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Veganism, Alcoholism, and Quarantine

April 5, 2021

There is a phenomenon where if one person engages in some morally good action that is above and beyond the societal norms of their group, they are resented by others because the action is a (mild) condemnation of everyone who does not also do it. Morality is judged by the dynamics of the group. If everyone does something, everyone else is expected to do it as well. Slacking is not acceptable because well, if everyone else is doing it, why can’t you?

  • Alcoholics will resent and try to sabotage friends who quit alcohol. Frequently it is better for the recovering alcoholic to just cut ties with all of the alcoholics in their life for this reason.
  • Obese people who try to lose weight will often be criticized by their other obese friends and have them criticize their new lifestyle with insincere concern trolling: “All that exercise isn’t good for you.”, “your brain needs at least 900 g of refined sugar per day to survive”, “you’ll go into starvation mode if you lose so much”, etc.
  • Vegans are often ridiculed and ostracized for being committed to their moral beliefs to the detriment of eating delicious food and following a very strict diet.
  • Hard workers at a company, especially new hires, often attract resentment from less hard working employees. There may be good reasons for this such as rushing poor quality work, or working at an unmaintainable pace, but I think for the most part it’s just resentment for putting more effort in than others and the group wanting to maintain a lower standard. You can maintain a breakneck pace for a month or two, but after several years, you’re not going to want to give the company 100%.
  • Quarantining from the pandemic is hard and it puts strains on social relationships. If one person either doesn’t believe that the disease is a large threat, or other differences in value judgements, avoiding social interaction can be misconstrued as not valuing a relationship as well as an attack on their beliefs and the condemnation that they are not doing as much for society as you are.
  • Trumpism – I think a large reason why the “deplorables” crowd supported Trump is because he puts no moral demands on them. If the president commits crimes, cheats on his wife/taxes, lies, condones violence, is racist etc. then it’s ok for you to do the same too.

I don’t know what to do about all this. If you’re going to go the extra moral mile, sometimes it’s worth trying to evangelize others. By shifting other people’s opinions of what the average person does, you can improve their moral actions. In other situations, it’s better to keep things to yourself to avoid their disapproval, but this phenomenon is a strange quirk of human nature.

Americanized Okonomiyaki

March 3, 2021

Okonomiyaki is delicious, healthy, and easy to make. However, there are many ingredients that are hard to find in America, so this version only has stuff you can easily get in a normal grocery store. It won’t taste as good as a real authentic recipe, but it’s better than nothing.

Step 1: Mix 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 tbsp salt
Step 2: Add in 6 eggs and 1/2 a cup of milk (or water) and whisk together until it forms a batter. Do not overmix.
Step 3: Finely chop 1/2 a cabbage and add to the batter, mixing together until cabbage is coated.
Step 4: Add whatever meat and vegetables you want. Partially cook any meat you add because it won’t cook all the way in the pan. It’s common to top the okonomiyaki with bacon (or pork belly if you’ve got it), but this is optional.

Be aware of your batter/filling mixture. If it comes apart in the frying pan, you had too little batter. If it is very cohesive and not falling apart at all, you can add more meat/vegetables. You want it to almost fall apart, but not quite.

Step 5: Mostly fill a frying pan with the mixture about 1.5 inches thick. Pan fry the mixture at medium/low heat until brown. Flip over halfway and cook other side.
Step 6: Top with okonomiyaki sauce (below), a drizzle of mayo, any whatever else you like like green onions or dried seaweed (shown above).

Okonomiyaki sauce: 4 tbsp ketchup, 3 tbsp worchestershire sauce, 2 tbsp soy sauce (or oyster sauce if you have it), 1 tbsp honey, sugar, or molasses. Mix together thoroughly. You can skip this step and use regular barbecue sauce as well.

If you could only eat 10 foods

October 18, 2020

What would they be and why? It can be any 10, but hypothetically you’d have to live an extended period with nothing else. This includes dealing with any nutritional deficiencies caused by such a diet. You can use the ingredients to make other things. You get water for free.

I’m going for variety and health mostly. Two vegetables (one leafy, one cruciferous), two fruits (one fatty, one berry), one nut, one mushroom, eggs, dairy, and one meat. Most people would want a starch as well, so potatoes or yams are an option.

