May 27

Low-carb and calories


One of the most common questions MD and I get via email and snail mail and now through the comment sections of our blogs is about failing to lose weight while following low-carb diets. Here is an excerpt from an email that we got a few days ago:

I’m a 47 year old woman, and I’ve been overweight for the past 20 years or so. I was normal sized most of my life, but after I had my third baby at age 27, I started gaining and haven’t really been able to lose much weight. At least not until I started a low-carb diet about 6 months ago. When I started your Protein Power diet I lost almost 16 pounds the first month. I continued to lose for the next 4 months, but not at the rate I did in the first month. Over the last month, though, I haven’t lost any weight at all. I’m really dedicated to this WOL, and I religiously keep my carbs below 30 grams a day. I’ll admit that I occasionally (maybe once every 10 days) have something I shouldn’t have, a small bowl of ice cream maybe, but the next day I buckle down and cut my carbs to below 15 grams to make up for it. This falling off the wagon doesn’t seem to make me gain any weight especially since I cut my carbs the next day, but I just can’t seem to lose any more. I’m still about 20 pounds from my goal. Any suggestions?

human adipose tisse

Human adipose tissue

We get a lot of letters like this one from people who did well early on with their low-carb diets, but have run into a brick wall. Or, I guess, a brick plateau. What’s going on with these people? Are they lying through their teeth and in reality going face down in the carbs? Or is it something else? How can people diligently keep their carbs below 20 or 30 grams per day and fail to lose weight?
Let’s look at what happens when we cut carbohydrates in the diet. First, we don’t get enough carbs to replenish our blood sugar, so the body has to convert protein to glucose to make up the difference. The signal to do this comes from a rising level of glucagon, a hormone made in and released by the pancreas. In order for glucagon to do its job, the level of insulin in the blood has to go down, which it does. A low level of insulin and a high level of glucagon send a signal to the fat cells telling them to release their fat. You can think of it as opening the doors to the fat cells so that fat can easily get out. The body burns this fat for energy. As the body burns more, the fat cells release more. When the fat cells dump their fat, they become smaller. When your fat cells or adipose tissue becomes smaller, you become smaller. And you lose weight. Which is how it’s supposed to work.
But there is a little glitch in all of this.
Although the lowered insulin and elevated glucagon open the doors to the fat cells allowing fat to come out to be burned, the fat comes out only if it’s needed. If you are meeting all your body’s energy needs with the food you eat, the body doesn’t need the fat in the fat cells. On a low-carb diet your body burns fat for energy. But it doesn’t care where this fat comes from; it can come from the diet or it can come from the fat cells or it can come from both. If you are consuming enough fat to meet all your body’s requirements, your body won’t go after the fat in the fat cells no matter how severely you restrict your carbs. You will burn dietary fat only and no body fat. And you won’t lose weight. It’s that simple.
It has been shown countless times that when people go on low-carb diets they spontaneously reduce their caloric intake. Most foods available on low-carbohydrate diets are satiating and those following these diets get full quickly. They just don’t eat that many calories. In most studies of low-carb diets people drop their caloric intake down to the 1500-1700 kcal range and are quite satisfied. At that level of caloric intake, they need a fair amount of their own body fat to make up the difference between their dietary intake and the 2400-2600 kcal (or more) that they burn every day. As they consume this body fat, they lose weight.
Once people settle in to low-carb diets, a couple of things happen. First, they lose some weight, which reduces their energy expenditure. A smaller body doesn’t burn as many calories as a larger body, so the gap between what they consume and what they need gets smaller. And as it does, their weight loss slows down a little. Second, they start fiddling with the diet. At first, the luxury of eating steak, bacon, whole eggs, real butter and all the rest of the high-fat foods that go along with low-carbing is enough to keep most people satisfied…for a while. They eat until they’re full, then they quit. And they don’t consume all that many calories.
But then a different aspect of eating kicks in: eating for fun instead of simply for nourishment. People eat for two reasons. They eat because they have to in order to provide the energy and the nutrients required for life. This basic level of eating is driven by hunger. And people eat because it is an enjoyable endeavor, a hedonistic endeavor even. If people only ate when they were hungry and quit when they were no longer hungry, there wouldn’t be much of an obesity epidemic. Problem is people confuse the hedonistic urge to eat with hunger. People want a food because it appeals to them hedonistically, and they read this urge to eat as hunger, which it usually isn’t.
After folks have been low-carbing for a while, they typically start to range out a little, looking for new and different foods that they can make a part of their low-carb diet. The foods they find that fit the bill are either low in everything – celery, zucchini, asparagus, cucumbers, all kinds of green leafys, and certain fruits – or are high in fat (and calories) and low in carbohydrate. The latter include cheese, nuts, nut butters and all kinds of processed low-carb junk foods. The former don’t contain many calories, but also don’t provide much hedonistic bang for the buck, so are typically consumed fairly sparingly.
Dr. John Yudkin once did a survey asking overweight women what foods appealed to them the most, what tempted them the most to overeat. The results are not surprising and are listed below in descending order.

  • Cakes and biscuits (cookies)
  • Chocolates and confectionery
  • Bread with or without spread
  • Cheese
  • Fruit
  • Potatoes
  • Other foods

Remember, these were the foods that most tempted overweight women to overeat. I suspect that if overweight men had been surveyed the list would have been much the same. In any case, most of these foods are high in carbs and high in fat, the taste combo that most everyone loves. These are the foods that trip our hedonistic triggers.
Note on this list the one food that is often a big part of many low-carb diets: cheese. There is something that drives the hedonist in us to eat cheese just like it drives us to eat the other high-carb foods in this list. Cheese tempted the overweight women in the survey to overeat and it tempts many low carbers as well, especially since it contains few carbs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t contain few calories.
I pulled a few cheeses from the USDA database of foods just for grins. Gouda cheese, a type many people like to nosh on, contains only 0.63 grams of carbohydrate per ounce. So, if you wanted to eat some Gouda cheese and stick to your low-carb diet, you could eat 3 ounces of it and get a little short of 2 grams of carbs. What a bargain? Problem is that along with your 2 grams of carbs you would get a extra 300 plus kcal! So if you’re eating a good low-carb diet that spontaneously drops your caloric intake to the 1700 kcal range then add just a paltry three ounces of Gouda cheese – and it ain’t hard to add three ounces, let me tell you – you’ve bumped your calorie count up to over 2000 kcal right there.
How about cheddar cheese, another common snack? Six one ounce slices of cheddar cheese contains a mere 2.15 grams of carbs, which is only a tiny blip on your carb radar. But these slices also provide you with 677 kcal, about a quarter of your entire day’s calorie requirement. And it’s really not that difficult to eat six ounces of cheese throughout the day, a little here and a little there.
Swiss cheese? Swiss is a little richer in carbs. Three one ounce slices gives you about 4.5 grams of carbs along with 319 kcals.
Although Dr. Yudkin’s subjects didn’t report being tempted by nuts, I can tell you from years of experience with thousands of low-carbing patients, that many people are tempted by nuts. Along with cheese, nuts are the other snack that low-carbers love. And nuts, like cheese, give you a lot of calories.
A couple of ounces of dry roasted almonds after subtracting the fiber contain a little over 4 grams of effective carbohydrate. And 338 kcal. An ounce of almonds is made up of about 22 nuts, which isn’t a lot. If you throw them back as I do by the handful, two ounces can go down quickly. Or three ounces. Or four.
Dry roasted pecans are even more calorically dense. A couple of ounces of those costs you only about 2 grams of carbs but almost 402 kcal.
Just a couple of ounces of plain old mixed nuts will set you back only 7 grams of carbs but give you an extra 350 kcal you’ll have to deal with. If you sit and watch a movie and eat a six ounce can of these, you’ll be throwing back 1050 kcal.
Peanut butter, another common low-carb snack, contains around 4 grams of carb per two tablespoons along with 188 kcal.
If you are working hard to keep your carbs at or below 50 grams per day, your insulin levels will be low and your glucagon high. The doors of your fat cells will be open and fat can easily come out to be burned. But if you’re throwing back a few ounces of cheese or nuts (or both) here and there, you’re going to be providing your body with enough fat to meet all its energy needs with some left over. And your weight loss will come to a screeching halt.
The low-carb diet is a wonderful, healthful way to lose weight quickly, but you do have to watch your calories as well to a certain extent. If you’re plugging along losing away, keep doing what you’re doing. But if you quit losing, take a look at your cheese and/or nut consumption. Cut those out, and I’ll just about guarantee that your weight loss will pick up again.

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  1. So calories do count after all, but weight loss is still also a hormonal event? Maybe there is a third factor in the equation, that of psychology or the “Hedonistic urge” as You describe it?
    I can see quite clearly that my obese friends clearly eat alot more than other people do.
    I have tried doing a one day fast each week for some time now and the results have been very good. Fasting one day for 15-36 hours each week trains the mind to view hunger in its right context. It makes one more resistant to the “Hedonistic urge”. Exercise with high intensity and short duration has also started to make the last kilograms of fat start to melt.
    Best Regards
    Hi David–
    The hormonal event is the reduction of insulin allowing fat to exit the fat cells. As long as there is a caloric deficit, the fat will exit and be burned. If no caloric deficit, no fat leaves the cell. I don’t know about the psychology of the hedonistic urge, but I do know that too many people believe that if they simply keep their carbs below a certain level, they will lose weight no matter how much they eat. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way.

  2. Great post, and so true, though i’ve been lucky enough to drop body fat relatively easy while consuming plenty of nuts and cheese. Speaking of nuts and cheese, they make a good combination; i like snacking on almonds with thin slices of cheese. A good friend of mine is not as lucky as me. Like the women in John Yudkin’s study, he constantly craves bread, and more specifically, peanut butter and honey on bread. He could easily eat an entire loaf of bread throughout the day, in addition to other foods. Luckily for him, he doesn’t gain weight, and has a good physique to boot. However, he complains of hunger all the time, and says that he gets very confused, disorientated, irritable, shaky, and so forth, whenever he goes without carbs, typically bread. Classic symptoms of low blood sugar, i suspect. Needless to say, his attempts at low-carbing have not been good. He can manage throughout the daytime hours, but in the evening, he says he can’t relax or even fall asleep without eating sufficient carbs. This guy has even managed to low-carb for one month before, but eventually his carb-cravings got the better of him. He tried eating peanut butter and honey without the bread, but that did not suffice; he ‘needed’ the bread. I’d love to help this guy adapt to a low-carb diet, but i don’t know how to help him. I often suspect that some people are more deficient in serotonin than others, and thus, explains their strong cravings for carbs.
    If your friend’s problem is serotonin he can take 200 mg of 5-hydroxytryptophan at about 5 PM. This is a direct precursor to serotonin and will provide him with plenty by the time he goes to bed. He can also try taking at least 300 mg magnesium at bedtime as well. No one ‘needs’ carbohydrates in a physiologic sense just as no one ‘needs’ cocaine, but both can be addictive. Pretty much everyone knows that cocaine is not a good thing for the long run, but people with carb addiction can easily find the justification for eating carbs almost anywhere they look.

    1. Tell him to try tea when he gets the carb craving. I’m a carbaholic. lol I have been 3 days no bread, cookies, just meat and veggies. I do use cheese as a cracker so to speak but only 2 slices cut in 4.

  3. Dr. Eades,
    One other rarely mentioned problem is that as we get older our basal metabolic rate drops steeply. I’m a small woman who is almost 60 years old and all the BMR calculators show that even with my daily exercise regimen I only need about 1600 calories a day to maintain my current weight. Not that 2000+ that makes dieting relatively easy.
    But after many weeks of logging and weighing my food portions during a prolonged stall I’ve learned that the number the calculators come up with for the proper level to diet at is actually too high, probably because I’m maintaining a significant weight loss. Significant weight loss has been shown in many studies to slow the metabolism.
    So I face an unpleasant choice of eating no more than 1200 calories a day and losing very slowly, or of accepting that I’m going to stay a bit heavier than I would like. I’m going to go with the latter, because the last thing I want to do is to slow my metabolism any further and I learned during my weight loss phase that the calorie level that you lose at is going to be very close to the calorie level you will have to eat at to maintain.
    Hi Jenny–
    What you say is true – metabolic rate does fall with age, making it more difficult to lose as you become older. But a reduced caloric intake from a low-carb diet doesn’t seem to have the same metabolic-rate reducing effect that a reduction of calories from a reduced-calorie, low-fat diet. Probably because the body doesn’t go into starvation mode with the low-carb diet. Were I you I would keep my carbs restricted but allow my calories to go almost 1600 calories and see what happens.
    Good luck.

  4. Dr Eades:
    Thank you so much for your blog. I believe there must be something else going on in the body that prevents weight loss after a person has been dieting for a while. I lost from around 170 to 130 pounds on a low-carb diet over several months (I am 5 feet 31/2 inches and 54 years old) but the weight loss stopped and wouldn’t budge. I wanted to lose 10 more pounds. I had been walking two miles a day for exercise and I started jogging part of the way. I also started counting calories and I never ate more than 1000 calories a day, many days I ate less than that.
    After weeks of trying to lose more it seemed that all I accomplished was to lower my daily calorie requirements to an extremely low level (800 – 1000 calories a day or so) and if I ate even a few calories more than that I gained weight. I was incredibly frustrated. The idea of living on 800 calories a day for the rest of my life merely to maintain 130 pounds was a bleak and depressing thought. I read the Taubes book, Atkins books and everything else online I could find about weight loss. I really found no answer to my predicament. I finally concluded that my strenuous dieting had been self-defeating and stopped dieting and merely tried to maintain. It has been a couple of years since my initial weight loss and
    I have regained some of the weight. I really don’t think we fully understand how dieting affects metabolism but I have proven to myself that merely cutting more calories from an already low daily total is not the answer.
    You are right, simply cutting more calories isn’t the answer because the body adapts by decreasing calorie expenditure. The best thing you can do is to diligently restrict carbs and eat plenty of meat, green vegetables and salads while avoiding cheeses, nuts and other caloric-rich low-carb foods. If you do this, you should send the hormonal message to the fat cells that it’s okay to release fat. You should continue to lose weight slowly without further decreasing your metabolic rate.

    1. I am on a low carb regiment for 3 months now, cardio weight training and callanetics, I am 51 years old, 5’4″ 136, I would like to lose ten pounds and it doesn’t seam to work at all, I do not lose inches eather I write everything on fitday 1200-1400 cal, 125g protein most of the time, what should be my ratio of fat, protein and carbs a day, I would appreciate your answer, should I cut any cheese, I use 2% milk cheese, cottage, and rarely eat nuts, I eat greek yogurt non fat ? I am so confuse, I really need your help. Thank you

      1. Maybe you should reduce the protein a bit and up the fat. I don’t know about the cheese. You can’t be taking in a lot if you’re only getting 1200-1400 kcal per day.

      2. Check this out .works for me and im feeling great ( Make sure your healthy )
        1rst day i was hungry VERY!
        2nd Little hungry little tired
        3rd Started feeling some euphoria
        4rth Day not hungry lots of energy lost 6lbs
        I did this because nothing was working even low carb so i needed a jump start .

  5. I’ve read and heard a lot lately about caffeine also stimulating an insulin response. People who have been LCing for awhile may tend to start adding sugar-free caffeine-laden beverages back into their lives. Do you think there may be anything to that? -Mike
    Caffeine is also lipolytic, which means that it moves fat out of the fat cells. The lipolytic nature of caffeine probably offsets the tiny increase in insulin. But the only way to tell in a specific case is to stop drinking coffee and maintain caloric intake at the same rate and see what happens.

  6. I enjoy reading your blog, Dr. Eades. But I must play devil’s advocate on this post.
    The whole premise, too many calories in stalls fat loss, implies that eating even more calories would induce fat accumulation and thus weight gain. There is nothing in the scientific literature, as far as I know (I don’t know much but if there was, it would be sung high and far), that would show how eating too much fat on its own can produce fat to accumulate with the net result of a weight increase. This would suggest that the premise is somehow flawed. Here are two individual experiments:;f=19;t=14917
    Granted, they can only be considered as anecdotal evidence at best. Yet the subjects themselves, I’m sure, couldn’t be swayed by any argument contrary to their own observations. They saw what they saw and that’s that. We could disagree on their opinions of the experiments, but not on the facts that they reported. One ate way too many calories and still did not gain weight. The other ate at calculated maintenance level (calculated based on a high carb diet) and reports losing weight and losing fat. Maybe the fact that they are athletes changes things somewhat but even that couldn’t change the mechanisms involved in fat accumulation or fat loss. The mechanisms can’t change just because we lift an object or we don’t lift an object. What differs must be in the amplitude. And this is the question, what’s the mechanism that determines at what amplitude, or what rate, do we accumulate or lose fat? This implies both a threshold mechanism and a rate limiter mechanism which could be the same mechanism.
    We have insulin as the primary suspect. And carbs as the primary regulator of insulin. But we’ve cut that out so we’re left with fat and protein as the secondary suspects. Fat itself doesn’t do anything for or against fat accumulation in terms of an insulin response. It may act otherwise for instance on ASP (acylation stimulating protein) yet there’s no evidence to show how ASP could make us grow fat the same way insulin does. Which leaves us with protein as the only factor left to consider in fat loss stall. Or even fat accumulation if that’s the case.
    Protein causes an insulin secretion and release although not as much as carbs. Why not consider that as we cut out carbs, as insulin drops accordingly and as we lose fat, eating too much protein could somehow affect the rate of reduction of insulin? I don’t know that anybody could grow fatter by eating too much protein but it’s reasonable to consider it as an agent that could stall fat loss through its action on insulin. From this point of view, reducing protein intake, if not permanently, at least temporarily sounds like a reasonable alternative to me.
    I would also venture a guess that protein requirement drops as we cut out carbs from our diet. By how much, I don’t know. Bodybuilders will tell you that as they cut, they lose some muscle. They eat a diet high in carbs even during a cut. As far as I know, a low carb diet doesn’t do that. If anything, a low carb diet would result in a net lean tissue gain either by re-gaining lost tissue during a high carb period or simply by gaining new lean tissue as the inhibiting effect of carbs disappears with the carbs. The point is, the protein requirement of a low carb diet would drop thereby supporting the view that we eat too much protein to begin with.
    Another point. The sight of food can affect our response to insulin even before we put any food in our mouth. I read this in GCBC from Taubes. It’s a conditioned response apparently that comes probably from the regular intake of carbs which will subsequently result in an insulin secretion and release so that eventually, we need only to look at the cake for insulin to be release in our bloodstream thereby emptying the blood of nutrients causing a corresponding increase in hunger. I don’t think it’s the eyes themselves that would trigger this conditioned response so I would go further with this logic by saying that the mere thought of food would cause hunger to rise. Considering the effect of a high carb diet on hunger, it’s understandable that as we eat a high carb diet and as our hunger increases and as we obsess with food, our hunger only increases accordingly. The point is, by its action on insulin, this conditioned response could somehow stall fat loss to some extent. So the advice here would be don’t think about food. But then if we’re hungry the advice would be don’t eat food that make you hungry either.
    The point is to suggest that merely total caloric intake without distinction of the quality is not the cause of a fat loss stall, that there is some underlying mechanism that controls this fat loss and that it is therefore both the quantity, after having determined the quality, of calories that is the cause of a fat loss stall.
    Hey Martin–
    I don’t think the subjects you linked to are lying at all. You are getting into an area that I’m going to write about in another post. When insulin levels stay down, the fat cells open, but fat doesn’t really come out unless it needs to. With enough dietary calories to provide for energy needs, the fat stays in the fat cells. The other side of this equation says that if insulin is down, fat won’t go into the fat cells either. So people can consume large amounts of calories on low-carb diets and not gain weight either, which is what is happening to the subjects in your links. I plan a post on this phenomenon in the near future.

    1. Protein causes an insulin secretion and release …
      is that true ??
      and still no problems of insulin resistence alltough very high protien diets ?

      1. Insulin helps blood glucose get transported into fat cells as fat. Even if there is a relatively slight insulin rise caused by protein/satiation/pavlovian response, there is no corresponding blood glucose from carbs for it to work on in a low-carb diet.
        If my understanding is correct, the ingredient that causes a huge spike in insulin as well as provides the raw material for fat conversion (blood glucose) is removed from the equation in a low-carb diet.

