Want a fun, profitable, healthy experiment to run for a month?
Try drinking only water.
I've switched onto "Water Only" a few times in my life. I'm running it right now. It's terrific.
The merits of the policy:
-- No liquid calories and all the downsides that come with those: unless you're playing sports or doing heavy manual labor, liquid cals basically come in two forms: bad and worse. Merely bad liquid calories are things like juice that have some other micronutrients. Why are they bad, then? Because you're missing out on all the fiber and satiety that comes from eating that apple instead of drinking apple juice, and -- again if you're not getting lots of fitness -- the spike in blood sugar, followed by insulin, leads to a crash. And that's juice, which isn't all that bad. The "worse" is Coca-Cola and similar stuff that really ought not to be put in the human body if you're aiming for mental and physical performance.
-- You might be staggered if you calculated how much you're actually spending on beverages; at least, I was. My spending on coffee, tea, and other drinks was $500+ per month -- and heck, I haven't drank alcohol this decade. So that leads to having more cash, which leads to the second point...
-- I don't believe in deprivation and mindless asceticism; rather, I believe in getting the most out of one's life. Once I did the math on my spending on beverages and cut it, I resolved to redeploy that spending to gear I wanted to buy anyways. Believe it or not, the net savings from beverages were redeployed such that I could buy: a fantastic pair of Frye leather boots, a new top-of-the-line iPhone, a special forces grade backpack that's great for hiking/marching/traveling (but also looks very business-casual-ish and goes fine in the boardroom), and -- wait for it -- a new Macbook Pro. Yeah, it's amazing how $3 to $15 per day adds up thousands of dollars over time, isn't it? I bought a bunch of cool stuff that's much more enjoyable and life-enhancing than some beverages which, once guzzled down, are gone.
-- I try not to do liquid calories anyways, but if you were doing liquid calories, why don't you just eat ice cream? You can get some great ice cream bars for like 70 to 200 calories per ice cream. If you want the indulgent calories, why not get the max enjoyable calories?
-- And finally, the biggest and bestest thing from this policy is my caffeine regulation gets much better. I love coffee -- I mean, I really love it -- but I'll often drink coffee too late in the day, or have too much of it during a work session. Coffee is obviously way better for you than cigarettes, but it works in a similar way: it's the mix of the stimulant (caffeine/nicotine, respectively) when combined with the pleasurable tactile activity (drinking coffee, smoking). Meanwhile, 100 mg caffeine pills are the equivalent of a single cup of coffee and cost somewhere from 3 cents (cheapest countries) to 20 cents (buying them at the airport in a massively expensive country)... and I feel no inclination to over-do them. As such, it becomes very easy to exactly regulate caffeine usage.
-- This regulated caffeine usage means better working, and much better sleeping. If you're a heavy caffeine user and ever have problems falling asleep, ever, you really owe it to yourself to try a mix of water or herbal tea for a while with caffeine pills, carefully regulating your dosages. You'll have more energy, less jitteryness, get the positive effects of caffeine, but sleep better. Oh yeah, and your wallet will be fatter with which to buy other things.
I've done a few Water Only cycles. It's very hard for a week or two, and then trivially easy once established. If you're productivity-inclined, give it a whirl on a one-month trial and see how it works out for you.
Bottle of water, omelette, and Japanese 100 mg caffeine pills to start the morning. Note that buying a fancy omelette at the airport restaurant negates some of the monetary benefits of Water Only -- the productivity and caffeine regulation do still apply!
Oh, final bonus? Very easy to take caffeine immediately upon waking in this form, meaning faster wakeup-and-get-going to start the day. It's only 20-30 minutes, but those are 20-30 morning minutes, the most valuable kind.
Let me know if you give this a whirl; it's hard at first, but then easy, and I've found it very beneficial.
Very interesting. I am a coffee fiend, but the idea of getting the same benefits for much less money and using less time seem interesting, interesting enough to give it a go.
Any guidelines re: dosage on caffeine pills?
100 mg approx = a regular sized cup of coffee.
A large Americano, which would be 2-3 espresso shots, would range from 150 mg to 450 mg of caffeine.
I do 200 mg of caffeine when I wake, followed by another 200 a few hours later, and then typically another final 100 mg; the equivalent of 5 coffees.
You'll get a feel for it over time. It really depends on your usage. If you're a very heavy user, 3-4 cups of coffee to start the day, then maybe 300-400 mg to start while gradually ramping down over a few weeks to reduce dependency/tolerance might make sense.
No real hard guidelines here; you get a feel for it over time.
Thanks! I'm in Japan -do you have a favorite brand here? ;)
It's all the same as long as caffeine is the only active ingredient.
I buy "Estaron Mocha" in Japan, but it's not special. It's probably slightly overpriced if anything, but we're still talking pennies in the grand scheme of things.
I'd go unbranded/generic if you can find it since in any highly developed country the purity/tolerances are going to be fine basically no matter what, and it'll be much cheaper. But Estaron is fine for me, even if on the relatively pricier side.
Good stuff! Crazy how much it adds up day after day. I'm curious – most of my beverage expenses are from going to a coffeeshop to work, and as a result buying a coffee / tea / something else to be a good customer. What do you do in those situations – do you buy food instead? Opt for tea, which is usually cheaper? Or just not go to coffeeshops as often?
Food if they have anything decent, yes. A bottle of water or sparkling water if I'm buying a beverage, since those are the only two on the list. And yeah, less coffeeshops too potentially -- there's a lot of places to work if you think it through. Many gyms have tables / an area to work, public libraries, campus, hotel, a coworking space like a Regus or local hackerspace, or working from your pad.
A reader asked me to share some about my nutrition. Here we go -
I don't consume at all: *Alcohol *Recreational drugs *Tobacco in any form *Mammals *Sweets
I think cutting bad stuff out goes a long way towards doing things correctly.
I quit drinking in 2006... basically, I reckon the downsides from liquor aren't worth the upsides. Now about this, I get asked sometimes, "Is it awkward to go to a bar?" For the first six months it was. Now, it's not. I get a club soda and have no problems.
Likewise, I quit pretty much all recreational drugs at the same time in '06, depending on how you define it. I've gone back and forth with caffeine over the years - originally I quit caffeine in '06, but I saw some good research on metabolic advantages from caffeine. I do take vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, and fish oil. Beyond that, I'll take anti-inflammatories like acetametaphin or ibuproifen (the active ingrediants in Tylenol and Advil) if I've got inflammation from training or I'm ill. I'd be open at some point to trying nootrophics under the guidance of a physician, but I've been picking up low hanging health fruit first. Human Growth Hormone also looks promising, and I'd consider synthetic testosterone if I needed it to keep my testosterone levels up later. But all these are for health/longevity purposes, not for pleasure, with the possible exception of caffeine. I go back and forth on caffeine, maybe I'll quit it someday. For now, it's not an issue for me.
Yesteday Todd and I were choosing a place to go to lunch. I normally go to Whole Foods because they have healthy delicious food, unlike almost everywhere else. However, we wanted to try somewhere new. How about Veggie Heaven?
I'd never been there before, despite living across the street from it for two years. I used to eat awful food on a daily basis, and considered vegetarian and vegan food to be for hippies. I still do, actually.
Anyway, we get to the restaurant and are handed three menus each. The main menu had almost fifty items in it. Many were marked as being vegan. Hey, this must be healthy, right?