Jay Wright’s Weight Loss Journey

Jay Wright, who comments as “Jaybird,” has had a remarkably successful weight loss story. He adopted our diet in March at a weight of 250 pounds, and reached his normal weight of 170 pounds at Halloween, seven and a half months later.

I met Jay at Wise Traditions in November and can attest that he is now a handsome, slender man.

Jay’s weight loss was remarkably consistent at about 2.5 pounds per week. He agreed to describe his weight loss journey in a guest post; my questions are in italic, Jay wrote everything else. Welcome, Jay! – Paul

I would like to thank Dr. Paul Jaminet and Dr. Shou-Ching Jaminet for writing a great diet book and website!  You have been instrumental in helping me achieve the long elusive goal of great health and weight. For me, this truly is the Perfect Health Diet!

Before PHD

Paul: Jay, what do you think caused your overweight condition in the first place?

1. Ignorance and confusion. I believe I would have eaten the PHD way and remained at a healthy weight if I was taught to eat this way from the beginning. Instead, the government promotes the anti-saturated fat, pro-seed “vegetable” oil, and whole grains food pyramid. The belief formed from trusting the experts is a lot to overcome. I remember a decade ago during the Atkins’ hype that I thought that he must be crazy to recommend such a dangerous diet that would go against the “entire” medical establishment.  Then, even after I stopped believing the Lipid Hypothesis, I was still confused by all of the rest of the diet claims out there. While I was uncertain, I thought I might as well enjoy a “normal” diet until I can figure it all out.

2. Eating Habits. Besides the high carbs, food toxins, and malnourishment of the food pyramid diet, a few other factors may have affected my eating habits. I was a normal weight child growing up and I could eat anything and everything in sight and not get even pudgy in the slightest. When all foods have the same effect – none – you don’t worry about whether the food is healthy. Also, I spent my childhood playing one sport after another which might have actually worsened my eating habits. At least here with Texas football, we were constantly encouraged to stuff ourselves and put on more weight.  When sports ended for me after college, normal amounts of food looked like a starvation diet on a plate!

3. Carelessness toward health.  Was I careless because I was told “healthy” meant a yucky salad and “unhealthy” meant a yummy steak?  A young boy always chooses the steak especially when I was constantly hungry from 3 hour practices!  This all started to change after my dad was diagnosed with heart disease and started eating a “healthy” low-fat diet. However, the real wake-up call came when my mother was diagnosed and eventually died of breast cancer! To fight the cancer, she put up a courageous fight by being the most dedicated eater of an “alkalizing” vegetarian diet ever! Yet, even though I began to care more about health, I continued to allow myself to eat anything while I learned more and took breaks from trying different diets.

4. Lack of exercise because of a bad back.  I have had a herniated disc in my lower back for about 10 years now. When I changed careers and became even more sedentary, my back problem only worsened from bad posture while sitting. I should have at least continued to walk short amounts, but at the end of the day, I didn’t even feel like tolerating even a little pain after dealing with it so much during the day. The recliner offered relief.

5. Convenience.  As a single guy, I relied on eating out for convenience over the years and pre-made frozen dinners when I ate at home mostly. Starting a diet always meant making big changes to my routine and giving up a lot of time to cook.

6. Diets were Too Low in Food Reward.  Looking back, all the diets I tried were much lower in food reward than the “regular” American diet with lots of sweets that kept calling to me! All of the previous diets required a Herculean will power just to fight the temptations. It was mental torture being on a diet!

Paul: Jay, what were your experiences on the various diets you tried – and what caused you to give them up?

Here is my weight history:

After college sports, I struggled with my weight. I was a yo-yo dieter – I could lose weight but it always ended up even higher. I tried meal shake replacements, frozen dinners to limit calories, no meat/meat, no dairy/dairy, acid/alkaline, exercise/no exercise while dieting, no cash or credit cards in my wallet going to work so I wouldn’t stop at a fast food, punishment where I had to eat a raw tomato if I cheat (I hate raw tomatoes), and many other vegetarian leaning and mental tricks.  A pattern emerged with these diets.  I would starve with low energy for about a week or two until my will power ran out. Then, I would go eat something “bad.”  If I continued to repeat the pattern and managed to be “successful,” I stayed hungry even once I reached my goal weight.  I tried to transition to a “regular” amount of food to stop starving and just maintain but to no avail.  My weight went right back up even higher than before even without cheating on the diets.

Paleo was finally the exception to the starving rule, but only at first.  I felt great on a very low carb paleo for a couple of months.  I ate a pound of meat a day and mostly vegetables with a little fruit and nuts and a lot of coconut oil. The extra fat and meat seemed to enable me to lose weight and not be hungry. I lost nearly 40 lbs and halfway to my goal.  However, I started to not feel so well and hunger was returning, too. I had headaches and energy fluctuated throughout the day. I never liked the taste of vegetables and I began dreading the need to eat more vegetables than I had ever cared to eat in my life. Also, the sugar cravings never stopped just like on the vegetarian diets. Eventually, will power ran out eventually on paleo just like on the other diets.

Here’s what I looked like at 250 pounds. I’m the one on the left in the gray shirt; the one on the right is my brother Craig Wright:

I knew I had better find an answer when my family and friends would laugh each time I declared, “Diet starts tomorrow!”

Paul: Jay, it’s very interesting that on pre-Paleo diets you were always hungry, and when you ate to satisfy your hunger, your weight returned to as high or higher than when you began. That’s consistent with the set-point theory of obesity: your set-point hadn’t changed, and so when you reduced weight below the set-point, you got hungry; when you ate to satisfy your appetite, you were obese. The Paleo experience could also be said to be consistent with the set-point theory: it reduced the set-point so you lost 40 pounds without hunger, but weight was still above normal and hunger returned as your weight got below the new set-point.