  7. Dr. Eades, I’m a big fan of yours and I’ve been eagerly awaiting this long-promised post about LC weight loss difficulties. But I’m disappointed. Essentially, this post addresses the question, “Why am I not losing weight even though I’m eating too much while low-carbing?” — a question with a built-in answer.
    However, the big question is this: “Why am I not losing weight even though I’m low-carbing and can’t possibly be eating too much?”
    For instance, I recently lost no weight at all over the course of about two months following a strict regimen of whole, homemade foods including VLC veg (salad-type stuff). 70-75% fat, carbs under 20g. No nuts, nothing with natural or artificial flavorings, MSG, etc listed on the label. No dairy products except cream and its derivatives (butter, cream cheese, sour cream). After the first few days, calorie intake fell naturally to around 1200-1500 per day, and I naturally quit snacking. My weight varied between 143 and 139 over the course of this experiment, then seemed to stabilize at about 142. (I should weigh around 125-130.)
    From reading posts around the Net, I gather I’m not the only person in a similar situation. Many are much farther from a goal weight/body shape than I am — even though they stick with low-carb, natural foods, low-ish calorie eating for much longer periods than me, and even though some exercise a lot more than me — and for that I can only thank my lucky stars, I guess. Jimmy Moore, for one, recently posted about the rough time he’s having with a seemingly unexplainable substantial weight gain that he’s still having a rough time losing.
    I trust you to take this seriously and not assume we’re all doing something silly like underestimating calorie intake or snacking mindlessly. We’re not overlooking newly built tremendous muscles. We’re not dropping inches and clothes sizes even though the scale isn’t moving. We’re not consuming hidden carbs in our Frankenfoods. When all this is the the case and still the body hangs on to every stored gram of fat, what’s going on? And how do we get it to let go?
    Hi Vesna–
    I can’t really say what’s going on without looking at food diaries and knowing a little more about you and your health. I’m assuming that the “butter, cream cheese, sour cream” are accounted for in your daily caloric measuring. One thing you can try that almost never fails is to go on an all-meat diet for a week or two. That always seems to get things moving. Eat meat only morning, noon and night. Drink non-caloric beverages. It works like a charm.
    Once your weight is where you want it to be, go back on a regular low-carb multi food diet. As I’ll point out in a future post, it’s almost impossible to gain weight on a diligently-followed low-carb diet, so once you get to where you want to be, you should be able to stay there. The meat diet is just a temporary therapy to get you there quickly.

  8. Dr. Eades,
    As always I learn something new every time I read a post – I am guilty of using cheese and nuts as snacks (although I do my best to limit myself for each) during my low-carb dieting and now I know I need to switch to something else to snack on.
    However, I do have a question on food consumption for someone who works out 4 days a week with weights and does interval training (in the form of sprints) 3 days a week after lifting – from what I’ve read after one is done working out, one should consume simple carbs to replenish the glycogen stores in the body so after a grueling workout I usually consume 2 egg whites, a protein shake, and two cherry pop tarts. How should one approach low carb dieting when exercising intensely? Is there a need to still consume simple sugars after a workout?
    Thank You,
    Hey Jeff–
    Studies have shown that you don’t really have to replenish glycogen by consuming carbs after a workout if you’re adapted to a low-carb diet. The enzyme glycogen synthase will be upregulated and you will make glycogen easily from protein. What you need is protein and fat after a workout once you are low-carb adapted. Another thing you can take to replenish the muscles is a teaspoon of D-ribose, a type of sugar available at most health food stores. I’m going to post on D-ribose soon.

  9. What about Taubes’ implication that the body will naturally adjust caloric intake/energy expenditure to allow for weight loss to the point where the body is “comfortable”? It has also been my experience with weight loss clients that if they religiously follow a lowish carb regimen, they tend to bottom out quite easily at ~10% BF for males, ~15% for females. They are also CrossFitting regularly, which dramatically increases their lean mass while on this regimen.
    I agree that the body will naturally adjust for most people. I wrote the post for those who have trouble losing while following a low-carb diet to the letter. Most of these people fall into the trap of overconsuming calories by snacking on high-caloric-density foods.

  10. Hello Doctor Mike,
    First of all, thank you for the great information and all your efforts in making it available.
    Some time ago, you posted about the “meme” of “eat less, move more” to lose fat, making the point, if I understood correctly, that this formula does not really work. Today’s post suggests that (health benefits aside,) fat loss on a low carb approach is still somewhat calorie dependent.
    Which of your books or online references that you might link to would be best for providing a simple, lay-person friendly understanding of the relative importance of low carb and (or versus) low calorie, as an optimal approach to fat loss.
    BTW, on a not completely unrelated point, as it might be helpful to some of your readers, I’d like to share something I’ve been doing lately that has been extremely helpful in improving the quality of my nutrition, and the results therefrom. To wit, writing down what I eat & drink. I’ve done this before with great results and then abandoned the practice when I was satisfied with the outcome. Starting again recently, I’m reminded of how powerful this simple practice can be. I carry an index card in my shirt pocket and simply take notes. ( I then log it into a program that tracks nutritional data, providing a great “feed back” motivational tool.)
    Thank you again for creating and maintaining this blog Dr. Mike.
    All the best,
    Hey Eddie–
    I think for most people following a low-carb diet will bring about weight loss. I wrote the post for those who do follow a low-carb diet strictly and still don’t lose. Most of those people simply consume too many calories and need to cut back to lose.
    Your notion of writing everything down is indeed powerful. It’s been my experience that people virtually never, ever overestimate their consumption – it’s always the opposite. Writing everything down helps create an accurate picture of what’s going on. Remembering food intake is like remembering golf scores: no one ever gives puts down too many strokes. We forget the strokes we don’t want to remember. It’s the same for food intake.

  11. I was afraid you were going to say that! I have lost over 50 pounds using a low carb diet and lifting heavy weights. I have hit a bit of a plateau lately. I have also been going to town on Blue Diamond brand flavored almonds (specifically Salt and Vinegar…omigod). I also eat a lot of cheese as a snack. I don’t want to give them up because they are so delicious, but I guess I will have to. These almonds also have some chemicals in the flavoring which I have somehow convinced myself is ok to consume because they are so delicious.
    We’ll see what happens when I cut these out. Although I am pretty sure I already know…
    Keep me posted. I’m pretty sure I know what will happen, too. The good news is (which is also the topic of a future post) that once you get down to the weight you want, the almonds and cheese can come back without causing a weight gain. You just need to ditch them to lose.
    Are there really Salt and Vinegar flavored almonds? I could be in real trouble.

  12. Thanks for this. I could have written this letter except I’m 20 years older and my weight loss hasn’t been as great as hers but the time scale has been almost identical.
    I understand that what you are saying is (1) I need less calories than I did before I lost some weight and (2) I’m probably eating more calories than I realize. It can’t hurt to check this by keeping a very accurate record.
    I can do the math and realize that consuming an extra 250 calories of fat a day adds up to a half pound of fat a week that my body can hold on to.
    However, I’ve also read that eating too few calories isn’t good as it will just slow my metabolism to compensate. How do I find the sweet spot?
    You find the sweet spot by simply following a good quality, whole-food low-carb diet at mealtimes. And by not snacking. This usually does the trick. The good news is that once you achieve the weight loss you’re looking for, you can go back to the low-carb snacks without gaining.

  13. So, if you eat too much fat your body won’t burn your stored body fat, it will use the fat you eat for energy instead of body fat? I dunno, is this correct?
    Thanks, Bill
    Hey Bill–
    It is exactly correct. As long as you eat enough calories to meet your energy needs, you won’t harvest the calories in the fat cells.

  14. Dr. Mike,
    I completely agree with your carb/cocaine analogy. Carbs act upon one’s brain much like drugs. I know from firsthand experience, as i am sure you do as well. For instance, years ago, after a hard day at college, i would dig into a huge bucket of ice cream. The sugar and insulin spike created a calm and almost euphoric state. The next morning, though, i would be famished, most likely because of the resultant low-blood sugar and the nutrient-robbing effect of the sugars in the ice cream.

  15. Hi Michael,
    Thanks for a very useful post. I’ve just found your work in the last 6 weeks or so, and I’ve really got so much out of your blog!
    You didn’t mention excess protein intake in this post. I presume excess protein will also result in fat stores not being released into the blood. Am I correct in this?
    I have been on a low-carb diet for about 4 weeks now… a LOT of protein (300-350g a day with the help of 90% protein powder on top of steaks, eggs etc). I want to GAIN muscle — I’ve put on about 3-4kg of muscle in the last month (now 87kg at 193cm)… my body fat stays at 9-11% range (according to skin calipers) on this low carb-diet ONLY if I do fast walking 2 hours a day (or similar cardio like swimming & I do interval training too). If I cut back too much on the protein my muscle gain slows down tremendously.
    So relating to this post — how does one stimulate release of fat from my cells & make sure that they have enough protein for muscle growth? Is dietary protein the key for muscle growth (as well as training obviously) rather than high protein & high calories? In this case, I could simply keep high protein and cut back on the fat (keeping carbs low still). Or, are muscle gain and fat loss largely incompatible at the same time, being based on a calorie-excess and a calorie-deficit respectively?
    Thanks for your input and thanks for helping me understand the biochemistry better!
    P.S. I know I have already low body fat, but my goal has been 6-7% for the last year with little progress.
    Hi Michael–
    No, muscle gain and fat loss are not incompatible. Both can and indeed do happen at the same time. Often people aren’t losing weight because they are building muscle thanks to the increased protein from a low-carb diet. They gain a couple of pounds of muscle while losing a couple of pounds of fat, giving then no change on the scales, but a big change in terms of body size.
    Protein can be burned for fuel, but usually isn’t as long as dietary fat or fat from the adipose tissue provides the fuel to meet the body’s energy needs. And if the protein isn’t burned for energy, it’s available for muscle growth.
    Sounds like you are doing what you need to do to achieve your goals.

  16. I’m 43 years old, very healthy but terribly active with organized exercise, but I have 3 children under 7. I’ve been what I call “high-fatting” for a while now–getting 75% – 80% of my daily caloric intake from fat.
    I lost from 178 to 145 pounds then stopped cold eating about 1500 to 1700 calories a day and about 100 grams of protein a day and 20 grams of total carbs (clean carbs: mostly veggies, no grains or legumes). I went from losing 1-2 pounds a week to nothing for over 5 weeks. But I really wanted to break into the 130’s so I decided that instead of cutting calories (fat), which I simply was NOT willing to do, I would try to eat only my protein minimum, my 20 g carbs, and make up the rest of the calories with fat (about 150 g per day).
    I immediately started to lose again, like the next DAY started losing again, and got into the 130’s in no time with LBM remaining essentially unchanged, muscles becoming more visible.
    Most people’s first inclination is to cut fat and calories, and you guys do seem to offer that as the first line stall-breaker. But I know that I will start to binge if I try to decrease fats, even in the presence of good protein intake. There is something about fat, and LOTS of it, that keeps me very happy, happier than lots of protein.
    Do you have any thoughts as to why increasing fat intake and decreasing protein intake, while keeping calories unchanged (actually my calories went UP a little bit) would stimulate weight loss to resume? If it’s not the calories, then it has to be something hormonal or biochemical?
    Hi Elle–
    It’s difficult to decrease protein without decreasing fat a little since foods containing protein also contain fat. There are few foods – butter, coconut butter and cooking oils being the exception – that are totally fat, so when one cuts protein, one usually cuts fat as well.
    How were you able to cut protein and allow fat to go up?

  17. Gosh, I’m sorry, I meant to say I’m NOT terribly active with organized exercise…Sheesh. That mistake could radically change your answer if you think I’m a big exerciser, which I’m not.
    I figured that’s what you meant.

  18. I’m still confused despite your excellent explanations. I did a two-month all-meat program and lost nothing. I felt wonderful and had normal bowel function daily without having any fiber in my diet. So, apparently I have to determine the caloric content of meat and fat even in the absence of any carbs.
    Some people can consume a lot of calories even while following a low-carb diet without snacking. If you fall into this category – and it seems that you do – you’ve got to watch your portion sizes until you lose to your goal. Then you can add back the fats without gaining.

  19. Another interesting aspect I’ve found is almost the opposite problem. I can consume beverages that have ‘0’ calories, but still gain weight. Diet soda does that to me, for example. Also, I find I can lose weight much more easily when I’m drinking green tea (Usually with pomegranate essence) than when I’m drinking coffee. It’s easy to tell that there’s a lot more going on there than just the calories, and, with the coffee and green tea, the caffeine.

  20. [Quote=Dr. Eades]
    The doors of your fat cells will be open and fat can easily come out to be burned. But if you’re throwing back a few ounces of cheese or nuts (or both) here and there, you’re going to be providing your body with enough fat to meet all its energy needs with some left over. And your weight loss will come to a screeching halt.[/quote]
    With all due respect, the problem with this analysis is that fat doesn’t just sit in fat tissue “waiting for the doors to be open.” Yalow and Berson proved this with their Nobel-winning radioimmunoassay that they turned on the fat tissue. Fat is dynamic. The problem is, triglycerides are handled in the same way. Moreover, your analysis doesn’t inform us why people would overeat on cheese, nuts, and other so-called good carbohydrates.
    It’s true that the body does not care whether the fatty acids come from the diet or the fat tissue, but this is because the two are combined in our long term fuel supply that flows throughout the bloodstream and the body. Therefore, the new fatty acids are indistinguishable from fatty acids that were there from yesterday or last week.
    Insulin disrupts the free flow of fatty acids by clearing the bloodstream of all fatty acids, amino acids, all nutrients and anything that could be used for fuel prior to a meal and during digestion to deal with dietary carbohydrate and to provoke hunger. As the meal is digested, the fatty acids return under normal conditions unless something keeps them out of circulation longer than they’re supposed to be. Since that’s the case as the Krebs cycle says it is, then our investigation has to start and stop with reasons why these lipids are delayed from flowing freely longer than they should be.
    When the insulin-level is high, this causes lipids to become trapped in the fat tissue and there they stay until insulin ebbs. Hyperinsulinemia combined with the effect of those nuts and possibly cheese on insulin cause this. It has nothing to do with the number of calories. The change in the fat stores (due to insulin) affects energy-in and therefore people consume too many carbohydrates in the form of things you described.
    The other problem is hyperinsulinemia which doesn’t seem to get enough attention and press. Those with this condition not only secrete insulin in anticipation of and in response to meals, they also may secrete between meals and this contributes to the high insulin condition.
    That the effect of calories has been overstated has been known to some since the 1960s when Yalow and Berson’s technology was used on the VMH-lesioned rats. Obesity could be prevented by short-changing the exaggerated insulin response by severing the vagus nerve. Similarly, the hypersecretion of insulin was reported to be the earliest detectable abnormality in genetic strains of obesity-prone mice and rats. Some ate more and others ate less. When the lesion was administered, obesity followed regardless of the number of calories.
    What is important to know is that the fat cells of adipose tissue are exquisitely sensitive to insulin, far more so than other tissues in the body. This means that even low levels of insulin, far below those considered the clinical symptom of hyperinsulinemia, will shut down the free flow of fatty acids from the fat cells. Elevating insulin even slightly will increase the accumulation of fat in the cells. The longer insulin is elevated, the longer the fat cells will accumulate fat and the longer they’ll go without releasing it.
    [quote=Dr. Eades]The low-carb diet is a wonderful, healthful way to lose weight quickly, but you do have to watch your calories as well to a certain extent. If your plugging along losing away, keep doing what you’re doing. But if you quit losing, take a look at your cheese and/or nut consumption. Cut those out, and I’ll just about guarantee that your weight loss will pick up again.[/quote]
    Let’s not confuse an association with cause as your hero John Yudkin did. He couldn’t imagine a world where calories did not matter due to his construal of the law of conservation of energy and unfortunately was unable to convince his counterparts of his position. We can’t have it both ways. Calories matter or they don’t. The science says they don’t. I lost 66 pounds by avoiding carbohydrates, plain and simple. If I eat them, I gain weight. If I avoid them, I effortlessly maintain my weight regardless of calories.
    If weight is not being lost, the carbohydrates have to be dropped even further to the point of zero if necessary. This is all that is possible from a dietary perspective. If there is some hormonal issue, then that must be solved first.
    Hi Charles–
    I agree that fat is dynamic in that it moves in and out of the fat cells – I just didn’t want to complicate the issue by going into all that. In essence if the same amount of fat moves into the fat cells as moves out of it, there is no difference in the end result, and it isn’t all that inaccurate to say that the door to the fat cells is shut.
    I don’t agree with your assessment of Yudkin’s opinion on the calorie issue because Yudkin came around to a different way of thinking in his later years, but he didn’t publish it in the medical literature. He did publish it in a diet book written and published in the UK a few years before he died.
    Irrespective of what Yudkins opinion was of the caloric issue, the laws of thermodynamics haven’t yet been overturned. Consequently, calories do matter. And the science shows very much that they do. There is a difference in what happens to the calories on a low-carb diet as compared to what happens to them on a low-fat diet, but something does happen to them. They don’t disappear nor can they be ignored.
    You may have effortlessly lost weight and maintained a lower weight by doing nothing but reducing carbs to zero, but you are a study of n=1. I can assure you that in my many years of taking care of patients I have seen many who have struggled to lose weight with diets in which the carbs have been severely restricted. And in those patients, once we started looking at the calories, the weight loss picked up.

  21. In my case, I don’t think it’s the cheese and nuts to blame.
    Here’s my story. 51 years old. 5’11 1/2′ tall. Low carbing got my weight down to 195 – 200ish (from 230 and climbing) within six months. Stayed that way for five years. I started a daily IF routine (fast-5) six months ago, more or less, that got it down to just under 190, on most days. According to Fred Hahn’s sci-fi measuring device, I have about 13 – 14 % body fat.
    I should be happy, but I still have a visible belly that I want to get rid of, I would guess I am about 10 or 15 pounds overweight.
    With the IF routine, just counting food calories, I don’t think I eat much more than 1800 calories a day, with or without cheese and nuts. It’s hard to imagine dropping my calories much lower, I would be too hungry all the time.
    There is one other suspect. You were holding a glass of it in that last picture you posted of yourself, hahaa. Ah yes, the booze. I love a good scotch or three (especially the 30 year old kind!), glass or four of wine, occaisional beers, etc.
    I am afraid that if I really want the belly to go, I’ll have to drop the hooch first. But for now, bartender, another round of Guinness, if you please…
    Hey mrfreddy–
    You are indeed right about the booze. In weight loss as in reduction of risk for heart disease, a little booze is good, a lot is deadly.
    Whenever I pick up a few pounds, the first thing I do is go cold turkey on the alcoholic libations, and my excess weight disappears.
    Thanks for bringing this issue up.

  22. Assuming all hormones are working properly, isn’t appetite supposed to be self-regulating? I can understand that weight loss slows as people lose weight because there’s less of a calorie deficit, but this assumes that people are eating the same amount of food as they lose weight. How come people can be sated at one level of calories, but seemingly still require that same level of calories to be sated as they lose weight?
    Is it psychological? Maybe people eat the amounts they’re used to eating even as they lose weight? Or maybe there’s some sort of base level of intake that you can eat and still feel sated? And as you lose weight that level doesn’t really change, so weight loss slows? I dunno. That’s always confused me.
    I understand that your post kind of addresses this by saying that people may eat differently as they progress on low-carb. But let’s assume they stay on the plan and only eat low-carb until sated. If I understand the idea of a self-regulating appetite correctly, theoretically it should be as easy to lose the first pound as it is to lose the 50th pound. But I don’t think that’s most people’s experience.
    Hi Steve–
    You are correct in that it is not the experience of most people that losing the first pound is as easy as losing the 50th. People vary in their appetites. Most people spontaneously reduce calories when switching to a low-carb diet. Some, however, are able to consume huge numbers of calories while keeping carbs within the 20-30 gm/day limit. It is these people who don’t lose weight easily until they consciously start to restrict calories while on their low-carb diets.

  23. While we are discussing things that might be limiting weight loss I wonder what you think of this research?
    If I’m understand it, the article suggests that certain compounds in tea (not caffeine) can raise your insulin levels. I’m a longtime tea drinker and had been sipping hot (plain) tea fairly often. I’ve now switched back to coffee (which I don’t like as well) but it’s too soon to tell if it’s going to help my stall.
    I think that perhaps the compounds in tea and/or the caffeine in coffee may minimally inhibit weight loss on low-carb diets, I pretty sure it’s the overconsumption of calories that is the real problem. If you’re wondering about it from a personal perspective, it’s pretty easy to ditch the tea and coffee for a bit while keeping everything else the same and see what happens.
    Keep me posted.

  24. I should have waited a while before posting my previous comment! I saw that you mentioned d-ribose in a later post. I’ve been wondering about ribose for a while. I was re-reading some articles by Jonny Bowden (some of which relate to the green tea-coffee differences that I mentioned above, particularly the EGCG in tea). In one of them he talks about what Dr. Steven Sinatra calls ‘The Awesome Foursome’ (With a name like Sinatra, shouldn’t it be ‘The Rat Pack?’) Three of the four I think you’ve written about at length either here or in PPLP: Magnesium, CoQ10, and l-Carnitine. D-ribose was the only one that was missing!
    I know I’ve seen you and Dr. Bowden refer to each others’ work from time to time. I don’t know how you feel about Dr. Sinatra, though, and all I really know about him is his four-fold recommendation above for heart health.
    I’m looking forward to your post!
    I think Dr. Sinatra is a pretty bright guy who is on track. We disagree on a few issues, but I don’t hold that against him.

  25. So it seems that Anthony Colpo is right; There is no metabolic advantage except perhaps in cases of extreme obesity. For everyone else, calories count. If one can’t lose beyond a certain point, they aren’t being honest with themselves about calorie intake.
    I knew that sooner or later I would get this comment. No, I don’t think Anthony Colpo is right on the metabolic advantage issue. In the post I wrote that a caloric deficit is required for weight loss. A metabolic advantage implies that a different caloric deficit may be created as a function of the type of diet consumed. In other words, a low-carb diet of 1800 kcal may provide a caloric deficit whereas a 1600 kcal low-fat diet wouldn’t. The difference is the metabolic advantage created by the low-carb diet. In the case of the above example: 200 kcal.
    The body does three things with calories: it uses them for energy, it uses them (proteins and some fats) for rebuilding tissues, and it wastes them. If the body wastes more calories on diet A than it does on diet B, then diet A is said to provide a metabolic advantage.
    Both Anthony Colpo (and I think I am speaking for him correctly on this) and I believe that there has to be a caloric deficit for weight loss to take place. I believe (and he doesn’t) that different diets waste different amounts of calories, meaning that diets that waste more – low-carb diets – create more of a caloric deficit with a caloric intake identical to diets that don’t waste more calories – low-fat diets.