1. Cauliflower – Contains many nutrients including vitamins C, K1, B9, potassium, manganese, iron, sulforaphanes, carotenoids, and other antioxidants. It is a very flexible food and can be mashed or riced to take the place of potatoes in many recipies, or even flattened out and baked into a pizza-like crust (altho not as good).

2. Wild Salmon – Salmon has tons of protein, omega-3 fats and vitamins A. B, and D. Salmon is rich in magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, calcium, and selenium. It’s my favorite fish.

3. Blueberries – Berries are very healthy and taste great. They have tons of antioxidants.

4. Eggs – Eggs are packed with various nutrients, especially from pasture raised chickens allowed to forage. They can easily be combined with the other ingredients in various ways and are delicious.

5. Shiitake Mushrooms – Mushrooms have a lot of trace minerals and add more variety. I really like the chewiness and flavor of the shiitake.

6. Walnuts – My favorite nut and are rich in omega 3s.

7. Seaweed – Very nutritious and can be dried for a good low calorie snack. Pairs well with salmon.

8. Olives – I’ve got good sources of omega 3s, but olives add a good source of omega 9 and monounsaturated fat. I’d also need some type of oil to cook everything else on this list in and I could press the olives for oil.

9. Salt – Useful for flavor, cheese making, and health.

10. Milk – Contains a lot of nutrients, and you could make cheese, yogurt, butter, and cream as well. Since it’s my blog post, and I’m making the rules, milk and salt are the only “foods” in cheese so cultures, rennet, and calcium chloride don’t count as part of the 10 choices.

Related Links:

Defunding police?

August 11, 2020

“Defund the police” is a terrible slogan and would be counter-productive policy. According to the concept of compensating differentials, if you make a job more difficult, you will have to pay more to attract workers. Holding police to a higher standard and getting the sorts of people who we want to be police to be willing to work will require paying them more. Trying to improve any governmental service by lowering the amount we pay for that service is counterproductive, and there’s nothing about police work that would suggest it is an exception. If budgets and pay are cut, don’t be surprised when the only people who still want to be cops are those who think the biggest perk is getting to beat people up and break the law with impunity. Qualified immunity should not be a job perk, let alone a major one.

The police do too much. They are not equipped to handle many of the things they are asked to do, such as dealing with mental health issue and animal control. There’s no reason why the same group that handles traffic tickets should be solving murders. There should be separate unarmed social workers who deal with non-violent disputes and mental health issues should be dealt with by specialists.  These new departments will all cost money to operate, but they are worth the price for improved public safety.

Ending the War on Drugs should be the absolute #1 priority for anyone looking to reform the police. Throwing someone in prison for drug use does not help them, it does not help anyone else, it does not reduce  the rate drug use, it make recovery from addiction more difficult, and prohibition increases secondary crime. Drug enforcement creates the mentality that anyone can be a criminal. If you take a completely normal person going about their day, not bothering anyway, but they’ve got a joint in their pocket, now all of a sudden, they are a criminal. Something like 70% of Americans have tried pot, and 22% are regular users.  That means if police were doing their jobs perfectly, 77 million Americans would be behind bars.

The mentality of “everyone is a criminal” is a cancer in policing. Police see everyone who is not a police officer themselves as a potential enemy and since drug dealers are often well armed and violent, the drug war makes police more likely to be shot and thus more afraid of being shot. The 4th amendment, the 5th amendment, due process, the Takings clause, every other value and principle society holds dear is sacrificed to the all consuming goal of continuing the drug war. Without the drug war, all of that goes away. Police could focus on victimed crime.  People who are victims of crime could go to the police asking for help, instead of having police out looking for trouble.

There should be a fee for calling the police over a non-crime to discourage nuisance police calls. If police get called and there is no law broken, maybe the caller could pay a hundred dollars or so for bothering the police. This would discourage people from calling the police over every little thing.  Police/civilian interaction should be minimized to avoid police shootings.

Studies have shown that for discouraging crime, the odds of getting caught are far more important than the harshness of the punishment. A well functioning society does need police to catch criminals, but it doesn’t need to throw those criminals behind bars for years to discourage them.  Non-violent crime punishment should focus on reforming criminals and doing community service.  Having more police investigating things like shoplifting, bicycle theft, petty property destruction and things like that would do more to help society than having an equivalent amount of money spent on prisons extending the sentence of someone caught for said crimes from 1 year to 5 years.

