LSD Experiment #2: The Results

14. January 2016
LSD Experiment #2: The Results

Where the hell has the time gone? We’re already half way through January?! We’re already 1/24 through 2016?! Well, I’m not gonna sweat it – 2016 is the year of no regrets. I’m living for today, baby. I just got done buying $400 worth of Powerball tickets. The index funds and rental property just aren’t cutting it for this guy anymore. I need more AGGRESSIVE investments.

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Sorry – the New Year has me feeling a little squirrelly. Let’s get down to business.

Quick refresher – LSD Experiment #2 had me taking a tablespoon of coconut oil every day. In turn, I’d regularly measure my weight and body fat percentage, and monitor my overall body image with the hypothesis that a tablespoon of coconut oil would replace some of the emptier calories that I regularly consume and I’d be leaner, meaner, and more handsome as a result. It didn’t take long for me to realize that such metrics didn’t work for shit. My weight and body fat percentage remained unchanged after two weeks of daily recording, and I came to terms with the fact that those weren’t well-chosen dependent variables for an experiment of such short duration.

Fear not, I was able to salvage the fundamental intent of the experiment. Thanks to a reader’s suggestion, I started recording all the food and drink I consumed in an app called My Fitness Pal at the outset of the experiment. This turned out be a top five all time decision for me (right up there with playing Powerball) as I now have access to all sorts of interesting data that has been used to draw conclusions from this experiment.

Yep, just like that I changed the dependent variable of interest mid-experiment. I’m not sure where I get the nerve either. So, instead of focusing on weight and body fat percentage, I instead chose to measure daily caloric consumption.

The Numbers

Throughout the course of the experiment (which lasted roughly a month), there were days in which I consumed coconut oil and days in which I did not. This, of course, allows me to quantitatively analyze the effect that coconut oil has on my caloric intake. Here’s what I found:

Average Daily Caloric Consumption (on days when coconut oil was taken) 2232
Average Daily Caloric Consumption (on days when coconut oil was not taken) 2662

Holy shit, Batman, that’s pretty damn significant! A 400 calorie difference is the equivalent of a meal for a person with some level of self-respect. But alas, these numbers are misleading. There is a certain amount of noise in the experiment that hinders my ability to draw clear conclusions. Noise is a science term that means shittyness. The noise in this case comes from “special occasion days”. There are certain “special occasion days” sprinkled in the span of the experiment that I consider to be outliers based on the increase in food consumption that is generally associated with these days (Christmas, Christmas Eve, My birthday, Wednesdays). So, if we run these numbers again with the “special occasion days” removed from the population, we get the following results:

Average Daily Caloric Consumption (on days when coconut oil was taken) 2149
Average Daily Caloric Consumption (on days when coconut oil was not taken) 2447

Still, pretty compelling results! From a statistics perspective, I feel much more confident saying that I consumed 300 less calories on days when I took coconut oil. But from a decent human being perspective, I feel like a dirty liar making such a claim.

Here’s the thing. Deep down I know that there was a fundamental difference in the days that I took coconut oil compared to the days that I didn’t.

The days that I took coconut oil were normal days for me. I define normal days as days where I was at home, I worked, and I personally prepared the majority of the food that I consumed.

The days that I didn’t take coconut oil were abnormal days for me – I was out of town (staying at either a hotel or at my parents house) and I did not personally prepare the majority of the food I consumed.

So, there lies the possibility that the reason for my lower caloric intake on days that  I consumed coconut oil has nothing to do with the coconut oil, but is rather a direct result of other environmental factors. One such environmental factor is the copious amounts of deliciously unhealthy food that fills my parents fridge and pantry. Throw someone who has zero self-control (yours truly) in that environment, and it doesn’t matter if I ate the entire jar of coconut oil, your boy wasn’t going to let this pile of assorted meats just sit there.

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Key Take-Aways

Even though a lack of experimental control prevented me from forming strong conclusions about the effect that coconut oil has on caloric consumption, the results are enticing enough to make me want to dig deeper. So dig deeper I will. I’ll continue recording all of my food/drink consumption on My Fitness Pal*. But this time I’ll also use a random number generator to assign days in which I won’t consume coconut oil to ensure the integrity of the experiment.

“Damn, Markie – you’re like a regular scientist with your random number generator and shit.”

-All of you

So, that’s that. Similar to LSD Experiment #1, there isn’t a clear-cut result to be had here. That said, I feel much more satisfied with the outcome of Experiment #2 for two reasons:

1. I’ve got some legitimate data to work with

2. The data shows a trend that has captured even more of my curiosity

So, LSD Experiment #2 is over in the sense that it will not be the topic of any further posts and I’ll be starting a new lifestyle design experiment here shortly. However, since I will continue collecting data, I’ll provide some brief updates going forward if any interesting trends rear their beautiful face.

*I’m going to use My Fitness Pal indefinitely. I’m a big proponent of the idea that simply measuring a variable will cause that variable to significantly change (in whatever direction is considered positive by the user) in time. I’ve noticed it in the month of this experiment – simply by recording the number of calories I consumed each day, I’m absolutely consuming less than I would have if I wasn’t measuring. Even if I find that coconut oil is not worth adopting into my lifestyle, I’m convinced that My Fitness Pal is, which means LSD Experiment #2 has caused a positive lifestyle design change for me. 😀


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