An interesting data point, which I see as a challenge for the setpoint theory because it suggests an alternative view, is that on VLC Paleo your hunger returned at the same time you began to feel unwell. This suggests that hunger and setpoint are really an index of health, and when the body is not being properly maintained the brain manufactures hunger. When nutrients are abundant and the body has all it needs to establish good health, the setpoint is reduced to normal weight, hunger disappears, and weight loss resumes.

Perfect Health Diet

Paul: Jay, what was your experience on PHD? I’m especially interested in whether you experienced plateaus where weight loss stalled, and whether you experienced hunger as on other diets.

I recorded my weight every day from April 15 through November, and enough days in March and early April to give a clear picture. Here is what happened:

As you can see, there was no stall in weight loss until I hit my target weight of 170 pounds.

Here’s my after photo, again with my brother Craig. This time Craig is on the left in black, I’m on the right in green:

Interestingly Craig has eaten pretty much the same foods as I have throughout life, and always maintained a normal weight. On my recommendation he adopted PHD soon after I did, and he also experienced health improvements – psoriasis, which he’s had for 20 years and used to leave red scales over much of his body, is nearly gone.


I followed the PHD weight loss protocols and felt virtually no hunger throughout the 7 months. Intermittent fasting with one meal a day worked best for my schedule; I coconut oil fasted earlier in the day and 1 day per week.  After the first month, I coconut oil fasted for an entire week since I figured I should clean out my system. Then I dropped the calories to only 1200 to get some faster results early on to help my back. I thought I would readjust the calories up or the eating schedule according to my hunger, but I did not experience any hunger and had great energy so I left the plan alone. What little hunger I did experience was very mild and just meant it was time to drink another bottle of water or swig a tablespoon of coconut oil before the evening dinner. Interestingly, I ate some birthday cakes toward the end and experienced stronger and more uncomfortable hunger the following days than the previous months. The lack of hunger was definitely a key to my weight loss success.

Food Reward

For me, PHD is a high food reward diet. It tastes great every meal! Even in the beginning of the diet, I enjoyed the PHD meal just as much mentally as thinking about eating my old food. Later, my taste buds changed and PHD became clearly the more rewarding food. However, at least part of the PHD was bland. The coconut oil provided calories with no taste and helped keep my calories low. Yet, I really believe I would not have lasted on the diet if the food was bland. Having a neutral taste reminds me of the very low carb paleo diet that didn’t allow the safe starches and even small amounts of dairy. The white rice and white potatoes enabled me to eat vegetables regularly by buffering the taste until my taste buds adjusted and I began to like them. Avoiding milk but having small amounts of other dairy also went a long way in the enjoyment of the food and menu options. The safe starches, dairy, and a little bit of fruit also seem to be responsible for satisfying my sweet tooth cravings. I’m not sure if the high food reward PHD would have controlled my calorie intake since I counted calories. Nonetheless, compared to the other past diets I dreaded to eat, I prefer the high food reward of PHD. I use to say, “Why does all of the food that’s good for you taste so bad and all of the food that’s bad for you taste so good?” I don’t say that anymore with PHD.


My belief is that total calories do matter. I’ve always been able to lose the fat and get back to my original weight provided that I lower my calories enough to accomplish it. However, my will power usually ran out before I accomplished it many times. The constant hunger and low energy with lower calories exhausted my desire to lose the weight on previous diets. In contrast, I experienced the opposite on PHD. While the PHD food and supplements provided satiety and energy, I controlled my calories by exercising, counting calories, eating only a single meal, and having oil fast days. Even after only a month, I experienced such a surge in energy even on lower calories that I increased my exercise to 2 hours of walking. Having established such a low calorie amount in the beginning with a challenging exercise and eating plan, I simply had to maintain the routine until the goal was reached.

I believe the key was PHD enabled me to maintain low enough calories to not experience a plateau as on other diets.

Set Point

My experience might show some truth to the concept of a set point. For instance, prior to starting PHD my weight stayed consistently within a 5 lb range for about 2 years. During this period I was eating whatever I wanted. My experience on PHD could be construed as the resetting of my set point to my normal weight – 170 lb. I was never hungry on PHD as long as my weight was above 175 lb. I started feeling more hunger once I got close to my normal weight in the 170s.  Unlike previous diets, I was able to eliminate the hunger by eating a little bit more — just upping my calories slightly.

Although other diets could get me to this weight point before, I had to stay in a perpetual starving mode to remain at this level. Unlike on PHD, on other diets adding enough calories to stop hunger always led to a rebound of weight that leveled out at a higher level than before I started.

When I started PHD my intended target weight was 175 pounds. With PHD, I actually continued to lose a little more than the 175 down to 170 without planning on it. Then, my weight slightly increased with obvious cheats like some birthday cake. While eating the normal amount the following days without the cheats, the weight returned to previous levels without an effort to compensate. After the weight loss, my weight has become more stable. The last month I have had several repeating days on the weight scale with the same exact weight number to the tenth of a point. This occurred even though I ate more on a few of the previous days. My weight history shows a stair stepping up higher with each diet attempt until PHD stabilized my weight back to its original healthy level.

Closing Thought

During the middle of my weight loss, I was at a restaurant eating a salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing, 8 oz steak, and a baked potato with butter and sour cream and some water with lemon, but without a dinner roll.  I paused and proclaimed, “I can’t believe I’m eating this and still losing weight! This is the BEST DIET EVER!”