  26. Couple of things come to mind reading the comments here and on other low carb sites. One is that unless one weighs (not just measures) every bite that goes into their mouth and calculates calories, they are probably under estimating how much they are eating. Just looking at it and thinking “Oh, that’s about a cup” isn’t going to cut it. There is a great Youtube video about it (which I don’t have a link to currently). This includes all the little things like licking the spoon, cream in coffee, taking “just a taste” while preparing food, etc. Even the weighing isn’t foolproof as it is difficult to tell how much fat is in a cut of meat, how much cooked out, etc.
    Second is that many people spontaneously cut their movement down when cutting calories, just as some spontaneously increase movement when increasing calories (the effect is called N.E.A.T.). This lowers the amount of calories used for the day and leads to a much smaller deficit than expected (and a much lower rate of loss). Add in water fluctuations and hormonal weirdness and it can lead to near stalls at lower calories, Throw in the occasional frustration cheat and “poof” – a plateau.
    Great blog post, Dr. Mike, though I am betting you will incur the wrath of the low carb community because of it.
    Hey Ryan–
    Not a lot of wrath so far. But, who knows?
    You’re right about measuring. And about underestimating. Golf is a great analogy. I don’t know anyone who cards a higher score on a hole than that actually scored. Everyone tends to put either the correct score or a lower score because people don’t remember the extra chunked shot. It’s the same with food estimating. People constantly underestimate the amount of food they eat.
    Having said this, most people do fine on low-carb diets and spontaneously restrict calories enough to lose weight just fine without having to measure and record every bite. The post I wrote was for all the people who seem to stall and write me wondering why.

  27. Thank heavens you’re back to life, dear Doc!
    Very interesting post that explains (or at least reminds) me a lot 🙂
    I have a proposal for maybe some other future post by you – what happens if you overdose proteins?
    I bring up this idea because in my country there is a low carb author who disseminates information that the best proportion for humans (adults, healthy) is P : F : C equal 1 : 2,5-3,5 : ~.8 in grams (multiplied by their natural body weight in kilograms (divide pounds by 2.2)
    I don’t know if its clear to everyone so I will give an example: if I should weight in at 198 lbs (90kg) then I should take in daily about 90g proteins, 220-320 g fat and 70g carbohydrates.
    He strongly emphasizes that eg. Atkins’s diet suggest eating to much proteins (which I took no notice by the way but never mind) and to much proteins (in our example this will be more than 90g) causes accelerated aging and maybe some other disasters. What’s your take on that.
    best regards,
    Hi Zbig–
    I don’t think there is a ‘golden rule’ about these ratios. I think people ought to get a minimum amount of protein and keep their carbs restricted, then let the ratios fall wherever they may. I don’t think that extra protein accelerates aging, and I don’t think it causes other ‘disasters.’ Body builders consume huge amounts of protein relative to the rest of us, and they don’t have lives any longer or shorter than non-body builders, so I take that as proof that a whole lot of protein isn’t harmful. If a whole lot isn’t harmful, then I don’t think 50-100 grams extra is going to cause any problems. Plus the literature is full of papers showing that increasing protein in the diet brings about a reduction in waist size, a decrease in body weight, an increase in bone mass and a host of other improvements over isocaloric diets with less protein.

  28. “Are there really Salt and Vinegar flavored almonds? I could be in real trouble”
    Yes: and Smokehouse, Chili Lime, and Wasabi. But the Salt and Vinegar almonds are evil. :0 Stay away!
    This is precisely the reason why I have not lost that final 10 pounds. Cheese & nuts. I have found it funny that I can eat so much and not gain, but your post made me realize why- AND why I never lost that last 10 in the first place.
    I’ve been the same weight now (120lbs) for 4 years after losing an initial 30 or 40 pounds. I’ve been unwilling to lose any more because I have not wanted to alter the luxurious amount of food that I currently enjoy. Skipping nuts & cheese in favor of meat for awhile sounds completely logical.
    Thanks for the great blog, DH & I are glad you’re back.
    Hi KarenJ–
    The good news is that if you suck up and toe the line for as long as it takes to get down to where you want to be, the evil Salt and Vinegar almonds can come back and you won’t gain. I’ll explain why in the next post or two.

  29. I would like to suggest to people who have hit a plateau in their weight loss to consider Intermittent Fasting (fasting for 24-30 hours) once or twice a week.
    I had been eating a reduced, healthy carb diet for about 4 years (whole grains), and a very low carb diet since December, but didn’t see much of a result until mid-February, when I started 24-hour fasting once a week. The weight came off without effort as soon as I started Intermittent Fasting – I lost about 20lbs in 8 weeks, even though in March I also increased the fat content of my diet to about 60 or 70%.
    I recently added potatoes and bananas back into my diet about once or twice a week to stop the weight loss, and now I fast once every other week or so, just to keep my metabolism on its toes.
    Whether it’s due to the complete exclusion of grains, the increase in fats (particularly real, rendered lard), the fasting – or, the combination of all three – I have noticed wonderful changes in addition to the loss of excess body fat, including: better sleep, fewer allergies, and a general boost in mood, motivation and energy. Plus, I have never enjoyed food so much!
    Hi Jessica–
    A reasonable suggestion, indeed, that may work for many people. Thanks.

  30. Dr. Mike,
    You said, “But a reduced caloric intake from a low-carb diet doesn’t seem to have the same metabolic-rate reducing effect that a reduction of calories from a reduced-calorie, low-fat diet. Probably because the body doesn’t go into starvation mode with the low-carb diet.”
    The Kimkins Survivors blog tells the stories of many women who did a reduced calorie, low-fat, low-carb diet. They seem to have gone into starvation mode and have not only damaged their health but have reduced their metabolic rate as a result. Is this an incorrect interpretation of the data?
    I agree. The Kimkins diet is/was a low-everything diet. Very low in both carbs and calories. One couldn’t help but lose in the early stages, but at what expense?

  31. thanks that post. Nice one Sister.
    Glad you enjoyed it. You’ve been requesting it for a while.

  32. Hi Michael,
    I just love all the wonderful information you have. I found it a bit daunting to translate at first, but now I’m getting it! It’s great to have such a scientist to detail all the ins and outs for us. I was wondering–I have been eating this way for two months. I’m satiated, not bingeing, slow-burning and exercising. But I’m not sure what ratio should be fat, and how much should be protein. I am 130 lbs, and 5’8. How do I figure out without guestimating. I am not overeating for the first time in my life, so it’s hard to figure out what to eat. As you talked about, I’m not so hedonistic, which is a miracle. But I would like to be as healthy as possible. Any suggestions?
    p.s. Thanks so much for all your wonderful research in exposing the diet misconceptions. Loved your article on the inept studies and bad reporting.
    Hi Caroline–
    Thanks for the kind words. I really appreciate it.
    If you’re doing fine, I wouldn’t worry about the ratios. Just eat plenty of good quality meat along with green and colorful vegetables and a few low-carb fruits, and you’ll do fine without ever calculating a ratio.

  33. I will not be original and let me thank you for a wonderful work you have been doing. I have been struggling with weight related issues for the most of my adult life. I am 36 years old, Russian- American guy . I have suffered paralysis from analysis on many occasions to only realize finally that low carb is the way to go. I have many degrees, including minor in nutritional studies. I am a product of Suny Downstate, graduated with a degree in DMI ( diagnostic medical imaging, fancy for ultrasound) and currently working as a night manager here on campus. Thanks to you I also discovered and talked to Dr Feinberg, what a jewel! I have tried almost every diet known to man, kind of a diet rat, and eventually started looking like one. I had tried everything and anything from Ornish, Zone, Atkins, Dr Bregg starvation miracle diet and so on. My question regarding this post is following: some people state that even though they tried to go on all meat diet they were still unsuccessful losing weight, does it matter if the meat product they chose were organic or not. I am curious to know if there were ever studies done on consuming organic grass fed meat vs hormonally, antibiotic and chemically induced meat? Can it be that all those hormones and GH in chickens, beef and so on contribute to difficulty loosing weight in most metabolically challenging people? Sorry for the spelling, I am operating on 3 days lack of sleep.
    Hi Vadim–
    I have read a study or two (one, of course, that I can’t put my hands on right now) that appear to show some benefit from eating organically- verses non-organically produced meat products. I don’t think it makes a huge difference, though. I think there is little doubt that the accumulation of pesticides in human adipose tissue makes weight loss much more difficult, and the continued addition of more by consuming non-organic meat can only make things worse. But, having said, that, I don’t think that is the major factor in preventing weight loss. I think the overconsumption of calories probably adds more than the pesticides.

  34. Isn’t it also possible that protein is going too high as a percentage of calories, creating an environment of gluconeogenesis, thus throwing your usual fat burning metabolism into whack. Shouldn’t the first step of this analysis be–check to make sure fat is making up 50%+ of your daily calories. If not, fix that, and if the problem persists, then reduce kcals?
    Also, to be clear, you’ve previously discussed the idea that low carbers can eat A LOT of calories and not gain weight, what you’ve referred to as being the real metabolic advantage. So I suppose your points here comport with that. Low carbers have the same caloric floor as others, but a much higher ceiling.
    Protein doesn’t drive gluconeogenesis – it’s only the substrate for the process. Gluconeogenesis is driven by a need for glucose, not an abundance of protein. I need to do a comprehensive post on this subject because I get this question all the time.
    People with type I diabetes can have gluconeogenesis driven by protein consumption because they have no insulin, which is the signal that there is plenty of blood sugar. The livers of those with diabetes constantly think there isn’t enough sugar and so constantly produce sugar from protein. It doesn’t work that way in the rest of us.
    And, yes, that’s a good way to put it about low-carbers and the metabolic advantage.

  35. hi dr. eades,
    that’s a great post…i’ve found that intermittent fasting (i do a twenty hour fast each weekday, a bit more lenient on weekends) has totally changed my low carb experience. while i’ve been successful doing tradional low carb, i never really got my overeating under control and never lost that last 20 pounds. one of the reasons i think diets are potentially dangerous is that they label some foods as “approved” and many people (myself included) take that to mean you can shovel them in and still lose. intermittent fasting has really shown me the supreme satisfaction of eating only when truly hungry. i was apprehensive that i would stuff myself silly during my eating window but it just never happened…in fact, i’m eating much less than before, have more energy than before and it broke my weight loss plateau after only 3 days.
    thank you sir, your blog always gets me thinking and is totally enjoyable to read.
    Hi Ida–
    I’m glad you enjoy the blog, and I’m delighted that the intermittent fast has worked so well for you.

  36. Great post Dr. Eades. I have a couple of questions.
    Where does the magic number of 50 carbs come from? Is that for the average person or is there something happening like everyone can have 2 carbs an hour and not slam the door shut? Are there individual differences based on exercise vs sedentary in the number you need to keep to to keep the fat cells open?
    Also what’s that scary looking cell in the middle of the fat cells?
    Hi Cecelia–
    Here is an old post that discusses the 50 gram limit:
    The ‘scary looking cell’ in the middle of the fat cells isn’t really a cell – it’s the cross section of a small artery coursing through the fat tissue. What you’re seeing is looking down the tube of the blood vessel.

  37. Dr. Eades,
    Thanks for starting the posts again. I was kind of starved while you were busy
    with your book.
    I am a newcomer to Protein power and started on low carb diet in March this year
    (based on your original protein power book). The weight loss is nice but
    not spectacular since I was only 10-13% overweight. I am a diabetic and
    PP diet worked like a charm to bring down my sugar levels. I have improved
    the diet after getting your second book (PPLP) for which I had to wait
    for 8 weeks after placing the order (I am in Bangalore, India) but it was worth it.
    Now my wife is also on PP diet and we are trying to convince others.
    Thanks for showing us a nice way of improving our health.
    I am a bit confused with carb restriction during intervention.
    PP says < 30gms/day.
    PPLP says < 40 gms/day.
    This post gives an impression that < 50gms/day is OK.
    Could you please enlighten me on this? Since we are ovolactovegetarians, 10-20gms/day
    of carb increase (from 30gms/day) would be a great boon. We are not very much
    overweight but as I said, I am a diabetic.
    Hi Subbu–
    Pretty much anything below 50 grams of carb is going to get you started. After that, it’s a matter of fiddling with it to find the carb restriction that works best for you. Same holds for sugar control. If your blood sugars are good on 10-20 g per day, give 30 g a try and see what happens. If your sugar goes crazy, drop back to 10-20 g. If it doesn’t, you can push the envelope a little and go out to 40 g. As long as you’re below 50 or so, you’re going to get plenty of benefit, but you have to fiddle with it a little to find the right level for you.
    Hope this helps.

  38. So, to beat a dead horse:
    Eat low carb = you CAN’T GAIN fat.
    Eat low carb ≠ you WILL LOSE fat.
    That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Well put. Maybe you should try for a Haiku.

  39. Dr. Mike,
    I am surprised that, to end a stubborn plateau, you recommend going on an all-meat diet for a week or two. John Yudkin has said:
    “Excess intake of nitrogen leads in a short space of time to hyperammonaemia, which is a build up of ammonia in the bloodstream. This is toxic to the brain. Many human cultures survive on a purely animal product diet, but only if it is high in fat. …A lean meat diet, on the other hand cannot be tolerated; it leads to nausea in as little as three days, symptoms of starvation and ketosis in a week to ten days, severe debilitation in twelve days and possibly death in just a few weeks.”
    Was John Yudkin wrong?
    Nope, I don’t think Yudkin was wrong. Neither was Vilhjalmur Stefansson, the explorer and advocate of an all-meat diet. Stefansson pointed out that when fatty game was scarce and the native populations turned to rabbits and other small game to survive, that they got rabbit fever, which was a disorder of too much protein in the absence of fat. Small animals have much less body fat than do large animals, so when rabbits and other small game provide the only food, the protein to fat ratio is too high. A steady diet of such can lead to problems.
    When I said an all-meat diet, I didn’t mean a diet of lean, lean meat; I meant a diet of steaks, chops, chicken (with skin), bacon, etc., all of which have plenty of fat so the above is not a problem.

  40. Dr. Eades,
    Thank you for your thoughtful reply to my comment and for your suggestion to try all meat for a while.
    Could you explain what the mechanism would be that would make this effective? Is it simply a way to make it easier to reduce total calories, or would something else be going on? If it’s the former, I’ll be skeptical, because I already did low calories without experiencing weight loss. However, if you have reason to believe this regimen will somehow pulls some trigger that tells the fat cells to let go of what they’ve got in storage, then I will eagerly try it and let you know what happens! I’m planning a June 2 start.
    (marly, above, said she did two months of all meat without weight loss; you assume, in your response to her, that she was eating too much. We won’t know if that’s the case unless she writes back.)
    I also wonder if you can fill in a few practical specifics, such as: Is there a total calorie goal to aim for? What about the fat/protein ratio? Rendered meat fat like tallow OK? By all meat, I assume you mean not even eggs or butter? How about noncaloric seasonings like salt, pepper, cumin and the rest? Processed meats like bacon and sausage OK, if their ingredients list is reasonably good? Noncaloric sweeteners? Any particular cuts or cooking methods to focus on?
    If you’ve described all this in another post (or a book chapter), please feel free to point me to it!
    By the way, I’m in my mid-40s and have enjoyed lifelong excellent health. My frame is very slender and my legs are a few inches longer than most women of my height, so although I’m 5’7″, my ideal weight would be that of someone a few inches shorter than me. At 125, I looked fine; now, at around 145, I have a chubby, chunky torso (and am slender everywhere else). I would say I accumulate fat in an atypical pattern. Hope that info is helpful.
    The more I work at this and communicate with others on the same path, the more I’m convinced that it’s really not calories, but metabolism. A metabolism that wants to cling to stored fat will do that, even when intake is reduced. A metabolism that doesn’t want to store fat won’t, even when intake is increased. I’m convinced that what I need is to coax my metabolism to behave a certain way. How to flip the switch — that, I believe, is the question. For me, and many others.
    Thanks so much for your time and for all you and MD do!
    Hi Vesna–
    When I put my patients on all-meat diets I have them start with chops, ground beef patties, steaks, chicken (with skin), etc. three times per day. I don’t really care what kind of meat it is as long as it has the fat with it, i.e., not stripped of all fat. (Eggs are okay for one meal because they’re nothing but fetal meat.) A little butter and season is fine. Most (most – not all) respond to this regimen with fairly quick weight loss. I tell them to continue. For those who start off losing, then stop, we need to start looking at calories. Most people do fine and self limit the amount of meat they can eat and so keep their overall calories in the weight-loss range. Others can consume enough meat to get the caloric count high enough to stall weight loss. Those people have to limit their meat intake to a level that allows them to lose.
    You’re right in that it is a metabolic response to caloric restriction that seems to reduce the metabolic rate of those losing weight on standard calorically-restricted diets. I don’t have any studies to prove it, but I feel pretty certain that people who restrict their calories by eating fat/protein foods to satiation, don’t suffer the same metabolic slowdown.

  41. Hi Dr. Eades,
    So let’s say I’m 280 lbs. I want to get down to 200 or less. According to an online calculator a sedentary 280 lb. person should eat about 3000 kcal to maintain that weight. A 200 lb. person would eat about 2200 kcal. Should I just eat the recommended daily calories for a 200 lb person? (All low carb/zero carb of course.) Or would this caloric deficit make my 280 lb. body think it’s in starvation mode? How low can I set my daily caloric intake without causing other problems?
    Hey Dave–
    If I were you, I wouldn’t worry about the calories as long as I were losing weight. Just follow a good quality low-carb diet and forget the calorie and see what happens. I suspect you will lose weight just fine. It’s only when you stop losing weight and want to continue to lose that the calories become an issue.

  42. I’m pretty much convinced that a high-fat diet is the way to go for health, and a high protein moderate-fat diet is the way to go for washboard abs. I tend to wobble between the two in priority. So no washboard abs.
    I was looking at a video of a seminar by Luigi Fontana on calorie restriction the other day.
    In the question period, someone mentioned that lower bmi did not correlate to longevity, and his answer was that in calorie restriction studies, the mice in a given genetic line that had the highest levels of bodyfat at a given level of calorie restriction tended to have the greatest longevity. I guess if that’s true, the survival advantage of being able to store fat easily could appear at rather low actual levels of storage. Maybe it’s more for surviving lean years rather than lean months? I thought this might be heartening for anyone who has to work a little harder to lose the final five or ten or more.
    It’s pretty easy to lean towards healthy vs washboard abs style eating when healthy includes thirty percent sourcream mixed with cocoa and a packet of splenda. It’s to live for.
    I wouldn’t put a whole lot of stock in what works or doesn’t work longevity-wise for mice because mice aren’t just little furry humans. In many respects they’re way different, and I don’t think that all that holds for them holds for us. I don’t think that a few extra pounds significantly affects our longevity as long as these pounds don’t come along with insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia and glucose intolerance.

  43. Great blog post. Good explaination, it really hits it out of the park in terms of clarity on the how the body consumes fat by source. BTW, in 3 months I have lost 90 pounds with 75 to go on a less than 20 g carb per day and 1200-1300 cals a day diet. (I am 6ft 7 to give some perspective) Only hungry when it is meal time and I do a moderate amount of cardio.
    This question that was touched on but not clearly addressed as far as I can tell was what happens in the case of excess calories that come only from protein. So for the sake of argument assume that carbs are being successfully limited to less than 30 g and fat is being consumed but that there is an excess of calories being caused by overconsuption of protein calories (if this is possible)
    Would the body turn the excess protein calories into fat as storage or would it dispose of protein calories that were not required. This, of course is an assumed scenario and may not be possible in real life, but I am trying to surface the ideas around type of calories, what your body does with them and how much calories matter (they clearly matter in carbs and fat do they matter in protein?)
    Great blog and wonderful articles. Thanks again.
    The scenario you describe would be possible in real life, but it would take some effort. There is a high thermogenic effect occasioned by protein consumption so you would burn up an extra load of calories just dealing with the protein. Since your only consuming 30 g of carb, you would convert a fair amount of dietary protein to blood sugar to make up the deficit between the 130 or grams you need and the 30 grams your providing in the diet. But if there is still protein left over after that used to convert to sugar and that used to repair and replace protein tissues, it could be burned for energy. But, due to the thermogenic effect of the protein, you would get way less bang for the buck than you would with fat. And ultimately you would run into the problem of rabbit fever as described in one of the previous comments.

  44. Hi Michael,
    Thanks for your reply to my post. I appreciate it!
    Quick question please — you said:
    “Protein can be burned for fuel, but usually isn’t as long as dietary fat or fat from the adipose tissue provides the fuel to meet the body’s energy needs”
    Does this mean that the body will tend to use muscle protein only as a “last resort”?
    If this is the case then I presume a person looking to build muscle mass but reduce body fat (such as myself) could keep dietary intake of protein high, carbs low, and reduce dietary fat as the variable for speed of fat loss. Am I correct here that this would still allow plenty of muscle growth but also reduce body fat stores?
    Many thanks!
    You are correct. If you keep carbs low, a part of the dietary protein will go to glucose conversion, but if you’re eating enough, you will certainly be able to build muscle and lose adipose tissue at the same time.

