Flashback: Dr: Michael Eades on Low-Carb and Calories (hint: they count)

Once I saw it this morning somewhere, I recalled reading it way back. How soon we forget. On Dr. Mike Eade’s Protein Power blog:

Low-carb and calories

Some nice gems.

Let’s look at what happens when we cut carbohydrates in the diet. First, we don’t get enough carbs to replenish our blood sugar, so the body has to convert protein to glucose to make up the difference. The signal to do this comes from a rising level of glucagon, a hormone made in and released by the pancreas. In order for glucagon to do its job, the level of insulin in the blood has to go down, which it does. A low level of insulin and a high level of glucagon send a signal to the fat cells telling them to release their fat. You can think of it as opening the doors to the fat cells so that fat can easily get out. The body burns this fat for energy. As the body burns more, the fat cells release more. When the fat cells dump their fat, they become smaller. When your fat cells or adipose tissue becomes smaller, you become smaller. And you lose weight. Which is how it’s supposed to work.

But there is a little glitch in all of this.

Although the lowered insulin and elevated glucagon open the doors to the fat cells allowing fat to come out to be burned, the fat comes out only if it’s needed. If you are meeting all your body’s energy needs with the food you eat, the body doesn’t need the fat in the fat cells. On a low-carb diet your body burns fat for energy. But it doesn’t care where this fat comes from; it can come from the diet or it can come from the fat cells or it can come from both. If you are consuming enough fat to meet all your body’s requirements, your body won’t go after the fat in the fat cells no matter how severely you restrict your carbs. You will burn dietary fat only and no body fat. And you won’t lose weight. It’s that simple.

It has been shown countless times that when people go on low-carb diets they spontaneously reduce their caloric intake. Most foods available on low-carbohydrate diets are satiating and those following these diets get full quickly. They just don’t eat that many calories. In most studies of low-carb diets people drop their caloric intake down to the 1500-1700 kcal range and are quite satisfied. At that level of caloric intake, they need a fair amount of their own body fat to make up the difference between their dietary intake and the 2400-2600 kcal (or more) that they burn every day. As they consume this body fat, they lose weight.

(I heard subsequently that glucagon doesn’t really do much, but that’s beside the point and general theme.)

Go read the whole thing for a refresher, because the theme of the the whole thing is that excess calories are what stall the fat loss, and the biggest culprit is usually dietary fat. Amongst those, chief candidates are cheese and nuts: fat bombs.

It’s a mystery to me, then, how in many current iterations of LC (as differentiated from Atkins and Protein Power; i.e., sensible and reasonable low-carb dietary interventions) like LCHF and so-dubbed nutritional ketosis, that calories don’t count, and all one need do is keep lowering the carbs, limiting the protein more (like down to 10% in some cases), and up the fat to satiation.

What could go wrong?

I think lots of low-carb fans need to break out their old copies of The Diet Revolution and Protein Power and re-read them. Start over, get back on a sane and sensible path.

I’ll keep this short and quote from a brief comment exchange just a bit ago:

Robert April 29, 2017 at 13:04

The methods can be debated, but I certainly have no right to judge.

What is true though, is that it’s important to provide an intelligent and sharp critique of keto extremism. This is what FTA has done, and it has certainly helped me. And probably many others. A registered dietician claiming all the butter will give heart attacks won’t help, it’s stupid and blunt critique.

Let me relate an experience from a couple of days ago: a 74 year old guy was commenting on a Swedish LCHF blog. He is trying to control a small tumor by keeping blood sugar low, and went low carb. He went as low as 20 g carbs a day, but slowly fasting BG started creeping up, until it was worse than before the intervention. Then, he for some reason upped carbs to 100 g a day, and fasting BG plummeted , and he’s now doing great. But he was dumbfounded, asked how is it possible that upping carbs leads to lower FBG? It shouldn’t be possible!

I let him know about physiological insulin resistance. He was very relieved to finally get an answer, and grateful. He wrote he is now googling and reading more about it.

I’ve spent a couple of year on low carb sites, and I never came across this. Only here did I learn this. And it felt good to pass on the information.

Honestly, when first coming here for info on resistant starch, and reading that many had problems on low carb being solved by PHD and RS, I thought it was an exaggeration. If so many had problems, why hadn’t I heard more about it?

Not that I believe there’s an evil conspiracy to cover it up, I’m just saying it’s easy to miss the negative sides when you are inside it.

Richard Nikoley April 29, 2017 at 13:55

Hey Robert.

Ha, because in so many ways, LCHF and low-protein Keto are at the other extreme from veganism, and they behave similarly.

