January 5

Help for low-carb dieters


It’s that time of year again. The start of the new year. The time many people either commit or recommit to their weight loss and health improvement vows. To help, I went through all my almost nine years’ worth of posts and handpicked those I figured would be most valuable.
Here they are with brief introductions. And all in one place.
Some of the most accessed posts I’ve ever written were the two posts on all the tips and tricks I know for starting or restarting a low-carb diet. Following these will get most people through any difficulty they may encounter.
Tips and tricks for starting (or restarting) a low-carb diet. Part 1
Tips and tricks or starting (or restarting) a low-carb diet. Part 2
One of the post I go back to myself when I need inspiration is the following one. It’s about an amazing woman whose success led me to use a different strategy to generate my own internal motivation.
Meditating in the garden of self loathing
Many people have terrific success with low-carb dieting. Then slowly end up drifting back into their old way of eating and, ultimately, their old weight. They then decide to recommit and low-carb again. Then find it doesn’t work as well the next time around. These next few posts tell you why and how you can overcome the problem. (It started out to be two posts, but many comments encouraged me to add another short post in between parts 1 and 2.) I’ve found the books mentioned in the Part 2 post to be helpful in many areas of life besides diet.
Why is low carb harder the second time around?
More thoughts on why low carb is harder the second time around
Why is low carb harder the second time around? Part 2
The debate continues to rage over whether it is the restriction of carbohydrates or the reduction of calories in a low-carb diet that brings about the weight loss and other positive changes. Here are two posts in which I give my take on the debate and a third describing some real caloric torpedoes to low-carb diets.
Low carb and calories
Low carb and calories. Part 2
Caloric torpedos
I included the next post because it describes what leptin is, how it works and why low-carb diets allow more of it to get to the brain where it exerts its anti hunger effects.
Leptin, low carb and hunger
The inclusion is the post of mine that has received the most hits and the most comments of any other post, so I figure it touched a nerve on a lot of people. It’s a basic overview of the metabolic process of ketone production and how it all works with a low-carb diet. I’ve had a zillion people ask me what the photo at the top of the post has to do with the post. The answer is, I guess, that it doesn’t have anything to do with it. I put it there because ketones fueled our ancient ancestors through many a hunt, so I figured the picture was apropos.
Metabolism and ketosis
The last post contains an article I wrote a few years ago for a now defunct magazine. It talks about how and why low-carb dieting works but also about why it can’t be done in a half assed way. Like so many things in life, a low-carb diet requires commitment to reap the full benefits.
We never failed to fail
I hope you enjoy this roundup or one-man low-carb rodeo. And I hope it answers a lot of questions many of you might have. It will certainly help me to have all these in one place because I can now just send people with questions to this one post instead of parts of the list above.
As always, please let me know what you think in the comments section. And, for newbies (or even oldbies) this site contains an extremely active forum administered by terrifically capable people who can walk you or talk you through a lot of problems, plateaus and other tough spots.
Finally, a Happy New Year to all!

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  1. Thank you for tweeting this suite of LCHF gems. I may have found the answer to my weight loss plateau. Over indulgence of cheese and nuts! Although plateaux can be dispiriting, I am an avowed low carber for keeps because it keeps my Triglycerides and HBA1c low and hopefully Type 2 diabetes at bay. Still need to work on lowering my liver enzymes however. I take a liver detox but perhaps even though a weekday abstainer, alcohol is possibly my nemesis. Note to self: How much do I want to enjoy a long life and watch my grandchildren grow up?

  2. Sadly, I have not lost any weight on a low carb diet. In fact, my waist line has gone up. I enjoy eating low carb, but I do not like the roll of fat around my waist and lower abs (I am a bodybuilder) or the fat that has developed around the pectorals.

    1. I’ve never had any experience with the all potato diet, so can’t comment specifically. Any time a steady state is disrupted, entropy goes up, so I would think a 180 degree switch in diet would improve wt loss in the short term.

  3. Thank you Mike!
    Your post much appreciated.
    All the Best to you and MD ,your dear father, and your entire family in the New Year!

