Synthesis: Low-Carb and Food Reward/Palatability, and Why Calories Count

This is a post that’s been sorta relaxing, sipping scotch in the back of my mind since last August after the Ancestral Health Symposium (AHS11). It has to do with the dispute and controversy between Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat, and Dr. Stephan Guyenet, a long time health blogger at Whole Health Source; and more recently, a full-fledged obesity researcher. In full disclosure, I’ve known and corresponded with Stephan for a number of years; Gary since a few months preceding AHS, and have spoken with and exchanged emails with both of them on the subject of this controversy, at which I was present. I subsequently did a podcast on Angelo Coppola’s Latest in Paleo about that and other AHS “controversies” that I described in this post: Ancestral Health Symposium Controversies Podcast: From High Heels to Gary vs. Stephan #AHS11.

I was intending to do a post on it at the time, but in spite of corresponding with both gentlemen to better understand their positions vis-a-vis the other’s, I just did not feel I had a good enough grasp to tackle it and risk looking like an id—something I’m happy to do on some topics, but not this one. Well…everyone is always free to judge either way. So let’s get ready to rumble, uh, RUMBLE!!!

First, it’s my experience over the last several days that I think finally afforded me the understanding to move forward. I announced my self experiment with adding back about 4 times the carbohydrate I was previously eating here. Two days later, I gave an update and macronutrient breakdown here, demonstrating that I’d gone from about 50g carbohydrate per day to about 200, or 40% of intake, with a goal of keeping it about 40-50%.

This morning, a commenter on my last post posed an interesting, excellent question that—once I’d answered it—got me to pacing and churning…and this post was born. I’m not going to link the comment because I don’t want to ruin the suspense by letting you see my proto-response just yet. Here’s the text of the comment/question.

Doesn’t all this belie your previous experience Richard, not to mention Anthony Colpo’s, that low-carb did indeed work? Do you think you could be where you are today if you had forgone low-carb and ate they way you do now? I’m a bit bewildered here.

The short answer is yes, I do believe that what I’m doing now would have worked. Here’s the shocker though: it may have actually worked even better (with a conciliatory qualification to LC I’ll get to). Tough pill to swallow, but it is what it is, and we learn and we go and we move onward hopefully better for the experience and knowledge gained. No regrets, and I hasten to point out: there is an enormous distinction to be made between an average daily 300-400g carbohydrate consumption from crap in a bag or drive through, and 200g carbohydrate mostly from potatoes or other starchy real food sources.

What’s the distinction? Food Reward & Palatability is the short answer. Again, I’ll get to that in more depth later. First, let me ask you a few questions, aimed at LC/Paleo, or Plain Vanilla LC.

  1. Do you find it pretty easy to draw a distinction between say, a free range, organically fed whole turkey you bake in the oven, and supermarket turkey franks with a side helping of “animal by-products,” hormones, fillers, texture enhancers, preservatives, nitrites, added sodium, coloring, and cruelty…that you nuke?
  2. Additionally, do you find it easy to draw a distinction between say, leaf lard from a pastured pig that gets lots of time in the sunshine, and industrially processed, extracted, heated, churned, & turned, deodorized and left out to dry soy oil…in a plastic container?
  3. Yes and yes? OK, then how come you find it so difficult to draw a distinction between a loaf of Wonder Bread in a wrapper, and 5 pounds of potatoes straight & dirty from your organic farmer’s field….to your door?

So have I abandoned low-carb? Not exactly. Do I think it’s effective? Yes, in a limited capacity for some…even most who are substantially overweight or obese, or where otherwise, it just fits with any individual’s lifestyle of work & play and they feel great and have good results naturally (I’m leaving diabetics out of this post as outliers). Do I think it’s the best approach for fat loss? It depends on the individual. Why does it depend? Food Reward/Palatability shakes out individually, likely on a Bell Curve distribution, that’s why.

Here’s how I think it works in general.

  1. You’re fat. You go low carb per se. You lose water weight because liver and muscle glycogen is being depleted. This is very motivational; or, rewarding, even “palatable.” So you continue on. By virtue of blanket LC, you’re excluding highly rewarding and palatable fast food, pizza, pasta, ice cream, sugar drinks, Hot Pockets, and all the other crap in favor of meat, veggies, nuts, cheese, and maybe some LC junk food if that’s your thang. Yea, it’s great to eat red meat again, and while some can pack away 16oz ribeye steaks one after the other, most can’t. They’re satisfied, and satisfied sooner, with less caloric intake, more often. It subtracts down. They lose weight. Was LC effective? Yes. Why? Food reward/palatability. And because calories count.
  2. The problem is that while a few get all the way to ripped leanness this way, huge numbers don’t (including me), and that’s why LC and LC/Paleo have not only to recruit the new and uniformed (do keep it going, Jimmy & Co.), but have growing numbers amongst adherents who range from slightly disillusioned to royally pissed off…because they can’t get rid of that last 10-20 pounds…or more, in some cases.
  3. In various degrees of frustration and despair, you console yourself with the various cheats—from foods you love and have missed—that got you fat before. But you’re smarter this time around, see? You don’t toss the baby out with the bathwater. Rather, you “cover” or redeem your indiscretions at the drive through and freezer section with bouts of zero to very low carb over days, and manage to eek out some sort of a homeostasis—maintaining your moderately overweight composition. Or, in many cases, LC as you practice it ceases to be effective in shedding any more fat—even without drive through, freezer section, or Jamba Juice excursions.
  4. This is not necessarily an altogether bad thing. Better than really fat or obese.

So how do we take the next step, beyond the huge value LC had been to get off that initial 40, 50, 60, 80, 160, 320 pounds (60 in my case)? We recognize that it wasn’t really any magic about LC that got us there. LC simply, effectively, lowered our food reward/palatability and as a consequence, we spontaneously lowered our average daily intake of calories.

Calories count.

So let’s run some example number for shits, giggles…and in hopes of a Second Coming (I didn’t specify what kind).

…Let’s suppose a 250 pound male body, 5′ 10″, 50yo, light to moderate get-off-his-ass level. Daily burn is about 3,500 calories.

He goes Low carb. His target is 160 pounds, 90 pounds away…because that’s the last time he remembers where a hot chick approached him and, well….she did nasty things to him. He’s been told he doesn’t need to count calories or anything—that they don’t matter, eat to satiety—under a certain set of proscriptions having to do with carbohydrate per se.

And it’s exactly what he does. After the initial water weight loss and adjustment period, he settles in. Since he doesn’t count calories, let me do so, hypothetically. …Wow, amazing, and this does go to the asset side of the Balance Sheet. He’s not doing anything like 3,500 calories per day. Not even close. Eating ad libitum, he’s naturally consuming about 2,800 calories for a 700 calorie deficit per day, or about a pound lost per 5 days. He feels awesome, great…because even though in big caloric deficit, he’s still on a very high fat diet and he’s not really hungry too often. He’s euphoric. The pounds are melting off. He’s an LC believer for life. It borders on Enlightenment. It’s tantamount to a religious experience or, a Second Coming.

This goes on for just short of a year, about 350 days if my math is correct. He’s livin’ it up, low-carb style. He’s doing himself, friends, and family a huge favor. Don’t discount that. But in the end, he’s accountable mostly to himself, and in that end, he stalls. He stalls, not at his 160 pound goal where hot chicks might once again do nasty things to him, but at 180 pounds, 20 pounds away. He’s gonna have to do something, or settle for 2nd string in the chick department. How can this be? Low carb is magic. He’s proved it. Over the space of an entire year!

…Or so he thinks.

What he only proved, however, is that calories count. Yea, he may have gorged on the fatty meat one night to the tune of pounds and huge calories and couldn’t wait to tell you. But like my dear late grandmother—while I was growing up in Reno—only ever told us about her jackpots at the slots, and never the amount she fed it regularly…what he didn’t tell you is that the next day, he didn’t eat much at all. He was satiated. It all subtracts down, over time.

As it tuns out, 2,800 average daily calories is about the requirement for a 50 year old guy, 180 pounds, 5′ 10″, who gets off his ass now and then. …Unfortunately, fantasizing about the hot chicks in waiting doesn’t burn a whole lot.

Are you beginning to see where I’m going? Low carb was indeed effective. But it was only a means to the end that really worked. Actually, two means: his food palatability/reward was diminished, he spontaneously lowered caloric intake to an ad libitum level of a 180 pound man (2,800 calories), and he lost the weight. A year later, right on schedule, he weighs 180. After months and months or years and years, he begins to become disillusioned about low carb. But the blindspot, because “calories don’t count on low carb,” is that he never tried 2,600 calories daily on average, the requirement for a 160lb man with his parameters. But, had he done that, he’d have been hungry and low carb is a lot about not having to feel hungry. It’s baked into the low carb—and hopefully gluten free—cake. So low carb failed him?

That’s not fair. Low carb did exactly what it’s supposed to do—once the science is understood and put into context. Low carb righteously and effectively set off a chain of events that led to him reducing intake in order to lose most of the weight he wanted.

But could he have done better? Yes, I believe so. How? By decreasing reward and palatability even further. How do you do that? By introducing a lot more carbohydrate, but from natural sources from starchy vegetables and tubers like potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, taro, etc., etc. But wait! This is risky. I said I’d get to this, above. In my case, yes, I believe I could have done better, faster. But, perhaps step-wise is the better approach? If you reduce palatability and reward so very far, you might just give up on the whole exercise…and so in the spirit of the exercise of the greatest caution—because I want to see the most number of folks make substantial progress—I’m going to continue to support a VLC-LC diet for the really fat and obese. Thing is, if you integrate this, you’ll know exactly what to do when that stall happens, and you don’t have to flail around for months or years anymore pursuing a path that may no longer be effective for you individually.

But just how will this lower palatability and reward, thus lowering caloric intake?

Ah, “grasshopper,” I’m so glad you asked. As I was drafting this and had to link Stephan’s blog, above, I noticed there was a post from yesterday I hadn’t read yet: Palatability, Satiety and Calorie Intake.

…They fed volunteers a variety of commonly eaten foods, each in a 240 calorie portion, and measured how full each food made them feel, and how much they ate at a subsequent meal. Using the results, they calculated a “satiety index”, which represents the fullness per calorie of each food, normalized to white bread (white bread arbitrarily set to SI = 100). So for example, popcorn has a satiety index of 154, meaning it’s more filling than white bread per calorie.

One of the most interesting aspects of the paper is that the investigators measured a variety of food properties (energy density, fat, starch, sugar, fiber, water content, palatability), and then determined which of them explained the SI values most completely.

Now, before you even look, what food has the off-the-scale, outlier, lowest palatability on average vs. the highest satiety?

Do I need to answer that question, potato [s]mashers? Go read it and weep.

Now, being honest, I might have ho-hum dismissed that on any given Sunday, but as it happens, I’m 4 days into eating more potato than I’ve ever eaten daily in my life, and after 2-3 days, kinda crashed. I was like:

“You need to eat, Richard. Your readers are expecting the results of your experiment.”

“But I’m not hungry yet, Richard.”

“It’s 10 AM, Richard.”

“It’s 11 AM, Richard.”


“Shut the fuck up!”

“…It’s 1 PM, Richard. Have the Audacity to Hope!”

I succumbed, but only so far as to eat about 6 oz of turkey breast, a half can of black olives, and then munch on carrot sticks for the rest of the afternoon. Dinner was two full chicken legs/thighs, white rice and a chicken stock reduction with a bit of butter, white wine and a splash of cream.

Four days in, and I’m averaging 300-400 calories below what I was averaging before. I feel more full on average, more satisfied, sleep WAY better, and have a mental go-for-it attitude I haven’t felt since I was on that high-fat diet, in caloric deficit and losing 60 pounds.

I’ve lost between 2 and 3 pounds since weighing in Saturday morning when this all began.


  1. Ajr on February 29, 2012 at 18:14

    Between that nutcase Kevin and this new post you’ve been getting a lot of publicity over at the MDA forums Rich.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 22:55


      Ha, looks like it. With a dash of moron too. I find it endlessly funny when people beg for “references” (and an authority to follow) when clearly the point of this post is to invite everyone to be their own authority and engage their own minds and think.

      • Primal Toad on March 5, 2012 at 16:08

        And this is what I love. As far as scientific studies go, one can always find something to support their views. 99% of the folks won’t read that study that someone linked to. In the case of blogs like mine and yours with these types of posts, studies are worthless.

        This blog post has created an incredible discussion and I love it!

  2. Dan Linehan on February 29, 2012 at 19:52

    This post is some of your best work Richard. I read a lot of nutrition blogs, as well as followed the “20 potatoes a day” project here..

    I could never quite figure out why a potato-based diet worked so well for multiple people, but your post nailed it, it entirely makes sense now. Well done.

  3. Jarick on February 29, 2012 at 20:09

    What will be interesting is the framework for a weight loss diet on this topic.

    Though he’s been called out by Dr. Harris, Don Matesz had a post that got me thinking a while back, about a study involving eating four slices of bread per meal:

    I wonder then if we adapted that to eating large quantities of lightly seasoned starches early in a meal, along with some water, and then went on to the meat course, you would spontaneously reduce calorie consumption?

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 00:02

      I think it’s an unnecessary complication, Jarick. What are we, totally stupid?

      I mean, it seemed obvious and natural to me that if I was going to add about 400 calories to my diet per day in the form of starch, Something’s Gotta Give. So I served myself smaller portions of meat and eased up on the fat.

      Duh, much? (not directed at you, rhetorical)

  4. rob on March 1, 2012 at 06:02

    Martin Berkhan on the Sunk Cost Fallacy

    I found it relevant to making the move from low carb to moderate carb … emotionally I had a lot invested in low carb and I had lost a lot of weight on it, so I kept at it for a long time after it stopped producing results.

  5. Kurt G Harris MD on February 29, 2012 at 15:35

    Richard gets it.

    Now why can’t all the others who doubt food reward get it too?

    It’s not about magical insulin or “spikes” of any kind, or fat being locked away somehow.

    This is definitely one of the best posts ever explaining how LC works in layman’s terms, and how you can make it work even better.

    • Bixy on February 29, 2012 at 15:59

      Your results matches my own experience Richard. I was never obese, more the skinny ectomorph who used to be skinny fat. I leaned out quite a bit going low carb paleo, but after a while I noticed it didn’t feel quite right, especially after exercise, when I craved junk food.

      After reading up a bit more, particularly your excellent site Kurt, I decided to add in some starches whenever I was more active. And it worked a charm. I no longer get any sweet/junk food cravings, body comp improved (although it was not really a problem), and I definitely feel better.

      I’ve even added in raw milk from a reputable source, and that has definitely improved things internally, evidenced by what’s coming out the other end.

      Whatever works for you right?

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 18:02

      Thank you, Kurt. One advantage of having you as a friend is that I won’t hear shit from you when I’ve fucking something up. The other advantage is understanding how you operate that way.

      • Skyler Tanner on February 29, 2012 at 18:21

        Steak and potatoes: the once and future way to eat to be lean.

    • Jake S. on February 29, 2012 at 22:16

      Down with the paleowoo!

      Really though, I’ve done both low-carb and mid-carb.

      Low-carb broke me. I seriously went on a serious eating binge after that. It was bad… :(

      Back on paleo with a mid-carb starchy tubers approach and I feel great. I’ve never approached this level of fat loss, and am getting a ton of compliments from people.

      I’m really not sure how long this process’ll take, but as a fat guy wanting to have a six-pack, I know it’s doable on higher carbs than some people are willing to admit.

      And in reality? Paleo is carb agnostic but person specific. Eating sweet potatoes does not make me the devil!

    • mark on March 1, 2012 at 09:31

      If someone can show me blood lipid test that improve while increasing consumption of any carb – I’ll buy this. Until then – lots of fat for me.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 09:38

        “If someone can show me blood lipid test that improve while increasing consumption of any carb – I’ll buy this. Until then – lots of fat for me.”

        Just so I understand correctly, you’re willing to dismiss outliers who have skyrocketing lipids on a LCHF diet, but not outliers doing MCMF.

        Got it.

        Like I said in response to a comment on Reddit about this post criticizing me for not using reference to “disprove Taubes,” whatever that means: I just figured everyone was about equally capably of going to Google Scholar and PubMed to cherry pick studies to support their biases as I am.

      • mark on March 1, 2012 at 09:49

        where’s the links? Where’s the lowering triglycerides while increasing carbs while not exercising?

      • mark on March 1, 2012 at 09:54

        Sorry – my point is – every study that increases fat/lowers carbs – improves your TG’s. I’ve yet to see the reverse.

      • Jim on March 1, 2012 at 17:46

        My experience – high carb, low fat (low fructose) = 260 TC, 40 HDL, 84 TRIGS

        Low carb, high fat = 506 TC, 400 LDL, 67 HDL, 59 TRIGS

        That’s why I have lowered my fat intake again. Low carb got me to single digit BF, moderate carb has not changed a thing in that regard. I eat potatoes, rice, and fruit everyday. Still lean, stronger, but I have to get that LDL down. If that means my trigs are 90 instead of 60, so be it. My next VAP is this month, so I’ll know for sure what these carbs are doing to my lipid profile. But I feel great eating them.

      • Brendan on March 5, 2012 at 17:57

        Jim, my experience is similar, although not as dramatic. My first blood lipid measurement came a few months after I started a low carb high fat diet… TC 408, LDL 309, HDL 92, TG 52. Kinda scared me… But when I adopted a slightly higher carb diet, maybe 25% of calories… TC 312, LDL 208, HDL 78, TG 60. Much more acceptable. I’ve now increased my carbs to around 35-40%, and I’ll be getting another blood lipid panel soon. Very interested to see the results.

        Took me a while to get over my carb-phobia, but big thanks to Stephan and Kurt specifically for knocking some sense back into me!

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 13:07

        “every study that increases fat/lowers carbs – improves your TG’s.”

        What is an “improved” TG level?

        You mean, if I have TGs at 50 and I do something that makes them 40, I’m “improved,” I’m “healthier.” Conversely, if I do something that makes them 60, 70, 80, I’m degraded, unhealthier?

        Hell, even on SAD, I don’t think I ever had a TG test over 90.

      • peter on March 2, 2012 at 14:43

        That may be so Mark, however a quick search on PubMed will should studies that show that low carb high fat diets can increase LDL, where as higher carb, lower fat diets can reduce LDL and overall ratios.

        Should I go on?

      • mark on March 5, 2012 at 08:25

        Triglycerides… who cares about LDL… its the VLDL that correspond to TG levels.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 11:59

        Here is what is wrong with your belief in “blood lipids”. The blood lipids you are presumably referring to are measures like HDL and fasting triglycerides. Medical research suggests that high HDL and low fasting trigs correlate with lower cardiovascular risk. True enough. But does this mean that changing your diet to increase HDL and lower fasting trigs changes your risk?

        Not so fast. That conclusion so popular with the low carb proselytizers is a massive non-sequiter. The study populations are in general eating the SAD at approx. a 50% carb intake. The research tells us that these are risk factors AT THAT DIETARY COMPOSITION, it does not necessarily follow that a high HDL or low trigs at 10% carbs means the same thing as it does at 50% carbs – just like a postprandial blood glucose of 140 after a load of potatoes is normal but after a steak might mean you have diabetes. Context matters.

        As proof of this, read (or re-read) the papers by Stefan Lindeberg on the Kitavans. Even Lindeberg struggled to explain the “paradoxically” low HDL and “paradoxically” high trigs in this population, who we all know have vanishingly low cardiovascular disease. But he should not have struggled as it is no paradox at all.

        HDL and trigs are NOT independent of macronutrient ratios. And you cannot conclude that these lipids are the CAUSE of anything without explaining why they fail to predict the CV risk in the Kitavans.

        A high HDL and low fasting trigs do seem to be a marker for low CV risk ON THE SAD. But you are not scientifically justified in concluding that raising your HDL and lowering your trigs by eating low carb lowers your risk BECAUSE of the change in these lipid markers. And there is no clinical evidence that changing these parameters via diet results in fewer CV events, just like there is no evidence that reducing LDL or total serum cholesterol does so.

        Belief in the efficacy of low carb to lower CV risk based on “blood lipid” is an unjustified myth being promoted by low carb diet doctors who have simply not thought things through carefully enough.

        And to the degree that people stay hyper caloric (stay fat and in energy excess) and reassure themselves that they have “great labs” they are simply whistling past the graveyard.

        They would be better to have “bad” HDL and “bad” trigs and be THIN on a high carb diet – just like the Kitavans.

      • Chris Highcock on March 1, 2012 at 12:30

        There is good stuff on this in Chris Kresser’s Paleo Summit talk, as explained by Evelyn:

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 13:28

        Petro several years ago pointed out that that Lindebergs findings on the Kitavans were good evidence against the lipid hypothesis in its currently fashionable versions (good and bad cholesterol) but even Peter explained away their carb consumption as being “paradoxical” but allowed by their high activity levels. Of course, they are actually not “active” enough for that to explain anything.

        I think I first discussed my skepticism on “lipid” measurements on Chris’ podcast.

      • SB on March 1, 2012 at 17:49

        I thought you were “so bored with the Kitavans”.
        You said in 2009 – “Over and over I say that the 10- 30% range for carbs sounds reasonable for most people.”
        Do you still stand by this comment?

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 19:33

        Perhaps I was bored with them 2 1/2 years ago when I wrote that. Now that I have read a few thousand more papers, things look less boring.

        When I was really young I did not know where babies came from. Good thing I did not blog on it with my theories at the time, I guess.

        I stand by 10-30% as reasonable. I have only added the 30-7-% range as reasonable too.

        I don’t think 10% is dangerous, nor do I think 70% is.

        There are many bloggers and writers and scientists who found GCBC credible on first read. I think these people are now divided into those who no longer buy it because they have looked carefully at the evidence, those who refuse to look further, and maybe those don’t understand what they have read.

        Would you prefer someone who is wrong and sticks to 2 1/2 year old blog posts (or best selling books), or someone who changes his beliefs as things evolve?

        Even Stephan Guyenet and Carbsane once thought Taubes was plausible on the CIH.

        Now the choice is to accept that we were mislead or keep making the same mistakes.

      • mark on March 2, 2012 at 04:56


        Well I personally went high-fat / low carb and completely dropped my trigs from 250 to <80 and everything else fell into place. i.e: hdl / weight / energy etc. And no I wasn't eating less calories or exercising at all. It's been a year and just recently started going back to the gym. I average about 100g/carbs per day now. I still don't think a calorie is a calorie – not one bit. I'm sure bio-diesel burns in an engine just fine. :)

      • SB on March 2, 2012 at 09:42

        Thanks for the reply. I very much prefer the person who changes his beliefs based on new evidence.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 13:15

        “I still don’t think a calorie is a calorie – not one bit.”

        The other day on Twitter as I was drafting this post and put out a tweet that I was doing a post on LC, FR and Calories Count, someone comes back “they don’t if you eat zero carbs.” I replied, fine, go drink 10k calories of heavy cream per day, get back to me.


        “Cream has carbs, haven’t you heard.”


        “Yea, so if you gain fat, not the 10k calories, it’s the trace carbs. Got it, and the dragon in Ur Garage:”

      • Mark M. on June 13, 2012 at 22:44

        Wow! I cannot thank you enough for speaking to this very issue, i.e. to the “low HDL/high trigs” profile and necessity of viewing it in context. I and a number of others in my family have low HDL/high trigs and as a result of my doctor telling me this was an issue I started eating more fat and cutting back carbs even though I would prefer NOT to eat this way.

        My previous diet was pretty much what conventional wisdom told us to eat: “healthy” whole grains, lean meat and fish, non-fat milk & yogurt, fruits and vegetables. I like that diet very much. I was never really overweight and am a very fit athlete in my mid-50s, but for the past 18 months now have been messing with lower carb and dropped 15-20 lbs., a fair amount of which was muscle.

        I never was constipated in my entire life until making this dietary change, and also developed persistent rashes/papules on my stomach that I swear are related to being in “ketosis” or whatever happens when carbs are cut way back. Other than that I feel pretty good on lower carb, and still manage a high level of athletic performance.

        However, I have real doubts about whether the “lower carb” diet I am eating is healthier than where I started, and suspect the contrary. Yet I have hesitated to go back to my old ways based on the low HDL (27-30) and high trig (125-150) I had for years. I have been concerned about cardio-vascular disease. I will now look into the references you mention.

        Strangely enough, I haven’t bothered to get my blood lipids tested for the past 18 months. I may do so before I make a final decision to add back more carbs and thus more variety to my diet.

        I am intrigued by the “food reward” hypothesis. The diet I eat now is not very exciting and no doubt that impacts how much I eat.

        As an aside, I have another observation to share. For all you people who are out to lose weight (I never was), I can assure you that if you are “normal” and don’t have some particular disorder, you can certainly lose lots of weight eating high carb low fat if that’s the diet you prefer. How do I know this for a fact? I was a member of a spiritual group in the 70’s where 500-1000 “regular Americans” all became lacto-vegetarians as part of our religious beliefs. There were strict prohibitions against eating sugar and other kinds of junk food. We ate little or no processed fook. Virtually all of us lost weight, even those (like me) who absolutely were not seeking to do so. I can only remember a few people in the group who were trying to lose weight, yet we became a very skinny group of people, with very few exceptions. (I personally fell far below the ideal weight I had as an elite level college athlete and felt miserable until I started eating meat again 7 years later).

        The notion that one MUST eat low carb to lose weight is just nonsense, unless perhaps you’ve got some sort of disorder. I think it is a helpful gimmick for many people and seems to produce good results for reasons that are not completely understood, but there are also a lot of people who lose weight by switching to a HIGHER carb diet than they started on.

        Anyway, thanks a lot Kurt. I really appreciate this post on lipid profiles.

      • Armi Legge on March 12, 2012 at 14:25

        My dad has triglycerides of 24 and an HDL of 87. He eats about 60% of his diet from carbs.

    • bee on March 2, 2012 at 10:02

      dr. harris, your site was the one that convinced me to shed my irrational fear of good carbs. thank you.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 4, 2012 at 16:59

        I am happy to have aided in your corruption.

    • Alma on March 4, 2012 at 11:30

      Thanks so much for this post. After reading Stephan’s blog for a few months, it makes sense why I couldn’t lose more than 20lb of the 100 I needed to lose while on low carb. Lamb was way too high reward for me, I can eat it all day and not be tired and hunger never comes into it, but I’ve never been able to overeat regular boiled or baked potatoes. Reward/palatability is very individual it seems.

    • BabyGirl on March 5, 2012 at 12:19

      Some people don’t get it because it isn’t there to get. Insulin spikes and low blood sugar drops are very real. Metabolic syndrome is real as Hell and so is Polysystic Ovary Syndrome.

  6. Crumley on February 29, 2012 at 15:40

    THANK YOU FOR THIS! I went through the exact thing you are…once a good amount of starchy carbs were added back into my diet, I started to lose more weight and increase my performance on the court and in the weight room…and in bed.

    • David on March 3, 2012 at 00:45

      I would like to see an article on this topic. The “in bed” part because its funny. When i increase my carb intake things start to “work” better for me as well in the bed. I’m not saying sex after eating Chipotle, bc then i just want to die. small increases in carbs= better sex life. write it!

  7. Chris Pine on February 29, 2012 at 15:51

    It will be interesting to hear the results of your experiment.

    Right now it appears that you have convinced yourself of a theory, but the proof will be in the pudding.

  8. Todd on February 29, 2012 at 15:54

    This was a really good post. Very easy to see LC in a nutshell. I feel that LC/paleo has worked for me because I cut out the crap and started to eat real food. Real food being the key and not so much LC really. Just lower carb than the SAD.

    And another thing… I’m kinda tired of the labeling paleo, LC, etc.. I guess it’s a necessary evil, but when it gets brought up in discussions people automatically assume you’re on a “diet”. I’m not on a fuckin’ diet. I’m just eating real food. It’s as simple as that.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 16:12

      “And another thing… I’m kinda tired of the labeling paleo, LC, etc..”

      There’s no way around it, really. It’s the way human beings operate. Imagine there was a different word for venison every time the tribe got hungry.

      • LeonRover on February 29, 2012 at 16:37

        Yeah, fresh ingredients, home cooked – ancestral really!!

        Oh, and not too much.

      • Todd on February 29, 2012 at 20:36

        Yeah, I know. I got up on my 2″ soapbox for a minute there.

  9. Bodhi on February 29, 2012 at 16:07

    I really enjoyed this article. I’m trying to burn off that last 10 pounds around the waist myself. I would really be interested in see the changes in your waist measurement. I’m wanting to shave off 3 inches around my waist.

  10. Rusty on February 29, 2012 at 16:14

    I read on Sisson’s site that the brain is going to eat something like 130g of glucose every day. Some organs prefer keytones, while the brain needs glucose. At 200g, you only need to account for another 70 (out of your 200) to go towards your other organs. You’re still bound to use those for basic function if you have any activity at all. My experiments over January saw great (12 lb) weight loss and I was eating fruit and potatoes as desired. Kurt has really inspired me to be a little bit carb agnostic and I do think that VLC only worked for me out of “happenstance”. It really does eliminate a lot of bad foods and I noticed the more “Atkins” products that I used the more I sabotaged myself. Would be neat to find some manufactured “Low Carb” foods that have high “food reward” and pin this thing down.

    • TeeDee on August 3, 2017 at 04:29

      Carbs are not needed to make the glucose needed by the brain. We may all differ on opinions re: macro and calorie amounts, but we should try to agree on the basic science that we put out there: no carbs are necessary to produce glucose for the brain. Gluconeogenesis takes care of that with just protein intake.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 4, 2017 at 00:01

      Guess what else we can agree on?

      You’re very ignorant, and stupid.

      And I won’t even waste time outlining it.

    • TeeDee on August 4, 2017 at 12:59

      So, I was misinformed by every low carb advocate about the body being able to supply the glucose needed by the brain through gluconeogenesis? Ok, I’ll have to go back and check the info again, obviously; if I’m not too stupid and ignorant to find it again. I guess the Zero Carb group, some of whom have been doing ZC for years are drooling idiots with brain damage because they’re not consuming any carbs for their brain. Got it.

  11. BigRob on February 29, 2012 at 16:27

    Just so I am not misreading what you are writing.

    Are you saying that the benefit of low carb are more related to the benefits of food reward/palatability in lowering energy consumption.

    So, you are saying that someone could eat a 36, 32, 32 ratio of fat, carbs, protein and do as well as long as they avoid the Neolithic Agents of Disease?

    I know…. I am dense and slow today.

    • BigRob on February 29, 2012 at 16:28

      Obviously I know Dr. Kurt hates the macro thing, but I am using it only for clarification purposes.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 12:10

        I only hate it in the sense of making any macro a “black monolith” of health. Neither fats nor carbs are inherently fattening or dangerous on their own. Demonizing carbs is just the Keyesian conceit turned on its head. Taubes is making the same error Keyes did in reverse.

        I am macro agnostic in believing that as long as you are not diabetic and not in energy excess and are getting adequate micro nutrition and avoiding poisons, a range of carb intake from 10% to 70% or so should make little difference to your health or longevity and you should be able to live anywhere along that spectrum by choice, necessity or accident.

      • scott on March 2, 2012 at 09:51

        Dr. Harris – thanks for all the comments. It’s like you’re blogging again.

        Regarding energy excess – is this time frame dependent? That is, can I be energy neutral over the course of a week, but some days, and in portions of some days in energy excess?

        Can these periods of energy excess cause a problem?

        Would a high fat low carb, low fat high carb, or med fat med carb diet be more robust to excess energy? What markers would you use to evaluate dietary changes?

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 17:08

      “Are you saying that the benefit of low carb are more related to the benefits of food reward/palatability in lowering energy consumption.”

      Yes, precisely. The reward/palatability is what kicks off lower consumption. I didn’t include this but I think it’s at least part the the equation: trade off, which is a bit more _directly_ evolutionary (the only relevant factor in R/P in ancient past perhaps being ripe fruit, because it was designed to be highly palatable and rewarding). The trade off being the chore involved in preparing food. So if you’re losing weight on LC (or any other primarily real food approach that involved sourcing and cooking), you may be committed enough to both abstain from the the drive through, but also have something better to do than cook a meal just right now this very minute.

      “So, you are saying that someone could eat a 36, 32, 32 ratio of fat, carbs, protein and do as well as long as they avoid the Neolithic Agents of Disease?”

      Well, I think you can eat 90% carb from sweet potatoes and lose weight more rapidly than you ever imagined.

      • LeonRover on March 1, 2012 at 00:37

        Or you could relocate to Kitava . . . . !!

      • jj on March 2, 2012 at 21:27

        Oddly, I found VLC extremely unpalatable, but I still never lost more than 4-5 pounds after months on Atkins (back in the day). I always felt miserable and never hungry and hated half of what I was eating, but that lack of palatability never translated into weight loss.

      • Craig on March 5, 2012 at 08:33

        “Well, I think you can eat 90% carb from sweet potatoes and lose weight more rapidly than you ever imagined.”

        I can imagine. I’ve seen the 80/10/10 stick people. :) I don’t think 90/5/5 would be much different unless they managed to squeeze some animal food in there somewhere.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 5, 2012 at 09:13

        I think potato is about 13% quality protein, though, so probably far better than a fruit diet.

  12. RickB on February 29, 2012 at 16:33


    I’ve read all of Stephan’s posts (not just on food reward; all of them, ever, as well as Dr. Harris’), but I’ve never really grasped the mechanism of his food reward theory. In a way, I feel like your post could be circularly summed up like this:

    “Eat real foods that you don’t really enjoy eating and you will lose weight because you will want to eat less of those things that you don’t really enjoy eating.”

    But that can’t be it. There’s got to be some actual mechanism involved. [David Kessler points to sugar, fat, and salt in combination as having some trigger on our brains to eat more and/or store more energy as fat. I get that idea.]

    Maybe the hitch here is that my small brain is incapable of grasping the concept of palatability, which I assume means something different than “I enjoy drinking a Stone IPA; I don’t enjoy eating a nuked potato with no butter or salt.” Even if I eventually grew to love eating that plain potato (due to habit, or some association with it) it would never be palatable in the sense that Stephen uses. At the same time, I may get disgusted at the thought of eating a Snickers bar (I don’t), but it is nonetheless hyperpalatable.

    Maybe I’m the only one out here who just doesn’t *get* it regarding food reward—which is bedeviling because I find the idea compelling.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 17:21

      “Eat real foods that you don’t really enjoy eating and you will lose weight because you will want to eat less of those things that you don’t really enjoy eating”

      Nope, not really, and in fact, this was part of my struggle over months in contemplating this. I was going to put it in the post, but backed off on it, fully expecting to deal with it in comments in order to in part, separate in my mind the smart from the moron. Welcome to the smart.

      Food reward/palatability is a rather sciency definition that can get paleos wound up. “You’re saying our butter drenched, grilled, grassfed ribeye steaks aren’t palatable, rewarding?”

      No, what it really means in their language, so far as I can tell, is the sort of foods that are _engineered_ to make you want more of them. Ever stuffed yourself on pizza or pasta, initially thinking you could go a year without eating and 3 hours later, you’re hungry for more? That’s food reward. Try that with a 16 oz ribeye.

      The other aspect which they don’t consider but is worth considering from a paleo perspective: trade off. That is, getting off your ass, sourcing food, preparing it, or deciding you having better things to do, given that constraint if you can stick to it—and =many can, actually. I’m not perfect at it, and have been known to order delivery on occasion, but really, it”s the longer term that’s in play. Hell, pizza delivery and trips through the drive through used to be routine.

      Hope that helps. Happy to expound in redirects.

      • Ajr on February 29, 2012 at 17:54

        Shitty Chinese food is a classic example. You go from “I’ll never eat again” to “I’m starving” in a couple of hours.

      • Jake S. on February 29, 2012 at 20:43

        I *love* the smart! :)

        Food reward is [was?] a hard concept for me to grasp. It took 10 days of the “whole30” for me to get that donuts and double cheeseburgers were tasty, but fucked me up metabolically.

        On day 5 of the “whole30”, I fasted for 26 hours. Not because it was great, but because I couldn’t stop thinking of wanting to eat a donut. I kept on asking myself if a steak tasted good, but nothing sounded good [well, except for that donut].

      • Min on March 1, 2012 at 09:36

        HI Richard, this article is my first introduction to your work. Wonderful! I’ll definitely be back. And this comment really sent it home for me. I have been on the paleo-wagon for a year and the idea of “palatability’ just does not compute. So thank you for the translation into paleo-speak. (And thank you RickB for asking the question!). One follow-up, that may reveal that I am not one of the “smart” after all and too far up my own paleo butt to understand, but why can’t the potato have grassfed butter on it?

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 09:28

        “but why can’t the potato have grassfed butter on it?”

        Oh, it can and mine certainly do, just not unlimited amounts. So, say for an average sized baked potato, about a tablespoon of butter, and one of sour cream. But instead of an 8-12 oz portion of meat, it’s gonna be more like 4-6 oz.

      • Alexandra on March 4, 2012 at 11:54

        I’m glad you mentioned this. I struggle with the drive to eat more carbs and with food preoccupation when my carbs get too high. One of the things I enjoy most of my low carb paleo diet is that I forget about food for hours at a time and even when I do get hungry, it is presented as a gentle reminder. Even after 4 years of low carb, if I venture much above 25 grams of carb. of any type in a given meal, I get the same old drive to eat more carbs that ruled most of my life and inched me close to the 300 lb mark. (nearly 130 lbs lighter now!) Food occupies its proper place in my life these days, I enjoy my meals but I am not driven to eat too much. If that means keeping carbs low for the rest of my life, it’s a good trade off.

      • BabyGirl on March 5, 2012 at 12:26

        @rnicoley “Ever stuffed yourself on pizza or pasta, initially thinking you could go a year without eating and 3 hours later, you’re hungry for more? That’s food reward.”

        No, it’s because of the way a carb load messes with your blood sugar!

      • Craig on March 5, 2012 at 14:32

        I think of food reward as not wanting to stop eating something. Chinese food syndrome, when you want to eat 2 hours later, I think has more to do with hypoglycemia. The hunger is ravenous and if you ignore it, you get weak and shaky.

    • TeeDee on August 3, 2017 at 04:44

      “Ever stuffed yourself on pizza or pasta, initially thinking you could go a year without eating and 3 hours later, you’re hungry for more? That’s food reward. Try that with a 16 oz ribeye.”
      Ok, now I’m a bit confused again. Isn’t your above comment the whole argument used by those on low carb? I hated the constant cravings I would get for more carbs after eating those big servings of carbs. I don’t get those nagging, insane cravings for more and more food after eating the steak. I know I have to be missing something here, but I’m lost again. Also, I haven’t seen anyone specifically mention Insulin Resistance or Metabolic Syndrome, though in fairness, you’ve mentioned outliers like diabetics.
      I’m liking what I’ve been reading in the comments, but feel that since low carb is helping me to lose weight (though not as quickly as I’d like; I wouldn’t mind losing a modest 2lb per week) I shouldn’t mess around with adding carbs just yet. My A1C went from 6.9 to 5.4 in the first month of eating low carb and I really don’t need my GP telling me I’m prediabetic again. Great post and comments, though..

  13. Do Carbohydrates Ever AID weight loss? - Page 39 | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 39 on February 29, 2012 at 16:35

    […] Fantastic post from Rich over at FTA in response to his starch experiments. Synthesis: Low-Carb and Food Reward/Palatability, and Why Calories Count | Free The Animal Reply With […]

  14. jonw on February 29, 2012 at 16:41

    Richard, I’m about six weeks into a similar progression. For the past few years, I’ve eaten a pretty low carb, high fat mix of real food, with a haphazard once-or-twice-weekly exercise schedule, almost always skipping breakfast (12-16 hr fast) and occasional longer fasting. When my car died two months ago, I started biking 20 miles a day (creating the need for at least 1000 additional kcal food). With daily exercise, suddenly recovery time is much more important, and the biking schedule did not work with low carb. I gradually increased bananas, white/sweet potatoes and white rice to around 40% calories and it has been a revelation. No weight loss but it provides the fuel that I need to get through my days without feeling smoked.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 17:24

      Interesting jonw.

    • Emily Deans on February 29, 2012 at 17:54

      Dr. Anastasia of “primalmeded” has a terrific working definition of a “palatable” food: if you can eat it when you are already stuffed.

