I was excited when David reached out to me because he is very regimented. He has literally weighed and recorded the macros of every piece of food he has eaten going back to July of 2021. He exercises the same amount each week, the same number of reps of the same exercises. When he jogs it is in the same place for the same distance at the same pace. He weighs himself on two scales in case one is innacurate.
Last Saturday I gave my friend a ride to the bar. She’d been snowed in since the big storm one week previous so she didn’t have any food. I brought her a pizza, which we shared. Pizza isn’t ideal but its on my list of allowed occasional cheats. We wound up staying late at the bar drinking tequila.
The point of this aside is that I’m a lousy lab rat.
I’m glad that there are people like David in the world. David had already lost a lot of weight on a keto diet – down to a BMI of 22 – before he tried the full complement of Fire In A Bottle supplements. He supplemented for 22 days with succinade, stearic acid, sterculia oil and alpha lipoic acid in the context of a keto diet which he ate to the point of satiety. In the five weeks before the supplements, David consumed 2141 calories per day (This is quite low for a man this size). In the final weeks of using the supplements he averaged 3256. That’s a increase of 1100 calories!!!!
Over the 22 days he gained 1.2 lbs, compared to an earlier period where he consumed the same amount of calories as during the trial while gaining 4.6 lbs. David’s description of this whole process is so thorough I don’t even have any followup questions for him.
Other notable parts of David’s story: he got to his ideal weight by eliminating olive oil, avocado oil and chicken and supplementing with cocoa butter. Also, instant read body temp thermometers are totally inaccurate. You have to buy the ones that take 60 seconds.
This is David’s story in David’s words.
Two years ago, I hit metabolic rock bottom. I reached my all-time high in terms of weight – 242 pounds, which for my height (5ft9) comes out to a BMI of 35.7.
I had gradually gained the weight over years, so while I realized I was overweight, it never fully struck me just how badly out of shape I had become.
My story in that regard is pretty common: I was athletic in high school at 130 pounds (BMI 19.2 at age 18), despite eating whatever and however much I pleased.
I slowly put on weight in my early twenties, but since I was still within the range of normal weight, didn’t feel concerned by it.
At 23, however, my weight gain accelerated, and by 24 I had shot past 200 pounds, staying there for the next decade, only occasionally managing to briefly diet-and-exercise my way into the 190s, only to inevitably end up gaining the weight back.
The next ten years were slow but mostly steady march of weight gain, punctuated by fleeting periods of modest weight loss.
This was not only frustrating but difficult to understand. I exercised regularly, and while my diet was far from perfect, I did avoid junk food, leaned in heavily to the foods I’d been taught were the basis of a healthy diet (grains, fruits, and vegetables, with moderate amounts of very lean meat), and generally followed what would largely comport with what mainstream nutritionists consider to be a balance diet.
Yet by 34 I was not only obese by every metric, my condition was clearly taking a toll on my general happiness and wellbeing. Too often I was irritable, my energy levels generally quite low, and my sleep less than what it should have been both in terms of quality and quantity.
Feeling helpless after years of failed weight loss attempts through traditional approaches, I figured at this point I had nothing to lose by trying a diet which went against everything which had been ingrained in me since childhood about proper eating (I grew up with the Food Pyramid and the War on Fat – with saturated fat being a dietary pariah).
I’d briefly tried the Atkins diet in 2010, and even without following it properly or really understanding it in-depth, I’d managed to lose a fair amount of weight quickly.
Having heard about other low-carb diets, like Paleo and Keto, in the years since, I tried to formulate my own approach; cutting out processed grains and refined sugars, while still avoiding foods high in saturated fat. I ended up eating a lot of vegetables, fruits, nuts and nut butters, and a fair amount of lean meat.
I did lose some weight – almost ten pounds in a month – but the diet was unsustainable, and I quickly started gaining it back, and by the spring of 2019, I had not only pushed past the weight I was at when I started the last diet, I had reached my all-time peak of 242.
Diabetes is rampant in my mother’s family, heart disease among men in my father’s family, and I knew I’d probably end up with both sooner rather than later if I continued on my present course.
So I finally took the plunge and decided to give Keto a try.
