how I lost 10kg in 6 months with little effort

I’ve been asked this a few times recently now, so I thought I’d write a short explanation of how I did it.


First off, exercise doesn’t work. You can do press-ups and sit-ups and all the running in the world, and every gram that you lose through your panting and sweating will be regained as soon as you stop to eat, because exercise makes you hungry.

To understand how the body loses weight, you should do a little experiment. Measure your weight just before you sleep at night, then measure again in the morning as soon as you wake up. If you’re overweight like me, you’ll probably lose about 500g. Half a kilogram. (1.1 pounds, for those of you living in a backwards country.)

People lose weight through expiration. You literally breath the weight off you. You don’t poo it out, you don’t sweat it off. In a way, you do piss it out, but mostly you lose weight by breathing.

When fat is used to generate energy, it is broken apart into carbon dioxide and water. 84% of the fat’s weight is expelled through the lungs (the reason you lose weight at night), and 16% is lost through urine.

For the first few months of the year, I followed a pretty simple diet – during the week, have whatever you want for lunch and breakfast, don’t have dinner, and if you’re peckish later in the evening, have some popcorn. For drinks, avoid anything which has lots of calories. I drank a lot of water, and a lot of Coke Zero. On the weekend, eat whatever you feel like.

Also, you must religiously record your weight as soon as you wake up. As soon as. I’ve found that if you wait a few minutes, the act of waking up seems to add grams of weight as you breath in the morning air and absorb it.

Drink a lot of water. I’ve seen recommendations that say that every male should drink 3.7 litres of water a day. Every female, 3.2 litres. Those are crazy numbers. But try to anyway.

Chill the water before drinking. When your body absorbs water, it must be raised to body temperature (37°C). The definition of calorie is “the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1°C”, so to raise 3.7 litres of water from just over freezing to body temperature burns up 136900 calories (or 137kcal).

The standard adult daily calorie intake is 2000kcal.

If you eat normal food, you don’t know how many calories you are consuming. But if you eat a future food such as Jimmy Joy, Huel, Jake, Soylent or any of the other similar all-in-ones that are available, then you know /exactly/ how much you are consuming.

For the last month, I have consumed about 1000kcal of Jimmy Joy per day, popcorn at night to soothe the savage beast, and only the occasional snack in between when I can’t occupy myself with something distracting. My weight has dropped on average about 100g per day because of that.

I said that exercise will not make you lose weight, but I find that a little exercise is enough to get you breathing hard enough that you will lose some weight through breathing (and it also measurably helps your chance of surviving the next few years). Too much, and you’ll be tempted to engorge yourself afterwards, but if you go for a brisk walk (I walk about 1.5 hours every day to/from work), that should be enough. by “brisk”, I mean you should exert a little effort.

If you have any other tips that are backed up by science (don’t talk to me about avocados…), please mention them below.

Calorie Restriction and Jimmy Joy

Calorie restriction is a method of increasing longevity by reducing calorie intake by about 20%. It’s been studied in various animal species since the 1930s and shown consistently to work, even if not always in the same way or to the same degree.

Recent studies in mice showed that calorie restriction increases longevity by about 42%, but also pushes health-destroying diseases back until later in their lives. In a study by Stephen Spindler, it was showed that tumours were much reduced in mice that had reduced calorie diets, vs those with normal diets.

Calorie restriction does not mean simply reducing the food you eat. If you do that, you are also reducing the percentage of micro-nutrients that you eat.

In my case, for example, I’ve been eating nothing but Jimmy Joy for the last month as an experiment to see what it did for me. I discovered that it was difficult to eat a full day’s worth, and that if you don’t eat a full day’s worth, you are losing out on nutrients.