      Probably not a good idea to eat very much of anything you can eat when you are stuffed.

      In the binge eating literature, humans will binge primarily on sugary or salty snacks which typically incorporate starch and fat. Binge eating in particular shows a similar metabolism in the reward circuitry of the brain as alcoholics drinking alcohol. Now binge eating is not the same as obesity but I think it serves as an interesting model.

      • Brent on February 29, 2012 at 19:07

        What Dr. Anastasia calls a “palatable” food is what Guyenet/Kresser call a “high reward” food, due to its effects on the “reward circuitry of the brain.” They would define “palatable” as food that tastes good, but have no desire to eat when you are already stuffed. There are many foods (i.e. a rib-eye) that are still very palatable, but low reward.

        However, whether it’s called “palatable” or “high reward” (or “satiating” as below), I think “if you can eat it when you are already stuffed” is a great working definition, and really helps clarify the difference.

      • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 22:29

        Yea Emily, great way to look at it, just like stuffing yourself on pizza or pasta and in just a couple of hours, hungry for more.

        My one quibble is about starch and fat components, per se. Yep, I could do away with a bag of Lays even if full (starch, fat, salt), but if I’m full, a baked potato with no matter how much butter, sour cream, and even salty bacon bits is just not going to move me to action.

        There’s real power in both engineered and real foods, except the power is 180 degreee opposite from one-another.

      • Emily Deans MD on March 1, 2012 at 07:57

        Yes, I would say the engineered food is by definition more “palatable” than the baked potato with sour cream. I think the main confusion comes with the general usage of palatable. Yes, a rib-eye is palatable as hell in layman’s terms. But it is less palatable than peanut M&Ms in the reward literature because people won’t generally chow down on a rib-eye to extreme, but certainly certain foilks can eat peanut M&Ms even when full.

      • Joe on March 1, 2012 at 09:54

        You could forcibly stuff peanut M&Ms down my throat (like they fatten-up geese to make foie gras), until I couldn’t eat one more M&M, but I’d still have room for a grass-fed rib-eye.

        I’m just sayin…

      • Emily Deans MD on March 1, 2012 at 10:52

        And some people love heroin while others love cocaine.

      • Joe on March 1, 2012 at 11:30

        And some of us love rib-eyes more than cocaine or heroin!

      • Paleo Pupil on March 1, 2012 at 15:46

        Where do the speedballers fit into this?

      • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 12:06

        “You could forcibly stuff peanut M&Ms down my throat (like they fatten-up geese to make foie gras), until I couldn’t eat one more M&M, but I’d still have room for a grass-fed rib-eye.”

        So why don’t you? I mean, how come next time you feel real full and stuffed, you don’t pull another ribeye out of the fridge and cook it up and eat it? And even if you did do something like that once, why not every day, after a hearty lunch and dinner?

        You can just call it dessert, and there’s always room for dessert. Some people have dessert after every lunch and dinner meal every day. It’s usually not ribeye steak, so maybe you should lead the charge, Joe.

        Ribeye steak: it’s the new dessert.

        And if not, why not?

      • Min on March 1, 2012 at 15:20

        if i’m understanding this correctly, then…NO! He wouldn’t eat the low reward food instead of the ice cream. he’s not actually hungry. he’s seeking food reward. that’s the difference. You see energy dense, palatable foodies and you want to eat it even if you aren’t hungry. (Dear lord, i hope that’s right, otherwise I’m baffled).

        What I’m still curious about is why “palatability and fat content were associated with lower SI.” All the paleo peeps are saying fat is satiating (e.g. . Is that just up and wrong? help.

      • Joe on March 1, 2012 at 13:09

        “So why don’t you?”

        One reason: Price!

        Yeah, if I could afford to eat aged, grass-fed rib-eyes every day, I would. I eat some kind of meat, usually beef, for dinner everyday as it is.

        But I don’t understand your other question: how come next time you feel real full and stuffed, you don’t pull another ribeye out of the fridge and cook it up and eat it? Well, primarily because after eating one rib-eye, I feel “stuffed” for quite some time.

        My statement above was intended only to illustrate my love of rib-eyes, so why go off the deep end on this? I don’t understand your point. Please elaborate!

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 13:49

        “primarily because after eating one rib-eye, I feel “stuffed” for quite some time.

        This contradicts your claim and fully illustrates our objection to your claim.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 14:00

        Bingo! Joe. But I’ll bet in your fat days, you always had room for dessert. That’s food reward/palatability, or whatever J Stanton says it is. :)

      • Joe on March 1, 2012 at 14:17

        What claim? That I love rib-eyes? That I can eat them all the time? What?

        One of us is going off the rails, Kurt.

        I think you’re reading something into my comments that isn’t there.

      • Joe on March 1, 2012 at 14:23

        Bingo what, Rich?

        I always have room for, say, a cannoli, or a piece of cheesecake, even today (after a rib-eye), I just choose not to eat them.

        In fact, maybe “stuffed” was the wrong word. I’m satisfied. I could eat more, but I choose not to.

        I’m really not sure where you and Kurt are heading with this…

      • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 14:56

        “I always have room for, say, a cannoli, or a piece of cheesecake, even today (after a rib-eye), I just choose not to eat them.”

        I’m thinking the problem here, Joe, is that you’re not really understanding what food reward is.

        Yes, you chose not to eat them, just as I chose not to get an ice cream bar that enticed me this morning after breakfast, where I left some potato ’cause I could not eat any more.

        That’s the point. You don’t have “room” for another ribeye, you’re satisfied. I get it. Me too. But you have room for dessert and now that you have enough knowledge to eat great food that satisfies you, it’s now easy to pass up that canoli and cheesecake even though you could eat it cause you have room, but not another ribeye because your have totally satisfied your ribeye fix.

      • Jason on March 1, 2012 at 15:03

        Something i’m still hazy about is the distinction between reward and actual hunger. If potatoes were the only thing available for consumption then after a while I’d not want to eat them at all, but more likely than not i’d experience fatigue and all the other symptoms associated with insufficient calorie intake.

        Also…your incident with the ice cream freezer, what if someone offered you another low reward food, just not potatoes, would your reaction be similar (albeit to a lesser degree) as it was to the ice cream?

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 15:57

        The claim that you would eat a rib when you have already been forcibly stuffed.

        ““You could forcibly stuff peanut M&Ms down my throat (like they fatten-up geese to make foie gras), until I couldn’t eat one more M&M, but I’d still have room for a grass-fed rib-eye.””

        Or maybe you were trying to say something else, but that is what it sounded like to me.

      • Joe on March 1, 2012 at 16:17

        No, I guess I just don’t understand it. Sigh.

        “where I left some potato ’cause I could not eat any more.”

        That doesn’t happen to me. Leave food? Nope. I clean the plate.

        I’m where I am because I’ve essentially stopped eating sugar (including fructose) and grains, and restricted my carbs in general. I really don’t even count them anymore either, I just keep eating the same kinds and amounts of carbs I’ve eaten for a couple of years now. I eat the same amount of meats, eggs, etc. I still have “dessert,” but now it’s a few berries, or a dab of Greek high-fat yogurt doused in cinnamon, and not an entire chocolate cream pie. I also drink a lot more water than I used to, at least 7-8 glasses a day, I no longer drink beer (but still enjoy a couple fingers of single-malt whiskey from time to time), and exercise quite a bit. So whether I understand “it” or not (whatever “it” is), something is working for me, and I’m not messing with success.

      • Joe on March 1, 2012 at 16:26

        “The claim that you would eat a rib when you have already been forcibly stuffed.”

        Yeah, but I essentially meant that to illustrate my fondness for rib-eyes. Also there’s only so many M&Ms (or just about any food, including rib-eyes) that a person could eat at one time before becoming repulsed by them. I was, at the end, repulsed by that 72 ounce sirloin steak at the end, but I probably could have eaten a few cannolis afterward.

      • Brent on March 1, 2012 at 18:25

        “I was, at the end, repulsed by that 72 ounce sirloin steak at the end, but I probably could have eaten a few cannolis afterward.”

        It’s official: you really don’t get it.

      • Joe on March 1, 2012 at 18:37

        Whether I get “it” or not, I’m exactly where I want to be, relative to my health, weight, and overall fitness, so I really don’t care at this point if I ever get “it.” Whatever “it” is.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 09:23

        “Also…your incident with the ice cream freezer, what if someone offered you another low reward food, just not potatoes, would your reaction be similar (albeit to a lesser degree) as it was to the ice cream?”

        I doubt it. There’s room for ice cream. Probably not much else at that time.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 12:20

        I don’t believe it when people claim this.

        I mean, I hear people make this claim all the time, but I have never once seen anyone “stuff” themselves on steak alone, nor even as you claim, do the Mr. Creososte with steak when they are already full to bursting.

        Maybe baked potato with sour cream and butter and steak, but not just steak.

      • Joe on March 1, 2012 at 13:24

        “I don’t believe it when people claim this.”

        That’s too bad, because it’s true. There’s a restaurant in Kansas City (it was down in the stockyards, and I don’t know if it’s still there) that has my picture on a wall, along with hundreds of other people’s pictures, who were able to eat their special 72 ounce sirloin steak in less than one hour (if you do, your meal is free). Along with the steak, you had to eat a small order of fries, and two slices of Texas toast. You could drink all the water you wanted.

        I don’t know if I could do that today (this was in the 70s), but I’d make a one pound, aged, grass-fed steak disappear before you could find the salt shaker.

        “but I have never once seen anyone “stuff” themselves on steak alone”

        Of course, I didn’t say that I could do that, but for your information, I could, but I also enjoy a small salad or an avocado with my steaks, which is basically my usual dinner.

      • Emily Deans on March 1, 2012 at 13:47

        “Big Tex” in Amarillo used to do this sort of thing. There’s also a pizza restaurant in Idaho Springs, CO… I know at Big Tex they follow you to the bathroom to make sure you don’t throw up. And one of my biochem profs in med school made a fairly convincing article that it was impossible to consume 72 oz of steak due to the protein content. But he could have been wrong.

        I do have to be careful with my addiction metaphors. I know Stephan has explicitly said it is not the same as addiction. And only 1/3 of people who seek medical treatment for obesity have binge eating disorder. BUT… honestly they are talking the same parts of the brain and the same neurotransmitters as in addiction so I jump on in and speculate like crazy :-) I also think it is an easy model to understand, if one understands addiction.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 13:52

        I think the big problem with food as an addiction, which I think it can be, is not that addiction is so severe or intense, but that we cannot use total avoidance as a treatment. Starvation is not an acceptable side effect….

      • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 14:10

        I’ve done 2-2.5 pounds of meat at a sitting, meat alone. Thing is, I didn’t eat for a very long time after. Berkhan has at times done up to 5 pounds, I think he’s said.

      • Joe on March 1, 2012 at 14:31

        “And one of my biochem profs in med school made a fairly convincing article that it was impossible to consume 72 oz of steak due to the protein content. But he could have been wrong. ”

        Yes, he was wrong. And there are similar restaurants all across the country that prove he’s wrong. He needs to get out of his lab and visit one of them.

        FYI: I didn’t eat like that all the time (in fact, that was the only time I ever ate that much food). I only did it for the same reason that George Mallory climbed Mt. Everest: “Because it’s there.” But I’ve always been a big eater, routinely making a full pound of pasta disappear, or entire Marie Calendar chocolate cream pies, for example. I don’t have to tell you what that eventually led to, right? :)

      • hellz cool on March 1, 2012 at 14:45

        On The Amazing Race a few years ago, one of the challenges was to eat 4 pounds of meat. Four of the teams (out of 9-ish) actually took the penalty rather than eat all the meat. (it actually worked out well for some of them.

      • Todd on March 1, 2012 at 16:59

        I’m kinda like Joe in that I can pack the steak away. I routinely eat 1 pound steaks and pork steaks (pretty much a Midwest thing from what I gather. I’m sorry if you’ve never had the pleasure) weekly. Typically I eat them with a potato, small salad, and some asparagus or sorts. I don’t get the stuffed feeling eating this way like I do with pizza or lasagna or something along those lines.

        I think I could easily eat several pounds of steak because I really think it’s palatable, but like you said.. I’ve never got done eating a Thanksgiving meal, and said forget the pumpkin pie, I’ll have the blood rare strip steak instead.

      • Skyler Tanner on March 2, 2012 at 06:55

        As Keith will tell you, trips to the BBQ (or Brazilian Steakhouses) turn into multiple pounds of meat consumed affairs. And you’re right, you’re not hungry for at least a few hours, maybe more. ;)

      • Emily Deans on March 2, 2012 at 13:49

        Multiple times I’ve used naltrexone (an opiate blocker) to stop binge eating. The cravings go away. It only takes a few weeks. It’s a nice way to undo addiction/reward without starving someone… not FDA approved.

      • Nigel Kinbrum on March 8, 2012 at 07:20

        This is pretty damning evidence for the existence of Food Reward. How can naltrexone block something that doesn’t exist?

      • Contemplationist on March 2, 2012 at 07:40

        Maybe I’m being an obtuse ass, but this seems like circular reasoning -> palatable food is one people will eat more of. okay, but why? whts the mechanism?

      • Justin on March 2, 2012 at 07:42

        that’s because it is circular ;) there has to be a mechanism. And the question being completely dodged here is why is some food palatable but not likely to be overconsumed? Butter is a good example.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 2, 2012 at 09:59

        FR is a phenomenon that can be observed and even measured. As you suggest, there are indeed mechanisms that involve reward mediating centers of the brain.

        Its not circular to say that higher reward foods lead to more consumption. FR is defined by measuring BEHAVIOR that can be quantitated and is both measurable and repeatable.

        Here is a good example. Saying that the fastest runner wins the race is rhetorically a tautology – circular. Saying that a car with higher horsepower to weight ratio is MORE LIKELY to win a race is not circular. Note that we need not specify all the factors affecting horsepower (the mechanisms), we just have something that can be measured.

        In the second case, we are talking about a measurable factor that influences results, not making a rhetorically emptily statement. FR is a factor that is more likely to result in fat gain. FR is not defined as any state that resulted in fatness. Big difference.

        So rather than being circular, the several factors that effect FR have already been at least partially worked out, and there is extensive published literature on this.

        Re: Butter. That is in fact a very bad example, as butter BY ITSELF is simply not palatable. When you say it is palatable, are you saying that you like to eat sticks of butter? Of course not, you are thinking of what it does when you add it to other foods. Sugar is exactly the same. No one eats white sugar from a bowl with a spoon, because white sugar is not palatable either, buy itself.

        Add butter to a sweet roll or pancake and you have something highly palatable that is high in reward. But butter or sugar by themselves itself as your sole food source would lead you to lose weight rapidly.

        And remember, palatability is only ONE component of FR.

        Read, or re-read Stephan’s entire series and his published review article and it may make more sense to you.

      • Justin on March 2, 2012 at 11:01

        No I actually do mean eating butter by itself – it is delicious. My 2 year old also finds it delicious *by itself.*

        Another decent example is 90% dark chocolate — it’s actually somewhat hard to eat 4.5 squares of Lindt dark chocolate (somethingl like 300 calories) but it is delicious. Why?

        Oh and she (2.5 year old) likes ultra dark chocolate, too.

        I’m curious if some who adopt eating baked potatoes learn an association around them, ultimately “liking” them to the point of overeating on them. I can see that happening and it’d be a way to test this FR theory.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 14:56


        There was a YouTube floating around a while back that someone shot of a woman sticking here hand down the back of here pants and then… Well, you get the idea.

        FR isn’t meant to determine what precise foods any individual finds so palatable and rewarding, but rather to suggest why they can overheat the foods they do find palatable and rewarding even if they already feel full.

        I personally can eat a pat or two of quality butter by itself but just like a good triple cream French cheese, find it unspeaking to go beyond that unless it’s on some crusty bread or a cracker.

      • Lynney on March 2, 2012 at 20:06

        “It’s not circular to say that higher reward foods lead to increased consumption.” But if the higher reward value of the food is defined by the resulting behavior, not by an inherent quality within the food, isn’t that circular? It seems that the cause and effect are sharing the same definition. It’s like saying the food’s tendency to reinforce consumption reinforces consumption. Or – food that makes you want to keep eating it tends to make you keep eating it.

        Even in the example, horsepower is not the same thing as speed. A facet of the car – horsepower – is causing a result – speed. What is the facet of the food that’s causing the resulting behavior?

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 4, 2012 at 17:05

        The best I can do is to reiterate that delicious and palatable are not the same as rewarding. Reward depends also on energy density, texture and probably many other factors, but that does not mean it is not measurable in experiments.

        Palatability is only only one aspect of reward. Pringles are rewarding, even though LESS palatable than maguro sashimi.

      • Katherine on March 5, 2012 at 05:45

        Yes that’s just it. Some foods I find highly rewarding (what I consider to be addictive for me), I don’t even necessarily enjoy eating them that much in terms of the taste. It’s about neurochemistry and industrial foods designed to trigger an urge to consume more (along with messing with blood sugar so you get hungry again soon after). The bolognaise sauce with cheese that I just ate, was delicious, but after one bowl I am done. A few days ago I ate a whole tube of Pringles after a full dinner. Nuff said lol.

      • Mallory on March 1, 2012 at 16:43

        agreed, it is beyond interesting to study the brain and food intake

      • GalinaL. on March 5, 2012 at 09:51

        Then fruits fit the definition pretty well for many people, me included. (Other desserts are not excluded for sure.)

  15. Ron on February 29, 2012 at 16:43

    Richard – I went “paleo” 18 months ago. Before I started, I was eating somewhat of a modified Mediterranean diet… nothing processed, fairly optimal N6/N3, no added sugars/low fructose plus a fair amount of so-called healthy whole grain products. This equated to about 2200 calories/day. I weighed 163# on a small 6′ frame. Upon going “paleo,” I upped by calories to about 2800/day, and after losing 25 lbs. (I was skinny fat) within 3 months, I started eating 4 tblsp of coconut oil every day. Thus, my calories were up to an average of 3200/day. After starting the oil, I didn’t lose anymore weight, but I lost 3 more inches from my waist (now 29″). My daily carb count was about 50 grams. I’m still eating the same amount of calories, but I just recently started eating more potatoes, and have gained about 4 lbs. in the last week. I don’t doubt what you’re saying about reward/palatability, but those extra carbs are causing me to gain a little weight… I’m still at 3200 calories, but with more fat that I need to wolf down those potatoes. I have, however, noticed that I’m a little less irritable. I’m going to see where this all goes.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 19:00

      Ron: In your case, being so lean, sounds like very ectomorphic to me, and accretive I would guess, Ill bet that’s water weight. Do you feel a bit more pumped in your muscles?

      At any rate, seeing as how you have such a precise grasp on your numbers, it seems like it ought to be a cinch for you to maintain a weight and comp that works for you.

      …I enjoy periodic periods of hunger.

      • Ron on February 29, 2012 at 22:13

        Yes, definitely more pumped, & a lot stronger. You’re probably right about the weight gain being mostly water. The main thing is that it’s very easy for me to maintain a low-carb regimen, but I’m not sure I want to, or need to. Since I love potatoes & rice, I’m more than willing to include more of that. I’m at the stage now where it’s easy to tweak & experiment. Looking back on everything… damn, what an amazing transformation. Wish I had started eating like this 40 years ago!

        I’m getting a good chuckle out of all this back & forth between the low-carbers & the food reward/palatability folks. I know everybody is different, but it isn’t rocket science, & there doesn’t seem to be a need for dogmatism. What works for some, doesn’t work for others. But the main thing is that both sides need to keep their eye on the ball, & invoke the Kurt Harris law… avoiding the NAD… the rest is all commentary & experimentation. Keep up the great work!

        P.S. One thing that would greatly interest me is that if you end up doing this for roughly 3 months, & you maintain your body composition… in other words, you’re a happy camper… what, if any, changes do you think a blood test will reveal?

      • Joe on March 1, 2012 at 10:10

        “P.S. One thing that would greatly interest me is that if you end up doing this for roughly 3 months, & you maintain your body composition… in other words, you’re a happy camper… what, if any, changes do you think a blood test will reveal?”

        I hope Richard has had one recently (blood test), to establish a kind of baseline for comparison.

        Also, recent body measurements, for the same reason.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 12:23

        Regarding blood tests, see my comments above in the thread.

        I think waist circumference and perhaps CIMT and coronary calcium tell you something, but “blood lipid” are a waste of time and money at best.

        Eat real food, avoid toxins like excess n-6, and don’t be obese.

      • Joe on March 1, 2012 at 14:42

        “but “blood lipid” are a waste of time and money at best.”

        I don’t agree about the blood lipids; I do agree with coronary calcium. And Kresser has a very good video and audio thing at the PaleoSummit site on that very topic:

        It’s only free to watch today.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 15:59

        Perhaps you could tell me exactly what they do for you?

      • Joe on March 1, 2012 at 16:47

        Well, if you watched the video, you saw (heard) that certain numbers (on various kinds of tests) could be markers for various conditions, like familial hypercholesterolemia, thyroid problems, not eating enough anti-oxidants, etc.

        If you didn’t watch the video, perhaps you could tell me why you didn’t?

        In any case, I don’t think the jury is in yet on cholesterol, and the various ways of looking at it. So I’m making a kind of “Pascal’s Wager” here. (I can’t be certain that God exists, but living like He does gives me my best odds of getting into Heaven, and there’s little to be gained by living like He doesn’t, yada yada yada). Or something along those lines.

      • Jscott on March 1, 2012 at 17:18

        Did you see Kurt’s reply regarding cholesterol tests above? Might take a gander. Especially if you are using Pascal’s wager to support a position (WHICH God?).

      • Joe on March 1, 2012 at 17:26

        Yes, I did see it.

        Did you watch Kresser’s video?

        “WHICH God”

        Pick one. It’s just a metaphor.

      • Jscott on March 1, 2012 at 19:38

        Metaphors matter. The ‘Which God’ makes Pascal’s Bet fail. Them gods be choosy with how they like to be served ;).

        Saw the video. I dig on what Chris says on many issues.

        I like more clear speech when it comes to ‘markers.’

        “Maybe. Perhaps. In some Cases” does not do it for me.

        IF I could find a basis within my dietary parameters THEN it would make me pay attention more to cholesterol markers. Otherwise there are to many variables within the numbers. From my understanding that is.

        Info on inflammation, however, is always welcomed.

        (FWIW my genes give me a pass on most cardiac issues.)

        Thanks for sharing the link.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 19:52

        The point about testing is – what are you going to do with the information?

        I am not arguing that an accidentally discovered lab value that is grossly out of whack should not be investigated. I am saying that the utility of routinely testing for lipid like HDL and LDL and particle size is totally unproven. I mean, there is zero evidence that there is clinical utility to having everyone get tested for these things, and this is mostly because in the vat majority of cases, there is very little you can do about the numbers, and if there is, there is little evidence that correcting the numbers is efficacious in reducing mortality.

        I think it is useful to test fasting BG, blood sugar, and serum ferritin if you are male.

        I think if you do not eat in energy excess and if you have no symptoms of hypothyroidism, and no family history of early death due to familial hyprcholestrolemia, that the utility of testing for “blood lipids” is very very low to nonexistent.

        That is not the same as saying that if one has elevated

        We are talking about the utility of diagnostic tests applied to the general population, not whether test results indicate disease.

        Have you had a brain MRI yet to tell if you are one of the 4% of people with and enraptured cerebral aneurysm that may blow up and kill you at any minute?

        Have you had an echocardiogram yet to make sure you do not have an aortic aneurysm about ready to blow?

        These are both actual tests that you could have that could actually save your life if you had them, as the diseases are highly treatable.

        Yet we as doctors do not recommend screening the entire population because it is not of demonstrated utility to do so, and it is not without harm to do mass screenings, due to the issue of false positives (bayes theorem)

        Think about these two examples and maybe you will get what I am talking about with regard to blood lipids, for which the case is even weaker for screening.

        In real life it is not Pascal’s wager, because Pascals’ wager was free.

        False positives and the economics of screening tests mean your wager is not free.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 19:54

        I should add, if you want to test for something that probably should be tested for but is not, try serum ferritin and forget about “cholesterol”.

        Hereditary Hemochromatosis is VERY common and is deadly.

      • Merr on March 2, 2012 at 06:04


        Is an annual serum ferritin test appropriate for someone who hasn’t been previously diagnosed with Hereditary Hemochromatosis, or should the test be done more often?

      • Joe on March 2, 2012 at 07:25

        “Think about these two examples and maybe you will get what I am talking about with regard to blood lipids, for which the case is even weaker for screening.”

        Those two examples don’t represent the leading cause of death in males today – CVD. So, IMO, they aren’t in the same league. My father died of a heart attack at 63, my mother at 56, so I have a particular interest in CVD.

        Regarding my comment that I approach this in a kind of Pascal Wager’s way? And not being free? You’re just kidding, right? The cost of the tests are rather inexpensive, and the information (say in the case of someone with familial hypercholesterolemia) can be invaluable.

        I’ve read all the books, including Ravnskov’s. I don’t buy the “conventional wisdom” on cholesterol either, but I try to keep my mind open to all possibilities. Luckily, my current diet, weight, lifestyle, etc., are all giving me pretty damn good numbers anyway, so that’s nice to know. Kresser’s video gave me a few more ways to look at those numbers, and all in positive ways. So, yes, I think the test has value, depending on how one uses the numbers.

        And what if you (Ravanskov, et al.) are wrong? Well, it hasn’t cost me much to live my life in a way that gets me “good” numbers anyway, if I can. And I can. Hence the Pascal’s Wager metaphor.

        Thanks for your comments, Kurt, I know you’re just trying to be of service. And I appreciate that. We agree much more than we disagree.

      • Joe on March 2, 2012 at 07:35

        “Metaphors matter. The ‘Which God’ makes Pascal’s Bet fail.”

        Not so. I’m pretty sure that Pascal had a particular God in mind. Again, it’s just a metaphor.

        “Maybe. Perhaps. In some Cases” does not do it for me.

        It works for me. It’s nice to listen to someone who doesn’t think he’s God, for a change.

        “Otherwise there are to many variables within the numbers. From my understanding that is.”

        Yes, there are, and I didn’t know that until I listened to Kresser (and Masterjohn). That’s nice to know too, and yet another way to look at the numbers.

        “(FWIW my genes give me a pass on most cardiac issues.)”

        I wouldn’t bet too much money on that. Your genes can be affected by many things, particularly your diet. Genes can be turned off, turned on, etc., depending on your diet, your lifestyle, etc.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 2, 2012 at 10:04

        I think if you have it done once and it is normal, you are OK. I think donating blood should be considered for any ferritin over 150 and perhaps over 100.

        If you are over 300, you should be genetically tested for HH.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 2, 2012 at 10:11

        I am not kidding at all about screening not being “free”.

        False positives lead to medical misadventures that injure and kill people every day. I make my living in diagnostic medicine and I see it happen.

        What you need to consider in testing is not whether CVD is prevalent, but whether you can do anything useful with the information.

        If you are already eating a healthy diet, what will you do with it? As long as you are confident in knowing what you will do with a result, get all the tests you like.

      • Joe on March 2, 2012 at 10:17

        “As long as you are confident in knowing what you will do with a result, get all the tests you like.”


      • trilobite on March 2, 2012 at 13:52

        Do you have any knowledge about lowering iron stores with IP6, a.k.a. inositol hexaphosphate, a.k.a. phytic acid? My ferritin is around 170, but I am unable to donate blood unless I flat out lie on the questionnaire.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 4, 2012 at 17:08

        OK, Joe

        So what exactly will you do with an LDL of 140 that you will not do if your LDL is 90, can you answer that and can you justify your answer?

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 4, 2012 at 17:09


        What do you have to lie about? No chemical is as safe or as effective as phlebotomy?

      • trilobite on March 4, 2012 at 17:16

        I would have to lie about being a man who has had sex with men. And I’m just fabulous enough that if I did lie about it, they probably wouldn’t believe me.

      • Joe on March 5, 2012 at 10:09

        I don’t like answering hypotheticals, Kurt. It’s mostly an exercise in futility.

        It’s a lousy answer, I know, but you’ll have to accept it.

        IT ALL DEPENDS. It all depends on what all the other numbers would say, etc. What subsequent tests would tell me. Etc.

        Have you never had a test?

      • keds on March 6, 2012 at 12:54

        Thank you for highlighting this. My grandpa would probably still be alive today if his doctor was informed. He endured several major joint replacements, severe liver cirrhosis, and and eventually succumbing to cancer and was scolded for “drinking too much”.

  16. Alex on February 29, 2012 at 16:45

    Everyone’s different. I agree that calories count. But, for me, starch in any form, eaten on a regular basis, greatly increases hunger and drives me to overeat. Beans, grains, tubers, doesn’t matter. However, apples, citrus, berries, and cherries don’t have that effect, so I eat fruit and non-starchy veggies for carbs.

    Last year, my weight had crept up a bit, and I recently dropped 8 pounds by calorie counting on FitDay. With carbs at 20-30% of calories and not from starch, I was able to hit weekly caloric averages as low as 1700 calories a day and still not feel anything but the gentlest of hunger. I have no doubt that I could have calorie counted with 50% of calories from starch and lost weight, but the gnawing voracious hunger would have been hell. I would have had to switch to grazing, multi-mini-meal eating to get through it.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 19:03

      Chocolate and vanilla. I was amazed to see that post from Stephan earlier, because I was all raring to go yesterday morning, but just wasn’t hungry. My potato experience, prescient, right now experimental experience, exactly echoes that of the test subjects: totally off the scale in terms of satiety.

    • Craig on March 5, 2012 at 09:41

      I’m the same way, Alex. It’s easier for me to not eat the potato than to eat only one. Richard can eat them; I can’t.

      Everyone has different experiences and when we know the sky is blue, it’s really hard to believe someone when they tell you it’s green. We all think the other is wrong or full of shit. I don’t think the two theories are mutually exclusive. Why can’t it be both insulin and food reward; sometimes more of one than the other depending on history and genetics?

      • Richard Nikoley on March 5, 2012 at 09:59

        I’m having no issues with overeating on potato, even with sensible portions of butter, sour cream and seasonings. However, if they were french fries, potato skins, potato salad, etc., that would be a whole other ballgame.

  17. Confused about this moderate carb approach | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page on February 29, 2012 at 16:47

    […] about this moderate carb approach What's your guys thoughts on Richard Nikoley's recent post. Synthesis: Low-Carb and Food Reward/Palatability, and Why Calories Count | Free The Animal I'm eating more starches to help fuel my workouts and perform better but fat intake is still the […]

    • Txomin on March 1, 2012 at 18:54

      Isn’t this spam? It is weird that it comes from Sisson’s site.

      • Alex on March 2, 2012 at 05:44

      • TeeDee on August 1, 2018 at 11:18

        Yeah, I thought something was up when I saw I couldn’t reply to Kelly’s comment. I wanted to let her know that the Energy Balance Theory has pretty much been debunked by Taubes et al. Mikhaila is doing just fine and knows her own system better than anyone, especially mainstream health practitioners who had nothing more to offer her than medication her entire childhood.

  18. Neil Fraser-Smith on February 29, 2012 at 16:47

    I hate to say it but Anthony Colpo has been saying just this since way back.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 19:06

      I guess you don’t get around too much, Neil.

      This was like, from yesterday, dude.

      “So it has been a slightly weird couple of days. On a total lark when feelin’ fine after potatoes, I took on a grin, sucked it up, and emailed Anthony Colpo. …Listen, I’ve had a bit of fun with a couple of posts in the past on the subject, and Mike Eades is a friend of mine, and all of that…but I’ve been peeking at some of the stuff Anthony has been writing lately, and if I were to deny what I consider to be the enormous sanity in so much of it, then who loses? Who’s being cheated? I have “a rather large nose and I’ll keep it, thank you very much.

      “So here’s anthony’s post that in part, incorporates my email to him.”

      • Neil on February 29, 2012 at 22:32

        Sorry Richard, obviously I have offended you. That was not my intent and yes, I did read all that yesterday. What I meant was that despite finding Colpo very ‘difficult’, to put it nicely, perhaps what he has been saying all along is true. Not that he thought all this up before you.
        I think this is one of your best post and I agree entirely with you.
        I’m starting work on my last 10Kg’s today.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 00:57

        No, Neil, my bad. Forget about it, and no, AC came up with the relevant aspects of this long before I.

      • Kelly on March 1, 2012 at 11:05

        AC’s “Fat Loss Bible”, although having an unfortunate title, is a must read for the non-carbophobic.

    • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 12:25

      Yes he has and he is correct.

    • Emily Deans on March 2, 2012 at 14:03

      It is funny because the cutting edge were always into bodybuilding nutrition. Taubes and Sisson et al have exonerated sat fat so we can all do bodybuilding nutrition (adjusting carbs to activity level) with adequate calories and healthy fat…

      • Skyler Tanner on March 3, 2012 at 12:51

        This. Bodybuilders can become very OCD (“clean eating” being the only way to leanness) but they were always ahead of the curve when it came to nutrition. You might not like what they’re trying to do with it but its hard to fault this otherwise.

        Which mean that Lyle McDonald was right all along, much to the chagrin of the low carb/”paleo” community.

  19. Nigel Kinbrum on February 29, 2012 at 16:49

    I’m going to stick my neck out here and state that fat, sedentary people do better on low-carb diets because:-

    Fat, sedentary people have severe muscular insulin resistance.
    This results in chronic hyperinsulinaemia and acute hyperinsulinaemia on eating carbs (which causes lethargy & increased sedentariness).
    Chronic hyperinsulinaemia impairs the Phase I insulin response.
    This impairs the stability of the blood glucose control system resulting in large fluctuations in blood glucose level.
    A rapidly-falling blood glucose level causes severe hunger pangs (I’ve experienced this under medical supervision).
    Severe hunger pangs cause overeating, resulting in increased fatness.
    GOTO 1

    Low-carb diets reduce the large fluctuations in blood glucose level. Once normal blood glucose control has been restored by bodyfat loss & exercise, low-carb diet is no longer required.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 19:10

      Uh, Nigel, you forgot to indicate what their body temperature was.

      Which is a polite way of saying this is jerk-off territory. It doesn’t really matter the biochem behind it, and I really doubt you or anyone is correct, with that level of deconstructionist reductionism.

      They want to eat more and more of what got them fat.

      There’s an app for and around that.

      • Nigel Kinbrum on March 1, 2012 at 01:46

        When push comes to shove, it doesn’t really matter how things work. I discussed this in

        As you know, I’m a nerd who usually loves to analyse things to death.

        The big question is:- Who’s the real enemy in the war against obesity? I believe that it’s the food manufacturers and I believe that their power of influence should be reduced by….. y’know.

      • Neal Matheson on March 1, 2012 at 10:39

        Hello Nigel, Have you seen that David Cameron’s obesity advisor has a list of food business links as long as your arm
        Don’t expect anything from this government ‘cept maybe a tax on saturated fat.

      • Nigel Kinbrum on March 1, 2012 at 11:14

        As I replied to Brent on my blog: Sadly, I believe that the general population is screwed. All you can do is try to influence your own friends & relatives by setting a good example.

      • Neal Matheson on March 1, 2012 at 23:01

        Sorry mate I’ll have a look at your blog

      • Brent on March 1, 2012 at 10:53

        Nigel, I replied to that sentiment on your blog. The “power” of influence of the corporations is nothing compared to the very real power of the government to enforce the wishes of the corporations. Reduce the power of the government to regulate the food supply and you will reduce the donations from corporations.

        “When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.”
        –P. J. O’Rourke

      • Nigel Kinbrum on March 1, 2012 at 11:17

        Is the dog wagging the tail or vice-versa? It’s impossible to tell.

      • BabyGirl on March 5, 2012 at 12:38

        “Fat, sedentary people have severe muscular insulin resistance.” You are so absolutely correct.

    • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 12:28

      Hi Nigel.

      I think people should use whatever works to get into energy balance. But I agree that fat and sedentary people ten to initially do well on low carb for different reasons.

      1) They are perforce less active and don’t need carb as much

      2) It is just more culturally acceptable and easier to reduce food reward with low darn than low fat for most people

      • Nigel Kinbrum on March 1, 2012 at 16:10

        Yup. In the bad old days when I was quite sedentary and quite muscularly insulin resistant, I used to fall asleep regularly after meals (especially meals containing bread, pasta, potatoes & rice) and wake up ravenously hungry. I’m guessing that it was due to roller-coaster blood glucose & insulin levels. Low-carbing freed me from that vicious circle.

        Now that I’m more active (low & high-intensity exercise) and Vitamin D-replete, I can eat whatever I want without suffering from lethargy or ravenous hunger. I stopped being a carb cripple.

      • gallier2 on March 2, 2012 at 01:41

        Same experience here. But I have to add that when I indulge regularly on carby foods (i.e. more potatoes and bread once or twice a week and sometimes desserts) for a longer period (say 4-5 months) then the post-prandial sleepiness and the other old symptoms (GERD, high blood pressure, fast pulse as stress response) do progressively reappear. I have to restart a lower carb diet to get all that under controle again. Made the experience several times in the last 7 years. The influence on my weight is rather marginal in one way or the other during this periods.
        That point also should caution people on their n=1 experience, re-eating carbs and not experience bad things after one week does not say much, let’s talk again in 6 or 12 months.

      • Nigel Kinbrum on March 2, 2012 at 07:44

        Do you know your serum Vitamin D level?

      • gallier2 on March 2, 2012 at 09:23

        I checked 3 years ago, it was too low 16.6 µg/l (41.5 nmol/l). I supplement since then but avoid to over-do it as it seem to have a strange effect on my imune system (I get the typical colds symptoms cough, runny nose and soar throat). In summer I try to get it via the sun, but as an office jockey, it’s not easy to get enough of it.
        To come back to all the FR talk and such. What irks me the most about it, it’s its lack of objectivity. FR is not an inherent property of the food, or a measurable effect on the metabolism (and I include brain alteration in that term). To give an from a personal point of view an example, crisps (chips in US lingo) or ice-cream are considered some of the worst example of self-reinforcing food products. But the fun part is, considering the my history of switching on and off between months periods of LCHF (meat, cheese and cream) and standard french (pasta, baguette, potatoes)/african (kassava, plantain, taro, rice) diet. When I am in LCHF period I can without problem eat only 1 chip or only 1 spoon of ice-cream even when hungry. In the high-carb periods, it”s not even nearly possible, I would have to finish the bag or the tub and that even after having a normal meal. I noticed this effect several times and that’s one of the reason I have such a hard time to follow SG et al. on that theory.

      • Nigel Kinbrum on March 2, 2012 at 09:51

        Curious. My serum 25(OH)D is ~160 nmol/L and my immune system is working well.

        You may be an outlier (like woo). Whatever diet I ate, chocolates were always a bête noire for me.

      • gallier2 on March 2, 2012 at 10:46

        It was 41.5 nmol/l 3 years ago after winter without supplementation. I have no idea how it changed after that when I was taking supplements. And the “immune system effect” I noticed was after 1 year and I’m not 100% sure it’s the Vit.D, it could have been coincidence. But I hadn’t a cold now this winter and I have only taken a very low low dose of vit.D, so more coincidence. I will try again this week.

      • Nigel Kinbrum on March 3, 2012 at 06:47

        I (and my mum) still catch colds when on Vitamin D3 5000iu/day. Apart from a slight headache, sore throat & runny nose, we both feel fine (mum’s 82). I think that you just caught a cold.

      • gallier2 on March 3, 2012 at 06:58

        As I said the 3 last time I got I cold, it was preceded by Vit D supplementation. The last cold before that was some years ago. It is probably a coincidence but to add a datapoint, I started this morning to take a higher dose of Vit D again. We shall see what happens this week.

      • gallier2 on March 3, 2012 at 06:59

        Of course, the result might be influenced by the nocebo effect, but against that I have no tool.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 3, 2012 at 07:56

        I got a cold this year, first time in several. First day mild symptoms until the evening when my nose became the Niagara Falls. Next day the same and by day 3 all symptoms were pretty much gone. I was taking about 25K IU for those three days in a row. Have anything to do with it? No way to know.

      • Nigel Kinbrum on March 4, 2012 at 04:03

        While those around us are in their beds moaning about “man-flu” at this time of year (their Vitamin D stores are at their lowest ebb), for us it’s business as usual but with a runny nose.

        When will those around us take the fucking hint?

