How to Burn Fat and Why You Shouldn’t

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By Danny Roddy, author of The Peat Whisperer

Traversing through the blogosphere reveals much text, but little art. This is, until you stumble upon the site of low-carb sage Petro Dobromylkyj. Similar to da Vinci’s “David” or Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Petro’s exudes extraordinary vision. One doesn’t have to read past the header for the first glimpse of his contribution to The Great Work:

You need to get your calories from somewhere should it be from carbohydrate or fat?” — Petro Dobromylkyj

If I was forced to interpret Petro’s poem, I would say that he’s trying to tell us that carbohydrates reassure men that they can be masters of their own reality—but then turns around and says that actually, reality is not real.

Another interpretation, which sounds less plausible, could be that one must decide where to obtain their fuel from: carbohydrate or fat.

While the blogosphere has been polluted with the idea that “using fat as fuel” is somehow more desirable than glucose, in this article, I intend to describe how lipolysis (i.e., the liberation of free fatty acids into the blood) is a feature of stress, disease and aging.

Lazy Reader Summary:

  • Glucose and oxygen, which are substrates for efficient energy production, are the two most basic anti-stress substances
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2), which is produced under the influence of active thyroid hormone, is needed to use glucose and oxygen efficiently
  • Stress liberates free fatty acids (non-esterified fatty acids or NEFA) into the blood for use as fuel
    • The use of free fatty acids as fuel supplies less carbon dioxide than the complete oxidation of glucose
    • The liberation of free fatty acids into the blood interrupts the use of glucose in the short- and long-term
    • Over time, free fatty acids damage the cell’s highly evolved ability to produce oxidative energy (i.e., glucose to carbon dioxide)
  • Those with obesity and diabetes have markers suggestive of stress and the production of energy through inefficient glycolysis (i.e. glucose to lactic acid):
    • Increased blood levels of adrenaline
    • Increased blood levels of cortisol
    • Increased blood levels of lactate
    • Reduced respiratory quotient (i.e., less carbon dioxide produced)
    • Increased reliance on free fatty acids as fuel
    • Decreased thermogenesis upon food ingestion (especially carbohydrate)
  • Low-carb high-fat (LCHF) diets may have short-term therapeutic effects (e.g., if one loses weight or reduces allergenic/inflammatory substances that were being consumed previously)
  • In terms of reversing the degenerative effects of stress, LCHF diets are mostly counter-productive as they simulate the stress metabolism
  • People lose fat on diets that aren’t LCHF
  • Calcium, fructose, aspirin, niacinamide, and the fat soluble vitamins are therapeutic aids to restore normal glucose metabolism

 Anti-Stress Factors: Glucose, Oxygen & Carbon Dioxide

In my first guest post on 180 Degree Health we chatted about stress increasing our energy requirements. In this context, glucose and oxygen, which are substrates for efficient energy production, can be thought of as the two most basic anti-stress factors.

We also briefly went over carbon dioxide’s role in stress and how the complete oxidation of glucose (i.e., mitochondrial respiration) supplies more carbon dioxide than the oxidation of fat.

In addition to allowing cells, tissues, and organs to absorb oxygen, carbon dioxide has some other interesting qualities:

  • Carbon dioxide is an anti-inflammatory, opposing the production of pro-inflammatory lactic acid
  • Carbon dioxide has been referred to as a “cardinal adsorbent,” meaning that it has a powerful controlling influence in restoring order and coherence to the entire organism
  • Carbon dioxide maintains cellular ion gradients (i.e., so that the cell retains far more potassium than sodium and is able to excrete calcium while binding magnesium) 

Carbon Dioxide? Big Whoop… Turn me into a fuggin’ Fat-Burning Beast Roddy!

Free Fatty Acids In The Stress Response

As I’ve mentioned previously, Hans Selye first introduced the concept that in response to a wide range of stressors (e.g., darkness, low blood sugar, toxic drugs, loud noises, forced exercise, etc.), the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is invariably activated and there is an increase in cortisol secretion. This is an adaptive, life-saving reflex in the short-term, but when the exposure to stressors is excessive or prolonged, degenerative processes are set in motion, which is ultimately a result of failing adaptive mechanisms and inability to generate sufficient energy.

Additionally, Selye often pointed out that 1) stress is unavoidable and 2) the impact of stress is proportional to how we perceive it (i.e., stress before a gnarly hot make out is not the same as being hungry and going without food for 24 hours, however both stressors would transiently increase energy requirements).

Meeting these energy demands requires the efficient use of glucose and oxygen by living cells. A deficiency of either one requires a “higher functioning” of our adaptive stress hormones to compensate for the reduced energy supply. A hormone central in this adaptive response is adrenaline.

A healthy person is able to store a meaningful amount of glucose in the form of hepatic glycogen (the muscles use their glycogen for themselves). When a stress is encountered that can’t quickly be overcome, adrenaline, which is released from the adrenal glands (and noradrenaline to some extent, which is predominantly released from the sympathetic nerve endings), stimulates the breakdown of hepatic glycogen, releasing stored glucose into the blood.

At the same time, adrenaline (along with glucagon, which has an inverse relationship with insulin) stimulates fatty acid mobilization, which serves as an alternate fuel source to glucose, from adipose tissue and, in a vicious cycle, activates the HPA axis, amplifying the stress metabolism.

Selye notes in his book The Stress of Life that blood levels of free fatty acids, similar to cholesterol, is a marker for stress:

The elevation in certain blood lipid substances, such as cholesterol and free fatty acids, are comparatively simple to estimate, although they do require a chemical laboratory. Rises in STH, glucagon, insulin and prolactin are not only more difficult to determine, but also less reliable indicators of stress reactions in man.” – Hans Selye

 So “stress” releases fat into the blood… Big deal… Roddy…

In 1963 P.J. Randle and his colleagues described the inhibition of the use of glucose by elevated levels of free fatty acids as an immediate physiological phenomenon.  For example, brief bouts of intense exercise or fasting will raise free fatty acid levels, which will thereafter be used for fuel in preference to glucose, until glucose can be supplied (insulin suppresses the use of free fatty acids).

Over time, however, the chronic exposure to free fatty acids leads to a myriad of toxic effects, such as damage to the energy generating apparatuses of cells and an increase in the prostaglandin modulation of the aromatase enzyme, which creates new estrogen. These are just some of the many long-term consequences.

As evidence for the role of free fatty acids in these long-term degenerative conditions, consider some of the common features between obesity and diabetes:

  • Reduced respiratory quotient (i.e. less carbon dioxide is produced)
  • Increased levels of lactate in the blood of diabetics (i.e., energy production through glycolysis instead of our high evolved oxidative metabolism)
  • Decreased heat production (thermogenesis) upon the ingestion of food, especially carbohydrate
  • Increased levels of free fatty acids (generally)
  • Increased levels of adrenaline, which initiates the stress response
  • Increased levels of cortisol, which sustains the stress response

Is Low Carb a Tool? Possibly Maybe, Probably Not

In a recent article it was mentioned that HFLC diets are simply a “tool in the toolbox” for those who are “metabolically broken”. More specifically that ‘if you are insulin resistant, have fat in your belly or not sleeping well, then you should limit your carbohydrate intake below 50-110g…’

To recap, “stress” is anything that increases our energy demands, and glucose and oxygen are the basic substrates needed for efficient energy production.

