior to reading Perfect Health. I can't tell you how many others have said that they messed with their thyroid by remaining in very low carb for a lengthy period. :dunno:
From Paul Jaminet~
I think Stephan is adorable, by the way. It is a shame that Taubes had to be a horse's rear. :annoyed:
Sunday - yes, they are similar. I'm not sure how Jaminet sees Stephan's view as that different? He believes in eating a paleo diet, that is the big one in terms of reducing food toxins and addressing nutritional value. Stephan has hundreds of posts about obesity, so I can't summarize. I think they would both agree the Western diet causes obesity anyway. I suppose Jaminet is talking some finer points that seem bigger to him than it does to me?
Stephan is a scientist/obesity researcher, so he is going to cite studies of various types (including rat studies), will critically weigh the evidence, and note where he is just stating his opinion.
SlowSure - I have heard about really only "tasting" and enjoying the first few bites, then you are just eating. Hard for me, but I have done it.
Last night - I found I couldn't get my vegetables down plain. I'm going to have to make an exception here and see how it goes. Ugh! I ate kale, carrots, and broccoli last night. Well, butter does help absorb the vitamins! I've discovered this butter sauce recipe - butter (1 tablespoon) lightly browned, then add 1 Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon (just a little) soy sauce) and stir over reduced heat for a couple of minutes (not too much or it is ruined - clumpy) is an amazing sauce for vegetables. Makes them palatable!
So, no sweeteners has made drinking difficult! I don't really want my tea (I mixed two bags of black tea (no green in the house) and 1 bag of mint to cover the yucky tea taste.
I tried drinking 1/3 cup of keifer through a straw last night. I could taste it very well - not sure how that is going to work.
I ate 1/3 can of sardines with nothing else - bleah...hard to get that down.
OK, I weighed 1/2 pound less this morning. Lower end of 199, just to mark my spot here.
I made potato soup. My boyfriend (a scientist/drug researcher) laughed and said I would need bubble tea straws. I think he might be right, but I do have a vitamix so I got the dang lumps outta there. I did turn the soup into...glue! LOL...
KT, I am sorry, I didn't mean to imply that they disagree. I worded this wrong. :o Sorry! I have read Stephan actually replying to PHDers with answers on the PHD site, so I know they are very similar!
How I meant to word that is that Jaminet believes obesity begins in the gut with the toxins from our foods and that once we straighten this out, then we naturally free ourselves from infections and malnourishment. I am assuming this may be also Stephan's belief? I appreciate the youtube, I will finish listening today.
I agree on vegetables. I love them with a bit of Braggs liquid aminos. I am doing an all potato and broth day today. Mostly because I am trying to straighten out the bit of damage I did this week. :down:
Okay, I may not be able to drink the soupy potatoes through a straw. Is the straw that important to this experiment? Just wondering? :huh: Could you just drink the soup?
Oh no need to apologize. I'm just not reading carefully. Thanks for the explanation!
I am curious about the straw feeding. I am wondering if I would eat less if I don't get all the usual cues from eating. I don't think this is necessary at all.
It is fun to play around with hacking the system!
KT, I have been reading these posts and also the transcript of Steven Guyanet's interview with Chris Kresser. I am feeling motivated to give the bland chicken, brocolli and potato meals a chance. I am having a hard time sticking with low carb and am gaining weight so I need something that will provide nutrition but no food reward triggers. Only had pototoes in house yesterday so peeled and sliced some and roasted them on parchment for about 20 minutes. Brewed 4 cups of green tea to drink during the day to keep caffeine headache away. Was down 3 pounds of water weight today. Will pick up some skinless chicken breasts and brocolli to steam when the store opens. I will keep you posted oh how well this works for me. It would be great to get this craving monkey off my back! lol
I love your avatar. I think I should change mine to a zucker rat (the genetically obese rat that will die before it will give up its fat stores).
Interesting - please let me know how it works! So far it sounds great!
I am down to 197 this morning! This is good news for me since I can't see living on the potato hack or a vegan low fat diet long term. I am saving my food rewards to down vegetables, and that seems to working so far.
I'll come back to post more - I have some housework waiting...
Hmm, I'm listening to the first podcast on Chris Kresser's website with Stephan Guyenet.
I have never heard this - inflammation could be interfering with the hypothalamus in the brain picking up the leptin signal.
I *know* I have inflammation problems. Wow.
They also discuss autoimmune problems causing obesity. Yeesh, I have mysterious hives that an allergist determined is not caused by any known allergen; it is autoimmune.
Anyway, it is great, give it a listen.
Oh, he also discusses eating fermentable fibers and probiotics and gut flora causes of obesity. I have to listen again; I'm not fully tuned in because I am working and cooking today.
Episode 1 – Stephan Guyenet on causes and treatment of obesity
Thanks KT, I will listen. Balancing the gut flora, is the area I am concentrating on right now. I have listened to every single one of Jaminet's podcasts on the gut and read as much as I possibly can to know what steps to take. The thing is that inflammation of the gut can be caused by something as simple as a virus or taking anti-biotics which promote the wrong bacteria.
An interesting thing happened to me about 6 years ago, I had a really bad case of asthma that just hit me all at one time. I could barely talk. I had to have an inhaler, and I thought it was connected to possibly mold in the old house that I had been working in. I went on the Hcg protocol and eliminated both wheat and sugar and in a matter of a week, it disappeared completely. Now I can't help but wonder if this was a terrible inflammation from either of the toxins. Not for sure, which? :dunno:
Ha Ha KT, I have seen pictures of those poor zucker rats.
I continued with the no reward eating plan yesterday. One small potato and two meals of steamed brocolli and chicken. I drank hot or over ice green tea all day. I was down another pound today. that is 4 pounds of water weight since Friday. I have until tuesday to keep eating this way and then have a family dinner tuesday night. Plan to go back to bland meals on Wednesday.
I have wanted to eat to live and not live to eat for years and eating food with no salt, butter and spices may be the answer for me. We shall see.
I have to admit that around 4:00 with the no sweetener thing, my go-to all these years, I start freaking out. I can be compliant most of the day.
This is going to take some work.
I am finding myself dehydrating because I don't like the tea without sweetener. Hmm. I'm icing my tea and water to try to get it down. I hadn't really realized how much coffee and decaf coffee with sweetener I was taking.
Out of curiosity, I peeked at the Shangri-La forum (Seth Roberts). People over there are clipping their noses shut while taking oil. One person said she can only take Kerrygold unsalted butter because all other oils give her GI symptoms...
Someone was talking about taking milk with their nose clipped instead of sugar water.
How curious. It sounds like maybe some paleo people are trying to adapt the diet to their beliefs.
KT, unless you're apprehensive about over-consuming the tea, might it be worth flavouring it with orange blossom, kewra or similar water to help you transition to drinking unsweetened tea?
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