Workshop progress

Construction takes longer than I thought. No wonder it costs so much!

When I started building my workshop/lab months ago (July – two months ago), I thought I might be done in a few weeks. It’s now September, and I’m just getting around to the roof now, and even then, it’s a temporary roof just to keep the structure from rotting through the winter!

The first thing I’ll be adding to the workshop is a 3D printer, with which I can start building the equipment I’ll need for working on my food replacement plan (a 100% nutrition food that’s designed on a person to person basis).

On a related note, based on an observation I made, Jimmy Joy is planning a low-calorie version of its Plenny-shake, which should allow better nutritional control for people that don’t consume exactly 2100 calories a day (that would be, oh, everyone!)

The second thing I’ll be adding is a weight and pulley system, to help me exercise. One thing I hate is going from no exercise to full-on exercise. For example, you can either do no press-ups, or you can do press-ups with your full weight. In order to do press-ups with lower weights (do build yourself up to full-on weight), I believe it would be better to start by having your body weight balanced so you’re essentially weightless, and start gradually adding more of your weight as you get stronger.

This is all part of my own attempt to extend my life. The ideal weight for my height is about 62kg, based on a BMI of about 23. That’s just the start, though – BMI does not discriminate between people that are overweight, and people that are just muscular.

To get a more accurate mortality calculation, you need to use something like ABSI or SBSI. The Surface Based Body Shape Index takes into account the weight, height, waist-size and vertical trunk-size, and uses that to generate a very accurate body-fat to mortality index. The people that live the longest are those that manage to reduce their SBSI score to .108 (male) or .105 (female).

To measure your own SBSI, please use my SBSI calculator.

Losing weight is straightforward – you just eat less calories than you use during a day. I’ve lost more than 12kg since the beginning of the year with little effort.

Reducing waist size, though, involves exercise. That’s a big change for a person (like me) that generally only does what is necessary. I generally don’t do anything that has no immediate purpose. Lying down and doing 100 pushups, or running a mile, doesn’t make any sense to me, because all I seem to get out of it is pain.

But, if there is an end-goal in the form of a number, suddenly it’s a game, which I intend to win 🙂

So – the plan – build the workshop, create custom exercise stuff, reach an SBSI of .108, and finish creating my food generator thing.

An eventual plan for the workshop is to build a protein synthesis machine capable of synthesising senolytics such as the FOXO4-DRI peptide, but that’s probably a year away.

Scurvy in the 21st century

Scurvy is a disease that we might have thought was gone long ago, since we all know that vitamin C cures scurvy, and we all know where to get vitamin C easily.

The cure for scurvy (fruits, and oranges in particular) has been discovered and rediscovered for thousands of years since at least 1500BCE, when scurvy was described in the Ebers papyrus in Egypt.

The actual vitamin C was not discovered until 1932, but it was proven in 1794 that lemon juice can prevent scurvy, when Commander Peter Rainier left on a voyage to India that took 23 weeks, in which not one person contracted scurvy. Another similar voyage only 50 years before that, led by George Anson, resulted in the loss of 1300 of 2000 crew mostly from scurvy.

To find that this disease is still visible today despite the cure being so readily available is surprising, and yet it is here.

An article in the Cornwall Alive newspaper describes increasing cases of scurvy, gout, and rickets among the population caused by the ease with which takeaway foods, which generally are not nutritionally good, can be bought.

Scurvy symptoms include fatigue, pain in the limbs, reddish-blue spots on the skin.

It doesn’t take a lot to avoid these problems. Just eat your fruits and vegetables, and go out into that sunlight every now and then.

workshop progress

I’m still working away at the foundations of the thing. Building things takes longer than I thought – especially if you’re doing it completely by hand, and only have an hour or two in the evenings!

I had some ideas on further things I want to dive into with the lab/workshop/shed once built.

One main reason for the entire project is so that I can work on projects that I simply can’t do within the house, such as working on electronics, etc. I can’t work in the house comfortably if I only have an hour or two each evening, only have a small area to work in (most of which is taken up already by my laptop), and I have to clear up whenever someone needs to use the table. By having a dedicated workshop, I can have a few projects going at the same time, and simply walk away after each session, knowing that I can pick up exactly where I left off the next day, without needing to go search for my bits and pieces.