A HFLC diet aims to “treat” poor glucose tolerance (a sign of stress) by replacing carbohydrate with fat; however, the excessive oxidation of fats (especially when polyunsaturated) impairs the cell’s ability to oxidatively metabolize glucose to carbon dioxide, water, and hydrogen. 

In this context, a HFLC diet can be conceived as a diet that activates the stress metabolism.

Uhhh… Yeah whatever Roddy, I lost fat and I feel fuggin’ so badass on HFLC. Fat FTW!!1

Losing weight is part of the equation, and any diet that induces weight loss is likely to increase metabolic efficiency. However, there may be a couple of reasons for the initial “success” of low-carbers:

  • As Andrew Kim has pointed out, insulin resistance is not necessarily induced on hypocaloric HFLC diets because fatty acid oxidation keeps up with fatty acid mobilization. In other words, you are burning through fat at an accelerated rate.
  • As Matt has written about in Catecholamine Honeymoon, some stress hormones have anti-depressant and anti-inflammatory actions. Similar to fasting, this can provide a false sense security with one’s health (monitoring pulse and body temperature can help one avoid this problem).
  • LCHF diets exclude numerous foods that could cause inflammation or allergies.

Look, Roddy, I get it, but if I don’t use fat as fuel, I will never lose any weight. Everyone knows that.

“Healthy” fat loss is most likely a combination of keeping the metabolic rate up, consuming a nutrient-dense diet, and getting sufficient calories per your needs (e.g., stress and activity levels) – the basic message of Diet Recovery 2 and most of the material on this site.

Suppressing lipolysis doesn’t mean that you will never burn fat for energy. In fact, large skeletal muscles prefer saturated fats as a source of fuel while at rest, as does the heart’s myocardium.

If you take away anything from this article, let it be that the hormones that mobilize fatty acids are the same hormones involved in the degenerative effects of stress. These hormones have short-term protective qualities (i.e., survival), but long-term negative effects such as immune system suppression (cortisol dissolves the thymus and renders us susceptible to infections and food allergies) and thyroid inhibition (cortisol interrupts the conversion of thyroxine to triiodothyronine).

Practical Application: Niacinamide, Aspirin & Fructose

Simple, yet effective, strategies like consuming more carbohydrate than protein (i.e. protein is insulinogenic and alone uncomfortably lowers blood sugar), avoiding polyunsaturated fats – like corn oil just to name one common source (which damage the energy producing apparatuses of the cell and decrease the rate of energy generation), and, for those who have blood sugar control issues, consuming fat, protein, and carbohydrate together can help to achieve steady blood sugar levels throughout the course of a day.

Niacinamide (not niacin or nicotinic acid) and aspirin (with vitamin K) both suppress lipolysis and can be considered rational treatments for those with advanced cases of insulin resistance.

Despite the irrelevant “evolutionary” interpretation of fructose, in the context of supporting the known factors that influence energy production, fructose (along with glucose):

  • Improves insulin sensitivity
  • Bypasses and activates key steps in glycolysis that are inhibited in people with poor glucose tolerance
  • Restores diet-induced thermogenesis and carbon dioxide levels to near normal more than glucose alone does

Increased parathyroid hormone correlates with insulin resistance and can be suppressed with enough dietary calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K. Fructose, by depleting intracellular phosphate, decreases blood parathyroid hormone levels, too. 



  1. Woohoo! Gonna see how much glucose I can pump in ^o^

  2. Hurray!!!
    And now I’m gonna read it :D

  3. I’ve recently been studying Matt’s blog. I bought Eat for Heat. I went down the low-carb, high fat rabbit hole and experienced stress problems as a result, so I believe what he’s writing here. I’m struggling with accepting fructose/sugar as a useful ‘tool’ in a healthy metabolism, likely because I’ve read so much bad press about fructose. But I’m totally open to it. A couple of things worry me though, I’ve read that fructose has a special ability to bind to proteins and ‘cross-link’ and thus damage proteins. Is this true or is there some other context here I’m not aware of? I’ve been reading Ray Peat’s work and I know he doesn’t have a problem with sugar or fructose, but I haven’t run across any info about the cross-linking issue.

  4. Possibly Maybe, Probably Not -Björk

  5. My issue with all of your advice Danny Roddy is that you’ve never been obese. In fact, most of the proponents of high sugar/high fructose diets have never been truly obese.

    So show me one person who’s been morbidly obese, followed this advice, and gotten lean.

    • @Cody,

      Every diet in existence has provided dramatic weight loss/fat loss for someone.

      Browsing a few high-carb veggie forums or even fruitarian forums would probably give you a few examples.

    • After my second child I chose to become a vegetarian for religious reasons. Lost baby weight of 16 pounds in two weeks without effort. After that success, AND BECAUSE I was already a seasoned dieter I thought I could hurry the weight loss along by restricting even that. Not. It became harder to lose so I restricted more. If I had tossed out the scales and just ate (but I didn’t know that it was that easy), I could have been down to my pre baby normal weight in another couple months if not less. Instead it took me nearly three years and then I abandoned the religion and the diet, because it/I had become anorexic and underweight by any standard….and I was starving my toddler/preschool sons. Rapid weight gain eating cookie dough, cookies, full meals to discomfort, and then repeating for days on end. Gained it all back to pregnancy weight plus a few more, but again, I did not know to stop dieting and just eat.
      Several years after that I had an employer tell me that I wasn’t eating enough. I couldn’t imagine why and didn’t think to ask her how much she ate and seemed to keep her figure nice and trim without effort. She had energy to go bike riding after a sedentary day of bookkeeping and newspaper word processing. No effort for her to climb the 50+ steps several times a day.
      At age 57, I’m ready to just let my body dictate what I eat, not my mind. Apparently my rational mind is STUPID beyond stupid. Ha!

  6. @Christopher in Seattle

    Check out some information on Advanced Lipid End (ALEs) products. Some say they are 20 – 30 times more dangerous to cells than Advanced Glycation End (AGEs) products.

    Plus, if I’m not mistaken, fat is degraded to glucose anyways before its metabolized for energy meaning, I’d guess (no data to back this up) you would get both AGEs and ALEs from fat metabolism versus only AGEs from carb metabolism. It’s sad, but, no matter how you skin the cat, the very act of surviving kills us slowly. Make surviving easier.

    • Do you think this is more of an issue for PUFA’s? My dietary fat has primarily been coconut oil, butter and a some from animal fat (which I know in this day and age is higher in PUFA’s than they should be). I’ve been very ardent about avoiding vegetable oils in general.