First, they are reluctant to talk about problems within their own cloistered circles, because since the diet is without flaw, how can anyone have a problem caused by the diet? Thus, people who claim problems are misidentifying cause (’cause it can’t be the diet, since the diet is without flaw), or “they aren’t doing it right,” and likely just need to cut carbs more, make sure they are limiting protein under 10%, and increase fat until they feel full.

Bring back the sanity.

Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. The cost of two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance the travel to write, photo, and film from interesting places and share the experiences with you.


  1. MAJ on April 29, 2017 at 16:19

    I’ve read pretty much all the low carb books from Atkins to Phinney and Volek, the websites, the lovers, the haters, the Paleos, the dairy eaters, the ones using wheat bran for low carb bread, and across the spectrum (excepting most of the haters), I not recall reading that one should overconsume fat. Dietary fat was not to be feared, but also should not be gorged.

    It is my impression that eating fat bombs and fried avocado and drinking MCT oil in coffee to get extra fat is a relatively recent thing, but perhaps I missed something along the way.

    I also recall that Atkins-style induction carb levels were not supposed to be maintained long term, just a two to three week period to turn the switch and then you titrate up the carbs until you find an acceptable level for YOUR body. When did zero carbs and all fat become the norm? Is this is a case of moar is better?

    I don’t doubt some margin of the population has a need to keep carbs very low, but protein and fiber/RS help with satiety and thus painless calorie reduction. I also don’t dispute some peoples needs to give up grains, or that we generally eat too much crap food and carbs at the yinyang and would benefit greatly from cutting back in junk and switching to whole food.

    Instead of low carb, eat a low crap diet.

    Loving this stuff Richard. Thanks

    • Richard Nikoley on April 29, 2017 at 16:51

      Very much a case of if some is good, more is better, in my view.

      But in the dietary realm, you have the energy balance equation, which means calories must be limited.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 29, 2017 at 16:56

      “Loving this stuff Richard. Thanks”

      Well, thanks back.

      I dunno. I’ve finally become disinterested in politics, again. Don’t get me wrong…I don’t regret that. I think it’s worse to never be interested than it is to be interested sometimes. But you have to set it aside.

      I’ve been in a pretty strict intervention of late, and I’m anxious to be blogging about it, but I’ve had to set a foundation to reference as I go forth.

      There is some method to the madness.

    • Robert on May 1, 2017 at 03:26


      I agree wholeheartedly with your comment. I too have read many LCHF blogs, and as someone recently commented: LCHF means LOW carb, not NO carb. Many benefit from cutting carbs, and then naturally you might up fat a bit. No reason to fear it.

      If you have insulin resistance you will do better on Low Carb. But as we now know, resistant starch and other MACs helps a lot with the insulin resistance, and then you can add much more carbs in. Fasting also seems to combat insulin resistance.

  2. Ron on April 29, 2017 at 18:04

    One of the best things about your blog is that you are not sticking to the same old same old . A smart man is not afraid to change his position on something, based on new information, or revisiting old information. It keeps your blog interesting. Carry on Richard.

    • Robert on May 1, 2017 at 03:39

      This is what it boils down to. One might say: Richard has changed his position, he can’t be trusted.

      On the contrary, this is why we keep coming back here. Changing position shows humility and honesty, meaning it’s much more trustworthy than dietary dogmatism. If Richard tomorrow were to discover something new, negating what he earlier was claiming, we can be confident he will share that information. Not hiding it so save face or business.

      And as you say, it keeps it interesting and intellectually challenging.

  3. Mark on April 29, 2017 at 19:20

    I posted the link to Eades on the calories post comments. I want my hat tip glory damnit!

    • Richard Nikoley on April 29, 2017 at 20:10

      Ha. Funny. I posted it to FB, then it got shared, comments eveywhere, and I forgot where it came from.

    • Mark on April 30, 2017 at 14:51

      Oh funny, I didn’t catch you posting it on FB. Great minds or something…:)

      All this recent stuff has inspired me to re-read some of Eades posts and damn he is a good thinker and writer.

  4. Dave on April 30, 2017 at 03:19

    So when can we expect a new comprehensive dietary guideline post from you? Looking forward to it for a while now.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 30, 2017 at 06:46

      I’ll start writing it Monday. That’s when I’ll have three complete weeks of data.

      I’m logging the fuck out of it, this time.

    • Dave on May 1, 2017 at 02:54

      Can’t fucking wait.

  5. matt on May 10, 2017 at 11:39

    Thank you for posting this. This is personally very timely for me. I was under the impression that calories didnt matter if you go keto/LCHF. Thank you

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