Leave a comment ?


  1. A fascinating story, bravo. Very interesting seeing his weight fluctuation on VLC paleo up to 255lbs. One of the things that would be very helpful for us working on PHD would be to see some of Jay’s typical meal logs? What did you eat on a given day, what were your go to PHD meals? What was the biggest difference from your Paleo days to PHD? Would love to see that. Congrats again, very inspiring.

  2. Healthy ways to eat out | Situation Fat Loss - pingback on December 2, 2011 at 12:08 am
  3. After losing 80 pounds – which was about a third of his highest body weight – I’m curious if Jay has loose skin around his waist where he had a gut before? Did it all go away and he’s back to the same body shape/firmness he had before he ever gained weight?

  4. Nice work, Jay – your experience sounds quite similar to mine. After being overweight my whole adult life I lost 60lbs with only a single small weight gain blip (over xmas!), experiencing a normalisation of hunger levels, by minimising grains and sugar and replacing those calories with fat. I’ve maintained that weight – 171lbs – without issue since March following a PHD-ish approach. The whole thing really has been a revelation after years of following the tortorous official weight loss advice where you have to sweat for every lb lost.

  5. Hi Paul, I know your thoughts on fish oil tablets (rancidity and extraction methods?) but could you comment on fermented cod liver oil, a process that was done by south pacific islanders using the stomach of a shark as a fermentation vat.
    Does the fermentation process somehow make the oil more stable? Does this mean it would be a safer supplement to have? The article appeared in Wise Traditions.

    Thanks, James Ardagna.

  6. Hi Paul — when are we going to get your considered take on the food palatability theory?

    What with the currently rancorous divide on some of the blogs, your ever thoughtful take on it might provide an interesting “third way”.

    Cheers, Simon

  7. Congratulations Jay!


    Paul has written several longer posts about his take on the food reward theory and the debate over causes of obesity, such as in http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=3704 and in http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=4268.

    In my opinion, his position is the most well thought out and well-supported take I’ve seen, and I think in the end he is probably much nearer the truth than more simplistic theories around simply minimizing all food palatability to lose weight, or for that matter just minimizing insulin levels.

    In fact, this post is a great example of how Paul is on the right track: Jay steadily lost weight while enjoying the taste of his food – he even calls it the “Best Diet Ever!”. This seems in stark contrast to the recent post on Stephan’s blog, where he talked about a woman trying out a very low palatibility diet. While she did lose weight, she also said she couldn’t go on eating that way for longer, and stopped after a few weeks.

  8. Well done, Jay!

    As you were speaking of setpoints, reward etc. it occured to me that PHD seems to have the same effect (but beeing much more pleasurable/sutainable) as the infamous bland liquid diet: Obese folks loose fat (like you) and lean people stay lean as they are (like your brother or me).

    You mention only walking as exercise. I would suggest to incoorprate some strength training now(if you didn’t do so already) as I think you look still a bit soft in your after pic.

  9. Awesome Jay! Congratulations on your transformation. Quite remarkable.

    Regarding your comment of “high reward”, I would suggest you are not using the correct definition of reward. Reward is not synonymous with palatability, though correlated. This is a continued misunderstanding of many. The term reward is inherently problematic so I understand the blurring of lines.

    My anecdote with low reward was posted by Stephan Guyenet here – http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/10/losing-fat-with-simple-food.html

    The relevant quote – “Aravind finds his diet rather palatable or it would not be his long term diet. Related to this, previously unsatisfying low reward foods have become satisfying after the adaption occurred”. I don’t think this is inconsistent with your experience.

    Regardless, well done!


  10. One more point – I don’t think Reward is the only factor at all. I think adequate micronutrients and neolithic toxin avoidance is also critical. In this regard, PHD is “perfect” because it addresses all aspects of ones diet, not just the provincial focus on macronutrients that some (incorrectly) are solely fixated upon.


  11. Hi James,

    I’m a skeptic on fermented cod liver oil. The underlying biology is discussed here: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=3390. Basically, fish oil + vitamin A + oxidative stress is a highly toxic combination. Cod liver oil has the first two, so you’d better eat it fresh or not at all. Fermenting is great for vegetables but for cod liver oil I would avoid it.

    Hi Simon,

    In addition to the links supplied by Joe, which provide my perspective on Stephan’s ideas, I’m going to be offering my own positive theory of obesity soon.

    Hi Aravind,

    Yes, I know there’s some imprecision in the terminology. However, I don’t think there is a “correct” definition of reward and I certainly don’t think Stephan has given us a clearly operationalizable definition.

    In some of Stephan’s early writing, reward seemed conflated with palatability. Then he distinguished the concepts, but related reward to the urge to return to or continue eating the food in question. This needs further clarifying based on the time scale in question. Steak, potatoes in butter, salad in olive oil and vinegar dressing is a rewarding meal in the sense that Jay was happy to return to it and eat it night after night. It was also satiating in that he was willing to stop at 1200 calories.

    To me, the simplest and most rational definition of a highly rewarding food is “something that satisfies the food reward system” and that is demonstrated by the loss of hunger; whereas a low reward food is something that does not satisfy the food reward system, and therefore leads to continued hunger.

    On that definition, Jay’s food was indeed highly rewarding, and the bland diet that Stephan’s recent interlocutor was unwilling to stick with was indeed low in reward.

    Why do Pringles make people keep eating? Because they are high in reward, or low in reward? Or both simultaneously – triggering different subcomponents of the food reward system in opposite ways?