By the time a criminal comes out of prison from a 10 year sentence, that is the only life they know. They are cut off from getting a job. They have no friends or family to support them. Most of the time, they go right back to a life of crime. The Scandinavian countries show that reform minded policies are far more effective for lowering the crime rate than lengthy prison sentences.

It might be cathartic to shout “abolish the police” and “ACAB”, but at the end of the day, we need to live in the society we create for ourselves. You can’t have a breakdown of (real) law and order. People need to go to their jobs, buy groceries, take care of their families, and get on with their lives and without police, none of that can happen with any assurance of safety.  Having said that, when police are allowed to commit crimes with impunity, they undermine the trust of society and likewise destroy societal order. Conservatives pretend that having cops act like the mafia, dealing drugs, killing, raping, etc. is “Law and Order”, but nothing could be further from the truth. We need to hold cops to at least the same standards we hold everyone else to, and right now, their standards are far lower.

Related Links:

Best Crops in Stardew Valley

June 15, 2020

This guide is for 2nd+ playthroughs. If you’re brand new to the game, I recommend playing the first year just exploring and trying out whatever you like. Stardew Valley has no time limits and there’s no reward for rushing through the game as quickly as possible. Having said that, here’s my guide to rushing through the game as quickly as possible.

General Advice
The best overall late game crop is ancient fruit, plus some starfruit for aged wine. Processing crops in kegs and preserves jars dramatically increases profitability, so make as many as you can. You can place them around town. There are two good types of crop: berries (strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries) and giant (cauliflower, melon, and pumpkin). Berries generate a large number of low value crops and earn the most profit when you sell them without processing. Berry seeds are expensive when bought from Pierre or Jojamart, but each berry can produce 1-3 seeds in the Seed Maker. Giant crops can be harvested twice per season and are high value, which is the best for turning into wine and juice. They also can turn into giant versions if planted in a 3×3 grid or larger, which yield 15-21 crops instead of the normal 9.

giant crops

Year 1, Spring
The goal is to get strawberries at the Egg Festival on the 13th. You can harvest a round of potatoes on the 7th, and then plant parsnips in time to harvest them by the 13th. Since Pierre’s is closed for the festival, you do not have enough time to harvest and sell cauliflower or a 2nd round of potatoes in time to get money for strawberries.  If it’s on or before the 5th, you have time for potatoes. If its the 6th or 7th, you have time for parsnips. If it’s after the 7th, just save your money for the Egg Festival.

Save some strawberries for the Seed Maker so you can start your second year Spring with strawberry planting on day 1. Plant cauliflower in any extra farm space you have left over after planting all your strawberries. Save a gold cauliflower for the Luau.

Other tips: Remember that when the seasons change, all of your plants die, so add the growing time to the date and make sure it’s 28 or lower before planting. Use the scythe to cut weeds so you can get free mixed seeds. Use any profits from fishing and mining to buy more seeds. Fishing is the best non-farming early game way to make money. You can eat the cheap fish or algae if you’re running low on energy. Use preserves jars as much as possible.

If you’re doing the Community Center, plant enough parsnips to get 5 gold ones for the quality crops bundle, and one green bean plant for the Spring Crops bundle.

Year 1, Summer
Blueberries make the most money if directly sold, but melons have higher base value and can become giant.

For the Community Center, also plant the following: hot pepper, 5 corn, sunflowers, poppy, tomato plant, and 2 spaces of wheat (7 harvests each during summer). If you have extra cash, get a pomegranate and/or apple tree.

Year 1, Fall
The three most profitable crops are:
Sweet gem berries – Seed cost is 1000 at the Traveling Cart and it sells for 3000 base yielding at least 2000 (more if higher quality). Sweet gem berries cannot be used in kegs.
Cranberries – Each plant produces 10 cranberries per season, earning 750 base profit. Seeds cost 240, yielding 490 base profit. Because they are multiple crops per harvest, it is harder to process cranberries than pumpkins. Since the seed price is high, using the seed maker to create more seeds is highly recommended.
Pumpkins – You can plant 2 rounds of pumpkins per season, earning 220 profit (320 sale price – 100 for the seeds) each time for a total of 440, before the giant crop bonus.

