The experiment III

Just a small update (as promised). Since I finished the juice diet, I have had a stable weight of around 90.5 kg. I started at 97.3kg as you might remember and ended the 28 day juice fast on 88.6 kg. The two kilogram I lost in the first two days came back in five (filling up intestines?!), but none of the remaining weight has come back. The graph shows this clearly.

I have not pigged out, though I did eat a lot today. Actually I have eaten a lot like before, just without the extra junk that made me gain a lot of weight in the spring.

I plan to do it again sometime in the autumn. Not to lose weight so much as because it was really good for my confidence and for my energy levels.

Jacobs weight after juice diet

I promise this is the end of this. Back to chess…

31 thoughts on “The experiment III”

  1. Jacob Aagaard

    To some extent this is sort of it. I gained 2 kg in the first five days after the juice fast and nothing in the weeks that followed. The supposed rebound did not happen.

    Also, this is a Quality Chess website and for this reason it is both a company website and a chess website. I do not think I should go into big discussions on nutrition. The fact that I am not educated in this and have rather unconventional views would somehow spoil the inclusive nature I want this blog to have.

    Anyway, today I will come with a new publishing schedule, which I am sure will create some positive debate.

  2. Do you weigh at same time every day? I find quite a variance, presumably dictated by how much water is in my system at the time.

    But looking forward to the publishing schedule……almost 2 months since the last batch of QC books popped through my letter box.

    1. Yes of course. I gain about 1.5 kg during the day. Of course there are fluctuations throughout the week. Now that the diet is over, it is likely I will not weigh myself for quite a while. Probably until I will do another juice diet in the autumn.

      I think that if you are a on a long term diet, the best thing is to weigh yourself whenever you want and simply go by the lowest number you get during the week.

  3. I believe this is not so off-topic. I may not be very well informed but to my knowledge the topic of proper nutrition for chess players is rarely covered anywhere. QC consists of a number of experienced players who most likely played tournament chess at almost any time of the day during their active career. So some chapter about what worked for you and what didn’t in one of the upcoming books (e.g. in Thinking inside the box) would be much appreciated. I don’t expect a “Grandmaster Pasta Repertoire” book though :-).

    1. I am not sure pasta would be a recommendation! I think that if I wrote about nutrition and chess, I would get hammered and irritate people. On a recent Facebook tread some guy was ridiculing me, claiming to be a scientist and “of course sugar is not a toxin”, though it seems pretty uncontested that it is…

  4. John Devereaux

    WOK is absolutely right. Nutrition and chess are rarely discussed. I mean, if you think about it, sports nutrition is never mentioned. OK, I can accept that sports nutrition is not the be all and end all of proper dietary intake and that there is more to ingestion and digestion of various food structural components and bio active molecules. Having studied a BSc Food Science and an MSc in a food product development area, I am actually knoweldgeable that in many circumstances, there probably isnt a nutrition policy for very many chess clubs, chess unions and perhaps even for school members of the chess in schools program. Also keeping in mind, that the human brain does use quite a lot of glucose during a typical day and during mental competition, it may most certainly require more energy. Not forgettign, the body also requires energy. I have a question and that is, will Quality Chess publish a book about nutrition and chess ??. It will be interesting.

  5. John Devereaux

    @Jacob Aagaard

    Actually, Jacob, when I studied Food Science, we did modules in nutrition and perhaps one or two of the main focuses on sugar (ordinary white sugar) is that it is quite toxic in two aspects:

    1: does cause dental caries. I think that in the 1650s dental records show that the introduction of sugar to Europe lead to incremental dental caries

    2: white sugar supposedly diminishes the white blood cells in the human body and strength of the immune system.

    I studied a long time ago now.

    Oh, I also had an experience on in a Chess group where I asked about nutrition and chess and somebody replied that my statment was like talking about BArak Obama and Global Warming…!!!???

    1. Jacob Aagaard

      Hahaha. Robert Lustig’s book and lecture was pretty convincing as well. Google: Sugar – The bitter truth.

  6. John Devereaux

    Finally, Jacob, if you ever want some assistance with writing nutrition chapters, please do ask me. I will see what I can do. I assisted with some herbal remedy reports some years ago…worked out grand.

  7. John Devereaux


    There is a common idea that dieting to lose weight can eventually lead to weight fluctuations that can involve:

    1: you diet to lose weight, some time later you gain more weight and weigh more than you did before you went on the diet !!

    1. Jacob Aagaard

      This is only if you lose weight be some deficiency, I think. But yes, this is definitely a typical scenario. The science on this is, as far as I understand, not very developed.