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 4, 2012 at 17:18

        “FR is not an inherent property of the food, or a measurable effect on the metabolism”


        How about flavor? Is there such thing as flavor? Is flavor inherent in the food? No, it represents an interaction between properties of the food and our own physiology. Does that mean flavor cannot be studied, described or even quantitated?

        Is flavor a suspicious theory that is “circular” for these reasons?

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 14:30

        I’m thinking a good strategy to avoid that is to both fast sometimes, and do LC days.

  20. Ajr on February 29, 2012 at 16:52

    Get your flame-proof shield and troll slaying axe ready Rich, because this will surely piss some folks off. That being said, fantastic post and I fully agree. I posted something similar on the MDA forums earlier, basically a situation where I was completely satiated and looking at my food going ” But I should eat this…right?”. Turns out the answer was no, and the haddock and sweet potato wedges I didn’t eat went back to the fridge. The whole “calories don’t matter” thing is just marketing so diet gurus can get more people to buy into their shit. If you tell people that they need to eat real foods, not stuff their faces, and exercise to lose weight they tend to be turned off. Nobody wants to work hard these days, and if there’s a way around such effort then you can bet people will flock to it in droves. Now, replace the idea that you need to eat like a human and not a vacuum and actually get off your ass with an idea like eating as much as you want as long as you avoid * insert demonized item here* and you can bet your ass that people will be beating your door down. It wasn’t the fact that they were lazy and ate garbage all the time, it was all the fault of those dreaded carbohydrates and evil insulin spikes that were storing fat! Great marketing, but poor science , and the distinction absolutely needs to be made. It’s amazing how it can never be the simple answer. All most people need to do is eat real foods while avoiding garbage and actually get out there and enjoy life.

    • Joe on March 1, 2012 at 10:20

      “Get your flame-proof shield and troll slaying axe ready Rich, because this will surely piss some folks off.”

      I don’t know why it should piss anyone off. Rich is EXPERIMENTING on himself. He hasn’t been able to get where he wants to go, so he’s taking a bit of a detour. Will it work out for him? Who knows? Maybe it will, maybe it won’t.

      If he manages to eat all these carbs and start to lose weight again (while not changing anything else he’s doing), he’ll prove that it can work for him. Whether it can (or should) work for anyone else is still debatable.

      I’ve already proven to my satisfaction that it won’t work for me. But Rich? Who knows? Maybe he’ll even start gaining weight again. It’s an EXPERIMENT. Experiments are generally “good things.”

      • Ajr on March 1, 2012 at 12:47

        Logically it shouldn’t make anyone upset, but as posts over at the MDA forums show, people aren’t happy with such an open minded and rational experiment.

      • Alex on March 1, 2012 at 13:03

        From the little I’ve read of it over there, it’s mostly just Kevin Geary who has his panties in a twist, and that guy is low-carb’s Durianrider… Ribeyerider?

      • Ajr on March 1, 2012 at 13:09

        There are a couple people that are upset about the whole “moderate carb rebellion”, but you’re right when you say that Kevin is making the biggest fuss and throwing a tantrum like a child. He really is the durainrider of the low carb world, that’s a perfect way to describe him and his antics. I’d honestly rather deal with DR, because at least then I can get a laugh out of it.

  21. Tara on February 29, 2012 at 16:54

    You know what’s great about you, Richard…most of the time I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about but I can’t stop reading! LOL 10 months primal/paleo and I still have no freaking idea what I’m doing but I’m loving the experiment.

    And yes, it is an experiment to me…all of it… I’ve started missing those early days when just cutting grains/sugar was enough for me. Then I got cuckoo worrying about ‘too many’ carbs. These past couple of weeks I have shaken that stranglehold that carbs had over me and started eating like those early days. I’m still going to choose a big ass steak over a potato but I’m not afraid of consuming carbs anymore.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 23:56

      “most of the time I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about”

      That makes two of us, Tara. :)

  22. Kit Perkins on February 29, 2012 at 16:56

    You may remember me from that results post on here almost a year ago now.

    At the time, I wrote something like “carbohydrate was a problem.” You (Richard) said something like “maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t.”

    Well it turns out it wasn’t. Since that update, I’ve gained 10+lbs, increased all my weightlifting numbers big-time, and gone from about 10-12%BF to about 7-8%.

    All with 300+g of carbs a day from sweet potatoes and bananas. Sooo yea, I’m on board.

  23. R.K. on February 29, 2012 at 17:10

    I’m not convinced that the Satiety Index in this study corresponds to the way you have been eating. I believe (based upon a document I found somewhere on the Internet) that the study used boiled potatoes, presumably without any added fat or flavor. (I don’t have access to the document therefore I cannot confirm.) You have reported eating hash browns as well as a baked potato with butter and sour cream; both preparations are full of flavor.

    I subscribe more to Seth Roberts flavor/calorie association. A palatable food, then, is one in which the flavor/calorie connection has already been made. Plain boiled potato by itself has little flavor and thus a minor flavor/calorie association.

    • Kit Perkins on February 29, 2012 at 17:13

      It seems easy enough to me to say that real food is less palatable than hyper-palatable designer foods.

      There are “taste engineers” behind every sip of coca-cola and bite of twinkie.

      If you just eat food that nature designed, it probably has a “satiety index” in-line with our native wiring – so shit works out.

      • Elenor on March 1, 2012 at 06:40

        Yeah, but did Nature “design” a potato with butter, or just the potato? I’m reading all this closely, and I’ll have to read it all again, trying to work it out. {sigh}

        The “food reward” — NOT in the sense(s various) people are assigning it, but in terms of — will I like it and will I eat it? — of a potato with butter and one without are (seem to me to be) hugely different. So, it is okay to use the butter? Does that substantially change the ‘food reward’ or the effect?

        It’s confusing. It’s always confusing, but I’ll keep reading and trying to work it out in a way I can apply… Thank you, Richard — as always, your words are helpful, even if I haven’t yet quite grasped their import in my life…

      • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 15:53

        “Yeah, but did Nature “design” a potato with butter, or just the potato? I’m reading all this closely, and I’ll have to read it all again, trying to work it out. {sigh}”

        Let me put it this way. A regular boiled or baked white potato with nothing on it is not really palatable at all to me. Keeping in mind that I added potato to the tune of 400-600 calories per day, I decreased my protein and fat, but that still left enough fat to put a tablespoon of butter and tablespoon of sour cream on the potato, making it very palatable.

        At the same time, 1 is plenty.

        While/yeallow sweet potatoes (don’t like the orange, much) I can eat with no fat, just a sprinkle of cinnamon.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 19:28


      Without question and off the cuff, I wall accept your criticism. Can we settle in the middle, then? At 162 owing to the added fat?

      FWIW, I greatly reduced both the fat & protein in doing this, because I’m trying not to be an id.

      • Derek on March 1, 2012 at 05:51

        University of Maine is known for their engineering program, and I’ve heard that food manufacturers have been known to recruit engineers to become “food scientists”.

  24. Jarick on February 29, 2012 at 17:13

    Thanks much for the article. I truly believe food reward is the forefront. Good on you along with Dr. Harris and Dr. Guyenet.

    What many of the “eat less move more” crowd tend to forget is the triggers that prompt overeating. Yes, technically we could eat McDonalds and run a calorie deficit and lose weight, but adding that much salt, sugar, and unnaturally calorie dense foods will hit that reward center in the brain. Just as addicts “know” they shouldn’t be using whatever drug, but they cannot help themselves.

    But we humans HAVE to eat, and reducing reward and simplifying the diet might just be as big a step as any in the struggle to eat to live, rather than the other way around.

  25. Jeff on February 29, 2012 at 17:34

    OK, so what about diabetics? I’ve hit and stayed at a plateau for a while now. The same thing….that last 20lbs just doesn’t want to come off. Thought? Ideas?

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 20:18

      Sorry, Jeff, but I excluded diabetics from this post (as stated in the post) as outlier., Sorry again, but a lot of the action is and has been about diabetics lately and it’s just too specificl and individual for this post and I want to entertain others as well.

      • Mallory on March 1, 2012 at 10:47

        You may want to question how diabetic you still are with only 20lbs to goo….

      • anand srivastava on March 2, 2012 at 03:19

        That’s a very good way to put it, Mallory.

        It makes sense to me that a diabetic (non T1) would want to test their carb boundaries from time to time, to judge whether the insulin resistance has gone down.

  26. Brent on February 29, 2012 at 17:35

    Having been through pretty much the same story and going to a “low reward” diet myself, I can really appreciate this post. Right now, under Chris Kresser’s direction, I’m doing a Protein Sparing Modified Fast (PSMF). Essentially enough lean protein to maintain my muscle mass and some veggies. As someone who has always preferred the dark meat of a chicken over white, this is very low palatability and I eat what I have to and that’s it.

    The thing to keep in mind is the difference between “palatable” food and “rewarding” food. Palatable food is food that tastes good. That is, a rib-eye is very palatable for me. But I can fill up on it easily and stop. High reward food, however, is the kind in which one cannot stop. As the ad for Lay’s potato chips said, “You can’t eat just one.” In fact, many people have a problem stopping at one bag. In other words, there is a difference between palatable, “I enjoyed that,” and rewarding, “I just can’t stop.”

    One big problem over the last 50 years is the increased availability of conveniently accessible, taste engineered, highly rewarding foods. There is a big difference between “a potato” and “a super-sized order of fries.” As Richard pointed out, when I went low-carb I gave up the fries, and then blamed the potato.

    • Katie on March 1, 2012 at 10:47

      “One big problem over the last 50 years is the increased availability of conveniently accessible, taste engineered, highly rewarding foods. There is a big difference between “a potato” and “a super-sized order of fries.””

      YES! I was thinking recently about how my grandma’s desserts are pretty much the best thing ever, and are definitely highly rewarding. But when her mother taught her how to make them, everything had to be done by hand from scratch. Can you imagine if you couldn’t just go to the store or the drive through or order delivery to get your burger, supersize fries, and apple pie fix (or pasta or pizza or whatever really gets you going)? When I originally went paleo, I could not BELIEVE the amount of work in the kitchen I had to do to make everything even with modern appliances, let alone all the clean-up work it entailed. That alone decreased my caloric intake because I had to decide whether it was worth it to wash, dry, de-stem, oil, and bake the kale chips…usually I’d just as soon go without.

      We as humans are always going to light up with highly rewarding foods (although what those are may vary slightly from person to person, many have already discussed the traits: think pasta, donuts, cupcakes, chips, etc.). It’s just that in the last 30 or so years, those have become available to us 24/7 in larger and larger portions, so of course we’re eating them!

      The thing I’m struggling with is that it’s just so damn hard to turn down these foods all the time. It’s easier when you go out with friends to be able to eat the damn potato than when I was hardcore paleo and stuck my nose up at the thought, but you still get dirty looks when you turn down dessert at every family and friend function. Plus, as I said, real food eating is hard work! When I put in 12 hour days at the office five days a week, plus some extra hours from home on the weekend, it’s just so much easier to order a cheesesteak bowl (I am severely gluten intolerant so I still don’t eat wheat) and order of fries.

      • Brent on March 1, 2012 at 11:21

        Michael Pollan said something similar. If you only allowed yourself to eat cake when you made it from scratch, you’d probably have cake maybe twice a year — and share it with others for what was probably a very special occasion.

  27. Joseph Buchignani on February 29, 2012 at 17:37

    One of the things I respect most about you is your ability to consistently move in the right direction on diet issues while delivering new information.

    You should really check out methionine and food satiety. Whether it’s more powerful than carbs is debatable, but I know from experience that using meth and carbs together creates a perfect storm of satiety. Example: seafood such as fish and shellfish are high in methionine. So a rice and high-meth diet would result in high satiety. Result: skinny Asian countries.

    The skinniest I’ve ever been in my life was on a diet of white rice and boiled scallops. I literally began wasting away muscle tissue, without feeling hungry.

    Methionine is kinda interesting. A high meth diet leads to satiety, as does a low meth diet, but a midrange diet lets you gorge and fatten. That’s how the cattle farmers do it.

    • gregandbeaker on March 1, 2012 at 18:12

      “but I know from experience that using meth and carbs together creates a perfect storm of satiety.”

      That could be read the wrong way :-)

  28. Steven on February 29, 2012 at 17:38


    Just to make sure I understand, are you saying that in the grand scheme of things a high(er) carb diet is the least rewarding, followed by high fat? And if so, god you’re probably gonna hate me trying to put this into quantitative terms, what % carbs would you suggest to minimize food reward–i know there’s some individuality, but I would assume there’s within a certain 10-20% range. Thanks again and great post!

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 22:15

      “Just to make sure I understand, are you saying that in the grand scheme of things a high(er) carb diet is the least rewarding, followed by high fat?

      No. I began with typical LCHF Paleoish. That resulted in me reducing calories indiresctly (reward and trade off – cooking instead of drive through). Got me to a point where I have been for a very long time now, because I was caught up a bit in the never count mentality. Well you still don’t need to count, you need to do the same thing you did at the outset, which is once again to remove reward. In my individual case this has been to reintroduce carbs, but from relatively low reward, high satiating potato (allowances for the previous commenter who pointed out about butter’ sour cream and whatnot). Even still, after a couple of days eating potato, it begins to assert the lower reward aspect, leading to eating even less than before. But, and this is important, potato is damn easy and quick to prepare, so the trade- off aspect I talk about is in effect in an opposite way.

      Does that help? Happy to field redirects.

  29. Jscott on February 29, 2012 at 17:49

    The Speed and abundance of food—real or processed
    (That has been mentioned in comments and Richard’s posts. I am hitting on it again.)

    From the begnning of hunger to meal into stomach can take as little as 15 minutes
    compliments of the local McDonalds

    Big Mac Meal
    1350 calories
    54 G fat
    14 g saturated fat
    1410 grams sodium
    194 g carbohydrates
    10 g fiber
    30 g protein

    Most of us do not eat like that. Fine.

    I can pull a meal out of the fridge that I made up Sunday:
    Advocados, Steak, veggies, blah blah.

    From hunger to stomach again-about 15 minutes. Better food and
    fewer calories…but still. I often have the luxsory of putting calories in my gut
    anytime I THINK about food. And I can do so in less than a 15 minutes.

    This evening I was feeling hungry. Shopping day is tomorrow. Not much in the
    fridge. I refuse to eat out more than once a week. That means I would have to
    go shop, deal with traffic, come home, prep, cook then eat.

    All the sudden I was not that hungry.

    My hunger was just not motivational enough. Yet.

    Evolvify’s recent comment hit home on this (Paleo/evolutionary framework). Our want to eat
    requires very little effort to obtain the things to eat.

    Speed and abundance along with reward…HUGE.

    I tend to cyle days much like is happening to Richard. Somedays I dont want much meat. Other days
    carbs are pushed to the side.

    One thing I rarely EVER fudge on is manufactured (paleo friendly or not) food.

    Diet/health can not be isolated. We come to the table as part of a system (sleep, environment, social context, DNA/Mental make-up etc).

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 22:23


      You illustrate the “trade-off” aspect I talk about well. It can be subsumed under reward, of course, but I think it far more relevant to paleo (and real foodists in general) that your average bloke trying to limit reward, even with processed foods, where crap in a bag becomes crapier in a bag.

      • Jscott on March 1, 2012 at 07:08

        “crap in a bag becomes crapier in the bag.” Nice! I steal this my precious.

    • Michelle on March 3, 2012 at 14:18

      Sometimes even if I do have food in the house, that 15 mins of cooking, then cleaning the kitchen and doing the dishes, is just not worth it.

  30. Hot potato! on March 1, 2012 at 08:55

    […] spend some time getting back into the sweet potato/white potato market. As per the Free The Animal post that was released today, I would imagine it’s time to do the […]

  31. Chris Sturdy on February 29, 2012 at 18:14

    I totally agree with your experience described above. Today I had 200 g of carbs (84g fat, 91 g protein) but my overall total intake is about 1,800 cal which is less than usual and I am totally satisfied/full. Hmmm…

  32. marie curious on February 29, 2012 at 18:15

    Richard, What a terrific synthesis and good experiment! Though I’ve a couple of quibbles on the interpretation, see below.
    My own, my family’s and by now nearly all my friends’ experiences have been similar to what you’re seeing. I started adding back-in potatoes and yams after plateau, and it worked on all fronts, ie. for fat-loss, mental clarity and overall energy.
    However, I thought it was because once metabolism and health improved on a version of archevore with VLC(<70g), a) I could once again tolerate starches (yah!) and b) I Should normalize carb intake (avoiding sugars , wheat and neolithic agents of disease of course) precisely in order to normalize insulin sensitivity. Yes, it strongly improves on any LC, but after maintaining VLC for long time, glucose/insulin response to any carb/protein intake isn't as fast anymore (Stephan Guyenet's is the rare blog that actually notes this).
    So that's why I thought that re-introducing potatoes/whole starches worked.
    I still think that plays into it, because a) I LOVE potatoes, any time any way, boiled with a bit of salt and tomatoes is something I even crave, so I don't think palatability is driving the satiety for me and b)I do monitor my blood glucose every time I change something (insensitive fingertips, what can I say…) and find my glucose responses have evolved in such a way as to agree with this concept. So I agree with Nigel's emphasis that for overweight or obese, the VLC aspect is important. After that, we can (maybe even should) add back whole starches – in my case, even Favorite whole starches.
    So, yes, I totally agree calories count and lowered palatability/reward in the absence of fast food/processed food when on VLC helps drive the lower calories needed to lose weight, but I think that the lower insulin itself drives that too, especially for metabolically damaged overweight people, and so does the slow/intense exercise (I use to be able to drop my glucose by 15 points just with 10 minutes of very slow, very heavy resistance work and I still can do it with about 15' of HIIT …that particular response slows down as we get fitter).
    Just for context :
    2years ago was: 170lbs, sedentary-to-lethargic, IBS, colds/allergies etc., 'average' blood lipids and BP, 'prediabetic (borderline values for both fasting and glucose stress-test)
    1 year now : 145lbs, visibly toned, no IBS/immune issues, fantastic blood lipids, low CRP, low BP (105/65), good fasting glucose (85), low resting HR (56bpm). But I eat only ~1500kC a day (1300kC if no dedicated exercise that day) or else weight does creep up. Calories count :-)

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 23:02


      Not really sure I saw much objection there, but then again, I’m about 60 comments behind and it’s 11 pm, so it’s probably my fault,

      • marie curious on March 1, 2012 at 01:48

        Amazing that you even try to answer so many, really, another ‘tour de force’ mon cher (ehr, mein lieber? multiple heritage…eh? ;-) Luckily, the predominant ‘geographic’ effect on my physiology/metabolism seems to be mediterranean.
        The objection above was only in the Reason for improvement on re-introducing starches – I believe it’s not just lesser palatability/reward of potatoes driving ever lower calories (after all, some of use can binge on salted boiled ones). Rather, it may also be that insulin sensitivity often drops (after originally improving from damaged levels) once someone has been on VLC (50-70g) for a long time. Also, naturally eating fewer calories comes more, well, naturally if you’re happy and energetic – potatoes sure do that!

  33. David Rourke on February 29, 2012 at 18:16

    I think a big sticking point is the name of the theory: food reward/palatability. That suggests a simplistic model that eating more palatable food makes you fat; eating less palatable food makes you skinny. OK, I think, but then I look at a steak. No way is that not palatable. It’s highly palatable (by the dictionary definition of that word), yet for most people also highly satiating. So an overweight person eats fewer calories on LC than on an industrial Western diet. The word palatability as it is commonly understood makes the theory seem nonsensical in the context of thinking about the real weight loss that tends to occur on LC diets.

    I think a clearer term would be palatability/satiatability. Free access to foods that are highly palatable, yet not satiating, tend to mess up your natural appetite control mechanisms and drive you toward calorie excess. Free consumption of foods that are satiating, even if they are highly palatable, tends to generate calorie deficit in most overweight people. (Not necessarily enough to loose the last 20 lbs., as Richard notes.) Similarly, consumption of foods that are less palatable (e.g., bland) tends to produce weight loss in overweight people. Eating foods that are less palatable and also relatively satiating (e.g., potatoes) might produce more or faster weight loss than foods that are palatable and satiating (e.g., steak).

    At least, that’s how I understand it. I’m sure my misunderstandings will be quickly corrected.

    • marie curious on February 29, 2012 at 18:39

      That’s a handy idea, thank you – palatability/satiability works better in my mind too, even if pronunciation may be an issue! – ehrm, not to mention spelling :-). Did you see Emily Dean’s comment about half-way above? Same idea, yes?, with different mnemonic.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 23:08


      I think I already commented about the reward/palatability terminology isn’t perfect, especially for Paleo folk who eat grilled ribeyes swimming in pastured butter.

      I didn’t bother putting in the post even though it was in my initial outline. I was confident people would work out the necessary distinctions, as you competently demonstrate.

    • Elenor on March 3, 2012 at 05:02

      I’m one who has a real problem with the terminology… As a far-outlier on the “supertaster/nontaster” continuum (see: Monel Labs in Philly), “food reward” and “palatability” seems to mean something (very) different to me. I remember being baffled by Dr Sears in Tom Naughton’s “Fat Head” where he said that people love pasta “only” because it’s flavorless and they love the taste of the fat and salt added to it. I figured he was being enthusiastic about low carb, albeit misleading about the taste of/ease of giving up pasta… Later, I realized that to him — and maybe to many folks — pasta IS mainly just a ‘carrier’ for the fat and salt, and not the sublime ‘taste all its own’ that makes it so dangerous for me. So, when folks talk about “food reward” it means (seems to mean) something different in my body.

      The whole idea of “consumption of foods that are less palatable (e.g., bland) tends to produce weight loss in overweight people” seems (in my experience/my tastebuds) nonsensical. I don’t know any foods that taste bland — and I know zillions that taste bad, even with butter and salt (including, alas, pretty much all veg!).

      I suppose there is no ‘acceptable-to-all’ terminology to uncomplicate this whole ‘wing of eating theory’ … (to avoid paleo/primal/perfect/LC/ancestral etc. etc.)

  34. Tyler on February 29, 2012 at 18:20

    Hyperlipid had a good article about carbohydrate and obesity:

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 23:13

      I’ll email my friend and surrogate vet to my dogs a link in the morning and invite him to school me. I always pay attention to Peter.

  35. VW on February 29, 2012 at 18:30

    I’ll pay for your site even if I never post on your forum. Your work is appreciated, good sir.

  36. Brent on February 29, 2012 at 18:44

    “One thing I rarely EVER fudge on is manufactured (paleo friendly or not) food.”

    See… that’s the thing, and why I will always be grateful to “LC-Paleo.”

    In my previous comment, I mentioned giving up fries and blaming the potato. On previous diets, I’d given up fries and blamed the fat. Whether LCHF or HCLF, I gave up the fries, and lost weight. Again, we’re talking about a high reward food that I could (and frequently did) easily scarf down before I’d even arrived home from the drive-thru.

    When I first did low carb, I still ate a lot of processed crap, but fortunately Atkins admonished me to give up trans-fats, which eliminated a lot of processed crap in addition to eliminating grains and sugar. The elimination of trans-fats started me on a path to eating more naturally. Atkins led to Eades, which focused more on general health than just weight loss. Even in “Protein Power Lifeplan” it was stated that “Calories Still Count.” The Eadeses led me to Sisson and I saw that Paleo had changed a bit — on saturated fat — since I’d read the first edition of Cordain’s “Paleo Diet.” That got me interested in the paleo movement, reading many blog sites (including this one), and listening to Angelo Coppola’s podcast.

    Since I went back to “low carb” (after a break in which got to a new all-time high weight) at the end of 2006, I have taken a bigger interest in the quality of the food I put in my body and changed my attitude about fitness and lifestyle in general. Eating “paleo” was no longer about losing weight; it was about health. I realized that to be healthy I had to buy high quality ingredients and cook them myself, so I started learning to cook (have a long way to go there). Every so often I’d still lose motivation to cook and order some buffalo wings from Round Table, but at least I wasn’t ordering pizza. And that is the fundamental difference between low-carb paleo and low-carb.

    When I was purely low-carb (the first time) I ate a lot of low-carb processed crap. When I stopped eating that way, I went back to high-carb processed crap. Now, grass-fed beef and organic veggies with grass-fed butter is the new norm. My “cheats” are “lesser evils” (a bit too much wine or dark chocolate instead of some fake food made by Hostess). I no longer crave the junk that led me astray (though free donuts in the office every Friday sometimes require a gut check).

    I have been living low carb for over 5 years now, and that last 20 pounds had been vexing me. I’m now losing them, pretty rapidly, by lowering food reward (still not counting calories). At the same time, I will not begrudge low-carb, because it led me to paleo (2.0)/whole foods and a healthier lifestyle — in a way that low-fat never did. I am officially on a “diet” to get rid of these last 10 pounds, but it’s nice to know that — unlike in the past — the “old” way of eating I’m looking forward to going back to is simply “functional paleo,” built around eating real foods — now without the fear of potatoes.

    • Jscott on February 29, 2012 at 18:54

      “in the drive-thru”

      I suppose I never quiet got dialed into Paleo as a diet. What turned me on was the framework.

      No effort food is like lottery money. It leads to bloat, suicide, and depression. It is fake.

      One of the best changes I made to my diet was me making a commitment to myself to cook EVERY item that went into my mouth for 3 months.

      “If you can drive-thru it you prolly gonna get fat from it” was part of my motto.

      • Brent on February 29, 2012 at 19:12

        That’s sort of my point: I started with a low-carb “diet” and ended up with a new lifestyle. I haven’t been in a drive-thu in years.

        The “diet” I’m referring to is the (very low reward) PSMF I mentioned in a previous post.

      • Jscott on March 1, 2012 at 07:11

        Right on sir Brent. I started on a Keto diet years ago. I did well on it but it felt artificial in some ways. Lifestyle made much more sense.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 23:22

      Very nicely motivational, Brent. Never give up.

      …Only 50 comments to go…

  37. Ajr on February 29, 2012 at 18:58

    Seeing this post has made Kevin Geary upset. This quote is taken from the MDA forums where he set up shop after getting banned here:

    “It appears that Free The Animal, along with many other paleo blogs / authors are trying to turn paleo into a moderate to high carb plan these days based on new “evidence” they’ve supposedly found. And if you’re a low carb advocate, watch out for the gang attack.

    Unfortunately, it’s confusing a hell of a lot of people and doing lasting damage to the Paleo movement. That’s why I like Primal. Paleo is different depending on who you ask and that’s bad marketing in terms of the big picture of getting people off SAD and getting them healthy again.

    The paleo community needs to stop bickering back and forth and attacking the low-carb advocates. Low carb is proven and for the majority of overweight SAD people, it’s exactly what they need regardless of what high-brow paleo bloggers say otherwise.”

    Yes Kevin, this entire post has been an attack on people who go low carb, and certainly isn’t an open minded and rational view of things that advocates addressing individual needs and doing what works for you or an attempt to clear up some of the ridiculous dogma that confuses a lot of people. I apologize to all you low carb folks for these brutal and unwarranted attacks and would like to say that Mr.Nikoley should be ashamed of himself.

    • Brent on February 29, 2012 at 19:44

      Yes, apparently saying that “Paleo doesn’t have to be low carb” is an attack on “low-carb advocates.”

      I think the theme on this blog for the last few days is, “Paleo can be low carb, but it doesn’t have to be, and there could be benefits to increasing the carbs through starches.”

      The only “bickering” in the thread that got Kevin banned was his insistance that carbs should be kept low, and saying there COULD be any benefit was wrong. The “attack” was on his dogma, not on low-carb.

      • Ajr on February 29, 2012 at 20:10

        Kevin clearly has his head so far up his own ass that the fumes are affecting his thought processes. He has a pretty simple approach that goes like this:

        1. Work under the guise of a someone open to debate when in reality you’re a dogmatic douche that has no interest in alternative thoughts and opinions and only wishes to further his own misguided agenda.

        2. Demand evidence from people and speak from the point of absolute truth even though you’re only parroting the words of people using misleading science to push an agenda and sell products.

        3. When people present evidence refuting your claims use semantics and exaggerations to get around it. If that fails you can always backpedal, change your argument, or ignore the information entirely.

        4. Accuse people of personal attacks and putting words in your mouth while doing the exact same thing to others yourself.

        5. Repeatedly insist that nobody has answered your questions even though hundreds of posts do exactly that.

        He’s as dense as granite and even if carbs were unhealthy I’d continue to eat them out of fear of becoming such a giant fucking tool like him.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 00:08


        Thanks, because I made a commitment to be nice today. …well, except for that one comment where I told someone to fuck off. In repentance, I’m being doubly nice to everyone else.

        About 35 comments to go and I hope to hell I don’t find myself having to be nice in triplicate.

      • Sean on March 1, 2012 at 03:28

        The paleo community needs to stop bickering back and forth and attacking the low-carb advocates. Low carb is proven and for the majority of overweight SAD people, it’s exactly what they need regardless of what high-brow paleo bloggers say otherwise.

        Let’s all come to a consensus (which happens to be my consensus) and present a united front.

        Fuck that.

        I like “bickering”. It’s a sign of healthy thought and vibrant culture. One should always be open to questioning one’s paradigm, especially when it comes to something so undeveloped as nutritional biochemistry. I don’t find it necessary to argue about the validity of evolution or relativity, those things are pretty settled in my mind, but if someone else wants to debate that, have fun.

        You know who else bickered like hell? The founding fathers of the US. In fact, Aaron Burr bickered Alexander Hamilton to death with a pistol, they also managed to set a pretty good system that took a long time to erode into what it is today. The classical Greeks bickered like hell and it was their ultimate downfall, but in so doing they happened to invent philosophy, history, and the basis of Western Civilization along the way. Newton despised Leibniz, he was pretty insufferable on the subject, yet calculus managed to get invented anyway.

        Whenever I hear someone talking about scientific consensus my spidey sense starts tingling like crazy. Keep your damned consensus to yourself, I’m a contrarian prick who likes to work things out for himself. If that’s too off-putting or confusing to people newly interested in the subject, well that’s just too damn bad. Go back to eating potato chips and watch reality TV.

      • Nigel Kinbrum on March 1, 2012 at 08:50

        If we all come to a consensus, what the fuck will we have to blog about any more?

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 12:40

        Ha Ha

      • Chris Highcock on March 1, 2012 at 12:45

        black leggings and Uggs

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 19:58

        My wife gets the Athleta catalog in the mail. Better than the Sears catalogue of my youth.

      • Nigel Kinbrum on March 2, 2012 at 07:51

        I can see it now… Nige’s Fashion & Lifestyle Blog

        I just wee’d a little. What I know about Fashion & Lifestyle would fit on a postage stamp.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 14:27

        In the wardroom of my first ship in 1984 or so, then then new Vitctoria’s Secret catalog got passed around more than a Penthouse.

      • Joe on March 1, 2012 at 10:27

        “I’m a contrarian prick who likes to work things out for himself.”

        Nice bumper sticker material!

      • David on March 3, 2012 at 16:47

        Reminds me of the constipated mathematician, who worked it out with a pencil. This had been such a serious blog for some folks, I thought I would add some light humor.

      • Nigel Kinbrum on March 5, 2012 at 16:44

        I thought that it was the constipated draughtsman who worked it out with a pencil. The constipated mathematician worked it out with logs!

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 23:39


      Yea, saw that from a comment link a few ago, perhaps you. I also saw that someone (perhaps you) dealt with it adequately. I really appreciate whoever is stepping up, not to defend me, but to ensure overall context and clarity. I can’t really do it since I banned him here and it would seen untoward to go chasing him around the Internet.

      So thanks, all.

      • Ajr on March 1, 2012 at 11:34

        I’m always willing to defend the context and real goal of a point when I believe in it, and you can tell by the hundreds of posts at the MDA forums dealing with Kevin and other peoples nonsense that I’m not the only one. I don’t like people being accused of trying to harm something when they’re simply promoting a rational way of thinking based on individual needs and trying to help something progress out of stagnant dogma and absolutism. Low carb dogma is a parasite on the paleo movements back that’s hindering it from being what it was really meant to be, a diet based on natural and healthy foods and the avoidance of processed toxins and garbage. Tell me again how a potato is like a bowl of processed sugar, I’d love to hear how I’m killing myself with these tuberous bastards.

  38. Merr on March 1, 2012 at 10:38

    What’s the explanation of people that reduce carbs, eat more calories than they had previously and still lose weight? Like Dr. Attia

    • Merr on March 1, 2012 at 10:47

      I should’ve pointed to the exact quote in the comments but he says, “I used to weigh 200 pounds eating about 3,200 kcal/day. Today I weight 170 pounds eating about 4,500 kcal/day. Probably less exercise, too. “

      • Karl on March 1, 2012 at 18:49

        Go onto any diet’s websites and you’ll hear some pretty magical stories. 30 bananas a day will cure just about anything that possibly ails you if you read a few posts on their forum.

        That’s a question for psychologists- are these people lying for its own sake, lying for the greater good of their group or so fervent in their beliefs that they actually believe what they’re writing? I don’t know, but paleo isn’t immune to these exaggerations in its favor. If you read some paleo or low carb blogs, you’d think that we wouldn’t need anymore doctors since we’d all be so robust and healthy with bones as strong as steel if people just went zero carb.

        Richard does a great job dealing with the messy reality that’s sometimes two steps forward, but one and sometimes 2 steps back. It’s pretty obvious the low carb and fear of starch that has crept into paleo was an example of going forward and backward at the same time. Going low carb takes out some things you shouldn’t be eating, but at the same time removes some things that are perfectly fine and most likely very healthy. It makes things more complicated not to have a simple answer to diet, but sadly reality isn’t negociable.

        That being said it’s hard to understand why food reward is so controversial on many of the blogs. I’ve personally eaten gummi bears past the point where my stomach felt sick and my head hurt (the easy solution is to just not buy them anymore), and I can’t believe that there’s anybody who hasn’t mindlessly munched on some snack food or eaten more of some junk food than they really wanted. Walk into any 7-11 and virtually every food is designed to make you overeat. It’s not difficult to make the leap that virtually our entire food industry is set up like a landmine that adds extra calories.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 10:21

        Well put, Karl. Modern food engineering is the equivalent of the tobacco industry.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 11:31

      “What’s the explanation of people that reduce carbs, eat more calories than they had previously and still lose weight?”

      They’re eating fewer calories than needed to maintain body weight, of course. Incidentally, I’me very skeptical of these claims. A guy eats 4,500 calories and suddenly it’s “4,500 calories PER DAY.” Like every day? Really? Does anyone eat precisely the same calories every day even while presumably eating a variety of food sources?

      I know for a fact that some days I eat 3-3,500 calories, maybe even more. And some days I eat 500-1000, some days none at all, etc.

      I guess I’m calling bullshit.

      • Carlos Morales on March 1, 2012 at 12:19

        Taubes book GC/BC goes in depth about this. Sorry that I don’t have the book on hand – presnetly at work – but he mentioned people eating the same amount of calories, one group equally distrubuted between carbs/fats/proteins, and the other group just protein/fat. The group without the carbs lost a lot more weight than the other.
        I was under the impression that you can’t gain without the spike of excess insulin secretion which causes an increasing in triglyceride storge, which then causes an increase in fatty adipose tissue.
        By the way, thoroughly enjoy your blog, I’m just looking for more info.

      • Merr on March 1, 2012 at 13:16

        To be fair, he says “about” not exactly 4,500 calories per day.

        So, really, your position has to be that there’s essentially no differences in the metabolic effect of various foods on our body. In other words, my basal expenditure is not influenced at all (or significantly), one way or another, whether I eat a potato or a tablespoon full of coconut oil? Is there any scientific basis for your position? I’m not baiting you, just trying to figure this thing out for myself and this is definitely a topic of interest for me, right now.

      • Tyler on March 1, 2012 at 13:20

        Too, doesn’t protein have a metabolic advantage? Richard mentioned this in his Leangains series.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 13:55

        Well, Nigel who’d in this thread has a lot of data on that (like metabolic ward studies), as does Lyle McDonald, Berkhan and Colpo.

        I should point out that even Eades thinks the max “metabolic advantage” of VLC is only 300 calories per day, kinda blowing away the idea that you can eat 1000 fat calories over your needs consistently and lose of not gain weight.

        Berkhan says there a metabolic advantage to protein due to TEF (thermal effect of food), but only when you get near 50% of caloric intake. It’s like about 25% of protein calories if I recall.

        There simply is no perpetual motion machine in nutrition and metabolism.

      • Merr on March 1, 2012 at 14:12

        Appreciate the feedback. I’ll do more reading and some n=1.

      • ChocoTaco369 on March 1, 2012 at 16:06

        I’m calling bullshit as well. Studies show that fat people underestimate the calories they take in by up to 50% and thin people overestimate the calories they take in by up to 50%. That skinny guy eating 3,500 calories is really eating more like 1,800, and the fat guy cutting to 1,600 calories a day is really eating in excess of 3,200.

        I’m not going to tell you that all calories are equal. 1,000 calories of pasta will obviously have a profoundly different effect on health and body composition than 1,000 calories of grassfed ribeye. Also, raw fruits, vegetables and tubers are less digestible than well-cooked fruits, vegetables and tubers, so it stands to reason that well-cooked food calories “count” more than poorly-cooked or uncooked calories. There is some truth to that. However, if you are eating a whole foods diet and your are keeping levels of quality animal protein constant, it’s not going to matter much if you take in the rest of your calories through dietary fat or dietary carbohydrate providing the total calories are roughly the same.

      • Carlos Morales on March 2, 2012 at 06:12

        ”80% of the quotes on the internet are made up – Abraham lincoln”
        Anyway, I’m going to recomend that you read good calories/bad calories if your going to blame it on obese people “stupidity” for the reason that they “underestimate” their calorie amounts.

    • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 13:20

      faulty math

  39. John on February 29, 2012 at 19:47

    This has been a fantastic week of posts, Richard.

    Low Carb always had the great promise that you could lose fat without being hungry. To a large degree, it delivered. And “The Steak and Salad” diet sounds pretty decent.

    But this new higher carb (or maybe more accurately moderate carb), real food plan might work even better. Forget LFHC, or HFLC, maybe it’s MFMC. It also has the promise that you can lose fat and not be hungry, and may deliver even better than Low Carb did. The “Steak and Salad and Potatoes and Fruit” diet does indeed sound even better than just steak and salad.

    • John on February 29, 2012 at 23:07

      Let me put it another way- I love a ribeye. I love butter. I love potatoes. If you’re telling me to eat all three of these things till I’m full (not hungry, but not stuffed), mix in a salad (which can also be pretty tasty) and fruit if it suits me, and that I’ll lose weight and feel great, um, where do I sign up? Call it whatever the fuck you want- paleo, primal, food reward, low carb, high carb, perfect health diet, atkins, zone, whatever… I will happily do that for the rest of my days.

      • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 23:47

        John, I swear to God that I still love potatoes, but don’t want to even look at another one for at least 16 hours.

        That SI index in Stephan’s post was a real ah-ha moment, because I expected the potatoes to make me hungry after a few hours, just like pizza and pasta does.

        Nope. No way. not for me.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 12:43

        And how about white rice? That was surprising but fits with my own experience. I find white rice very low reward – just as low as potatoes.

      • Jscott on March 1, 2012 at 17:23

        Thus why you must add sugar and butter…oh wait.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 01:03

        John, now put that in a paleo context. You don’t get unlimited, because of both scarcity and the trade-off of having to work for it and maybe even risk your life for it.

        So perhaps digging up tubers is a decent middle ground, and you get meat when you can.

        So on a modern context, I’m making sure I’m getting plenty of starch and amazingly enough found my appetite diminished after a couple of days.

      • John on March 1, 2012 at 08:38

        Totally agree. It would make sense that your body might crave a starch feast after a starch drought. And I think the key is that appetite is still the regulator.

        I’m starting to buy into this glucose deficiency concept. Yes, we can make glucose from protien and even fat. We can also make vitamin A from Beta Carotene, and K2 from K1. But that doesn’t mean that these processes are optimal, or that we should rely on them to get ALL our glucose, vitamin A or K2. Especially since all these processes can be comprimised relatively easily.

        Bottom line is, I have busted through a plateau on the scale, pants are fitting even looser, and I’m feeling better overall, and yes, am getting bursts of new energy. Really excited to see if this translates to increased strength at the gym too. I was really overthinking the whole “keep it under a certain level of carbs” thing.