      • Probably is for the reason in the second paragraph. If you check out the respiratory quotients of ALL fatty acids, they all are less than one. Even butyric acid. I’m not sure if this means anything, but it seems to hint that burning fat for energy is not ideal. I was electrical engineer in college so I always think about efficiency in life. Circuit components degraded more quickly when they were not efficient – the losses destroyed them. Many car engines sputter if you put less than 87 octane.

        Long chain fatty acids like PUFAs actually degrade more easily (in the body and out of the body) than MCSFA – maybe this makes them more prone to be used for energy and create ALEs. I really don’t know. This is a case where my efficiency argument gets turned on its head.

        I think Green Rooibos tea, resveratrol, GSE, and astaxanthin are supposed to protect against ALEs if you feel you must burn fat.

        • Interesting. I guess it all comes down to the context in which the body will preferentially use fat (or not) as primary fuel. This is where the stress axis seems important. But lets say you eat a fair amount of fructose (along with sucrose) in a day, but you also eat a fair amount of coconut oil or butter. If I understand what I’ve been reading, the body has ready access to the metabolically more efficient and preferred fuel source (the sugars) and in a sense then you’ve protected yourself from the negative consequences of fats being burned up a in their less ideal respiration process?

          • That’s kinda how it seems to make sense to me. Make sure you have enough glucose/fructose/lactose/sucrose/galactose so that you don’t have to waste energy on converting fats to glucose. All wasted energy subtracts from expression of the organism – whether its personality, hair, moist skin, etc. There seems to be some benefit of saturated fats to lube the processing of glucose – but maybe its just that they are available for hormone formation.

            Is it best to say “carbs for energy, fats for hormones, proteins for tissue repair?” Don’t mix them up.

            Plants, in the absence of sunlight in the winter, shrivel up and stop expressing themselves because it takes too much energy. They preserve the core, but not periphery.

          • Well this is all fascinating to me. I never went completely down the low-carb rabbit hole like some people (I usually ate at least 2 bananas and a kiwi or two a day, in addition to some raw milk), but I noticed during the time that I was eating the highest protein/fat and lowest carb/sugar I was developing stress problems and digestive issues. In fact I was doing a lot of bone broths, which is a ton of fluid, during this time of low-carb and I think that also made things worse. I also was drinking a ton of green tea and lots of coffee this past year which I’m sure contributed to my issues, all the extra fluids. I started taking my temperature and pulse about a week or two ago and was kind of surprised to see my average body temp at 96.5. A few times I’ve even dropped into the 95 range and up here and there to the low 97. So I can definitely sense that my metabolism got a bit whacked out, and this is on top of the fact that I do go to the gym. I’m not overweight and haven’t struggled with weight issues (thank god) but I can sense that my body hasn’t been running too well lately and this all makes sense in context of what I’m reading now.

  7. I’ve been enjoying all of Danny’s posts, and frequent Andrews blog. I wanted to try it out so I added sugar back to my diet and had some good effects: better digestion, lack of B.O. better endurance. However, I also had a few drawbacks: fruit like watermelon and fruit juice (orange juice) don’t digest well and upset my stomach (refined sugar & honey are fine), sugar seems to trigger hunger, if I don’t eat fat with sugar I wake up in the night in a sweat.

    Do you see anything wrong with ditching the O.J. and eating honey & sugar with fatty meals and little starch.

    • Less nutritious, but probably not a big deal.

    • Banner,
      Have you tried putting some
      salt in your OJ? For me, that helps with digestion and helps to balance out the potassium (helps to raise body temps).

  8. I need to get the “I got your low carb diet right here (arrow pointing down)” t-shirt.

    But seriously, thanks for a nice summary of how I totally screwed myself for the last 10 years avoiding carbohydrates because (fill in the blank)__________ (Robb Wolfe, David Wolf {what’s with the wolf(e)s? Never trust a wolf on a low-carb diet}, the crazy idiot Robert O. Young, totally insane David Jubb, Gabriel Cousens, Mercola (who says he practices metabolic typing but seems to forget that “carb types” need to eat grains and sugars or else…where do they get their carbs from?), Barry Sears, The Protein Power Dude, etc, etc ad nauseum told me to, and I bought what they were selling because they spun extremely seductive arguments and quoted from very very *impressive* scientific studies!!

    Thanks to their combined wisdom, I managed to develop sleep apnea, high cholesterol and triglycerides, depression, insomnia, SIBO & IBS and bad ass constipation, fatigue, and a general neurotic and unhappy tendency that is not my nature. And, oh yeah, a morning under-the-tongue temp reading of 96.0-96.8 depending on the day. Probably also increased my chances of developing cancer because of this.


    I avoided a lot of carbs and starch and ate lots and lots of “healthy fats” to make up for it because sugar and starch:

    a) raise insulin and this is bad bad bad! (never mind that protein raises insulin).

    b) increase methylgloxal-blah-blah-blah-whatever and AGEs (wasn’t that how the housing market crashed??). (never mind that going on a jolly-fat-ketosis diet does that worse…).

    c) feed bacteria, “candida”, and cause pleomorphic changes in the blood so you rot away and decompose while you are living (courtesy of the Cousens, Jubb, and Young alkaline diet nonsense — I suspect that pleomorphic changes happen when our metabolic rates slow and our venous blood ph is out of whack by eating an extreme diet — like a low carb diet. If your temps are high and you look and feel good and randy, then I doubt you are rotting from the inside out no matter how many Mexican cokes you are downing…

    d) I am sure there are other things but I have better things to do then try and remember the nightmare…

    Yes, I just finished Matt’s Diet Recovery 2, so I am on a roll and slightly pissed that I have thrown away some good years of my life and undoubtedly hurt myself and a number of my patients, by recommending versions of these dumb-ass diets to others while suffering through them myself.

    If I can thank you – Danny – and Matt for anything, it would be for getting me over my fear and phobia of sugar and starch and helping me see the absolute lunacy of the variety of restricting diets that have been such the rage over the last decade.



    • Sean, amen, amen! I did 10 years of Radiant Recovery (sugar and whites free, lots of protein, moderate wholegrains, moderate fat) and then 18 months of paleo/ GAPS. Worst 18 months of my life and that’s saying something! It all sounded so convincing at the time, it was going to be my salvation, but then as well as feeling dreadful and gaining weight, I found out the symptoms I thought were food intolerances or autoimmune issues were actually a genetic collagen disorder.

      I’m about 6 weeks in on Diet Recovery and have already pretty much nixxed an “emotional” overeating eating habit I have had since I was old enough to open the biscuit drawer (my mum had me on a diet virtually from birth- hey so now I am 270lbs, thanks mum!).

      Here’s to a happier and more energetic future!

      • I WAS on a diet since birth.. the doc put me on skim milk formula cuz I was gaining so fast.. (Borderline anorexic mom who gained only 20 pounds during pregancy) Thanks, Mom! 5’3″ 230 lbs here :) If i could just get my brain to stop trying to override my body, dammit !!!