    Add in the “learning” ability of the brain, such as the ability to learn to like foods that were previously considered unpalatable, and we are clearly dealing with complex phenomena.

    Finally, I don’t think a focus on macronutrients is necessarily provincial — although focusing on carbohydrates alone is provincial. More on that later.

    Best, Paul

  12. @Jay,

    Could you please describe this in more detail: “I coconut oil fasted earlier in the day and 1 day per week”.

    What is your definition of a coconut oil fast? Were you using regular coconut oil (which has a definite coconut taste) or refined coconut oil (which has little flavor)? Were you taking the oil by itself (perhaps in warm water to melt it when necessary) or were you taking it along with some other flavor (such as in coffee)?

    Also a bit more detail about: “. . . it was time to drink another bottle of water or swig a tablespoon of coconut oil before the evening dinner.” What was the time interval between consumption of the coconut oil and the meal? Just before, or more like an hour?

  13. Thanks everyone for the complements.

    @George. About 2 or so months in I started recording my meals on excel with my daily morning weigh in. Many earlier meals were the same. I recommend morning weigh ins before eating and drinking anything and recording your food log just for the mental accountability.

    Go to meals:

    First, for the 1lb of salmon, I initial tried my old salmon cakes but that had wheat flour in it so I tried switching to white rice flour. I didn’t like the white rice flour as too gritty. I settled into something a love now , which says alot considering I hardly ever ate fish most of my life. My salmon go to meal is white rice, spinach and salmon with some banana pepper vinegar, with egg as a stir fry.

    Second, a white rice stir fry was always ready and convenient. I had the white rice with mixed vegetables, eggs, coconut oil, and any combination of meat from shrimp, chicken, or steak, and even a breakfast scramble for the evening with more eggs and organic bacon.

    Third, I regularly ate a lot of pasta wheat noodle meals before PHD and fear losing them without wheat. I found that the white rice noodles replaced it just fine since the taste is in the sauce anyway. I had spaghetti with ground beef and chicken or shrimp alfredo meals mostly. I just added a salad or mixed vegetables to it. I use cream with “Simply Organic powder mix for the sauce.

    Fourth, a wanted to make the bone broth for the first time ever at the beginning of the diet. So I made the bone broth and used it for a stew, then followed it with the next day with homemade soup with some stew tomatoes to it. About 4 months into it I was kicking myself not thinking of it sooner but read it as a comment one day of a blog maybe here. I started freezing some of the bone broth and the rest of the week using it to cook my rice in for the stir fries.

    Fifth, the red meat meals are so enjoyable to me. I had steak and baked potato and salads of veggies sometimes weekly, others every 2-3 weeks. I absolutely had to substitute a hamburger combo because I had it 2-3 a week earlier. A bunless burger with veggies and homemade deep fried french fries in coconut oil is a must for me. I wish I had bough a deep fryer sooner. The first attempt in a pan were unevenly cooked. I regularly eat a sliced up steak, bell peppers and onions, diced tomatoes and veggies over rice.

    Sixth, A seafood meal besides fish is crab with butter, veggies, red potatoes and green beans and other veggies, yum!

    Oh, and I eat a teaspoon of Bubbies saurkraut with each meal since the 3rd month.

    This is mostly the go to meals.

    Paleo difference: Biggest difference is the safe starches and the dairy. I feel so much better with the starches. The dairy increased the palatability greatly. 🙂 I regularly eat organic butter, cream, sour cream, and an occasional yogurt. The difference of having a baked potato with coconut oil or with butter and sour cream is night and day for me. The cream to use as an alfredo sauce instead of just never having those pasta dishes ever again makes PHD a lifestyle diet to me.

    Also, I changed the coconut oils. I had extra virgin coconut oil back with vlc paleo. I didn’t like the taste of the ev. From Weston Price group’s recommended source of Tropical Traditions, I got their expeller pressed coconut oil, which is apparently mechanically pressed and claims not to use harmful chemicals. A neutral oil taste to replace the vegetable oils for me was very big as well. It actually could be the biggest change and ongoing practicality of the diet for me. With paleo, no butter on veggies but instead only a strong coconut flavored veggies became a real drudgery to eat.

    I’ve been meaning to post pictures of my meals for family and friends but haven’t got around to it yet.

    Hope that helps.

  14. Hello Paul,

    I am in complete agreement with the terminology issues as I have noted here and elsewhere, and commented on Stephan’s site at time about the confusion.

    If “reward” is referring to satiety, then high is good. If it is referring to propensity to overeat, then low is good. I think your definition is the former whereas Stephan’s is the latter, but even this is problematic 🙂

    And when I wrote macronutrients, I was specifically thinking of carbohydrates.


  15. Actually let me amend my previous comment about macronutrients. I stand by the comment that focus on macronutrients solely is provincial. If you are a Low Carber or Low Fatter, but not Paleo per se, you may not be paying attention to micronutrition or neolithic toxins.

    Since PHD considers much more than macronutrients, I consider it to be a complete approach, therefore not provincial.

    Warm regards,

  16. Congratulations and I like the lean and lanky look. Pace Franco — muscles aren’t everything. 🙂

    Very nicely written account of your journey.

    It took me over a year to loss half as much weight (165 to 125) mainly because knee and back problems prevented exercise.

    The best part now is, like you, I’m no longer hungry all the time and I’m optimistic about a new sports medicine clinic that might be able to put me on a program so I can exercise again. Fingers crossed.