      • jj on March 3, 2012 at 11:58

        “Yes, we can make glucose from protein and even fat. We can also make vitamin A from Beta Carotene, and K2 from K1. But that doesn’t mean that these processes are optimal, ”

        Hooray! That makes a ton of sense.

  40. marie curious on February 29, 2012 at 19:54

    Yes Richard, amazing posts and spectacular comments/discussion.Yyou must have some of the most engaged readers anywhere. Thank you for setting-it up so well, from responding to comments so consistently to…masterful baiting.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 29, 2012 at 23:54

      “masterful baiting”


      • marie curious on March 1, 2012 at 02:03

        Ha! Remarkably alert at midnight I see – a happy side-effect of the potatoes, naturally! Yes, it’s 5:01am EST here, I am (not-so happily) still grading papers, on a deadline, but at least I Can do it – had rosemary roasted potatoes as part of dinner…of course.

  41. Brent on February 29, 2012 at 20:16

    This topic in general has got me mezmerized, thus my frequent posts. I think this is as big a deal in the paleo community as the addition of meats high in saturated fat.

    Which is actually sort of sad.

    I’ve watched the “paleo diet” slowly move from the dogma of “the diet of cavemen living in the northern hemisphere (with unlimited access to fruit year-round)” to a “whole foods” way of eating (a la, Paleo 2.0/Archevore/Functional Paleo). This is simply another step in that direction.

    It’s sad that the addition of some carbs in the form of (real food) starches is having much the same impact as Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses. Potatoes?! 200 – 300 grams of carbohydrate?! Next thing you know, people will think they can be forgiven without going to a priest or tithing!

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 00:12

      “Next thing you know, people will think they can be forgiven without going to a priest or tithing!”

      Aw, fuck it. Let’s just leapfrog all the way to not feeling a nead for forgiveness for our natures.

    • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 12:50

      It actually shocks me that it is all so controversial. I had not realized how nearly religious (or commercially cynical) the whole low carb movement had become.

      All you have to do is spend a weekend reading some real paleoanthropology ( I recommend Klein’s the Human Career for a start) and it is totally obvious we have a long evolutionary history of eating starchy plant organs whenever we could.

      It also shocks me how many “paleo” authors know nothing about actual paleoanthropology, thinking theoretical biochemistry is all you need to figure things out.

      In fact there is no paleo author, MD or PhD or otherwise, who knows as much as the brilliant Melissa McEwen has already forgotten. And she a “mere” student and amateur blogger…

      • Invisible Caveman on March 1, 2012 at 16:33

        I’m pretty shocked by the responses as well. I’ve been thinking about this since Richard first posted it yesterday, and found myself looking up definitions for “dogma”. Here are two I found:

        -prescribed doctrine proclaimed as unquestionably true by a particular group
        -a settled or established opinion, belief, or principle

        Sound like anyone familiar?

        In my humble opinion, Richard is successful with his gloriously detailed N=1 experiences because he specifically avoids a dogmatic approach to diet and lifestyle. Not only that, he openly criticizes those who cling to dogmatic views about this stuff, “paleo” or otherwise. What matters most about this is that he is open to change, as we all should be.

        In the meantime, a big thanks to Richard for maintaining this FREE blog on the internet where we all have FREE access to your FREE information regarding your N=1 experiences, and as always, thanks for keeping it real.

  42. Rafa Contreras on February 29, 2012 at 20:30

    If I understoos correctly, adding a banana or a sweet/white potato in every meal, will help with the weight loss speed and numbers? What ever works, I started paleo 2 months ago and feel great for the first weeks, but then the strenght and stamine have decreased, maybe this would help bring back the goodnes and help shedding more pounds. Great book!, I just bought it and read it cover to cover today.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 00:19


      Depends. You’re new to this and you didn’t give details about your body comp (feel free to do so if you like). As I tried to relay in my post, one fear I have about doing what I’m now doing right off the bat, not going through my stages (but in a much shorter timeframe) is that reward or palatability restriction could be too severe and people give up. This is why I am and will remain an LC advocate for initial weight loss (for those who need it, obviously).

      My position on lethargy on LC is still the same: fast. That is, kick your own ass into submission. Your body will follow, eventually, probably within 2-3 24-30 fasts.

      • Rafa Contreras on March 1, 2012 at 05:32

        jaja body composition? fat 6.10/341 coming down from 366, started dieting in the summer of 11, after beinf suffering from hard pains in the waist that ended up being colitis.

        Took some bad advice from a so call nutritionist that landed me in the hospital on deccember 23rd with a very hearth pounding arrtimia, turns out my magnesium was depleted and my tiroids was on the flor, later I learn that this was cuased by a LFHC diet and a lot of water intake.

        While in the hospital I call a long time friend that is a paleo nutritionist, in Mexico they are very rare, everybody is on the LFHC thing down here, he explained to me and went full paleo.

        I felt great during the first weeks, I started walking over 2 miles a day, bacon, meat, olive oil, vegetables, no fruit, no starches, started to loose weight. But as the weeks went by, excatly on the 3rd week, I stall a little, and the energy started to decline, and the weight loss started getting slower, I keep it on paleo, totally convinced of the benefits. I cook my self, lot’s of vegetables with the meats and spices. Don´t know what the problem is, but it doesnt feel the same. Leake gut is one of my theories, but after reading your post it got me thinking that a here and there, could help.

        I’m 45, soon to be 46, love the lifestyle and I been seen the benefints, but it just feel slower. Maybe the fasting would help, fasting its ot a problem, I did it on monday, not as long as you propose, but its not difficult.

        Self experimentation is something I like, so the starches, I belive potatos have been arround for ever and are as paleo as any other food option, should be fine, as long as it’s not industrialized food, I’m willing to tried.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 15:27

        Give it a shot, Rafa, just keep with the average total calories you’re already eating. So, you have to trade away some fat and protein.

        Don’t fall into the classic LC trap: “carbs and fat together make me gain weight.” No, calories make you gain weight. If you’re at 2000 cal per day, 50g of which is carbs from non starchy veggies and you substitute them with potato to the tune of 200g, you’ve just upped your calories to 2,600.

        INTCS (I’ts not the carbs, stupid). Not directed at you and since you’re from a different culture, this is a derivative of the XXXX, Stupid we say here in the north.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 15:36


        You might also want to note that since you’re Mexican (my wife, too), both my wife and I tolerate quality corn tortillas very well (not flour, and not tortilla chips). But a great carne asada taco (or 2 or 3) on fresh corn tortilla? No problem ever. I just don’t do it every day.

      • Rafa Contreras on March 2, 2012 at 03:20

        Just finishing up on my 36hr IF, went very well. Woke at 4am with a cramp on my lower lef leg. Question? would this be because of the water intake? I took over 4lts but they were from mineralized water and some Nuun (electrolites) I also supplement daily with potasium and Magnesium. Now, comming out of it, as you recomended, will do the exercise and then a big meal.

        I eat Tortillas from time to time, specially if there are the “real” ones, And from time to time, some tamales too! I will appreciate the reply on this.

        Thank for your time.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 11:00


        Sorry, no idea. Sometimes muscles just do shit.

      • GalinaL. on March 5, 2012 at 20:15

        May be something salty like a bone broth is worth to be added.

  43. Jeremy on February 29, 2012 at 20:40

    Dude, I haven’t read all the comments yet, but applause!! This is why I read your blog. You are open-minded and willing to change your mind, I can tell you are constantly thinking. I’ve lost 14 lbs in the last 6 weeks on LC and I want to lose 28 more. I will refer back to this post when I hit the wall!

  44. J. Stanton - on February 29, 2012 at 20:54

    I think it’s a good time for us to pause, take a deep breath, and revisit some established definitions.

    “Food reward” is a catch-all for several perceptually and biochemically distinct processes, which we must distinguish individually if we hope to make any sense of hunger. (Or any other desires, as the reward system underlies all of them.)

    “Hedonic impact” is our reaction of pleasure upon consuming food. It is what most people think of when they speak of “palatability”.
    “Incentive salience” is our motivation to seek out or repeat the experience of consuming food.
    “Satiety” is your body’s response to the availability of nutrients from food that you’ve already digested and absorbed.
    “Satiation” is your body’s attempt to estimate future satiety via sensory input: smell, taste, texture, and stomach distention.

    Separating these concepts allows us to make sense of problems we can’t otherwise solve. For instance, Richard notes that “LC and Paleo/LC works because the nutrient density and/or (and perhaps more importantly) the reward and palatability factor goes down and consumption is decreased for most people to a lower level”…but later in the same comment, he says “Good as a potato is, it’s not a 16oz ribeye drowning in butter.” Does LC decrease food reward, or increase it? It can’t do both at the same time…

    This problem is a subset of the classic problem which several of those present have been stuck on before: “I like eating buttered ribeye much more than I like eating Pringles – but I can’t stop eating Pringles. Why is that?”

    If we lump everything together and call the resulting hairball “food reward”, we can’t possibly make any sense of this situation. However, if we realize that our buttered ribeye is more satiating than Pringles, and that satiation decreases incentive salience (our “want” for more), we can understand why we keep eating the Pringles: the hedonic impact (our “liking”) of buttered ribeye is stronger, but its incentive salience decreases quickly because it satiates us quickly. In contrast, the hedonic impact of Pringles is indeed smaller…but as Pringles have little satiating power, their incentive salience decreases more slowly, and we end up consuming more of them.

    Understanding this interplay allows us to understand why LC can simultaneously appear both more and less ‘rewarding’. The naive approach correlates consumption entirely with taste – but once we understand the difference between hedonic impact and incentive salience, and grasp that foods differ dramatically in their power to satiate, we can gain a deeper understanding of our own hunger motivations.

    For those who aren’t already familiar, I’ve summarized the state of the existing science behind hunger, and explained the concepts above in great detail, in my multi-part series Why Are We Hungry? I strongly believe that the pre-existing concepts and terminology of hunger and reward are more than adequate to explain both our own N=1 phenomena and many societal trends – and I hope that my explanations will help cut through some of the fog.


    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 00:29

      Thank you JS.

      Don’t die, but if you do, do it biting the throat.

    • Sean on March 1, 2012 at 04:55

      ^This times a googol.

    • Joseph on March 1, 2012 at 09:04

      Very well put. Thanks.

    • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 13:12

      What fog exactly? Why do we need to take a breath again?

      ““Good as a potato is, it’s not a 16oz ribeye drowning in butter.” Does LC decrease food reward, or increase it? It can’t do both at the same time…”

      I think you are confusing things here. For one thing, there is no paradox at all in making a value judgement between the desirability of foods, and having the behavioral reward value of food conflict with that.

      I prefer sushi if you ask me how I feel about it relative to ice cream. Every time you ask me I will say this. But behaviorally, I can’t stop eating ice cream, yet have no such problem with sushi. This is in no way a refutation of FR if you stick to the scientific use of the concept.

      There is simply no requirement that the FR value or SI of a food exactly track what our conscious, stated preferences are.

      The answer is that IF LC lowers food intake, it does it by lowering food reward in the aggregate. The weight of experimental evidence strongly supports this. The fact that we see people stay fat or get fat eating LC actually reinforces the idea that FR is the main driving force in fat loss with LC. One can easily counteract the general tendency for LC to lower FR by subverting it with palatable low carb concoctions – paleo comfort foods- like paleo lemons bars…

      Is it possible that micronutrient deficiencies can drive eating behavior? Of course its possible, but it does not seem to be the primary driver of overeating, just like insulin effects are clearly not the primary driver of fat storage and regulation of same.

      Can it be impossible to overeat without having such a deficiency? There is little evidence for this, most especially the fact that the vast majority of people who have ever lived with nutritional deficiencies are not obese.

      As far the hazards of lumping into a “hairball”, why not? What is wrong with simply observing your own behavior as a guide to lowering food reward if you are trying to lose fat? Observing that you just can’t stop eating X, what the hell else do you need to know. You can avoid that food or combination of foods very well without referring to a pocket glossary with a specialized FR lexicon, it seems to me.

      • Contemplationist on March 2, 2012 at 11:48


        From my reading, JS was trying to turn up the zoom on the microscope to help us separate the components that make up ‘food reward.’ And I think his conceptual framework is vastly more useful/convincing than the catch-all terms “palatability” and “food reward.” I don’t think anything he said contradicts Stephan’s and your points.

      • Vicarious on March 2, 2012 at 11:58

        Dr. Harris, I am confused…I’m a recovering carbophobe, newly arrived in the paleo community. You say that “…just like insulin effects are clearly not the primary driver of fat storage and regulation of same.” Can you give me a link to some material explaining what IS the primary driver of fat storage and regulation? Even some brief keywords will help, if you so desire.

        Appreciate your work and your diligence.

      • Vicarious on March 2, 2012 at 12:07

        I should mention that I think I have a handle on Stephan’s FR/palatability as an incentive to eat more, but I thought I had learned that once you have eaten too much, it is the insulin response which drives the excess to be stored. You are saying that, in fact, there is something else responsible for that?

        Thanks again.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 15:16

        “but I thought I had learned that once you have eaten too much, it is the insulin response which drives the excess to be stored.”

        Ah, insightful. Yea, I think it’s insulin that stores the excess in fat cells. This is where the calories don’t coun’t error comes from. ‘just keep insulin low” and you can eat all the fat you want (failing to realize that protein drives insulin drives fat storage too).

      • Vicarious on March 2, 2012 at 15:39

        ..thanks, Richard. But how does your response jive with Kurt’s assertion that it is NOT insulin which (primarily) drives the fat into the cells? Am I not understanding something?

        Hep me!

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 15:53

        I plead ignorance, becaue I thought that’s why T1s have a hard time gaining weight.

        I’m sure it plays a role, but maybe not the whole story. Remember, I’m just a hack synthesizer with an ability to comprehend three things I’ve read and connect dots to make a jigsaw view of it.

      • Vicarious on March 2, 2012 at 17:00

        Okay…I’m hoping Kurt will weigh in on this. I’ve just re-read Stephan’s post

        …which doesn’t quite clearly address that question, either. Stephan clearly states:

        “Insulin suppresses the release of fat from fat cells (via hormone-sensitive lipase), and increases the transport of fat into fat cells (via lipoprotein lipase) and this is the crux of Taubes’s basic argument in support of the idea that insulin causes fat accumulation.”

        I’m still confused…hoping some other comments will shake this out.

        Thanks again,

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 4, 2012 at 17:23

        I suggest going to pubmed and looking for articles by Keith Frayn. Or reading “Metabolic Regulation” which he authored.

        Insulin is necessary for nutrient partitioning (among other things) and famously is elevated in advaned states or insulin resistance. But we do not get fat primarily via the effects of carbohydrate on insulin secretion.

      • Vicarious on March 4, 2012 at 20:55

        Thanks, Dr. Harris. Did a little searching: seems Keith Frayn at some point mentioned that he thought it was Acylation Stimulating Protein (ASP) that is the main regulatory lipid hormone and not insulin. However, he seems to have recanted that here in an email exchange between fitness trainer Fred Hahn and Keith Frayn:

        and in fact, validates the original idea that insulin is, indeed, the main fat regulator. I’d be interested in your take on this?


      • Sean on March 2, 2012 at 23:07

        “What fog exactly? Why do we need to take a breath again?”

        I think J Stanton’s series on food reward was much more intelligent than Stephan’s ramblings on the subject. Yes I said ramblings. Stephan is supposed to be an expert in the field yet he didn’t make clear (or even bring up) the difference between incentive salience and hedonistic impact until after JS did so. I know you and most of the bloggers around here think Stephan is next to godliness but I frankly find his thinking to be muddled.

        I also blogged about food reward a while back in a muddled manner, for me blogging is often about exploring things intellectually or just being a contrarian asshole. I certainly don’t do this for a living nor have any plans to.

        I don’t think JS is at all overstating the case to say he cut through the fog. Certainly not for the blogosphere.

        I agree with your observation of the Pringle principle of hyperpalatable foods, but I am still very skeptical of food reward as it is often applied to real food or the whole bullshit context.

      • Sean on March 3, 2012 at 00:36

        Just to be clear, I haven’t even ruled out CIH in my mind. I’m agnostic on the subject. Make of that what you will, but the idea that FR is obvious and CIH is hidebound bullshit is really jumping the gun, in my opinion.

        There’s an aspect of hipness to the blogosphere and that’s fine, there’s a nice dissemination of new ideas going on there (here). But there’s also a sort of ADD, a next big thing syndrome. I’m not embracing FR and neither am I embracing CIH. I consider both these hypotheses to be in the very tentative stage.

        Questionable graphs of satiety index aside, what null hypothesis experiments have been performed on food reward. The science, the actual science, is very far from settled on this, and so-called eminent researchers in the field like Stephan Guyenet can’t even explain these things in a manner that I and others find adequate or reasonable. Beyond hyperpalatable foods, the Pringle effect which you elucidated and I agree with, I find little to convince me that food reward is a major factor in eating real food. Again, I find J Stanton’s approach to be much more lucent.

        That you find this all shocking to be controversial, well some of us are just flat Earthers, apparently.

      • gallier2 on March 3, 2012 at 05:44

        Thank you Sean, you expressed my point of view better as I ever could.

      • Sean on March 3, 2012 at 08:56

        Gallier, you really don’t want to hear how bad I express myself in a second or third language, unlike yourself ;)

      • gallier2 on March 3, 2012 at 10:06

        It’s not a linguistic problem. I’m a bad writer, in all the languages I happen to use. There are people who can write quickly readable prosa without effort (look at Itsthewoo) and there are people like me, who can, with a lot of effort, write barely coherent sentences, that do only marginally convey the thoughts that they wanted to express. This leads often to misunderstandings and strange dialogues, like the excision story where Richard completely missed that I meant well and wasn’t criticizing him.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 4, 2012 at 18:35

        “There’s an aspect of hipness to the blogosphere and that’s fine, there’s a nice dissemination of new ideas going on there (here). But there’s also a sort of ADD, a next big thing syndrome.’

        You found me out, Sean. I guess if I get any hipper and my Adderal is not started up again soon, I’ll soon be on a blogging schedule with the period of Halleys’ comet.

        Irritating people who still believe against all evidence that carbs drive fat storage through insulin is all about fashion (and lets not kid ourselves as nearly everyone who objects to FR views it as a threat to the CIH)

        The intellectual equivalent of fedoras and homburgs on 20 year old.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 4, 2012 at 17:34

        I had no problem understanding Stephans’ posts nor the papers he linked to.

        If you think JS cut through the fog for you, then why are you so skeptical that FR has explanatory power?

        Also, I took JS to be referring to taking a breath from the discussion here, which I also do not find at all confusing.

  45. Justin on March 1, 2012 at 12:29

    One more question Richard — since I know you know Dave — how do you explain 4500 calories/day and six pack abs with no exercise?

    Bulletproof coffee is beyond delicious, too — hugely rewarding to me :)

    • Jscott on March 1, 2012 at 18:09

      I thought about Dave too, Justin.

      Some factors (perhaps?):
      *His diet contains few toxins. Even down to his coffee and food containers.
      *He has been hormone supplementing for quiet a while (though he said he was going off it to prove it was not a factor.
      *I remember him posting or commenting about his current day’s meal and after adding it up came to under 3000 cals. I would bet he did not calorie count every day for years on end.
      *He slept (though it was hacked) 4 hours a day. Benefit of 8 with energy spending of 20 hrs most of that being in a fasted state.

      Regardless, it would be interesting to hear him comment in here.

      He makes it clear that Calories do not matter. Period. He just posted about using the same concept with his dog.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 13:25

      “how do you explain 4500 calories/day and six pack abs with no exercise?”

      Dave is a very big guy. Super tall, big frame.

      • Justin on March 1, 2012 at 13:39

        I just plugged in Age 40, 200 lbs., 6’4″, sedentary (he doesn’t exercise) and that gave me something like 2700 calories/day requirement. That sounds about right to me, actually.

        So that leaves anywhere from 1300-1800 calories per day that he was overeating and not gaining weight.

      • Rhys on March 1, 2012 at 15:26

        So even when he’s not hungry he forces 4500 calories down his gullet every single day? Hm..

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 09:33

        “So even when he’s not hungry he forces 4500 calories down his gullet every single day? Hm..”

        Hmmm indeed. It’s just like the people who only tell you about their winnings at the casino, never the losses.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 09:32

        “So that leaves anywhere from 1300-1800 calories per day that he was overeating and not gaining weight.”

        I would call bullshit on that unless he was locked in a metabolic ward where actual average intake over a significant period could be measured.

    • rob on March 1, 2012 at 16:37

      I think it is a pretty good gimmick and I’m going to adopt it myself … I never exercise, eat my face off yet I’m in pretty good shape.

      Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    • Karl on March 1, 2012 at 20:17

      If he is eating in calorie excess every day while still remaining lean then he belongs in every biology textbook in the world.

      What is far more likely that him having a unique physical laws of the universe defying metabolism is that whatever amount he is eating is matching up with his daily expenditure.

    • Dan Linehan on March 2, 2012 at 07:56

      That’s incredible if it’s true.

      • rob on March 2, 2012 at 09:14

        It’s true! But not as incredible as my story, I eat 6,900 (nah, let’s make that 9200) calories a day, refrain from any type of exercise, and am in excellent physical condition, I attribute it to my diet which is rather unique and patterned on that of the Yanomami tribe of the Amazon rainforest.

  46. d'Artagnan on February 29, 2012 at 21:42

    for me is all about not fearing animal products , not worrying about supplements and not thinking breakfast cereal is the “healthy choice”.

    Primal , Paleo diet theory freed me from my food and eating obsessions this has obviously not been the case for many others.

  47. Al T on February 29, 2012 at 21:45

    Hi Richard,

    I have a couple of questions. First, if your whole potato experiment is based on the food reward/palatability theory could you have made this post a week ago, before Stephan gave evidence for the low reward value of potatoes?

    It seems like most of the post you argue that most foods are on a pretty equal palatability/reward/satiety as long as they are whole, unprocessed foods. This always seemed to be the case to me; that as long as I took out most of the foods that were DESIGNED to be rewarding, I was on a “low reward diet”. However, then Stephan made his post, and now everyone had some nice evidence to rank 1 of the “safe starches” lower than most other foods. Does that really make a diet high potatoes that much less rewarding to decrease caloric needs by 300-400 like you said it did for you? This seems like too small of change, from what should already be a very low reward diet.

    Now, let me also say that I am all for a good amount of starches/sugars from whole, natural foods. I had some sweet potato today as well as a banana. My belief is that the bulk of your longish term, or what I like to call “walkin’ around energy” should come from fat sources, and as such should make up the largest portion of your calories. Then the energy you need to provide for intense activities, such as working out and other more demanding tasks, should come from carbs (of which I believe the safest to be some form of starch).

    Also, I don’t really get where people are coming from when they say they aren’t paleo/ primal diets or not really low carb anymore. Compared to what most people are eating, they are still low carb. Also, in the Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson he says his “carbohydrate sweet spot” is around 150g/day, which could be made up of tons of leafy greens, other miscellaneous veggies (carrots, peppers, onions, broccoli) with low carbs, and then still a good amount of starch. To me it seems like most people are more in-line with each other than they really care to admit…

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 00:44

      Al T:

      “First, if your whole potato experiment is based on the food reward/palatability theory could you have made this post a week ago, before Stephan gave evidence for the low reward value of potatoes?”

      No. I began the potato thing purely as a challenge to the moron I banned, to set an example and to have another thing to talk with Jimmy Moore about when we record on Friday. Food reward was the farthest thing from my mind, not even a whisper. Fast forward to yesterday. I just couldn’t bring myself to eat for a long time into the day, and then, didn’t want starch. Ok… Still no connection.

      Then, This morning I get that question in comments I quoted and in forming my resppnse, bam, connections, and the post was born. It was only after I called up Stephan’s blog to copy/paste the URL that I saw his post and said, “we’ll I’ll be a little fucker.” or something like that. Fortuitous, to say the least. That made for a very nice polish, I think.

      A decease by 300-400 seems right on line to me to drop 15 pounds. Obviously it would be too small to drop my initial 60. Remember, as you drop weight, the range in terms of calories between your high and where you are continually gets smaller, which is why weight loss is typically a curve and not linear.

      I really don’t think it’s all that important to time food and macronutrients for workouts unless you’re a competitive athlete or you have very specific performance goals, neither of which apply to me.

      • Al T on March 1, 2012 at 09:24

        Hey Richard,

        Your response got me thinking, and I want to slightly edit what I said before. I didn’t really mean only workouts perse, I just meant times of higher activity during your day/week.

        This also got me thinking more about how I was eating, and losing weight. Could it be that when people jump on a paleo/primal diet to lose weight they are relativly inactive, so the low carb thing works for a time, since their activity level is still low while they start to lose wieght, then add in exercise when it becomes easier. However, they stay on this low carb diet even with their activity level increasing, which leads to the decreased energy levels/weight stalls that so many people here say they experienced. However, with the addition of carbs, notably the safest and easiest form of carbs- starch, to match their new activity levels they begin to utilize all the energy they put into their body most efficiently. Then the weight loss starts again, and the energy levels normalize again.

        I think this also makes a good deal of sense when you put it into an evolutionary context. During the winter your activity levels would go down, and you are left eatng a low carb diet, due to them not being around. However, when the weather got nicer, and your activity levels could increase, so did the availability of fresh starches and sugars from fruits and veggies.

        I know I am probably over-simplifying a lot of the science, and could be way off base here, but on a superficial level this just seems like it could be right to me.

    • Ryan on March 1, 2012 at 08:10

      I follow this…breakfast has broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, lunch has a little sweet potato in stew, onion, or a salad with some meat, and dinner I usually have a medium, or half a sweet potato with something from an animal. Adding it all up, I’m still below 150g/day. Some days it’s less, rarely is it more, and I always feel like I have good energy. I like the experiment Richard is performing for us, and I appreciate the insight. Just reaffirms that we can eat potatoes and not feel bad about it. Just keep eating real, whole foods and you’ll be all set!

  48. Chris Highcock on February 29, 2012 at 21:58

    Great post and subsequent comments, although this has all been posted while I was asleep. I hope you get the chance to explain all this to Mr Moore, but I really don’t think he will get it.

  49. Ben on February 29, 2012 at 22:07

    In my book, 200g carbs per day is still lowcarb. But then again, I’m 6’4 and have a high level of activity.

    I have a personal belief that diet alone can’t fix weight issues on its own completely, you gotta run away from lions or chase prey too (sprinting!). And maybe weight training. Not for burning calories, mind you, but for mitchondrial biogeneses and whatnot.

    Also, I’m pissed of because IMHO the food reward theory is circularily defined, but never mind. I’d love to see randomized controlled trials with food reward VS other diets, not because I think it would fail, just to see how it does.
    I’d also love to see more trials with diets vs sprinting, or different diets combined with different exercise regimes, or comparing diets with one group of people sitting like they used to and the other trying to sit less than, say, 2 hours a day (standing desks!)..

  50. Al on February 29, 2012 at 22:16


    I’m curious if as part of your experiment, you are tracking your activity levels and alcohol consumption as compared to what you were doing last week and before. When we track numbers such as you are now, we tend to eat “better” all around.

    I’m simply pointing out possible variables here.


  51. Marisa on February 29, 2012 at 22:17

    I found from n=1 that LC longterm is hard on the adrenals and thyroid (Atkins wrote about low thyroid on LC), esp. LC+IF. That nearly killed me – and when life stress hit, it packed on 20lbs. I’ve been following my kids’ example of eating what I want [real food] *when* I’m truly hungry, regardless of the macro-content. The weight is beginning to come off (I’ve lost about 10 lbs since we had dinner when Grace was in town). The hard part is stopping when I think I’m full. Love your thoughts – always find them to be relevant. – M

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 15:18

      “I’ve been following my kids’ example of eating what I want [real food] *when* I’m truly hungry, regardless of the macro-content.”

      Children can be great examples of Primal Wisdom, because they have yet to be corrupted by their caretakers.

      Good to hear from you Marisa. That pork belly was AMAZING! Highly rewarding and palatable in the classic sense, yet so satisfying and filling. No desire for dessert.

  52. Felix on March 1, 2012 at 03:26

    Potatoes are the highest tested foods on the satiety index. No wonder you lose weight. Told you. :-)

    Great explanation in the post, I hope this reaches many people.

  53. Marc on March 1, 2012 at 03:36


    THANK YOU, thank you, thank you! :-)

    Beautifully explained, and more importantly…demonstrated/lived

    The only thing I’m still unclear on….how many calories do we truly need? Looking at the lean hunter gatherers, I don’t think they consume 3500 calories a day. This is an area I would really like to see some more information on.


    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 07:24

      “The only thing I’m still unclear on….how many calories do we truly need? Looking at the lean hunter gatherers, I don’t think they consume 3500 calories a day. This is an area I would really like to see some more information on.”

      Marc, I think that too is individual. For purposes of the example I just used one of the calculators on the Internet. I think one finds out by eating real food including the starch, to satiety and see where it leads, to gain loss or holding steady. Take it from there, wash, rinse, repeat.

      • Neal Matheson on March 1, 2012 at 07:40

        Some HG peoples consume considerable quantities of calories at a generally smaller stature than western people

      • Marc on March 1, 2012 at 07:45

        Point taken and I agree. It just seems that the “average” that’s always been espoused of about 2700 calories for adult males, is out dated info/paradigm imho.

        REAL FOOD…. so simple right? :-)

      • Neal Matheson on March 1, 2012 at 10:44

        I think I’d agree that for most office workers 2700 a day is too many. I have had to cut waaay back since I quit full time farming.

  54. Rhys on March 1, 2012 at 03:47

    Cool post. So who’s going to start the Low Food Reward & Palatability Cruise?

    • rob on March 1, 2012 at 04:53

      They’ve been running those cruises for 400 years, it’s called the British Navy

      • Sean on March 1, 2012 at 06:00

        Nice one, rob.

      • Brent on March 1, 2012 at 11:05


      • Contemplationist on March 2, 2012 at 11:51

        LOL +1

  55. Katherine on March 1, 2012 at 03:48

    Love this post, and it fits very well with my experience.

    Time and time again I read now that vlc is not so great… unless you’re obese. In fact, I am obese and have not found vlc to be a successful way of eating for me. I tried it for about 18mo, and found that I only lose weight very slowly. I have come to agree that calories do matter, and the fact is that for me, I can pack away a lot of fats and meat, before feeling satiety. Add in some starches, and suddenly I am eating less, feeling more satisfied, and so on.

    An additional issue is that without starches I develop ongoing low energy and mood. 5-HTP helps which suggests a serotonin issue. It’s not a problem of adjustment, as it worsens over months of eating mostly vlc. I’d rather not eat in a way which means I need to supplement to feel well.

    I guess I am taking a evry radical stance in saying that vlc may not even be best for all obese people, shock, horror!!

  56. rob on March 1, 2012 at 04:16

    I’ve been eating potatoes and sweet potatoes exclusively for starch because of the satiety thing, I had been eating rice as well but I find that 400 calories worth of potatoes makes me feel a lot more full than 400 calories of rice; with the rice a couple of hours later I feel like I haven’t eaten anything.

  57. stephanie radnan on March 1, 2012 at 04:55

    Oh man…this makes my head spin…I finally thought I’d found it right with just doing Paleo…eat natural based products and stop when you’re full. But because I want great results I have gone sans nuts and fruits (which I could eat three times a day, as meals, if it were socially acceptable) … but now everything I thought I had finally “discovered” is being debated…to be honest, cavemen would’ve just eaten what there bodies were telling them to eat I think…a lot of information is great, but a lot of information can also be crippling … so many conflicting ideas and what not … I guess we have to play around and tinker with what feels best for us as an individual, as we all have different compositions and forms of energy expenditure…but still…wish there was just a one-size-fits-all approach to this we could use, it would take out a LOT of the guess work …. sigh…

    but on another completely unrelated note….i was thinking about this whole eating what our ancestors ate and how we are still the same genetic composition as them etc etc … that basically means we are our ancestors…and in doing so we advanced with technology and science…do you think a neanderthal living today would pass up beer and pizza? he’d eat whatever he could find .. and he’d sought out pleasure and fun things too, no?

    • Katherine on March 1, 2012 at 05:06

      Sure he would. Doesn’t mean he’d be healthy on it though.

      • stephanie radnan on March 1, 2012 at 05:10

        Haha too true!
        I just wanted to see what people thought…I personally feel to good on the Paleo (or just eating more natural whole foods) than I do on anything else…I am addicted to the feeling of it and I do find when I eat dairy/gluten/legumes/wheat now I feel terrible after…regardless of weightloss, it’s not worth eating all the other processed foods for me…I don’t even crave them anymore (except for fruit and nuts…damn I miss those little guys)

      • Marcy on March 1, 2012 at 09:59

        I don’t think Richard wants to imply that we shouldn’t eat Paleo, just that we shouldn’t eat low-carb if it’s not working. Try increasing your carbs and see if your cravings diminish and weight loss re-starts. I think it’s all about being fully nourished – we need to include more organ meats, broths, fermented veggies, starches, sunshine, exercise, play, etc and really get to 100% health to be as naturally lean as we can.

  58. R on March 1, 2012 at 06:07

    Eating low-carb paleo/primal+eating coconut oil+intermittent fasting should bring you into ketosis.

    How do you relate increasing your carb intake in the form of starches and tubers to ketosis and intermittent fasting? Will intermittent fasting still bring you into ketosis ?

    • steven on March 1, 2012 at 06:58

      Yea, that’s an interesting point. I know a lot of people suggest that ketosis is a good baseline (i.e. when you’re not eating that’s where you should be). I know that the incorporation of carbs in a diet may make it harder to fast regularly, any input from personal experiences on that?

    • Skyler Tanner on March 1, 2012 at 13:05

      A better question: why are you trying to be in ketosis? If you’re doing it to lose fat more quickly it’s a wrongheaded reason.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 15:39

      “Will intermittent fasting still bring you into ketosis ?”

      First of all, dump the LC meme that you are either producing ketones or you’re not. You always produce ketones. Your body is very used to them. It knows what they are. They’re not immigrants. No magic. Ketosis is merely a much higher level and yes, fasting will typically get you there, or close, or somewhere in between. The point is, just as fasting should be highly intermittent, so should full blown ketosis be intermittent.

  59. Razwell on March 1, 2012 at 06:48

    Congrats on your weight loss , Richard. As you know I respect you, your cooking and blogging knowledge a lot. You’re experienced. The following below is directed at the various Internet gurus who bash Taubes, not yourself:

    The various well known Taubes bashers ( there are many) don’t offer anything useful.

    Calories matter, but Dr. Douglas Coleman and Dr. Arya Sharma, and other true experts have always said this.

    These reputable scientists’ points of contention that always gets lost in discussions on the Internet is that eneregy balance is largely involuntary. We only have a small range of weight that we decide on over the long term. Over the very long term, ultimately the body and neural circuitry are who are in control. Voluntary efforts are of extremely limited potency to affect our weight substantially over the long term. The Taubes bashers do not respect this piece of gained scientific knowledge.

    The results of bariatric surgery demonstrates that even though most lose significant weight, nearly all STILL remain clinically obese BMI 30 to 32 after only about 1,000 calories,

    This strongly implies that there is something very different about morbidly obese people which results in obesity independently of caloric intake.

    Brolin, R.E. Bariatric surgery and long term control of morbid obesity. J. Am. Med. Assoc. 288, 27293-2796 (2002).

    ********The Taubes bashers will not touch the above factoid with a 100 foot pole. They RUN from this study.

    This observation alone tells us morbid oibesity is ungodly complex and extremely deep. The various Taubes bashers do not understand that they are equally wrong. Both camps are asking “what cheese is the moon made of ?”- then trying to determine if it is Swiss or Provolone – leading us nowhere toward understanding morbid obesity better.

    I support Gary and Stephan. Gary has tried to figure out what that difference is. I applpaud his efforts. And Stephan has his little area he is working on to help undertand obesity better. Gary has identified that” eat less, move more ” is unscientific- and what he says IS congruent with the scientific literature on that particular subject. So that is HIS contribution, I feel, more so than the incomplete insulin hypothesis.

    Stephan’s contribution is trying to understand these neural pathways. Gary is great at the hard sciences and physics. He is not an obesity researcher by nature so I cannot fault him. Overall, he did well.

    Gary and Stephan are both good guys and I know you think so too :)

    What the Taubes bashers do not understand is that:

    calories ( in almost all cases ) are necessary to produce obesity , but not SUFFICIENT. HUUUUUUGE difference.

    Dr. Coleman pointed this out. Energy balance of course matters, but that does not tell us ANYTHING about obesity, nor the biology of it. That’s the MASSIVE problem.

    The regulation of cells, the chemical behavior of fat cell receptors, how they become disregulated, the molecucular mechanisms behind fat and body weight regulation, the neural circuitry, feeding behavior – all very poorly understood. And in the case of the chemical behavior of fat cell receptors- not at all understood.,

    When the Taubes bashers figure this out, THEN they will contribute something useful. Most Taubes bashers display a gross lack of education about obesity.

    • FrankG on March 1, 2012 at 10:20

      I think it was in an interview with Dr Mary Vernon where I first heard the saying “the pioneers get the arrows while the settlers get the land”… it seems appropriate to me when considering the flak Gary Taubes is now subject to; after apparently he has opened the eyes and minds of many others to question the status quo.

      Gary Taubes may not have “the one true answer for evrybody” — not that I have ever read or heard him claiming as such — but even if someone is not 100% right does that mean there are automatically 100% wrong? I sure hope that is not the way it works… especially with the question over Albert Einstein and the potentially faster than light neutrinos :-0

  60. Casey on March 1, 2012 at 07:26

    Completely ignoring controversy regarding the effects on weight of carbs, what about the metabolic pathways we up regulate when eating carbs vs. fat/protein? When we eat carbs, don’t we up regulate metabolic pathways that increase ROS? So a higher carb intake sets us up for a higher inflammatory cellular environment, which leads to decreased mitochondrial density and shorter telomere lengths. This would lead to greater disease and shorter life span, regardless of body composition.

    I am not advocating a zero carb diet – I don’t restrict fruits or vegetables – but I would question adding carbs just because we can.

    • Steven on March 1, 2012 at 07:47

      I personally think we just don’t have enough “scientific” information to base a nutritional decision on that. I know a lot of people have deconstructed all these mechanisms which promote ketosis to be reduced and more efficient state of functioning (e.g. lucas tafur), but I’m not convinced. Notable physicians and dentists have traveled the world and shown the incredibly significant impact nutrition makes on a persons health and wellbeing, meanwhile society has coined a handful of vitamins and has greatly reduced the health of the individual based on “scientific evidence”–which would you rather follow, primitive wisdom or modern day science?

      • Carlos Morales on March 1, 2012 at 11:03

        Seeing as how modern day science has allowed us to understand the universe in such a beautiful manner, and has expanded our understanding of literally everything, I’d say thumbs up to modern day science. I’m a paleo proponent – I lost 130 pounds on it – but that doesn’t mean I’m going to advocate tribalist thinking mixed with mysticism just because scientist created HFCS.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 11:23

      “but I would question adding carbs just because we can.”

      And what carbs would those be? You mean, like adding turnkey franks and soy oil just because you can, or only quality protein and fat—but there’s no such thing as quality carbohydrate vs. crap carbohydrate?

      A carbohydrate is a carbohydrate?

      • Casey on March 2, 2012 at 05:50

        I agree a carb is not a carb – a potato is better than white bread. But, I am making the assumption that we would not want to overdo it on carbs per the metabolic reasons given in my first comment, as it would be the glucose that is driving the change, not the quality of the food. I don’t think there’s any good argument on where the threshold is, so I take a conservative view and, when given the choice, would not add them to my diet.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 15:55

      “Completely ignoring controversy regarding the effects on weight of carbs, what about the metabolic pathways we up regulate when eating carbs vs. fat/protein? When we eat carbs, don’t we up regulate metabolic pathways that increase ROS? So a higher carb intake sets us up for a higher inflammatory cellular environment, which leads to decreased mitochondrial density and shorter telomere lengths. This would lead to greater disease and shorter life span, regardless of body composition.”

      For me, and I’m willing to die early if wrong, this falls under woo and pretend for me. I just can’t give a shit. If I can’t enjoy my life in the way that turns, I don’t really see the point in going through the exercise.