  45. I posted my comment last night but I dont see it today. I am a little puzzled.
    Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger; I’m way behind on dealing with the comments.

  46. Dr Eades wrote:
    “How were you able to cut protein and allow fat to go up?”
    Hi Dr Eades,
    The short answer is that I simply added more of those “pure fat” items you mentioned to my day.
    I will add more fat to veggies than “usual.” I absolutely LOVE pureed veggies (asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, you name it) and I find that pureeing them with nothing but butter is a very tasty way to get my veggies and my fats. I will eat a bigger (more carbs) serving of veggies if they are pureed than if they are left whole and topped with butter or roasted with olive oil, although roasting green beans is my favorite way to eat those. (They taste like french fries if you cook them right!)
    I’ve always preferred fattier meats over leaner ones–even before learned about LC. To add fat, I’ll cover the meat on my plate with the pan drippings from pan-fried or roasted meats. I’ll top my grilled meat with butter. I spread those “Revolution Rolls” with butter or dip them in seasoned olive oil.
    I make high fat LC desserts (like cheesecake, pumpkin bars and chocolate brownies) and top then with whipped heavy cream. One of my favorite desserts is an “iced coffee” made with 1/2 C of heavy cream and just a capful of DV syrup. I get a lot of “raised eyebrows” on forums for drinking/eating pure cream, but hey, I like it, and it works for me. There is something about pure cream that makes me feel calm and relaxed. There’s something about pure fat that makes feel that way–where a lot protein makes me crave sweets. Another favorite is chocolate whipped cream. I sometimes make chocolate candies out of coconut oil.
    Another answer is that when you decrease protein and add a little more fat to the meal, and keep the carbs very low, the percentage of calories coming from fat increases quite rapidly.
    I adopted this style of eating, which I regard as a “variation” of PPLP, after reading up on the Polish “Optimal Diet” and also reading things from GCBC about high fat diets producing weight loss and also remembering that moving in the direction of increasing fat and decreasing protein could break a stall.
    I eat only lunch and dinner (about a 6 hour eating window), I don’t tend to snack between meals and even though my overall volume of food has decreased, I’m much more satisfied than I ever was before. My “typical” daily caloric intake is 1500-1800. I find that my desire to binge, which after reading GCBC I now attribute mostly to the natural response to calorie-restriction, while eating 80% fat is greatly reduced. Instead of a binge, it’s more like a weekly “refeed,” if you will, where I’ll be hungry and eat a lot of protein that day, with no weight gain and no interruption in weight loss. Calories may go as high as 2500 or more that day. The next day my appetite is essentially nil, and the day after that, I naturally resume the lower protein, high-fat eating.
    I easily reached my goal and am now maintaining easily.
    My sweet tooth, which was ravenous on higher protein, is reduced to next to nothing. I do eat a LC dessert every evening, but I find that I’m using less and less stevia and splenda and am preferring less and less sweet tastes in my desserts. I love 85% cocoa chocolate and now and then I drink seltzer. I enjoy that dry taste it offers and the diet soda seems too sweet now.
    Anyway, I still don’t understand how it could possibly work, that simply shifting around the balance of protein and fat could stimulate weight loss without cutting calories? (I also realize that there is a chance the weight loss would have resumed anyway, had I stuck it out. And I can’t say with certainty that my body wasn’t still changing, even during that “stall.”)
    Thank you for your time and all you do to help us!
    And thank you for the interesting response.
    You’ve got to tell us how to roast the green beans so they’ll taste like French fries. Inquiring minds want to know.

  47. I have recently found that writing down (despite my deep resistance to it) every bite and tallying up carbs and protein worked in breaking my 3-month stall. I had carb creep and was not aware. I am extremely sensitive, it seems, and even a tiny bit over 30 g ECC per day puts me in maintenance mode. I found that I didn’t need to cut fat in order to move things…
    However, my biggest frustration with (myself on) this WOE is that despite promises that after a while of being vigilant I’ll lose my carb cravings I have never experienced this to be the case. I have intense cravings for the bad stuff and have to struggle to hold back and stay in control. Some days are easier than others, but it’s just a matter of time before my ignored, pent-up cravings explode during moments of weakness (and/or hormonal cycle troughs…) and I go ‘face down in the carbs’ as you call it, Dr. Mike. And then I feel physically and emotionally disgusted with myself. If I could solve *that*, I’d be SO happy…
    Thanks for all you do! And for this great blog!
    Hey Lula–
    I understand your frustration. Why don’t you give the approach Elle from the previous comments tried: cut protein back to the minimum for your weight and go up on the fat. It might make a difference. I would think it would be worth a try.
    Let me know if you try it out.

  48. I’m going off topic here but I seem to remember a few months back the hoopla generated over lap-band and bypass surgery having positive benefits for type II diabetics. In my news feed just yesterday came the post linked below. It’s about low-carb diets being good for type II diabetics.
    Any thoughts on whether this study will receive the same publicity as the lap-band and bypass study did?
    I think I know your answer in advance…just wanted to let you know that some positive press is coming out, slowly but surely.
    Hey Brian–
    I’m well aware of this study. I saw it in its prepublication form. I think it’s a terrific study, but, no, I don’t think it will garner the press coverage that the bypass study did.

  49. Hey Dr Mike. Does an all meat diet include chicken, pork and eggs or is it really all meat(beef)?
    Is ground beef ok or is a cut of steak better? Thanks in advance.
    Meat is all the above. Eggs are fetal meat. Both ground beef – as long as it’s ground with the fat – is okay as is steak.

  50. Hi.
    I tried reading through most of the posts. I am glad I found this. I have a question that hasn’t been answered clear enough since I started researching.
    Dr, first–what is your take on a woman in her 50s, overweight, in menopause, and can’t seem to get her weight down? Yes, it’s me. I went PP in 2000, stayed on in and merged into a low carb way of eating for at least 6 years. Started running 10ks, etc. Then, Menopause, stress, no time for exercise, and different eating habits slowly crept in. I tried to start low carb over again, but it seemed that it was going to take twice as long to get going. One month went by, and I didn’t lose a pound. Is this normal? I didn’t see it in your PP book I purchased in 1999 or 2000.
    I have no known illnesses, no diabetes. Do you have anything to help me in this? Besides my getting up and moving my body, how do I/do I start lowcarb again and take half year to see any differences?
    Thanks much .
    Hi DeltaD–
    The first thing I would do were you a patient of mine is check your hormone levels. Menopause plays havoc with weight loss and gain – don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t. You’ve got to get your hormones regulated first, then the weight loss should pick up. If your hormones are not what they ought to be, f
    ind a doc that will prescribe bioidentical hormones, not the Premarin/Provera crap. That would be the first step I would take. Another avenue to explore is thyroid hormone deficiency and low iodine levels. I’m planning a post on that soon as well.
    Good luck.

  51. Dr Eades you suggested Vesna try an all meat diet for 2 weeks. Does she have to keep track of the calories and I presume the meat should contain a good amount of fat.?
    Would this work if one was to just eat eggs for 2 weeks?
    I don’t see why it wouldn’t, but it would be a dull diet. A paper published a few years back (I wrote about it in Protein Power) described how an 88 yo man did nicely on nothing but two dozen eggs per day.
    Keep me posted.

  52. Dr. Mike,
    I have a question for you that probably pertains to diet. Under my left eye, there is always a little puffiness. Now, if you had to take a stab at this one, what do you think could be the cause. Too much or too little salt? Too little or too much water? I do drink alot of water. With that said, however, i drink alot of water in the form of cocoa. Perhaps that is constributing to my under-eye puffiness. I make an effort to consume lots of calcium, magnesium and potassium, though maybe i do not consume enough. Two additional points, the puffiness is on the same side as the way i rest my cheek when sleeping, that is, i sleep with my left-side of my face on the pillow. Also, i sometimes experience cramps and feelings of heavyness and tiredness in my legs, especially in the morning. Your thoughts on this matter are much appreciated.
    Since the problem is on one side only, I doubt seriously that it could be of nutritional origin. It sounds more positional to me, but I can’t really diagnose medical problems over the internet.

  53. Hi Dr Mike,
    I am glad we have you back. Looking at that same entry from 14. April 2008 for days on end was starting to break me! However I am looking foward to the new book.
    I have a question that I hope you can answer. Lorin Cordain asserts that exercise, diet (particularly dairy produce), and ageing increases the body’s acidity levels. In response, the kidney buffers this acidity with stored alkaline base – drawn from calcium salts in bones. An alternative to ridding the body of this acidity is through urine – by having muscles break down and release glutamine which produces a net-alkaline enhancing effect on body fluids.
    To this end, shouldn’t we limit dairy produce in our diet to maintain muscle mass and bone density?
    Thanks in anticipation,
    It’s not just dairy products (specifically, hard cheeses) that produce acid. Meats and grains do as well. These can be buffered by consuming green leafys and colorful vegetables and low-carb fruits, all of which are alkaline. Having written that, I’m not convinced of the certainty of the idea that these supposed acid-driving foods really harm the bones. The bones of Paleolithic man (and woman) had an 11 percent increase in cortical thickness compared to the bones of people of the same size from today. Paleolithic man consumed a diet high in meat with no grain and no dairy, and it certainly didn’t hurt his/her bones any. And if you’re still worried, take L-glutamine.

  54. Can a person get his body fat percentage much lower than normal (say, 8% for a man, 15% for a woman) using a very low carb diet, calorie restriction, and exercise, and then maintain that level using only the restricted carb diet?
    Like the previous poster, I have what is considered a healthy range of body fat percentage (according to Wikipedia, the most reliable source of scientific info!), but it seems like the abdominal/belly fat hangs on, even while I lose every ounce of fat that I didn’t think it was even possible I still had left on my (increasingly lean and muscular) arms, legs, and (okay, not so muscular) face. I’m 31, eat tons of protein on a very low-carb diet (as recommended by your excellent Protein Power); every week, I jog, kickbox, jump rope, weight train, and occasionally do Pilates — but it doesn’t seem to be enough.
    My basic question is, if I ever achieve a significantly lower body fat percentage by adding calorie restriction to my bag of tricks, would I eventually be able to add back the nuts, cheese, etc., or would my body likely interpret having the lower body fat percentage as starvation and the higher (though still normal) percentage as “comfortable,” and start putting on weight again? You say that your patients begin to lose weight again after they start looking at calories again, and imply that they maintain goal weight without too much problem even once they add some high fat, low carb items back. Have any of them gotten/kept their body fat percentages really low?
    Yes, a low body fat percentage (not too low, i.e., not an anorexic body fat percentage) can be maintained on a low-carb diet. I’m going to do a post very soon on why it’s difficult to gain on a low-carb diet once the ideal weight is obtained. You can eat a lot of the things you had to avoid to get to ideal back in and maintain your reduced weight. Stay tuned.

  55. I was just wondering these guys using the ketogenic diet for fat loss for bodybuilding shows like on they eat 75% fat 20% protein and 5%carbs but they report they get real cutup using this diet.Why dosn’t all that dietary fat get burned instead of body fat? that ones hard to figure out.
    Thanks Doc
    It’s not that hard. They have a large muscle mass and burn a lot of calories. They typically eat fewer calories than they need to meet their energy needs as competition nears and burn all the dietary fat plus their own fat.

  56. Dr. Eades,
    When you write about D-ribose, can you please include comments about CorvalenM. I take CorvalenM for fibromyalgia, and it ends up being fairly expensive. I wonder if there is another form of D-ribose that would work as well, but cost less. I already take additional magnesium.
    D-ribose is D-ribose. Just get it from a reputable source and you should be fine. I can’t see any real advantage to the CorvalenM above and beyond the D-ribose you can find at any health food store. Try one of the store brands and see if you can tell a difference.

  57. Dr Mike,
    My heartfelt thanks for this post. It’s only been a few days and the French brie in the fridge and the almonds and maccas remain untouched in the cupboard, and 1 1/2 kilos have gone already!
    What really amazes me is how I didn’t “get” it without your lucid explanation. All the info is actually in Atkins’ book, at least the edition I have, with talk about dietary fat consumption and warnings about cheese and nuts, but the dots were not really connected. You really nail it with your explanation.
    Now, if you REALLY want to indulge yourself while you scoff mounds of salt ‘n’ vinegar almonds, take yourself to that evil high cal Deutsche Grammophon Web Shop where they have ALL their opera sets on special for the next two months! Try and resist that temptation!
    Michael Richards
    Hey Michael–
    Good to hear from you. I’m glad the strategy worked for you. The good news is that once you get where you want to be, you can add the French brie, almonds and maccas back in without gaining. I’ll explain why in a post coming up…that is if I’m not distracted by my growing collection of DG recordings.

  58. Slightly off-topic…I just saw (and pre-ordered) your new book on I thought you might want to know it’s already there (without cover art) so that you can put a link on your site, if appropriate.
    ps. Glad you’re back, and thanks for the great info!
    Hey thanks for the heads up. I didn’t realize it until you pointed it out. They must work fast at Crown; they haven’t even had the manuscript for a week.

  59. Great post Dr. Mike. It’s good to have you back.
    I have a huge sensitivity to caffeine so I have to avoid most drinks other than water. I do find that I can’t sleep for many, many hours after drinking a non-caffeinated drink with Splenda. There shouldn’t be any recourse from doing so but it has a huge effect on me. The only conclusion that I can come to is that there is some other effect of Splenda (and some other low-carb sweeteners) that don’t affect most people as much as it affects me but that some change is, indeed, there.

  60. Dr. Eades – Cheers back at ya –
    Once I switched to cheese made from raw milk and to raw peanuts – I have no problem controlling these two foods – for a month and more now – not one binge day – most days 15 raw peanuts and 100 calories of raw milk cheese and it feels me up or satisfies me – Why ?
    However – I need to know why this occurs – what’s the science behind it ?
    I was eating as much 3 3/4 pounds cheese and whole big jars of roasted peanut about one day per week – not on purpose – I’d wake up at 4:00am in the morning and sort-of sleep walk to the cheese or roasted peanut butter eat non-stop until the jar was empty or the cheese gone – all 3 3/4 pounds of it –
    Very little weight gain eating low carb – but still problematic as too helping lose my last ten pounds
    What is it about raw milk cheese and raw peanuts that is different from their heat processed counterparts –
    Where’s the science behind this – ?
    Does this heat process effect some people more- than or not affect others as much ?
    It seems to affect both heat processed fats and heat processed sugars – but not pure proteins ?
    And abnormal hunger created purely from Heat Processing
    Maybe Gary Taubes should look at heat processed fats and sugars as being the reason America has gotten fatter ?
    Then again – being the village idiot it seems – who takes anything I write beyond the horizon of pure ridicule ?
    Hey Jeff–
    I don’t know the answer to your question. I don’t know if there are any papers on the subject, but I’ll see what – if anything – I can track down on my next trawl of the medical literature.
    I do know that if I were in your shoes, I would do just as you’ve been doing.
    Anyone else out there have any experience with this?

  61. Hello Dr. Eades,
    I’m one of those people who eats zero carbs, can eat all I want, and I’m not gaining or losing body fat. So, I’m intrigued with the idea of creating a calorie deficit for a while until I lose some body fat then going back to eating what I want — still zero or very low carb. My question is, what’s a good strategy for approaching the body fat loss? I’m 5’5″, 162 pounds, and I’ve been measured at slightly under 18% bodyfat using skin calipers. I work out at the gym and don’t eat cheese or nuts but I may be consuming too much butter, animal fat, or other calorie dense foods.
    Let’s say, for example, that 1600 calories will maintain my current weight given my current diet and activity level but that I’m consuming 2000 calories and therefore not burning fat. How might I approach fat loss? Should I go down to 1600 calories per day, add 350 calories a day of exercise to my life, and expect to lose a pound of fat in 10 days? Do I do this for a month and lose 3 pounds of fat? What permutation of calories, exercise, period of time do you recommend? I also want to preserve lean mass while I’m creating a calorie deficit. At what calorie deficit does my body start going into starvation and sabotage the fat burning?
    Hi Sol–
    These are all complex questions, the answers to which are primarily a function of your own metabolism.
    Were I you, I would do what I, myself, do when I gain a little weight and want to get it off. I do protein shakes two or three times per day and one meat meal. With the protein shakes I can control my caloric intake while continuing to get the required protein to maintain lean body mass and prevent a drop off in metabolic rate. Once I get my weight to where I want it, I go back to my regular way of eating, which allows me to maintain pretty well. The only reason I ever gain is that I go off the low-carb diet while traveling or during other occasions. The shakes and meat meal get me right back in the saddle.
    Hope this helps.

  62. LULA!
    If you happen to see this:
    My intense carb/sweet cravings do not even begin to diminish until I’m above 75% fat in my diet, and 80% is even better in terms of craving and hunger control. This in conjunction with keeping my protein at my PP recommended minimum (old Protein Power, that is, NOT the newer Life Plan minimums, which are higher). I have a journal at Low Carb Friends as “ElleH” if you want to reach me.
    I coat the green beans in olive oil, then toss liberally with salt/pepper/garlic & onion powder. Roast in a single layer at 400 or 450 until deep brown AND crispy. (Keep tasting one until the texture is right.) Dipped in Heinz One-Carb Ketchup, it really feels like I’m eating fries! More than once, this trick has “saved me” from a run to “Five Guys Burgers and Fries!”
    Dr Eades, is there any reason to suspect that 60 g of protein per day (my minimum from old Protein Power) isn’t enough for me? I’m 43, weigh 136 pounds, have about 100 pounds of LBM and am active in housework and chasing children, but no “formal exercise” at this time. My PPLP minimum is 81g. I will happily bump up to 81g a day if you think I might be losing muscle on 60 g per day. (~20 g total carbs and 150+ grams of fat per day–around 1700 to 1800 calories).
    Based on your comment above about the BodyBuilders, I realize that I was able to keep losing weight on high fat obviously b/c I’m still below my calorie-threshold for losing weight.What I dont’ understand is why I STOPPED losing on the same calories, with more protein and less fat. Maybe my body is REALLY efficient at using protein for fuel and therefore blocks fat-burning? That’s what I’ve always assumed!
    You said in a comment once that muscle loss is spared when carbs are very high. Is muscle loss somehow also spared when fat is high? I can understand why muscle loss would be spared in a high carb diet, b/c the body can make the glucose right from the carbs. Can the body make enough glucose from fat if the fat is high enough that it won’t access muscle protein?
    I know this is a lot of questions! You don’t have to answer…I’m just thinking out loud.
    Hi Elle–
    Thanks for the recipe for the green bean ‘French fries.’ They sound delicious.
    Given your size, you probably need about 150 g of glucose per day. If you replace, say, 70 g of glucose with ketones, your requirement falls to 80 g per day. You’re proving 20 g from your diet, leaving a deficiency of about 60 g. You’ll get a little from the glycerol that is released as fatty acids are peeled off the triglyceride backbone and burned – maybe 15 – 20 g. The rest you get from protein. Since each gram of protein converts to about 0.75 g carb, your 60 g protein produce 45 g, which fills the gap. These figures are all a guestimate (I, too, am kind of thinking out loud), so you would do well to measure your lean body mass from time to time to make sure you’re not losing muscle mass.
    Hope this helps.

  63. Good post and a question I get many times too. I have seen many people plateau and that is when additional activity levels come into play. It’s important to remember that people will the best physiques are usually quite active (whether it be sports athletes, people doing regular resistance exercise, or just a daily acitve lifestyle for work/play). Dieting alone will not get people down to what they see in magazines (low BF and rippling muscles), but smart eating and exercise will certainly get you there 100% of the time. Hence the importance of strength training for a strong metabolism too.

  64. Dr. Eades,
    You mentioned that that you will be writing about ribose in the near future and I happened to come across an article about recovering from exercise in the New York Times –
    I have a question about a passage from that article which states as follows:
    “Drinking or eating carbohydrates immediately after a strenuous workout, at a level of at least one gram per kilogram of body weight, is therefore essential to restoring the glycogen you’ve burned.”
    If one wants to burn fat, should one consume protein only instead of both carbs and protein (as the article mentions that protein should also be consumed to help recover – in addition the best recovery food, er should I say drinks is chocolate milk)?
    Thanks again,
    Hi Jeff–
    It is true that there is a period of extreme insulin sensitivity immediately after intense exercise, with emphasis on the word ‘intense.’ If you wanted to have some carbs, this would be the time to do it without much consequence. But I certainly wouldn’t go a gram per kg of body weight.
    I’ve found that 15 – 20 g of D-ribose works pretty well for me to prevent soreness. And I always include protein afterward.

  65. Hi Dr. Mike,
    Thanks for clearing up my confusion about protein.
    Based on what Susan J. mentioned about PubMed study and black tea causing insulin rise, what would be our best option here, if the main goal is efficiency and optimum health and we don’t feel the “need” for caffeine. I know you mentioned that it is lypolytic, but do advantages outweigh disadvantages?
    Is it optimal then to avoid it, drink only green tea, or coffee. I also have read that caffein causes problems with magnesium, calcium etc. This issue has me in a quagmire. Thanks for putting your brain on loan every time you answer these questions,
    p.s. When you say multi-colored vegetables, does that mean carrots? I’ve been avoiding them like the plague, and pretty much eat dark green.
    For me the best option is a decaf Americano. I hate decaf coffee, but Cafe Americano has such a great taste and is always hot and fresh, so that, to me, it’s much, much better than decaf coffee. If you don’t know what an Americano is, watch yours truly show you how to make it:
    Corn is yellow, therefore colored, but I don’t consider it a colorful vegetable. Carrots are a little carby, but can be eaten in moderation. I mean squash, tomatoes, bell peppers, and other low-carb, non-starchy vegetables.