    • It seems you’ve simply swung from one end of the spectrum to the other. It’s a common pattern in the diet community for those to come to a new diet paradigm stating how ridiculous and scammy the old one was, proclaiming it was the “extremely seductive arguments and quoted from very very *impressive* scientific studies!!” — the irony being it was such that pulled them into their new diet paradigm.

      • In Diet Recovery, Matt deliberately [i]avoids[\i] quoting from scientific studies, impressive or otherwise.

        • Does he also deliberately avoid “extremely seductive arguments”?

          My point is people like Sean (and you, since you clearly missed the point) jump from paradigm to paradigm with little reasoning besides what “sounds good” or pumps you up with hope.

          I would bet money that after 6-12 months you’ll probably move onto the next Diet Guru talking about how this one was all BS and how your previous diet was the right one but was missing x, y and z.

          I admit, it’s fun to watch =)

          • McDici,

            No, I think you’re the one missing the entire point. Are you going to go over to Gwyneth’s next, at, and tell her and her readers/patients that she/they are totally wrong and will realize it 6-12 months down the road? If you take any time to read her site, you’ll realize that what Matt is saying is right on and in line with what she teaches. Hopefully it doesn’t take you 6-12 months to realize it.

          • Looks like you’ve built a strawman EmmaW.

            I didn’t say any one particular diet was “wrong”. I said there’s a pattern among ppl who jump from diet paradigm to diet paradigm with little reasoning.

            If you can’t see this point, then you’re also most susceptible of doing the same thing as Sean and Terry.

          • The strawman jab is overused and silly. Re-read what I said maybe??? Apparently you haven’t read Matt’s site long enough to realize there is more than sufficient reasoning behind all of this. He just doesn’t spend his time trying to convince every new person that comes along of its value. If you are truly interested and care, you will find the answers for yourself within the blog, at youreatopia, and other blogs that teach this. Matt says as much in his new book. Maybe read that as well.

            You can stop trolling now. Help can’t be given to those who don’t actually want help. I was willing to try and help you see past your comment, and arrogant insults, but I’m no fool and I won’t follow a dead end conversation. Nobody here needs your “wisdom”.

          • McDici,

            I think I owe you an apology. I thought you were lumping DR2 in with the nonsense diets out there. Are you saying that if Sean and Terry don’t understand why they are here, they will be treating it as just another diet? If so, I agree with you. Everyone coming here needs to understand that DR2 is not just another diet, and take the time to understand why. So, if I misread your point, I apologize.

      • As for McDici, I disagree with your assessment.

        The point I was attempting to make is that all of these diets – most of which have been popular to a greater or lesser degree over the last decade and the general trend in diets in general, has been to demonize carbohydrate consumption. While I have not personally actively practiced every single one of those diets, though I have a number of them, the net result was to give me a very negative view point of carbs in general and sugar in particular.

        Because of this, I was usually consuming under 100 grams of carbs a day as a very active person and this has been causing me some significant metabolic problems that have cleared up since I came across Matt’s work (as well as Ray Peat and Danny) and have since moderated my perspective on carbohydrates.

        As for using of scientific studies to support a particular paradigm, yes that’s pretty much what everyone does. The difference here is that I am getting *results* that are amenable to my desires, whereas on Paleo-like or low carb diets, I was “believing in seductive theories” but getting results contrary to my desires.

        Get it ????

        So, regardless of whatever pendulum I have apparently swung from, getting the results that I desire works well enough for me and kind of makes whatever point you were trying to make irrelevant. Theory is useless – even dangerous – without practical results. That’s why I am communicating here.

    • Sean, i’ve been there, lost years following people like Cousens, Wolfe, Mercola, jubb, Doug Graham, china study man whose name i cant remember… then got sucked into Robert Young ultimate con-man with his bogus blood testing! i’ve got mountains of books dumped in the spare room, they all messed up what was once an excellent metabolism, but i’m so grateful someone directed me to Matt’s site 2 years ago and basically saved me from the ridiculous and neurotic world of faddy diets. now i just spend my time painting while listening to nostalgic music (like Bjork ;o ) on 90s radio, ultimate cortisol reducer.

    • Sean,

      So happy you found your way out of dieting hell. Now you can provide real help to your patients. I am a solid seven months into my re-feeding journey and doing very well on all fronts. I’m almost at the 33 week turn around, where it’s said to be the average time when the re-feeding phase peaks, and the person’s eating and weight stabilizes. Please keep us updated on your progress.

  9. Awesome info. You listed many physiologic changes that occur as a result of stress. It struck me that each and every one of these changes explains a symptom of so-called “adrenal fatigue” (which, note, many people fall into after eating HFLC or overexercising). Yet the adrenal fatigue gurus are still trying to treat it with 20 adaptogenic herbs and MORE cortisol.

    • @Carrie,

      Yeah, I think adrenal fatigue is pretty fuggin’ silly.

      • I don’t know what to make of adrenal fatigue but I have known a few people that supposedly had low cortisol production via a 24 hour urine cortisol test. And by taking a “circadian dose” of Cytomel (T3) their cortisol production increased significantly. And they claimed that they felt alot better as a result.

        Taking a circadian dose of T3 requires that you take T3 a few hours prior to your usual awakening time.

        Paul Robinson claims hypothyroidism can actually cause low cortisol production to occur in some people and that taking a circadian dose of Cytomel (T3) will often correct adrenal fatigue/adrenal insufficiency/low cortisol production.

        He says this is easily measursed by having someone do a a 24 hour urine cortisol test. I don’t whether he is correct or not but the guy seems to be sincere.



      • I had mine tested at one point when I was really sick. They tested it several times over the course of the day. It wasnt quite addisons low but close. Just barely within normal. I had been really sick from black mold. We found it in our basement. I took down a drop down ceiling tile and it disintegrated in my hands and black mold spores came out like a cloud in my face. Within about a minute I came very close to passing out. My husband had to call an ambulance. They came and checked my vitals which were very low blood pressure. After we got out of that house I got better and my adrenal function improved. Im sure adrenal, thyroid and other glandular and hormonal functions are negatively impacted by stressors and toxins, including restrictive diets.

  10. OMG! I am laughing hysterically from Sean’s comment. That is ME to a T. I have worshiped all the raw foodists and then the low carbs preachers and then I did 2 figure competitions so now I’m all about body building diets. Two days ago I read Matt’s Diet Rehab 2 book and am now in the process of eating all the junk food I have denied myself for the last decade. I look back over the last 20 years or so and think what an idiot I have been to have been so obsessed with food and what my body looks like. I hope this newest experiment results in me feeling a whole lot better.

  11. I am not overweight, but I am on a low carb diet call Fast Tract for Heartburn. With this diet I am mostly off meds for my GERD, except for a couple of TUMS most days. How long can I safely stay on this diet?

    • However long you wish Julie.

      I think measuring pulse and body temperature is good idea—no matter what diet you’re on.