  4. Hey Rick, I hate waist fat as well, got about 2 inches of it these days. What I recommend is just eating red meat. It’s pretty hardcore. Eat when you’re hungry, and eat steak. Stop when you’re full. Guaranteed to be in ketosis… try it for two three weeks if you’re able to. Right now I’m doing that but I add it butter chai, butter mixed with masala chai, so there is no way my calories are low enough to cut. But I’m feeling good, in deep ketosis, and got a ton of energy. Don’t like cutting in the middle of winter, in Canada you need your body to feel warm in the -25C weather going on right now.
    Hate feeling cold when I cut calories when the weather isn’t cooperating. Plus I need to keep my immune system on full heat maximum warmth. Love to sweat the more butter I eat, and can’t put on fat. Love it.
    Dr Eades love the paleo chapter about ancient man, bought the old version of your book off amazon just for that chapter!!!

    1. Hey Ro, I’ve done that…steak, steak and more steak and have nothing to show for it. Vince Gironda recommended it to his clients for getting cut for bodybuilding competitions. I also add butter with a touch of garlic powder in it. Dr. Gregory Ellis gave me that tip. I never eat steak without butter on it.

      1. Hey Rick, try doing intermittent fasting, also known as simply skipping a meal. There are only two ways that I am able to cut the rest of the fat on my waist, either skipping meals entirely and NOT making up for it later on in that 24h period, or eating very lean meat for 2-5 days. The trouble with eating lean is that very very quickly libido disappears and so does energy level. I really only recommend doing that for 2 days or so, and cycling it. Good luck, boss

        1. Ro, I took your advice and did the intermittent fasting. It was horrible. I managed to get deep into ketosis but I didn’t lose an ounce.

  5. I’ve kept 80 pounds off for many years – 25, actually. So, I’m a success story. But, I’m still searching for the exact foods that will make me feel really well all the time – maybe that’s too much to ask. I definitely credit low-carb high-ish fat for enabling me to feel pretty good. But, there are still issues, such as high Apo-B, and trying to figure out just which supplements to take. it’s complicated! But, low-carb/high fat is the way to go for the metabolically resistant; I wish I’d understood that when I was young. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

    1. All the links are good. But it’s happening to me, too. I’m having my tech guys look at it. Somehow these links are all getting rerouted back to this same post.

  6. Thanks so much for all the info on your blog, it has really helped me understand the nuts and bolts of the LC WOE so much better.
    I have been in the medical field (laboratory-chemistry) since the 70’s and have been taught to question everything until theories are proven, which then become facts. I am fully convinced that the LC diet is best for me.
    My problem is this. My doctor has me go to a cardiologist once a year for a work up which is always good. I have lost considerable weight by low carbing but the cardiologist just shakes his head then proceeds to advise me to begin a low fat-low cholesterol regimen, for my health, of course. He is convinced that I am holding my dietary views to be better than his vastly superior knowledge as a board certified cardiologist. Not those exact words, of course, but close enough.
    Other than that, I highly regard him as a physician and I don’t want to go to someone else. How can I get him to at least investigate low carbing and the resultant heart benefits? What way might I use to point him toward some literature or web resource without causing an eye-roll? Thanks so much!

    1. If he hasn’t been persuaded by your terrific results, then he is probably a lost cause. Over the course of my career, I’ve found the most persuasive thing to be great results by patients following a regimen the doc doesn’t believe in. Causes most of them to at least take a look. Now with low-carb becoming more mainstream by the day, you would think it would get easier.

    1. A heated topic right now. I have’t looked into it in great detail, but off the top of my head it seems that RS isn’t harmful and might be helpful. But I don’t think it is a miracle substance as some do. Once I get the time to really look into it, I might change my mind, but until then, I’m going to stick with the status quo.

  7. I got inspired to get back on a low-carb diet after I went to the emergency room and was told I had diabetes. Three days later they sent me home with insulin so that I could give myself shots three times a day.
    I wanted to slap the dietician that came to my room to educate me on diet, and how I should eat plenty of “HEALTHY WHOLE GRAINS”. When I asked her about eating things without carbs, like protein and fat, wouldn’t that keep my blood sugar down? She told me to just eat normal and balance it out with insulin injections [SLAP].
    The day I got home from the hospital I went back on low-carb and downloaded both of Dr Bernstein’s books (Diabetes Solution, and The Diabetes Diet) to my Kindle. Within thirty days after reading his books I was able to discontinue using insulin.
    Now I have more of a reason not to fall off the wagon again.

