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How You Can Gain 10 Pounds in 5 Days


In science and philosophy of science, there's something called a "just so story" or "pourquoi story," or, more formally, the ad hoc fallacy: a fanciful story that explains some event. "Just so story" of course comes from Kipling's Just So Stories, like "How the Leopard Got His Spots." In science, it's used to make fun of hypotheses that seem to explain some past event, but which are for one reason or another impossible to verify.

Explaining this weight gain based on the Oreos would be a just so story; there are too many other things that can account for weight gain, none of them very satisfying.

  • Water weight. This one is the most probable, if only because it's just about the only thing that seems to have any physical possibility whatsoever. But 10 pounds is 10 pints is a gallon and a quarter of water.
  • "My time of the month." I'm not joking, actually; over the eight months of these experiments I have noticed a periodic upswing about every 4-5 weeks. And I am half woman (on my mother's side of the family). But that really reduces to the water weight.
  • Glycogen storage. This is one I get offered fairly regularly on the Facebook page, the notion being that after a low-carb diet, the first carbs you eat get taken directly to your liver to be stored as glycogen -- which also requires a lot of water to make. This one I find really unconvincing, and here's why: go to the grocery store and look at a pound of liver. (You may have to go to the freezer section nowadays.) Stack ten of them together and you'll see that's a pretty large piece of liver. It seems pretty unlikely that you could add that much liver in five days without some drastic growing pains at the very least.

So really, all I can say is to note the fact and move on.

Here's where the 13 weeks thing comes in. I'd gained ten pounds after a relatively small indulgence (1100 kcals, 170g carbs, that's relatively small, right? I mean, I used to eat a pound of spaghetti at one meal). That is the sort of thing that could knock anyone off a diet. But the terms of the experiment are 13 weeks, see what happens, dispassionate experimentation. No blame.

So I just kept on.

Now, there were some other funny things about it -- although my blood sugar spiked to 160 or so on The Night of the Oreos, I was back to 102 the next morning, and down to 95 the morning after that. That's also a new morning low, certainly in this 13 week experiment and I think back through the whole thing.

I also found the fast days to be particularly hard, but on the other hand the slow days were oddly easy. I wasn't very hungry, I kept eating things like just a salad at lunch, and while I'm not keeping a food diary any longer I'm pretty confident that I ate less than normal through most all the time I was gaining that 10 pounds.

Here's another just so story for you: maybe the fasting and the extended dieting are restoring some of the self-regulation. Maybe I was less hungry because my body is responding to the weight gain more like a non-obese person.

In any case, I went back to the regular diet on the 24th, few carbs and those slow.

Since yesterday, I've lost 2 pounds.

Must be this great diet, right?