T Nation

New Health Experiments


#1

I'm about to start new health experiments to test the efficacy of supplementation on lean mass retention during weight loss and would love some feedback. So first off a quick background...

Over the last 1.5 years I've been doing experiments on myself with unique, extreme diets. I'm not very fond of most of the health research on diet as I don't believe our modern health studies properly isolate variables that are impacting the reliability and accuracy of the results. Because of this I started health experiments with 4 week single food source diets.

I did 4 weeks of the following: 6.75 lbs of potatoes a day, 36 eggs a day, 5.2 lbs of bananas a day, and ~4.5 lbs of raw beef a day. I moved on to mixing foods, including dairy, and did some experiments focused on cholesterol and BMR.

Whenever I go on a vegan diet I lose considerable lean mass. I've seen this reliably on a variety of vegan diets, but I've used bananas as a base diet 3 times and have observed this in all instances. The first time I did a banana diet I lost about 2.5 lbs of lean mass and 3.5 lbs of fat (measured by DXA). The second and third time I was on banana diets I saw similar rates of weight loss but did not have body composition measured.

Whenever I lose a considerable amount of lean mass I can regain it quickly. After the first 12 weeks of my experiments I dropped 13 lbs of lean mass, but after 4 weeks of eating ~4.5 lbs of raw beef a day I gained 13.5 lbs of lean mass back. Now most people would accredit large fluctuations of lean mass to water and glycogen retention, but with beef there's no carbohydrates and with no salt there's not anything to cause excessive water retention. An alternative theory I've been presented is creatine, but I think something else is going on completely.

During my cholesterol experiments I used bananas as my stabilization diet. I ended up eating bananas for 9 weeks and fasting for one week. At the end I had gone from 172 lbs down to 143 lbs. After refeeding I was at 162 lbs after 2 weeks and at 187 lbs after 10 weeks. At the 10 week mark I had a DXA scan and was at 15.8% body fat, so it's not like I was just packing on the fat.

Since new muscle is hard to gain and therefore prone to measurement error I decided to see if I could determine the efficacy of protein supplementation during a weight loss period. I'm going see if I can minimize my lean mass loss during an all banana diet by supplementing the following: 5g glutamine, 5g BCAA, 5g beta-alanine, 5g creatine, and 1g salt.

I'm going to refeed for 4 weeks again and measure the results via DXA scan. The supplementation of creatine and salt will determine if large gains in lean mass are from replenishment of creatine and sodium or something different. I'm fairly confident I will see lean mass gains during the refeed these periods have historically produced dramatic lean mass gains.

I'm going to then go on another 4 week period of a banana diet and supplement beef and or raw milk instead of the supplements. I want to assess the efficacy of supplementation compared to just eating more.

Thoughts? Questions? Insults?

P.S. I'd be happy to provide links to all my data and analysis if anyone is interested. I've seen some really interesting stuff. Find out what happened during the egg diet and see once and for all if eggs really contribute to high cholesterol (spoiler alert they do).

UPDATE 10/22/2013: Phase 1 of the experiment complete. Supplementing beta-alanine, creatine, L-Glutamine, BCAAs, and salt did nothing to inhibit lean mass losses during my first phase. I'm starting a refeeding period then I'm going to do the banana diet again and supplement small portions of natural animal proteins via raw beef, raw milk, and/or raw egg with a 20g protein per day amount. BMR tests showed that on the 2,000 calorie banana diet 100% of my at rest calories burned were from carbohydrates and it was measured at 1,540 calories. The last 2 days I did a water fast + the supplements and went into ketosis within 24 hours showing glycogen stores were depleted.


#2

This sounds pretty interesting. When you were eating potatoes, eggs, bananas, etc, does that mean that is the ONLY thing you were consuming during those 4 weeks? Or were you primarily eating those foods with a variety of different things as well? Very interesting nonetheless.


#3

I am also impressed by the amount of quantity in food you were consuming ... Definitely interesting stuff, are you trying to get this work published and recognized? What's the main purpose behind it all, just to check muscle retention with diet?


#4

Yes. The only thing I was consuming was the one food and water. No seasonings, salt, coffee, tea, nothing...

