Embracing Food Reward

I mentioned at the end of the post Food Reward and Old School Bodybuilders that I would be testing the food reward theory for myself. There are several bloggers that get hung up on the definition of food reward. To me is simply that we tend to gain weight more easily on the foods that are easy to eat past satiety. Those foods tend to be processed and are often designed by food engineers. It is not a theory to explain all obesity, but one part of the puzzle.

My goal is to see if I can lose 10-15 pounds without feeling hungry. The last time I lost weight, I was stacking different strategies, including lower carbs, intermittent fasting, cold exposure and cooking more food at home. Eating foods cooked at home lowered my food reward, but how important of a factor did it play? I aim to find out.

I will not be lowering my carbs. In fact I plan to eat a lot of potatoes cooked plainly. I will also be pressuring cooking legumes. Sorry Paleo, but you are wrong about legumes (see #3). There will be no cold exposure and although I will be reducing my eating window, I do not plan to fast at the levels I did during my prior weight loss. Exercise levels will remain the same, which is two brief moderately intense machine based workouts a week plus walking.

Unlike the last time, I will be monitoring my sleep quality and body temperature. If either decline, I will add back in higher food reward items. This strategy worked for me before.

The biggest reason I am now embracing food reward is that it pretty much overlaps with so many other weight loss theories, so even if it is wrong, it won’t be too wrong. You know I like to hedge.

My Food Reward Fat Loss Plan

Here are the steps I plan to take. Some of the ideas I got from the comprehensive list on Food Reward: a Dominant Factor in Obesity, Part VII.

  1. Stop eating tortilla chips. Chips are everywhere in California. In Seattle, I was always in Vietnamese restaurants, so I never had them. Here Mexican restaurants rule. I love the chips. I love them too much. ¡No Más!
  2. Consume very few liquid calories.
  3. I do not plan to give up ice cream in Phase 1, even though it is considered high food reward. However, a few weeks ago I decided to only consume a plain vanilla ice cream. By removing the novelty and complexity of new flavors this has already helped me reduce my consumption. Phase 2 which I just began experimenting with restricts ice cream to exercise and travel days.
  4. Reduce snacking on non-exercise days.
  5. Eat more potatoes, legumes and veggies.
  6. Reduce the number of foods consumed when given many options. From the Whole Health Source article “Pick three foods, and eat nothing else.”
  7. Focus on making the most improvements on the pre-dinner meals. I eat pretty good already, so I don’t need to radically change anything. All I should have to do is make some adjustments to my pre-dinner meals.

Is there anything you would add?

Question on The Shangri-La Diet

I might also experiment with the idea of flavorless calories from the book The Shangri-La Diet.

At least an hour before one of your meals, consume unflavored sugar water and/or Extra Light Olive Oil. Both of these foods are flavorless and provide calories.

The one thing I am not clear about is if the hour before and hour after blocks are just calorie free or all flavor free. I gave my book away, so I can’t look this up. I ask this question because I have my last coffee between 2 PM and 3 PM. The coffee has no calories, but a strong flavor signal. Does anyone know if it is the absense of calories or the absence of flavor signals that makes this technique work?


Photo by Brian Hoffman

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