The projects I already had in mind:
1. 3D printer to replace the old one that finally fell apart. first job: print a second new printer.
2. protein synthesis. far future plan. there are details online on how to automate protein synthesis.
3. vertical garden. I have a large plan for this, but basically, I want to be able to grow food using containers that I can store underground, lighting with LEDs, and feeding with nutrient baths.
4. calorimeters and other tools to measure nutritional content of food and plants.
5. food dispenser that is designed to output meals with very specific nutritional values.
6. spectrophotometer. should be simple enough. This is so I can measure protein in the protein synthesis project, and soil nutrient content for the vertical garden project

The idea for project 5 came about because of the month I spent eating Jimmy Joy (Joylent). While the prepackaged meal seemed like a perfect idea before I started, it soon became clear that it was designed for a person that is much more active than me, and I could not eat a reduced amount of it and yet keep 100% nutrition – so I designed and build a program that can use common off-the-shelf ingredients to generate customised nutritionally-balanced meals.

Of course, I’d like to know for sure that the meals actually do end up with the values that I calculate, so project 4 is for that.

And I’d like to grow my own source ingredients for the dispenser, so project 3 lets me do that.

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.

Niacin dosage for high cholesterol

The recommended daily dosage of niacin is 16mg (males) or 14mg (females), with a maximum dosage of 35mg, beyond which you end up with a niacin flush. Niacin flushes are not dangerous, but they can be uncomfortable.

Niacin is a precursor for (it turns into) nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), which in turn is a precursor for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which helps your DNA repair itself.

The nutritional need for niacin was first noted in 1937, 100 years after its first discovery, after a long chase for the cause and cure of Pellegra in the US.

Studies found that high-dosage niacin can reduce high cholesterol levels (hypercholesterolemia). The niacin dosage for high cholesterol is 1-6 grams of niacin daily, starting from a lower 100mg per day and increasing steadily. This is best done using a slow-release supplement, which will reduce the “hit” that the body receives, thus lowering the effect of the niacin flush.

High dosages of niacin cause liver damage, with symptoms of jaundice, itching, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. However, the damage is usually mild, and will stop as soon as the niacin overdosage is stopped.

Regularly eating fried potatoes increases mortality

A paper by Nicola Veronese studied 4,440 people (ages 45-79) over an 8 year period to see if the quantity of potato products ate by the participants had an effect on mortality.

During the 8 years, 236 of them died. A study of their eating patterns did not show any significance to the quantity of potato foods, but did show that people who regularly ate fried potato foods (such as chips, hash browns, crisps, wedges) were twice as likely to die in that period than any other people.

The paper does not speculate as to why this would be so, but I can make two guesses: trans fats, and free radicals.

Potatoes are usually fried in fatty products, which can contain trans fats. There is a myth that trans fats are produced by the very act of frying, but that’s all it is – a myth.

Potatoes don’t contain much fat at all. They are mostly carbohydrate. When you fry them, though, they absorb the oil, and therefore the oil’s fats, including trans fats.

Trans fats kill people. Denmark banned the sale of products containing trans fats in 2003, which caused a drop of 70% in cardiovascular deaths measured between 1985 and 2009.

Some restaurants claim that their chips are trans-fat-free. When the Indiana Academy of Sciences tested this claim, they found that most of these claims were false.

Free radicals are molecules that are formed when oil molecules are heated and start ripping atoms from each other. This forms molecules that are “radical”, in that they have an unpaired electron which they try to resolve by attaching to other molecules.

When radicals are free in the body, they can cause damage. Anti-oxidants can mitigate this damage by attaching to the radicals before they do damage, but if the radicals outmatch the anti-oxidant protection, then damage can occur which is cumulative over your lifetime.

In short, if you’re working on your longevity, baked chips are better for you than fried chips.