  12. Danny,
    What about going no grains/starches, no sugar, no dairy (just proteins, fats, lots of veg (carbs), nuts, seeds) for a short period of time, say 2 months, to down-regulate insulin levels, then slowly re-introducing complex carbs (whole grains, starches)?

    If you’re already in a state of low-metabolism (fatigue, blood sugar issues, candida, food sensitivites), is introducing fructose, sugar, etc. just going to exacerbate the issues? Or do you have to suck it up for a while until your metabolism ramps back up, and these issues resolve themselves?

    I imagine the adrenals get overworked pumping out all that excess cortisol needed to remain in the stress metabolism, no?

    Thanks. I’m still trying to wrap my head around all this stuff.

    • @Caroline,

      I can’t get behind that strategy because I don’t think eating sugar causes high blood sugar issues (or the other issues you listed).

  13. As a person who is ready to give up where do I start :( I have been low-carb for so long and never sicker than I am right now! My blood sugars are through the roof, I have aches and pains everywhere. I am exhausted. I have food phobia and I am living on lean meats and leafy greens and sm amount of berries. I am so sick of all of this!! I no longer no which way to turn :( Or what to do first.. I went from being a 165 pound active middle aged woman to 230 pound slug in a little over a year. Is it to late?

    • I a good place to begin is by collecting data. Frequently measuring pulse and body temperature allowed me to understand myself better.

      • I have been tracking temps for months, they average 96.4 and my pulse is usually in the mid 80’s.. What does that tell me?

        • Some people find that temperature to be a problem and increase it with sugar, protein, calcium, sodium, and other thermogenic agents.

          • I’m in the same boat as cally. I’ve been doing my best to get rid of my food phobias and eating more thermogenic-ly, but all that is really succeeding in is making me fatter and ache more.

    • You are echoing my thoughts exactly :) lets see how this goes..

  14. Great article – thanks for distilling that information into such a clear way.

    Since early January I’ve been following Eat for Heat and for about 3 weeks DR2 (eating total daily expenditure, etc.). I have lots of clear signs that my metabolism is increasing. My temps are never lower than 98.4 in the first half of my cycle, over 99 the second half, less hair loss, warm extremities (often hot), improved mood and motivation, etc. But it is interesting that I’m also experiencing occasional crying jags and brain zaps – both symptoms I experienced tapering off of Lexapro after a sever post partum depression 5 years ago. I wonder if the sudden increase in metabolism is creating changes that my brain isn’t quite adapting to yet – hormones would be my guess, serotonin, estrogen, progesterone? Any thought on this? I generally am doing really well, the weight gain has leveled off. My appetite seems to match my tdee and I’m feeling better and better. But I suppose there are some really big changes going on in the electrical/hormone systems and these brain zaps made me want to ask you for any possible insight you’d have on that.


    • Do you consume liver and shellfish often?

      • No- I’ve had liver twice in my life and I eat shellfish maybe 3 or 4 times a year. There’s not much I don’t eat, but I cook from scratch most of the time. Pasta, rice, fruit, veggies, milk, eggs, cheese, yougurt, sugar are the bulk of my diet. A few times a week some meat or legumes.

        • Maybe a nutrient deficiency of some kind. Just a guess.

          • I have found in the past when my body is healing, it often can ‘revisit’ old damage as it repairs it. The difference between repair and degeneration is that degenerative issues rarely resolve themselves, whilst repair ones do. Sometimes it’s just a case of hangin’ in there. There is another thing – you could try dumping the grains for a while and see if that helps. Wheat/gluten gives me raging digestive and neurological issues. It also affects my husband mentally with awful brain-fog, depression and irritability. One bite of something containing gluten and he turns into Attila the Hun for the best part of a week!

  15. This stuff is so interesting! After a few years of Atkins, I developed hypothyroidism and was put on Armour. My cortisol levels were always high, my temperatures were always low. I’m wondering….

  16. Hi danny, I’ve been taking acetyl l carnitine (with alpha lipoic acid) so I can get to sleep at night. It supposedly releases fatty acids but I haven’t been losing weight. Should I continue taking it, take it with something sugary, or just eat something sugary before bed? I also take it to prevent alzheimers, strokes, heart attacks, and AGEs. Thanks

    • I used to take ALCAR (and lipoic acid) several years ago and remember it routinely giving me bad anxiety.

      Peat lays out some mechanisms for an increase in acetylcholine being involved in stress. I haven’t looked into it much.

  17. Trying to get my head around all these new concepts. My impression is that many of Matt’s followers are ‘normal weight’ people with really low temps, cold etc. who have been over-exercising and over-dieting. I’m not one of these people. I am about 20-30 kgs overweight, temps ranging from 35.8 – 36.8. Feel warm but that could be an Australian summer talking. Are you suggesting that a person like me would still fare best on the ideas in Diet Recovery? I’d really like to see some specific references for overweight, peri-menopausal women.

    • Yes, I wrote this for everyone.

      I haven’t read Diet Recovery yet ;)

      • Danny thanks for confusing me even more:-) I am very underweight and followed gaps for a year. I crave fat and eat a lot of it in the form of ghee, coconut oil dairy and the fat from meat eggs maca nuts etc I worry that i eat too much starchy foods, yams plantain quinea etc and feel very anxious most of the time about food. Which of the food groups should I increase please? I dont know what I should do as my body is falling apart! I think I fit into the orthorexia box and really need supernourishing food.

    • Me too please! Similar story to Jen.
      Thanks, lots of great info, Danny …
      How much niacinamide, how much aspirin and Vit K if I look into that?

      • @SueW,

        Some people use around 100 mg of niacinamide twice or more per day with food.

        Aspirin intake is all over the place, but I started with one 325 mg pill and 1 mg of vitamin K with food.

        • Thank you! I appreciate that you got back to me.

        • Danny,

          I’ve heard that aspirin’s prostaglandin inhibition may antagonize muscle synthesis since the prostaglandin response to muscular stress (e.g. weight training) is involved in signaling the muscle’s rebuilding mechanisms.

          Have you come across anything like this during your research?

    • Theoretically, Danny is talking about promoting an oxidative metabolism regardless of how fcuked-up we might be. You could be an anorexic stick or an obese trunk — doing what you can to promote an oxidative metabolism will result in “health”. That’s why this applies to everyone: it’s about getting your body efficiently producing energy which is turned into what we describe as “health” i.e. glowing skin, quick recovery, fatloss.

      Though, in the short term, some (like myself) may want to promote a less efficient (i.e. fatty acid) metabolism in order to quickly lose excess bodyfat.

  18. Hey Danny,
    How does one go about losing body fat if the goal is to rely solely on glucose for fuel, while avoiding using fatty acids in their place? I’m a a former paleo guy, so still keep thinking you need to burn stored F.A’s to drop fat.

    • The body does not rely solely on glucose for fuel.
      Muscle tissue preferentially burns fatty acids in the resting state.
      So resistance exercise is good because it increases muscle tissue and your body will burn more fat at rest.