  17. @Franco. Franco, soft? Ouch! Just kidding. But in my defense…I’m confident that if I had to I could bench press 275 and squat 300, which is a lot less than 325 and 425 from my college football days. If I am soft-looking, then it’s because I cannot lift normally because of my back. With Paul’s advice for my back, I have slowly rehabbed my herniated disc in my back. Besides the back stretching exercises, he suggested static hold lifting for the mid section and then I applied it to the rest of the body workout. I have not been able to do regular lifts even now. The jarring motion inflames my back. Since my back feels 90% better now, but still cannot handle any heavy weight, I will have to keep increasing the hold time with very light weights. Besides, I didn’t start lifting this way until the last month of the diet and this picture.

    @Mark. As for my skin, I have been pleased that it has firmed up nicely now but not perfect. I am 38 so that has to be factored into this. I am interested to see a year from now of stabilized weight with PHD nutrition results might bring. The last month seemed to be looser than I would want, but then since I have stabilized for 2 months now it has shrunk as well. Unfortunately, there are some small white lines of scars remaining. While I have reached my old ideal weight, I can’t lift weights and play sports like I did back then. Therefore, my body composition is not the same. I still have some pudge in the front belly I would like to eliminate as well as increase lean muscle. Maybe a 10 lb fat loss and 15 lb muscle gain would be ideal. But I think my body has been through enough this year and holidays are upon me. So I’m in a maintenance phase for now. I am improving my back, increasing lifting, and by the spring I hope I can do more regular lifting. Then I’ll see where I am and access how to improve more from there.

  18. Hi Aravind,

    Great points, thanks.

    Hi erp,

    Best of luck with the sports medicine! I’ll cross my fingers too.

  19. @KirkC. I drank about 4-6 16 oz bottles of reverse osmosis water daily. The clean no taste of R.V. water I think makes a big difference for me. I got off the Ozarka bottles. I got BPA free bottles from Whole Foods. So health and taste of the water was a big difference and help.

    When I felt a mild hunger I usually drank another bottle. If the hunger returned or a tad stronger I swigged 1 tablespoon of coconut oil with water. The coconut oil was liquid. I put the glass jar I use on a candle warmer plate, then pour in the water. I actually did this only a handful of times maybe 6 or so. They were all around noon. I ate the 1 meal dinner at 6ish pm.

    On oil fast days, I went dinner let’s say on a Friday night and didn’t eat again until Sunday night. 48 hours fast with ranging from 3-7 tablespoons of coconut oil. I took more based on hunger. If I was not hungry I didn’t bother.

    I mentioned in another comment that I changed after the first month or so to Tropical Traditions expeller pressed coconut oil, which I did not try earlier because authors warn against expeller pressed chemicals. Well, Weston Price group recommended the brand and T.T. e.p. is mechanically pressed and claim no harmful chemicals. I believe Paul approved it. So it is a no taste coconut oil, at least to me.

    I didn’t try Paul’s concoction of what…spinach leaves and cranberries with coconut oil. I don’t like the taste of greens plain. So I just used the oil and water alone approach. This is why for the first time in my life I tried vinegar on my spinach and salmon stir fry meal. So now I like greens this way! Thank you Paul for re-awakening me to having vinegars in my diet. I had a lot of acid/alkaline vegetarian concepts remaining going into this diet and vinegar’s acidity was a big no-no.

    P.S. I hate the taste of coffee. 🙂

  20. @erp. Congratulations to you too! I can really sympathize with the body aching like with my back. Doctors said your options are n-said anti-inflammatory drugs (tried that back in high school for an arm injury and got sores in my mouth and stomach problems for years after so I so no to that), steroid shot in the disc (needles- no thanks, but also the low success rate I read for my condition), and eventually surgery. “You can’t heal a herniated disc,” they said. Well geniuses, do they even know that the right back exercises (McKenzie Method and Inversion therapy table, plus regular stretching) can dramatically improve it and make life very manageable? Thanks Paul for the back advice! His advice here made as much difference as the diet!

    So erp, keeping eating PHD and searching for healthy solutions. It may not be perfect but well worth the commitment!

  21. @Aravind. Thanks.

    I’ll be the first to admit I don’t fully understand the food reward concept. I’ve read all of Stephen Guyenet’s FR series, and the ever long comments that follow, Paul’s articles on it, and J Stanton’s Hunger series. It still remains a puzzling concept. So I was shooting around on the FW paragraph and counting on Paul to edit it or comment on it and set me straight, just like the set point concept.

    In the end, Guyenet seemed to always come down to eat less tasty food. I believe that now that I have gotten healthy and a low stable and near ideal weight, with taste buds changed for the better for veggies for one, that I can possibly contemplate trying a no salt or spices approach to eating for a month as an experiment. However, I could not even have contemplated the agony that would have been if I tried it in the beginning at 250 and a major Coca cola addiction, not to mention all the other sweets, fast food, and junk I craved.

    If FW is true, which most likely plays a strong role, going bland is not the solution for America. The PHD is the perfect transition IMO, and then only to a PHD flavorless approach. But in the end, is a bland meal the ideal when so many of the spices are considered so healthy and we need to incorporate more of it into our diets?

  22. Congratulations, Jaybird! Well done!

    I hope I didn’t miss something and am not making you repeat, but you said you still had sugar cravings when you were vegetarian (as well as when you were LC paleo) – were you eating starches as a vegetarian? I ask because the “safe starches” on PHD have really made giving up sugar easy for me, and I’m wondering if potatoes, etc. really might be key to getting off sugar for most sugar-craving people.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  23. Congratulations, Jay. I find myself torn between admiration and envy.