  8. My rules on eating during a tourney are simple – eat enough, but do not overeat.

    I’ve also not observed any ill effects of eating pasta, but I love the stuff so who knows?!

  9. John Devereaux

    Pasta is one of those things that people actually question. Some body builders wont touch bread or pasta. Some people see pasta as not a food but as a filler with carbohydrates. Some people live on it, some for it, some occasionally, some rarely and some not at all. It is after all semolina flour, egg yolk and some water. I worked in a factory that made tonnes of it per day. Main ingredients were Durum wheat semolina flour (sort of yellow in color), dried egg yolk powder and water, all mixed with a screw and then extruded through a die…quite interesting.

  10. Jacob Aagaard

    There are things that are debatable and there are things that are commonly accepted.

    I personally believe that sugars, dairy and meat are non-ideal for human consumption, with sugar being (proven) a toxin, dairy being full of hormones that are not meant for us and high levels of lactose (sugar again) and meat being highly suspicious for many reasons, not least the way it is produced. In the EU the current debate on sausages is for example if the ecoli you get from inspect pigs’ heads by cutting them open is not a greater threat to human health than the tuberculosis and other illnesses the pigs have that can only be detected by cutting the heads open. The threat of ecoli has won the battle. Last year 37,000 pigs’ heads were discarded because of these illnesses. This year they won’t. Surprisingly the cheaper method won the bureaucratic battle in the EU-commission; as indeed it would have done in the UK system as well. I hate other reasons to think meat is non-ideal for human consumption; loads actually. But as said, these are debatable.

    What is not open for debate (I mean supported by any serious people) is that an increase in the amount of vegetables and fruits in your diet is a positive. Actually there is no upper limit for how much good it will do you. And if you look at the most successful diets and life-style-change programs, they almost all look at increasing the amount of good food in your diet. They are not about removing the poor stuff, but about having more plants, preferably raw.

    For chess I think it is commonly accepted that sugar is damaging, but I have no knowledge of any other short term dietary recommendations. So, if you like your chocolate, have it after the game.

  11. Sugar is a toxin? No

    That’s as true as saying that salt is a toxin or alcohol is a toxin.

    Sure, too much sugar is not healthy. But neither is too much salt, alcohol, fat, carbs … or too much anything really.

    You just did a juice only diet. A considerable part of your energy intake during that time was … sugar.

    “Avoid added sugars” is great advice. “Sugar is a toxin” not so much.

  12. @Raul
    The bio-chemistry apparently disagrees with you, as far as I can understand it.

    And yes, the fructose in fruit is a mild toxin too, according to Lustig. But it is wrapped in fibre, soluble and insoluble. When you entirely remove the fibre, as with “free sugars” you create a powerful toxin.

    If this is incorrect, I would like to know. But wrap it in an argument, please :-).

    Btw. Alcohol is a product of decay. I am not sure that anyone seriously believe that it is good for you.

  13. John Devereaux

    Ya know, juice is also reasonably toxic
    I mean, was it freshly squeezed or concentrate.
    Concentrate juices used to involve a clarification process (I am old now) using collagen from animal sources !!!.
    Fresh juice is acidic.

  14. John Devereaux

    I forgot to add…I remember this from a professor in the physico-chemical properties of food: fruit smoothies are reasonably dangerous as are juices due to the presence of an enzyme in the fruit or veg cells that breaks down the cell contents when the cell wall is ruptured…

  15. John Devereaux

    Thomas, I studied Food Science. The professors and PhD lecturers covered areas such as Dairy Chemistry, Meat Science (granted possible an inaccurate title, should include “Muscle”), Chemistry of fruits & vegetables, bio chemistry, microbiology, chemistry, physics and some others.

  16. John Devereaux

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Well, Jacob, alcohol is a by product of microbial fermentation of a substrate such as glucans in as an example cereal. In many cases conducted by yeast but bacteria do play a part as well. I am curious, are you a vegan ?. I have read some vegan cookery books and they debate the disadvantages of eating dairy milk cheese products due to the putrification properties associated with the breakdown of the cassein and other fats & proteins etc. Animal muscle tissue is also a very debatable…animal welfare is paramount and stressor chemicals produced by the animals when subjected to stress can cause problems for the people eating the butchered muscle tissue.