I eased into the diet, not being one to go cold turkey on anything, and nevertheless I experienced sustained, significant weight loss from June 2019 until March 2020, when I got a fairly nasty case of the Coronavirus, and was also literally barred from maintaining my diet, with fairly extreme lockdowns here in Israel and shortages of meat, eggs, and dairy products forcing me to rely on high-carb foods for weeks.
But unlike relapses following previous diets, I was easily able to get back on Keto again as soon as I had recovered and had access to the foods I needed – a very positive sign in terms of the diet’s sustainability.
For most of the rest of 2020 I continued with a fairly standard Keto diet, constantly fine-tuning it as I learned more. Seed oils (which here in Israel usually means Canola) were thrown out, intermittent fasting introduced, then extended fasting added.
Towards the end of 2020 I had fallen to the low 170s (lbs), about 70 pounds below my starting weight. But as I closed in on my ideal weight, my progress slowed, and sometimes plateaued.
It was around this point that I became interested in the theory that while excess carbohydrate consumption could fuel weight gain, it’s actually excess levels of polyunsaturated fats and low levels of saturated fats in the body which prime people for that weight gain.
I’d already been drifting towards an animal-based diet, and now accelerated it, cutting out the Keto-friendly foods which were higher in polyunsaturated fats: foods like nuts and nut butters (peanut butter had been a staple of my diet early on, and probably my biggest source of carbs), tahini and hummus, and unsaturated plant-based oils like olive and avocado oil. I replaced the oils with butter and beef tallow.
I also dropped Carnivore foods which, I learned, were also relatively high in PUFAs; specifically, fattier cuts of chicken (the only non-ruminant animal I eat anyway).
I broke through my plateaus and continued losing weight for much of 2021 – though slower and less consistently: I had less to lose, and the last 20 pounds are usually the hardest. By July 2021, I was in the high 140s, and have remained at or below that weight since.
After seeing benefits from tweaking my dietary fat ratios, I decided to give supplementation a try.
This came in two stages: first, I used what I had easy access to (pure cocoa butter) to replace one of the last two moderately high PUFA foods I consumed, avocado oil mayo (the other being eggs, which I still consume regularly). I’d already cut out avocado oil for cooking, but had trouble giving up mayo.
I simply swapped out the avocado oil mayo for homemade cocoa butter mayo (yes, its difficult to make, but IMHO, worth it), changing absolutely nothing else in my diet, either in terms of content or quantity.
After a month of this change, I noted a marginal decline in weight, but also a noticeable shrinking of my waist size (about an inch).
Every day, I took one teaspoon of the sterculia oil first thing in the morning and on an empty stomach, right before my coffee. Along with it, I’d take a 600mg pill of alpha lipoic acid.
Thirty-to-sixty minutes later, I’d take a scoop of succinade.
The first few times, the succinade gave me a strong feeling of nausea and some mild gut discomfort, but it went away by the fourth day.
I gradually increased my intake of succinade, starting from one 7-gram scoop per day and rising to two then three scoops. Each scoop would be taken separately (morning, noon, and evening) and with a single pill of alpha lipoic acid.
The first scoop always came before eating, and usually with at least an hour prior to having any food.
The second scoop, though, by necessity was often closer to eating, usually just before a meal, though occasionally after.
I (mostly) maintained my typical OMAD plus one 48-hour fast per week regimen during the experiment, though increased appetite made my regular fasting more difficult at times.
The full supplementation period (sterculia, succinade, and ALA) lasted for 22 days, ending when I ran out of the latter two supplements.
During the full supplementation period, I felt significantly warmer. A digital quick thermometer I bought for the experiment proved to be inaccurate and wildly inconsistent, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to track my temperatures.
I also noticed a significant rise in appetite during the experiment, which rose over time, especially after I increased the amount of succinade I ingested daily.
Eating to satiety, I averaged 2,141 calories per day (that average includes fasted days when the calories were zero) during the five weeks before supplementing. The weekly averages varied from a high of 2,412/day to a low of 1,811/day during those five weeks.
During the 22 days of supplementing, still eating to satiety, I averaged 2,704 calories/day.
Appetite and caloric intake went up with time, rising from an average of 2,488 calories in the first week to 3,257 by the final seven days. During the last five days, when I was taking two-to-three scoops of succinade per day, I consumed on average a whopping 3,996 calories per day.