SBSI Calculator

BMI (body mass indicator) is the usual end-goal that people aim for when trying to find a healthy weight. However, it can be misleading. A person who is fit but muscular may be classed as overweight, for example.

The BMI does not consider the body shape, which indicates where the fat is in the body. It’s a good goal to aim for, but you should then aim further, for more accurate goals.

The ABSI is a better indicator. It takes into account the waist size as well as the height and weight.

But an even better indicator is the SBSI, which takes in the waist, height, weight, and vertical trunk circumference, to calculate the surface area of the body and then calculate an index based on that.

The resources I’ve seen didn’t indicate what is a good index to go for, so I wrote an SBSI calculator which not only figures out the correct figures, but also tells you what weight and/or waist size you should be aiming for.

If you would like to embed the calculator in your own website, simply use this code (you should have jQuery already loaded):

<div id="sbsi-calculator"></div>
<script src="//"></script>
<script src=""></script>

I had some fun with this, reversing the equations in the papers to try find ideal waist and weight sizes. I’m glad to know I haven’t lost my math skills since school!

perfect nutrition using common supermarket produce?

The problem is that no-one really knows if their diet is acceptable, as most people don’t have the lab equipment to test their food, or the time in which to do so (or the inclination).

I have an idea for a program that would be able to tell you the exact produce to buy from a supermarket to fit a perfect 100% nutrition diet, so that even if you’re not really into the idea of buying Jimmy Joy or Soylent, you can achieve the same end goal from the comfort of your own home.

To test this, I wrote a program over the weekend that used some ideas from artificial neural network training in order to come up with a reasonably close match to a perfect diet. I deliberately chose ingredients from a local shop. Their website doesn’t include the minerals and micronutrient values I wanted, so I had to merge their data with some other nutrition websites to put it all together.

The recipe (which adds up to €4.13/£3.60 for a day’s meals):

  • 352g Tesco Every Day Value Sliced Pickled Beetroot 340G (€0.61)
  • 191g Tesco Bananas Loose (€0.24)
  • 159g Tesco Rooster Potatoes 4Kg (€0.16)
  • 135g Tesco Every Day Value Roasted And Salted Cashew Nuts 125G (€1.67)
  • 103g Tesco Wholefood Soya Beans 500G (€0.47)
  • 67g Tesco Olive Oil 1L (€0.29)
  • 0.6 tablets Tesco Vitamin B Complex X 90 (€0.01)
  • 0.4 tablets Tesco Calcium And Vitamin D 90’S (€0.01)
  • 0.4 tablets Tesco High Strength Vitamin D 90S (€0.02)
  • 35g Tesco Wholefoods Quinoa 300G (€0.29)
  • 28g Tesco Sesame Seeds 100G (€0.24)
  • 27g Tesco Carrots Loose (€0.04)
  • 16g Tesco Vine Tomatoes 900G (€0.04)
  • 2.26g Tesco Brazil Nuts 200G (€0.02)

This will create a meal with the following nutritional values:

Name Recommended (g) Calculated % of Recommended
thiamin 1.00mg 1.61mg 161.37%
riboflavin 1.30mg 1.66mg 127.83%
niacin 17.00mg 17.77mg 104.55%
vitamin_b6 1.40mg 3.32mg 237.46%
vitamin_b12 1.50μg 1.50μg 100.00%
folate 200.00μg 477.79μg 238.90%
vitamin_c 40.00mg 61.39mg 153.48%
vitamin_a 700.00μg 700.00μg 100.00%
vitamin_d 10.00μg 10.00μg 100.00%
calcium 700.00mg 700.02mg 100.00%
phosphorus 550.00mg 1.37g 248.65%
magnesium 300.00mg 715.84mg 238.61%
sodium 1.60g 1.83g 114.46%
potassium 3.50g 3.50g 100.00%
iron 8.70mg 21.79mg 250.50%
zinc 9.50mg 13.34mg 140.37%
copper 1.20mg 5.34mg 445.07%
selenium 75.00μg 75.09μg 100.12%
calories 2500 2500 100.00%
protein 57.44g 57.44g 100.00%

It’s up to yourself how you use those ingredients, though – I’m just pointing them out!