      The body can well handle burning fat for energy as long as enough sugar (carbs) is eaten and the calorie deficit is not so great that it creates a harmful stress response.

      Obese people need a calorie deficit in order to lose weight. It would take forever for an obese person to lose weight by eating excess calories to increase metabolism and not dipping into their fat stores.

      The longer a person has excess fat on the body, the longer they are exposed to excess estrogen, since fat cells produce estrogen. I think it is worth it to get rid of large amounts of excess fat, even it that means a high fat low carb diet for a while. Any damage done can be fixed later when fat levels are lower. Excess body fat is a lot more harmful than the fat that is burned for energy.

      • @Ann,

        I agree with everything you said, but I think this is up for debate:

        “I think it is worth it to get rid of large amounts of excess fat, even it that means a high fat low carb diet for a while. Any damage done can be fixed later when fat levels are lower. Excess body fat is a lot more harmful than the fat that is burned for energy.”

        I think the main point would be losing weight slowly (whatever diet one chose) while supporting the metabolic rate.

        • Losing weight slowly makes sense only when a person does not have a lot of weight to lose. I myself would like to lose about 10 pounds and I am content to do that slowly.

          But I know people who are 200 to 500 pounds overweight.
          Are you saying those people should settle for losing one or two pounds per month? What about the health and social problems that the obesity is causing while they are slowly losing weight over a 10 or 20 year period? Should these people follow Matt’s plan and overeat even more than they already do, add a few hundred more pounds hoping that their metabolisms will increase? And what about the psychological pain of being morbidly obese?

          There are people who are obese because they simply eat too much. If
          under-eating was the number one cause of obesity, then the obesity rate in poor countries should be much higher than the obesity rate in America. If under-eating destroys fertility, how do people in impoverished countries manage to breed like rabbits?

          I know a morbidly obese woman in her thirties who got gastric bypass surgery to lose weight because she wanted to get married and have a family. She did not have 15 years to lose weight to make herself attractive and healthy enough to attract a mate and have children. As a result of the surgery, she ate less, lost a couple hundred pounds and got rid of a lot of health problems.

          One comment I often hear from foreigners is that Americans eat too much. Americans feast every day of their lives, while in other countries, the feasting is more sporadic.

          Most Americans are not obese because they ruined their metabolism by exercising too much and eating strict vegan or Paleo. Most Americans simply eat too much. Go into any inner city, low-income neighborhood and look at the astonishing amount of fat people. I don’t think they got that way doing high intensity exercise and eating Paleo. There are more fast food restaurants and convenience stores in inner city neighborhoods than there are grocery stores. They actually eat junk food in excess, as Matt recommends, yet they are obese. Junk food is very high in PUFA and starch, which can slow metabolism, yet Matt thinks it’s okay for fat people to overeat on those foods in order to raise their metabolism.

          People who are overeating or eating too much starch and PUFA need to be honest with themselves. Matt’s plan won’t work for them. They need to decrease calories and get rid of PUFAs and excess starch, not increase them.

          • Hey Ann,

            Matt and I have slightly different ideas about diet/food. We tend to agree more than we disagree, but I don’t generally think that people have to overeat to increase their metabolism.

            I haven’t read Matt’s recent books because I don’t want to subconsciously poach ideas from them ;)

          • I disagree with Ann. I tried the LCHF diet and lost 30 pounds (of 70) as well as health, hair and energy. I’ll go the high carb diet and let my body sort itself out. Regained 20 and am regaining health, hair and energy…as well as skin health softer and smoother than I have EVER had in my 50 years of restricting/dieting….except maybe as preschooler. (Currently 57 years)
            I’m going to assume my body would prefer to be healthy/healed first and it will then decide WHEN it will release excess fat.
            As for the obese overeating…..I’ll take a wild guess based on my own experience and assume it’s because they are constantly rebounding from constant restrictions….as in daily.

          • I have to take issue with you on several points. Number one is your statement that most americans simply eat too much. I disagree with your statement that the problem is simple and is only about taking in too many calories. That takes us back to the over simplified calories in/ calories out theory, which is a gross oversimplification not taking into account many factors that influence epigenetics. The truth is that many, if not most americans have tried restricting calories or fat or carbs and that has not worked for them long term. Maybe they have had success short term, I have, but long term it has not worked and in fact worsened their metabolism and situation. There are no doubt some people who have not dieted and just eaten all they want of processed junk and are huge and dont care. But I would venture to guess that this is not the norm especially among women and that most people have repeatedly dieted. The metastudies have shown that dieting and exercise have a dismal success rate for maintaining weight loss. Some would just chalk it up to overweight people being undisciplined pigs, but I dont believe that. I have known overweight people who are some of the most disciplined about what and how much they eat of anyone. I was one of them. I am probably 30 or 40 pounds overweight, and for years ate absolutely no junk food and reasonable calories. I dieted for long stretches. This only ade me cold, miserable and hypothyroid and resulted only in transient minor weight loss. So the big question is why do some people struggle and put forth great effort and cant maintain a lower body fat percent yet others do effortlessly. A book that has many great insights into this is gary taubes good calories bad calories. I hate the book title and no longer agree with the conclusion he reaches, which is that carbohydrates cause insulin resistance, but he does a superb job of proving the holes in the calories in calories out theory.

  19. Danny,

    when you talk about stress hormones being protective in the short term, how short is short term?

    I need to drop fat, fast. Doing “slowcarb” (consuming 50-100g carbs via lentils) for 4-6 weeks would be enough to drop the last few kg. I do understand you can’t get behind low/slowcarb, but there is nothing more effective at losing fat than that type of diet.

    • btw, I’m talking about a high-protein moderate-carb diet e.g. calorie breakdown of 50% protein, 25% fat and 25% carb.

    • I think their protective effects would depend on the situation.

      But in general, I think the less exposure to them the better.

  20. “Low-carb high-fat (LCHF) diets may have short-term therapeutic effects (e.g., if one loses weight…”

    Well, isn’t this the whole point of LCHF that we’re talking about here? We want to lose fat efficiently. And if by “short-term” you mean 4-12 weeks then what’s the problem using a LCHF diet or moderate carb high protein diet (MCHF) to achieve dramatic fatloss, especially given that fatloss brings with it increased metabolic efficiency.

    I still don’t understand how fat is burnt if it can’t be released in the blood stream. Sure when we’re young, we can eat lots and not get fat because for whatever reason the calories/fat get burnt before they get stored. But if you’ve already got huge stores of fat, what’s one to do?

    • @JackBauer,

      “Low-carb high-fat (LCHF) diets may have short-term therapeutic effects (e.g., if one loses weight…”

      The above statement could be applied to any diet, not just LCHF.

      However, being fat is not the only variable in health. The metabolic rate and nutrient density are both things to consider while losing weight.

      I don’t think LCHF necessarily leads to ‘dramatic fat loss’ or any fat loss at all.