  8. I am writing to thank you for your wonderful and informative blog. I would like to tell you about my experience with GERD and possible connection to Ideopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. (IPF) and how a wheat-free/low carb diet has been beneficial (imho)
    Around 8 years ago I started having symptoms of GERD. Soon after those symptoms started I went onto Atkins to lose weight, the GERD disappeared. I was happy about that but didn’t connect it.
    But after a few months I started eating in my old way again, with return of the GERD. Having not learned my lesson, I took Zantac.
    Somtime later later I read Dr. Davis’s “Wheat Belly”, and had an “ah ha” moment, stopped the wheat, stopped the GERD. Not long afterwards both my hubby and I went to a low carb diet which we have been on now for a couple of years.
    I was diagnosed with IPF two years ago, after experiencing two years of fairly mild symptoms which I thought was due to being out of shape.
    Since my diagnosis, two years ago, there has been no progression of the disease according to CT scans and Pulmonary Function tests.(I didn’t agree to having a lung biopsy because of the risks). I am feeling pretty well, certainly no worse since I was diagnosed.
    My respirologist had mentioned at one point that a large percentage of people with IPF also had GERD, but didn’t seem interested when I told him that not eating wheat had solved that problem for me.
    I wondered about that connection, if there was one, about IPF and GERD, so started doing a bit of digging on the net. This is what I found just recently:
    So my hypothesis is that for myself, wheat, carbs or both caused GERD, which may have caused the IPF. Purely by chance I had gone onto a wheat free diet followed by a low carb diet, just before I was diagnosed. And the disease has not progressed two years later. I don’t know for sure that is the reason, but my doctor has no other explanation. IPF is a disease which carried 100% mortality within five years of appearance of symptoms. I am four years into this and doing very well. Can it be that wheat and/or carbs caused IPF? Well, I think so.
    I read with great interest your blog about Dr. Robillard and his research into SIBO. I His theory makes such a lot of sense to me and may be another piece of the jigsaw. I have ordered his book and can’t wait to read it.
    Thank you again, Dr. Eades. The information on your site has helped me enormously

    1. Thanks very much for posting this informative comment. I was unaware of the connection between GERD and IPF. I hadn’t really thought about it until your comment, but it makes sense. Great link to the Canadian research. Should I ever come down with IPF or have patient with it, I would certainly go very low-carb and have patients do the same. I’m surprised your doctor doesn’t want to write up a case report on you.

  9. Dr. Eades,
    First off, thank you for your advice. I have adopted your ideas in the last few years, and have seen great benefits.
    Also, the interview with ABC a few months ago is great.
    I just found this blog about MSG being a cause of inflammation, etc.
    Katherine Reid, Ph.D – in biochemistry.
    Her daughter was sick….
    Thank you again.

  10. I should clarify: instead of “Can it be that wheat and/or carbs caused the IPF” I should have said “Can it be that wheat and/or carbs caused the reflux which caused the IPF”

  11. Hey doc, I think that a little bit of responsibility will remove most of the barriers that exist for people who try losing weight for the second time with keto diets.
    Also, I’d like you to correct me if I’m wrong but many use the term keto and referrer to it but they do not actually engage in a well formulated long-term keto diet. I need your input on this.
    I’ve been keto-adapted for more than 3 months. I dont do carb-cycling or all that. I only shifted out of ketosis for a few hours, for several times (like 4 or 5 times) and not due to increasing the carbs but due to alcohol. The effects were very unpleasant.
    Tell me one thing doc, please. Once you’re kicked out of ketosis, like I was for a couple of hours, does it take weeks for your body to be fully adapted again, or your keto-adapted again once you get back into ketosis?
    Thank you!

    1. No. It shouldn’t take weeks to get back into ketosis. Once you are keto adapted and go off the ketogenic and get kicked out of ketosis, it should take only a few hours or, at most, day or so to get back in.

  12. The pounds crept on over the Christmas break (a bit of chocolate here and there, mostly). I am now steadily losing weight, almost back to where I was in August. What is working is being very strict about carbs – I wasn’t eating any grains or refined sugars anyway, but I have totally cut out alcohol and milk (no hot chocolate when I come in from the cold) although still eating other dairy products (full fat old cheddar, cream for my coffee and tea). My local abattoir now carries gluten free (really grain free) sausages, so I can enjoy sausages for breakfast 😉 It is interesting to note that they used to have regular sausages, people asked for gluten free, and they sold so many that they don’t bother making the regular ones anymore.
    Oh, for the record, I am a well past menopause woman.

  13. Truly, thank you! I’ve been wondering how your renovation project is coming and praying that you are beginning to see the light at the end of the mess! XO, Ann

    1. It’s still going on, but should be finished by next week. We’ve been out of the country for a few days and are still on the road, so it hasn’t impacted us lately. Hope it’s finished when we get back next week. Thanks for asking.