My weight vacillated within its normal range during the experiment, and ended up one pound higher at the end of the period than it was at the beginning, rising from 147 to 148 (BMI 21.7 to 21.9).
I started tracking my eating in April 2021, as I experimented with different kinds and durations of fasting.
Initially I tracked just eating times and carbohydrate consumption. Over time, I started tracking protein, fat and total calories, as I experimented with the P:E Diet, giving me complete records of macros and calories going back to last July.
I’ve also been tracking my weight for years.
I currently use two digital scales (I bought a second to compare results to, wanting to make sure the measurements were accurate), weighing myself under the same conditions and times of day to try to account for variances from water weight and other factors.
The results from the two scales vary somewhat, but the start and end weights according to both were essentially the same:
When I cross-reference weight changes by caloric intake in the past, what stands out is the relative lack of weight I put on during this 22-day experiment.
I consumed a total of 59,478 calories during the 22 days of the experiment. That’s up from 44,992 during the 22 days before, when I averaged 2,045 calories/day. On that level of caloric intake, my weight – again, fluctuating daily – ended up at 146.8, before I started the experiment.
If I go back further – two months, specifically – to a period of time when I consumed a comparable amount of calories, my weight climbed higher than it did during the duration of the experiment.
Then, I ate 60,963 total calories over a 22-day period (so only about 67 more calories per day than during the experiment, but pretty close). During that period, I gained 4.6 pounds (147.2 at start, ending at 151.8), compared to 1.2 pounds in the experiment (here I’m only using one scale, since I didn’t have the second scale for comparison two months ago).
Gaining 4.6 pounds makes some sense, at least under the traditional calories-in/calories-out model, after I consumed an extra 15,000 calories above baseline. If each pound of fat is 3,500 calories, and assuming rapid increase in consumption leads primarily to weight gain from increased fat storage, 15,000 extra calories would equal almost 4.3 pounds.
The fact that I did not see such an amount of weight gain now is, at the very least, interesting, and raises questions about the possible impact of the supplements.
I maintained my exact same exercise routine I’ve had for months. Two 90-minute runs per week, at the same pace and at the same location, plus three days of exercising at home. I kept the exercises identical, down to the numbers of reps of individual exercises: 230 pushups (in sets of 50-30), 200 sit-ups (4×50), 20 pull-ups (2×10) and 40 chin-ups (in three sets), with 20 minutes of various exercises with weights.
While I can’t rule out environmental changes having some effect (the weather got dramatically colder) on the body’s use of calories, that alone seems like a stretch.
And given the increased appetite I experienced, which progressed into an absolute ravenous hunger by the end of the 22 days, I can’t help but suspect perhaps increased metabolic activity was at work here.
While I ate more during the experiment, what I ate remained the same: a Carnivore-ish (or Ketovore, if you prefer) diet made up overwhelmingly of animal-based foods.
Lots of beef, eggs, some chicken breast, and some cheese.
In terms of which cuts of beef I eat, it depends primarily on the price of meat and my budget. I eat ribeye when I can afford to, ground beef (90/10 or 80/20 depending on the purpose) when I can’t, or chuck roast and shoulder roast. I also try to have 1-2 pounds of beef liver a week.
I drink coffee, and occasionally use some spices, but the only calorically significant plant-based food I have is the stearic acid-infused cocoa butter mayonnaise.
I’m not dogmatically Carnivore (if I have the odd craving for a berry or, say, a carrot in my beef stew, I don’t feel obliged to hold back).
But I am absolutist (bordering on fanatical) when it comes to avoiding seed oils.
Exempli gratia: When my in-laws have us over for the weekend, I bring my own food. Ditto for staying at hotels. Unless I’ve verified no vegetable oil was used, I simply don’t eat it, even when I’m a guest.
Below is a chart of my macros during the 22 day-period. It’s typical of my general eating pattern. All food is weighed with a kitchen scale, recorded, then total calories and macros calculated. The variability of fat content in meat other than ground beef can make macros/calories somewhat difficult to calculate, so obviously this cannot be 100% accurate; but then again, it never can be with any food that isn’t homogenized.
(The 32 calories during the second fast are from a small amount of protein powder added to my coffee.)