    • Wouldn’t one be burning fat during nightime if the last meal of the day was at 4pm and one consumed zero snacks or food before breakfast the next morning around 7 am? It should qualify as a 15 hour intermittent fast, IMO, using up some liver glycogen and body fat. This type of intermittent fast brushes the realms of circadian rhythm, artificial light after sundown, and punctual hormone production during sleep.

      This whole calories in/calories out thing should probably be better described as joules than calories.

  21. On the issue of cortisol, what about this:

    “Effects of single macronutrients on serum cortisol concentrations in normal weight men

    The protein as well as the fat lunch caused a significant decrease in cortisol concentrations when compared to the carbohydrate lunch, and showed no difference from the control condition”

    • @JackBauer,

      I don’t think that abstract helps us understand cortisol’s role in adaptation/stress.

  22. Hey, I was wondering, can the ability to run a stress-based metabolism return if you eat properly for a long time? Prior to finding Matt, I was really cold for two years and became very weak with a very low blood pressure on a fruitarian and zero carb diet. Before that, I used to get a lot of energy when fasting for 18 hours. I don’t want to do that again on a regular basis, but I wonder, can my ability to do so return after I eat well for a couple of years? Right now I am only warm and energetic when everything is in check, carb intake, sodium intake, potassium intake, water intake, meal frequency etc. Can I ever let go of this again and not freeze my ass off?

    • @Coldmember,

      I think regularly monitoring pulse and body temperature would be a good strategy.

      • Not sure how that answers my question though. Can one get back to a state where they can fast without crashing and how long might that take? That is my question.

        • The question is unanswerable.

          If you felt good now, I would encourage you to jot down an average of your pulse rate and body temperature.

          If you decided to fast for 18 hours, and your pulse and temps dropped considerably, I think that could be considered an ominous sign.

          • Danny,

            what are the ideal reference ranges for pulse and temp for someone with a well running metabolism?

          • I think everyone should probably figure it out for themselves. For instance, I feel best when my pulse hovers around 90 and feel cold and lousy when it’s in the low 70s.

    • Coldmember

      According to Wikipedia, one of the (many) functions of the thyroid hormones is to increase one’s sensitivity to the catecholamines. As thyroid function declines and you become less sensitive, your body will have to resort to producing larger amounts of adrenaline and noradrenaline to compensate. Over time, your body will become resistant to the catecholamines, thus ending the “catecholamine honeymoon” described by Matt and referred to by Danny.

      So to answer your question, should you be successful in fully restoring your metabolism/thyroid function, then yes you “should” be able to once again enjoy fasting “honeymoon” (at least in theory). However, as Danny pointed out, reverting back to the very dietary practices that got you in trouble in the first place is kind of like playing with fire.

      Also, I suspect that each time you “go back” the honeymoon grace period will be shorter and shorter and less intense/favorable. I guess it is kind of like the experiences of those who continually try going back to a low carb diet over and over. Each time they do, they get less and less results (whereas the first time the weight just seemed to fly off and they felt great).

      Hope this helps.

  23. Hey Danny, you should have started your article off like Rowdy Roddy Piper would have by saying, “To all of you health diet guru’s out there, my name is Danny Roddy, and I am here to chew bubblegum and kick ass……..and I’m all out of bubblegum.”

    Your article was good but it would have been epic if you would have started it off that way.


    Good article though.


    • @They Live,

      But I wouldn’t have been able to reference the occult that way.

  24. Hey Danny, Starting eating a Peat friendly diet which has improved sleep and skin so far. One big disadvantage however has been that I seem much more susceptible to catching colds! I had one that lasted a week last month and now I have caught one again ! This never happened on paleo but the sleep worsened. Can’t I have it all ?

    p.s. Drinking lots of OJ.

    • Are you consuming shellfish regularly? Oysters contain a lot of zinc, which can be helpful for colds.

      • Thanks, let me amp that up. I was consuming them once in a while but will get more regular to see if it helps.

  25. Read DR2 this weekend. Great stuff! Got obsessed with Ray Peat articles. Plus the people on their forums seem a lot nicer than those “PaleoHacks” lol:) I’m doing what you suggested to Calli and collecting data while eating more carbs and having regular meals. Buh bye intermittent fasting.

    My question: People keep mentioning their average temps. Do you have to average your temps to get a picture of your progress or can you be happy about boosting your temp during the day even if they go back down overnight? It’s only been a few days and I can get my temps up in the 98’s every day but it’s back down to 97.1 or lower each and every evening b4 bed and when I awaken:( Perhaps a sugar IV overnight? Just kidding.

    • @Laura,

      I think it’s natural for the temperature to reduce during the night.

      Numbers are great, but you may be able to tell “how far you’ve come” just by being aware of the warmth of your extremities. I knew things were good when my hands and feet were consistently warm.

      • Thanks for that:) I’m trying to be aware of the temperature of hands/feet/nose. I don’t know why but I don’t really feel cold that often. Sometimes when I feel my extremities are cold I will take my temperature but it is often normal (98+) so not sure why that is. One thing at a time tho. Just trying to find a sweet spot foodwise, carbwise, tempwise. I think my chronically low pulse (59-72) is going to be much harder to work on.

  26. “A healthy person is able to store a meaningful amount of glucose in the form of hepatic glycogen (the muscles use their glycogen for themselves).”

    Are you implying that the glycogen stored in muscles is “off-limits” or something? I’ve always assumed that even the glycogen in muscles is broken down in times of stress, as well. In fact, I’ve read that commercial beef quality can be rated by the amount of lactate in the blood. Increased blood-lactate levels is due to the intense stress that cattle go through in the short time before slaughter. The glycogen in the muscles (not the liver) rapidly converts to lactate before slaughter. (Less stress, less lactate.)

    Would the same not apply to humans as well? Under stress, our muscle glycogen is depleted and must be replenished, right? Why would only the hepatic (liver) glycogen be affected?

    I might have read this part of your article incorrectly.

    • @Theobromate,

      I think that liver glycogen is more important for maintaining blood glucose homeostasis than the glycogen stored in the muscles. To my understanding, glycogen stores in the muscles is mostly used as an energy source for muscle fibers during physical exertion.

  27. I think u guys have lost me. I’m hearing such arrogance about eating pancakes, whatever. I’m almost as sick about eating 4 heat, dr2, as I m about any other food ideology. It’s like u guys have a secret u won’t tell. …I’m eating pancakes n cheeseburgers but I don’t want to gain anymore to lose, I feel awful. And I read in dr2 this is to be expected, but isn’t there a better way?

    • bh
      To my mind Matt’s way of thinking is entirely compatible with “healthier” eating. You don’t HAVE to eat pancakes and cheeseburgers. You can get the “4 s’s” from “real” foods: Sugar (fruits, dried fruit), Salt (sea salt), Starch (whole grains, tubers, including or excluding potatoes, as you wish), Saturated fat (coconut oil, butter).
      The idea is to raise your metabolism (if you need to do that), checking that your body temps are in the 98 range and that your urine is not running clear. I see that as basically the whole shpiel. And so far it’s working for me!