      • Casey on March 2, 2012 at 06:01

        Woo and pretend? Bummer. The reactions at the microscopic level can inform us on so much that occurs on the macro level.

        Fair enough though! Better to die the way you want to than live someone else’s way. That’s definitely something this community shares as a mantra.

      • Mike F on March 2, 2012 at 10:33

        “For me, and I’m willing to die early if wrong, this falls under woo and pretend for me. I just can’t give a shit. If I can’t enjoy my life in the way that turns, I don’t really see the point in going through the exercise.”
        Then why did you go low-carb in the first place?!?!

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 13:02

        “Then why did you go low-carb in the first place?!?!”

        To enjoy my life as I should. Pretending I have fined tuned metabolic and hormonal control would not be enjoyable.

      • DH on March 4, 2012 at 19:11

        Haha. Great response. Your answer here has just convinced me to subscribe to your blog.

        I came to the paleo way of eating via MDA because I was looking for relief from gerd and also wanting more energy. I didn’t need to lose much weight (maybe 10 lbs max) but I was carrying some that around the middle. After getting over the LC “flu” I felt amazing; lots of energy and my gerd symptoms gone. I was a believer! But after a few more months I started to crash. Gerd symptoms retured with much more frequency than before and my energy took a huge dive. I hardly had enough energy to get out of bed, much less cook all of the paleo approved foods. Plus I was putting on weight, which I began to suspect was due to an increase in calories due to the amount of fat I was chowing down, trying to get in enough calories to feel ok. So I reluctantly (a budding carb phobic) added a few safe starches in. Wow! What a difference that made for me! Energy back, gerd under control, weight going down. As far as I’m concerned, if I can’t feel healthy on a LC diet, then why bother? I feel much, much better on a moderate carb paleo diet. To me, that’s what it’s all about: feeling healthy and alive. On the LC diet I was feeling half dead.

        Ok, so it’s just been a few months with the increased starches, but I’m totally convinced that it is so very true that we are all different, with different health/weight issues so we need to find what works for us as individuals. Many of the paleo sites scoff at CW, but at the same time they are developing a paleo CW that is just as rigid as the SAD CW. I want to hear all of the differnces of opinion and I want to remain open to change. If, down the line, it turns out that increased safe starches aren’t working for me, then I will look for other answers. And I’m more than happy to support all of the peeps that are having great success on a VLC diet. Just don’t get all superior and act like the food police becuse what works for you may not work for me.

  61. scott on March 1, 2012 at 08:08

    Are you eating your potatoes with butter? In that satiety study, I don’t think they added butter because it wold throw off the energy density.

    Do you feel like you’re progressing towards a kitavan-style diet?

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 08:16

      Yes, I use modest butter and sour cream, to make it palatable enough to eat. That doesn’t mean I’ll eat two of them just because of. As I’ve indicated earlier, adding the 400 cal of starch per day meant I had to decrease fat and protein. I did and I feel fully longer and more often.

      • Tyler on March 1, 2012 at 08:19

        Why does everyone hate on raw potatoes? A sliced potato with a bit of salt is an amazing thing.

      • steven on March 1, 2012 at 08:24

        Dont raw potatoes contain more glycoalkaloids or something else toxin-esque?

      • Tyler on March 1, 2012 at 08:26

        I thought only the skin had toxins? I honestly haven’t looked into it much.
        My comment was more aimed at Richard’s remark that he had to use butter and sour cream “to make it palatable enough to eat”, though he wasn’t talking about raw potatoes, I suppose…
        I’m just sayin’ I love me some potatoes, brotha.

      • steven on March 1, 2012 at 08:32


      • scott on March 1, 2012 at 08:40

        Your experiment may support potatoes with butter, but that satiety paper doesn’t.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 09:23

        The point scott is it is still _very_ satiating, for me, anyway.

      • Marnee on March 1, 2012 at 15:44

        Are we seeing a placebo effect?

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 09:35

        “Are we seeing a placebo effect?”

        How? As in I only think I don’t feel hungry but I really am?

      • Al on March 3, 2012 at 19:11

        Actually Richard, yes – that would be exactly the placebo effect here – you want it to work, and your brain makes it work, though not by the mechanism in question. Since you have bought into the food reward theory and it states that fat regulation is maintained by the brain, then the possible placebo effect of starch keeping you sated fits in rather nicely with your own concepts.

        Did you miss my question earlier asking you whether you are tracking changes in alcohol intake and activity levels along with your increased starch intake? I’d like to hear how everything involved has changed, not just your starch intake.



      • Richard Nikoley on March 4, 2012 at 08:56

        I tracked stuff the first few days, stayed off the booze, etc. that was to get a bead on how much I was consuming and seems to average 2000-2200 cal, 40-50% carb mostly from potato and some fruit. Had alcohol Friday and Saturday but have noticed a marked reduction in craving or desire. I doubt I’ll have anything today, maybe not until next weekend.

  62. Michelle on March 1, 2012 at 08:42

    I eat moderate carb (fruit every day, sweet potatoes or squash or starchy carbs every day). However, I still find that eating white potatoes (a) makes me super hungry and (b) leads to somewhat of a sugar crash. For example, a breakfast of eggs + fried potatoes + bacon will leave me much hungrier in 3-4 hours than a breakfast of eggs + avocado + piece of fruit + bacon. I love the convenience of eating two meals a day and I love the satiety that extra fat provides. This is the same reason I couldn’t do Whole 30… way too hard to get enough fat intake without dairy… super hungry and miserable… gave up after about three days! Also… there’s a distinct difference between the effects from white potatoes and sweet potatoes/cauliflower/whatever.

    On the topic of food reward though, how does it work when you LOVE TO COOK and LOVE TO EAT, and don’t want to give that up? That’s where low/moderate carb really shines. I make an effort to prepare delicious whole food, and I suspect that’s not doing me any benefit in terms of my desire to eat that extra portion at each dinner. And I can prepare some pretty damn delicious potatoes. I think I could eat a lot more roasted white potatoes or RISOTTO than roasted sweet potatoes or squash (even though the latter two are tasty). I’m not really interested in eating boiled potatoes or white rice… and I’m sure if that’s what I had in my fridge… I wouldn’t be all that tempted to overeat.

    Anyway, I’m still intrigued since it’s been a while since I’ve eaten plenty of rice and potatoes (and I guess I’ve never really done it with all the crap cut out) and am wondering if pushing the carb intake up from “low-moderate” (75-100 g) to “high-moderate” (150 g) (I am a not a big woman) for a couple of weeks would help me get beyond my need-to-lost-five-pounds plateau without too much discomfort. I could go for some hash browns, mashed potatoes, and stir fried rice!

    • rob on March 1, 2012 at 10:58

      I think if I started eating hash browns and fried rice I would gain back the 50 pounds I lost within 2 years.

      Hash browns are ****ing awesome, I could eat them all day, I like mine with ketchup but also sometimes I like to top them with some eggs so that the yolks mix with the potatoes, throw in some melted cheese and crumbled bacon and you have yourself a heck of a meal. Especially after some hard drinking.

      They are great with hollandaise sauce too, more restaurants should serve them that way.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 16:01

      “I still find that eating white potatoes (a) makes me super hungry and (b) leads to somewhat of a sugar crash.”

      I have found the exact opposite and in profound ways.

      “On the topic of food reward though, how does it work when you LOVE TO COOK and LOVE TO EAT, and don’t want to give that up?”

      That has its own reward. Get it?

      Reward is baked into the cultural cake. I’m not saying to give it up—no original sin or religion here. But I love the same thing. But understanding leads to enlightenment which leads to small changes in behavior with big impacts. That’s what I’m finding.

      Think about how you’re going to behave on average over the next month or year, so you don’t stress about how you’ll behave tomorrow.

      • Mike F on March 2, 2012 at 10:26

        Isn’t this really what Atkins was preaching since the 1960’s? Go low carb and then inch up to find your carb tolerance?

  63. Mike F on March 1, 2012 at 08:47

    I find this whole discussion fascinating and confusing. I’ve been doing a low-carb diet now for about 8 months and had lost about 35lbs and then plateaued for the past 3 months. My problem is I read these blogs too much! I’ll read something that says I should eat more carbs and then I read something that reaffirms low-carb. And while I have plateaued for a while I haven’t gained! Which I think is self-reinforcing that I’m at least on the right track.

    I think a lot of people give Gary Taubes a bad time because of his insistence of the Carbohydrate/Insulin hypothesis but mis-characterize his views as that calories don’t count. He very much says that calories do count but that they are not something you can control as an independent variable. I think part of his great contribution to this whole discussion is to ask the question… why do we over eat and why don’t we stop when we meet our caloric requirement? While the low-carb diet might not be the exact answer he is at least asking the right questions!

    • Razwell on March 1, 2012 at 13:58

      EXCELLENT point Mike. Gary does indeed ask the right questions. That is perhaps the most important thing in all of science. Issaac Newton did it great. Taubes is far smarter than his well known attackers are.

      His attackers continually ask what cheese the moon is made of. At least Gary asks the right questions, even if his answer is incomplete. He is a bright guy. He studied physics at Harvard.

      Gary’s questions are very congruent with the questions the real scientists in obesity research have asked- pioneering scientists like Douglas Coleman- whose research completely re arranged the view on obesity ot being a complex disregulation/disease state with a biological underpinning- not the farcical willpower crap..

  64. Joseph on March 1, 2012 at 09:00

    This is really good to hear, Richard, since my own (and my wife’s) experience with food has been like this. I have never been very fat, even at my most unhealthy several years back, and omitting carbohydrates for an extended period leaves me feeling really tired. I like eating meat (of all kinds), but I also like potatoes and fruit (and feel better when I partake of them pretty regularly). Meanwhile, my wife, who is not as healthy as I am, struggles to lose weight even when she goes VLC. I suspect that food reward is her problem: she has psychological issues with eating too “bland” for extended periods, and ends up overcompensating when she comes off of a VLC “fast.” She is doing better, and I certainly don’t want to discourage her (if she happens to read this), but it does help to have someone provide a picture of human experience that tallies with what she is living. Thanks for putting this out there!

  65. Marcy on March 1, 2012 at 09:33

    I think your post comes across as emphasizing calories in / calories out, but I think the ‘engineered’ aspect of the food is more important. Cutting out junk always lowers your carb intake somewhat, but I know that my dad lost a significant amount of weight ‘effortlessly’ when his wife became a picky eater. Nothing they bought could contain any MSG, preservatives, ‘spices’, etc.

    They were eating neolithic foods, including sourdough bread, peanut butter, and beans – foods we avoid eating Paleo, and their carbs weren’t that low, so there’s something about those other “less than 2%” ingredients that makes a gigantic difference.

    Another aspect is that of nutrient density. Engineered foods may cause you to consume a ton of calories, but they’re empty calories, so of course you’re still going to be hungry. I think when you are really nourished, that’s when your body decides it’s okay to burn the fat and reduce consumption. Liver glycogen is going to need to be topped off too, so you lose your first 80 lbs by filling up all your vitamin and mineral ‘tanks,’ but you stall because your liver wants more glucose – fill up that ‘tank’ and now you’re good.

    • Marcy on March 1, 2012 at 09:37

      Just another thought on the calorie balance thing – you can eat a restricted-calorie paleo diet and not lose weight. I really think you won’t lose weight until your body thinks it’s safe to lose it.

      In your example, you spontaneously reduced your consumption, you didn’t go hungry. I think that’s an important distinction. So many things I read, even in the low-carb or paleo world, blame the person for over-eating instead of focusing on why someone might be ‘over’ eating in the first place.

  66. Jason on March 1, 2012 at 10:09

    A really cool facet of paleo that this plays into is the actual ancestral aspect that it initially purported (i.e. eat what was available to your former, more primitive beings). I mean think about it, if you achieve an authentic super low carb eating plan, you should be eating some pretty gnarly foods (think inuit style skin, bones, and organs) to achieve it–leading to an extremely low rewarding diet. But most people follow paleo in an artificial way (i.e. they put in tons of butter or other oils to allow for an “acceptable” low carb paleo proportion). Unfortunately that’s not how it works–coconuts and their awesome oily flakes comes with the sugary water encapsulated; cows, sheep,goats all come with their lactose milky goodness; and most of the cultures eating low carb actually weren’t, think masai and the banana, honey, beer ordeal. +1 for much more historically accurate implementation of dietary principles.

  67. Rhys on March 1, 2012 at 10:17

    Once again Richard, you are the god damned batman. This post is perfectly in tune with my latest thoughts on ditching LC and adding starches back into my life. LC for so long killed my sex drive and my thyroid and I pretty much felt like shit every day. The only reason I stuck with it is because I’m lean and look great, and for some reason I cared more about looking good than actually feeling good. After reading these past few posts of yours, I’m ready to hop back on the starch wagon and join you in the moderate carb experiment. I’m fairly confident it will work, especially since I used to eat a ton of carbs (crappy ones like oatmeal and cereal) when I did Lean Gains a few years ago.

    Anyway, thanks for the posts. Keep us updated.

  68. Lana on March 1, 2012 at 10:23

    Interesting blog. I believe the institue of Medicine recommend a minimum amount of 45% for Carbs and the World Health Organisation 55%, so it sounds like your thinking is correct. The tough part is understanding which are the good carbs to eat. It’s just so easy to eat the wrong carbs. Keep up the great blog.

  69. ChocoTaco369 on March 1, 2012 at 10:25


    I have been screaming this at the top of my lungs on the MDA forums for 6 months. The carbohydrate fear there when I began Primal a year ago was off the charts there, and everyone’s solution to everything was to “add more fat” as if pouring coconut oil on top of your steak somehow made you lose fat faster than just eating steak. Ridiculous!

    Then, something magical happened – people are starting to listen. Today, people on the MDA forums are actually much more open to whole food, healthy carbohydrates like potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava and fruits. I’m even starting to open up to healthy sweeteners, such as raw honey, blackstrap molasses and coconut sugar – though in very small, irregular quantities. I hope I’m partially responsible for this transformation.

    The problem is that while fat is great for maintaining fullness for long periods of time, it’s not good for filling you up – at least for me. I’m 25 years old, 140 lbs, 5’7″. I can eat 4 lbs of steak in a sitting. It just isn’t filling to me. Alternately, potatoes are great for filling you up quickly, but they’re easily digested and hunger returns quickly. The solution: eat steak and potatoes. The potatoes fill me up fast and the steak keeps me full long after the potatoes digest and wear off. Amazing, it’s almost as if the body was designed to eat meat AND starch and humans aren’t supposed to be vegetarians OR carbo-phobes. Hmmm!

    • Ajr on March 2, 2012 at 04:04

      I can’t speak for everyone, but your threads concerning carbs over at the MDA forums certainly helped me pull my head out of my ass. I’m 23 and I was trying to work 12 hour shifts on my farm and train mma on a diet that was making me feel like complete shit. I stuck to it because of the dogma that had been spewed into my face by so many, but after a while I started eating natural carbs just to get through my days without crashing. I started doing more research and then saw your “Sugar isn’t the problem” thread on MDA and it echoed everything I had experienced in the past couple of months.

      One thing I love over there is the complete lack of reading comprehension shown by some of the members. You tell people that natural carbs are ok for certain people and a diabetic comes into the thread demanding to know why you’re telling them to eat a bowl of processed sugar for every meal.

      • rob on March 2, 2012 at 09:18

        A lot of the posters over there are not even remotely sane.

      • DH on March 4, 2012 at 19:35

        @Ajr and rob:

        What’s curious is that Sisson himself seems very literate and sane. That’s what first attracted me to MDA. However, way too many (thankfully not all) of his followers that feel moved to comment come off as rabid dogs with a mission. The closed mindedness coupled with a missionary zeal is rather disturbing. Mark himself seems much more thoughtful and open minded.

    • anand srivastava on March 2, 2012 at 05:22

      Well I was there 2 years ago :-). Haven’t been there too much for around 1 year. Yes it got boring trying to defend carbs. Things have become much better there, from what I have seen too.

  70. pbo on March 1, 2012 at 10:38

    Richard.. fucking brilliant! I have been doing low carb for over a year, and although weight has not been my major issue, I have in the past few months started to really push myself to make more strength gains in the gym. So I figured hey, why not load up on some safe starches. I must say eating more potato/rice/banana really goes a long way. The other day I had over 300 grams of carbs, and you know what… NO ISSUES. I have not gained fat, I have not had any blood sugar issues, I feel great, and happy with my progress in the gym.

    I agree with you it’s about eating real food. Going low carb paleo was great for me, because it finally got my past that hump of ditching processed shit. Now bringing back the carbs I am not tempted to eat a box of crab anymore.

    Thanks for the great post!

  71. Michael on March 1, 2012 at 10:44


    Thanks for this post! This has certainly given me something to consider as I continue in my weight loss journey. I have a significant amount to lose (still close to 150 lbs after losing 66 to date, I’m 6’5″ and currently weigh 425) and am curious to know what your thoughts are on timing to start incorporating more “real food” carbs into ones diet. Right now I’m following LC principles and concepts from MDA and have had great success so far. Despite my size, I’m still able to be active (ran a 5K recently, play racquetball weekly, work in the yard, etc.) but I’m definitely looking to do anything I can to speed up my weight loss.

    Thanks for your insight and dedication to providing your thoughts, research, and experiences to the masses!

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 11:41

      “I have a significant amount to lose (still close to 150 lbs after losing 66 to date, I’m 6’5″ and currently weigh 425) and am curious to know what your thoughts are on timing to start incorporating more “real food” carbs into ones diet.”

      Well, all you can do is give it a try. Track what you’re eating now over the course of a week. Then

      1. Subtract 200-300 cal per day from the average number for the week. This will be your new average target.

      2. Kick your carbs up from whatever they are now to 200g per day. So, if you average 50 now, that’s an added 150g or 600 cal.

      3. Lower your protein & fat allowance by 600 cal total in whatever way works best for you (and you can play with this over time, so like 200 cal less of protein and 400 less of fat, or the other way around, or split down the middle or whatever.

      4. Keep in mind these are average targets over a week, not that you need to eat the same calories and macro grams ever day.

      If you remain well satiated and satisfied then you can reduce calories even more. Or, maybe only 100 less on average works. But keep in mind that as you lose weight you also need to keep reducing calories or you’ll stall.

      And next time someone complains about their weight/fat loss being stalled, you’ll have the perfect response: see, calories count.

      • Michael on March 1, 2012 at 11:52

        Awesome, that’s what I’ll do. I love the experimental nature of Paleo/Primal lifestyle’s and am enjoying the learning process.

        Currently, my goal has been 2,000 cal per day. I’ve been tracking everything pretty religiously so I’ll follow the formula and see where I end up.

        Thanks again for your knowledge and willingness to share and the quick response!

  72. Justin on March 1, 2012 at 11:00


    I’m curious if you’ve read any of Todd Becker’s analysis:


    To me, I think Todd is getting closer to an explanation than the food reward theory here. The one thing that I just don’t see in Guyunet’s analysis is what makes food rewarding — why is it that some foods are more rewarding than others? There has to be a mechanism to control this in the brain.

    Check out Becker’s work — his look at flavor control diets is particularly interesting, but he’s taking a stab at reconciling low-carb/insulin control and flavor control.

    From my own experience, I’d say calories count if you’re trying to lose weight but it’s also important to keep insulin in check/low if you want to allow fat stores to be shed to be used for energy. So my own experience basically jives with what Berkhan advocates: high protein, low carb +@ a caloric deficit to lose fat; high carb/low fat no deficit to run maintenance. Oscillate between the two states.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 13:31

      “To me, I think Todd is getting closer to an explanation than the food reward theory here. The one thing that I just don’t see in Guyunet’s analysis is what makes food rewarding”

      It’s highly individual, also highly cultural. Think “delicacies” that the mere though of makes _you_.

      I really fail to see why folks have a problem with all this when it’s patently obvious to me.

      The most succinct way I can think of to sum it up is: “there’s _always_ room for dessert.”

      People say “I’m saving room for dessert” when in reality they’re stuffed silly on potatoes, stuffing (no pun intended) turkey and gravy and the though of another bite is disgusting.

      But they’ll still have the pumpkin pie and whipped cream.

      • Justin on March 1, 2012 at 13:35

        The problem is that there has to be a mechanism that makes food rewarding — how many people drink a beer the first time and think “Damn that was delicious!” It’s only when our bodies associate some benefit to the food that it becomes delicious. All of this has to be explainable on chemical level and I’ve not seen anyone do this save for Becker.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 14:13

        “All of this has to be explainable on chemical level”

        To whom? Anyone who wants to, I guess. Beer, as does other things, falls under the category of acquired taste, at least for some. I thought my first taste of beer was delicious. I still recall it was a hit summer day, too, and it was an ice cold Coors. I think I was 9.

      • Justin on March 1, 2012 at 14:17

        I knew you’d say that — and I’m sure you thought black coffee was delicious, too. N=1

        Most people I’ve talked to didn’t find alcohol tasty the first time they tried it.

        “To whom?” Unless you want food reward to be a tautology (it’s rewarding b/c I like it … ), there must be a theory that explains on a chemical/hormonal level what makes food rewarding. At a very minimum, you should read Becker’s examination of this (he’s also big into hormesis, which you should like).

      • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 14:39

        black coffee did take some getting used to, as did straight liquor.

        I’m not appealing to tautology, just saying that I don’t much care to spend my time trying to understand the psychology or biochem behind it. That wouldn’t be rewarding. :)

      • Justin on March 1, 2012 at 14:42

        Hey I get the idea that if it works, it works, so whatever, but there are plenty of rewarding foods that you’re not likely to binge on. Super high fat, low protein = not rewarding — why is that? Becker has suggested an answer to the mechanism, which is why he’s worth reading — and understanding the mech helps make sense of rewarding foods and it also helps elucidate how to get past plateaus. It also sorta explains why wholesale diet changes (going low fat or going low carb) can have initial results that taper off (hint: learned associations).

      • Richard Nikoley on March 1, 2012 at 14:46

        A little anecdote from this morning. Every Thursday the housekeepers come for a couple of hours and I head out to Gunther’s, a small German restaurant & catering operation that has great breakfast (they do their potatoes German style, which is to boil them first, slice them and then lightly fry them. Anyway, that, 2 eggs, a sirloin burger, and I ended up leaving about 1/4 of the portion of potatoes. I was stuffed. Had to pick up someone at a convenience store 30 minutes later, walked by the ice cream box freezer and very seriously considered having a little treat. Suddenly, I had room for dessert.

    • Katherine on March 1, 2012 at 13:34

      I find the work of Kathleen Desmaisons and Bart Hoebels interesting in this regard, with respect to sugar addiction specifically.

      I saw a study recently (sorry I don’t have the reference) where mice which had their ability to taste sweetness removed still chose sugar water over plain water. Palatability is not the right word for that IMO. Artifically heightened food reward based on neurochemistry is where it is at, combined with the same foods’ failure to satiate properly.

  73. Kelly on March 1, 2012 at 11:08

    I haven’t taken the time to scan through all the comments, so please forgive me if I’m being redundant, but not making a distinction between refined and unrefined carbs is like throwing out the baby with the bath water.

  74. Ulrik on March 1, 2012 at 11:11

    Please forgive the long comment that follows: I have simply got to unload what’s on my mind about this. I hope it adds something to the discussion!

    One thing that got me hooked on low-carb ketogenic dieting was that
    it’s just so cool: it was like discovering a bonus level in a game, or
    an Easter egg in the operating system: our body could use a different
    kind of fuel, and it might be healthier for us! Wow! And there was
    something iconoclastic about it then, because health professionals
    claimed we’d keel over from a heart attack any minute, yet everyone’s
    blood lipids improved!

    Now of course, low-carb is old hat, and low-food reward is the new
    black. However, many are very reluctant to accept the science behind
    it, for the following reasons, I think:

    One is the sunk cost fallacy, as was mentioned above by rob.

    Another is confusion about the actual claim, worries about circularity,
    etc. Stephan hasn’t always been clear in his writing on this, using
    food reward and palatability interchangeably. They’re correlated, of
    course, but it’s better to distinguish them, as J Stanton has done
    such as great job of for us.

    But more important than these, I think, people are having trouble
    with the food-reward hypothesis because it’s emotionally
    uncomfortable. It’s the same reason there are climate change deniers
    and evolution deniers.

    I think Stephan himself is partially to blame for this, because
    of the implications he personally draws from the science: In a podcast
    with Chris Kresser he stated that he himself eats a very low-reward
    diet: no added salt, pepper or spices, no broiling/searing/grilling,
    no sauces, no added fat, no ‘dishes’ of more than one ingredient, etc.

    If a lean and healthy guy like Stephan thinks that such an
    extreme diet is necessary, it’s no wonder it makes people
    uncomfortable. It’s like saying that to accept climate change you
    must ditch your car and never get on an airplane again.

    I think in both cases we need to frame the science to make it more
    palatable (no pun intended). Some people are more likely to accept the
    science of climate change if you point out that a political response
    might be to foster innovation about energy sources and adaptation
    rather than massive business restrictions. Likewise, it’s more helpful to
    say, like Richard and Kurt, that we can accept the food reward
    hypothesis but still have butter and salt on our potatoes, and pepper
    on our (grilled!) steak.

    Many of us are ‘foodies’: we like to cook and make tasty dishes. If
    the implications of the food-reward hypothesis is that we can’t enjoy
    food anymore, it’s a very tough pill to swallow. Luckily, the
    functional paleo approach gives a way out: just eat real foods without
    toxins, enjoy them, perhaps save the really extravagant gastronomical
    treats for special occasions, but otherwise don’t stress out about
    it. :)

    • Rip @ MIPWID on March 1, 2012 at 14:28

      To paraphrase Gene Simmons: “I once knew a guy who gave up sex and rich food. He was fine right up until the day he killed himself.”

  75. Rip @ MIPWID on March 1, 2012 at 11:12

    Is this growing acceptance towards carbs – quality, nutritious carbs – a sea change in the whole ‘paleosphere’?

    Not really.

    The two main truths are still the same:

    1. Eat real food.
    2. Figure the rest out for yourself.

  76. Dan on March 1, 2012 at 13:33

    I LOVE this post! It’s like the old “Schwarzbein Square” has suddenly been re-discovered (anybody heard of that? My wife and i have used the SS for our meal planning all along, despite what jimmy moore, mark sisson and the rest have to say) . And maybe people will stop beating up on poor Paul jaminet. I think Croxton says it best – JERF!!!

    Richard, I am extremely interested in this topic, and really look forward to your interview with Jimmy. Please Keep reporting the results of your experiment in detail, this is really important stuff.

  77. Uncephalized on March 1, 2012 at 13:35

    Richard, just for you I made a small T-bone steak this morning and brought it and a big sweet potato for lunch (I don’t eat breakfast). Cut up the steak into little bite-size pieces and stuffed it in my (nuked) SP with a bit of Kerrygold. I call it a Paleo Sandwich. It was delicious, now I’m done eating, and I’m looking forward to the same meal but with liver later tonight when I get hungry again. I have absolutely no desire to eat a bite of anything else right now even though I also had a couple of clementines and some dark chocolate.

    OK, I lied. I did it for me. But I thought you might like to know. :D

  78. John Rhoades on March 1, 2012 at 13:56

    I got to wondering about the low carb dogma during my own paleo adventure. A bit of history follows, the gist of which is that for me a calorie restriction with about 50-60% carb calories or a paleo diet with about 20% carb calories made no difference to my rate of weight loss.

    In Nov. 2009, I decided I needed to lose a lot of weight and get more fit. Stats at the time, age 64, height 6’1″”, weight 245, high blood pressure, high blood sugar. Meds were atenolol and atacand (for bp 160/90), metformin and actos (for high blood sugar A1C 6.3) and lipitor. Never having heard of paleo, I just reduced food calories by 300 and increased exercise calories by 300 (mostly via increased morning walk). For the next 5 months, I reliably lost 1 to 1.5 pounds per week. I wasn’t particularly hungry between meals, and the bp and blood sugar started to come down. Counting calories and weighing food was at first a chore, but after a while, I got pretty good at just estimating by eyeball.

    In Mar. 2010, I ran across the paleo diet, which seemed to make a lot of sense. I adopted a moderately low carb version (maybe 200-300 calories/day) and kept to about the same total calories and exercise as before. The result: continued to lose 1 to 1.5 pounds per week, no more, no less. After a while, I stopped counting calories and just ate till full. Still continued to lose about 1 pound per week. Ditched the lipitor and blood sugar meds, but continued to maintain a high normal blood sugar level, about 5.7 on the A1C test. Of course my lipids went to hell according to my doc, but I wasn’t too worried, with an HDL:trig ratio of about 1:1. My LDL shot up from about 70 mg/dl to 140 mg/dl, but I requested the NMR profile, which showed a strong “pattern A” distribution of particle sizes. (Incidentally, I converted my doc to a believer in the NMR profile, but I myself am beginning to doubt that LDL matters much at all, as long as one has low systemic inflammation.)

    Eventually my weight bottomed at about 193 lbs in summer 2011, and my pot belly was pretty much gone. I went from 40″ to 36″ waist pants size. The impedance meter at the local gym said I had 19% body fat. Since then I gained 10 pounds, but still wear the 36″ pants and still have 19% body fat. From my appearance, I’d guess my body fat percentage is actually a little lower now than it was last summer. This is all likely due to increasing my gym workout intensity and adding sprints to my daily walks.

    The point of all this history: It seems that switching to a paleo diet versus just calorie restriction made no difference at all in my rate of weight loss. The paleo diet did permit me to ditch some meds.

    In Dec. 2011, I decided to increase my carb calories to around 500-600 per day, a little more than double what I was doing earlier. This extra sugar comes primarily from white potatoes and white rice. This change made no difference to either my fasting blood glucose or A1C level. It did seem to give me a slight boost in everyday energy. I read in the Perfect Health Diet that the body requires around 600 calories of glucose per day, and I figured that with my routine several miles of walking per day, I was probably burning all the glucose in my diet plus generating some extra glucose from protein.

  79. Nance on March 1, 2012 at 14:41

    What hasn’t been discussed here, but which I feel must be included under the food reward umbrella if it is to help explain my binge eating disorder, is that a day-to-day basis, eating whole foods has turned the off switch for binge eating. I can eat what I want, even an occasional processed treat, and I have no binge impulse at all or can easily ignore it. I even make it through upsets that used to send me into a migraine attack or major binge. However, if the emotional stresses are bad enough and frequent enough, my ability to control/ignore the binge impulse shatters like glass and it’s not rice or potatoes I’m hungry for. I’ve actually had to do some 24-44 hour fasts recently because to eat means to binge if I’m upset enough. Other than divorcing my descendants and moving in with the Sherpas, I’d like to understand what goes wrong when I was doing so well for so long. How do entrenched eating disorders fit into food reward?

  80. Teddy P on March 1, 2012 at 14:43

    Going on a low food reward diet does not necessarily mean that the food will be less rewarding overall. There is actually a case that can be made where we can state the opposite – that the mechanisms for delivering satisfaction will indeed increase as the diet remains low in rewarding food.

    Just like a drug-addict who swings from super-high states to abysmal depressions (with the high states being shorter and shorter compared to the abysmal states being elongated as the addiction progresses) will notice that the overall satisfaction of life will increase immensely once the drugs are removed, a person eating foods lower in reward could also possibly give an overall satisfaction to us that is far greater than it was before with each potato just as satisfying as the next.

    There is no loss of overall enjoyment of food here. We simply have to handle the loss of foods that give us extreme pleasure which allows for a much greater (but not too great) satisfaction for foods that did not previously reward us.

    The same experience has taken place for me with sex. The less porn (high-reward) I watch the better sex is.

  81. Alpha Carotene on March 1, 2012 at 15:08

    Background: I was a super obese kid who thinned out with puberty then put on a shitload of weight in high school and college. Couple years ago, becoming irritated with failing low calorie diets, I read Taubes’ first book. I didn’t understanding a damn thing about nutrition, obesity, cooking, etc. but I decided to give the low carb thing a try. I couldn’t keep a full ketogenic diet for longer than a couple weeks, but I maintained LC for about 6 months with only a few periods of cheating.

    I went from 235 to 170, at 6′. My bodyfat percentage was still too high due to hating resistance training, but I was still pleased with my results. The best thing about it was the lack of appetite, which I had never experienced before in my entire life. I HATE being hungry all the time. Felt like I would be LC for life at the time.

    All was going well until something extremely stressful happened in my personal life. Then I started craving carbs on a regular basis. I developed a relationship with sugar and starch (snack food specifically) that an alcoholic has with his drug. In my mind, candy and doughnuts were basically the same as fruit. Eventually I gave in and started eating quick unhealthy food full time. And once again, HUNGER EAT NOW MUST EAT. I gained back 20 lbs. in 2 months. Once things started stabilizing again, I went back to caring. And that’s where I am now.

    I tried to go VLC and then LC again and found it near impossible to maintain for even a week. Trying to severely restrict carbs when you are stressed out is probably a terrible idea for anyone. I don’t think VLC/LC is even close to ideal, it’s more what you do when desperate to lose weight and super obese. My diet at the moment has been going perfectly for a little over a month. I weighed in today at 172. I eat at all different times, unintentionally doing IF sometimes.

    Here is what I eat on a normal day: 4-6 medium bananas always paired with several servings of shredded coconut, 2-3 eggs cooked in butter, 2 servings of cheese, avocado, big bowlful of steamed brocolli and/or other non-starchy veg, steamed potato (usually 2-3 medium ones) or large sweet potato with plenty of butter and some salt, occasional unsweetened hot chocolate.

    It’s boring but I’ve found that it works. I’d estimate that about 300-400 calories come from potato. 400-600 coming from bananas. Like I mentioned before, sometimes I eat a lot less without even intending to. I noticed from all my dieting experiences that carb craving is different from hunger. I never get either with my banana and potato rich diet. I also don’t care for meat anymore and haven’t eaten any in weeks. So when vegetarianism becomes the new paleo trend, I can say that I was way ahead of everyone!

    • Rhys on March 1, 2012 at 15:21

      “So when vegetarianism becomes the new paleo trend, I can say that I was way ahead of everyone!”

      Yeah…fat chance.

      • Rhys on March 1, 2012 at 15:21

        Or should I say skinny-fat chance bwahahaha

      • Carlos Morales on March 2, 2012 at 06:55


  82. john lushefski on March 1, 2012 at 15:59

    What do food reward, fat set-point, string theory, and universal grammar have in common?

    I watch my friend inject winstrol and test enanthate and, depsite being 200lbs and eating about 1400 cal/day, he gains muscle and loses fat. One could say that those chemicals, acting on the brain, lower food reward, lower fat set-point, and increase muscle set-point; or, one might be able to explain it concretely…

    …I love how insulin/insulin signaling is cast aside as “quackery” and “magic,” yet those same people talk of “food reward” and “set-points” as though they were [even remotely] some kind of scientific fact.

    • Nigel Kinbrum on March 1, 2012 at 18:20

      John, insulin signalling determines partitioning, not total weight. I’m sure I’ve explained this before. For example, injecting AAS’s increases the insulin sensitivity of muscles. More stuff goes into muscles than comes out of them. Muscle mass therefore increases.

      If there is a caloric deficit, weight decreases. As muscle mass is increasing, fat mass has to be decreasing.

      The insulin fairy cannot make stuff out of thin air. She can only redistribute what’s already there.

      • john lushefski on March 1, 2012 at 20:49

        Nigel, injecting winstrol and forcefeeding will result in a smaller WEIGHT gain than injecting insulin and forcefeeding–doing this counters the excuse about insulin-induced hypoglycemia (and this would work if comparing insulin to no injection). Try hanging around some bodybuilders who meticulously measure everything. Chemicals, hormones, gut bacteria, etc significantly affect long term energy expenditure in general and in response to food, and certain people are more weight stable. It’s easily observable and not debatable, and there are explainable, testable mechanisms–no need for fairies and magic. Or maybe all the people like myself just have “food reward resistance.”

      • Nigel Kinbrum on March 2, 2012 at 09:27

        “Nigel, injecting winstrol and forcefeeding will result in a smaller WEIGHT gain than injecting insulin and forcefeeding…”
        Stanozolol must therefore increase calories burned, which reduces the caloric surplus due to force-feeding. Has anybody measured calories out (BMR etc) when on Stanozolol, relative to placebo?

      • john lushefski on March 2, 2012 at 09:16

        Also Nigel, along with bodybuilders, you can contact several well-known competitive eaters. Kobayashi, an interesting case being so lean, answers many fan questions. His body’s response to caloric “excess” is much different than wooo’s for instance. Calorie “destination,” being not only muscle and fat, is disregarded by food reward proponents.

      • Nigel Kinbrum on March 2, 2012 at 09:41

        “Calorie “destination,” being not only muscle and fat, is disregarded by food reward proponents.”
        That’s because food reward theory explains food consumption only, not nutrient partitioning, BMR etc.

        The relative insulin sensitivities of target tissues determines relative nutrient partitioning. Resistance training increases muscular insulin sensitivity which is why BB’ers gain more muscle when they overeat than Joe Blow and lose less muscle when they undereat than Joe Blow.

        Drugs have various effects. Some increase BMR which increases weight loss. Some increase muscular insulin sensitivity which increases muscle gain. Some decrease adipocyte insulin sensitivity which increases fat loss.

      • john lushefski on March 2, 2012 at 11:37

        Yes, and food reward theory considers consumption/calorie intake the only factor, which is why I see people using basic arithmetic to predict long term fat mass changes.

        I understand that “insulin sensitivities determine nutrition partitioning,” but it, among other factors, ALSO affects weight stability. There are many forcefeeding studies; not all subjects gain the same WEIGHT–boom. Studying fat gain with a mindset of “calorie number, calorie number, calorie number” is useless for furthering understanding. Factors affecting weight stability/instability and appetite are important. Food reward seems to attempt to explain appetite regulation, but the way it has been presented and defined makes it a joke.

        Look, if you want to break out the 4-function calculator like Richard and “calculate” long term fat gain, go ahead; my quality of life is quite high without doing so. Sorry, but I don’t want to continue this conversation here. You can e-mail me, but we’ve had this argument before.

      • Nigel Kinbrum on March 2, 2012 at 16:10

        Nobody is trying to predict or calculate weight changes in the general population. They’re just trying to establish why the general population is getting ever fatter and do something about it. What BB’ers do is irrelevant.

        I don’t believe that anything can be done to halt the obesity “epidemic”, as I believe that food manufacturers will not allow anything to change that will reduce their profits. It’s every person for themselves. /discussion.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 16:44

        You’re on your own.

      • Nigel Kinbrum on March 2, 2012 at 20:58

        I hope I’m wrong. I don’t like being a pessimist, but optimism on this subject has been a disappointment. Whatever happens in the US usually happens around the rest of the world a few years later.

        It’s 5am and time for bed. G’night!

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 4, 2012 at 18:39

        “I don’t believe that anything can be done to halt the obesity “epidemic”,”

        I totally agree. The reason is that the principle cultural use of food is not nutrition.

        It is entertainment.

      • Jscott on March 5, 2012 at 19:20

        Or therapy.

  83. marie curious on March 1, 2012 at 16:22

    Someone, please consider this? :
    remember we all learned that in the Scientific Method : a hypothesis is a Falsifiable explanation for an observation or group of observations….a.k.a. “if it ain’t falsifiable, it ain’t science”.
    Why falsifiable, as opposed to provable? Because there are certain types of explanations or logical constructs that are impossible to Ever prove, but it takes just one opposing observation to falsify them.
    So why go back to the textbooks (or, Pope)?
    Because if there’s even ONE person who finds even plain potatoes irresistible (better than dessert) yet STILL manages to break past a plateau by reintroducing them, it simply can’t be the low food reward aspect that’s doing the trick. That’s NOT subject to the usual “there’s variability in humans” fall-back – there is, but we took variability out of the picture by specifying that the potato-junkie had the SAME reaction, (weight loss resumption, energy uptick, ‘happiness’/clarity) as the ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ guy.
    Yes, there’s a wide spectrum of reactions to different foods, a wide spectrum of caloric needs etc., but if someone like me (and there are many others) who can eat an entire tray of lemon oven potatoes in preference to chocolate cheesecake ((other fave) can jump-start weight loss at a plateau by reintroducing some daily potatoes, it ain’t Decreased food reward that’s making me happy with less calories, if anything we would have to say it’s because of INCREASED food reward…or not a factor at all for this particular phenomenon (the phenom being weight loss after a long-term VLC/paleo stall).
    Yes, food reward (the cannabinoid/opioid measurable effect or just ‘can do dessert even if stuffed’) is a great explanation for why we gorge on industrially engineered snack foods like chips, cookies etc. , driving ‘unnaturally high’ calorie intake and so weight gain, but surely it’s not a catch-all?