  66. Re: Jeff Johnson’s experience with peanuts
    Hi. Dr. Eades, you asked if anyone else had an experience with this. I threw out my peanut butter (I LOVED IT) after I heard the segment by Dr. Matt Kaufman on Jimmy Moore’s show. I think it was you, Dr. Mike, who mentioned that peanuts are a legume and the body can mistake it as protein and (I know I’m not remembering the whole process) inflammation, allergy, etc. can show up.
    Further, Dr. Kaufman mentioned peanuts being one of the prime instigators in yeast growth which leads to candida, sugar cravings etc. (His show was on the hazards of fungus, and how that affects your health-the antidote was a low carb diet, b/c yeast do not like it. They like sugar.) Anyway, I thought about my good old peanut butter (TWO jars of it–always an interesting indicator of a food that is “addictive” when you need multiples at once!) and how after I ate it, I would notice the following morning that my tongue was very coated.
    I would love for anyone to tell me I’m wrong. That peanut butter was like crack for me. (That’s why caffeine isn’t a big one). But I do not eat it anymore, and instead switched to almond butter, which is more mild in its effects.
    I’m not sure why it is, but it definitely seems like a trigger food to me. And the only suggestion I could come up with is that peanut butter is known to be “moldy.” Hope that helps.
    Although almonds are nuts and not legumes as are peanuts, almonds and almond butter still contain a ton of calories. So, be careful with them if you find you’re not losing excess weight.

  67. I think Atkins gave good advice by limiting cheese at 3-4 ounces a day. That equals like a quart of milk. I also think that cream cheese or pure sour cream (ex: Daisy) would be harder to over eat than cheddar and stuff like that. I never eat more than a few ounces of cheese a day, and try to get some raw cheese as well. Unsalted cheese would be best, but it’s hard to get unless you live in California. Most people couldn’t eat a lot of unsalted cheese.
    As for nuts, I would limit those even more than cheese, like 1-2 ounces a day. Most nuts have very high levels of PUFAs (esp omega-6 fats). People wouldn’t crave nuts if they ate more meat and they would probably be better off in the PUFA department. Most meat is lower in PUFAs than most nuts. Macadamias are extremely low in PUFAs, but they’re about 76% fat by weight. So, they will definitely add calories to the diet quickly.
    With nuts, as with cheese, I think that salt is a problem that could make people overeat. It is best, IMO, to get unsalted nuts or rinse them before eating. Raw nuts are the best. Then dry roasted. Oil roasted nuts should generally be avoided, due to the high-PUFA oils they use for roasting the nuts (like sunflower, peanut, and cottonseed). It’s harder to overeat macadamia nuts when they are unsalted or you rinse the salt off of them.

  68. An open letter to my friend Mike Eades-
    Thank you for what is got to be the clearest explanation ever written of the interconnection among low carb, calories and fat (weight) loss. I’ve been saying this for years from the lecture podium, and it is good to have you put it in writing in such a concise, easy to understand way. Unfortunately, many in the low-carb community didn’t get the memo that calories are not completely unrestricted even when carb count is low. As I’ve often said, the message that calories aren’t the whole picture (and they’re certainly not) does not mean that they don’t matter at all.
    Great job as always!
    Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS
    Hey thanks, Jonny–
    I appreciate the kind words.

  69. You said: “Eggs are fetal meat”
    Okay, I’m never eating eggs again….
    Can I add to the ‘try intermittent fasting’ chorus if you want to break a stall. It’s like the ‘golden shot’ phenomenon when you first start low-carbing and also makes you realize what true hunger really is as opposed to habitual eating. Best thing I ever did was add IF to my LC WOL.
    I’ll echo Elle’s comments as well on the fat issue – I’m never satisfied unless I’ve eaten a heap of it and will often stand over a roasting pan scraping the fatty bits off the bottom and eating them (much to my husband’s amusement).
    Thanks for the suggestion. And don’t avoid eggs just because of me.

  70. I think you have to be careful how this post will be interpreted. If you are saying calories count and that they need to be restricted for further weight loss, then this leads to diets and their terrible track record. Continuously restricting calories leads to a slowing of the metabolism, a slowing of weight loss, etc.
    Reading through the other comments, you can see that restricting calories once or twice a week, as through intermittent fasting, works well for many people. This is much different from restricting calories on a daily basis which can lead to long-term trouble.
    I agree with you, and I plan a few more posts to clarify the issue. I didn’t want to put it all in one giant post.
    The IF idea is a good one that a number of people have echoed.

  71. Have you noticed if low-carbing with a reduction in calories has any positive effect on uterine fibroids? I am mid-40s and have fibroids that seem to be getting slightly larger despite my slim frame. I do eat red meat daily but it is organic and grassfed. Other women I know also have fibroids and they do not eat anywhere near the amount I do yet they still have fibroids. I also eat fish almost daily — tuna, sardines, salmon, shrimp. I only eat chicken, turkey or duck infrequently because nothing satiates and tastes as good to me as bloody rare meat. I really like my meat very rare. Also, does your new book happen to cover anything about fibroids.
    Hi Annie–
    No, the new book doesn’t cover fibroids. And I’ve never given the idea of diet and fibroids much thought. I will keep my ear to the ground, though, and see if I can pick anything up.

  72. (I think I’m a day late on commenting on this post…)
    Okay, Dr. Eades: you’re on! I will give up my nut-and-cheese habit – at least for a few months – and let you know the outcome. I’ve been stalled, but had chalked it up to lack of sleep and exercise that comes along with having an almost-13-month-old daughter and a wife coming toward the end of the first trimester with baby #2. Perhaps it had more to do with my only (and I do mean *only*) indulgences: nuts and cheese.
    I’ll let you know how things look in a few months.
    Oh, and I found a wordpress plugin that you might be interested in:
    Ajax Edit Comments
    Hi Chip–
    Keep me posted on your progress.
    And thanks for the plugin. I’ll take a look.

  73. Hey Dr. Eades,
    Glad to see you back blogging and sharing your wisdom with us. I have low carbing since the first of the year and my weight loss stalled at about 35 lbs. Since I love cheese sticks and nuts, I have a feeling that the answer to my stall is probably nuts and cheese. I am going to seriously restrict the nuts and cheese and see if that kick starts my weight loss.
    My question is about my blood sugar. I am taking 500mg Metformin in the morning and 1000mg at night and my fasting blood sugar usually runs from the 120’s to the 130’s. It has been pretty consistent with my weight being consistent. I watch my carbs pretty closely and keep them under 40g per day. Do you think restricting the cheese and nuts and restarting my weight loss will help get my blood sugar down to where I want it, or should I look at something else? I am 5’10 and 285 lbs, so I have a lot of weight to lose.
    I am absolutely sold on the low carb lifestyle. I feel so much better since I have been low carbing that it is truly amazing and I have a ton more energy. The funny thing is that I don’t even miss the bread, and I was a big bread eater. Thanks again doc, your books have changed my life, and I can’t wait for the new one to come out.
    Hi Bryan–
    I can’t say for sure, but I would bet that your blood sugars will improve markedly as your weight comes down. At least that’s been my experience with many, many patients. Keep me posted.

  74. Hi,
    Is there a way by not eating enough that you can gain weight? Or is it a case that your metabolism will completely shut down? I am asking this a I went slightly anorexic through last summer and was only eating when I could barely function and exercising hard everyday for a few hours, however, I didn’t seem to lose much fat, or if I did I would put it straight back on. I was wondering if you could explain this calorie deficit weight gain symptom as I have battled with weight loss/gain ever since despite eating LC and always trying to eat when I am physically hungry, not for other reasons.
    On low-calorie diets your metabolism will definitely drop. And the bad news is that the metabolic rate stays lower even after you start eating more. The phenomenon is called adaptive thermogenesis. I plan a post on this subject in the near future.

  75. Dear Dr. Mike-
    Welcome back and congratulations on the new book. Am largely a lurker who loves your work. Very difficult to find respectable stuff and am greatly relieved you’ve returned to blogging. Life is much richer again now with good stuff to read.
    I have questions about the timing of all the hormonal and metabolic activity involved, specifically meal timing in relation to exercise: Would there be any weight-loss advantage to exercising in a fasted state – like first thing in the morning before breakfast or 4-5 hours or more after the previous meal – while eating low-carb? Or does the body regulate fat storage based more on a longer-term “judgment” about whether dietary fat/protein is sufficient to meet its energy needs?
    It seems to me from what I’ve learned from you that if the body burns adipose tissue when dietary intake is insufficient, that it would be advantageous to exercise after fasting because the body would be drawing on the reserves for fuel during the exercise. And then, eating in a low carb way, your fat reserves couldn’t get replenished when you did eat later on because of your low insulin levels.
    Perhaps any advantage would also depend upon the duration of the exercise? That in a fasted state it would be more advantageous to involve steady-state cardio or aerobic intervals because the body would be drawing down the fat reserves during the exercise itself more so than in the case of resistance training or anaerobic intervals, which I understand to induce more post-exercise metabolic activity (and should be done to preserve lean body mass in any event.) However, if I have understood correctly, to replenish the muscle glycogen from dietary protein during longer bouts of exercise it seems that one would be required to have eaten not so long beforehand.
    What to do? I feel like I’m missing something.
    I apologize if you’ve already addressed this elsewhere or if the answers should be obvious.
    In my opinion (and bear in mind that I’ve arrived at this opinion by thinking about it a lot more than I have actually reading about it) I believe it’s best to exercise in the fasted condition then to follow up with food within a half hour or so after. During and after intense exercise (and I’m not talking a brisk walk here, but serious resistance exercise) the insulin sensitivity increases markedly so that the nutrients will be driven into the muscle cells.
    The exercise doesn’t so much burn fat as it increases lean body mass and increases insulin sensitivity, which makes it more difficult to store fat and therefor easier to lose.
    Hope this helps.

  76. Hi, Mike —
    If I’m consuming only 20 g of carbs per day, then protein is converted to glucose to provide the 120 g/day required by glucose-dependent cells. Got it.
    But … does this mean I should consume more protein than I need strictly for tissue maintenance? — i.e., if it takes 140 g protein/day to support my lean mass, do I need an additional 100 g protein or so to be used for glucogenesis?
    If so, but I don’t eat the extra protein, what happens? Where does the body get the protein for glucogenesis?
    Congrats on wrapping up the book project. I missed your posts.
    Hey Tom–
    The figures usually given for tissue maintenance include those used to convert to sugar. As you continue on with a low-carb diet your body gets ever more successful at managing on less sugar. Some of the fat you eat (about 10-15 percent) provides glucose as well. When the three fatty acids are hewn from the glycerol backbone, the glycerol is freed up to make sugar. I wouldn’t worry about going way up on the protein unless I discovered that I was losing lean body mass.
    It is indeed good to have the book (at least this phase of it) behind me.

  77. Dr. Mike,
    I would like to thank you for this very informative post. Reading it along with the great comments has prodded me to get serious with a low-carb eating plan.
    I have a question for you. If I start out cutting my carbs very strictly (to nearly zero), then will I gain weight very quickly if I add even a small amount of carbs back into my diet?
    I realize that I can’t just go carb-crazy, but I read so much on various low-carb forums that if you restrict carbs too much, then when you add any at all back into your daily diet, you will immediately pile the pounds back on. This has been a concern of mine, but I find that if I don’t restrict carbs to nearly zero, I have a heck of a time with cravings.
    What is your take on this?
    Carol Ann
    I don’t think you have to cut carbs to zero if you don’t want to. Just a good quality, whole-food low carb diet should do the trick. If you find you’re not losing, look first at the carbs because they tend to creep back up after a few weeks on the diet. If the carbs are still where they’re supposed to be, look at the cheese, nuts and other high-caloric-density foods that are low-carb and cut back on them until weight loss picks back up.

  78. When it comes to calories I have heard that its not about burning every single calorie that you eat off, because your body needs some calories to maintain its daily functions. How can you ensure you keep an adequate calorie deficit to burn fat without burning off every calorie you eat?
    You burn calories to provide the energy you need for your body to maintain its daily functions. That’s why you eat. The problem arises when you consume more calories than needed to burn for your bodies daily needs. When that happens, the excess calories aren’t burned off (with an exception I’ll talk about in a post coming in a day or two) they are stored as fat.

  79. Dr Mike,
    Great post and great comments. I lost 130 lbs and 20 inches on my waist with low-carb, and hit my goal in February. It took a year and a half and I did indeed find that the best way to break a stall was to cut out cheese and nuts, worked every time. ( I also do plenty of exercise including Fred Hahn’s recommendations).
    A month ago I decided that after all that work I still had a little too much of a roll on the stomach so have buckled down and cut out cheese and nuts and have lost another 3 pounds. It is excruciatingly slow when you don’t have much weight to lose. I plan to continue for 5 more weeks and hope to tackle another 5 lbs. After that I’m going to test your hypothesis that I can eat lots of cheese and nuts and not gain fat, as long as I stay very low carb. I’ll let you know how that goes.
    About that photo of human adipose tissue at the top. I’m very curious about what that tissue looks like in someone like me who has lost a lot of weight. After having so much belly fat in the past, can I every actually have 6 pack abs, or are there a whole lot of fat cells still there partially filled with fluid?
    (Also a side note for those that can’t give up cheese, I get sliced Jarlsberg Lite which is delicious. A 3/4 ounce slice has 2.5g fat, 0g carbs, 7g protein so much less fat than most cheese)
    Hey Steve–
    Congrats on your success.
    As far as what the fat cells would look like after a loss, it depends somewhat on whether you were overweight as a kid or whether you gained your weight as an adult. Most kids increase their weight by adding more normal sized fat cells whereas adults gain their weight by increasing the size of the fat cells they already have. That’s why it’s easier to lose if you’ve gained as an adult than if you’ve been overweight since childhood. If you were overweight as a child you are trying to reduce the size of the fat cells to smaller than normal; if you gained in adulthood you are returning the cells to normal size. The latter is easier to do.
    Thanks for the recommendation for Jarlsberg Lite.

  80. Dr. Mike,
    As another menopausal woman desperate for weight loss answers, please, please consider sharing your book secrets early.
    This reminds me of a poignant bumper sticker I saw one day that said: “I’m out of estrogen and I have a gun.” Almost as good as the “Question Authority” bumper sticker.
    I’ll share them as soon as the publisher let’s me.
    Don’t shoot ’til then.

  81. hi dr. eades and jeff,
    i’m not a big cheese eater (a shaving or two of reggiano parmigiano is good enough for me) but i did notice a marked change in my consumption of nuts when i stopped eating roasted and switched to raw. i just attributed it to the fact that the flavors in raw nuts are so much better and so much more satisfying that i didn’t have the need to shovel them in…but maybe something else is at play?

  82. Hi Dr. Eades,
    I find it nice to hear about something I’ve experimented with myself just 9 short days ago. I initially gave up dairy as a suggestion by my dermatologist of all people as a reason for my acne (he was very happy and supportive of my gluten/low carb lifestyle). Not only am I completely pimple free 9 days later but the scale has started moving again. Is it the allergy causing me to stall around the 20lbs to go mark? I highly doubt it – I truly think that I relied too much on cheese (and nuts) as a go to food and with as much fat/calories that they contain, my body didn’t need to burn anything. This makes perfect sense to me. I also find I am eating a lot more vegetables and selecting better fruits and no longer feel like I won’t be satiated if I don’t have cheese. Thanks for your blogging – I really learn something new everyday.
    I’m glad to hear you’re losing again. Keep it up.

  83. Dear Dr Eades
    I just wanted to tell you how much this artical meant to me I have fallen off the low carb wagon (gained thirty pounds back) because I hit a stall .Now I have renewed faith that I can reach my goal ,I think I have found the problem .
    thanks sherry
    Good luck. Keep me posted.

  84. Creme fraiche is a great source of fat, it also tastes like plain yogurt only much richer.
    I can certainly vouch for the taste.

  85. Dr. Mike,
    Thanks for responding to my second comment. I love your blog and recently started using the PP forum, too. It sure is fun living here in the future!
    1. No one has mentioned fish — shell or fin — on this page yet. I assume they count as meat, too, for the purposes of this discussion, yes? (a la Stefansson’s usage.) With the caveat of making sure there’s enough fat in the diet, of course. I wouldn’t want to get shrimp fever. 😉
    2. I read you as saying that it all comes down to total calories, and creating a negative energy balance. That some people need to create more extreme conditions than others to establish that negative balance. (For instance, because their bodies adjust to the lowered carb intake and lowered calorie intake so that it’s more difficult to establish a difference between E in and E out.) Would you agree?
    3. I’m still not sure if I understand exactly why you predict that eating only meat, along with an egg a day and a little butter, would produce a different result in me than eating meat, 3-4 eggs/day, cream cheese, sour cream, butter, olive oil w vinegar and lettuce, cukes, sprouts and other salad vegetables. What is the difference between those two regimens that would trigger weight loss?
    The non-dressing components of the daily salad contributed about 5g of carbs and therefore 20 calories. Could that possibly interfere with weight loss or stimulate insulin production? It seems so tiny. How could lettuce be that powerful? What is the advantage of cutting out salad?
    As I said in my first comment, I was taking in a total of about 1200 cal/day most days. (75% fat, 15g carb) Do you think my calorie total would be lower than that if I followed your suggestion? How much lower? Is less than 1200 cal/day even safe?
    Thanks again!
    Yes, fish is meat.
    I agree that it comes down to E in verses E out. But I don’t believe that all diets influence these numbers the same. I think a low-carb diet keeps the E out higher than a low-fat diet with the same E in.
    Eating all meat eliminates many carbs that have an adverse impact on weight loss. It’s easy when adding cukes, tomatoes, sprouts, etc. to allow the carbs to creep. I’ve had that experience myself and I know many others have as well. As Boswell wrote about Samuel Johnson and his drinking: “He could practice abstinence, but not temperance.” I think the same goes for a lot of us.
    I don’t know how many calories you would reduce to – if any – on an all-meat diet, but I do know from experience that such a change usually breaks a stall in weight loss. But, YMMV.

  86. Thanks Dr. Eades! The all fatty meat suggestion and reading the old blog helped me drop a pound over night! I thought I had been being very good but I hadn’t been seeing much scale movement. We’ve been having gargantuan salads every night with cheese, tomatoes, red peppers, & pistachios and meat for dinner. I was blaming my stall on the saltiness of the meat and water retention. But along with the salads I’ve been snacking on cheese ad lib and having cream or when not available half and half in my coffee sometimes 3x a day. OK for maintaining but not so fine for losing…
    Yesterday I went back to diet coke with nothing in it in lieu of the coffee, axed all but one very small cheese treat (which I took with my calcium supplement so it wouldn’t bother my stomach) and skipped the salad completely. Mentally it seemed a bit spartan (2 sausage patties for breakfast, a big scoop of chicken salad with mayo and celery in it for lunch and 2 pieces of beef tenderloin and the 3/4 ounce of cheddar before bed). But every time I ate I was instantly full. The salads have become an indulgent habit not a way to fill up-and frankly its hard to go to a restaurant and procure nothing but meat! But that’s the new plan at least until I get back down to my former low.
    You are awesome!!!
    Hey Cece–
    Glad you’ve had such immediate and gratifying success. I’ve seen the same thing happen many times. The difficulty is in getting people to try it. Thanks for the report.

  87. Hi Dr. Eades,
    Once we have completed our one to two week meat only diet, how do you recommend we reintroduce carbohydrates? (i.e. in 5 gram increments per day/every other day until we reach our desired daily carbohydrate intake).
    Thank you.
    Hey David–
    I would reintroduce them along the lines you suggested, but probably wouldn’t cut it as closely as 5 g per day. I would introduce a vegetable at one meal for a few days to see what happens. Then another (or a low-carb fruit) at another meal. Work up in reasonable increments, watching weight on a daily basis. If your weight starts to creep up, back off on the carbs.
    Hope this helps.

  88. To Jeff Johnson: Raw nuts contain enzyme inhibitors, so that might be why you spontaneously eat less. As for cheese, there are opioid peptides in dairy products (esp milk and cheese) that can cause addictive behavior. Maybe pasteurization makes you more sensitive to these. I don’t have any strong craving for cheese. I buy grass-fed raw cheese when it’s available, but they’ve been sold out of it for several weeks. It’s cheaper than other raw cheese and I feel it’s a little healthier. I don’t think peanuts are very healthy. They have about as much PUFAs as canola oil (roughly 32%), and often contain the carcinogenic aflatoxin mold as well.
    To Sol Lederman: I think Jeff Johnson’s post brings up an important point. Raw foods are less fattening than cooked, IMO. This is most obvious with carbohydrate foods, of course, but it also seems to apply for animal foods. I lost weight by switching to raw meat, eggs, and dairy, even while increasing my intake of carbs. The carbs were unheated honey and fresh juices, fruit and vegetable. I ate little or no fiber, no nuts, etc. On a zero-carb diet, fiber obviously isn’t the problem, so you should look at cooking and additives. Many meats (esp chicken and pork and turkey) contain additives. They will say “moist and tender” or “tender and juicty”. It will usually “enhanced with solution” too. I would avoid all those.
    Also think about the PUFAs. Those were a problem in my experience. I was using raw flaxseed oil (Barlean’s) at less than a tablespoon a day. I found it suppressed my immune system so that I got sick easily and stayed sick for over a month until I stopped taking the flax oil. Then I was immediately better. PUFAs are immune-suppressive, esp omega-3. You don’t need a lot of the omega-3 fats (fish, flax) if you minimize your consumption of the omega-6 fats (nuts and seeds, most vegetable oils, turkey skin, chicken skin, and other foods).

