Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I wrote a longish update on my diet. The one line summary is that I'm excited and enjoying it. If you are interested read the rest of this post.

I'm on my 8th day of the "Eat to Live" (ETL) diet. I'm starting with the 6 week startup plan. In summary, it is:

Eat to Live 6-Week Plan

UNLIMITED (eat as much as you want):

* all raw vegetables, including raw carrots (goal: 1 lb. daily)
* cooked green vegetables (goal 1 lb. daily)
* beans, legumes, bean sprouts, or *tofu (minimum 1 cup daily in total of these)
* fresh fruit (at least 4 daily).
* eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, onions, tomato and other non-starchy vegetables, cooked and raw (unlimited)

*Beans should be eaten daily; tofu should be eaten less frequently.

LIMITED (not more than one serving):

* cooked starchy vegetables OR whole grains--Maximum 1 cup per day (butternut or acorn squash, corn, sweet potato, brown rice, cooked carrots, whole grain breads*, whole grain cereals*)
* raw nuts and seeds (1 oz. or 28.5 grams a day) or 2 ounces avocado
* ground flaxseed (1 tablespoon a day)
* soymilk, low-sugar preferred--Maximum 1 cup a day

*avoid breads and cereals as much as possible


* dairy products
* animal products
* between meal snacks
* fruit juice, dried fruits
* salt, sugar

As part of this, I've stopped drinking alcohol (again) and increased my exercise to a target of one hour every other day. I realize that since I'm changing a number of significant variables, this is not a controlled experiment.

As my friends know, I'm rather obsessive and your mileage may vary in following my path since I tend to hyper-focus on stuff I'm excited about. However, I think the general observations echo what I hear from several other people on this diet.

First of all, as someone who normally drinks every day if I allow myself, I noticed that I don't miss alcohol at all. It could be that I'm so focused on being "pure" and it could be that the shock of the diet change took me out of some habit cycle, but for now, I am having no urge to drink. Good news.

The first few days were slightly disorienting.

I had a hard time sleeping the first night, but ended up sleeping more deeply and waking more refreshed than normal. I'm sure this is a combination of the lack of alcohol and food change. Overall, I am able to go to sleep naturally and wake up naturally. I have managed to wake up for up to three middle of the night overseas phone calls and still sleep between them.

I felt "lighter" and things seems a bit "brighter". (Could have been that the weather was just nicer. ;-P I think partially because of of the "yay! New project!" effect, I felt happy and excited. I didn't experience any energy loss and in fact started gaining a sense of having more stable happy energy.

The first few days I had mini-hunger pangs, but these disappeared and were replaced by the "true hunger" sensation that is described in the book.

The first few days also involved some cramps and stomachaches as well as overall dysfunctional digestion. After about a week, my body seems to have adapted to the change.

My taste buds quickly adapted to the no salt / no oil diet and after two days, even a little fish or meat in broth made my veggies taste funny. Sitting in front of people eating fish, meat, sweets didn't make me crave, even after the first day. After a week, while I sometimes imagine eating meats, I don't crave it.

On the other hand, fruits, which I never really enjoyed, have become a joy. I've always enjoyed vegetables, but now I love them. I'm spending lots and lots of time in the market and online browsing vegetables and comparing the different tastes of the different types and origins. This has really been a blast.

The beans... I never really liked beans, but now they are the "meaty" part of my meal and I savor them. ;-)

My skin is dry (probably from the lack of oil) and my hair has a different consistency. This also seems to be balancing out compared to the first few days.

Overall, I seem to be running slightly cool and sweating less, which is fine because I tend to feel warmer than I would like. The diet composition as well as the reduction in overall calories might have something to do with this. Not sure.

When exercising, I've noticed that I can feel the energy burning and my "true hunger" increasing as my body starts to require more energy. My metabolism seems to slow down until I consume some food and it increases again. I'm sure many people are accustomed to this feeling, but I haven't had this linkage between energy levels and food since I was wrestling in High School. Recently, before this diet, my hunger seemed to have been related to cravings and not to energy available in my body, which it is now.