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 10:28

      “Because if there’s even ONE person who finds even plain potatoes irresistible (better than dessert) yet STILL manages to break past a plateau by reintroducing them, it simply can’t be the low food reward aspect that’s doing the trick.”

      There was no claim that potato was low reward, and particularly not for all individuals at all times.

      The claim is that in a mix of various foods, ON AVERAGE for the subjects who participated in the test, potato was one of the lowest reward while highest satiating.

      My own experience bears this out.

      • Mallory on March 2, 2012 at 10:46

        ONE of my okinawan potatoes was rotten last night…and i didnt know until i bit into it. i usually just steam them, stick them in the freezer long enough to get the skin off, and eat them whole, no cutting or further prep…so i bit…into this nasty dirt salty gross something….reward went from edible to turnoff disgusting. ew, geez i am still scarred lol

      • marie curious on March 2, 2012 at 11:20

        Thanks for responding. Yes, I understand what the article shows and of course I even can have no dispute that in your case (as in many others) potatoes are low reward but satiating. I just think that happens to be incidental to breaking through your plateau since reintroducing potatoes causes even people who are junkies for them to break through a plateau (assuming we always adjust calories for weight loss).

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 15:08

        What I’m trying to convey, Marie, as well as to Jimmy this morning in the podcast, is that there is no magic and breaking through a plateau is about reducing calories lower. I found it tough to do that in the style of eating I was doing before, and now I find it easy, and it’s because the potatoes are so filling to me for so long and also that after a few days I was less excited about them. Guess I’ll start having to use my tbsp of butter and tbsp of sour cream as 2 tabs ghee, coconut oil or lard and make oven fries in order to keep getting my MDA of potato.

      • Ajr on March 2, 2012 at 15:15

        +1 for the oven fries.

        I use a bit of olive oil and spices on mine and eat them with a steak. It turns out that steak drippings are an amazing dipping sauce for them…or just about anything actually.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 15:48

        I hear a bit of truffle oil and/or truffle salt can be amazing, but have yet to try.

        See how food reward and palatability works? I’m already scheming.

      • Ajr on March 2, 2012 at 16:08

        I’ve never tried that, but it does seem like it’d have potential. I tried blending habanero peppers, garlic, EV olive oil, and a little balsamic vinegar to use as a dipping sauce for them and it was awesome.

        Now for the food reward hypothesis, let me see if I understand it. Every food has an inherent satiating factor as well as a palatability factor. Foods that are satiating keep us full longer and the palatability of a food affects how attracted to said food we are due to taste, texture, and so on. An ideal food for losing weight would be one that has a high satiating factor, plenty of vitamins and minerals, and a low palatability factor that would reduce the chances of someone stuffing their faces with it simply because there’s an addictive aspect to the food and not because they’re actually hungry or need to eat. Foods like potato are great because they fill you up and keep you full for a while and aren’t highly palatable thus preventing someone from eating 5 pounds of them by accident. On the other hand, things like ice cream and snickers bars are bad because they not only fail at filling you up and are nutritionally poor, they also contain ingredients specifically designed to increase how palatable they are and thus increase the chances of someone consuming excessive amounts of them.

        If that is indeed how it works then it makes a lot of sense. As an example, tonight I ate some spinach, grilled chicken, and potatoes to the point where I didn’t want to take another bite. Now, if there was a snickers bar or some ice cream in the fridge I could easily grab it even though I’ve already eaten my fill on real foods.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 16:31


        That is pretty much how I understand it. Go for the highly satiating, moderately palatable but lower on the “reward” scale.

        Re your last para, the point is to not even have the ice cream and sinkers on the house BECAUSE, when you are full and can’t eat another bite, you mysteriously have room for just a bite of those, then another bite, and so on. Beatrice is a school teacher and every holiday vacation gets showered on gifts, many of them candy and such. Thankfully, that only happens 2-3 times per year. But I understand fully how I can’t eat another bite, yet, I somehow manage to find a way to eat a few pieces of candy. Of course, in that limited way, it has never been a factor, but people who have candy around 24/7. Now I understand why my excellent grandmother and greatgrandmother, real food, hunter, fisher and cooks were 60-80 pounds overweight the entire part of my life I new them. Virtually all meals were real, quality, home cooked, but both had bottomless candy dishes on the coffee table the entire time I was a kid.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 16:36

        They both smoked and my grandmother drank like a fish. They both lived into their 80s.

        Grandmother died a week or two after an operation to relieve a blood vessel blockage that feeds the intestines (she was not digesting food). She became unstable after surgury and her liver could not handle the constant onslaught of BP regulaton and other meds they were using to keep vitals in range.

      • Ajr on March 2, 2012 at 17:14

        Then it all makes a ridiculous amount of sense. For the record, the ice cream and snickers bars don’t enter the house exactly because of the example I used. Tonight I didn’t eat them because they aren’t available and the drive to eat them isn’t enough for me to get in the car and drive to the store. That being said, if they were sitting there when I brought my plate out to the kitchen, I absolutely would have grabbed them because they have some sort of black magic quality to them.

        Funny that you mention the grandmothers with candy thing, because my grandmother eats a pretty traditional diet but has a seemingly bottomless candy dish on her coffee table as well. I remember always trying to get my grubby little paws into the dish when I was younger, and my grandfather yelling at me for “trying to eat that garbage”. Looking back on it, he was completely right and I’m glad he tried to talk some sense into his rowdy grandson. The guy was old school and loved a good cigar and a glass of whiskey, but you’d never see him eating a donut or something processed out of a box. His meals were always meat, eggs, and vegetables from the farm, basically a real meat and potatoes guy. He died in his sleep at the ripe age of 96 without ever retiring from the farm, and I think the fact that he ate real foods and remained active had a lot to do with this. Modern society views the elderly as burdens to be shuffled off and pumped full of meds instead of viewing them as a wealth of information and experience that should be valued by the younger generations. It’s truly sad because there’s much to be learned from people that have lived through a lot of the major changes in this country both dietary and otherwise.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 17:24

        Yea, Ajr, I got plenty of “not now, you’ll spoil your dinner” (is that concept even in the cultural lexicon, anymore, given fewer and fewere families sit down together to a home cooked meal?).

        I suspect that when nobody was looking, those loves of my life didn’t follow their own advice.

        Then again, I always say: if you make it to 80 and you know you’re 80 and understand what that means, you win.

      • Ajr on March 2, 2012 at 17:47

        Honestly, until I read that phrase in your comment, I hadn’t heard it used in probably 8 or 9 years. To most families these days a meal is something you get handed through a drive-thru window or something that comes in a box that you throw in the oven. The days of big family gatherings where all the kids run and play under the watch of their grandparents while the adults spends hours preparing and cooking a meal are sadly diminishing. The fact that we can look back on such days with nostalgic reverence is crazy considering it used to be the normal way of doing things and was for hundreds if not thousands of years.

      • marie curious on March 2, 2012 at 15:52

        “…there is no magic and breaking through a plateau is about reducing calories lower” > yes, absolutely, no argument with that and an important message to be getting out to to both LC and paleo communities, given the crazy math we often hear. Thank you for doing this.
        As I said, it’s a quibble : there may be an underlying mechanism that has to do with the starch itself, or rather, with reintroducing starch after a long VLC period.

  84. C2U on March 1, 2012 at 16:34

    What the hell’s happened to you Richard? Carbs are making you fuckin’ wacko! And food reward? I fear eating enough carbs will put you in danger of becoming nice. You’ll go from “Angry Dick” to “Nice Dick” and that could get weird depending on who says it.

    But what do I know… I’m just a 160lb angry nobody high-carber who’s been spewing his hatred and forcing his disease promoting ideals down peoples throats for a couple years now.

    • Ajr on March 2, 2012 at 15:14

      You should be ashamed sir. Now go have a great day in a beautiful place while eating a diet that works for you and think about what you’ve done.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 15:43

      “What the hell’s happened to you Richard? Carbs are making you fuckin’ wacko! And food reward? I fear eating enough carbs will put you in danger of becoming nice. You’ll go from “Angry Dick” to “Nice Dick” and that could get weird depending on who says it.”

      Laf. I’ve debated pretending to be all annoyed and bothered about the former, just so it’ll get used more. :)

    • Kelly Mahoney on March 3, 2012 at 09:31

      Hey C2U/CG, I agree with your “Angry High Carbers” Vimeo. If it weren’t for your spew, I probably wouldn’t be where I’m at today…that didn’t sound right.

  85. Ned Kock on March 1, 2012 at 16:41

    Here is a post on ketone concentrations:

    Always in circulation, particularly after exercise.

    Fasting up to 24 h is not a good way to increase them.

    Great discussion Richard!

    • Nance on March 1, 2012 at 17:43

      Thanks, Ned! I fast fairly often but I do so primarily as an appetite control aid. I’ll check it out.

    • Nance on March 1, 2012 at 17:49

      Ok, so if I understood the table IF (intermittent fasting) won’t produce high ketone levels but ADF (alternate day fasting) in which I go 42-48 hours between meals will. I’ve experimented with ADF for 2 weeks and it certainly feels like SOMETHING’S happening!

  86. Steve on March 1, 2012 at 16:54

    So this appears to be working for you, but of course the real test is going to be: Is she once again doing all those nasty things you like? Enquiring pervs want to know! :)

  87. Jeff on March 1, 2012 at 17:01

    Richard, of all the posts you have made over the years this is undoubtedly your best. Absolutely bloody fantastic!! No doubt what so ever how the “secret” of low carb works….and how the “stall” eventually comes for most. Similarly, the secret of the Zone Diet…..hormonal balance???….eicosanoids???…….christ, its the calories, do the math!! Great work.

  88. Devin on March 1, 2012 at 17:03

    I have a feeling that this won’t get read, but Kurt or Richard — have either of you read The Perfect Health Diet? I feel like it’s becoming more relevant every day lately. I think it’s worth a read.

    • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 20:19

      I’ve read it.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 20:20

        But there is simply no such thing as perfect health.

      • dillyjomo on March 4, 2012 at 19:28

        Let’s pretend that it’s called the Pretty Damn Good Health Diet. Any thoughts now?

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 09:45

      I have it, but have not read it yet. But soon. Also, just got an email from Anthony Colpo and he’s getting me a copy of The Fat Loss Bible, so I’m going to be reading that too.

  89. PaleoVenus on March 2, 2012 at 08:45

    Hi Richard and Kurt,

    Can you speak to how this relates to studies like the ones cited in this post: My head is spinning. What I’m getting from all this is that higher insulin levels caused by carb intake do not actually lead to fat storage and that really what helps lower body fat is a feeling of satiety/resistance of food reward which leads to lower caloric intake and, therefore, fat loss.


    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 13:37

      “Can you speak to how this relates to studies like the ones cited in this post: ”

      Makes sense to me. The satiation of fat idea has always puzzled me, a bit, intuitively. Fat is super easy to down, and has over twice the energy per unit as carb or protein, so it doesn’t make sense, at least as a gat loss tool. Protein has always been pretty satiating and now I find, potatoes.

  90. Elton on March 1, 2012 at 18:13

    I don’t think the disagreements are about Low-carb verse Moderate Carb, its about Insulin vs. Food Reward.

    • Kurt G Harris MD on March 1, 2012 at 20:18

      Correct. Because to believe that a low carb diet exerts its effects via FR and not via insulin it to accept that any particular amount of carbs can be slimming and healthy and that the low/hi dichotomy is a false one because it is not the macro ratio that is determining energy excess or deficit.

      The opposite of the CIH is not a prescription for high carb, it is a prescription for ANY carb above VLC levels – could be low or very high.

  91. bee on March 2, 2012 at 10:00

    makes perfect sense from my own experience. i eat at least 150 gms of carbs daily – mainly organic potatoes and sweet potatoes or some white rice. it helps me stay consistently at 17% body fat.

    since i started eating primal, the only thing i binge on is salted nuts – mostly dry-roasted.

    not unsalted nuts, just salted ones. i can eat 5 oz of salted almonds at one sitting and stop when i feel like throwing up. unsalted almonds soaked overnight? i eat maybe four or five and stop.

    so i stopped stocking salted nuts. i don’t binge on nuts at all now.

    salt makes fatty nuts more palatable to me – so palatable, that i can’t control how many i eat. i am a very disciplined eater in most cases.

    so there you go. this palatability and food reward hypothesis makes sense to me.

  92. Canadian Eh on March 1, 2012 at 22:14

    Real world examples always work best. I am Chinese born and raised in Canada. So I eat both Western and Asian foods.

    I have many Asian friends who are super lean and fit. I’m talking 5-10% bodyfat. None of these friends have ever been even remotely fat.

    And all of them eat carbs. Lots. White rice daily at home. Noodles in soup. Bread. Pasta. Fruits and even chocolate and sweets. They don’t gourge on protein, and don’t eat much junk or crap processed foods.

    But they are certainly not low carb or Paleo.

    They are all quite active with various sports. Biking, running, martial arts, basketball, swimming, weights.

    Perhaps low carb works for those who were overweight, but there aren’t many studies for people who have been lean and fit all their lives. Some of these friends I’ve known over 20 years.

    And they’ve always ate carbs. Common sense dictates that carbs didn’t make them fat at all.

    • mark on March 2, 2012 at 07:49

      “They are all quite active with various sports. Biking, running, martial arts, basketball, swimming, weights. ”

      I think you can eat cardbaord and scrap metal and still be healthly as long as you exercise. For the vast majority of people sitting on their asses – carbs turn into sugar- turn into VLDL / raise trigs when not burned – period. So no one can deny the health benefit of keeping these low if you are not burning them – let me repeat – not burning them.

      Go get a blood test – then increase your fats (lower carbs) – get another blood test and report back. Magic.

    • Dan Linehan on March 2, 2012 at 07:50

      That’s probably true until they hit their forties / fifties.

      But I’ve seen plenty of older asians who look extremely unfit and sick in middle age because they never modify their high carb diets once insulin resistance kicks in.

  93. marie curious on March 2, 2012 at 01:38

    Yes, but that doesn’t say anything about how people who Do get overweight respond to carbs.
    Lifestyle and genetics count. We have broad ranges of reactions to different variables because of genetic predisposition, eg. lactose intolerance : asians and mediterraneans have it at 90%, northwestern europeans at only 10-15%. Not a stretch to think the same goes for carbs and fats and even specific food groups (tropical fruit, wheat, legumes…) given different rates of evolution of agriculture around the world and different availability of food types in various geographic regions.
    Since we’re doing personal examples : my husband comes from a mountain village in southern Greece. They all live to over 90, no kidding : his mom’s 92 his aunt is 98, his uncles 88 and 90, similar for various friends, cousins, second-cousins etc. Were they Isolated geographically and so a genetic cohort or is it the food they eat? Not the food : some eat much, some little, some smoke and drink, some don’t; some eat beans, veggies, yogurt/cheese and eggs, others eat lamb and greens almost everyday. Everyone’s carb staple is potatoes – o.k. maybe it’s the potatoes that are doing the trick! ;-)

    • marie curious on March 2, 2012 at 11:26

      Sorry, this comment was supposed to be a reply to Canadian eh? above but missed the thread placement.

  94. Chris Highcock on March 2, 2012 at 02:29

    As usual Matt Metzgar was way ahead on all this

    Back in 2010 he said:

    “My next question: given this information, how did low-carb and Paleo become synonymous in some circles? The evidence shows that Paleo diets were not low-carb. They were lower in carbohydrate than the average American diet (which is roughly 50% carbohydrate). But they were nowhere near the 50 grams of carbs or less that gets recommended in various diets.

    My final question: just as there may be problems in raising carbohydrate intake above the evolutionary norm, why does no one seem concerned about going below it? I sometimes read that carbohydrates are “not essential nutrients”. If so, it seems like a heck of a coincidence that almost all the hunter-gatherer societies consume a moderate amount of carbohydrates.”

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 10:31

      It even goes father back than that for those of us who have for years brought up the Kitavans to falsify the hypothesis that carbs per se make you fat, or that a natural human diet is necessarily low carb, or that your lipid panel means all that much.

      • FrankG on March 2, 2012 at 10:58

        Who is promoting an hypothesis which says “carbs per se make you fat”..?

        I do see where some have made this gross oversimplification of the work in GCBC etc… usually in an attempt to discredit Gary Taubes, but surely anything taken to an extreme can be made to seem ridiculous.

        Carbs are an important part of what we eat — especially in real whole food — BUT too much and/or of the wrong quality (like the ubiquitous sugars and refined starches used as cheap filler in processed packaged franken-foods) probably has a far greater impact on our health and excess fat mass than the dietary fat which has been demonised in recent decades. Saying that it may be the carbs and not the fat we need to look to is not the same as saying “all carbs are bad”.

        Like I said above “the pioneers get the arrows while the settlers get the land”.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 14:50

        Sorry FrankG, should have been more precise. Carbs above some VLC or LC level.

  95. Jesrad on March 2, 2012 at 04:08

    Interestingly, I’ve started testing out this hypothesis over the last three weeks, with alternating periods of “eat to satiety, aim for low carb” and “aim for <2000 calories a day, see what foods leave you hungry".

    The context: becoming an enthusiastic VLC-ketogenic dieter 4 years ago, going from bordeline obesity to a size 4 (US) over 2 years complete with three plateaus, then gradually adding back potatoes for 6 months, then suddenly experiencing slow, sustained and unstoppable weight gain over the last 6 months. I'm now fighting the weight back, and my paleo-LC diet has seemingly not been very effective at it, so I decided to monitor more closely what I eat, and in particular calories, to see if they do indeed matter or not. So far it seems they do, and apparently my appetite has tuned itself towards 2800 calories a day – this is the amount of paleo-LC foods that makes me feel fully satisfied.

    However I have an early observation that may mitigate your conclusions so far, Richard: that is the "energy levels" one feels. I find myself a lot more energetic the lower-carb I eat, and inversely I feel weaker when I eat more carbs. It is very possible my energy expenditure, from basic metabolism as well as activity, varies with the amount of carbs I eat, and that this effect compensate for the calorie differences I try to induce… I can't tell it compensates 100% of it, of course, I need more time with the experiment.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 11:11

      “However I have an early observation that may mitigate your conclusions so far, Richard: that is the “energy levels” one feels. I find myself a lot more energetic the lower-carb I eat, and inversely I feel weaker when I eat more carbs. It is very possible my energy expenditure, from basic metabolism as well as activity, varies with the amount of carbs I eat, and that this effect compensate for the calorie differences I try to induce… I can’t tell it compensates 100% of it, of course, I need more time with the experiment.”

      Totally, dramatically opposite for me. I actually expected to go comatose after eating potatoes. When I recorded with Jimmy Moore this morning (airs on Tuesday) I speculated that the reason I had gone comatose before, is because I was eating the same huge steak swimming in butter, the same huge salad with blue cheese dressing, and instead of some veggies, a potato with loads of butter, sour cream and bacon bits. I wasn’t going comatose because of the carbs, but because I ate way too damn much in a meal (Occam’s Razor, again).

      Now, by cutting meat & fat portions, having that potato, I have super energy. My sleep has gone from 7-8 hours per night with several interruptions to 5-6, but straight through, almost every night.

      • Jesrad on March 13, 2012 at 08:41

        Update on the experiment. It turns out you’re probably right about palatability / reward and Real Foods leaving us feeling more full for less calories than their nasty modern ersatz… it just turns out potatoes are highly palatable to me, I easily get cravings for it. Testing this hypothesis over last week, I managed to get as low as 1300 calories a day VS 1800 average. Rice might be a potential substitute to try out higher-carb, maybe you have other suggestions ?

        Worthy of note: I did get from near-obese, all the way down to ‘amazingly-lean’ on VLC initially, with just 2 short plateaus. We’re all different…

      • Richard Nikoley on March 13, 2012 at 09:11

        I’ say white rice & potatoes are about equally palatable to me, especially if I cook the rice in chicken or beef stock. But potatoes clearly leave me more satiated for longer. I still do both, but probably 70% or so to the potatoes.

        Finding interesting ways to do them as well. Like a backed potato cracked open and stuffed with scrambled eggs and bacon bits. And the other day, lunch was just a medium sized yellow sweet potato, nuked, with a bit of butter & cinnamon. Love the ease & simplicity. Makes it easy to stay out of the car and head to a restaurant, another factor.

      • Jesrad on April 6, 2012 at 05:46

        Final update on the experiment, here it is:
        weeks at 2100-2400 calories a day:
        – over 100 g carbs a day: weight gain, less energy
        – under 100g carbs a day: no weight change
        weeks at 1400-1700 calories a day:
        – at 100 g carbs a day: no weight change, lots less energy
        – under 80 g carbs a day: weight loss, normal energy levels

        So, well, it really comes down to carbs for me, just like what’s on Mark Sisson’s curve for weight loss.

        During this time I’ve also read Gary Taubes’ “FAT : why we get fat”, and I think the chapter 12 explains the apparent necessity for carbs after weight loss is done, as part of the necessary re-training of muscular cells to grab onto glucose and glycogen if you’re physically active (which I’m not). No need for the palatability thing…

        I’ve also stumbled on this : (in french) and it says raw fruits actually contain low amounts of sugars all told, with just enough fructose to slow the conversion of carbs into fatty acids by the liver AND stimulate muscle cells into gorging up on glycogen, without any detrimental effect. Interesting ?

      • Rhys on April 6, 2012 at 10:37

        “if you’re physically active (which I’m not)”

        Well there’s your real problem…

  96. Rusty on March 2, 2012 at 04:37

    Hi Richard-

    Thank you very much for your very thoughtful post. I must have read it 5 times. To be candid I can’t stop thinking about it. So many great comments. I have just a couple of thoughts as I too strive to do what is “optimal” for me.

    1. It’s still pretty early in your n=1 experiment. Perhaps too early to call a resounding success… will great to follow along at 1 year, 3, even 5 years. No doubt you will continue to evolve your thinking.

    2. Restricting calories here so you eat more calories there etc does not feel like ancestral health. Animals balance energy naturally and I am not sure if it “feels” right to have to make conscience decisions and watch portion sizes every single meal. You do say you eat till full which speaks to eating without thinking about it but you also put some thought into reducing fat or protein to compensate for the extra carb calories. Going to marinate on this some more.

    3. I think I have found a funny observation. I have profound respect for you, Dr. Harris, and Stephan and read you all. My observation is that most of the FR folks have never really been fat. Yes….I get you took your turn in the barrel on SAD and had more weight than you wanted and felt like crap and might even have qualified as obese with BMI but we all know that is crap. Most of the low carb camp really does know what it’s like to be fat. (Jimmy’s passion speaks to this) When I see some of my close friends complaining about being 150 or 160 I get a chuckle.

    4. Lastly….I question the diabetes angle. You so rightly excluded diabetics. However, so many of the metabolic syndrome folks are “nearly” diabetic or have some really really fucked up metabolisms. Personally a half cup of rice sends my BS over 200 and relatively any carbs sends my TG to 700 or more. To Dr. Harris’s point I don’t know the exact implications of my lipids but super high TG’s doesn’t feel right. I just don’t know if my metabolism can handle starchy tubers or not. My 300+ coronary calcium score at a very young age would suggest maybe not.

    Can’t thank you enough for your hard work and effort. For your next post can you please throw in something about sex so I stop thinking about potatoes?

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 12:55

      “Restricting calories here so you eat more calories there etc does not feel like ancestral health. ”

      Neither is being overweight, so an unnatural condition brought on by unnatural behaviors might require “unnatural” interventions to get to natural, again.

      “Animals balance energy naturally and I am not sure if it “feels” right to have to make conscience decisions and watch portion sizes every single meal. You do say you eat till full which speaks to eating without thinking about it but you also put some thought into reducing fat or protein to compensate for the extra carb calories. Going to marinate on this some more.”

      Well, first I think that plain eating some starch is more natural than not eating it (unless diabetic, etc, and can’t handle it). I figured 40-50% of calories would be a natural amount and indeed it seems that way. It was intuitively obvious that if I was going to add 600 cal to my diet daily that I had better give up something on the protein and fat side. So, the task was to log that plan out for a free days, see if it suited me and indeed it did, at about 2000-2200 cal per day. I then played around w Fit day to log an average few days in how I used to eat, and it came out to 2600-2800 cal per day.

      So, by virtue of adding the taters, i spontaneously lowered my calories. Now I’m not logging any more, because the meals are pretty simple and I can easily eyeball the portions. And if anything, I’m eating even less than the 2000-2200. Certainly skipping more meals. Potatoes are really damn satiating with sensible portions of meat & fat.

      Also, let’s keep in mind that we do not live in a natural environment. Part of why animals eat as they do in the wild is it’s the best and most they can do. They don’t have unlimited access 24/7.

      • Mike F on March 2, 2012 at 13:16

        Don’t a lot of herbevors have virtually unlimited access to food?

  97. Tomasz R. on March 2, 2012 at 05:28

    Rye bread (sourdough made, full-grain, without any wheat addition) is supposed to support weight loss. Also buckwheat should help there.

  98. liam @ low carb recipes on March 2, 2012 at 06:16

    Ill definatly agree that calories matter, but it is not just as simple as calories in – calories out.

  99. Steven on March 2, 2012 at 06:33

    Just out of curiosity, does anyone buy the nightshade sensitivity phenomena as scientifically legitimate?

    • LeonRover on March 2, 2012 at 07:58

      Check with Mat LaLonde.

      My recollection is he does not buy it for potato.

      His AHS and recent Paleo Summit presentations provide an excellent review.

      Food elimination and sensitivity trials on oneself provide the other cutting edge of the decision scissors.

  100. pfw on March 2, 2012 at 06:49

    You know, reading this and looking back at all the controversy, let me just selfishly say I’m really fucking glad I seem incapable of getting fat. Thank you robust appetite regulation. I owe you one.

    I wish paleo would address auto-immune disorders more often, but I guess there’s a lot more fat people than there are people with auto-immune problems. When it comes to Crohn’s and gut issues, and maybe even a broader spectrum of auto-immune problems, I think “carbs” as a general category starts to become relevant. Maybe not on an ongoing basis (you must never again eat more than N carbs or some bull like that), but when it comes to taming some auto-immune issue LC/VLC may very well be a necessary component.

    Or maybe it’s all just the wheat.

  101. Beefeater on March 2, 2012 at 09:18

    Super obese? I hit 415 at 6′ at the worst, and steady at 185 for the last 8 years.

    Eleven years “low” carb – less than 75g a day of starch. No junk, obviously.

    Figured this out on my own before “paleo” was even anything. It works, it maintains, is manageable. And I do long distance mountain biking — 50km+ on it, no sweat.

    Every time I start creeping above that 75g or so mark, I put on weight regardless of activity level.

    We’re all different. For those of us who’ve been SERIOUSLY obese, it’s a lifelong struggle.

  102. Stephen on March 2, 2012 at 09:18

    Good lord, I’ve bounced around a lot reading all kinds of stuff from Taubes, Guyenet, Nikoley, Harris, Eades and on and on.

    I’ve since decided to add back what I love to eat: root vegetables and tubers (I really can’t live without them), raw milk and yoghurt. I’m happier and healthier as a result.

    I suppose I should have listened to my mother all along when she told me to not to eat “all that junk”.

  103. Sara on March 2, 2012 at 09:41

    Great discussion. I believe that food reward definitely has a role in overconsumption, but how does ADDING a potato LOWER food reward. I think it is possible that adding some carbs has helped regulate your appetite by some other means than food reward. Perhaps by making up for some nutritional deficiency ala Paul Jaminets ideas on carbs/starches. Maybe we have evolved so that prolonged low carb diets signify to the body to conserve energy to survive winter (in colder climates) or an extended drought (in grasslands).

    • Kurt G Harris MD on March 2, 2012 at 10:29

      Eat a plain baked potato instead of something else and see for yourself. You might be surprised.

      • Sara on March 2, 2012 at 11:00

        So replacing a low reward with a lower reward food equals better self-regulation of appetite? Does the starch component have any added benefit or would any substitution work? I think there is some added benefit (other than food reward) that the lower reward food is a starch.

      • marie curious on March 2, 2012 at 11:42

        Sorry Kurt! > Sara, FWIW I agree. While food reward certainly explains many other phenomena, there has to be some other mechanism for this particular situation, likely to do with the starch being reintroduced after being held at very low levels for a long time.
        The reason I think so is that one can get the same result of breaking through a plateau after prolonged VLC even for people who are potato junkies, that is, even for those of us who find potatoes very high reward and not very satiating. As long as we adjust the calories of course, like Richard is doing.

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 4, 2012 at 18:47

        So you are saying you find a diet of plain baked potatoes with no butter or additives hard to resist?

      • marie on March 4, 2012 at 19:10

        Thanks for wading back in here. Not baked, too dry, but yes if even plain boiled or with a little salt, will keep going back for more after a large meal. To get around this at home we make just as much as we’ll have that meal.
        But look, Richard isn’t eating them plain baked without butter either. I’m not arguing that potatoes aren’t Relatively low reward and highly satiating for Many people – you know, di gustibus et di coloribus non disputatum est …excuse the spelling :-).

      • Kurt G Harris MD on March 4, 2012 at 18:46

        Yes. If the total reward value of the diet goes down, ceterus paribus, the fat set point should go down. Maybe not as low as you want it to go. but ower than otherwise. It is affected by sugar, carbs being combined with fat, energy density, texture, lfavors, etc. but not specifically on whether or not it has carbohydrate. That is, carbs are not uniquely fattening vis a vis fats.

      • marie on March 4, 2012 at 19:44

        That’s interesting, thank you, I didn’t know reward value affected the fat set point. On the other hand, since potatoes are very rewarding for me and even more so when typically prepared with various oils/butters and spices, lower reward isn’t the proximate cause of this effect for someone like me.
        Richard is thinking maybe thyroid involvement after prolonged LC and/or extra activity spontaneously due to renewed energy from the starch and that certainly makes sense to me. If you have any further ideas, I’d be very interested, I may even be able to test them out (easy access to lab).
        Whatever it is, I’m very happy it works! I had gone done to 1300c per day when I got stuck, couldn’t sustainably go lower (would be in CRON territory) so I ‘gave up’, started eating potatoes again because that’s what I had missed the most and was surprised eventually to find slow, continued weight loss.
        Leveled off finally at a slim point.
        Being the scientist in the family, they expect me to experiment first on myself and pass on what works, so I did with this and it’s worked on daughter, father and cousin. Now there are two friends trying it, we’ll see if there’s a genetic component or not.
        I do find it intriguing that everyone I personally know who has started losing weight on LC(granted not that many, 5 people), whether paleo or not, finds it increasingly difficult to continue lowering calories (they all know to periodically check requirements as they drop weight and adjust).

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 14:42

      It makes me feel more full, for longer. I’m surprised by that, but that’s what it is so far.

  104. Robert on March 2, 2012 at 11:10

    So do you have any plans to edit and republish your e-book?

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 15:02

      “So do you have any plans to edit and republish your e-book?”

      Ha, good question. Was jousting thinking about that. I emailed it to Colpo this morning after he emailed me about giving me a copy of TFLB and I warned him that some of my thinking had changed.

      However, I do know I said paleo doesn’t have to be low carb and I did include potato. And I recall constantly re-editing after the journalist and other editor their LC bias, but some things may have snuck through.

      It’s on my list to re-read. And yes, expanding, correcting and all that is baked into the cake. Hyperink’s platform automatically republished any changes I make out to all channels.

      • Kelly Mahoney on March 3, 2012 at 09:02

        There are no worries about editing your book. AC has done the same with TGCC. There once was a section called “Livin La Vida Low Carb”. It is gone in the latest version. We all evolve.

  105. Trish on March 2, 2012 at 11:22

    One anecdote that I always remember from Mike and Mary Dan Eades was the woman who complained to them that she’d been sticking to low carb faithfully but had only lost four pounds in (I think) three months. When they got her menus, it turned out that while she was indeed under Protein Power’s recommended 30 grams of carbs a day she was eating something like 5ooo calories a day. Mike wrote something along the lines that it was only because it was low carb that she lost any weight at all.

    In my own experience, calories count and exercise damn well counts, but it’s WAY easier to stay around 1200 calories a day using VLC and IF than the low-fat-high-carb-three meals-two snacks thing. I mostly eat meat and butter; I don’t even eat eggs all that much any more and I used to LOVE me some eggs. I enjoy my meals, I feel great, I love working out again and right now that’s what counts. I treated my body like an amusement park for so long that I accept that it has to heal first before I’ll see any weight come off.

  106. Zach on March 2, 2012 at 12:59

    Just adding to the post count.

    None of this matters!!!

    Stop being a lazy bastard and eat a little less and boom, no more obesity epidemic.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 15:26

      True, Zach, but if someone can make it easy or easier to do that, setting themselves up for long term success instead of short term failure, then it matters.

  107. alex on March 2, 2012 at 13:03

    This explains why rats fed starvation diets still gained fat. haha no it doesn’t .

    fat is killing us
    sun is killing us
    exercise is killing us
    sugar is killing us
    sitting is killing us
    Protein is killing us
    artificial light is killing us
    work stress is killing us

    why can’t we just except that everything is killing us ,even the most healthy person on the planet will die from something.

  108. Noodly James on March 2, 2012 at 16:16

    Disclaimer, I am on an essentially 0% carbohydrate diet at the moment.

    I’m very interested in seeing how it goes for you. I think the end logic of your experiment is correct in that a certain amount of carbohydrates is allowed so long as this amount is in the form of whole foods such as roots and tubers.

    There is such a wide array of different diets to which humans have evolved that a certain amount of carbs is expected. Yes, I know of the Inuit and the Masai who eat massive proportions of meat, fat, and protein. BUT the average hunter gatherer is probably in the 30-50% range calories from carbohydrates. The difference in both is HOW we eat compared with them. Most of us eat no organ meats or blood let alone raw blubber, seal meat, and insects. Likewise, few of us eat the natural forms of potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, etc. That we have to dig for. In the Serengeti. Lets not forget that raw meat is full of glycogen (read:glucose) and therefore even alpha predators aren’t truly sans carb. Did you know that a raw rat has as much vitamin C as an orange (Do you know how long it took to look up that factoid)?

    Eventually, I also see myself adding in additional carbohydrates later from natural sources. I won’t (ever) go back to an entire pizza with a liter of coke on the side.

    Your blog is excellent for several reasons not the least of which is that you are an asshole. Seriously, it’s refreshing.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 16:55

      “Your blog is excellent for several reasons not the least of which is that you are an asshole. Seriously, it’s refreshing.”

      When I get compliments, this is the best kind. My grandmother always called me’ endearingly, “the smart ass”

      Thank you sir.

  109. Michelle on March 2, 2012 at 16:40

    This post comes at an interesting time for me personally. I just decided about 2 weeks ago to start eating more carbs from tubers and fruits. And last week I saw your post about eating carbs, so I was amused. I’ve done paleoish lchf for the last 2 years, not for weight loss (weight’s been stable the entire time), but because I was just hungry all the time prior to that. I would sometimes be hungrier after I ate than before I started eating a meal. The decision to eat safe starches came on the heels of a cold (with zero energy levels) and annoyed at my stalls in the weightroom. Had a new PR last night I think I’m on the right track. I will have to see if my insatiable hunger comes back, but so far so good.

  110. kell on March 2, 2012 at 19:59

    Thank you so much for sharing this experiment, very interesting stuff!! . . . i read through a few of the comments (but not all 400 and some of them so forgive me if this is a repeat comment) i see lots of mixed results if higher carb worked or didnt work for others – i also think you seem pretty floored with your results and even think that you may have been better off eating this way all along.
    im just wondering if there is any possibility that this ‘higher carb’ is working so well for you right now because it is winter?? is it possible that seasonal insticts are still deep within your genes and this way of eating is exactly what your body wants right now – but that it might change and the season changes??
    …just a thought?? maybe (especially those who are not already too metabolically derranged to begin with) have had, or not had, ‘luck’ with higher carb eating depending on what time of year they attempted to eat in that way and weather their genes were programmed to handle higher carbs during that particular season???
    of course im just pondering these throughts – i just think sometimes we think of ourselves as so seperate from nature, when actually we are just another part of it, whose to say we dont have seasonal changes like everything else in nature – the trees and plants loose their leaves to conserve energy, the birds and fish intuitively shift – maybe humans shift their metabolism to survive on whats typically available in the winter (roots + tubers)?? maybe it IS only now that we can thrive on more starches and other carbolicious foods?? . . . and maybe in another season, or maybe even if you are more closely related to islanders – it is then that you thrive on lower carb??
    im just brainstorming here, but id love to here what you think!!
    anyway, thanks again for sharing your story and giving me something to ponder :)

  111. jj on March 2, 2012 at 21:16

    I’ve been tossing this post of yours around in my head for a while, and I think I’ve come to an opinion. First of all, I’m no VLC apologist, I’m an active young woman and eat upwards of 100g of carbs daily (and I’m fairly petite). But something seems wrong to me about 200g of carbs from potatoes, and I finally put my finger on it…

    If you want to force yourself to keep downing potatoes against your will in pursuit of leanness, have at it. You probably will drop your calories quite a bit, potatoes aren’t nearly as sexy as the LC side would have one believe. But I don’t think you’re doing your health a favor. You are eating less food, and the nutritional quality of that food has gone way down. Eating lower carb you’d typically have a hunk of meat with a vegetable/wine sauce and a side of more vegetables, right? (Sorry, found your site for the food porn.) Now you take away that veggie side and put in a potato. A potato today. A potato tomorrow. A potato the next day. That potato is not as nutritious as what it replaced. I don’t know about you, but one day my veggie side is roasted cauliflower, the next it might be artichoke with marrow sauce and the day after that it’s cole-slaw. Basically, lots of different, high nutrient foods. Your potato? Not really a nutritional powerhouse for anything but potassium and B6. And you’re getting the same meagre nutrition profile day in, day out.

    Now, this may NOT be a big issue for your fictitious 250 pound guy, because like you said, he just wants to get a girl to do nasty things to him (presumably without paying for it). But for an athlete, or the proverbial “woman of childbearing age”, the nutritional profile of a very, very low reward diet based around potatoes could be disasterous. Probably better than SAD, but not by a lot.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2012 at 21:52

      JJ, actually, the potatoes are quite a bit more nutritious than your 95% water veggies. Look it up. And they are about 13% quality protein.

      Moreover, a helping of beef liver every couple of weeks covers all sins anyway.

      • jj on March 3, 2012 at 09:28

        It’s a damn sight better than white rice for sure. And yes, a little liver can make up for a lot of ills, but it is possible to overdo liver to the point of toxicitiy for some minerals (copper I think?). For long term health I still don’t think it’s a great idea to replace diverse, high nutrient veggies with just potatoes. Maybe it’s just my mom in my ear saying “eat your veggies.”

      • Michael on March 5, 2012 at 18:42

        what exactly are those high nutrient veggies? do you mean things like mushrooms and bell peppers. Cauliflower doesn’t look very nutritious to me

    • rob on March 4, 2012 at 10:16

      “But for an athlete”

      Let’s look at cauliflower from an athlete’s perspective. If an athlete is burning 800 calories a day in addition to those burned by merely existing, he/she is going to have to eat something to replace the energy expended.

      A pound of cauliflower provides 113 calories. So if the athlete relies on cauliflower to replace the 800 expended calories, he/she will have to eat 7 pounds of cauliflower.

      Is it really practical to eat 7 pounds of cauliflower a day?

      I think what you really mean is “But for an athlete who does not actually engage in athletic activities.”

  112. SteveV on March 2, 2012 at 21:25

    The big question for me is simply this…

    Does the body regulate fat levels in a healthy individual to a reasonably low level?

    From my point of view the evidence seems to point to YES as the answer to that question. So what makes obese humans special? Why aren’t they regulating to healthy levels naturally? Why should some have to do consciously what animals or other humans don’t?

    I think low-carb basically serves to correct some imbalances that lead to obesity (maybe primarily insulin as GT says, but maybe a host of hormones like Insulin/Leptin etc..) and some of your body’s natural fat regulating systems come back into play to regulate your hunger and metabolism and naturally lower your body fat levels. I don’t see the water weight thing being a real important factor. It’s real and maybe it motivates some people but the evidence is that people often lose a lot more than just water.