  89. Hi Dr Eades! I finally was able to catch on my sleep. This is my third time being on a low carb diet and this time i am definitely sticking with it. I have tried all possible alternatives and it seems like low carb works like a charm. The only diet that comes close to low carb lifestyle is the old favorite of mine and it was pretty much a simple one: Eat as much as you want of whatever you want as long as you do it naked in front of the mirror! But low carb is still the king. i have a question for you; what kind of protein shake have you been using and what you mix it up with? I usually mix half a can of Atkins advantage with On whey protein and a bit of buttermilk( I am Russian and love buttermilk, thanks God I dont mix it with vodka, lol) and it tastes nice and creamy. How do you make yours? sometimes I even put a bit of instant cofee, just for an extra kick before exercise.
    I checked with MD who makes the shakes for me. She says she uses a variety of methods. She uses a number of different protein powders (all of which contain few, if any carbs), 1-3 scoops depending on the powder, 2 ounces of heavy cream, 4 ounces of water, a cup of ice, and no-calorie flavoring extracts. That’s her basic shake that she varies to suite her taste. I just go along for the ride.

  90. Hi Michael,
    Thanks again — I’m learning so much here from you.
    In one of the comments you talked about how insulin-sensitivity goes up markedly after serious resistance-training. I’ve read many people say that it’s really useful for glycogen refuel after weight-training, to consume a lot of carbohydrates — but ONLY after weight-training. Do you agree with this? I ask because I do a lot of exercise (heavy-weights plus 2-3 hours or cardio a day)… I don’t want to sacrifice muscle for fat loss (athletic performance and muscle mass are very important to me)… and I’m feeling just a little more fatigued after one week on a low-carb diet.
    Thanks so much,
    I wouldn’t recommend “a lot of carbohydrates,” but if you want to take some, after intense exercise is the time. You will feel a little fatigued for a week or so on a low-carb diet because you are going through the accommodation process wherein your body is busy producing all the enzymes necessary for performing optimally on fewer carbs and more fat.
    You can try a couple of teaspoons of D-ribose after working out as well. It helps me a lot.

  91. Hi again Michael,
    I apologize… I’ve just seen that you’ve answered my question on another comment.
    Just a quick question — is there much penalty for using an intense weight-training session as an excuse to enjoy more carbs than you talked about (you said you wouldn’t go 1g per kg of body weight)? I would love to enjoy a piece of cake and some chocolate once in a while. Are those permanently out of the equation now? 🙂
    Thanks so much,
    Nothing is permanently out of the equation from time to time. A lot of things – including cake – are out as a daily staple if you plan to do well with a low-carb diet. And you can find some pretty good chocolate out there that isn’t all that carby.

  92. Steve G asked, “can I ever actually have 6 pack abs?”
    Steve, you already have six pack abs; we all do. The problem is we tend to deposit a thick belt of “fluff” over them. 🙂
    Hi Anna–
    Good to hear from you.
    Very true. A good point.

  93. This is all so depressing. Are we all doomed to count calories forever? I think most of us were drawn to LC for the very reason it was suggested that we could eat to satiety. However it seems like we have to go hungry and be deprived to lose the weight.
    Yes an all meat diet might work well but how boring is it? I loved being able to eat veggies with a bit of cream sauce and my salads with dressing and add some cheese to recipes. I don’t eat much nuts but it was nice to snack on them sometimes. Now it seems even that is not possible.
    I understand one can’t lose weight if one is eating to stuffed as one is obviously overiding the body’s natural satiety signals but what about eating to satiety? I eat 2400 calories daily to remain satiated. However according to all these charts I need to eat 2000 to lose?
    It also seems to me that there appears to be a different mechanism for losing as opposed to gaining weight. If I keep my carbs low I can eat whatever calories I wish to and I remain a stable weight. Many others report this. However you suggest that weight loss is goverened by calories. So why is weight maintenance not goverened by it?
    Can the body not regulate calories naturally on a low carb diet?
    Why is this?
    Don’t despair. All your questions will be answered in the next post, which will be out in a day or two.

  94. Dr. Mike,
    In all of this discussion, nobody has mentioned how we determine what our goal weight should be. How do we know when we’ve reached it? How do we know when we’ve lost too much and are straying into the territory of anorexia?
    As a rule of thumb I like to use 15 percent body fat for men and 20 percent for women. Diet until you reach these body fat percentages, and you will be at goal weight. In most of our books (Protein Power, for sure) we show how to determine body fat percentage.

  95. Thank you for your quick answer regarding my protein intake. I’ve decided to straight-away go to 80 grams per day, well, just because I think that sounds great! (But it begs the question, why wasn’t the old PP calculation providing enough protein? Were you guys “wrong” back then?) I’m at a point where I no longer need to lose weight and can eat more protein anyway! YUM!
    I see you said 10-15% of the fat I *eat* gets converted to glucose. What about my body fat? Is that contributing to the gluconeogenesis as well? (I did read “somewhere” that the body is only capable of making about 15 mg of glucose a day from body fat. Is that true?)
    All fat converts, but only if you burn it. So if your burning all your dietary fat for energy along with some body fat to make up the deficit, you’ll get a little glucose from the body fat. How much depends upon how much you burn.

  96. Dr. Mike,
    Talking abut low carb and calories, I was wondering what is your take on low-carb diets – like the one that’s being proposed by your friend Tim Ferris – where people practice the diet during the week, followed by high-carb re-feeding during the weekend?
    Does this work, and if yes, what is the science behind it? Tims says he lost a lot of weight, fast, on such a diet. Thanks.
    I think the diet probably works for Tim Ferris, who is a 30-year-old, muscular male. Almost anything will work for him. If he were a 55-year-old, overweight, menopausal female, I wouldn’t hold out as much hope.

  97. An attack of heart failure (smothering “breathlessness, with echo cardiogram showing decreased pumping ability) sent me to The Protein Power books fast, and only a week was required to end the breathlessness. Cheers!!!! Having a huge struggle with the elevated blood pressure, tho. Decided to drop eggs and beef (sob) for a week to see if that will help.
    Am I on the right track???
    Why are you dropping the eggs and beef?

  98. Oh, my, I must trouble you YET AGAIN.
    At this protein calculating site:
    when I give 20 g as my carb intake (more than 3 weeks, normal activity) it gives me the 80 g, same as PPLP.
    However, when I bump the carbs up to 50 g (weight is holding!!!), it drops my protein need to 50 g!!!
    What the heck???
    ***Do we “need” less protein as we increase carbs?*** <>
    You actually do need less protein as you increase carbs. Why? Because the carbs spare the protein. In other words, eating an extra 30 grams of carbs means that less protein will have to be broken down to convert to blood sugar. But I would eat more than the minimum this site tells you to eat. Why? Because if you are off by a little and don’t have enough dietary protein, you will break down muscle in order to maintain blood sugar. A little too much protein is better than too little.

  99. Hello Dr. Eades,
    Thank you for your informative blogs, I really appreciate it. To lose body fat in the absolute fastest rate while on a low carb diet does it make sense at some point to cut dietary fat out as much as possible? I have been in lipolysis (according to ketone counts) and have been diligently exercising with weights but I seem to have stalled in fat loss. I measure this not by scale but by skin fold measurements. My routine consists of a low carb diet (eating about 4 times, meats, cheese etc.) until about 5 pm and then I stop eating food altogether. This is when I engage in about 1 hour of resistance training.
    Am I correct in thinking that I can reduce the fat (cheese, mayo etc.) therefore reduce calories further, stay in lipolysis and really ‘super charge’ fat loss? Will this high protein be converted to glucose and sabotage my efforts? Do low carb diets need fat as I have come to understand after you have been in lipolysis for some time?
    Thanks for your consideration,
    Hi Jim–
    I would say that if you cut the cheese and any other really high-caloric-density low-carb foods that your fat loss should pick up. Give it a try and see. Don’t worry about the protein converting to glucose – it only does that if you need blood sugar. Just because protein intake is higher doesn’t mean that that protein is driven to be converted to sugar. The body converts what it needs.

  100. Dr. Mike how long have you been following a low carb lifestyle and what or who inspired you to change your traditional way of eating? what about your lovely wife? have you both seen the light when you were really, really young, not that you are not young now! thanks, i am just a nosy persona, thats all, hope its not tooo personal
    It’s not too personal, but the story has been told in our books and is too long to put up in the answer to a comment. The short version is that I became overweight about 25 years ago, fiddled with different diets without much success, went on a low-carb diet of my own making, lost a lot of weight, started trying to figure out the physiology of why, started treating patients, refined the diet, wrote a book about it, and the rest, as they say, is history. Both MD and I have been low-carbing for at least 25 years now.

  101. The folks over at Jimmy Moore’s various sites are having a discussion about whether the last 20 pounds are hard to take off because of hypoglycemia.
    Dr. Keith Berkowitz has told Jimmy that long-term low carbing can lead to reactive hypoglycemia. Have you seen this in your practice? In all my years in the low-carb community, this is the first I’ve heard about low carbing causing reactive hypoglycemia.
    To counteract the hypoglycemia, Dr. Berkowitz recommends eating 5-6 small meals throughout the day. While that would counteract the sudden surge of insulin following a large meal, wouldn’t it also keep blood insulin at a persistently elevated level throughout the day? If carbohydrates were avoided, the blood insulin would probably be relatively low, but it seems possible that this would eventually lead to some degree of insulin resistance. Could you please share your thoughts on this? Thanks in advance!
    I’m not sure that I believe that long-term low-carbing leads to reactive hypoglycemia. At least it’s nothing I’ve ever seen. Both MD and I (along with many patients that we’ve followed for years) have followed pretty rigid low-carb diets for the long term without experiencing reactive hypoglycemia. I know that’s anecdotal, but that’s all I have to go on since I haven’t seen any papers on this issue. Plus I can’t figure out how physiologically this could happen since one of the changes on long-term low-carbing is an increase in glucose intolerance, which is why it is always recommended that people go off of low-carb diets several days before taking a glucose tolerance test. A large meal of protein and fat shouldn’t trigger an increase in blood sugar and shouldn’t provoke an insulin response that isn’t countered by glucagon, which will make enough sugar to counter the insulin effect.

  102. I tried MD’s recipe for the protein shake (with 2 scoops of whey protein, 1-2 g net carb per scoop), but I got pretty hungry 4 hours later. The next day, I added an egg to breakfast and a tbsp. of flaxseed oil to the shake, but was still hungry after 4 hours. Is it supposed to last longer than 4 hours? I’m just shy of 4’11”, so I feel like I shouldn’t need more than this per shake-centric meal, but I generally need to go for 6.5-7 hours between eating due to (sadly non-negotiable) scheduling.
    MD says to add a couple of ounces of heavy cream to the shake. That should do the trick.

  103. Doctor, this is by far the most informative site I have ever come across. I’ve hit a plateau and it has made me so furious, that I switched from my 3 meal, meat and vegetable courses, to the following:
    wake up, brew a pot of caffinated coffee, drink the entire pot (yeah I know), I do an hour or advanced Tae-bo, followed by 40 minutes of hip hop abs, then I eat coconut oil chocolate bark and maybe nibble on some cabbage.
    I’m near the end of my first week at this absurd diet, but it’s working. Oh, I forgot to mention, the coconut chocolate bark consists of coconut oil, coco powder, saccharin, erythritol, spirulina powder (for nutients), and any extract I desire. Can you tell me how healthy or unhealthy this is and what is the longest my body can handle this without any serious repercussions? So far my worst side effect is heart burn, probably from the coffee, and insomnia if I eat the chocolate bark too late.
    I can tell you that your diet wouldn’t be my choice. It probably won’t cause any harm in the short run, but I don’t think you should stay on it long. Go back to your whole food low-carb diet and just watch the calories.

  104. I forgot to mention, I grind up some golden flax meal and put that in my coconut chocolate bark as well, for fiber.

  105. The last comment about flax meal reminded me of a question I’d been meaning to ask.
    A few years back when I was 63 and hadn’t yet gotten into low carb, I read that consuming flax meal could help prevent breast cancer. So I bought some flax seeds, ground them up, and added the meal to my bran muffin recipe. IIRC, I ended up consuming 1-2T of (baked) flax meal a day for about 2 weeks. Not long after I started, I began to have horrible hot flashes, worse than during menopause. The sweat would just pour off my face. I finally realized that it must be the flax meal. After a while off the flax meal, the hot flashes stopped and never returned.
    So, do you know whether flax meal can bind estrogen? If so, I’d think that it might make weight loss harder for older women.

  106. I have been diagnosed with diabetes type 2 and chronic kidney disease stage 3. suppose to limit my intake of protein to 40 to 60 grams per day. Is it possible to also do low carb, and restrrict proteins at same time ? Low carb works for me, so I have devised meals that cut down on the protein , use half portions of meat, etc, and add extra salad, or vegetables.
    Yes, it is possible. Meticulously controlling blood sugar, which is much easier to do on a low-carb diet can actually improve kidney function. Most of the kidney disease from diabetes comes from sugar damage anyway. Even people with kidney disease still need an adequate amount of protein, so don’t cut too drastically. And always work with your nephrologist.

  107. Is this ratio right for optimal weight loss?
    I am 39, female,172 lbs,5’3″
    Carbs-38g/minus 17g fiber=21 net carbs
    Most of that protein comes from a whey protein shake and chicken. Some cheese and sausage for breakfast. I feel I am overdoing the fat? Help- it came off so much easier 10 years ago. Thirty pounds! Yeah, I know I AM 10 years older…AND a mom this time…and I don’t get AS much physical activity…but besides that? Lol. I still love the program, even if I am creeping! I just want to get it right like I did last time-
    – Thanks, Liz
    I can’t see how you wouldn’t lose weight on this regimen. As far as I’m concerned, it could contain even a little more fat.
    Good luck.

  108. [Quote=Dr. Eades]
    You burn calories to provide the energy you need for your body to maintain its daily functions. That’s why you eat. The problem arises when you consume more calories than needed to burn for your bodies daily needs. When that happens, the excess calories aren’t burned off . . . they are stored as fat.]
    Dr. Eades, while I greatlly respect the work you and your wife have done in this arena, I must respectfully disagree with your conclusion – though I can understand the logic of how you arrived at that hypothesis.
    One of the problems with it, is that if calories scientifically matter for weight loss, they matter for all people, and all diets. I believe Gary Taubes has, in GCBC, successfully shown that they do not. I believe the abject failure of all “low calorie” diets (using the “you need to burn more than you take in” adage) has shown they do not. The recent Israeli study proves they do not. And deeper logic shows that if calories don’t matter when an obese person consumes a low carb diet at the beginning of his or her weight loss, it cannot matter toward the end of it. Either a calorie is a calorie is a calorie – or it is not.
    However, it is clear that *something* different is occurring when people who have otherwise successfully lost a lot of weight on a “high fat/low carb and damn the calorie count” diet come to a screeching halt when they’re only 10 to 15 pounds from goal. Especially when there are so many of them — and yet, crucially — not ALL. That is, some people continue to lose without changing a thing in their diets until they reach their goal. Why for them and not others?
    This is a problem I have thought about a lot, and not just because it has affected me personally. It is a biological and medical mystery, and I’m a woman who doesn’t like mysteries. I like facts.
    And so, after some time, I have come up with my own hypothesis that I believe will explain this phenomenon. And it has nothing to do with calories, cheese, or nuts. But first, my own case.
    I was slim as a child and through my early adulthood. I wore a size 8 dress to my prom, and had a 20-inch waist. I only gained 20 pounds during pregnancy at age 38, and lost the weight quickly afterward. But in my fifties, a very bad arthritic hip severely limited my mobility. My calorie intake naturally dropped, as my body was accustomed to eating to its needs. I grew fat. Obese. Morbidly obese. At 5′ 5″ tall, I eventually weighed 225 pounds.
    With hip surgery looming, and not wanting to die on the table from complications, I knew I had to do something. Since I could no longer walk (no treadmill for me), I joined a gym that had a pool, figuring I could at least move in the water. When they weighed my body fat, it was an astounding 52%! It’s amazing I didn’t keel over. They also gave me software into which I was to record every mouthful I ate for two weeks. I got a digital scale, and did exactly that, though I told them I didn’t think I ate very much. They snickered politely.
    The print-out revealed the problem: I was eating between 1000 and 1200 calories daily, whose composition I was so very proud of: 70% “complex” carbs, mostly whole grains, 15% fat (wasn’t I very good!), and 15% protein. In other words, I had been in starvation mode for *years*. My metabolism was moribund, if not dead. My skin was haggard. I had rough, bumpy skin, especially around the elbows. I looked old. But Dean Ornish would have been proud of me – assuming he didn’t check my body fat count.
    They said I had to immediately up my calorie count by 350-400 calories a day if I wanted to lose weight. This seemed counter-intuitive, but I did it. And began to lose. This intrigued my curiosity. I wanted to learn more about my body, which I’d obviously been abusing without realizing it. Although Atkins didn’t quite have *all* the science down (I’m sorry he didn’t live to see his vindication, especially through Taubes), it was the only nutritional advice that made sense to me. Everyone else said ‘it’s the calories and fat!’ — and clearly I knew from personal experience that it was not, and could not, be true.
    That was three years ago. Two years ago I had the new hip-resurfacing surgery and was given my life back. Right after surgery I weighed 170. A year later I weighed 160 – and that’s where I am today – despite being vastly more active and exercising regularly. In other words, despite not eating any more than I normally do (an average of 1400 – 1500 calories, of which 70% is fat, 20% is protein and 10% TOTAL carb — or 5% NET carb), despite many more calories out than in —- I have not been able to lose that last 10 – 15 pounds.
    But – and this is a big but – my BODY FAT has continued to disappear. Six months ago I was a size 14. I am now a size 12. I’ve even lost half a shoe size. I can see my body being re-sculpted before my eyes. But why? And more importantly – how?
    A small news item a few months ago caught my eye. It was a study about body fat cells that contradicted medical convention: not only do fat cells die (at a rate of about 10% per year) – they are replaced by the same exact number of cells. But not only that! It turns out that when fat cells are stretched to the brink by adipose fat storage (carbs = insulin = fat storage) — the actual fat cell numbers INCREASE.
    Think about the implications of this. I was born with a set number of fat cells. Every year 10% died off, and were replaced the PRECISE number of cells. I weighed about 125 pounds for years and years and everything was happily stable. BUT – when I gained nearly 100 pounds more – my fat cell NUMBERS increased. And we now know that as we eat a low carb diet and fat is released from the cells, the body often replaces the missing volume with water. Just in case the human inside the body decides to stop being crazy and eat ‘normally’ again. Eventually that water is released, but no one knows for sure why, when or how to make that happen.
    Here’s what I haven’t said yet: my body fat is now 23.5%. But according to every chart for my height and weight, it *should* be 26.4. I *should* be a size 14, but I’m not.
    My hypothesis is that because I have *more* fat cells than a woman who never became obese, a woman my exact height, bone density and body fat percentage will actually weigh less than me. Ten to fifteen pounds less, in fact. How could she NOT?
    But the corollary to my hypothesis is that once my body has replaced a great deal more of my body fat with lean muscle (eating just the way I eat without change), will ultimately produce a loss of those excess pounds. That will probably take another year or two, though I maintain that due to my excess fat cells, I will never be able to weigh, ounce for ounce, what a woman who has remained slim/non-obese will weigh, all other things being equal.
    The problem with high fat/low carb hypotheses – yours, mine and everyone’s – is that nothing has been tested. Medical researchers are so terrified of being sued if they put participants on high fat diets for several years, that the work that needs to be done, isn’t. So we are forced to rely on anecdote and deduction. That’s great for philosophy, but science demands better.
    You can, however, begin to check out this hypothesis for yourself. You have patients who have never had to ‘cut calories’ or go on an ‘all-meat’ diet to reach their goal. You have patients who have had to change course to reach goal. Go back through their records and begin to collate the data based on when they became obese, and how obese they were. I’m going to predict that a pattern will begin to emerge, showing that those with *excess* fat cells are the ones whose bodies stopped losing weight when they neared their weight loss goals – that is, when they tried to reach their pre-obese levels.
    If I am right, the implications are that the only thing these patients need to do to lose weight again is . . . wait. Yes, I know we’re used to having everything instantly these days, and waiting what could be up to 3 years to finally reach goal after coming so close so quickly is difficult. But the advantages are many, not least of which is long-term stability, which our bodies love, and the increasing muscle mass. Not to mention being able to keep on eating the way we have come to love, calories, cheese, nuts and all. 🙂
    It may take me another two years to prove my theory, at least unless research catches up with me, but I believe I will get there.
    Best wishes to all,

  109. I am wondering if caloric restriction itself is what increases lifespan or is it simply that we inadvertently consume less carbs throughout our life while cutting overall calories.
    I am wondering for those that don’t want to be super skinny, yet live as long as possible. In order to maintain a muscular weight, I find I need to consume around 4000Kcals a day. I have done this with as low as 30 grams of carbs a day, which I think has helped me maintain such a low BF.
    I think that there are fewer carbs consumed during caloric restriction. And I do think that this carb restriction contributes to the longevity.