For bundles, plant a yam and eggplant as well. Corn, sunflower, and wheat should be completed in the summer, but if not, you can plant them now too.

Year 1, Winter
The only thing you can grow outside is Winter seeds. Save some winter seeds for planting next year. Use normal quality crops to produce seeds if you can.

Greenhouse Crops

There are 5 crops that are worthy of a coveted spot in a greenhouse.
Ancient fruit – The best endgame crop, both for kegs and for direct sale. If you’ve gotten an ancient seed, plant it here asap and turn the fruit you get into more seeds until the greenhouse is full. It is unlikely you’ll have enough ancient fruit year 1 though to fill a greenhouse.
Starfruit – The highest value base crop, which translates into the most valuable aged wine. Do not bother with starfruit if you’re planning on selling it.
If you don’t have ancient fruit or starfruit, there are 3 other good options, each with their own advantages.
Blueberries – The highest profit/day for direct sale of crops. Since they produce 3 berries with a base price of 50 each, they are a poor option for kegs, although you can make jam if you have enough preserves jars.
Strawberries – The same profit/day as cranberries, but they only produce 1 instead of 2, making them more manageable for processing into wine and jam.
Pumpkins – Lower profit per day and requires continual replanting, but since they only produce one crop every 13 days, they can be turned into juice quite easily.

A note about sweet gem berries: Although it might seem like these are a great option for the greenhouse, they cannot be processed in kegs. A sweet gem berry sells for 3000-4500, whereas starfruit wine sells for 3150. Since starfruit seeds can be bought for 400, whereas sweet gem berries seeds must either be bought one at a time for 1000 at the traveling cart or created in the seed maker, it is much more difficult to farm them in large numbers. On top of that, starfruit grows nearly twice as quickly.

The second best fruit trees for the greenhouse are peach and pomegranate. They are the same profitability and are universally liked gifts. Bananas are better, but are harder to get.

Year 2, Spring
Now we’re into the turbocharged part of the game. Whatever excess ancient fruit seeds you have that don’t fit in the greenhouse should be planted as quickly as possible. Any remaining crop space can be filled with strawberries. Since the crop bundles/Joja Mart bundles should be complete by now, you don’t need to worry about that and can just go for pure profit. Get iridium sprinklers and Junimo huts harvesting them for maximum automation.  Rhubarb (purchased in the desert) is the best crop if you want to make wine, followed by cauliflower.

Year 2, Summer
Plant starfruit in the non-ancient fruit spaces. Save some starfruit wine for use in casks because it is the highest value iridium quality wine.

Year 2, Fall
Same as Summer, but with sweet gem berries, pumpkins, and cranberries instead of starfruit. Do not plant any ancient fruit this late in the year.

Year 2, Winter
You should have plenty of winter seeds from last year. Although this is a low value crop, every little bit helps.

If you follow this guide, you should earn 5,000,000 + by the end of the second year, enough to set up your farm however you like and get all the fancy buildings in Year 3, such as the Gold Clock and Warp Obelisks.

Ginger Island Crops

Pineapples are good, but inferior to Ancient Fruit. They have a higher base price (300) than melons, but only require 7 days to regrow compared to 12 for melons. For direct selling, it is superior to any berry. Taro Root is not a very profitable crop. My recommendation for Ginger Island is to grow as much ancient fruit as you can and with the leftover spaces, grow pineapples.

Crop planning tool:

Modular Chow Recipe

June 8, 2020

This is mashed cauliflower, sour cream, cheese, onions, peppers, peas, and black beans with curry powder and garlic salt.

This is not a recipe so much as a class of recipes. Any or all of these ingredients can be added to a large pot and simmered. Any special preparation will be noted.