The program itself takes only a few seconds to produce a new recipe, so it can be adapted to different profiles – people that need different calorie values, people with different weights (and therefore different protein requirements), people from different countries that might need different vitamin D values (74-88% of Irish people are vitamin D deficient), different values for different ages, different sexes, whether you’re pregnant, have diabetes, etc.

Caloric restriction is one strategy people are using to try live longer. Want a lower calorie intake, but don’t want less nutrition? Then just lower the calorie figure in the calculator.

That’s the major problem that I see in current future-foods like Huel, etc. They produce a one-size-fits-all meal.

I plan to change this by producing personal meal plans. Not only will you have a plans specific to your own needs, but you will also be able to adapt it in real-time. Want that pizza? Go ahead!, as long as you get its nutritional data and plug it into the machine so it can work around it.

The plan is progressing.

weight loss and Jimmy Joy

In an effort to live up to the ideals I describe in my book, I’ve been working on losing weight over the last few months. At the beginning of the year, I weighed 78kg, but the ideal weight for my height is 62kg. I was 16kg overweight.

Of course, as anyone that has ever actually been overweight will tell you, it’s not easy to shift it.

Everybody’s body is different, so what works “in general” might not work for you personally. For me, what finally started to work was that I stopped eating dinners during the week. Just that. I would have breakfast and lunch (as much as I wanted), and then no major meal after that at all. For snacks, I would allow myself a bowl of popcorn or a bag of crisps (potato chips, as the yanks call them for some reason).

That allowed me to achieve the following weight loss over the last six months (graph of my weight from late December until just over a week ago):

Six months of this diet changed my body enough that if I try eating a larger dinner now, I can feel my stomach telling me it wants to stop!

After working on the book for a while, and feeling that I could go a step further,I decided I needed to measure exactly what I’m eating, so I can control it better. I’m not talking about “2 portions of noodles, 3 potatoes, tub of curry”. I’m talking about nutritional content and calories.

It’s near impossible to know whether you are getting the right nutrition. Food labels give you the minimum information they are legally required to give you, and there is no handy way to measure if you’re getting what you need.

The simplest thing to do, then, was to switch to a food that is guaranteed to be nutritionally complete. I looked into many, and it all fell down to just three: Huel, Jimmy Joy, and Soylent.

In the end, I chose Jimmy Joy, and bought a month’s supply (30 bags) for €150 plus €5 shipping. It took a week to arrive.

For over a week now, I’ve been on pure Jimmy Joy (no other food), and I find that it is helping my diet amazingly. More on that in a moment.

The first thing I did was to try it using the instructions as provided. 500ml water into the shaker, plus 3.5 scoops of Vanilla (which smells like sawdust, by the way), then shake shake shake.

Drinking from the shaker is not comfortable, the vanilla flavoured Jimmy Joy is off-putting for me, and the meal itself is so absolutely filling that I found it difficult to finish it.

The next time, I tried mixing vanilla with any other flavour (I ordered chocolate, strawberry, banana – all the vegan flavours). Much better. Also, instead of drinking from the shaker, I poured into a cup and drank from that. Much more comfortable.

The meal was so filling, in fact, that over the next week, I started reducing the amount that I was eating, to see if I could accelerate my weight loss without feeling like I was starving.

I found that I can get by comfortably through the day with just 1/3 of a bag. That’s two cups of prepared meal. Sometimes, I didn’t even feel the need for the second cup, so some days, I was actually on 1/6 of the daily meals and yet not hungry.

Here’s the same graph as above, with data from the last week added on:

Before, I was losing about 20g per day, and it would have taken up to February 2019 for me to achieve my target weight (62kg).

Now, I am losing 242g per day (10x as much), and will hit my target weight next month on the 15th.

Also, since I’m eating only 1/6-1/3 of the daily meals, that means that I am feeding myself for less than €50 per month. Under €2 per day.