    Your description of how you consumed the oil sounds like it had little or no flavor, and that it was taken independent of other flavors. If so, then this sounds like a classic success story from the Shangri-La Diet (SLD) developed by Seth Roberts. (It’s also interesting that some of the people who succeeded at SLD found themselves fasting by accident . . . they were surprised they just weren’t hungry . . . although I understand your fast was a deliberate decision.)

    Back in June when I read Stephan Guyenet’s recommendations for how to implement his Low Food Reward ideas, I was struck at how much Levels 1 and 2 reflect the recommendations of paleo-type diets such as PHD, that is, eliminate toxins and add nutrients. [1]

    Stephan’s Level 5 struck me as a variation of the SLD, especially Seth’s experiment with eating sushi. [2]

    I also remember agreeing with the comments of Kamal when he discussed his success with Low Food Reward, in that he thought the perfect combination was PHD, low food reward, and intermittent fasting (he said this in the comment string). It seems to me that you have successfully pulled off this trifecta. [3]

    I too am starting to use all three, with some small success. (Unfortunately, Thanksgiving was a disaster, and the onset of cold weather makes IF all that more difficult.) Thanks for the inspiration.


    [1] wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/06/food-reward-dominant-factor-in-obesity_28.html

    [2] sethroberts.net/about/whatmakesfoodfattening.pdf

    [3] wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/10/losing-fat-with-simple-food.html

  24. ITA Steph, safe starches have curbed my cravings for sugar & refined GF carbs.

    Alcohol? I still crave. That glass of red wine at the end of the day signals “Clock out & relax”.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Jaybird!

  25. Hello Jay,

    I don’t consider my low reward diet bland (using Stephan’s definition of reward). Moreover, even if we focus on palatability specifically and not reward in general, palatability is not static. My experience is that my palate has changed substantially as a result of my diet modifications. It’s not that hyperpalatable foods have become unrewarding or undesirable, but rather that foods that were previously not as palatable have become relatively more so. Also, sensitivity to spices has noticeably changed. I used to eat enough spice to kill a small farm animal. Now I find that I desire very little spice so I can actually taste my food. The times I have indulged in excessive spices, I definitely have noticed a tendency to overeat.

    Regardless, I think you raise a great point about what you could contemplate now vs when you started. When an individual is significantly overweight, a few dietary changes that are not all that “extreme” might be sufficient to cause a significant weight loss. Whether that is driven by macronutrients, toxin avoidance, micronutrients, reward, etc is irrelevant for purposes of this discussion. The point being that the initial pounds are relatively easy to lose. The analogy I would make is with weight lifting. When a novice weight lifter starts training, they may see very rapid gains in strength or hypertrophy because they have a lot of room for growth. I think the same applies in reverse for weight loss.

    However once an individual is no longer a novice, the rules of engagement might need to change. Assuming one is above their target weight and have plateaued in spite of compliance, perhaps something more extreme is required. Maybe some individuals can achieve their goals absent extremes, but there are certainly many anecdotes of people that have lost a fair bit of weight, but the last 10-20 lbs just will not come off. I was/am one of them. I am implicitly making the assumption that there is not some permanent metabolic damage that would prevent additional weight loss/health improvement.

    Perhaps in this scenario, a more extreme approach (i.e. Stephan’s Level 5 FR) would allow the individual to break through the plateau, which Stephan explcitly wrote was never intended to be a long term approach, but only for short term remediation. I completely agree that for America at large, compliance on a bland diet is completely impractical. But again, my diet isn’t bland 🙂

    Again, congrats on your results. Awesome!

  26. Hi Kirk,

    You’re right, I’ve adopted Seth’s Shangri-La Diet … The coconut oil or MCT oil and intermittent fasting is meant to be ketogenic, PHD-style, but also tasteless calories Shangri-La style … I think Seth’s discovery is remarkable, but I think this is a better implementation than eating sugar water – nutritionless fructose-containing calories.

  27. It’s great that this guy was able to lose a lot of weight on this diet. Congratulations to him.

    There is an important distinction that needs to be made, however, in the regard to the information about foods in this and in other diets. In particular I’m referring to the advice that eating grains and vegetable oils and other things are all together dangerous due to “toxins” etc. The bottom line is that people get fat not because they’re eating whole grain bread, or olive oil, or some other nonsense like that. The reason of course is because they are eating high proportions of refined carbohydrates, often cooked in an excess of oils, and eating meats that are unnaturally high in fats. He even says that as a kid he “could eat everything in sight.” Eventually that bad habit caught up with him and that is the *primary* reason that he became obese/overweight, not eating grains or vegetable oil.

    This is an important distinction because putting an obese, type II diabetic on a low carb diet is not the same as advising a healthy-weight, healthy-metabolism person to eat a low carb diet. Health and Weight Loss are two entirely different scenarios.

  28. Hi John,

    I’m afraid I don’t understand the theory of obesity underlying your comment. It sounds like you blame eating carbs (but not whole grains) and fats (but not olive oil) for obesity. That leaves protein as a non-fattening macronutrient, but there is no variability in protein intake among human populations, or between lean and obese – it’s always around 15% of energy, 300-400 calories/day. So this seems a non-explanation for the obesity epidemic.

  29. Hi Paul,
    I’m not blaming carbs or fats per se, I’m blaming highly processed foods which are high in *refined carbohydrates* and *unnaturally* high in fats or *added* oils (without respect to the type of fat or oil – e.g., saturated vs unsaturated). What I’m saying is that Jay partly attributes his weight gain to eating “the high carbs, food toxins, and malnourishment of the food pyramid diet, a few other factors may have affected my eating habits” and places blame on the “healthy low-fat diet” that his father was placed on and the “alkalizing vegetarian diet” his mother chose.