  110. Dear Dr Mike,
    Re-read this post. I am at the opposite end of the spectrum – trying to gain weight. I am on a Low Carb diet since June 08, 115 lbs (up from 108 lbs) and am not gaining any more weight
    for the past 2 months.
    I am a Type II Diabetic, Male, 38 years and on a 2300 calories/day. I am a vegetarian for religious reasons.
    My question is –
    1. For gaining weight – should FAT caloric intake be increased?
    2. If more FAT needs to be consumed for increasing weight leaving increased FAT being stored in the body rather than being burned, would it not hurt the body in the long run?
    The best way to gain good weight is to eat plenty of protein (especially with some added l-leucine), fat and carbs and do resistance training.
    If you just increase fat intake and keep carbs low, nothing much will happen weight wise.

  111. Dr. Mike –
    You wrote: “The best way to gain good weight is to eat plenty of protein (especially with some added l-leucine), fat and carbs and do resistance training. If you just increase fat intake and keep carbs low, nothing much will happen weight wise.”
    You never responded to my August post (though you said on another thread that you thought my hypothesis was interesting, and you wanted to think about it before you replied) – but I have another puzzler for you that may make you rethink the reply you gave to Venkat above.
    As you’ll note above, I lost a lot of weight and with low carb have kept it off. And though my weight loss stopped 10-15 pounds before my goal, I’ve continued to lose body fat.
    But a puzzling thing has happened between that post and now. Shortly after writing it, I read The Slow Burn Revolution, which you and Mary co-authored. FANTASTIC BOOK! I had done ‘regular’ weight training before, but this technique seemed like a great idea. So I started it, and loved it.
    I kept my calories, and fat/protein/low carb composition the same as it has been for the last several years – about 1500-1700 calories a day, 75% from fat, 20% from protein, and about 5% net carbs. Now comes the puzzle:
    Within a few weeks of starting Slow Burn, I gained several pounds. Now, nearly 3 months later, I’ve gained 10 full pounds. I’ve also packed on a fair bit of muscle for a post-menopausal woman – but not ten pounds worth, surely. You can visibly see delt and pec definition, and some of the guys at the gym have started calling my biceps ‘guns’. :)) And yes, although I haven’t lost even half an inch from my waist, I’ve continued to lose body fat from other places, like thighs, tush, and around my knees and elbows. My knees, which used to be *well* padded, are now bony and muscular.
    Still, the weight gain is freaking me out. There, I said it. FREAKING ME OUT. I can literally step on my tanika monitor two days after a workout (and after eating maybe 1500 calories a day for that time) – only to see a gain of a pound and a half! How the heck is this happening? I mean, in order to gain that much weight, wouldn’t I have to be eating thousands of calories a day more?
    Worse: Everyone who ‘testified’ in the book talked about how many inches and pounds they’d lost after just 2 weeks of Slow Burn! [My guess on that, btw, is that those people were eating a ‘normal’ high carb diet and lost that weight after 2 weeks on the low carb diet you recommend in the book. I hope you’ll say that’s right, because otherwise, I’m totally mystified]
    So, what on earth is happening to my body? How have I gained so much weight after eating so little and after keeping it all off so long? And how long is this gain going to continue? Again, it only started 2 weeks after starting Slow Burn and I’ve changed *nothing* but that in my life. Is there anything I can/should do to reverse the gain? If so, what?
    I sincerely hope you will reply to this post.
    Hi Ellen–
    The only thing I can think of to account for you gain is that you are trading fat for muscle. And maybe you are increasing your bone density some as well, which will add a little weight. It’s really the only possible answer, assuming your scale is working correctly and we’ve got the right numbers to go on. Muscle is much more dense than fat and weighs a lot more for the same overall size. If your seeing definition that you hadn’t seed before, you are obviously losing fat. And if you’re gaining weight and getting smaller in places ( thighs, tush, and knees) while staying about the same in the waist, then you have to be gaining muscle. You can gain muscle weight without gaining much muscle size by replacing the fat inside the muscle with muscle, making your muscles more dense and less marbled – which will increase weight while keeping size the same or a little smaller.
    I suppose that you can quit Slow Burn and let everything return to what it was before, but that seems kind of drastic to me. Why do you even worry about weight if your size is the same or smaller and you’re developing definition? As I always tell my own patients, what do you care if you weight 300 lbs as long as you wear a size 4?

  112. Doc,
    Just read this post and part II. I am guilty as charged! In my own experience I have been successful on LC initally going from 163 to 143 then gaining 12 pounds back by high fatting (i.e. eating more calories). I stopped *high fatting* and got down to 149.6 eating 1200 or less per day which I have been told is too low. It came to a screeching halt when I returned to my old “munching” habits. Eating when not hungry because I love food. I am a fairly good cook and enjoy making new LC recipes but I wind up eating a lot more and shot back up 160 right after Thanksgiving. Instead of reigning in my caloric intake I decided to eat higher carb which made me physically ill so I quickly came back to LC and now weigh 154.8.
    So you are right, Doc, calories do matter so no peanut butter till I get to goal which is 20# away!
    Thanks for directing me to this post.
    Glad I could be of help.

  113. Dr. Eades,
    I am a 28 yo male new radiology resident and have found myself getting overweight sitting in the dark all day! I started my low carb diet and I find myself eating only 1100 kcals per day but satiated. This cannot be healthy (I am 5’9” 193 lbs). I am following a split weight lifting program and interval training most days when I am not on call. Do I need to increase my calorie intake? If so, in what form?
    Thank you.
    If you are burning calories from stored fat, you shouldn’t need any extra as long as you’re satiated. If you’re eating low-carb, I would assume you’re getting plenty of good quality protein in your 1100 kcal, so I don’t see a problem. As you near your optimal weight, I think hunger will kick in a little more and your caloric intake will go up some. Until then, I would worry about it.

  114. Dear Dr Eades,
    I am 53, only 5′ and 290 pounds. I have type 2 diabetes. I have a lapband (unfilled) so I am able to swallow anything. (i do not want to have it filled again as i had bad experiences ) I have gallstones which have not bothered me. I have a kidney stone which has not bothered me. I take synthroid. I take peroxatine. I take 2 metformin per day . I take one crestor for high cholesterol
    Yesterday I started a NO CARB no sugar diet. (hi protein, fat) Please may I ask a few questions?
    Can one eat unlimited amounts of meat or fish per day?
    How much salad greens is one allowed per day?
    Is there a limit to the amount of veggies one may have per day?
    Does the fat HAVE to be oliveoil or the “good fats” or can one eat ANY type of fat?
    Is there a limit to the fat one has in a day?
    Is a totally NO carb diet safe or should one have a few carbs (or will those few carbs be int he veggies or salads?)
    Will my cholesterol become normal…is there a chance i could go OFF the crestor tablets?
    My doctor said i have mild retinopathy so he said I have blood vessel damage – so if that has damaged my kidneys will this diet be harmful to my kidneys at all?
    I was taking glyburide – 1 a day and when i started this diet yesterday my sugar went so I shall not take the glyburide today.
    Is there a limit to how much whipped cream one can have per day?
    thank you so much
    I look forward to your reply
    For medico-legal reasons, I can’t really answer a long list of personal diet questions in the comments section of a blog. Hope you understand.

  115. Hi Dr. Mike, I read this blog, and it was interesting… About two years ago I decided I was going to lose weight, which I did. 110 lbs now. I got to the point where everyone was like wow man you look good. SO I became comfortable with myself, and yeah, back to eating regular foods. I was a hefty 346 lbs the day I started this journey… I’m roughly 234 now. I’ve found through all my weightloss times, the fastest have obviously been low carbs. A majority of my weightloss though, came from eating a “Chicken Ceasar Wrap” once a day, at noon. I was steadily losing 3 lbs a day. But I noticed my energy was terrible. I felt dead 24/7. What was the cause of this? Blood sugar? Anyway, a little tip for others. Several times I went on a pork rind diet.. 3 Bags a day, spread out. I was losing rediculous amounts of weight. Anyway I guess the question I was getting to.. I workout, and I was wondering, does creatine even make it to the muscle without carbs? Also, when I initially start low carb diets my arms, seem to shrink and never come back to size, obviously glycogen stores, but what does the body put in place of glycogen after one becomes adapted to the diet?
    Pictures of my weight loss
    It puts glycogen back. The body makes it easily once one is low-carb adapted.

  116. You refer to eggs as fetal meat. Blah!
    I may never think of an egg the same way again… 😉
    I will try to ask my question so that it makes sense. When you are on a low carb diet and lets say you go off of it for a day (Oh how I love those chocolate/carmel/pecan.. millionaire candies) does that just ‘mess the diet/weight loss’ up for that day or does it take a couple of days to get back on track because of the sugar that was introduced into your body? I’m referring to the way your body chemistry reacts to the sugar/carbs and wondering if a one day mess up can mean the difference in whether you lose weight for that week..
    I hope that made sense.
    You can usually get back on track in a day or so. A big day of screwing up usually doesn’t cause a week’s worth of damage, but it does seem to make it tougher to get back on track. If you’ve got the self discipline to jump back on the low-carb horse the next day, you should be okay.

  117. Hi Dr. Mike – one more post-menopausal woman in her early 50’s stuck on a plateau. I’ve lost approximately 60 lbs and have faithfully followed a low carb paleo diet for the past year. Triglycerides are at 50. I am 5’10”, 245 lbs. I’ve had half my thyroid removed and have taken Synthyroid .175mg for the past 5 years. My TSH levels are normal, but my morning body temperature is between 97 – 97.4. My doctor does not believe I have any additional thyroid issues. I keep my carb count at 50 or under, calorie count at approx. 1500 – 1700 daily. I perform moderate weight and resistance training along with swimming for exercise. My weight loss has stalled for the past 6 months. I’m willing to try the all meat diet for a week and/or reduce fat in my diet. How many fat grams would be considered too high to lose weight? I’m currently consuming approx. 90 – 100 per day. Any other recommendations to help get things moving? Thanks so much for your post and assistance!
    Were you my patient I would probably switch you to Armour thyroid – it works much better for weight loss (and a lot of other problems) than Synthroid. And I might start substituting a protein shake for a meal to get things moving. Watch out for cheese, nuts, and nut butters – the saboteurs of many low-carb diets. Finally, I would get your hormonal situation (female hormones) sorted out and use natural hormone therapy if needed. Also vitamin D and maybe check iodine status.

  118. I know I am very late to this game, but I started doing PP about 4 weeks ago, not to lose weight but to get my fasting blood sugar down (hovers in the low 100s). I’m definitely under 30g of carbs. I lost a few pounds initially, unintentionally, while still trying to stay on my usual calorie regimen. However, I bought into the idea that, if I didn’t need to lose weight, I could eat whatever I wanted and have been eating a lot of nuts and some cheese. I find meat repulsive, and though I’ve been trying to eat the meats I can tolerate, it just makes me miserable. I have gained several pounds in the last couple weeks (have been also doing Slow Burn, but my body composition scale doesn’t show any particular increase in muscle mass) and do indeed feel I’ve regained the extra bit of flab I was happy to have accidentally lost. I don’t feel or look like I’ve put on much muscle mass and my pants are tighter.
    So, I’ve read through all the comments on this and most the other posts and haven’t seen this addressed: Assuming my fasting glucose levels speak to some level of hyperinsulinemia, could my still elevated insulin levels be causing me to store fat, despite being extremely low carb?
    Thanks – really, really appreciate your books, your blog, your responding to comments – everything.
    Cheese and nuts are weight loss killers. Try laying off of them and see what happens. Also, you could try substituting a protein shake for one of your meals to get the weight loss moving again.
    Here is the recipe for the one MD makes for us most mornings.
    6 oz water
    1 oz cream or coconut milk
    a scoop or two of low-carb protein power (enough to give you at least 30 gm protein)
    flavoring as desired (MD uses sugar free syrups)
    a cup of ice cubes
    Whir it all up in a blender and have at it.

  119. I’m positive I posted this before, but I don’t see it. Maybe I’m just too late to this discussion, but I’ll try again:
    I’m 45, female, and had achieved my more or less target weight (~120) over the years by following a strictly calories-in-calories-out approach ((calculated target weight * 10) + 400 for killing myself w/exercise = allowed calories). Then I found my fasting glucose was edging toward 100, started self-testing and getting readings consistently above 100, did the research, started going progressively low carb, read your book and Slow Burn and went to 30g/carb per day. I didn’t really need to lose weight but lost a few pounds (adhering to my caloric limitations) which was fine with me. After coming to believe the idea that, with carbs low, I could eat more calories w/o gaining, I started eating more nuts/nut butters (careful of carbs, using a lot of macadamia/brazil nuts). I traded in my aerobic/interval training for Slow Burn and less interval training. Have since gained 5 pounds and my Omron body comp scale does not suggest that I’ve gained much in the form of muscle. Moreover, subjectively, I feel like I’ve gained back belly fat and my pants fit more tightly.
    So, the question is: During all of this time, my fasting glucose has not budged. So, is it perhaps possible that I am hyperinsulinemic and that high levels of baseline insulin, despite limiting carbs, is causing fat storage? I was expecting my glucose levels to go down (have been taking Alpha Lipoic Acid, cinammon, magnesium, chromium). Also, what do you think of the supposed “Insulin Index” – based on that, a lot of low/no-carb foods are still causing insulin release. I’m at a loss.

  120. Dr. Eades – I see now that my comment is awaiting moderation, which explains why I thought I saw my last post before and how it seemed to have disappeared – assume it’s just pending your review and I know you’re busy. Sorry for the duplicate post.

  121. Hi Dr Eades, I just love your stuff and always look forward to a post from you in my inbox! I have been overweight since the age of 6. When I was about 21 I saw a story on the news on low carbing, I went out and bought a book and started low carbing immediatly and got down to 170 pounds (from 240), but just couldn’t do it any more because of my distaste for my food options. I kept it off for a couple years by still keeping the carbs under 100 g/day but long story short, I ended up at 260 pounds 2 years ago, no thanks to Taco Bell and Hagen Daz. I’ve since then gotten back down to 175 pounds again following a “somewhat” lower carb diet but get stuck at this weight, even with daily exercise (Power 90 to be exact, plus walking and biking). I was just wondering if you have any food suggestions for me because I want to follow a more stricter, low-carb diet for health benefits and faster weight loss, however in all honesty I hate the taste of eggs, I don’t like cheese (other than melted on food), and I really don’t like meat too well either and hate salads. I’ve lost my almost 90 pounds by following the book The Warrior Diet (it appealed to me because of not having to eat meat and eggs during the day and it is still somewhat low carb), eating usually nothing for breakfast or one clemintime, morning snack a stoneyfield yogurt, lunch is celery and carrots with hummus and a fruit, after work a couple prunes, and then for supper I make a lot of low carb stews like beef and cabbage, and when I need a snack I have an apple with natural peanut butter. I completely love this way of eating and am happy with it, however I’ve been stuck at 175 pounds since January of this year, with 34 inch waist (5’4″ woman, soon to be 31 years old), so I’m VERY unhappy about that. I’ve thought maybe I’m not eating enough (protein of course), but like I said, I have a hard time getting down a full piece of meat and/or eggs. I can get down the eggs on a piece of buttered toast but feel I shouldn’t be eating wheat. I’m not expecting that you can offer much help because of my pickiness, but in any case, you’re an amazing person and I love reading you books and website. I have your next book on pre-order. Cheers!!!
    Why don’t you try substituting a protein shake for your typical breakfast? It could take the place of both breakfast (which you often don’t eat) and your snack. It will give you plenty of good quality protein and fat, keeping you from being hungry throughout the rest of the day.
    Here is the recipe for the shakes MD makes us just about every morning.
    6 oz water
    1 oz cream or coconut milk
    a scoop or two of low-carb protein power (enough to give you at least 30 gm protein)
    flavoring as desired (MD uses sugar free syrups)
    a cup of ice cubes
    Whir it all up in a blender and have at it.

  122. On Art DeVany’s site I read about the effect that muscle tends to look smaller when one starts on a low carb diet. The main reason for this seems to be that you burn the fat that is in the muscle. Most bodybuilders have inflated muscles. Have you seen Arnold Schwarzenegger lately? All his muscles hang down on his body like he is deflating. Reason: not enough real muscle fibers. Everything was just fat and water (due to the glycogen) under a thin layer of muscle. The Austrian oak really an Austrian balloon?
    Use the right exercise (cardio/endurence is definitely NOT good) and you will see muscle grow again. Avoiding the shake after the exercise allows growth hormone to keep running. And then eventually you will have real muscle and more strength. Like our paleolithic ancestors.
    Seems to me that most people in this thread are focussed on weightloss. Now I don’t say that that’s not important. But the real issue is health. I think Dr Eades has covered every aspect of this – the glutathione, hormone production, suirt1, gene expression, AGE’s, CMS, ROS, etc – but I wonder if everybody appreciates those aspects. And I think the health benefits from exercising deserve more attention. Research has shown that muscle strength is a reliable indicator for longevity. If you want to die in good health, you need to exercise. Losing muscle tissue as you age is really a form of dying slowly.
    I know it is the reason for me to want to stay in ketosis as long as I can, even though I am close to my sixpack (at 49 :-)). And I changed my exercises. Weightloss isn’t the issue anymore. Fit for life; that’s it for me.
    By the way, Dr DeVany judged my responses on his site to be very educated. I answered that all the credits are for Dr Eades, as you educated me.

  123. Dr. Eades,
    I’ve seen a few references to glucagon counteracting insulin’s tendency to promote fat storage, but I couldn’t find any data on this via Google. I ask because the idea that protein stimulates insulin is used by some low-carb detractors to claim that insulin is a non-issue when it comes to obesity. I’ve seen it said that protein also stimulates glucagon and glucagon counteracts insulin — is there data to support this?

  124. Hello Doctor,
    First time I have read your site and have sat here with my mouth open. I have lost 82 lbs LCing in almost 10 months but seem to have come to a slow down, not a stop, and was confused. After reading most of the above information I think I have some answers. As in, last nights snack was nuts and cheese! Question please. What is your take on beverages? I drink Diet Mt. Dew as my main source of fluid. Some water and some unsweetened tea, but mostly Diet Dew. FYI — I am dropping about 4 lbs a month now instead of the 8-10 lbs I did 8 months ago. Still need to lose another 80 lbs so the 8-10lbs a month would be nice but the 4 lbs is working, just slower. Thanks!

  125. I’ve done a full month of low-carb/high-fat. Although I’ve gotten some results, it’s just been weird and slow:
    On the 1st week of Atkins induction, I lost about 10 pounds, then 2 more, then zero, then another 2 pounds. The problem is that my start weight is 345. So, these micro-losses have been frustrating, even though I’ve had no sugar, bread, etc. I’ve kept my carbs under 20 per day also. I don’t eat a lot, but despite all these changes, my weekly results are blah.
    So, although I really don’t want to focus on calorie intake, I decided that I will keep my intake at around 1,500 per day. I may have to increase if I am starving, as I don’t want my metabolism to shut down, but I am bound, gagged, and determined to get rid of this friggin’ fat.
    Cheese and nuts are important to me, as frankly, they are easy, quick, and satiating. Obviously, I will need to know their caloric count, but within the proper caloric parameters, I hope to have them.
    I really don’t understand WHY calories matter, especially after reading Gary Taubes’ book, as his premise is carbs drives insulin which drives fat. Yet, I’ve barely had carbs this month, but have little progress to show for it. So, I am going to do what you recommend and watch my calorie intake as well.

  126. Mark – calories matter because, if you provide enough energy for your body through your diet, it doesn’t need to burn your own body fat, so you won’t lose weight. Theoretically, if insulin is low, at the very least you shouldn’t gain weight on low-carb regardless of caloric intake as you would just burn off the extra fat. However, I’ve been very low carb (20-30g/day) and low-moderate protein but can easily gain weight if I have as much cream in my coffe as I’d like to keep me from being hungry. Probably, I can eat a bit more total calories on low carb vs. high carb, but not enough for my comfort. I wish I knew what makes some of us able to gain weight even on very low carb. I’m relatively normal weight, so though I think I have some insulin resistance, I’m not sure it could be great enough to explain it.

  127. Sloburn, yes, I certainly agree with you now, as your story is my story. Without a doubt, i did not gain any weight (thank God), even though I ate plenty of butter, cheese, bacon, eggs, etc., but i didn’t lose either. I suppose this is one point that is confusing from Gary Taubes’ book, “Good Calories, Bad Calories”, as I got the impression that calorie intake versus fat mobilization were two completely separate things (and that one did not affect the other, in the ABSENCE of carbs).
    Nevertheless, my results were ho-hum, so I am now paying more attention to calories as well. However, after a day of measuring my calories, I realized that I would go insane, so I am just going to keep a rough tally of my intake (I have precut my cheese into 1 oz chunks, knowing they’re about 120 cals, or 1 oz of nuts are 200 cals).
    I am looking forward to my weigh-in on Sunday morning to see how the combination of low-carb PLUS lower-calories affects my weight.

