Low Palatability

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 18, 2012 at 2:11 PM

I'd like to experiment with a food regimen that is Paleo and conforms to Stephan Guyenet's food reward concept/theory. The specific target is weight loss - regrettably my existing paleo diet seems to have plateaued in terms of weight loss.

I live with family and cook for them so low palatability food for all is just not an option. Ideally I would like a soup that I can make 3 or 4 days in advance, just for myself.

I'm guessing ingredients like coconut fat, liver, bone broth, green veg and egg yolks would be included. The last time I tried something like this my hunger fell off a cliff and I got ill and nauseous. I think, in that case, the food was possibly completely unpalatable and just made me ill. I did lose 7 lbs though, in a week.

Anyway - my questions are: Most importantly - any suggestions as to ingredients or even some recipes? Has anyone tried anything like this, and if so, what were the results? Finally - any comments on the approach?


on June 18, 2012
at 07:22 PM

Also limit the spice use


on June 18, 2012
at 07:22 PM

Use simple ingredients and limit to less than 5. That always helps.

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7 Answers



on June 18, 2012
at 04:03 PM

I admit that I do not quite understand Guynet's theory, but my own personal idea of low reward food means that I avoid food with ingredients that artificially excite receptors in my brain. My food can taste great, but when it's lacking in excitotoxins, it is therefore low reward in my book. I find that I naturally eat such foods with restraint. No matter how much palatability mustard adds to a can of sardines, it's still low reward and is never going to become a sardine binge.



on June 19, 2012
at 12:05 AM

I did this experiment for a few weeks. Meat and kale or spinach soup in beef broth, with beets, and then hardboiled eggs, if I needed something before lunch. I started with no salt, then broke down and added a tsp. of salt to my soups. The key is that you are allowed UNLIMITED amounts of this soup, but the reality is, I stopped on one bowl. It DID check my hunger and it certainly made me lose inches, but by the end of two weeks it made me nauseous after week one. It also certainly helped me define the amount of food I "needed" to be full. I would not doing it longer for two weeks, but maybe if you also added unseasoned chicken and fish, plain greens, you might not get as nauseous as I did.I think it's a worthwhile experiment to determine if you are overeating foods, simply because they taste better.



on June 18, 2012
at 05:45 PM

Our very own Kamal and Aravind did this and wrote a guest blog for Stephan


Somewhere here on PH there is a big thread about this but I'm not sure where. Maybe Kamal can chime in here.


on June 18, 2012
at 03:52 PM

Brian what about just skipping seasoning on the communal food just for you? Take a portion out for you before seasoning for everyone else? There are degrees to Stephan's plan and you may find just getting rid of normal seasoning enough to kick start the weight loss.

The soup sounds wretched IMO, lol. You got ill and nauseous maybe from ketosis? But anyway, definitely some low reward food there. I'd go plain meat and veggie before I'd do that soup. If you feel the need to eat fat eat it separately from the food.

Whatever you do good luck!



on June 19, 2012
at 01:01 AM

I'm actually gearing up to start something similar for the month of July, which will be month #9 for me since I started eating "paleo" last November. I've been following Kurt Harris' Archevore outline fairly closely with excellent results, though adding in some exercise with an increase in food intake has me slowing down a bit to build muscle, apparently. That's all fine and good, but I'm not wanting to be a bulky 200 lb. muscle guy.

I'm going to try my own modified version of Dr. Guyenet's Level 5 protocol, basically borrowing elements from Levels 3 thru 5. Instead of limiting myself to just 3 foods, I am going to allow a bit more variety. Here's what my allowable food list is looking like so far:

BEEF - all local grassfed ground, sirloin steak, roasts, heart, liver and bones (for broth)
POTATOES - 1 or 2 average-size per day, any variety
VEGGIES - 3 different colors, still undecided but perhaps broccoli, beets and carrots

I may still use minimal amounts of salt and Kerrygold with the potatoes or veggies, and that's about it. So I'm going to maintain some variety with the different cuts of meat and small selection of veggies. I also plan to have homemade bone broth each day either in a soup/stew or just a mug of it for breakfast. I'm going to track everything in Cron-o-meter again (got a little burned out doing that every single day before) and try to keep my intake around 1500-1700 calories per day. The only supplement I plan to keep taking for the month is 5000 IU of D3.

Beginning on November 1st, I went from 255 pounds down to 190 in a little over six months on diet alone, but have since added in pull ups, push ups, dips and a bit of jogging/sprinting which has me back in the 195-196 range for the last 6 weeks. I can see a noticeable difference in muscle mass and have gone from not being able to do one pull up to being able to do five already. I've found my obliques (they never knew they were supposed to be real muscles apparently) and I'm feeling good, but I still feel "flabby" around the lower middle and in a few other places. I am eating a lot more since I started the exercise, so I'm thinking about cutting it back again in July to help give myself a chance to heal up and lean out a bit more with what I've got so far.

Hopefully this will help reign my appetite back in a bit and get me moving closer to my goal of around 175-180 lbs. I'm 5'11" and the charts put me anywhere between 140 and 190, so somewhere between the midpoint and high end seems reasonable. I don't want to be skinny, but I could easily stand to lose another 15-20 pounds I think.

Perhaps some of these ideas might help you with your own plans. Good luck!



on June 18, 2012
at 04:23 PM

I did stew only for 2 weeks following this recipe:


I do think it was low food reward, though it was not unpalatable (at least to me). My appetite went down, I ate less, but still had good energy levels.

You can make a huge batch in slow cooker, refrigerate and reheat for days. Your family can have some too if they want and you can give them other side dishes as well. But for yourself, if you want really low food reward, then I wouldn't eat anything else. I think a component of food reward is variety.

Note, this may not be a good long-term strategy, but could work short-term or is at least an interesting experiment.


on June 18, 2012
at 02:39 PM

I've tried it and will probably try it again.

I had no recipes. I just limited each meal to 1 single ingredient, plus sometimes salt. So it could have been ground beef, or a sweet potato, or a can of sardines, etc.

The biggest problem I found was this approach amplifies temptation for more exciting foods, including the bad stuff. I think it would work if I literally had no choice but to eat the bland stuff because eating would be a chore and not a pleasure.

My problem is I'm too impatient while waiting for results and easily give up on new ideas. I will try this one again.

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