    My point is simply that people don’t gain weight because they eat carbohydrates or because they eat grains that contain “toxins” or because they eat vegetable oil. People gain weight because at some point the choose to eat refined carbohydrates and foods that are unnaturally high in fats, which leads to an overconsumption of food/calories in general and altered digestion.

    Advising people to stay away from grains that contain toxins or vegetable oils or to say saturated fat is healthy (which implies you can eat it ad libitum) is ultimately confusing to the public.

    People who are restricted to modestly processed grains, un-processed carbohydrates, minimal amounts of added oils (all oils, not just vegetable), whole fruits/vegetables, and non-feedlot livestock will have difficulty becoming overweight/obese.

  30. Hi John,

    Well, thanks for your points. I disagree, for the most part. Saturated fat is healthy, and all healthy foods can be eaten ad libitum (that is, to one’s taste) because the brain naturally leads people to eat in the right proportions, if they are given a selection of good natural healthy foods, and removes appetite when enough has been eaten.

    I’ll be blogging soon about what I think are the causes of obesity and the reason why vegetable oils are especially obesogenic.

  31. @KirkC. Thanks. I thought of the similarities to the Shangri-La Diet in the coconut oil fasts as well. I don’t think I could have trusted PHD in a vacuum. Hearing corresponding points coming together makes me stay with aspects in the diet like the IF. I like it and it gives my stomach a chance to clean house and reset my weight each day and then each week it seems.

    @Steph. Thanks. I was enthralled with Anthony Robbins, the motivational speaker, back in the day about 10+ years ago. He recommended “Innerlight,” which was an acid/alkaline diet. 80/20 rule of 80% alkalizing food. It only grudgingly allowed a tiny bit of salmon per month but the pure won’t need it so I thought I wouldn’t. It was mainly greens, greens, and more greens (wheat grass powder drink..I took the capsules – bleh!). It also kept throwing in the glycemic index and how potatoes and white rice are bad and acidic as well so avoid. Then, there is many more claiming “no white” diet with no white flour, sugar, rice, potatoes. So lumping potatoes with the others left me confused for years. I loved Paul’s recent starches articles explaining the glycemic index in a PHD context. PHD has really freed my mind for safe starches and I whole heartily agree that they were absolutely key to handling my sugar craving addiction. Any attempt to start a diet was a nightmare dealing with headaches, crashes, and other sugar related problems. I believe safe starches are the answer to rehab from sugar and continue to resist sugar sweetened food everywhere.

    @Michelle. Your welcome!

    @Aravind. I didn’t mean to insult you or your diet. Any thoughts I have on food reward are just musings of an amateur sitting in the peanut gallery trying to soak up as much as I can from Stephen and Paul on such a new topic. I greatly appreciate your contribution to the discussion on FR here and at Stephen’s blog. You make some great points especially the changing of the palate over the course of adapting a diet like PHD. My taste for veggies certainly changed quite a bit. I don’t need nearly the amount of sweetness as I did nor saltiness. The changing of palatability is one major reason why the FR is so difficult to grasp or prove and win everybody over. FR has been so fascinating since it has been a totally new concept to me this year.

    @John. I can’t unravel all the factors that changed in my diet to draw definitely conclusion what was and what was not to blame. I do blame the food pyramid low fat and grains because of how I feel changing to a high saturated fat, low carb PHD. Before the diet, I felt like a car with old sludge oil inside me. After a month on PHD, I felt like my insides had an oil change to fresh oil. This is akin to Taubes and Lustig saying I didn’t feel like exercising before and then I felt great and energetic wanting to go for an even longer walk because I wanted to do it. I’m still not a fan of Taubes’ CIH (Insulin sole cause), but the idea that your insides chemically need to change to accomplish weight loss is true IMO. And consider that the new energy was with dramatically lower calories, which I had done before without the same energetic change from the inside so pointing only to calorie reduction doesn’t makes sense of my experiences. Remember I wrote that besides vegetarian, I cut calories to the same level many tries before with frozen dinners, fresh whole foods, and other ways with the opposite effect. Thus, I have to conclude that the types of food makes the difference. Also, nearly 400 calories a day of saturated fat was part of that. Also of note, I put in there that I went hungerless for so long and then I had wheat after several months and felt a strong uncomfortable hunger the next few days. It’s just one person’s experience with grains, but my dad, brother, and sister-in-law have reported feeling quite different since avoiding grains too. Well, I hope that perspective helps.

  32. Joe — thanks for the links to Paul’s blogs on the food reward/palatability section.

    I’m a new-ish reader so I missed those — should’ve used the search function (but had done some digging for older posts and must have missed them).

  33. @Jay – I didn’t take your comments negatively at all. It’s all good. No worries!!!

  34. I’m also intrigued by FR (food reward)!

    How is it possible that in all these years (I’m nearly 50) I never noticed before that certain foods taste great & grant me hours of satiety, and other foods taste great but do not grant satiety, even worse, certain foods trigger the desire to eat more & more.

    When discussing IF & taking coconut oil off the spoon with people who have never heard of it, they look at me like I’m crazy.

    @Jaybird, did you count calories all through, or just in the beginning to get a hang of portions and meal options?

  35. @Michelle

    I counted calories best I could throughout. I used the US nutrient database site and what was listed on the package when applicable. Potatoes were a bit of an estimate compared to rice with amounts measured by cup and calories listed on the package. Coconut oil was exact measuring spoon level but close enough. Now I can’t get counting the calories of food out of my head. It was a good experience because like I wrote, “regular” amounts of food seemed too small when I thought they wouldn’t feel me up. The one meal a day seem even little bit big especially after I upped my daily carbs to the upper range of PHD near 600 calories because of the exercise and Texas heat. I actually found that when you eat homemade cooked white rice or potatoes, it’s a lot of food for what I thought was too small of calorie amounts! I guess prepackaged stuff seems to offer little amount with more calorie punch. I didn’t realize the difference in home cooking real food. But there might be a size and calories difference between grains and rice/potatoes?

