9

votes

Is food monotony helpful for weight loss?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 02, 2011 at 1:23 PM

I've been following Stephan Guyenet's Food Reward series with some interest.

http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/04/food-reward-dominant-factor-in-obesity.html
http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/05/food-reward-dominant-factor-in-obesity.html
http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/05/food-reward-dominant-factor-in-obesity_18.html
http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/05/food-reward-dominant-factor-in-obesity_26.html

I think the ideas are interesting, but he didn't really say what to do about it...

I then listened to him on the podcast interview with Chris Kresser.

http://thehealthyskeptic.org/the-healthy-skeptic-podcast-episode-10

He says that following a monotonous diet should be helpful. In other words, the same food over and over and the less delicious, the better. As an example, he mentions the guy that ate nothing but potatoes for a month. (He states over and ove that he is not recommending a potato only diet, but the idea of something as monotonous as that).

Okay, question time!

Would you or do you do this? How would you? Do you think it makes sense?

Cc69a51b427eaad36251cce9dcca4d3a

(1074)

on November 25, 2011
at 09:45 PM

FAIL. you have to choose paleo healthy foods, then eat them w/o crazy cuisine concoctions so that they become "routine".

83d6a06c93bb3490dbca339cbbb63385

(526)

on October 21, 2011
at 10:12 PM

Monotony now means less palatable?! Huh? They aren't even synonymous.

83d6a06c93bb3490dbca339cbbb63385

(526)

on October 21, 2011
at 10:06 PM

But if everything has toxins then presumably most things of similar types share many of the same toxins so it really doesn't matter if you rotate, you'll still build up those toxins. So unless you are rotating between eating and not eating, you will build-up toxins of some kind.

B0ca5de4d56dd095a08acbfb3877cf8f

(70)

on September 16, 2011
at 05:58 PM

I have 2-3 entrees that I tend to eat for lunch and dinner, a set breakfast, a small selection of snacks and the occasional lunch out. That said, the various meals fill different macronutrient cravings, and also the consistency makes food tracking much easier. It's definitely helped me with the food = fuel / food != reward learning process. I have gotten tired of individual foods and will "retire" them and replace with other options, but I try to keep a limited set of active food options (I cook 1x week/freeze and have a small freezer, so that necessitates the limitation as well.)

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on June 02, 2011
at 11:58 PM

Oh, whoops, of course there's Familygrok's thread (http://paleohacks.com/questions/40554/are-umami-foods-beckoning-to-our-tastebuds-while-hijacking-our-reward-systems-to) but I guess that one is a little more specific.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 02, 2011
at 09:59 PM

@lucky, I find the same thing with he whole white fish and chicken breast kinda thing. I tend to think that what we're realizing though is that these relatively mild bland foods that we make at home and control 100% are calorically and macro-wise the same a lot of the time, or at least very trackable. So those foods simply allow us to more accurately monitor what we are taking in.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 02, 2011
at 09:56 PM

At tavis, I'm with you all the way. She's always like, how do you not get bored with sweet potatoes and chicken or beef? I'm like Nom Nom Nom...

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on June 02, 2011
at 09:46 PM

I have to say, the diet my nutritionist put me on was extremely monotonous and bland (Ak-Mak crackers! Oy.), and I didn't lose an ounce. Technically, I was up a pound when I quit in disgust. I've really tried to wrap my head around his "food reward" idea, but I think he's wrong to apply it to obesity, and maybe especially to female obesity. There might be some value in the concept for people who are just chubby, but I think once a body crosses that Maginot line into obesity, the whole game changes. Especially, I think, female bodies.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 02, 2011
at 06:10 PM

Trying to figure out all these hormones is driving me up the wall.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 02, 2011
at 06:08 PM

I think by monotony, Stephan G. also means 'less palatable'. Pizza, ice cream, cookies are all highly palatable and stimulate a large food reward, even if eaten repetitiously. As compared to say boiled chicken and plain white rice over and over.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on June 02, 2011
at 05:05 PM

Thanks for this. I was hoping we would have a question on Stephan's food reward ideas.

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on June 02, 2011
at 03:32 PM

i think that's about it, dave. i used to be obese also and during the period of my weight loss, in retrospect, i did used to eat the same things over and over- ground beef, lamb curry, steaks- none were bland to me but other people called my food intake "boring". right now i'm on a lyle mcdonald type shred down regimen and find myself eating only skinless chicken breasts and white fish. also very boring but very very effective. the missing piece to this may be the cyclical inclusion of moderate to heavy safe starch to keep the body leptin sensitive.

3c49f67b3c8c0b580e89fdba0b95a8e8

(211)

on June 02, 2011
at 02:55 PM

I didn't hear his last podcast but was just thinking that monotony could be a poor choice for this reason. That said, I find that I overeat less if I have few choices, because I DO get tired of the same things and therefore only eat when I am really hungry, not for pleasure.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 02, 2011
at 02:40 PM

Dopamine recptors are negatively correlated to obesity. So a fat person has to eat more to get the same "reward/pleasure". Same with drug addicts... Not sure if they are born that way or obesity downregulates receptors. But treating an obese person (such as myself) like an addict would suggest that Stephan's method would be helpful (remove the stimulation). Or maybe finding other ways to increase dopamine would be more helpful?

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on June 02, 2011
at 02:04 PM

The more choices you have the analysis by paralysis you have and more choice usually decreases your ultimate satisfaction.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on June 02, 2011
at 02:03 PM

I think it does help in the beginning to eat good fuels long term if you can tolerate it

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10 Answers

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3
66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

on June 02, 2011
at 01:50 PM

i've been following stephan's posts too. i think the food reward concept in and of itself needs to be hashed out more. i've seen his explanations of it and it still seems abstract to me. as far as bland foods being good for fat loss, i can see where he's going with it being that the body can more readily identify when it's satiated instead of the pleasure aspect(dopamine?) interfering and making one overeat on a consistent basis. at least that's the overly simplistic way that i get out of the posts when it comes to practical application...

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 02, 2011
at 06:10 PM

Trying to figure out all these hormones is driving me up the wall.

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on June 02, 2011
at 03:32 PM

i think that's about it, dave. i used to be obese also and during the period of my weight loss, in retrospect, i did used to eat the same things over and over- ground beef, lamb curry, steaks- none were bland to me but other people called my food intake "boring". right now i'm on a lyle mcdonald type shred down regimen and find myself eating only skinless chicken breasts and white fish. also very boring but very very effective. the missing piece to this may be the cyclical inclusion of moderate to heavy safe starch to keep the body leptin sensitive.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 02, 2011
at 02:40 PM

Dopamine recptors are negatively correlated to obesity. So a fat person has to eat more to get the same "reward/pleasure". Same with drug addicts... Not sure if they are born that way or obesity downregulates receptors. But treating an obese person (such as myself) like an addict would suggest that Stephan's method would be helpful (remove the stimulation). Or maybe finding other ways to increase dopamine would be more helpful?

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 02, 2011
at 09:59 PM

@lucky, I find the same thing with he whole white fish and chicken breast kinda thing. I tend to think that what we're realizing though is that these relatively mild bland foods that we make at home and control 100% are calorically and macro-wise the same a lot of the time, or at least very trackable. So those foods simply allow us to more accurately monitor what we are taking in.

4
1568416ef28477d1fa29046218d83ddd

(6235)

on June 02, 2011
at 01:58 PM

I had success with this basic concept using Shangri-La dieting's trick of calorie loads without flavor.

The weird thing is that it seems super simple but it was really hard for me to sustain. It made me less interested in food which seems like a good thing but sort of felt like it took the color out of life.

It might be helpful, but I wonder if it also results in depression and lethargy. Those seem correlated with hacking food reward pathways for me.

4
7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

on June 02, 2011
at 01:26 PM

I would not do this because it would end up with me quitting and sitting in a massive binge pile of food.

I think it depends on the person and their relationship with food if this would work. I have a lot of food issues. If I feel "deprived" I am more likely to cheat and/or binge. If I have variety and a plan, then I do well. Some people would probably do awesome with this plan.

3
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 02, 2011
at 05:02 PM

I am mixed on this. I've never had a weight problem and I love food. But as I progress with Paleo I find myself eating the same foods. I just went off a 7 day gluten bender as an experiment and I came away feeling physically and mentally awful but I also realized that my love of food has diminished on paleo. I found myself with a feeling of sensory deprivation (in taste). So the experiment left me with a goal to discover new foods that are in the paleo realm.

To me, eating is an experience, not just a way to fuel my body. I agree that generally eating the same foods can be beneficial to maintaining healthier body functions. Conversely I feel that limiting one's food choices is removing the pleasure of culinary experience and thereby diminishing joy in life. Food is like sex. We don't have sex just to procreate or that just takes the pleasure out of it. We should encourage ourselves to find a healthy pleasure in food.

I could see a heavy person feeling deprived and that is just not a sustainable way to live. I would hope people can learn to manage (or control) their behavior behind the eating disorder, not the eating disorder itself.

3
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on June 02, 2011
at 01:59 PM

Robb Wolf had a comment on something similar in the latest podcast. It's better for you to rotate food because everything has some toxins in it and by rotating you're not letting any one thing build up.

Though, for me personally, I like only having a few things to choose from. I'm not an uber foodie who needs tons of variety. I think there are maybe 10 different meals in my rotation and I like the simplicity. And with good quality food, I don't get tired of it.

3c49f67b3c8c0b580e89fdba0b95a8e8

(211)

on June 02, 2011
at 02:55 PM

I didn't hear his last podcast but was just thinking that monotony could be a poor choice for this reason. That said, I find that I overeat less if I have few choices, because I DO get tired of the same things and therefore only eat when I am really hungry, not for pleasure.

B0ca5de4d56dd095a08acbfb3877cf8f

(70)

on September 16, 2011
at 05:58 PM

I have 2-3 entrees that I tend to eat for lunch and dinner, a set breakfast, a small selection of snacks and the occasional lunch out. That said, the various meals fill different macronutrient cravings, and also the consistency makes food tracking much easier. It's definitely helped me with the food = fuel / food != reward learning process. I have gotten tired of individual foods and will "retire" them and replace with other options, but I try to keep a limited set of active food options (I cook 1x week/freeze and have a small freezer, so that necessitates the limitation as well.)

83d6a06c93bb3490dbca339cbbb63385

(526)

on October 21, 2011
at 10:06 PM

But if everything has toxins then presumably most things of similar types share many of the same toxins so it really doesn't matter if you rotate, you'll still build up those toxins. So unless you are rotating between eating and not eating, you will build-up toxins of some kind.

1
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 02, 2011
at 05:24 PM

I eat the same foods regularly because I like them. How they taste and how I feel after eatin them. Doing this does indeed help you know and track what you are actually takin in, if you are interests in that. Ancillary benefit but true none the less.

I like where Stephan is going with it though because I do feel that food is too much of a reward in our society. It's simply too big an issue. We have too much variety, too many choices, too many possible bad decisions to make - it forces people to have to become foodies just to be abLe to navigate the options.

Enjoying food is obviously good but making food a reward and requiring everything to taste super good, and exactly how you want it is not healthy.

People just "love" food in an unhealthy way in the US right now. It's not just fuel, no, but perhaps realizing that primarily it is indeed fuel and that after that we can try and make it taste the way we'd like is a healthier way of living.

1
6f2c00fcbf48c69f0ea212239b3e1178

on June 02, 2011
at 05:02 PM

AS long as you don't eat junk food, enjoying your food is supposed to indicate it being healthy and what your body needs and not enjoying it is supposed to indicated the opposite. So of course I would never purposefully stop enjoying my food for the sake of "losing weight" or some such nonsense. I'd rather be healthy.

1
B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on June 02, 2011
at 02:28 PM

i grew up in the era of "there are starving children in Africa" and to this day i have trouble leaving food on my plate, even when i don't like it.

this strategy worked well for me when i first set my mind to weight loss 10 years ago. i ate the same variety of food, portioned out nearly every day.

repetition was helpful in reprogramming the way i experienced food.

0
Medium avatar

on June 02, 2011
at 07:43 PM

Much to my GF's dismay, I tend to eat the same things every day at the same times. I enjoy every bite of every meal, but I feel like it's an acquired ability. When you dampen down the intensity of flavor for an extended period of time you just become more sensitive to the subtleties that are present.

If you iron out the details with regard to nutrient density, you can just replicate the same menu over and over and not miss out on anything vital.

It's my belief that there is probably very little obesity without fructose, so I'm not sure how that interacts with Guyenet's food-reward/leptin theories, but I would imagine that it must play a big part in it.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 02, 2011
at 09:56 PM

At tavis, I'm with you all the way. She's always like, how do you not get bored with sweet potatoes and chicken or beef? I'm like Nom Nom Nom...

0
91c2e2a35e578e2e79ce7d631b753879

on June 02, 2011
at 05:57 PM

You know, This doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I see PLENTY of obese people who eat the same things all the time - pasta, pizza, ice cream, chips, cookies. I used to work with a girl that was so large she made me look tiny (no small feat), and she ate the same damn things nearly every day - lunch was usually either chicken fried rice or sweet and sour pork and two egg rolls from the Chinese restaurant across the street from our office or she'd go to Olive Garden and have chicken alfredo over linguine (let's not forget the all-you-can-eat breadsticks). Breakfast was almost always 2 McGriddles, and we won't even go into her daily Starbucks triple venti Mochachino. There are a couple of pretty overweight guys in my office now, and THEY eat the same damn thing every day, too - all carby, processed crap.

It's just me, but it seems you can eat a large variety of healthy meats and fats and vegetables, with some fruit and the occasional nuts and seeds thrown in and lose weight. In fact, I'm doing it.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on June 02, 2011
at 09:46 PM

I have to say, the diet my nutritionist put me on was extremely monotonous and bland (Ak-Mak crackers! Oy.), and I didn't lose an ounce. Technically, I was up a pound when I quit in disgust. I've really tried to wrap my head around his "food reward" idea, but I think he's wrong to apply it to obesity, and maybe especially to female obesity. There might be some value in the concept for people who are just chubby, but I think once a body crosses that Maginot line into obesity, the whole game changes. Especially, I think, female bodies.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 02, 2011
at 06:08 PM

I think by monotony, Stephan G. also means 'less palatable'. Pizza, ice cream, cookies are all highly palatable and stimulate a large food reward, even if eaten repetitiously. As compared to say boiled chicken and plain white rice over and over.

83d6a06c93bb3490dbca339cbbb63385

(526)

on October 21, 2011
at 10:12 PM

Monotony now means less palatable?! Huh? They aren't even synonymous.

Cc69a51b427eaad36251cce9dcca4d3a

(1074)

on November 25, 2011
at 09:45 PM

FAIL. you have to choose paleo healthy foods, then eat them w/o crazy cuisine concoctions so that they become "routine".

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