  14. Sorry, I should have phrased it more like a question.
    Could you explain why nutritionists use the glycemic index instead of the glycemic load when talking about the effect of fruit on blood sugar when it seems that GL gives a more accurate picture (because it takes into account portion size)?
    Doesn’t the fiber content offset the insulin effect? Also, would eating fruit with a fat, like nuts or cheese, offset a rise in blood sugar?

  15. Dr Eades, off subject but wanted to ask on a recent post so you would see it – as an MD are you really not concerned when Paleo diet eaters are reporting LDL like the following examples?
    Low Carb Paleo, and LDL is Soaring – Help!
    immy Moore, 278 mg/dl (Nov 23, 2009)
    Peter Dobromylskyj, 261 mg/dl (Dec 31, 2007)
    Lightcan (commenter at Hyperlipid), 433 mg/dl (Nov 16, 2009), up from 109 in 2003
    Lynn M. (commenter at Hyperlipid), LDL-P (particle number) 1458, 75% sdLDL but a zero calcium score (Aug 12, 2009)
    Mtflight (commenter at Hyperlipid), 201 mg/dl and LDL-P 2576 (Oct 2007)
    IFWC (commenter at Hyperlipid), 261 mg/dl (Sep 30, 2008)
    Frederick (commenter at DailyLipid) 214 mg/dl (Jan 13, 2009) up from 92 mg/dl (May 2007)
    GK (commenter at WholeHealthSource) 301.9 high-sat-fat low-carb Paleo (Oct 12, 2010) up from 101.4 pre-Paleo (Jun 15, 2005), 179.4 Paleo (Oct 15, 2007), 210.6 post-Taubes with higher saturated fat (Nov 11, 2008)
    Lars (commenter at WholeHealthSource) TC went 228 to 390 mg/dl in 1.5 years Paleo (Dec 14, 2009)
    Sc (commenter PaNu forum) 376.3 mg/dl (Apr 29, 2010). Also on that thread: Mike Gruber, TC 585 mg/dl; Ben, LDL 487.5; MikeB 266 on low-carb, 408 on “strict PaNu”.
    John (correspondent of Richard Nikoley) 396 mg/dl paleo from 150 mg/dl pre-Paleo
    TonyK (commenter at FreeTheAnimal) 289 mg/dl (Aug 25 2009) from 135 mg/dl pre-Paleo
    Scott Shapiro (PaleoHacks ) LDL jumped 80 points on Paleo
    Ugk (PaleoHacks) 318 mg/dl post-Paleo from 110 mg/dl pre-Paleo.
    Otterotter (PaleoHacks) 280 post-Paleo from 114 pre-Paleo.

    1. First off, I wouldn’t make a recommendation to any of the individuals on this list without knowing a whole lot more information than I do.
      Although I have seen lipid levels like these many times, they are not as common as this list would have one believe. And when individual readings are like these, they often change by the time they are next checked.
      If they remained elevated in a patient of mine and I was worried (or the patient was worried), I would get a calcium score. If it turns up zero or very low, I wouldn’t worry about the lipid levels.
      The idea that cholesterol levels cause heart disease is far from certain. In fact, it becomes less certain every day. Which is why it is called an hypothesis to this day.

      1. Thank you for your response Dr. Eades but since as you say “the idea that cholesterol levels cause heart disease is far from certain.” is why these levels are worrisome to me. Thanks again.

  16. Dr. Eades, I just purchased your mouthwatering Low Carb Comfort Food cookbook. Recently diagnosed with Type II.
    Nowhere in this book does it actually say these are OK for diabetics? One would certainly presume them to be, but I do need to literally know for sure, per my Dr.?
    (low in carb, fat, sugar subs; seems more than evident to me this book is a diabetics dream) Dr. says NO starch. ZERO. Your recipes use a different type of starches.
    Thanks so much. I’m dying to “get cooking”….YUM

    1. The recipes are definitely low in carbohydrates, so they shouldn’t be a problem blood sugar-wise. But, since there is a lot of individual variability in response to different foods, it would be wise to check your blood sugar after any new recipe to see how it affects you. Also, may of these recipes contain gluten, which may or may not be problematic.
      There is a nice blog called All Day I Dream About Food, which will give you a lot of wonderful low-carb and gluten-free recipes and resources.