Mashed Cauliflower – Cut off leaves and stem. Cut into 4 large chunks and steam for 12 minutes. Mash and add at the end.
Rice – 1 cup. Steam separately and add at the end.
Diced potatoes – Clean, dice and boil in salted water for 15 minutes before adding. I’m not sure about different varieties so you might need to look up other recipes.
Carrots – Chop and boil for 8 minutes
Corn – steamed or canned

I recommend 1 lb of one of the following:
Tofu – Dice. You can fry in oil and spices separately to increase flavor, or just add it.
Beef – You’ll want to fry this separately to get some browning on the meat. I don’t recommend draining the fat since you’re losing calories and it’ll all mix in at the end.
Chicken – Dice and sear 5 min before adding.
Eggs – You can just crack and egg in the pot and stir it in.

Onion – Fry on medium heat for 20-25 minutes before adding
Peppers- Fry on medium heat for 15-20 minutes before adding
Peas – 1 lbs. If frozen, you can steam for a bit to thaw.
Tomatoes – dice, you can use canned or fresh.
Garlic – 5 cloves, chopped. You can fry them for a bit with the onions and peppers if you prefer a less spicy flavor.
Broccoli – Trim stem, steam for 3 minutes. Broccoli cooks much faster than cauliflower. Add it at the end to avoid overcooking it.

Cheese – As much as you like. I usually add at least 1 cup of colby jack or cheddar
Sour cream – 1/4 cup. This is a good addition if you add hot sauce
butter – 2 tbsp

Just pick 2 or 3 and experiment with flavors. As a general rule, use a tablespoon, taste and adjust depending on what you like.
Pepper – to taste
Chinese 5 Spice
Chili powder
Curry powder
Garlic powder – if you don’t use real garlic
Onion powder – if you don’t use real onions
Hot sauce
Herb de Province
Soy sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Old Bay
Whatever you like

You can make a big pot of this stuff, freeze it and thaw it throughout the week. Stews are great meals for prepping. You can add more starches/cheap ingredients like rice and beans if you are poor and if you’re looking to improve nutrition/lose weight, use more vegetables. It’s a great flexible way to cook convenient meals.

Hopes for Police Reform

June 8, 2020

Those of us in the libertarian community have always known how dangerous the breakdown of police accountability was and our pleas mostly fell on deaf ears. It seems especially dire in the wake of the whole NFL Kaepernick protests when for the most part it seemed like people’s sympathies were on the side of the killers. In the last few years, I have seen a depressing number of videos of police killing innocent, unresisting people without being brought to justice. Police kill around a thousand people a year. Police killings per capita has the U.S. nestled comfortably between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burkina Faso. The nearest developed country has a third of ours. To put it bluntly, the Blue Menace is out of control in America and has been for some time, but for the first time in my life, it seems like people actually give a damn. In the spirit of striking while the iron is hot, the main reforms I support are:

End the War on Drugs – This is the linchpin of reform. So much of the abuses and criminal activity by the police can be traced back to conducting this policy – the no knock raids, the asset forfeiture, the militarization. Not only does the war on drugs not reduce drug abuse rates relative to a policy of treating addiction, but it is more expensive, destroys families, reduces trust of police, and basically makes every aspect of society worse. Drugs won the war a long time ago. It’s time to surrender.

Removal of Qualified Immunity – No group of people should be allowed to break the law with impunity, especially those tasked with enforcing it. Cops should be held to the same standard of behavior as everyone else. You can’t claim to be in favor of “Law and Order” and support giving a large group of people the right to commit criminal activity with no consequences. Law isn’t law if it doesn’t apply to everyone.

End Asset Forfeiture/policing for profit. Policing should be about protecting citizens from crime and maintaining order, not about extracting as much money as you can. If police need more money, taxes should be raised.

Others have written about the plethora of reforms that are needed: reducing the power of police unions, deescalation and other reforms. I support whatever criminal justice reform experts support based on evidence. Police themselves are not the enemy. There are both good cops and bad cops and it’s about having a system where bad cops are fired and good cops are well paid and promoted. Systems and institutions determine behavior more than individuals. Blame is fun, but ultimately unproductive unless it changes the system.

In the aftermath of the protests, there will be calls to defund/abolish the police. This is a big mistake. If you’re using as “merely” hyperbolic rhetoric, stop. It’s not helpful. You’re just alienating moderates whose political power you need to enact reforms that will actually improve lives. You can’t govern from the fringes, at least not if you want your reforms to last more than 4 years.