    So what about this stall people see when they get to a certain point low carbing and then it’s difficult to proceed further?

    Lately I’ve been thinking that maybe part of problem with our body’s natural systems regulating hunger and metabolism the way they should, is that we did some damage by eating an unnatural diet, and that can’t be undone simply by eating better. Body fat is not a passive container. It’s releasing hormones, and in some sense the amount we have regulates FFA content in the blood etc.. So maybe we get to a point where we need to consciously limit calories, WHILE maintaining a better diet to undo the damage that can’t be undone simply by eating better. It may seem like I’m not saying anything different here, but imagine you had a tumor or some disease or drug that was affecting body fat levels. Good diet or caloric restriction wont solve that. You have to remove the tumor, or stop taking the drug etc.. So in a sense caloric restriction with good diet could be thought of as excising additional fat levels that are themselves serving to disrupt your system. It may be as well that once you’ve corrected a really bad diet and then conciously lowered fat levels through muscle building and caloric restriction or even only low carb, you’ve put your body in a state where starches from natural whole foods are tolerable, but you may not have been there before. I’ve tried these same experiments adding back in potatoes and squash and sweet potato and it seems to be ok for me, but I can’t say with any certainty that it would have been ok a year ago.

    As for this paletability stuff.. I’ve yet to be convinced… Not shutting the door, and maybe I just don’t get it, but right now it’s still reading a bit like voodoo.

    • Noodly James on March 4, 2012 at 14:10

      “Adipose Tissue Selective Insulin Receptor Knockout Protects against Obesity and Obesity-Related Glucose Intolerance”

      I find this paper REALLY interesting. It is about mice which selectively have the insulin receptor on the fat cells knocked out. As expected, the mice are exceptionally thin. Surprisingly, they are robust and healthy.

      There is one kicker to this study which deals a death blow to the “calories are calories” crowd. These mice and their normal litter mates had their brains damaged so that they ate %125 of what they had eaten before. Again, as expected the normal but damaged mice became obese. VERY interestingly the mice with damaged fat cell insulin receptors did NOT put on weight despite the increased eating.

      “Thus, insulin signaling in adipocytes is critical for development of obesity and its associated metabolic abnormalities, and abrogation of insulin signaling in fat unmasks a heterogeneity in adipocyte response in terms of gene expression and triglyceride storage.”

      Hope you or someone reads this. It is interesting as hell.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 4, 2012 at 14:30


        Intesresting, but not anything not already known about humans. Dwarfism and gigantism, for example. See Lusig’s AHS presentation where he shows a few example of children with brain injuries who can pack on fat even at 500 cal per day.

        What this proves is that hormones definitely regulate fat accumulation and loss. What is doesn’t prove, however, is that in a normally regulated human metabolism calories don’t count.

        I’m reading Colpo’s TFLB right new, midway into chapter 2. What he’s done so far is obliterate the notion that calories don’t trump everything else for weight loss. They do, metabolic ward study after metabolic ward study,

        However, he clearly shows that for the diets where carbs were traded for a lot higher protein, weight loss was the same but partitioning was better for LC. The LC folks typically lose more fat and less lean, or even gain lean while the LFHC subjects lose less fat and more lean.

        This is super fuckimg important.

      • SteveV on March 4, 2012 at 18:33

        There are other studies with mice that show partitioning differences in carbohydrate range. Of course it’s not really weight we’re concerned about, but body composition. But even if calories count, that doesn’t say a whole lot about why some people eat more than others. Maybe the fact that we got fat in the first place, keeps us fat or forces us to do something unnatural like measure our input at some point. I don’t love the idea because I don’t like to think that counting is the only way for me to stay lean, but it’s at least possible that I so damaged myself I can’t be “normal”, if we believe normal is self regulated hunger to reasonable body fat levels. To believe otherwise is to say that it’s primarily a problem of environment. That since I have such easy access to these palatable foods at some point the reward from eating them just makes me eat too much. I wonder why in that case some people don’t have the problem. This can be somewhat explained by different people having different reward responses to food, but I find that argument unconvincing. Now ignoring that, is there *another* argument for caloric restriction once stalled? and here’s what I was REALLY trying to say.. maybe there is, in that simply continuing to lower body fat levels will in and of itself help return you to normal self regulating body fat levels. The fat keeps you fat. Or maybe caloric restriction gives your other organs a break. Just speculation, but it seems reasonable to me.

  113. Chris Highcock on March 3, 2012 at 04:03

    Just spotted this new study on exercise and food reward:

  114. Richard Nikoley on March 3, 2012 at 08:08

    I particularly liked this bit from Anthony’s post:

    “Yeah, yeah, there’s no such thing as an ‘essential’ carbohydrate, as the low-carb shills are so fond of reminding us. Whoopee. There are also ‘non-essential’ fatty and amino acids, but avoiding them would be unquestionably stupid. Some amino acids and fatty acids cannot be produced by the body, so researchers have labelled them as ‘essential’ because we have no choice but to get them from food. Does that mean we can maintain optimal health by not consuming the numerous other amino acids and fatty acids that the body can produce?

    “Not bloody likely.

    “Consider this: The only two ‘essential’ fatty acids for humans (as classified by scientists) are alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid). But in clinical trials, it is the elongated versions of n-3 fatty acids (primarily EPA and DHA, the fatty acids found in fish oil) that show the most pronounced benefits. And it is an established fact that the conversion rate of alpha-linolenic acid into EPA and DHA inside most people’s bodies is exceedingly low.

    “So yeah, you could survive without the non-essential amino or fatty acids, just as you can survive without carbohydrate. Just don’t expect to thrive.

    “For crying out loud, people can ‘survive’ without sex, without companionship, without laughter…but what a dismal existence that would be!

    “So folks, you need to decide what’s more important. Sticking with your dogma and ‘surviving’, or binning your discredited beliefs and opening up a whole new frontier in which you can flat out thrive.”

  115. josef on March 3, 2012 at 08:34

    Hey Richard, congratulations on becoming friends with Colpo. It’s never good to hold grudges and animosities.

    Colpo states that to lose weight you need to create a calorie deficit. Well, I couldn’t agree more.

    Colpo said that carbohydrates per se are not fattening. I agree wholeheartedly. For example, Clarence Bass has maintained a 5 percent body fat for at least the past 40 years on a predominant carbohydrate diet that includes those evil grains.

    You can go to his website and see numerous pics of him. Which brings me to my next point.

    Can you ask your friend Colpo why he is the most picture shy personal trainer in the history of the world. I can only find one picture of his upper body, the picture where he pulls his shirt showing his six-pack and a head shot. If you Google any famous personal trainer, Bob Greene, Jillian Michaels, Drew Baye, the late Jack Lalanne, ShawnT, Gilad, etc., you’ll find tons of their pics.

    Ask him why in the one picture of him showing his torso he has different shades, does not show his leg muscles and his neck is evidently disproportionally large to the rest of his body. Was his mother a giraffe?

    Moreover, ask him to reveal the legions of successful trainees he has had. Are they also camera shy?

  116. Razwell on March 3, 2012 at 08:35


    Neither a carb rich diet, nor a low carb diet, nor a low fat diet, nor a fat rich diet is not going to solve Jimmy’s obesity struggles. Obesity is far deeper and far more complex than that. Any reputable scientists knows this. Dr. Douglas Coleman and even Stephan Guyenet would admit this.

    Jimmy could be a on some prescription meds . We don’t know ( nor is it my business) Drugs like Prozac ( and several others) can cause weight gain because they act on the exact same neural circuitry that involuntarily regulates body weight.

    A well balanced diet will help his health, but not solve his obesity.

    As Dr Linda baocn pijnts out Jimmy if he leads a healthful lifestyle , wlaks a lot- will most likely be fine. All that is neede is very modest weight loss to dramatically improve health

    If Jimmy stays the same weight for a year that alone is success.

    • Erika on March 3, 2012 at 15:40

      If Jimmy’s current menus are anything like his past ones (see ‘low carb paleo’ pics on LLVLC), he simply eats too much – even of the right things. No metabolic mystery there.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 3, 2012 at 15:59

        Too much, too often, in my view. I wish him all the best, truly, because it’s worth it if he tweaks his message. Hell, even radio stations will change format from classic rock to country in a day. OK, bad example. :(

        I don’t thnk Jimmy is dishonest, just locked in a bit and feeling the squeeze, Paleo is open ended. He has to restrict an entire huge food group. He can’t succeed at that long term. Hope he realizes it sooner than later.

        For what it’s worth, he initiated the whole “safe starches” debate and when after and he blogged about how he would not experiment with it himself, I thought to myself that it was a huge error on his part. I’ll leave all to speculate why.

      • Alex on March 3, 2012 at 16:55

        I feel sorry for Jimmy and his situation. Although he keeps selling himself as a low-carb success story for his large initial weight loss, he’s still significantly overweight, and as I understand it, he stopped losing weight years ago. It sounds to me like Jimmy’s plateau has been long enough that his story should be honestly reassessed as a low-carb failure. It doesn’t matter how well it worked in the beginning if it stopped working a long time ago, before his weight loss goal was achieved.

  117. Dances With Carbohydrates | Critical MAS on March 3, 2012 at 12:07

    […] week Free The Animal posted Synthesis: Low-Carb and Food Reward/Palatability, and Why Calories Count. It is a brilliant post that connects the dots between low-carb Paleo and Food Reward. Go read it. […]

  118. Richard Nikoley on March 3, 2012 at 12:52


    To an extent I agree with Jimmy, with qualification. First of all, he does seem to be operating under the impression that Paleos are attacking LC. I suppose a case can be made for that, though that certainly has not been my general approach and what got this started where I’m concerned is in the post about the parents with hungry paleo kids, the guy insisting that virtually everyone should be low carb, objecting to my assertion that paleo is not necessarily low carb (it’s not), etc. They came to my place, not the other way around.

    But yea, LC is effective for many, including myself, and hindsight is always 20/20.

    At the same time, and I explained this in the podcast, there are important distinctions to make and those distinctions mean that there are aspects of paleo and LC that are simply not compatible, just as there are incompatibilities with WAPF (grains & refined sugar).

    Paleo is defined by _all_ real foods available to our pre-agricultural ancestors (excluding those that were not) while LC is defined as the restriction to low consumption of one class of those anti-nutrients and sometimes very low consumption long term. Accordingly, there’s an inherent incompatibility baked into the cake, no getting around it.

    I don’t really think LC needs to be stopped or hampered as a movement and there is little doubt that the Paleo ranks have grown a lot from people who were originally LC. I doubt it goes the other way around, too much. So I say let ’em do their thing, we do our thing and we get more people eating better and as well, Paleo asserts an influence on LC folks to clean up their food choices.

    • Noodly James on March 4, 2012 at 14:16

      I’m not sure if you’ve read this paper. I think it’s findings are interesting as hell. I am not claiming we are equivalent to FIRKO mice. But the fact that the mice didn’t gain an ounce, er ….gram, even when they ate %125 of their normal diet definitely (and I feel pretty conclusively) implicates the adipocyte response to insulin as the final cause of obesity. As opposed to just too many calories. In a mutated mouse model.

  119. Richard Nikoley on March 3, 2012 at 14:55

    Hey Charles, thanks for adding clips you believe relevant. Really.

    But do you have anything to say, to add, from you yourself?

  120. Canadian Eh on March 3, 2012 at 18:05

    Back to our good friend Kevin Geary, seems he’s positioned himself as an “expert” on telling other kids what to eat.

    • Alex on March 3, 2012 at 18:41

      For all his obnoxiousness on forums, his dietary recommendations for ADHD kids are fine, IMO. When I was a kid, the family doctor wanted to put me on Ritalin. Instead, my parents took me to a psychiatrist who prescribed large doses of vitamins, no sugar, and no food colorings. I still ate dairy and wheat, and I was allowed to put Sweet’n’Low on my sugar-free breakfast cereal. I improved tremendously on that regimen, but can I imagine myself having done even better on Kevin’s stricter routine.

      • Canadian Eh on March 3, 2012 at 19:34

        The no processed sugar advice is good but he’s throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

        Clean carbs like potatoes, rice, good quality baked goods are ok in moderate amounts.
        It’s the candy bars, soft drinks, packaged snacks that are bad.

        The problem is he won’t admit that kids and adults can do fine on moderate or even high carb.
        His agenda is low carb only.

      • Ajr on March 3, 2012 at 19:42

        The low carb diet advice for a growing and active child is really questionable. Growing children have different dietary needs than adults or even teens, but once again Kevin applies his flawed thinking to everyone…it really is irresponsible to put information like that out there and portray it as absolute truth to potentially desperate parents looking for answers. A growing child should absolutely be eating real foods, but instilling carb fear at such a young age could lead to some pretty serious issues later on. This bit in his post really caught my eye:

        If you remember ANYTHING, remember this: carb consumption = insulin = fat.

        Great, binary thinking based on limited evidence presented as absolute fact. The more I see from this guy the less I like him. Yeah, if you remember anything be sure it isn’t to feed your kid real foods and so on, make sure it’s the dogmatic fear of an entire macro-nutrient.

      • Alex on March 4, 2012 at 05:10

        He said to keep carbohydrate below 150 grams. As I see it, a child eating as much as 149 grams of carbohydrate is not low-carb. Even an adult eating 149 grams of carbs is not what any true low-carber would call low-carb. That’s Sisson territory and perfectly reasonable. If he were truly pushing strict low-carb, he’d have advised to keep carbs below 70 grams.

        Also, keep in mind that the page is focused on kids with ADD/ADHD and that the recommendations are for a 90 day experiment. 90 days of moderate carbohydrate restriction is not going to hurt anyone, and for kids with ADD/ADHD, it’s a worthwhile experiment.

      • Ajr on March 4, 2012 at 07:16

        He’s emphasizing that carbs make you fat, that’s what I took issue with. Many parents worry about their kids health and are susceptible to irrationality ( vegan parents for example), and can end up doing things that can actually harm their kids. What if a parent focused on the part where he says carbs make you fat then decides that the less carbs their child eats the better off they’ll be? It’s not a stretch to think that’s a possibility, people do weird shit to their kids and themselves in the name of health all the time. I think the message would have been much better if he had just advocated eating real food and hadn’t thrown in a half-assed statement like that, because as we all know people tend to take an idea and run with it to extremes. Telling people such false information while painting it as fact is irresponsible in my opinion. If you see it differently then that’s fine, it’s all subjective, but to me it’s a questionable thing. We’ll have to agree to disagree, or some other cliche phrase that I can’t be bothered to think of at the moment.

      • Katherine on March 4, 2012 at 08:15

        Such as this video, which Nora Gedgaudas is promoting with a “get your kids on low carb now” message. It’s not just the question of whether her vlc diet is appropriate for kids, but also the focus on preventing obesity. Parents who are concerned about their kids’ weight can cause problems too. Anorexia, binge eating, obesity etc these are all major concerns, my personal story (as an obese adult) is that I was a skinny kid with a weight obsessed mum who restricted my food intake all my life and put me on a strict diet the moment I gained a little puppy fat at 13… that was the beginning of how I ended up a compulsive eater. My own daughter gained puppy fat at that age too, I had to speak to my mum and ask her nopt to make comments about it, the puppy fat went away naturally as she grew and my daughter is now a slim, healthy 16 yr old without food issues. I also recently read a study which had found that school “healthy eating” anti-obesity lessons increase rates of eating disorders, children have been going into treatment for anorexia from as young as 6 and parents report that the problem started when they came home from school after these lessons saying they wouldn’t eat “bad” food any more. A cautionary tale from the other side of things.

      • Katherine on March 4, 2012 at 08:17

        Hope this works for the link

      • Katherine on March 4, 2012 at 08:19

        Ah well, it’s on her FB page if anyone wants to see it, called “stop the cycle”.

      • Ajr on March 4, 2012 at 08:50

        Great points. Most kids don’t have the ability to question the validity of what they’re told, it’s a skill learned as one grows. Kids just assume that what they’re told by adults is correct, and in some cases it can lead to serious issues. Nobody has the ability to factor in another persons bias or irrationality when they’re 8 years old. I remember my 3rd grade teacher, who was strongly against meat consumption, telling all of us that if we ate meat we’d end up riddled with disease and cut our lives short. Looking back it was exaggerated and misleading information given by someone with a heavy bias, but at the time it was absolutely true because my teacher told me and they know what’s right. Luckily my parents were able to correctly inform me and I realized that my teacher was full of it.

        I’m not disagreeing with Kevin when he says eating whole foods is the way to go, I’m disagreeing with one part of his message that is exaggerated and heavily biased. If the whole “carbs make you fat” thing can lead to such irrational behavior in adults, I imagine it could lead to even worse things in kids who don’t have the ability to compare information and draw conclusions based on them. A good example is a 14 year old kid over on the MDA forums that is terrified of carbs because his grandfather has diabetes and he believes from reading dogma that all carbs are the express train to diabetes and a slow death. This kid should be out enjoying life and stuffing his face with real food while making lasting memories, but instead he’s bordering on developing orthorexia nervosa and spends his days on nutrition forums freaking out over eating a cracker with some peanut butter and asking people how many macadamia nuts he should eat in a day.

      • Tim Gwaltney on March 4, 2012 at 18:09

        @Alex- Kevin says to keep carbs below 150 but he says to get those from non starchy vegetables. He states glucose is dangerous and has no value for human health, that’s where his dogma gets dangerous, especially for childreen. Non starchy veggies are virtually free of glucose hence the reason why people like Paul jaminet and Dr mercola ran into health issues with starch free diets despite eating plenty of vegetables. Perfect Health diet blog and glucose deficiency, give it a peep

      • Ajr on March 4, 2012 at 18:28

        I’ve seen him refer to glucose as poison on the MDA forums, which like you said, is really dangerous if someone actually believes the bullshit he states as facts. Yep, it’s poison, so poisonous that your body has a complex secondary metabolism it falls back on so you wont die from lack of this poison.

      • Alex on March 4, 2012 at 18:41

        I eat almost no starch, and I do fine with it. Looking up the fruits and vegetables I tend to eat on NutritionData, I see that they all contain a mix of glucose, fructose, and sucrose, even the vegetables.

      • Tim Gwaltney on March 5, 2012 at 07:29

        The only fruit kevin recommends is berries because of his glucose is poison theory. That’s great man that it works for you but for a lot of people like myself and the guys I mentioned fruit was actually causing problems because of the fructose content, everyone isn’t the same. Low fructose paleo starch was the missing element.. Again that’s the danger of Kevins dogma. He’s prescribing a one size fits all approach for the most part and putting a fear into people that starches are harmful, when for a a lot of us that’s the very thing we need to reach optimal health.

      • Tim Gwaltney on March 5, 2012 at 09:44

        *As far as the glucose from vegetables, vegetables contain protein 2. Does that mean I can fullfill my protein needs off of veggies alone? No it doesn’t. Its the quality of protein that matters. Hence one of the reasons why animal products are essential to a healthy diet. I don’t know all of the science off the top of my head but Paul jamenit talks about how most non starch veggies don’t cut it as far as meeting the glucose needs of the body. Which correlates with my own experience. There’s something about the quality of the glucose from starch that you don’t get from non starchy veggies.

  121. marie on March 3, 2012 at 18:57

    Wow Richard, over 470 comments so far and counting! That’s got to be some kind of record, eh?
    O.k., here’s another one….just to help get to 500 :-) :
    Since there’s anecdotal evidence (including mine and my family’s, which is why I’m so keen on this!) that adding back some starch helps even those people who can gorge on that food to break through a plateau after being on LC (<70g) for some time, here's a couple of links describing mechanisms that I'm thinking can account both for why continuous calorie reductions become increasingly difficult when on LC and why adding back starch might help.
    I'd be interested in hearing your and anyone's thoughts on these or of any controlled experiments testing for these effects on dieters at low calorie counts, if have been done?
    1. Insulin sensitivity : to quote Stephan Guyenet : "….very low-carbohydrate diets can reduce insulin sensitivity (and this squares with the poor glucose tolerance of many people who have followed very low-carbohydrate diets long-term),…" The rest of that post is at :
    It's part of a brilliant series on insulin resistance.
    2. Carb effect on Thyroid/system-wide metabolism: this has also been mentioned above by Charles Grashow and I'll repeat the same link here since Colpo did such a great job putting all the evidence in one place for this effect :

    See, I'm wondering if you tried before to break through a plateau just by further lowering calories, like I did and others, but put down that failure to not being able to stick with it. So yes, now the reward/satiety aspect may be helping you stick with the lower calories…or is it that the calories don't need to be as much lower as they did without the starch? Numbers : a year ago I hit a plateau at 1300c/day on 50-70g carbs per day, all paleo. To keep losing weight, I'd have to go even lower in calories, which is Extremely difficult : at 900-1200c we're in CRON territory for a 5'6'' woman. Yet, after introducing a potato a day, that weight loss started again and finally leveled-off at a fairly slim, muscular 140lbs.
    I mean really, there has to be Some reason why this works even for those of us who find potatoes addictive, and by Occam's razor (or J.Stanton's preference for parsimonious hypotheses!)I'm wondering if it isn't likely the same reason for everyone, because we have not only the same variable (potatoes) and the same reaction (weight loss and 'happiness') but the same starting conditions in the same system.
    Questions, questions…

    • Richard Nikoley on March 4, 2012 at 08:51


      I suspect hat if you stayed at the same average calories and started to lose weight again, some combo of improved thyroid function and probably increased activity (motivated by the easy energy) was in play.

      • marie on March 4, 2012 at 13:11

        Yes! I had forgotten about the increased activity. I wasn’t wearing a pedometer back then but that’s about when I started moving around more during the day, probably motivated by the easy energy as you say. Thank you sensei ;-)

  122. […] Richard Nikoley‘s ideas have been sipping scotch in the back of his mind, and now that his safe starch experiment is going well, they’re ready to come out: Four days in, and I’m averaging 300-400 calories below what I was averaging before. I feel more full on average, more satisfied, sleep WAY better, and have a mental go-for-it attitude I haven’t felt since I was on that high-fat diet, in caloric deficit and losing 60 pounds. […]

  123. Razwell on March 4, 2012 at 11:20

    Calories in and calories out does not address:

    *fuel partitioning

    *fat cell regulation

    *the chemical behavior of fat cell receptors

    And many other things. Most people will eat TONS of food over a lifetime and remain fairly stable- within about 10 pounds or so.

    Calories in/calories out is amoot point completely when trying to figure out obesity. It is just an observation that when somebody loses MASS( fat OR muscle) there has to be an energy imbalance of some sort.

    However, transplanting the gut flora from obese mice into thin , sterile germ free mice induces obesity WITH NO CHANGE WHATSOEVER in food intake or activity.

    Guess who was pimping low carb diets for superior fat loss ADMANTLY AND FERVENTLY back in 2003, AFTER he experimented EXTENSIVELY with high carb in the 90s and fervently rejected high carb? Going out of his way to say how terrible high carb made him feel and how GREAT low carb was for his own energy and his clients energy?

    Actually PIMPING low carb for weight loss – citing study after study which supported low carb and PRAISING Dr Robert Atkins?

    OOOOPS! Dr. Michael Eades for the win! Self defeated by his OWN writings circa 2003. Where is mine and Dr. Eades $ 20,000 ?

    Complete reversals are common for Internet scammers. This is a different situation than somebody HONESTLY learning new information. .: Don;t be naieve enough to believe that for a second. He repeatedly said high carb made him feel terribly bad- and strongly recommended aginst it for HEART HEALTH and WEIGHT loss.

    The money dried up and he switched to high carb. Same story but word reversals for high and low………

    • Michelle on March 4, 2012 at 13:21

      I’m so confused. You linked to an article by Anthony Colpo, not Dr Eades?

      • Michelle on March 4, 2012 at 13:21

        Nevermind I think I know what you’re saying.

    • Tim Gwaltney on March 5, 2012 at 11:40

      @Razwell- that’s great! High carb didn’t work for Mike Eades and he’s had experience Helping others with low carb. Guess what? Richard Nikoley, Kurt Harris and countless others had initial success with low carb 2. Does that mean its the holy grail of diets for everyone over the long term? NO. A lot of vegans experience initial success , that’s how they end up getting swallowed up by the religion that is veganism. Long term, low carb does work for some, but not all.

      • Alex on March 5, 2012 at 11:45

        Similarly, for carbohydrate, some do better with fruit than starch, and some do better with starch than fruit.

      • Tim Gwaltney on March 5, 2012 at 14:09


  124. Sigi on March 3, 2012 at 21:00

    As part of this fascinating conversation (thank you, Richard), can I recommend people take a look at David Kessler’s book “The end of overeating”. His insights into palatability, reward, satiety, and how food manufacturers manipulate us by deliberately producing hyper-palatable foods is fascinating, and some of the information just jaw-dropping. I don’t necessarily agree with all his conclusions and recommendations, but it’s certainly an eye-opening read.

    I had two potatoes for dinner last night. Damn that was satisfying. And amazingly enough, Da Evil Carbz didn’t get me; my weight was actually down a little this morning. Slowly breaking away from the carbphobia which I realise had far too strong a grip on me …

  125. MC on March 3, 2012 at 21:17

    I think I might eat some potatoes, and see what results I get. I was reluctant to eat them only because I read a post by Kurt Harris once, that said avoid them if you’re trying to lose weight, and add them back in after if you feel like it.

    I otherwise always assumed that they’re great for you, just not necessarily the best if you want weight loss. I’d assume diabetics should still avoid them? Cause I don’t want to tell my friend who is pre-diabetic to start consuming them like crazy if that’s not good. Though powdered sugar donuts and pizza I think were her biggest problem in becoming pre-diabetic.

    • rob on March 4, 2012 at 10:07

      There are potatoes and there are potatoes, to some people “potato” signifies “hash browns,” to others “potato” signifies “potato.”

  126. Razwell on March 4, 2012 at 18:50

    “Calories are necessary . BUT NOT SUFFICIENT to produce obesity”. THAT is what the Internet gurus miss, and experts like Dr. Douglas Coleman understand.

    A guy like Manuel Uribe would probably die obese before he lost enough weight to look somewhat normal on a desert island with no food. Fat cells HOARD. Muscle tissue, organ brain mass would be eaten into.

    Here is a case where a woman became morbidly obese with NO CHANGE at all in diet or activity:

    This endocrinologist has seen this MORE TIMES than you might think.

    There is no money to be made acknowledging the points of reputable world renowned obesity scientists, which is why the Internet gurus do not. They are all full of misifnromation

    I have read Dr. Linda Bacon’s “Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight”. I GUARANTEE everybody here that it is a far better and more accurate and detailed book about how weight regulation actually works, than The Fat Loss Bible. I have read it and it does NOT jibe with what I have learned from educated scientists I have talked to by email.

    They do not see the point of a “metabolic ward study” to explain obesity. People obey the laws of thermodynamics BUT THEY ALSO obey the laws of BIOLOGY.

    I guarantee anybody here that if Colpo debated Linda Bacon OR Dr. Douglas Coleman he would lose badly.Lyle McDonald and Colpo are NOT at all obesity experts. They are only salesman with misinformation.

    There are MANY, MANY things we do not even know yet about body weight regulation at the MOLECULAR level. The body’s tricks are almost limitless.

    GENUINE ,reputable, QUALIFIED scientists like Linda Bacon ( 3 graduate degrees a Ph.D . specializing in body weight regulation specifically)) are HONEST and ADMIT there is much we do NOT know yet about body weight regulation.

    IN FACT, the advice Colpo gives in his book- the simplistic notion that you can simply change your in take and change your activity and fix you weight problem COMPLETELY IGNORES one of the most powerful laws of biology – which is the first law of thermodynamics. Yes , you heard that right.

    The BODY has a system that balances calories involuntary with a precision we could NEVER match consciously. Calorie lables are off as much as 10 % to as much as 80 % !

    ANYBODY who decides to investigate this further will see thet The Fat Loss Bible is outright wrong and written by a guy who does NOT understand obesity. It does not jibe with the actualy reputable science from the best obesity researchers in the world. It is Internet guru nonsense plain and simple. The enitre PREMISE of The Fat Loss Bible is wrong. it falls apart completely from the beginning and there are GROSS mistakes.

    Lyle McDonald et al are salesman, NOT experts.

    If you email the best obesity scientists and discuss this with them they will tell you this too. ( That is if they are not to busy)

    • Greg on March 5, 2012 at 06:12

      IN FACT, the advice Colpo gives in his book- the simplistic notion that you can simply change your in take and change your activity and fix you weight problem COMPLETELY IGNORES one of the most powerful laws of biology – which is that humans are lazy overeaters with a strong tendency to give up on anything difficult.

      –fixed that for you.

      • Skyler Tanner on March 5, 2012 at 14:30

        Human beings: making simple things really difficult for all eternity.

    • Vaun on March 5, 2012 at 07:21

      You were friends with Colpo until he didn’t answer your insane emails on time, at which point you threw a fit like a child and he continued to ignore you. You then decided the proper response would be to bombard his inbox with hundreds of profanity laced messages containing things from racial slurs all the way to disgusting sexual taunts and threats. He continued to ignore you and like the whiny child that you are, you fixated on him, and now it’s your life goal to take him down….you’re a fucking nutcase. He’s posted several of the gems you’ve sent him and you can look elsewhere to see just how much of a psycho you are. Writing like you just clawed your way out of a mental hospital doesn’t lend credibility to what you’re saying you silly goose.

    • Dragos on March 5, 2012 at 11:47

      Yes, they are salesman, they are selling books. Same as Linda.

      I don’t know about Linda, but Lyle methods work very well. There are thousands out there that have tried them and they are working fine.

  127. Kelly Mahoney on March 4, 2012 at 07:44

    Two weeks ago I decided I wanted to lose a few pounds. I diet by calorie restriction. My target was to consume about 2000 calories per day. I’m not going into too much detail here, but I’ve lost 4 pounds in that time eating on average of 315 grams of carbohydrates per day mainly from fruits and veggies. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not vegan. All this starch talk is good, but let’s open up the playbook and eat bananas, oranges, apples, kiwi and grapes.

    • Rhys on March 4, 2012 at 11:09

      Fruit is great as well, but there is a clear distinction between how the body processes and synthesizes starch (skeletal muscle glycogen) and how it handles fructose (liver glycogen). Starch can be consumed in much greater excess without fat gain because skeletal muscle can store far more glycogen than the liver.

  128. Karen on March 4, 2012 at 08:28

    I’ve added back potatoes and bananas and I must say I feel more sane and satisfied and energetic.
    I’ll stay away from the grains and breads though as I tend to not be able to control the amounts.

    For me, I needed the starchy carbs even though I am a fairly sedentary middle-aged woman. Not gluttonous amounts mind you but reasonable portions of them.
    I did not gain back weight but lost 2 lbs in a matter of 2 days. I don’t attribute this to the carbs themselves but to the result of not being hungry after dinner because I was fully sated and didn’t eat snacks after dinner.
    Less calories! (Yes I still believe in calories in/calories out.)

  129. Noodly James on March 4, 2012 at 13:35

    I like cocaine on my steak. So long as it’s organic, cocaine that is.

  130. Macbuzz on March 4, 2012 at 14:01


    Really well done post. As I was reading it, it was like a light going on.
    Simple but with a great amount of thought.
    Gees, I learn so much on this sight!

  131. Joe A on March 5, 2012 at 05:31

    Hi Richard,

    I’m enjoying your blog. I see that the Kitavans are being referenced frequently due to their success with a high starch diet. Here is an interesting video from a BBC program (“Tribal Wives”) featuring the Kitavans:

    The general state of dental health shown in this particular video does not speak well to their diet. Is it the sugar from the high percentage of starch in their diet, the fruits they eat (bananas, pineapple, watermelon) or both? In any case, it’s hard to look at this group of Kitavans profiled in this particular TV program as healthy. That is if poor dental health (blackened teeth, missing teeth, short stubby teeth, bleeding gums and poorly spaced teeth) is indeed a likely barometer of over all health and wellness.

    The average heighth of the Kitavan male is only 5’4″. Many believe that average height is a good way of measuring health in populations, especially nutritional status.

    Joe A

    • Neal Matheson on March 5, 2012 at 08:30

      Kitavans both smoke and chew betel nut, neither are good for your teeth. Inuit (being the other end of the spectrum if you like were also shorter till recently).

      • Neal Matheson on March 5, 2012 at 12:53

        Having got over the annoying westerner I watched the large parts of the whole show. The kitavans I saw had great teeth (dyed red from the betel nut) and ,frankly, amazing bodies. I saw one obese woman in a crowd.
        The food really did not look rewarding at all!

  132. Screen name (required) on March 4, 2012 at 15:22

    Random c0nversations in low carb world.

    “I can’t go over 60g of carbs a day or I start gaining and getting cravings due to the wild blood sugar swings”

    -Did you start snacking on fruit instead of Atkins bars?

    “Oh no, I had a Big Mac after lunch then after dinner a bag of Dorito’s, only an extra 80 carbs and I started ballooning up, Damn those evil carbs!”

    • Richard Nikoley on March 4, 2012 at 15:44

      I just finished ch1 of Colpo’s fat loss bible, where he meticulously goes through every single metabolic ward study over the last many decades that was over 3 week’s duration, for obvious reasons (LC depletes glycogen initially and leads to substantial water eight loss).

      Anybody who can read that honestly and not conclude its basically all about calories after all is pretty hopeless. Colpo does acknowledge the satiating aspect of LC, as well as the relative lean sparing vs. LF.

      • Ajr on March 4, 2012 at 15:58

        He also points out the ability of low carb to help heal a busted metabolism in the initial stages of weight loss. After reading TFLB ( Colpo sent me a copy and told me to judge for myself), It’s obvious that he dislikes the dogma used by product pushers more than the concept of low carb for some folks. Hell, he even recommends 75-225 grams for certain folks, which falls in line with recommendations from several low carb advocates.

      • Jeanie on March 4, 2012 at 16:01

        Richard, my dear, we, too bought the Colpo book. After being a LC acolyte for 4 years, this was like giving up religion. We’re FREE!! But I need to ask you, have you heard from Mike Eades? Ever since the AHS I’ve been wondering why he has been so quiet. Yeah, I know his other business keeps them busy, but come on. Confirmation bias? Anyway, we are attempting to all more starches in the form on bananas and sweet potatoes/white potatoes into our diet. I am one of those “last 10 pounds just won’t come off” women. Eager to see the results.
        Love the post. One of the very best. I applaud your open-mindedness and the comments have been superb. One more thing – just don’t tell me Matt Stone is right!!!! LOL

      • Richard Nikoley on March 4, 2012 at 17:44

        I hope that both Mike & Gary eventually come to acknowledge that the reason LC is cool is that it typically causes people to lower their intake more without prompting and typically results in mote fat loss and lean save or gain.

      • Mike F on March 5, 2012 at 20:47

        Isn’t this exactly what Taubes is trying to answer? Why do people eat more than their caloric requirement? He doesn’t say that the energy balance equation is wrong just that it doesn’t explain why people eat more than they need.

      • gregandbeaker on March 4, 2012 at 16:11

        Colpo’s book is very good. If it isn’t talked about much its because its front loaded with tons of pesky science :-) A lot of people probably never made it to the actual food and diet strategy sections. I also really appreciate that he stresses exercise so much. Learn a sport, go to the gym, and start walking.

      • Noodly James on March 4, 2012 at 16:37

        Of course it is about calories. Equally “of course” it is about end organ response to both the nutrients and the hormonal milieu. Entire specialties in medicine are devoted to elucidating just the pathological aspect. Anyone trying to break something as complex as “life” (let alone individuals) into one cause of a certain aspect is guilty of oversimplification.

        The end organ response of many people to the effects of excessive carbohydrates is to get fat via the partitioning effect of insulin. However, tell someone who takes steroids (such as cortisol) that the reason why they gain weight is insulin. Likewise, tell any teen boy that eating that 10th pizza will finally make them fat. Tell any woman who has their ovaries out for whatever reason that their weight gain is due to insulin and not estrogen.

        You cannot gain weight without eating enough to fuel the weight gain. In normal Americans, chronic overdosing with insulin results in hyperinsulinemia results in a fatty. Not just because of the sugar but because insulin packs EVERYTHING away, and if your liver and muscles are full, well then…. to the fat everything goes. As you have said, there is an ocean of difference between a pile of french fries and a broiled yam. Also, as you said, I won’t eat as many broiled yams as I would french fries.

        I have an idea that one of the causes of obesity might also be a chronic state of malnutrition in which people simply cannot access their stored nummies. Everything is out of whack.

        There is one thing that pisses me off. It’s EVERYONE’S need to be RIGHT. We are all here for one reason or another and one persons successful path may or may not work for us. Who the hell are we to get angry and belligerent just because someone disagrees with us? What does it TRULY matter that someone else thinks that ugly dogs cause obesity? That isn’t a good reason to get bitchy with them. I’m not saying you do, I’m saying many people do.

        My 2 cents.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 5, 2012 at 06:57


        “I have an idea that one of the causes of obesity might also be a chronic state of malnutrition in which people simply cannot access their stored nummies. Everything is out of whack.”

        Yep, I had that idea too:

        Malnutrition –> Health Degeneration –> Obesity & Other Diseases of Civilization

      • Katherine on March 5, 2012 at 00:16

        I wonder how much of that lean-sparing is down to higher protein intake. When I lost weight on a wholefoods (incl grains etc) but highish protein diet, I gained lean mass (a dress size smaller at 10lbs heavier than before gaining the weight), but I put that down to increasing protein intake rather than cutting carbs.

  133. Razwell on March 5, 2012 at 07:14

    EXCELLENT video, Joe. As people investigate things further, they will see there is MUCH misinformation on the Internet.

    I myself, eat sweet potatoes and am not super low carb, but “moderate low.”

    The anti- Taubes gurus , ESPECIALLY, spew a lot of misinformation. This anti Taubes backlash is nothing more than money making. They saw if they took the oposoite stance they would make mor emoney. This is characteristic behavior of Internet scammers, and they should be ignored and recognized as such.

    Many of these same people railing against the INTELLIGENT Taubes, were pimping low carb FERVENTLY back in 2005, adamantly claiming it was better for fat loss and overhealth as well as cardiovascualr health- citing study after study. BUSTED. Read the weight loss section. Unbelievable…… Same story , different substituted words high vs low in 2012 vs 2003.

    If this is not outright an example of shady FRAUD , then I do not know what is. Urgelt warned they do this.

    Excellent video. Thanks for posting that.

    The Myth of the Healthy Savage is something to look into, also

    People of Central Africa- primitive people – have many health issues. CAD seems to be rare, but they more than make up for it in other areas.

    • jake on March 5, 2012 at 10:25

      dude, chill with the capital letters. you look like a nutcase.

      • Razwell on March 5, 2012 at 10:46

        Your hero has been BUSTED by HIMSELF. Capitals are my style. What Urgelt said about these types of people is 100 % TRUE.

        The only nut case is the guy who has been attacking Dr Michael Eades and Gary Taubes since 2007, writing a 93 page attackon November 15, 2007,

        As you can clearly see in my link HE COMPLETELY DISCREDITS HIMSELF. Written proof. LOVE IT.

      • LeonRover on March 5, 2012 at 11:21

        Colpo is able both to have his cake and eat it.

        Can you?

      • Razwell on March 5, 2012 at 11:36

        Remember, he is busted.

        He did not “learn new info.” He tried high carb extensively in the 90’s. Completely rejected it – adamantly, fervently on and on and on – saying the SAME SPEIL, SAME STORY that he know says about low carb. He fervently said high carb made him feel terrible and was NOT at all optimal.

        Praising Dr Atkins saying HOW ENERGETIC he felt on LOW carb, How it is more than just calories.

        The same criticism written in the same scamming style. Any intelligent person can see through this immediately.

        This guy has been thoroughly BUSTED in his tactics.

        This is the most damning thing you will ever find on the guy. Proven scammer. Proven that he is in it for the money.

        If The Great Cholesterol Con sold well he NEVER would have went high carb. Typicalcharcteristics ands behavior of a shady Internet scammer.

        Jimmy Moore already knows this and agrees with me. BUSTED. His OWN writings cam back to BITE HIS ASS and haunt him.