  128. While this has been an interesting thread, I believe it falls well short of the mark in explaining the ‘exceptions’ to why some folks can eat a high fat, low carb diet and lose not just a lot of weight — but attain one’s goal, or healthy weight — and why some cannot.
    Since Taubes so beautifully explains why, in a high fat/low carb diet calories are meaningless to stored body fat loss, the question must be asked: why doesn’t this work for everyone?
    Taubes doesn’t provide the answer, at least not in Good Calories, Bad Calories, but he does provide an important clue. He states in the very beginning of the book that if you become fat in the first place, you are suffering from a metabolic fat accumulation disorder. At the time he wrote GCBC and up until the present time, it was assumed (based on some good research) that the disorder in question was mostly insulin resistance.
    But it’s beginning to appear that the Master Mover of metabolism isn’t insulin at all, but the hormone that controls insulin, and all other hormones, including those peripheral thyroid hormones created in and used by the liver. And that hormone is Leptin, discovered in 1994.
    It turns out that if you are leptin resistant (easily measured through a simple blood test), it doesn’t matter what you eat or don’t eat — you will remain over-fat.
    That’s because leptin is produced in adipose fat tissue by your fat cells. It not only carries the information about what you just ate and the state of your fat cells (full or empty or in-between) up to the brain, across the blood-brain barrier and then to the hypothalamus — it also carries information about the last week or so of your energy intake or lack of it. Sort of like an A1c of fat.
    Once received, the hypothalamus uses this information to either turn up the heat and burn excess energy to keep you at homeostasis — it’s preferred mode of existence — or it turns down the heat to conserve every ounce of energy you ingest and have stored.
    But if you are leptin resistant, your leptin can no longer fold properly and cross the BBB. You keep making lots of it, because you’re getting fatter, but none or very little is reaching the brain. You look in the mirror and see an overweight person. Your brain sees someone starving on a desert island. And the few calories you eat, the more energy gets conserved.
    In fact, it’s now been established by researchers that the main cause of LR is stress on the Endoplasmic Reticulum. And what causes this stress? Many things, but especially either very low calories OR very low carb intake over an extended period of time. So if you’ve lost a lot of weight and then crash to a halt well before you’ve achieved weight-loss goal, reducing calories and/or carbs is precisely the worst thing you can do.
    Recent research has now indicated there may well be some safe pharmacological fixes to restore leptin sensitivity (neither supplements nor so-called ‘Leptin Diets’ work), and a wealth of information about this (including complete scientific journal articles can be found at:

    1. I’m not so sure that leptin is the Master Mover of metabolism as you refer to it, but it is important. Problem is that even with all the research and papers on leptin, there is still a lot of mystery. I read every review article on leptin I can get my hands on – I just read the three latest during a recent trip to Mexico. There is something missing in the equation, and so far, I haven’t been able to figure out what it is.
      Here is a post I wrote on leptin a few years back postulating on why low-carb diets reduce hunger.
      I would love to see the paper (papers) that have “established” the fact that the main cause of leptin resistance is stress on the endoplasmic reticulum. And why a very-low carb intake would make it worse.

      1. In Mike’s leptin post, he wrote:
        “To demonstrate the power of the lack of this hormone, I want to show you a video of a little girl whom I’m pretty sure is leptin deficient. Nothing much else could account for this situation. Maybe a pituitary tumor, but I doubt it. I don’t know if she is leptin deficient, but I would bet a fair amount of money that she is. In any case, this is what kids with a leptin deficiency look like.”
        It’s also what leptin resistance looks like. The young girl may indeed have a damaged genetic leptin component (the equivalent of mice where this is ‘knocked out’), but most of us who eat a low carb diet and who have low TG’s yet are STILL too fat, most likely have leptin resistance instead.
        Mike also wrote: “There is a critical point in the cycle described above. That critical point is when the leptin crosses the BBB. If the leptin can’t get across the BBB, it can’t get to the brain. If it doesn’t get to the brain, it doesn’t shut off the hunger response irrespective of how much is circulating in the blood.”
        This is true, but it’s only a small part of the picture, which is why the even older Japanese article you quote about high TG’s blocking leptin’s ability to reach the hypothalamus is outdated. Yes, in grossly LR people hunger rages for the reason you list. But that’s not the only thing LR does. My TG’s are 42. I eat a low carb diet (though not a VERY low carb diet any longer, not after my intensive research on this), and certainly do not suffer raging appetite in the least. I eat quite modestly in fact.
        Yet I am still over-fat. And that’s because of the primary response of the brain to LR — to conserve what it perceives to be a lack of energy intake by manipulating the metabolism downward. And it does this primarily through the thyroid hormones, specifically through the T4 to T3 conversion signal.
        As you know, T3 is the metabolically active component of the thyroid hormone system. Convert lots of T4 to T3, and you easily burn any excess ingested energy.
        However, in Leptin Resistant people, the hypothalamus (which normally receives the leptin signal and which not surprisingly also controls the liver and the peripheral thyroid hormones made therein) sends a different set of instructions. It stops conversion of T4 into T3, and into Reverse T3 (a mirror image of T3 with two crucial differences: RT3 is metabolically inert, and it does not contain the important 5′ molecule that signals the liver that sufficient cholesterol is in the body).
        Thus, T3 production falls, and what little is left pools in the blood instead of reaching the cell receptors, because as RT3 increases, it blocks those receptors like a moat before a castle gate. Upshot? You either stop losing weight if you were losing before on low carb, and/or perhaps gain an unexpected ten pounds. Your temperatures go down — and your TC begins to rise, rise, rise — even though all other lipid markers show very low risk for heart disease.
        It was in fact my outlier insanely high TC number that made me realize something was systemically wrong, and to do the research necessary to finding out the cause and the cure.
        After just two months on the proper medication to pharmacologically override the instructions of my LR hypothalamus, my TC and LDL each dropped by over 120 points, after rising steadily with each blood test for nearly two years. My T3 is now reaching my cell receptors, and my RT3 has dropped by over 500%.
        In other words, given the tools at it’s disposal, a leptin-deprived brain doesn’t need to care about whether your TG’s are low due to a low carb diet, or that you’re not overeating: it simply takes whatever steps are necessary to conserve as much fat as possible from the little food you are eating.
        Mike wrote: “I would love to see the paper (papers) that have “established” the fact that the main cause of leptin resistance is stress on the endoplasmic reticulum. And why a very-low carb intake would make it worse.”
        Happily. You have my email address. Send me the email you’d like to use to join the Leptin Resistance group and I’ll send you an invitation. The full Cell Metabolism article (and many others) as well as other research is available to any member on our site.

        1. Ellen, I’d find your arguments more compelling if I didn’t have the strong feeling you had something to sell. If this is so important, why hide it behind a site I have to log in to?

    1. Uh, it takes exactly five days. Just kidding. Sorry about that, but your comment (probably because of the link it contained) got hung up in the spam filter. Thanks for the heads up.

  129. Sloburn wrote: “’I’d find your arguments more compelling if I didn’t have the strong feeling you had something to sell. If this is so important, why hide it behind a site I have to log in to?”
    Sorry you’re not familiar with Yahoo Groups. There are now tens of thousands of them on every topic under the sun, and they are completely FREE. There’s nothing to sell (or buy) and not even a need to ‘log in’. You can choose to have all posts go directly to your email address if you prefer. You never, ever have to go to the site itself. And Yahoo Groups are open to all.

  130. Hi Ellen. What medication did you use?
    Also, you mentioned that prior to sorting out the problem with reverse t3 etc, you remained over- fat despite low TGs. Does this mean that you were normal weight but just had too high a percentage of body fat? Or does this mean that you were still significantly overweight and over-fat despite eating VLC due to the reverse t3 problem?
    I recall in Wolfgang Lutz’s book, Life Without Bread, there is the admission that low carb diets do now work for everyone and the chances for efficacy are lowered. They mention that middle-aged women and those with excess fat extending to the wrists and ankles (as opposed to mostly “apple-shaped” people) may not lose their excess fat and it is unclear why. Perhaps you have the explanation.
    Do you think this reverse t3/leptin issue could arise in someone who is basically maintaining their weight on a VLC diet?

  131. Annie asked: “you mentioned that prior to sorting out the problem with reverse t3 etc, you remained over- fat despite low TGs. Does this mean that you were normal weight but just had too high a percentage of body fat? Or does this mean that you were still significantly overweight and over-fat despite eating VLC due to the reverse t3 problem?”
    — That’s a complex question. Let me try and sort it out. I first ate a low calorie, low fat diet with lots of carbs for years during peri-menopause and went from being slightly overweight to morbidly obese with measured body fat of 53.5%.
    — Then I got ‘educated’ and switched to a very high fat, very low carb, moderate (1500-1700 cals a day) WOE. I lost 65 pounds and my bf fell to 27%. At that point I was only 15 pounds from my goal of being slim. I was no longer obese at all, just slightly overweight, with still more stored body fat than was ‘normal’.
    — Within a month of having lost the full 65 pounds, I had major surgery. From that day forward, no matter what I did, ate, didn’t eat, etc (went to 1200 high fat cals a day for a full month, weighing and measuring and tracking every mouthful), I could not lose a pound more, nor another inch of fat).
    — However, I kept the weight off for a full 18 months, no problem. I weighed exactly the same every single day within an ounce or two. Then, suddenly, I gained 15 pounds in just a few weeks. And it was fat, not water. I had to go up a dress size, and my measured bf went up to 29%. And I can tell you that no matter what — upping fat, lowering fat, lowering calories, doing lots of exercise — that weight would NOT budge for another 18 months, during which my cholesterol starting rising and my temperatures began to drop. A lot.
    So now I was 30 pounds from goal, and definitely overweight though still not obese, thank goodness.
    “I recall in Wolfgang Lutz’s book, Life Without Bread, there is the admission that low carb diets do now work for everyone and the chances for efficacy are lowered.”
    Yes. And Kwasneiwski mentions the same thing. I believe my hypothesis explains it: low carb diets DO work for everyone — at first. In some people however, whether due to extremely low carbs and/or calories over an extended period of time, or due to other stress, physical or psychological, leptin resistance begins. And when it does, it no longer matters what WOE you choose, what nutrients or calories: the body WILL conserve ingested energy and stored fat. In fact, the advice to ‘eat less, exercise more’ only makes things worse over time!
    — That’s because the body always takes the least ‘expensive’ and most elegant way to do anything, and in terms of conserving energy, that ‘way’ is to simply turn down the metabolism by stopping T3 production, and ensuring remaining T3 doesn’t enter the cells by upping RT3 production.
    “They mention that middle-aged women and those with excess fat extending to the wrists and ankles (as opposed to mostly “apple-shaped” people) may not lose their excess fat and it is unclear why.”
    Not a clue, and probably because I don’t believe it’s true. I have *extremely* slim wrists and ankles and always have had, even at my most obese.
    “Do you think this reverse t3/leptin issue could arise in someone who is basically maintaining their weight on a VLC diet?”
    It can happen to anyone, at any time. Or may not happen at all. It is true that, anecdotally anyway, women rather than men seem to be affected by this. Maybe because we have more hormones to mess with in the first place. 🙂

  132. Hi Ellen,
    Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I’m sure your candid sharing of your experiences will help others.
    One correction — I’m sorry — I should have said “fat extending down toward the wrists and ankles.” The point was that according to Lutz, the low carb diet can sometimes be less effective in terms of weight loss for middleaged obese women where the fat is deposited all over as opposed to mainly in the stomach area.
    I wonder if the weight gain during your perimenopause years could have also permanently altered your metabolism. I agree so much that we women — especially at peri and post menopause have much more difficulties with weight control. So unfair… I definitely believe that thyroid problems (many undiagnosed and many under or incorrectly treated) are part of the puzzle.
    One last idea — are your ferritin levels normal or at the high end of normal? MIne are high end of normal and I intend to donate blood.
    I am still having periods but my ferritin is always at the high end of normal. I have been eating paleo — organic or grass fed red meat (with fat), daily sardines (for calcium), fish, eggs and and some chicken/turkey/duck plus veggies and some 85% dark chocolate — but the mainstay is meat and it’s high in iron. I drink black coffee and green/white/black/oolong teas so figured that would help make the iron from meat less available — I was wrong. For much of the fall winter (sadly, like every year), I was completely overdosing on nuts and nutbutters — really awful binging — so I have to cut them out completely. Dairy products would undoubtedly allow more low-iron choices — but philosophically, I don’t think adult humans should need milk products…thoughts/suggestions?

  133. Annie said: “According to Lutz, the low carb diet can sometimes be less effective in terms of weight loss for middle-aged obese women where the fat is deposited all over as opposed to mainly in the stomach area.”
    — I understood. That person is not me. 🙂 I fit the perfect profile of someone who should indeed have easily reached normal weight goal.
    “I wonder if the weight gain during your perimenopause years could have also permanently altered your metabolism.”
    — I don’t believe so. The proof is that I lost the 65 pounds easily *after* that point. I’m convinced my metabolism was altered (but not permanently — hence the successful currently ongoing experiment at by becoming first leptin resistant and then thyroid hormone resistant, which occured *after* my weight loss and subsequent major surgery.
    “One last idea — are your ferritin levels normal?”
    — Perfectly normal.

  134. @Annie As for your high ferritin levels I assume you’ve checked all the labels to make sure you aren’t accidentally getting added iron anywhere such as in multi-vites.
    However, you might want to read up on hemochromatosis if you haven’t already. Best wishes.

  135. I think one thing low carbers might benefit from is using a fat analysis (like calipers or a body fat scale). They may not accurately show one’s body fat, but they do provide value because one can see if that BF% is dropping or not.
    One thing I notice is that I can lose weight (lots of it) and yet my body fat % stays the same… This is mostly likely for two reasons:
    1) Lower water retention (water weights 8 pounds per gallon)
    2) Protein (muscle tissue) atrophy(loss) because the body is using protein to feed the glycogen levels for the liver and brain, and energy when fat is not adequately supplied.
    Because glycogen binds with water in our muscles, we can feel skinny, but our fat cells remain the same size. I agree that fat calories should not be too excessive. This will promote more body fat release, but also will promote muscle loss. Perhaps a way to curb muscle loss would be to workout (strength training) so that body uses more protein from the food to rebuild muscle tissue. And the energy source is more likely to come from fat.
    I don’t have the science nailed down myself but this information is derived from stuff I’ve read. Feel free to research for you own.

  136. I’m not sure you are thinking about per cent correctly. Let’s say you weigh 200 pounds and your body fat per cent is 30 per cent. That is, 60 pounds of fat. Now let’s say you lose so your weight is only 150 pounds but your body fat per cent is still 30 per cent. That is only 45 pounds of fat based on your new lower weight. So you’ve actually lost 15 pounds of fat.

    1. Well, I’m not talking about a mathematical formula for body fat. I’m talking about the number that comes out when you stand on a scale with a body fat scale. I don’t do the math. If I get on the scale and it says I have 20% body fat and then I go and workout and eat less/better, etc and I return to the scale and it says 16%, that’s a decrease and that’s all I’m saying. The actual bodyfat % is really irrelevant in my example because it’s the ‘change’ up/down that I’m saying can be a good guide to progress, not the actual real scientifically determined body fat for an individual.

  137. Hi and I have spent hours reading through this excellent forum. I would be most appreciative of answer(s) to the following questions:
    1. I have recently lost 16lbs using HCG and a low calorie diet. With low carb etc I plan to lose the remaining 7 lbs to reach desireable weight. However my hips/waist ratio is 0.88 which puts me at a the high risk CV (I am 56 and already some atherosclerosis). Will/can I lose this abdominal weight without strenous exercise (I hardly exercise at all – tell me off somebody!)? My hips are only 34 so you can tell I have a small frame.
    Secondly I am an O blood type so the high protein/fats suits me well. However how does this LC protocol work for vegetarians/vegans. I have ordered your books but maybe this subject is covered there. A one sentence answer in advance would be welcome.
    Many thanks to you and all the readers for sharing.

  138. Wow….great article. I just returned from the gym and I wasn’t very pleased with my weight. I’ve been stuck in the 260 range since 2/17. So I decided to google “low carbs eggs” and somehow I ended up here. I was about to make myself some eggs with melted chesse. Now I’ll just stick to tuna.
    Very well written article.

  139. Dr. Is it possible to keep your calories aroud 1500, get about 100 grams of protein 100 grams of fat and that be enough fat to energize your body? I lift and run and eat the above split. Would it be more effective to eat more lean proteins and cut the fat down even more? Keeping in mind im at about 20 grams of TOTAL carbs a day.

    1. I would need to know a whole lot more information than you have provided to make an intelligent judgment on your regimen. For example, it makes a difference how old you are, whether you’re trying to lose or gain weight, and your exercise regimen. But, having said that, I don’t do specific nutritional counseling via the internet. If you are young, active and not trying to lose weight, I would say the caloric content of your is low. If you are older, a little less active, it might be fine. I, myself, am a little older, do a fair amount of exercise, and consume a lot of meat and not very many carbs. The last time I analyzed my own diet, turned out I was eating about the same mix you describe above but at around 1700 kcal.

  140. Mike,
    I am 28, i work out 6 days a week for 45 minutes. I am currently 248 lbs (down from 287, trying to get to 200 by my wedding in march) I run 3 times a week HIIT for 25 minutes. Yoga twice a week for an hour. I keep track and weigh all of my food on a scale and i track the calories with my smart phone. Diet split is as i said above. I am seeing that my fats are about 100 grams a day and protein also if i keep my calories to 1500. My question is this? if i eat more lean meats, and maybe up my carbs to say 50 grams instead of 10-20 and lower my fat, will i lose weight quicker since instead of burning dietary fat i am burning body fat? Or at the level i am out now does it not matter? Im considering nixing the pork ribs and sausage for egg whites and fish.
    Also your plan has been a god send. I purchased ALL of the books, and i am currently making my dad do it who has been on blood pressure medicine his whole life and is now seeing his blood sugar creep up. I want to take everything i learn from you and save his life. Thanks doc. Also love the tweets

  141. Totally, totally awesome blog and article. A bit of background: After nary a weight problem in my life, fairly high metabolism (I think) and generally athletic physical disposition, I somehow found myself at 35, a few months after my second child was born, about 30 lbs overweight, down about it (not used to being chubby) and struggling like mad to lose – only to find between doctor’s appointments that I’d actually been starving myself for a few months and had *gained* despite it. I must have hit some sort of emotional rock bottom, as one day, about two weeks ago, still 25 lbs to lose, I just didn’t want to feel chubby (but worse, always tired, sluggish, and achey) anymore. After much reading (but not this blog unfortunately) I decided to try low-carb for my first ever “program” since my unofficial diet of “low cal” for months had rendered me grumpy, tired, and GAINING. Fast forward.
    The first week of LCing, I lost a quick 4 lbs almost overnight, first 2 to 3 days. Subsequent to that, still on approx. 20g carbs/day, i stalled and even gained a tiny bit a day or two. Confounding things, I am sure, I began working out when I began the switch to the LC nutritional diet. I am wondering:
    First, was the initial weight loss mostly “water weight” since the LC way pushes some of the excess water to which our HC bodies are accustomed – out?
    Second, I feel “smaller” somehow, and with increased energy, is it possible that i’ve built muscle so quickly? That’s the only thing I can come up with that might be causing the difference in size/”feeling” while my weight remains generally static during week two.
    Thirdly (b/c admittedly I don’t totally understand the biochemistry of it all despite your well-translated explanations), does LC way of life create hyperefficiency/”everslowing” of metabolism, or can you still have a “healthy” metabolism while in ketosis?
    Lastly, how can i jump start continued weight loss? I know since i didn’t have a gargantuan amount to lose, it will come off more slowly (I actually prefer that), but I do want to see at least a *steady* drop-off…
    (I lied, NOW lastly)… : ) KIND OF OFF SUBJECT, but “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, so I’ll just ask: Is there much literature on ketosis/LC and fertility? Not pregnancy, lots of stuff on that, but a dumb/”instinctive” assessment might be that if your body is in a ketogenic state, it might be less apt to want to introduce another energy-sucker (fetus) into the mix… (?) I hope not. I love LC and I love babies. Want more of the awesome little things.
    New to the magic that is LC and GRATEFUL as heck to read a blog so intelligent to the topic. (THANK YOU)

  142. I tend not to write many comments, but i did some searching and
    wound up here The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.
    D.Low-carb and calories The Blog of Michael R.
    Eades, M.D.. And I do have a few questions for you if you do not mind.
    Is it simply me or does it appear like a few of the responses come across like left by brain dead visitors?
    😛 And, if you are posting at additional places, I’d like to follow everything new you have to post. Would you make a list of all of all your public pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

  143. This article is absolutely bang on and what I have suspected ever since I started my low-carb regimen a month ago. Sure enough, if I abandon any reference to calories, my weight loss slows right down. In my case, I love a couple of glasses of wine each day. Only 3 or 4 carbs per glass?? Great! I can fit that in. My Friday night martini has NO carbs. Even better!! But wait… wine and hard liquor contain calories sadly. So if I continued to drink my wine every evening plus, as most low-carbs diet advise us, fry everything in butter, put home-made mayonnaise on my salad, eat the fat on my grass-fed beef, and indulge a couple of times a day in my favourite food: cheese, I’m not going to get anywhere fast. Calories in; Energy out. Simple really. And any low-carb diet that disputes that, is lying to you. Take it from me, if you cut your carbs to below 50 (which still allows for lots of healthy vegetables and yes, a bit of alcohol) and keep your calories to 1500 or less, even a relatively small woman such as myself will lose wait. Not 5 lbs a week, but more like 1 to 2 pounds per week which is FAR MORE SUSTAINABLE. Thank you for the excellent, common sense article Micheal Eades!

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