There are still going to be violent criminals out there and society will still need tough people to deal with them. Good cops will be worth their weight in gold. Removing enforcement of victimless and nuisance crimes will help lighten the burden. However, wages of police will need to increase, probably at least by 20%. We need good men and women who are willing to work in a difficult environment under lots of pressure. They should be well compensated. You get what you pay for and employment is no exception. The only way for police to rebuild the trust they have lost is by continuous high standards over a long time. I hope for a brighter future.

An Obituary for Elite Dangerous

May 18, 2020

Elite Dangerous is what happens when the game developers don’t understand their own meta. It has some shining moments – exploration has some truly sublime moments and combat is solid, if unbalanced. However the game design as a whole is shallow and poorly thought out. There are three categories of gameplay: Profitable, fun, and filler. Profitable parts of the game are those where the player earns a lot of experience points, new ships, new technology, valuable items, etc. Fun parts of the game are those that players would do even without any profit – activities that are emotionally rewarding and enjoyable. Filler is any part of the game that’s neither fun nor profitable, and sadly, Elite Dangerous is 75% filler, and there is no overlap between profitable and fun activities.

There are only a few profitable activities. Mining optimal materials can earn 200 M credits per hour, but is tedious. Running optimal passenger missions can get you 60 M credits, Exploration get earn 10 M if you follow a predetermined optimized route (aka taking all the fun out of exploration). Trying any non-optimized gameplay drastically reduces earnings – usually 80% or more. You can’t just mine any material and hope to make millions an hour. You have to go to a specific planet and mine a specific resource. Same with passenger missions – pick the wrong system and earnings goes from 60 million an hour to 6 million. There is a huge discrepancy between people who use third party websites to optimize and those who do not. The former will easily be able to get top tier ships in a day, those who do not will still be kicking around in low tier ship after a week. Basically requiring players to use third party resources to be remotely effective in a MMO is very poor game design. Having only one or two viable profitable activities in a game with dozens of mission types is also a poor design choice.

Combat, the most fun activity in the game, earns maybe a couple million an hour and requires a lot of effort to get to that level of earning. Furthermore, it is the highest risk way to earn credits and getting killed by an NPC can set you back 20 mil+ easily, undoing an evening’s worth of grinding in a single mistake. PvP is an option, but with one large caveat – in order to be competitive, you need engineering modules, which entails a $30 DLC and a large grindwall, which makes it very pay to win. Furthermore, PvP is an all or nothing affair. If you’re running the ship and build needed to be competitive, you can’t do much else, so if you want to do any activity that isn’t pure fighting, you’re not going to be able to hold up in a fight against someone who is, leading to mostly lopsided fights. I enjoy multiplayer PvP as much as the next person, but Elite is just not set up for a good PvP environment.

The reason I titled this review an obituary is that I just don’t see any compelling content being added to Elite for the rest of the development cycle. It’s an old game, 5 and a half years at the time of this review and while the Thargoid (alien invasion) content seemed pretty cool, the devs don’t seem to have added anything new in a long time and the latest patch only caters to the very richest longest playing commanders and doesn’t seem to involve any interesting gameplay. Games this old can be good, but unless the devs are adding good plot lines or doing some world building, it’s rare. At this point, Elite looks like it’s in the “milking whales” phase. If you like space games and are looking to kill 20-30 hours learning the ropes on one, I’d still recommend it. Exploration is a particular highlight since the game boasts a fairly accurate scale model of the Milky Way, but overall this game looks pretty dead.

How long does it take to cook onions?

April 30, 2020

There’s a lot of misinformation out there, so I’m just going to do it and time it with pictures so you can see the stages of an onion cooking and pick your desired doneness.

1 medium onion (banana for scale)

chopped – about 2 cups

Preheat skillet at medium heat (6/10 on my stove) and add onions

5 minutes – Some onions are slightly translucent. No browning. Onions are still crisp.

10 minutes – Onions are getting softer and more translucent. Moisture is mostly cooked off by now. Still no browning.

20 minutes – Starting to see some browning. The onions are nice and soft and the harsher flavors are muted and the onions are sweeter. If I were cooking eggs or chili, this is where I’d stop cooking them. Reduced the heat a bit here (5/10) to avoid burning.

