Balneus

Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Discovering your inner rat

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-04-03


I’ve been following the Scientific American series on self-experimenters, but Seth Roberts’ efforts are both long-lived, and address a wide range of issues that affect many people, including weight, acne and sleep disorders.

Roberts, you see, is a die-hard experimentalist, and his favorite experimental subject is himself.  For the past three decades, he has deliberately tinkered with his daily routine, slowly introducing one small change after another in his diet and other habits, all the while keeping careful track of the effects…

OK, I’ll admit that the expectations of self-experimenters can introduce a placebo effect, and throw the rigor of double-blind studies out the window.  Still, I’ll mention one experiment, and think you’ll enjoy reading not only his other investigations, but browse through the whole series.

His weightiest finding, so to speak, was that he could regulate his appetite by drinking unflavored fructose water between meals.  He dropped 35 pounds (16 kilograms) in this way from a starting weight of 185 (84 kilograms), then gained 10 of them back because friends said he looked gaunt.  Later he found that a couple of tablespoons of flavorless vegetable oil worked equally well.

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