  17. John Devereaux

    @John Devereaux

    I forgot to add that (I wont name the famous fruit smoothie company here) this is why a state of the art pasteurisation system was employed to preserve the fruit juices in the fruit smoothy drinks but again you can debate that…is the pasteurisation process that effective to inhibit the enzymes that initiate and complete structural break down when cell membranes have been ruptured in the fruit or vegetable tissues…one for thought…

  18. Jacob Aagaard

    @John Devereaux
    I do not think it is useful to put yourself in a box. So, I am not a vegan, but I do not eat a lot of animal products. My main focus is to eat as many raw plants as possible. It is intuitively healthy and the science is madly behind it at the moment as well.

    The juices and smoothies I drink are freshly made, contains lots of kale, ginger, cucumber, spinach, flax seeds, cougette, brocolli and so on, as well as apples, pineapple and lemon/lime. They are generally not that sweet and not very acidic. I often make it into a smoothie with avocado.

    I find it hard to believe that this is not healthy :-).

    On a 28 days juice fast you obviously put a lot of other things into the mix: carrots, beetroot, oranges, mint, sugar peas, fennel, peppers, berries.

  19. @Jacob Aagaard

    Isn’t the point made in “Sugar: the bitter truth” that the problem lies in the increased fructose consumption?

    We have millions of years of evolution behind us. We are pretty well equipped to deal with moderate quantities of anything that is in regular food.

    If you want to give general advice on eating healthy, I would keep it at “moderation and variation”.
    Healthy eating habits is not about whether you eat french fries once a month, it’s about what you are eating the other 29 days.

  20. Jacob Aagaard

    A few simple points:

    – High fructose corn syrup replaced sugar in North America in the 1970’s (though invented in Japan). Lustig sees no chemical (or nutritional) difference between it and sugar.

    – Yes there is an increase. But what increase are we talking about? The 1200% from 1914-2014 or the 50% increase from 2000? We could or course deal with some free sugars, but the safe level is definitely much lower than what people get through such a thing as supermarket bread alone.

    – The argument: there is not such a thing as an unhealthy meal, just an unhealthy diet is a nice one. One shot of heroin also does not make you a junkie. An unhealthy diet is created by unhealthy meals.
    I am no saint and I eat “the wrong things” from time to time. But I do not believe that explaining it away is a level of awareness that benefits me. Where does this argument come from anyway? I hear it only from two sources: 1) industry that wants to sell me stuff that is bad for me (McDonalds for example) and puts addictive substances in the food. And 2) people who are unhealthy and want to indulge, but do not want anyone around them who do not, because they feel it makes them look bad.

    Our body is pretty robust, but the idea that we should test the limits of it does not make sense to me. On the other hand, preaching to others what they should or should not do does not either. You will not find me in private doing so. If asked, when I was on a juice diet, I would really play it down; as I will in the future. The only people I try to influence are my kids and John. My kids because I want them to fully understand that plants is where good nutrition comes from; and John because we mess with each other constantly…

  21. @Jacob Aagaard

    The animal studies that Lustig refers to compare a normal fructose diet with a high fructose diet. As far as I can see there is no scientific data to support the claim that moderate fructose consumption would be toxic.

    My point is that is you want to eat healthy, you probably want to focus on your everyday eating habits. The impact of a single unhealthy meal is negligible. If you eat fries once a month and healthy otherwise (let’s say normal caloric intake, 60% carbohydrates, low amount of saturated fats, plenty of fruit and vegetables) you are doing well, very well. I’d guess better than 95% of the western population.

    I’m not at all advocating testing the limits of your body, I don’t know where you got that from. That’s why i don’t really like these “extremist” measures like “Ban all sugars!”, “This month I’m only drinking juice!”. You need to have the basics down first. Then you could maybe start thinking about tweaking them.

    Pretty much like how you advocated for training your chess (or at least how I remember it). Having a good attainable habit in place, like working 30 min. a day, will do much more for you than going “all out” for 2 weeks. And if you sin against your healthy habit, no biggy, just get back at it.

    Anyway, that’s just my humble opinion of course, and I’ve pretty much expressed it by now so i’ll leave the poor dead horse alone 🙂

  22. What I personally find interesting is the fact that you got to 97.3 in the first place – even though I work in a deadline rich industry and know that you tend to appreciate ice cream working in the middle of the night. I think this more or less coincides with Raul’s point about ‘the other 29 days’. Since you’re so much into this sugar-thing, I wonder if you’ve read the book Willpower by Baumeister & Tierney. They do a pretty good job in explaining the paradox of cutting down your sugar intake and keeping up a diet (for which you need willpower, aka glucose, aka sugar) at the same time. Even apart from desperately wanting to finish work for a deadline, keeping up family life, having little sleep etc. etc.

    Kudos for sharing though.

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