I've lost 5.3 kg or 6.5% of my body weight since I started, but haven't had to feel hungry to do it. I realize my calorie intake is lower than before, but I haven't been limiting it.

The hardest part has been the logistics of getting approximately 2 pounds (about 1 kg) of fresh vegetables purchased and washed every day.

Again, your mileage may vary, but so far this diet has been fun and productive. I've started reading The China Study which is referenced in Eat to Live and appears to be a slightly more research orient approach to this diet. I'm also take a DHA Omega-3 supplement and multivitamins. I've begun tracking my nutrition intake from my foods and am considering dumping the multivitamin depending the results.

I am using NutriBase 7 to track my intake, exercise and targets and it is AMAZING. I can track, chart and compare just about any nutrient or ratio I want and while I don't understand all of the meaning behind it yet, I am now logging everything. Hopefully, as I study, I will understand more and more of the data.

I am trying to figure out whether there is a good Protein-Carbohydrate-Fat Ratio (PCF) target for the ETL diet. (I will ask on the forums.) I am also trying to figure out whether to just use the US RDA for the nutrients or whether there is something better.

Anyway, you can tell I'm obsessed with this right now. We'll see how it lasts.



You have inspired me. I have intended to get back off the wagon (in this case, getting off the wagon adds exercise). So, diet and exercise sounds to me a sound thing. But, even better, removing diary and meat is a boon. I never felt "lighter" than when I was a vegetarian. Almost ethereal. And I would like to feel that way again. So, tonight's dinner of beer and pizza is the end. Alas, I do have another yummy night of Christmas dinner, but I guess I should be starting my 2007 year-end promises. But, thanks for your impetus.

Every physician will tell you that a 5.7Kg loss in one week in completely innatural: you are probably damaging yourself.

You are wealthy enough to go to a diet specialist and have a diet-plan done for you.

And: no, you do not have the knowledge, nor the tools (clinical exams?), to do it yourself.

Andrea: It was 5.3 kg in 9 days. There was a big pop the first two days. It was either bad data or a balance change in something. If I take the weights from the second day until today and average them over a week, it's only 2.4 kg in one week. Which is still relatively high, but considering that the rate appears to be dropping, I think I will be settled soon at about .5 kg a week by the end of this program. I think that's within the parameters of healthy weight loss.

I have been to a number of physicians in Japan, but there are very few nutritionists in Japan. It's not nearly as common or popular as in the US. I do have very regular blood tests and physical exams though and I had a test done before and will have one after this program.

Having said that... if anyone can recommend a good nutritionist who can deal with a patient like me, I'd be happy to give it a try. I have just found that most doctors are too busy to customize and explain to the level of detail that I would like and/or provide me with enough control to motivate myself.

As a vegan for almost 15 years now I can tell you that a quick drop in weight when starting a vegan diet is completely normal. Meat and animal products take a much longer time to digest that plants and when you stop eating meat and dairy the first week your body is still digesting things you ate a week prior and you are replacing those things with food that digests quicker. The weight you lost wasn't body mass as much as it was just a bunch of stuff sitting in your intestines. Nutrition is not something most doctors know anything about, in the states only a basic class is required which still teaches things like the food pyramid which has been highly criticized by most nutritionists. My uncle is a radiologist and was convinced that a vegan diet would kill me within a year and had several members of my family pleed with me about it. Needless to say he was a little off on the timing. Since I went vegan I've known quite a few people who have tried it out and every one of them had the same quick weight loss and added energy.

I've never tried the raw thing but I've heard similar reports. YMMV.

Congratulations, Joi!! The ETL diet sounds *very* hard to stick to, simply because of the massive amounts of vegetables that you must consume. Kudos to you for getting fanatical about it. Keep us updated please.

I wouldn't be worried about the massive initial weight loss. I just saw a forum post for ETL where someone said, "I stepped on the scale this morning, and I've lost twelve pounds already. Can it be real?" ref

Great stuff Joi

Keep it up - also, check out these two sites, both friends of mine who live by raw food and the benefits, very good resource and info sites...