The reason why I started with single food sources was I didn't believe we understood very well how single foods impact health. The properties the chemical compounds in food exhibit are known to have impact to other compounds being synergistic, destructive, or creating new effects. There are 1,000's of chemical compounds in food and we look at very few of them. I believe these compounds are interacting with each other in ways we don't fully comprehend.

The kitchen is really a chemistry lab and we don't treat it with due respect. Think about chemistry and cooking... The basic principles of both are combing ingredients, changing states, and producing something new. People often focus on chemical interactions of supplements and medications while paying little attention to food interactions.

It's only been in the last 100 years that we've been able to combine non-indigenous foods in the variety and quantity that we do today. There was a lot of data from the experiments that contradicts modern health sciences and it's quite possibly food interactions that are part of the reason. Fasting glucose response is a great example... My fasting glucose dropped whenever I ate large amounts of carbohydrates but increased whenever I ate zero carbohydrates - that's pretty much the opposite of what modern health sciences will tell you. It's not like the numbers had insignificant changes either. I started at 98 mg/dL fasting glucose and after a month of potatoes I went to 85 mg/dL. After eating nothing but eggs it went back up to 90 mg/dL. After eating bananas it went back down to 83 mg/dL. Then when I ate nothing but raw beef it went up to 93 mg/dL. There's a lot of other data that has similar contradictory findings.

The results from health experiments normally have very wide ranges of results and we just average everything. To me that's not conducive to reliability or accuracy. So I set on my path to figure out if by controlling diet to extremes you could produce reliability, accuracy, and predictability. I found out you can... But that's more to the story...


#5

The original purpose was to observe what happened and try to learn. I call my project "The Health Satori Project" and yes it started with wanting to write a book about what I call observational health science. Basically the data from the nation's health doesn't match up with current theories. I had a lot of alternative theories about health and I wanted to write about them. At this time I realized many of the theories I supported didn't have any studies to back them up so I wanted to start some of my own and see what came out.

Satori is a term of enlightenment that basically means to see objective reality you must drop all preconceived ideas. My experiments started without a thesis because if you have a thesis your study is subject to projection (i.e. you see what you want to see because you're trying to validate your thesis). There was an article earlier this year about it referring to projection as the "belief effect" and it can have some positive results, but when it comes to objective analysis you want to be far removed from it.

During my experiments several things have stood out. The first was cholesterol. Cholesterol was the most reliable and predictable number of all the raw data. If I ate copious amounts of saturated fat and/or cholesterol my serum cholesterol sky rocketed. If I removed all saturated fat and cholesterol my cholesterol plummeted. I found out that my cholesterol stabilizes to diet within 2 - 4 weeks no matter how high it was or how long it had been elevated (I saw a 204 mg/dL drop in 23 days).

Lean mass is another item that has stood out. As far as I was aware you're not supposed to be able to gain 13.5 lbs of lean mass without using water weight and glycogen manipulation. You could stretch it (along with creatine) to explain the results of my beef phase, but my 44 lbs gain in 10 weeks is still unexplainable. I had wanted to set up an experiment to confirm in sodium or creatine differences could be the cause of this. I believe this will be a deterministic study.

In my pursuit to build more lean mass I also wanted to study the efficacy of supplementation. I believe supplementation is great for many people, but I'm a bit of a competitive eater and can eat massive quantities of food. When I ate the 4.5 lbs of beef I usually did it in a single sitting because it's closer to how predators eat. I also do not eat for taste so I can pretty much eat any diet. The questions I have are: 1) do supplements really provide benefit 2) if so how does that benefit compare to real food. I thought preservation of lean mass would be a more accurate way to determine this because weight gain often comes with temporary lean mass increases from water, glycogen, creatine, etc. I also already have the results from weight loss during a banana diet so it makes it easy to compare (no new baseline diet needed).


#6

What kind of feedback are you looking for?


#7

Best shampoo for his hair.

Best type of gas to fuel his car.

What type of jeans can he buy for his huge legs.

Should he shave his head or get implants.

His girlfriend is not into this so what should he do.


#8

I thought it was more in line with.

I put a GPS on my Girlfriends car...