Jimmy Joy

A while back, I paid for my first month’s supply of Jimmy Joy, a 100% nutrition “future food”. It cost €150 for 30 day’s worth, and took 7 days to arrive. That averages out at about a €5 per day food bill. €35 per week. That’s slightly below the average food bill for a person living in the EU. Similar foods include Soylent and Huel.

The point of the food is to give you all the nutrition you need (that we’ve figured out so far), with as little effort as possible.

I’m not much of a foodie – the number one criteria I have for food is that after I eat a portion, I should not need another portion for a while. So, my “ideal” meal until now has been to make a bowl of curry noodles, and a sandwich with Marmite and jalapenos to go along with it. No-one likes my cooking – you can see why! I’m more into the efficiency of the thing than the art of it.

The Marmite is a clue as to why I needed to go onto this stuff. I’ve been vegetarian for more than a quarter of a century, vegan for about three years, and I never paid much attention to the diet. So, I ws diagnosed B12 deficient last year.

B12 deficiency takes a while to kick in, so it’s not something you notice as being wrong with your body. It’s something that gradually affects the body but that you think of as “this is fine” all along. Kind of like the story of boiling a frog – it will happily sit in a pot of water that is slowly brought to the boil, not noticing the temperature, because it’s not drastically different than a few seconds before.

I’d been tired for years, to the point that for some long periods, I would come home from work and go straight to sleep on a couch for a few hours. Doctors couldn’t point to anything specifically, even after blood tests. My arms and legs would also tingle every now and then. Especially if I had applied weight to certain parts of them. I passed this off as nerves being close to the skin.

Eventually, one blood test indicated I was very deficient in B12, and I was put onto shots. Not pleasant. I have a phobia against needles going into veins or joints. Blood tests are done at a vein and joint (elbow), while shots go into a joint (shoulder muscles).

So, that’s when I added Marmite to my diet.

Lately, I’ve noticed that I feel restless at night. I’ve self-diagnosed this as restless leg syndrome (iron deficiency), but have not done tests to confirm this.

Since starting to write this book, I’ve learned a lot about what can go wrong with the body if it’s maltreated for too long. One of the points of the book is to try find the most efficient way to stay healthy (no leaping about for hours or careful balancing of 30 food types, etc).

Nutrition-wise, you really can’t get better than using future foods. They’re designed from the ground up to be 100% of what the average adult needs. What I love most about them, though, is that I don’t have to think about it. I just mix the stuff and drink it.

Of course, once something comes to my attention, I tend to start analysing it to see if I can optimise it somehow.

Jimmy Joy is designed to be 100% perfect for the average adult. No-one is average, though, so everyone needs to adjust it slightly. In most cases, people just use it as a breakfast or main meal and “self-adjust” their diet for the rest of the day. In my case, I’m trying to figure out the optimal amount to eat that will keep me at my ideal weight.

I measure my weight every morning without fail, stepping onto the weighing scales multiple times until it agrees with the previous figure (the first time I step on a scales in the morning, it seems to over estimate my weight by almost .5kg).

I weight 74.5kg at the moment (average for the last 7 days), and my optimal weight according to BMI is 62kg.

Everyone is different, so saying something like “eat 2500kCals and you’ll stay steady” is almost certainly false. I live a sedentary life, for example, spending most of my day sitting at a computer. Others might walk around a lot, or run, or pick things up, etc. Each of these things affect your calorie usage.

With a “normal” diet, it is hard to design a balance of foods that will give you a constant weight loss or gain, or keep you at your current weight. As I said above, there is no single ideal number of calories to consume, and even if their were, the calculation needed to make sure your diet hits that and is nutritious is monumental.

It’s much easier to just adjust the number of scoops of future food you take each day.

The instructions on Jimmy Joy bags say to take 3.5 scoops and 500ml water, three times a day. I’m doing about 3 scoops three times a day at the moment and adjusting up or down over the weeks as my weight changes. I don’t want the weight change to be sudden, but I do like to see definite numbers.

Ideal body weight is something I haven’t yet tackled in my book. I’m taking the BMI scale as gospel for now, so I have a goal of 62kg to hit.