    I look back and wonder whether I would have stopped eating on my own from the food satiety? Maybe not so much in the beginning and more later? Even now I don’t think I could do an experiment since I inadvertently count the calories before I make the amount. I would have to purposely make way too much and see where I might stop. It’s interesting possibility.

  36. I need to proof read before posting.

    “Coconut oil was NOT an exact measuring spoon level but close enough.”

  37. Still really need to pick up your book. Are you going to have a kindle edition at some point?

  38. Jay, thank you for the great response to my earlier question, that is exactly what I was looking for. Looking forward to seeing similar type (meal logs/plans) from Paul in the future. Another question for you. So if I’m reading the entirety of your post correctly, are you saying that during this 7 1/2 months on PHD your had 1 main meal a day (dinner) and that you intermittent fasted the remainder of the day supplementing with water/coconut oil? What was the frequency of your longer Friday to Sunday fasts? Now that you have stabilized your weight will you change your practice of intermittent fasting, having more than 1 meal a day? Say limiting your eating to Paul’s 8 hour window? Thanks again.

  39. Hi Josh,

    Yes, Kindle edition is coming soon!

  40. @George.

    Yes, one meal and the rest of the day with water with 6 or so days needing an additional tablespoon of coconut oil for the weight loss months.

    I did a week long (7 day) oil fast near the beginning. Then, I did the 48 hour oil fast day once a week throughout the 7 months and still do it to this day once a week. It is great to give my stomach a break and reset my stomach and weight each week.

    Yes, I changed my approach to Paul’s more regular recommendations and plan to keep it up. Once I reached my goal weight of 175 oddly to me at the time I started feeling more hunger at that level. It’s like my body said that the calorie level was not enough and wanted more. I increased my calories by having coconut oil and water in the morning and adding a small meal at lunch and then the larger meal at dinner. I make sure to eat within the 8 hour window now. I probably have gone from 1200 calories to 1600-2000 now. My weight has fluctuated within about a 5 lb range since I reached 170 in late September. With the extra calories, I’m pretty much weight stable and I weighed 172 today. I think I would be even more stable but birthdays, Halloween, and recently Thanksgiving came and non-PHD foods were still tempting. However, I still didn’t go nuts like previously nor were they incredible like much earlier. I love that even when I get off track a little, I can coconut oil fast that week and then eat the regular PHD plan and get back on track and my weight gets back in check easily. I could not do that if I water fasted alone these last two months. I would be too hungry and fasting too tough coming off eating wheat cake or dressing. But the oil really soothes the stomach and gives energy on that day and the next day I’ll drop the food weight I added. I also think its real good psychologically. It gives my mind a break from thinking about what to make and go eat. It frees up time in my life to focus on other things too.

    Hope that helps George.

  41. Jay

    I was wondering what you are doing for maintenance and how did you transition into it, if you have gotten into that yet.

    I think it is really great that you have found something that gives you so much energy and health along with the weight loss. Congratulations!

  42. ooops! Just noticed your big comment right above about maintenance. So nevermind!

  43. Hi Jay,

    Thanks for sharing!

    A couple of things I’m curious about:

    1. How much coconut oil do you eat per day? I’m remembering 2 TBSP for PHD recommendation.

    2. Do you eat liver?


  44. @MarkES

    1. During the weight loss, I rarely used the 1 tablespoon during the day since I did not need it. However, I either cooked with the 2 tablespoons or swigged it at dinner if the meal did not need it. I was trying to stick with Paul’s recommendations. But I also might have had more several times to reach the 400 calories a day of fat. Now I take 1 tablespoon in the morning and then as I need to cook with at lunch and dinner, which is usually at least 2 but could be more.

    2. I tried liver about 4 times the first few months and hated…I mean hated the taste and texture of it.
    I didn’t want that aspect of it to derail my diet so I ignored it and hoped the supplements and food were enough. I’ve been thinking of the supplements amounts and considering to up certain ones since I was not getting the liver in weekly. However, I was at the Wise Traditions (WAPrice) and US Wellness Meats had a booth there and at lunchtime with the sponsored meal and at the booth I sample a liverwurst that had. Alright! Problem solved. It’s like the texture is changed and the taste is fairly neutral. I can eat it straight, but I’ve used it twice now and mixed it in with some ground beef in chili and didn’t notice it at all. Before, I mixed it in and the flavor overwhelmed the beef. I’m happy I solved that part. I highly recommend their meat. Oh and try the beef jerky!

  45. nice!

    i really like Jay’s charts, very analytic & illustrative.

  46. i usually don’t care for green vegetables either, esp. salad (most are bland too grassy & “vegetal”)

    unless it’s sauteed quickly (in a wok) + garlic (i learned it from mom).

    then it becomes highly palatable.


  47. Jay did you know your lean muscle weight before you started and if so how much did you lose?

  48. If you don’t know your lean muscle weight I think its worth getting it done.

  49. Hey Jay,

    didn’t ment to hurt you. 🙂

    If you have those back problems, forget the ‘BIG 3’ (Squat, DL, BP) and do something like Bodybyscience.net
    No need to hurt oneself to build some muscle

Leave a Comment

NOTE - You can use these HTML tags and attributes:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks: