I agree with Alex Tabarrok - read the book just because it is better reading than most of what is out there, and far better than any "diet" book.
Like all diet crazes, this one has come and gone. Except for me.
I started doing the "diet" a year ago today. It isn't really a diet; rather it is a form of appetite management. Let's review.
The method is to consume something with calories but without flavor (odor actually). The book advocates sugar water (up to 6 tablespoons of sugar in water per day), or extra light olive oil (up to 3 tablespoons per day). You do this away from meals, so that you don't associate these particular calories with enjoyable food or company.
The principle is psychological, rather than nutritional. The calories you ingest this way are turning off the mechanism whereby your stomach tells your brain to eat. The lack of odor is avoiding sending a signal to the brain that food that smells like this has calories and should be eaten. Short circuit the former, and you get hungry less often. Short circuit the latter and you won't gorge on these particular calories.
Here's my personal experience (drum roll please).
- I am not a scale person, so don't expect painstaking accuracy - my weight is down 20 pounds give or take 5.
- The effect was gradual, but noticeable within a few days. I didn't tell my wife at the start - after a month she was wondering if I was losing weight because I was sick.
- My pant size has gone from having a relaxed fit 40 waist being tight, to a normal fit 38 being loose. I bought my first new pants after Christmas. I need more.
- My belts are 4 notches tighter. I need all new belts - I'm out of notches and they're too long and look sloppy.
- I have lost enough weight that my shoes are actually looser. I get tons of stones in my loafers just strolling around.
- My wedding ring (from 1993) has started slipping off my finger unnoticed when I'm in the water.
- Of all people, business professors and students - who are predominantly male - have actually noticed I'm thinner.
- I have had zero rebound - although I am hungrier when I skip my sugar water.
- I am still gradually losing weight - perhaps a pound or two a month.
- I'm 42, and I just sailed through my thirties to a weight I haven't had since I was in my late twenties.
Here's what I did:
- I drink sugar water: usually containing 4 tablespoons of sugar, split between the morning and the afternoon. This is easy to do at work, but I have some difficulty following through with it at home where there is more temptation.
- I am not exercising more than I used to (although I am winning more).
- I am not intentionally eating anything else differently than I did before.
- Unintentionally, I am eating a bit differently. I don't gorge as much. Healthy snack choices are more appealing.
- I haven't replenished the snacks in my office since I started, and I have touched a bowl of chocolates I keep on my desk for students only once this past year. Yes, it is sitting within arm's reach at all times.
Here's how my health is otherwise:
- My blood pressure is down. Not a lot, but 10 points or so on both scales.
- My teeth have not been adversely affected - I have had two check-ups where the laser cavity detection machine has not registered anything.
- I do sometimes get drowsy when I have not had the sugar water in a while. My body does seem to be conditioned a bit to the periodic intake of some quick calories.
- Oddly, my breath is better - both to others, and to myself. My desire for gum and mints is way down - I wonder if that was sublimated hunger?
- I am not as thirsty as I used to be. I always drank a lot of water. The last few years I have also been hitting the diet sodas pretty hard - that was getting like a hunger, particularly after meals. It's gone now - I wonder if that was hunger too?
I've never dieted. I wouldn't call this a diet either, but some might. I certainly don't feel like I'm denying myself anything, or planning anything more complex than making instant iced tea.
I have one question for skeptics. Why is it so important for weight loss to be so ... Puritan?
All the extant "theories" of weight gain rely to some degree on succumbing to lifestyle hazards of modern life, and the "theories" of weight loss rely on moral discipline and self-denial.
Is it possible that this is all just quasi-Marxist crap? Why does every diet sound like the ruminations of someone who got the most out of their college classes on Rousseau or Thoreau?
And why is so much of the criticism of Roberts' idea technocratic in nature? For a moment, think about how monolithic our view of weight loss is in light of the very substantial evidence that - for most people - it doesn't work. Doesn't it remind you of, say, the European view of the U.S. economy? Or the neo-con view of Iraq? Or the Foggy Bottom view of the peace process? Or the Detroit view of Toyota? Or the publishers' view of how principles textbooks should look? Why is it so important that any new weight loss idea sound very much like all the existing ones?