30 minutes

Obesity, Simplified

April 7, 2020

The goal of this article is to distill down as much as I can what I’ve learned about losing weight as simply as possible.

Calories In/Calories Out is tautologically true, but not helpful. Would an aeronautics engineer be satisfied with “Force up; force down” means an airplane can fly? Why bother with lift, aerodynamics, thrust, stability or any of that complicated stuff? But aircraft designers do worry about those factors because even though (force up – force down) is all that matters for whether an aircraft can fly, those other things make it much easier for a plane to fly well. If you eat nothing but sugar, and eat less calories than you burn, you will lose weight. No one disputes that. However, your health will be horrible, even as you lose weight. The goal should be to create a healthy body, not just a thin one and health requires a wide range of nutrients, not just a lower calorie number.

It is hard to maintain low calories in. Your hunger will increase as you lose weight. Calories out is even worse. Your base metabolic rate (BMR) will decline as you lose weight, and exercise can force calories out to a degree but fatigue will set in. Exercise will be offset by less movement for the rest of the day as well as greater hunger levels. Exercise is great for health – probably the best single thing anyone can do, but it is very difficult to lose weight with exercise. Daily calorie restriction tends to reduce base metabolic rate, sometimes quite dramatically. A dieter’s core body temperature can even drop by a few degrees as the body tries to conserve energy. High levels of insulin hormonally prevent the body from breaking down fat, which further reduces calories out.

The body is regulated by hormones. The more your body is exposed to a chemical, the more you build up a tolerance. This is true for both drugs and hormones. If insulin is both high and persistent for a long time, your cells will get insulin resistant meaning they will not response properly to insulin, causing your pancreas to excrete more, resulting in a vicious cycle. In order to reverse insulin resistance, you need to lower your insulin until your body can recover.

The two most important hormones for regulating obesity are insulin and cortisol. Insulin causes your body to turn sugar into fat. People without insulin (type 1 diabetics) have a hard time gaining weight, no matter what they eat. People who inject insulin and those with conditions where their bodies produce too much insulin will have a hard time losing weight, despite doing their best to maintain a calorie deficit.

Cortisol is the stress hormone that regulates “fight or flight”. If cortisol is too high for too long, it can contribute to insulin resistance and weight gain. High stress levels can also cause stress eating. Get enough sleep and exercise and try to keep your overall stress levels low if you want to lose weight.

What to do?
1. Exercise. Exercise improves health more than any other single thing you can do. It’s not the most effective thing for weight loss, but it does help.

2. Don’t drink sugar sweetened drinks. They are very low satiation, raise insulin, and are absorbed very quickly into your blood stream, which puts strain on the liver. Instead drink plenty of water, tea, or black coffee.

3. Limit carbohydrates without fiber or nutrients. Bread, sugar, HFCS, rice, donuts, cake, muffins, and noodles all provide calories without any of the nutrients your body needs. If you’re overweight, your body already has all the raw calories it needs stored as fat. Only eat foods that provide micronutrients.

4. Don’t snack. Eat only full meals and drink water between meals to reduce hunger.

If you do the above and do not lose weight, you can step up the intensity. I recommend taking slow, but steady steps in improving your diet.

Week 1: Do the above 4 steps.
Week 2: Eliminating processed foods and junk foods. Eat only natural foods – fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat, dairy, nuts, beans, and legumes.
Week 3: Try going 14 hours without food. Pick a window, such as 9 am to 7 pm and don’t eat outside of it. If you find that easy, expand it to 16 hours.

Now, there are different main approaches from here, and I’d recommend experimenting. Consult your doctor before doing any radical changes to your diet, or engaging in extended (>24 hours) fasting.

Keto – Reduce all carbohydrate intake to < 20 grams per day, but do not calorie restrict.
Intermittent Fasting – Reduce the “eating window” until you start to lose weight. Some people can lose weight with a window as wide as 10 hours, but personally I find more than 4 hours slows my weight loss too much.
Extended fasting – Don’t eat for 24-72 hours for one period every week, or every other week. Another fairly well studied option is alternate day fasting – only eat every other day.

Other links:

What I’ve Learned

Jason Fung

Siim Land

Rhonda Patrick

Peter Attia

Mindy Pelz