#9

There are a couple of things that don't jive with me-

  1. In an attempt to be objective you experiment on yourself? Call me skeptical, cuz I am.

  2. Single food feeding for prolonged periods to gauge food interactions? What other food is it going to interact with? Dan John wrote a nice guide to incorporate and evaluate the efficacy of using supplements a few years ago. It's in the archives.

  3. This isn't a valid collection of data that can be interpolated to mean anything to anybody else but you. There isn't enough variety or quantity of subjects of the test to even apply to a certain segment of the population.

Don't misunderstand me though, I'm not knocking you. The dedication to adhere to what you've described is admirable. I sure as hell couldn't do that. If the documentation didn't drive me nuts, the single food thing would.


#10

Any and all, but I'm particularly interested in how valuable others think this data may be and ideas on how I can improve it.


#11

There are pros and cons to one man studies. The main pro being able to better control all the variables. Stress levels, work, daily activity, prior diets, sexual activity, etc, are all things that can impact health and therefore health experiments. These are also things that aren't commonly accounted for in health experiments.

Angiogenesis is something that has gotten my particular attention lately. If you're not familiar with it it's the process of growing blood vessels which is required for all tissue growth and healing. Anti-angiogenesis is the process of restricting blood vessels which can help fight obesity and cancer. Certain foods exhibit angiogenic properties and other anti-angiogenic properties. If you ate foods with both properties these would have destructive effects. It's similar to aromatase and anti-aromatase properties. These are both two important properties of food to pay attention too, but on top of these what other important properties in food might be battling each other out or making new properties?

My point isn't to show that what applies to my body applies to everyone, but rather to demonstrate what health science theories do or don't apply to my body. If I can prove something doesn't apply to me (particularly something that has conflicting or unreliable data) then I hope it causes others to look for better answers too. Besides all that, there does need to be a modern theory that covers the results I'm finding.

It's great feedback thank you. I'm looking for ways to make this better and I'm not pretending to have all the answers. I do have a lot of theories and I'm looking for experiments I can conduct to gather "convincing" evidence so people like you think twice about modern health theories.


#12

I don't pay a whole lot of attention to most theory other than the basic biological/physiological functions other than as a hobby. Past a certain point a lot of it is really beyond me. Heck, I've had some of the best workouts of my life after a half a box of cookies and couple of cups of coffee.

Best of luck man.

edit- Jeez did I botch those quote thingies! sorry.


#13

This is fascinating stuff. Is there a particular reason you chose the foods that you did? Also, did you monitor any variables besides glucose, cholesterol, and lean body mass? Did you run any hormone panels? This topic is very interesting and I would love to hear more about the experiment.


#14

I did lipid panels + CMP for blood work and DXA scans for body composition. I did not run hormone panels but that would have definitely been interesting, but the expense for me would have been a bit too much to randomly include.

During the meat and egg phases I tested my urine with ketone strips to monitor ketosis (and after 4 weeks of complete carbohydrate deprivation no ketosis during either diet).

I did some experiments on RMR particular to see how my RMR reacted to a 1 day intermittent fast and how it reacted to refeeding after fasting for 3 days.

I did some loose experimentation with dental health and have been getting regular perio check ups. At first I wanted to see the impact of diet on dental health and I also started experimenting with not brushing my teeth (1 - 2x per week).

I've monitored my strength throughout the experiments.

My website is a work in progress, but here is a page that has linked documents that have more detailed information on the experiments:

http://www.healthsatori.org/health_topics_and_discussions


#15

NOTE: Updated in original post but adding this too.

Phase 1 of the experiment complete. Supplementing beta-alanine, creatine, L-Glutamine, BCAAs, and salt did nothing to inhibit lean mass losses during my first phase. I'm starting a refeeding period then I'm going to do the banana diet again and supplement small portions of natural animal proteins via raw beef, raw milk, and/or raw egg with a 20g protein per day amount. BMR tests showed that on the 2,000 calorie banana diet 100% of my at rest calories burned were from carbohydrates and it was measured at 1,540 calories. The last 2 days I did a water fast + the supplements and went into ketosis within 24 hours showing glycogen stores were depleted.