      • Vaun on March 5, 2012 at 11:58

        Jimmy Moore? You mean the guy who’s so stuck in dogmatic thinking that he can’t see he’s using food as medication and will eventually do himself in with his binary thinking? Yeah, he’s a great example health and rational thinking that everyone should follow.

        Also, Colpo has said that his previous high carb diet was based heavily on grains and other processed foods, which explains why he felt like shit on it…all of us do. He transitioned to natural foods when he ditched low carb and had none of the ill-effects,as have millions of other people throughout history. We all get that you have some sort of twisted obsession with Colpo and that thinking about him leaves you with a confused lump in the front of your pajamas, but stop spamming Rich’s blog with ramblings about your personal grudges. Go rant on your own blog about it…oh wait… nobody bothers to visit it so you have to post on blogs that people actually show interest in to draw attention to your childish rants.

        Calm down with the caps and furious typing buddy, your tinfoil hat might fall off, then Colpo will be able to control your mind and corrupt you with his evil agenda. Do you sleep with a copy of GCBC under your pillow to ward off the evil Aussie boogieman? Seriously, stop worrying about what Colpo writes and start seeking professional help for the numerous untreated mental issues that you obviously suffer from.

      • josef on March 5, 2012 at 12:44

        I agree Colpo is a training and nutrition genius.

        Unfortunately, unlike Clarence Bass – who vouches for his system with numerous photos – I cannot find comparable pictures of Colpo anywhere.

        I’ve seen more pics of Big Foot than Colpo!

        How can I tell how his system worked for him?

        Is he hiding something?

      • Chris Highcock on March 5, 2012 at 12:48

        Go to Google Images and type in “Anthony Colpo”

      • josef on March 5, 2012 at 12:58

        I’ve done it before. But just in case there were new images I just did it now only found three photos and a drawing of him.

        The drawing and one pic = his head.

        One pic pulling his shirt and one showing his torso.

        Just for the heck of it I typed Richard Nikoley and obtained scores of HIS pics.

        Do you have a Colpo photo album that you can to share with us?

      • Chris Highcock on March 5, 2012 at 12:20


        is it not time to ban “Razwell” / Chris Downey? He is embarrassing himself here.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 5, 2012 at 12:28

        Since he apparently had no desire to heed my previous comment, I have not banned him, but have placed him in the moderation queue. To the extent he can post useful NEW information I have no problem putting them through, but I will delete the ones that simply say roughly the same things he’s already said a dozen times or more.

        Should he attempt to circumvent the moderation queue, then a ban will go in place.

      • jake on March 5, 2012 at 14:35

        this is how he uses his time elsewhere:

      • Ajr on March 5, 2012 at 14:44

        Accuses Anthony Colpo of making racist statements then makes racist and derogatory statements about Rich and Anthony…….that isn’t hypocritical or cunty behavior at all.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 5, 2012 at 14:49

        It is pretty funny when you consider the enormity of the raw instability at work here. At 12:33pm, he posted this comment at my post on the buy 1 get 5 free book promotion:


        Razwell // Mar 5, 2012 at 12:33

        Awesome Richard. I will definitely be buying it. It’s a reasonable price ( VERY fair) and a reasonable approach written by a person with integrity, who believes in what he is doing.

        You can learn some things from various people’s experiences.

        <<< That post on his blog went up at 1:38pm, and hour & five minutes later.

      • Tim Gwaltney on March 5, 2012 at 14:49

        Hey richard did u see the pic and the shit he posted about u on his blog? Might wanna check it out man. Dudes talking mad shit..

        U really are obsessed Razwell. Get a f#ckn life man

      • Ajr on March 5, 2012 at 14:52

        He did the same 180 with Colpo, aka you’re his best friend one minute and his arch-nemesis the next. He’s clearly a mentally unstable person with a lot of unresolved issues.

      • Craig on March 5, 2012 at 15:12

        I’ve seen him freak out on YouTube before.

      • Screen name (required) on March 6, 2012 at 03:27

        He changed his mind after further personal experience and study, nothing at all wrong with that. He may come across as an extremely bitter ex low-carber but that tends to happen when a particular paradigm you once believed in fails you.

  134. marie on March 4, 2012 at 18:25

    O.k. now I’m troubled. Richard says “I hope that both Mike & Gary eventually come to acknowledge the the reason LC is cool is they it causes people to lower their intake more without prompting and typically results in mote fat loss and lean save or gain.”
    I agree, but I always thought there were TWO ways LC helped overweight/obese people lose weight : 1. as quoted, by prompting spontaneous or at the very least well-tolerated calorie reduction because of less hunger-cravings and/or greater satiety, but also 2. by helping to repair pathological insulin resistance where it exists (of course, only some percentage of overweight or obese people have metabolic syndrome with insulin resistance). Come to think of it though, I don’t remember seeing any metabolic ward study on the latter claim, while I would think it’s the easiest to do, that is, to measure insulin levels (not just serum glucose) on LC diets vs. LF diets for people with insulin resistance – does anyone know if it’s been done? Point me in the right direction?

  135. Razwell on March 4, 2012 at 19:07

    *too busy My keys are worn out. LOL !

    “Spend your money on our ( scientifically unproven)plan and you too can be fit”- Internet Gurus etc.

    The reality is :

    Studies from South Africa, Sweden, and eslewhere it has been observed that weight does not change more than about 10 pounds per decade. AND Over the course of a lifetime – consuming TONS worth of protein carbs and fats Convert that into CO2, waste, a small amount of work, and even LESS exercise and most poeple will remain relatively weight stable.

    The Internet gurus’ advice -Colpo, McDonald et al actually IGNORES the first law of thermodynamics.

    • Hugh Anderson on March 4, 2012 at 20:39

      Some people have found success using the methods outlined by Anthony Colpo & Lyle McDonald.

      I could spill a lot of words debating you, but I’ll just leave it at that.

      • Razwell on March 5, 2012 at 05:37

        I encourage you to look up the actual scientific literature from reputable sources .

        This is good :

        Dr. Arya Sharma

        Dr. Linda Bacon

        The commercial dieting industry is exposed as the fraud it is.

      • Dragos on March 7, 2012 at 03:05

        I’m encouraging you to get a life and leave us alone.

      • Vaun on March 4, 2012 at 21:22

        It’d be a waste of effort, just a quick glance at his blog shows that he’s basically an Anthony Colpo stalker and is obsessed with the guy.

      • Razwell on March 5, 2012 at 04:24

        You should know the deal before you speak. Colpo is a MASTER MANIPULATOR. The man is a FRAUD.

        He has misrepresented and twisted the facts about both Muata and myself.

        Neither Jimmy Moore, NOR Muata Kamdibe, nor myself like the guy. He hurled a racial insinuation at Muata Kamdibe when Muata challenged the punk to a cage match in 2007. Muata TOLD me himself. he only USES Colpo for promotiopn. He told me he would NEVER invite him to a barbeque. This is a 100 % verifiable FACT .

        Colpo USED my efforts of promotion emailing Howard Stern, Howard Cohen of the Herald and on and on. I have many , many Colpo emails still.

        He wants to “profit off his fellow humans’ stupidity” in his OWN words. Give me an email and I will FORWARD you this.

        I was the ONLY guy showing that guy support back in 2006. I was thr FIRST to email Janet Brill about his book in 2007.

        I CAN speak about this.

        KNowing what I know NOW, that he is a charlatan, with UNreputabvle information I never would have boarded the Colpo train and promoted him. Far more gullible then.

        Yep, I AM obssed with exposing him. Rightly so.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 5, 2012 at 07:53

        “Yep, I AM obssed with exposing him. Rightly so.”

        Then go do it on your own blog. I’m not interested.

        By my counting, you’ve now posted essentially the same comment about a dozen times. Enough already, please.

      • Martin Martinez on March 5, 2012 at 13:31

        Razwell is right.

        Anthony Colpo is a racist. If this information gets out he is ruined. He absolutely made a racial insinuation toward Muata Kamdibe. Ask Muata. He will verify this. I am a friend of both Muata’s and Razwell’s.

        I guess this is not good for business to let Razwell’s comment through, huh?

        Ask Muata Kamdibe what Anthony Colpo said to him and you will hear that it was a racial insinuation.

        Don’t be foolish enough to take on Razwell, Richard. I know him and he always wins. You will most certainly lose. My friend Razwell always wins.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 5, 2012 at 14:36

        Yea yea yea, Martin (or is that Martin aka Raz?)

        Look, it’s quite simple:

        1. I don’t care what he thinks about Colpo. For that matter, I don’t care what anyone thinks about anyone. I make my own judgments.

        2. I don’t care he has some beef or whatever. Between him and Colpo.

        3. I could not be less interested, especially since virtually none of the claims I’ve seen have the slightest application to the sound work Colpo is doing now, which I have read and evaluated myself.

        It doesn’t matter how much you post the same stuff over and over and over and over and over about Colpo. I read it the first time, concluded I didn’t give a runny shit, and that’s it.

        Feel free to post stuff that actually contributes to the discussion and save the vitriol about Coplo for your own place.

      • Razwell on March 5, 2012 at 04:17

        NONE of thjem based on ANY REPUTABLE science. My sources are SOUND as feck.

    • LeonRover on March 5, 2012 at 00:04

      I do not requires “studies” of “other people” in order to see what is occurring in those of my acquaintance. A population average is of no relevance to a population.

      You sound like that idiot professor who thinks a 10 year reduction in intima thickness of 1 micrometer a reason to dose the population with statins.

      What an absurd conceit.

  136. Roberto on March 4, 2012 at 19:49

    Richard, you said.”The other thing is just kind of a renewed appetite and excitement with the pleasure of food and eating, knowing that it may not just be a couple of potatoes or cups of rice per week, but on a daily basis, which both enhances the flavor, variety and texture of meals (I love the texture of mashed potato, for example)” How do you reconcile that with your statament that your curent diet is less rewarding?

    • Richard Nikoley on March 5, 2012 at 07:22

      “How do you reconcile that with your statament that your curent diet is less rewarding?”

      I don’t know that I said that, and frankly, I haven’t spent a lot of time to sort out how those words like reward and palatability get sort out in the obesity field.

      I like the flexibility of having potatoes on the menu daily. Yea, that’s “rewarding”. But, as it turns out so far, it’s highly satiating. And I have had zero issues with consuming too much,

  137. MC on March 4, 2012 at 20:29

    Although I think you can lose weight eating potatoes, I still don’t believe in calories in/calories out. Yes, if your calories are on the extreme end, you probably aren’t going to lose much weight, but the fattest I ever was, was when I was at the lowest calories. I actually was losing muscle mass, gaining weight, and very sendentary.

    Compare that to later, when I started eating a lot more, it was still junk food, but it contained a lot more fat and protein, and was surprisingly about the same in carbs. Yet I still lost weight. I wasn’t as sedentary, but only because my job changed from lots of sitting to lots of standing. I don’t thnk that accounts for a lot more calories being used up. Not in comparison to what I started to eat.

    Obviously where your calories are coming from makes a difference. Eating grilled cheese sandwiches with ketchup, and you might lose weight, but it’ll probably be muscle and bone mass, as opposed to fat.

    With meat, you can eat until you’re full, and you’ll be fine. If you try that with watermelon, or snickers, factoring in for calories, and you have a different result in how it affects your body. So it’s not as simple as “just lower calories” which I believe everyone here understands.

    The point you’re trying to make I guess is, after you remove neolithic agents of disease, and foods that tend to make you accumulate excess fat, THEN it becomes about calories in/calories out.

    • Razwell on March 5, 2012 at 05:12

      You’re right MC.

      I would love to see BODY COMPOSITION of people who eat ” ALL potato diets.” Losing WEIGHT is MUCH DIFFERENT than losing mostly FAT tissue.

      Twinkie diets , all potato diets etc. never take into account body composition, just scale weight.


      Calories in and calories out is a completely MOOT point. It does not explain anything. Our neurobiology maintain energy homeostasis. So many Internet gurus are scammers.

  138. Dan Linehan on March 4, 2012 at 20:45

    Jesus Fuck, 542 comments? That has to be some sort of record..

  139. Dan Linehan on March 4, 2012 at 20:56

    Here’s a dumb question…

    Who’s to say that a well-functioning body doesn’t just excrete out (see how politely I put that?) excess calories that it doesn’t need..?

    That could explain how someone like Dave Aspey could massively over-indulge on calories but not gain weight from it.

    That might make for another interesting experiment Richard. Track your normal intake of calories for a few weeks, then start eating about a lot more calories than you normally would, and see if you actually do gain weight at the pace you would expect.

    I would bet $50 that you wouldn’t, I suspect your body would simply get rid of what it doesn’t need if everything is signaling properly.

    • grace (Dr.BG) on March 5, 2012 at 01:11


      Dave Asprey is a hacker… he’s hacked himself out of 100 lbs of fat! He no longer harbors (see his blog) a load of modern, neolethal toxins which PubMed studies show raise insulin resistance, visceral fat and inflammation. Also his hormones are better. Low n-3, vitamin D, thyroid, low adrenal function, altered gut microbiota and low testosterone all raise insulin resistance, fat and inflammation. He’s hacked these successfully as well…

      Fat and obesity inducing toxins:
      –mercury, arsenic, lead, aluminum, etc
      –herbicides and pesticides (use in Big Agra trends excellently with the obesity epidemic demographically)
      –xenoestrogens (dairy products, soy, plastics, etc)
      –birth control and the contamination into municipal water
      –anti-thyroid toxins (soy, soy protein in processed food, n-6, bromides in antifungals and soda, etc)
      –on and on


      I wish the obesity experts would bone up on their environmental sciences… there is a REASON for unexplained pathological obesity…

      • Razwell on March 5, 2012 at 04:31

        I am with you Grace, on the toxins. It’s true.

        We are ONLY 7 pounds heavier than we were 30 years back. The only difference seen is among the obese. Thin people have remained steady. My sources are sound Dr Katherine Fleagal and Dr Douglas Coleman. The obesity “epidemic” and the data is PRESENTED SHADILY.

        However there IS a reason for the increased obesity – GENETICS. This is sound science.

        Natural selection can be observed in a single generation.

        My experts are not part of the typical message you hear in the media > iti s genuine science.

        Morbid obesity is as HERITABLE and genetic AS HEIGHT.

        In an environment where virtually everybody has unlimited access to calories, why is it we all differ by HUNDREDS of pounds

        The ANSWER to that question is LARGELY genetics.

        I am not liked by MANY Internet gurus because I expose the fact that EVERYTHING the commercial dieting and commercial fitness industries promote is UNSCIENTIFIC.

        Ask McDonald and Colpo to PUT UP or shut up. WHERE are THEIR CLIENTS who had LOOOOOOOONG TERM success ( not short term ) – DECADE OR MORE. Started out severelky oebse lost hundred pouns or more and MAINTAINED THIS for well over a decade?

        They have NOBODY like this.

        Body weight regulation systems operate over the very long term. There is MUCH science does not know about body weight regulation.

        Anybody claming they have figured out obesity IS LYING to your face.

        Science does not currently understand the chemical behavior of fat cell receptors AT ALL.

    • gallier2 on March 5, 2012 at 02:00

      I had found a study in pubmed which purpose was to determine the fat content of humam excrement and the conclusion was that normally there’s not much fat in poop but that it has a non linear relation to the ingested fat. Meaning the more fat was consumed the more fat was in the stool but that the relation was not simple and that they needed more research.

    • Razwell on March 5, 2012 at 05:20

      You’re right. The body DOES EXCRETE energy up to 7 % in fact

      Vermont Prisoner’s Study

      People need to DITCH McDonald and Colpo.

      DR. ARYA SHARMA is a reputable source of obesity infoirmation and has discussed how there is HUGE VARIATION as to how people respond to calories and over eating. Some don;t gain much at all. Some gain A LOT- usually they have obesity in the family.

      • Katherine on March 5, 2012 at 06:02

        Very true. My husband is one of those who never gains. He is 5ft 9 and weighs 115lbs. He’s the same weight now at 39 as when I met him at 19. Christmas, whatever, he stays the same. Christmas- I gain 10lbs.

        I’m not sure that’s a sign of good health though. In a famine who’d live longest, me or him? lol

        Interestingly when he overeats, especially carbs, he is bloomin roasting hot, lol I mean he is burning extra calories off as heat. I store mine.

      • Tim Gwaltney on March 5, 2012 at 10:40

        @Razwell- I haven’t read colpo’s book but from what I’ve read on his website (which is all free info by the way) his advice seems pretty sound. The base of his carb recommendations starts off at 150 grams a day (which is still considered low carb) and then work your way up depending on your activity level while listening to your body to find what carb level is optimal for you. Man that sure sounds like horrible advise!! Lol. Colpo found through his own experience that very low carb wasn’t the answer for him, as are a lot of other people (here in case Richard). Everyones different, some people thrive with higher carb diets where low carb failed them, weight loss included. Colpo seems 2 do a pretty good job acknowledging that TRUTH..As far as Jimmy moore goes I believe I read u said it was genetics among other things and his diet alone couldn’t fix his weight problem. How can u say that when Jimmy is so stuck in his low carb dogma that he won’t even give safe starches a chance? My guess would be (since calories DO count) is he’s probably glucose deficient (from lack of starch in his diet) which is making him eat a shit ton of calories from protein and fat trying to fill the void of zero glucose. On top of whatever crap he might be eating on the side like those low carb candy bars he promotes. Then again I don’t have all Of the top weight loss specialists of the world on speed dial so what do I know.

      • Kelly on March 5, 2012 at 11:53

        Actually, I believe FLB recommends 75g daily carbs as the minimum, which is based on avoiding ketosis. I think this carb level is in agreement with TGCC, at least the most recent version. But I believe AC’s main point is that quality of carbs is more important than quantity of carbs as long as overall calories are in line with daily requirements.

      • Tim Gwaltney on March 5, 2012 at 14:24

        unfortunately I havent read his book yet, I read that on his website. Maybe 150 was directed at athletes?

  140. Canadian Eh on March 4, 2012 at 22:29

    Carb load day today. Had curry fried noodles, bottle of Coke, 1 chocolate bar and some cookies.
    Hit 300-400 grams carbs in 1 meal. Feel great!

    What I find is if I am very active, carbs actually make me want to workout more. past few days I’ve had great late evening workouts after all my meals. My body was itching to burn some energy.

    I didn’t get that when I was low carbing much.

  141. Neal Matheson on March 4, 2012 at 23:32

    As far as is known Ice age Europeans ate low carbohydrate diets, Parts of Europe did not start agriculture unitl 3000 years ago, the north in general was far more a pastoralist base than cereal. If you want to find very, very long term agriculturalists who almost immediatly based their diet on cereal grains, one should look areas of the Levant, Middle East and North Africa and then perhaps the Eastern Med.
    There may have been a greater selection pressure for grain adaptations in Europe but in the north the diet remained meat heavy until recent times.

  142. Gerry on March 5, 2012 at 00:00

    For F … s Sake lets not lose the plot folks !

  143. Karl on March 5, 2012 at 01:22

    It’s great how many people here are looking at this with an open mind, here’s hoping this spreads so we can stop arguing over something that’s already figured out. At this point the only way to save the Carb-insulin-fat hypothesis is with some pretty tortured reasoning like it’s the carbs in heavy cream that cause you to gain weight!?!

    Somebody above mentioned The End of Overeating and I agree that it’s eye opening. It basically explains all the ways that food producers add sugar, fat and salt to food to make it more palatable. The most eye-opening for me was that a place like Chili’s will take a chicken breast and poke it with thousands of needles to both pre-chew it for you and inject flavor, sugar, water and fat. So even a ‘healthy’ choice on their menu is a trap to add calories. The rest of the food is a mass of pre-fried, flavored, sauced calorie bombs. It’s not that they’re evil or care specifically about get you fat, they just want to sell more food. The best way to do that is to make things that people like and the best way to do that is to use our bodies’ natural inclinations against us. Advertisers use pretty girls and food producers use the taste equivalent of Jessica Alba to get and keep our attention.

    We don’t have a chance if we eat processed food. Thousands of man hours have gone into refining foods to throw off our internal set points. Low Carb, low fat or whatever works to the extent it keeps us from eating refined garbage in the first place, but that’s it.

    Paleo gets out of whack when it strays from principles. If the message is don’t eat processed food, here’s why, sleep more and get some exercise for god’s sake then it’s a really useful set of guidelines. If it gets too into exact things and ratios to eat, then it’s just pseudo science. It’s makes no sense to believe that there’s a platonic ideal of diet or lifestyle out there- even for an individual. We humans adapt, we just have to keep the things we ask our bodies to adapt to within a range that had some precedent. Even a basic 101 level study of anthropology makes it pretty clear that starch was a part of every culture that could find it.

    I suppose low carb has some precedent, but it’s pretty clear that it’s not the only healthy way to eat and it’s never been the preferred diet for anybody who has access to starches. As I’ve heard it said: we can also live without friends, laughter and sex, but why would anyone choose to?

    • Katherine on March 5, 2012 at 05:58

      Hmm, I’d like to read that book.

      Nora Gedgaudas says that the diet you feel good on (ie with safe starches) may not be the same as the one that is healthiest for you long term. I for one am not willing to feel depressed and exhausted for the rest of my life in order to live a few more years (if indeed cutting out sweet potatoes and rice will make me live a few more years)!

  144. Screen name (required) on March 5, 2012 at 01:53

    Richard, you should ask jimmy if he’s willing to do a similar experiment with himself. I know he’s done a week fast and an egg fast before. I’m not talking about a high starch diet, just adding a moderate sized sweet potato with each meal along with some sour cream and a bunch of fibrous vegetables to lower the GI.
    I like jimmy and his work, but I’m sure he’ll weave his way around actually giving it a go due to “broken metabolism” or “wild blood sugar spikes”. Surely someone who for years used to consume burgers, fries and soft drink on a regularly basis isn’t going to be bowled over by a sweet potato or 2.

  145. chris on March 5, 2012 at 02:31

    After 18months of low carb paleo I found myself lacking energy and feeling a bit stressed out… added rice and potatoes back in the mix and suddenly feel much more energetic and surprisingly it has made intermittent fasting much easier… Meat and Veg paleo can be very good medicine but you don’t necessarily need to keep taking medicine once your illness is improved…

  146. Eric on March 5, 2012 at 08:56

    Sounds like you might have been running on a “glucose deficiency” (if we can add that term to the vocabulary). My guess at this moment, though, is that you’ll eventually start hovering carbs lower than 40% and find an optimal long-term amount. Let us know how it goes.

  147. Joe on March 5, 2012 at 11:50

    “The bottom line is that distribution of types of fatty acid in plasma is more dependent on the level of carbohydrate then the level or type of fat. Volek and Forsythe give you a good reason to focus on the carbohydrate content of your diet. What about the type of carbohydrate? In other words, is glycemic index important? Is fructose as bad as they say? We will look at that in a future post in which I will conclude that no change in the type of carbohydrate will ever have the same kind of effect as replacing carbohydrate across the board with fat. I’ll prove it.”

    Hurry up, Dr. Feynman!

    • Richard Nikoley on March 5, 2012 at 12:33

      “‘I will conclude that no change in the type of carbohydrate will ever have the same kind of effect as replacing carbohydrate across the board with fat. I’ll prove it.'”

      So I wonder if there’s a built in assumption that if you any X amount of saturated fat in your blood, that X-Y is better. I don’t think my TGs have ever tested higher than about 90 that I know of, even when on SAD. Now they’re 50ish. So should I be petrified if by eating higher carb they go up to 70ish?

      • Joe on March 5, 2012 at 13:08

        Hypotheticals are usually an exercise in futility, Rich. And “petrified” is such a loaded word. But I’ll take a crack at it. :)

        If I made a particular change in my diet, and TGs increased by 20 points, no, one probably shouldn’t be “petrified.” Not with just one test. Not with an increase of ~ 20 points. But over time, if they continued to rise, after further testing, one should be keenly INTERESTED in knowing/understanding why, and what that may (or may not) portend for one’s future health and well-being, before continuing on with that particular change to one’s diet.

        I’m looking forward to hearing Feynman’s “proof.”

    • Craig on March 5, 2012 at 14:20

      Thanks! I can show this to my low fat friends who think I’m the one gunking up my arteries with fat.

  148. […] “Razwell // Mar 4, 2012 at 11:20 […]

  149. […] I had no idea that when I hit publish last week—Synthesis: Low-Carb and Food Reward/Palatability, and Why Calories Count—that it would turn out to be about the most popular post I've ever put up, beating out my […]

  150. Ajr on March 5, 2012 at 15:32

    Anthony Colpo has responded to Razwell’s insanity:

    Seems like Razwell has a known history of being a chronic troll and moron.

  151. George on March 6, 2012 at 17:42

    I’m sure you’re aware of Peter Attia’s site: . There is a great deal of evidence of that site that contradicts what’s being said here. You’d be hard pressed to prove Dr. Attia wasn’t properly measuring his calorie intake. Until examples like this can be explained I will not be able to accept the calories in-calories out argument and I cannot understand how anyone else could either.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 6, 2012 at 22:44

      George, I’ll go with the couple of dozen metabolic ward studies. I’m sure you are aware of them. Why you thnk the word of one guy trumps them, I’m not sure of.

      • Ajr on March 6, 2012 at 23:01

        Because the one guy is saying things he wants to hear and see?

        Another thing is, after reading your posts and listening to JM’s podcast that you did recently, you’re not saying calories are all that matter but simply saying that ignoring their role in weight loss is silly. To assume that you can be healthy eating a caloric deficit based on twinkies and candy bars is retarded, much in the same way that thinking you can eat a 1500 calorie surplus and not gain weight as long as you exclude X macro-nutrient is retarded. Calories matter and food quality matters, it’s just that simple. Sure, there are people out there with conditions that make them exceptions, but the majority of people can get healthy and lose fat simply by eating smaller amounts of higher quality food and getting off their asses.

      • George on March 7, 2012 at 04:26

        I’m sure you are also aware of the various studies that support the claim that it’s not as simple as calories in-calories out. As you said, we are all capable of finding studies to support whatever we may believe. My point is simply this: There is too much contradictory information for anyone to come to a proper conclusion. I don’t take Peter Attia’s word for it any more than I take yours, and I don’t think anyone else should ether. I would like to end this by saying I bought your book and visit your site all the time so please don’t think I came here just to argue or give you grief.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 7, 2012 at 07:14

        Just so we’re clear, I agree that non metabolic ward studies demonstrate an advantage to low carb, but it’s because people eat less ad libitum, lose more fat, preserve more lean and have better improvements in other health markers like lipid panels, insulin levels, sensitivity, etc.

      • Ajr on March 7, 2012 at 08:20

        I agree, and came to a similar conclusion after reading both Colpo’s book and numerous other studies and conflicting evidence. I think low carb works so well for people because restricting carbs essentially eliminates the consumption of a lot of processed foods that contain the junk Dr.Kurt refers to neolithic agents of disease. The folks that go a step further and adopt a low carb paleo approach do even better because not only are they eliminating products with wheat and HFCS,they’re also eliminating the vast majority of other processed foods and in some cases all of them. These people are eating quality food with a lot of nutrients and other benefits, and the stay full for longer on a smaller amount of food, so their body starts returning to it’s proper metabolic state since it’s actually getting adequate nutrition instead of being stuffed with empty calories and chemicals.

      • Frank on March 9, 2012 at 08:09


        There are no studies which support the notion that it’s not as simple as calories in-out. There are 10+ metabolic ward study with isoproteic diet that found that under a large variation of the % of fat and carbs, there are no difference in fat/weight loss. Never ever did a study found otherwise, except free living study that don’t control for protein and quantity, which usually result in less ad libidum food consumption in the LC groups. That does in no way invalidate the concept of calorie in-out, and clearly is no evidence agasint that concept. There is not much of contradictory information actually when you look at the evidences objectively, a lot of contradiction in opinions, tho, but opinion are what they are, opinions, not facts.

        We can easily come to a proper conclusion, too bad for you if something is holding you back to do so.

      • George on March 10, 2012 at 16:45

        There are studies that support the notion that it’s not as simple as calories in-calories out. I will reluctantly mention a couple here: The Response to Long-Term Overfeeding in Identical Twins and Experimental Obesity in Man: Cellular Character of the Adipose Tissue. These were found after about 3 minutes of searching. There are many more but I just want to show that your statement that there are none is false.

        Now, as with all studies, these have their faults; but that is no different than any metabolic ward study anyone can cite that argues only calories matter. No study is perfect. In fact, most are poorly done. Even ones done in a metabolic ward (which may have subjects living in a hospital or at home and any variation in between). Which is why I’m reluctant to even start trying to compare studies. I’m sure if you looked you could find someone trashing these studies, and I could do the same for anything you cite. You really can find ample support for whatever you may believe. Which is evidence of the problem that there is too much contradictory information to come to a proper conclusion.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 10, 2012 at 16:52

        I think you’re tilting at windmills, George, but I’ll save it for my next post and I welcome you to give it your best shot.

      • Alex on March 11, 2012 at 06:23

        You might also be interested in Dr. Michael Eades’ analysis of the metabolic ward studies:

      • Richard Nikoley on March 10, 2012 at 17:23

        BYW, how come you didn’t link the 26 of 28 metabolic ward studies going back to the 60s (of 3 weeks of more to wash out water) that show there’s simply no statisticallly significant difference in weight loss amongst varying compositions of macronutrients in a diet?

        Yea, yea. I’ll go with Lord William of Occham, than you.

      • Al on March 10, 2012 at 18:11


        Where can I get the links to these met ward studies? Or at least their title so I can do a search.



      • Richard Nikoley on March 10, 2012 at 18:25

        I’m going to bring them up in my next post, but the one who did the very honest yeoman’s work was Anthony Colpo. He got every single Met Ward study he could find in Eanglish and at least 3 weeks. There are 28.

        Charter 1 of The Fat Loss Bible.

        You know, I hate looking dumb or stupid probably above anything else. That, made me look so. And I’m willing to go against the grain for it, becaue he’s right and it’s that fuckimg simple.

        My next blog.

      • Al on March 10, 2012 at 18:29

        Thanks. I figured that Colpo was where they originated from, based on your posts.

        I’m not looking to argue a point, I simply want to read them and form my own opinions.

        Good on ya for reversing gears when the evidence changes.


      • Richard Nikoley on March 11, 2012 at 08:07

        I’ve read all of Mike’s posts as well as AC’s, and I have read the chapter of the book cited. By the way, there are 28 studies in Colpo’s book now, not 17. But it may have been only 17 at the time Mike got his copy. All except those two Robust studies have the same result.

        I think calories count and if there is any metabolic advantage at all it’s a red herring anyway. I still think LC diets have advantages however, in that the partitioning of the total weight loss seems to confer an advantage to losing more fat and less lean that HC diets. Colpo himself acknowledges this.

      • Alex on March 11, 2012 at 08:42

        I think the main advantage of low-carb diets is that they reduce hunger and increase satiety, thereby lowering caloric intake. That was certainly my own experience, and it didn’t even require going truly low carb to get that benefit.

        Dr. Eades has written that metabolic advantage doesn’t amount to more than 200-300 calories per day, and he makes it clear that even on a low-carb diet, you still need to maintain a caloric deficit in order to lose weight. That’s why it strikes me as complete madness that Colpo would make such a tempest in a teapot out of it. To me, it’s an issue of no significance. On the other hand, there still is a persistent theme among some low-carbers that you can eat almost unlimited calories and still lose weight as long as the food is strictly low-carb.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 11, 2012 at 09:08

        I agree wholeheartedly with the first para.

        I guess AC did what he did likely because of your last sentence. I know I was implicitly in that mindset — not so much that I could eat unlimited fat & protein, but certainly enough so that I simply wasn’t in an average deficit. So pay attention, people.

  152. Canadian Eh on March 6, 2012 at 05:14

    Until Razwell posts pics of himself with 7% bodyfat and ripped 6 pack I don’t give two hoots who he is.
    He seems obsessed with attacking Colpo, what with his blog.

    “razwell” or whoever of the 10 online aliases you use “Razzi”, “Razwell”, “Chris Razwell”, “Chris Downey”, and “Dr Susan Harmony” get off people’s balls and grow yourself a pair.

  153. Mike on March 6, 2012 at 09:13

    Richard, great post! The last couple months, my train of thought has been similar to what you outlined above. And I’ve seen high carb weight loss in action. My friend who put on probably 20 pounds or so her last year of college, went to Africa for 3 months and came back down 20 pounds. Her diet in college consisted of going out to eat at restaurants, sugary cocktails, sugar infused starbuck drinks, etc. Amazed at her transformation I asked what the diet consisted of in Africa, and it was mostly starch with small portions of protein. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, plantains, etc. She wasn’t hiking miles a day or starving herself either, her expenditure of energy was roughly the same and she ate 3 meals a day.

    I’m becoming more and more convinced that the source of macronutrients is far more important than the macronutrient itself.

    • Eric on March 8, 2012 at 10:49

      But it isn’t all about weight loss. One thing is for certain – her sugary diet is not the best for longevity!

      • Mike on March 16, 2012 at 09:27

        Agreed 100%, it isn’t all about weight loss. I was just trying to make the point it’s not necessary to go low carb to loose weight.

  154. Zach on March 6, 2012 at 13:16

    Razwell, turn of the computer and go outside.

  155. Leila on March 6, 2012 at 19:34

    I went VLC (30 – 50 g/day) 18 months ago. I lost 45 lbs over the first 5 months, then simply stopped losing altogether, without changing my diet at all. I kept it up for quite awhile without losing another ounce. A couple of months later, I developed psoriasis on my scalp & what I think is keratosis pilaris on my arms – neither of which I’d ever had in the past. As I had made no other changes whatsoever except diet, I’m confident that my skin problems are entirely due to VLC.

    LC is fine for losing some weight in some people, but in my experience, the benefits are limited & short-term while the medical issues live on much longer. My guess is that humans need at least some carbs & removing them from the diet causes nutritional deficiencies that eventually catch up to us. I’ve added them back in but am still not losing. My skin did not start clearing up until I recently started eating liver, something I’ve not had in many years.

    So, while I’m slightly lighter, I also have ongoing medical issues that I did not have before starting on LC. I’m still looking for a way to both lose weight & get healthy. LC won’t be an option.

    As for calories, I’ve been keeping close track for a couple of months using my fitness pal. My intake is well below the amount I need to maintain my weight but I’m not losing. There’s obviously more to weight loss than calories.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 7, 2012 at 09:29

      Yes, what CJ said

      One thing that stumbles people up on the CI/CO idea that that people of the same mass and activity level should utilize the same number of calories. But it’s not so. Rather, assume that CI/CO is correct, and then find out wht number of calories keep your weight within a tight range without modifying your normal activity/exercise routine. Now you lower your calories by 300, and maybe up your activity a bit, not too much. Wash, rinse, repeat. Realize that as you lose weight & fat, your caloric needs go down right along with the weight. This is why people stall on LC. They are told they don’t need to count, they eat to satiation and eventually, their weight drops to the point where they are in balance without using up any more body stores of fat or lean.

      The lucky ones, those who get all the way to leanness without counting are those who naturally decrease their intake as they are losing, staying ahead of the ball, as it were.

  156. Dan on March 7, 2012 at 09:48

    I’m confused. What about the well-known effect of lowering calories resulting in damaged metabolisms resulting in yo-yo weight loss followed by weight gain?

    • Richard Nikoley on March 7, 2012 at 10:30

      “What about the well-known effect of lowering calories resulting in damaged metabolisms resulting in yo-yo weight loss followed by weight gain?”

      I wasn’t aware there was any such “well-known” thing. In fact, I recently saw somewhere where this idea has been tested and it doesn’t hold up.

      • Austin on March 9, 2012 at 01:19

        Scott Abel is the go to guy for what he calls metabolic damage, brought upon by long term chronic dieting and exercise.

      • Austin on March 9, 2012 at 01:23

        Oh, and he does state that calories matter. It’s the danger of extreme caloric deficits over long periods of time that he points out.

  157. Evolutionarily on March 8, 2012 at 07:10

    Great piece Richard. And Kurt thank you for your many comments. Once again, like most great blog posts, 3/4 of the learning took place after the post was finished.

  158. Uddi on March 8, 2012 at 02:17

    Thank you so much for this article.
    You described exactly what was happening to me during my LC-journey.
    First I lost 10kg very fast and was very motivated by LC. Than something changed in my life – it became more stressy – and I suddenly graved for more food, soulfood like cheese and nuts (I never thought about because it was all so low Carb). Than I gained a lot more weight back (~15kg), because I started to eat so much fatty food, when I just ate ad libitum. But everyone told me to eat even more fat when I am still hungry and calories do not count as long as is stick with very low carbs. I of cause wondered myself, where do all the fat-calories go, they could not disappear. But again everybody told me, you can’t go fat because of low insulin.
    So I started to count calories and realized that I ate only about 1500 kcal when I lost wheight and about 3000 kcal when I gained weight. I tried to eat again 1500 kcal, but it didn’t help because I felt so hungry then. Maybe it was because I was now aware of calories and because of the stress.
    I needed some kind of “volume” on my plate but I didn’t feel like eating tons of salade. Because than I always felt like I’m missing something “substantial”.
    And I felt very uncomfortable because sometimes I just loved to eat a banana, but after 1 year of LC I had some kind of “carbohydrate-phobia”. So I compensated with nuts and cheese or tried to trick my body with artifical sweetener. Funnily, I never graved any junk food, bread or pasta. Well, I wished I just would have eaten that banana.

    Now I eat a lot of fruits whith carb intake of about 200g per day and I feel sated and satisfied by relativly low calorie intake and started to lose weight again. So you are right, calories do count and its all about what makes you feel sated and comfortable despite calorie deficite. And of course It’s the quality of the food.
    I no longer see LC as “the philosopher’s stone” . Don’t missunderstand me I still believe it’s a good thing and it it not the fault of it that I’ve failed.

    I’m sorry for my english :D
    Greetz from Germany

  159. Stan on March 8, 2012 at 05:51

    Is it safe to say that Weight Watchers will be more effective that unweighed, unmeasured low carb Paleo?

  160. Dan on March 8, 2012 at 10:55

    I have always read, from taubes to all kinds of other authors, that dieting doesn’t work because:

    1-you cut calories
    2-you lose weight for a while until
    3-your body catches on to the fact that there’s a famine and
    4-your body drops the metabolic rate, making you sluggish and inactive to conserve energy (the so-called sloth and laziness observed in fat people)
    5-meanwhile you’re hungry all the time, so you can’t sustain the calorie deficit so you start eating more
    6- you eventually gain all the weight back, plus freinds.

    weight set point change, basal body temp drop, blah blah blah……

    with that in mind, i’m trying to make sense of what’s being talked about here. Do diets then fail (as above) because the body is starved of nutrients, not just calories? Micronutrients, and maybe protein and healthy fat as well? That would make sense to me. What then would happen with a small daily calorie deficit, but one in which protein, fat (even carb) and micronutient needs were being sufficiently met? Would the weight loss be temporary, until the cascade i described above again kicked in, or would you lose the weight permanently?

    I have heard over and over again that nutrient-deficient diets result in weight loss, but not necessarily just fat loss – lean tissue loss as well. If calories count, and you take in less calories than you burn (maybe even only a few less) on a nutrient-dense paleo-ish diet, would you then lose fat only, and could you dare to hope that the fat loss would be permanent?

    If I’m understanding correctly, is the key to successful weight loss
    1-a satiating, nutritous real food diet, PLUS
    2-a calorie deficit,
    both combined in a way that you are satiated and not staving all the time?

    I find it very freeing that the possibility exists that you don’t have to go very low carb to be healthy and have a good body composition.

    Thanks for letting me ramble Richard! Enjoyed hearing you on LLVLC, and I look forward to further reports on how your experiment is going. I am curious as to how things work out long-term, it’s easy to get excited about results over a couple of weeks. I will also buy your book, as soon as it appears in iBooks (I have a balance in my iTunes account).


  161. […] So there. And yes, I do have a next post in the series we've been commenting about (Whooooooa! 655 and still trickling), but I require more deliberation before I put it out there. So I'm taking a break of […]

  162. The Dairy Question and The Paleo Diet’s Epistemic Continuum | Primal Cycle on March 9, 2012 at 13:30

    […] been wrong about the role saturated fat played in human evolution,[5] and Richard Nikoley just dropped a bomb on the Paleo Diet’s low-carb dogma. How do we know we’re telling the right story […]