  17. I stumbled upon your blog today and it was a god send as I am returning to primal/ low carb lifestyle after a hiatus. When I went primal after a few weeks I felt very different I craved movement, I WANTEDto go running with my dogs, every fiber of my being wanted to be used to move I was filled with energy, it was quite astounding. My body felt different and I really liked it. I guess that I was wondering if this is normal, I so miss it and hate the sludgy feeling of being too “high carbed” I would love to think that I could get back to that type of being, only wiser this time. Am I correct in thinking that this type of feeling is caused by the change in metabolism the shift to ketogenic?

    1. Without a whole lot more information, it’s difficult to say for sure. But, many people who adopt the low-carb/Paleo diet end up with the spontaneous urge to burn calories. So, it’s likely that’s what’s happened to you.

  18. Thank you for all the great info!
    A side note….maybe a glitch in the website ?…the task bar at the top won’t let me select “MD’s Blog” or any of those tabs. Just thought you’d like to know.

    1. Yeah, the task bar is persnickety. You have to hit it just right. But it’s easier to go to the home page, then the blog pulldown menus work fine. It’s a pain in the rear, but we’re in the process of redoing the site, so I don’t want to spend time and money fixing something that won’t be in existence soon.

  19. Dr Mike, Has anyone else reported difficulty losing weight while taking high dose Vitamin C (2000mg/day)? I’ve been low to very low carb (initially 80g, reduced to 40g per day) since January, trying to lose those holiday pounds. Weight loss stalled at 7-8 lbs down, and refused to go down for about 3 weeks. As a test I stopped the C for a week, and my weight went down 2 lbs. I started C for a couple of days and the weight trended upward. I stopped C again and the weight started coming down again.
    One interesting thing is that since this last time of stopping C I’ve had occasional leg cramps and slight dehydration. This usually happens during my first week of low-carb living. I had to boost my intake of salt to compensate. This leads me to believe that high doses of C cause the release of insulin, since insulin causes salt/fluid retention.
    Do you have any thoughts on this? It might be useful for others who are stalling on low-carb diets.

    1. Hmmm. I haven’t heard of this before. Vit C does have a sort of carb-like effect, but 2,000 mg is only a couple of grams, so I can’t imaging that would do much. I don’t have any theories. If anyone else does, please chime in.

          1. Sorry for the confusion. The correction was for my earlier message, which is awaiting moderation. I didn’t see any errors in your post.

          2. I found your post in my spam file, which is strange because it didn’t have any links in it. Links are what usually get caught in the spam filter. Anyway, I dug it out and answered.

  20. I have a question for any of the readers out there. I can’t find anything that Dr. Eades has written on gestational diabetes. My daughter has developed it and goes in a couple of days to see a dietitian and receive a kit to check her blood sugar. I don’t have a lot of faith in mainstream doctors these days and especially dietitians. My daughter was not overweight before pregnancy and in fact has been a professional dancer for the last 10 years. She got pregnant 2 months before her contract ended and continued to perform with no problems with sickness and was not showing even in 2 piece costumes. Since then she has become swollen, especially forearms and her legs all the way up. Her blood pressure is normal and she has had no other complications. I guess my question is will it be safe for her to follow a very low carb diet? She is 29 weeks pregnant. My fear is this dietitian is going to recommend the balanced protein, fat and carb diet, which I think would be the worst possible recommendation. Anyone out there know of examples of low carbing while pregnant and if that would help her blood sugar situation?

  21. I have been on the diet for over a year. Although I lost weight the first 5 months, it’s been about 8 months with absolutely no weight loss. I’m halfway through a 60 lb. goal and thought I would find the answers. Unfortunately the solution isn’t applicable because I count calories as well as carbs. I never go above 30 grams (not ONCE the entire year have I cheated on a thing. (I have VERY rarely gone out on a limb and indulged in low carb treats homemade from almond flour and sweetened with xylitol.) I barely eat cheese and have perhaps one serving of almonds a day. (24 pdry roasted almonds). Still I have seen no results. The only reason I am still on this way of life is because as angry and frustrated as I am, the logic is too compelling to risk eating differently. As well as a fear that if I change my habits a drop I will gain everything back. It is difficult to be on such a limiting diet for so long just to maintain an unhealthy and unattractive weight. I would love to hear more reasons for this lack of success.

  22. Organic and grass-fed foods are best, but only if you can easily afford them. Even if you don’t buy organic, your diet will still be a thousand times better than the standard western diet.

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