Friday, April 08, 2005

Sweetwater Diet, part II

Seth Robert provides some follow-up on his earlier experiments, including the sugar-water diet I mentioned earlier:
Friends noticed my fructose-induced weight loss and told their friends about it, and some of those friends contacted me, asking how to do it. I told them (a) 90 ml (6 tablespoons) or less of fructose per day should be sufficient to cause substantial loss of appetite and weight loss; (b) that the amount of water in which the fructose was mixed did not matter, but that it must be unflavored; and (c) the fructose water should be drunk between meals. To lose weight they would have to consume fewer calories than usual, I said, but the fructose water should make it possible to do so without unpleasant hunger. Three of them tried it and kept records[...] The fructose water, they found, made it much easier to eat less and lose weight.
My immediate results have been consistent with his - hunger was greatly reduced from day 1. I'm going to stick with his precise plan at first to verify that it works over time. But I don't find his explanation of why it works all that convincing.

Seth believes the important thing is that the sugar-water has no strong taste. That providing calories without taste (other than very mild sweetness) weakens a mental connection between taste and calories to the point that the body stops desiring the taste of food. My alternative theory is that the important thing is that the sugar-water has a very low - but positive! - calorie density, in a form that is slow to digest. This provides the body with just enough real calories - and enough volume/taste/swallowing experience - to give you a sense of "I've been eating" without providing any excess calories beyond that. Perhaps drinking a mild sugar solution for two hours is equivalent to eating lunch for two hours as far as relieving your hunger sense is concerned, even when it only adds up to the calorie content of a single can of soda.

If my theory is correct, it should be possible to make a /tasty/ weight-loss drink that served the same end as Seth's exceedingly bland fructose-water solutions. To create it, one might start by analyzing the characteristics of the European sodas that prompted the initial experiment.

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