Jimmy Joy (old name: Joylent) is a “future food” that is carefully designed to have exactly 2100 calories in a one day sample, and as close as possible to 100% of the recommended daily recommended values of all the micro-nutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc). Those are the things that you need to eat every day, but are not mentioned on ingredient labels…

I was overweight by almost 20kg at the beginning of the year, and have been reducing that in various ways since then. I found that moving onto Jimmy Joy made an amazing immediate change, causing my weight loss to increase hugely (20g average per day to 100g average per day).

This is because Jimmy Joy is very filling. If you mix it at the ratios that they recommend, there appears to be a “foaming” effect where the food feels like it’s filling you up even with just the smallest amount. The encourages you to eat less.

While this might have a desired effect on weight, it has some side-effects – I’m tired, weak, sometimes less mentally sharp than I would like, and I have a lowered libido.

This is because the food is designed to give you exactly 100% of what you need. If you eat less, then you are getting less than 100% of what you need.

While eating less calories is a desired thing, consuming less micro-nutrients is not.

This highlights the problem, but what is the solution?

Going back to eating “normal” food is not a solution. My diet was nowhere near optimal before this.

Doctors and other health-professionals recommend that you “plan carefully” when creating your diet, which is a vague way of saying “we don’t have a plan either”. When they say you should have plenty of variety in your diet, they are basically saying “if you eat lots of stuff, you will give yourself the right nutrients by accident”, which is yet another way of saying “we don’t have a plan.”

I can see two solutions to this:
1: that Jimmy Joy (or a similar food supplier) comes out with a very-low-calorie variant that is still 100% nutrient-full, which you can then mix with your normal day-to-day Jimmy Joy to get the right calories you’re looking for.
2: that I write a nutrient calculator program that can design recipes itself based on exact requirements

I have no control over Jimmy Joy’s choices, and I’m sure they’re happy enough with the money they’re making on their standard meals, so they’re unlikely to start accepting amendment requests from random nobodies.

So, I started building my own service to provide recipe plans.

So far, the plan is able to generate mixes of ingredients for single days that are designed to provide you with 100% nutrition, and your own requested number of calories.

I’m working now on making multi-day plans to allow overestimates or underestimates of ingredients to be balanced out over days. This way if you have too much iron today (for example), then tomorrow, your plan will include less iron.

I have a number of far-future plans for this.

One is that I can use this kind of program to generate personalised meal-plans for people that are trying to diet but are unsure that they are doing it right (that would be everyone, right?).

Another is that I can use this to generate one-day meal packets similar to how Jimmy Joy, Soylent, Huel, Jake, etc do, but again, personalised.

Tomorrow, I start eating based on my own plan. If I do this right, then I will soon be back to my usual alert self, but will also still be losing weight, as my own plan will have reduced calories in it.

Methuselah Mouse

Sounds like a superhero name, right?

In 2003, David Gobel provided seed capital for a prize (the Methuselah Mouse Prize, or Mprize) to be awarded to anyone that could demonstrate impressive improvements in longevity in mice.

The first Methuselah Mouse prize ever awarded was to Dr. Andrzej Bartke of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. He altered a gene which controlled a mouse’s response to growth hormone, which led to reduced levels of insulin and glucose in the blood. The change protected the mouse’s DNA from age-related decay, which led to the mouse living to the grand old age of 1819 days. In human terms, that’s more than 150 years old. The mouse wasn’t called Methuselah, but GHR-KO 11C. Not quite as easy to pronounce (or remember!).

The first rejuvenation award was given in 2004 to Stephen Spindler for his work on caloric restriction, which extended life in mice by 15%.

The first Lifespan Achievement award was given to Dr. Zelton Dave Sharp in 2009 for his extension of lifespans in mice that are already aged, using rapamycin, which inhibits mTor pathways leading to life extension in yeast, fruitflies and nematodes. It wasn’t known if it would affect mammals. It turns it, it does – 14% extension for females, 9% for males.

The reason that the prize concentrates on mice, and not just any old species, is that mice are well-studied throughout medical history, and the biology in mice is very similar to that of humans, so anything that affects mice can have a comparable effect in humans.