      • Would you include white rice in starch list? I’ve been experimenting with a white rice concoction that’s easy for me to make (I’m no cook) that includes coconut oil, a bit of butter and a lot of salt. It’s very carby and is an easy transport mechanism if you will for salt. I’m just worried about it spiking insulin since it’s primarily broken down into glucose.

        • Yes, Christopher, white rice is definitely on the list of starches that can raise body temps. In fact, Matt has written that eating white rice with soy sauce is especially good because the soy sauce is really high in salt content. So if you are adding a high amount of salt to your recipe, then that should work just fine.

        • Hey Christopher! Hailing from the other side of the sound.

          One thing that gets my metabolism rolling in the morning is a rice pudding. Just boil the rice as usual, after it’s cooked, add in milk and let it heat up (does NOT need to boil), eat with butter, salt and maple syrup as well as cinnamon for taste. It gets me toasty in ways that are incredible.

          I suggest trying it, if nothing else, you have a tasty food.

    • There really is no secret but just to allow your body to heal on a minimum amount of calories that the body needs for healing and ongoing healthy functioning. Weight gain is almost always a part of that healing process. With time and healing, weight stabilizes itself. Gwyneth from youreatopia explains this here:

      • Hey Emma! Off topic, but just wanted to drop a line. I made my first home-made lemon gelato tonight. That stuff made me feel like fire, lol. I’m trying to find ways to get calories in without eating heaps all the time. Milkshakes and ice-cream seem to work well around the square meals.

        • Hi Corey! I’m so happy to hear that you are working to keep your calories up. Lemon gelato sounds great. I love lemon anything. I like using ice cream for its high calorie content as well. I can eat a pint, not feel stuffed, yet consume tons of calories doing so, and it’s so good. Is your appetite and mood improving?

          • Yes, I’ve realized that I need to make some adjustments in my life with regard to my work and how much time I give to others. So I’m cleaning house and getting back to the core. I’m sure you can relate to the need to give yourself the time necessary to heal. The last part of Diet Recovery 2 made me realize that I’ve been running away from my purpose in life. So I’m taking responsibility for the outcomes and getting on with what I really want to do.

            Being down has once again taught me something about myself. In fact, on reflection, I’ve come to discover that for myself, depression is a warning that I need to rethink how I’m going about life. It’s like life tapping me on the shoulder and saying, “Hey, you need to change.” So there IS something positive to be gained from the experience after all.

            Appetite is better now. I tend to get obsessive, and was getting concerned too much with variety and coming up with interesting stuff to eat all the time. But now, I just try to eat and do the best I can with the ingredients at hand. That’s all I can do really.

          • That’s fantastic! I’m glad to hear you figured out what the root cause of your depression was. I learned long ago to say no to people, otherwise your life gets completely away from you. Not that helping others is not important, but there is a point where harm takes place of the initial good, especially when one begins to put others above their family and personal responsibilities. I hate to say it, but I’ve seen many moms do this and not even realize that they are putting others above their own family. When pointed out, they have a huge light bulb moment. I’ve helped many women I know learn to say no just by considering whether or not what’s asked of them will negatively impact their family. Also, one can say no, especially when put on the spot, and then when they have time to consider the situation can change their mind. It’s easier to say no and then change your mind, rather than say yes and then change your mind and have the people who were depending on you get understandably mad. So, automatically saying no and then changing your mind is always safer than automatically saying yes and then regretting it.

            I recently went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of pre-made meals to helps with variety and ease since I’m tracking calories again. I just did my best to avoid things made with hydrogenated fat and stuck with stuff that had as many normal ingredients as possible. I’m was actually surpised to see that many of the foods were made with palm oil. Companies must be feeling the pressure to change.

          • I bought a little Apple Crumble and small Rum Truffel from Michel’s Patisserie just today. Unbelievable calories in those, lol. I know they probably have ‘evil’ things in them, but, I can get easy calories out of those two morsels. I just can’t see how anybody can get in enough calories from eating ‘clean’ 100%. I liked how Matt talked about 3 square meals with unlimited ‘junk’ as a supplement. I can make some of that myself, but it’s nice to take advantage of our modern conveniences, too.

          • do you live in santa rosa?

          • Forgot to ask. Which brand(s) did you choose for the pre-made meals?

          • Do you have a lot of the same brands we have here in the US?

      • That’s a great article. I was looking at pictures of myself before I started rrarfing the other day, and was shocked by how frail I looked. At the time, I thought I looked OK. How our minds deceive us.

  28. ….And I just noticed that I added an extra ‘d’ to my last name.

  29. Danny, fascinating article! Some questions though:

    Is only 1 low dose aspirin a day effective? If so, do you think vit k necessary for that low of a dose?

    So high fructose corn syrup not the villian it’s been made out to be?

    Are you suggesting with this article that a low fat diet would be helpful to those that are obese and insulin resistant or pre-diabetic? Not sure if article is saying it would helpful to avoid fat since it may be an inferior as fuel source, or you are strictly talking about body fat.

    Is it sugar that is therapeutic and dietary fat that’s detrimental to diabetics? I am overweight and pre-diabetic and have low-carbed for years. Recently have been eating carbs again and my blood sugar readings sometimes respond very favorably to carbs such as oatmeal, but with no fat. Yet orange juice sends them soaring. I am so confused.

    Any input is greatly appreciated.

    • @Marie,

      I think vitamin K is necessary whenever you take aspirin.

      HFCS contains other things that could increase bacterial endotoxin, fructose from white sugar and fruit is mostly what I’m referring to.

      I think avoiding PUFA is important, but I don’t necessarily advocate low-fat dieting because having some saturated fat with each meal can help those with poor glucose tolerance.

      • What’s your opinion on oxidized cholesterol? Seems to me you shouldn’t heat butter above 100 Celsius because it will start to oxidize the cholesterol.

        Btw, anyone saw this article

        says everyone on biggest loser balloon up again in weight as soon as they leave the show

        • @Kerrigan,

          I don’t have a very strong opinion about it.

          If I’m frying something, I usually use refined coconut oil.

        • I personally don’t think it’s a problem. Ghee has been using for cooking for centuries in places like India.

          • I actually think it’s a problem, maybe not for everybody but, everytime I eat something fried in ghee I feel bloated and terrible, but when I just eat unheated butter or cold pressed olive oil I actually feel good, so I don’t think this PUFA business is the whole story. I suspect all fats take damage when heated excessively

      • “If you take away anything from this article, let it be that the hormones that mobilize fatty acids are the same hormones involved in the degenerative effects of stress.”

        Wikipedia describes lipolysis as producing ketones and thus ketosis. Is this why both low carb diets and the breakdown of body fat cause impaired ability to clear glucose, or insulin resistance?

        • @Marie,

          Ketones are produced as a byproduct of fatty acid metabolism, but in “the big picture” are the result of a stressed metabolism.

          Using FFAs and ketones as fuel results in a diminished respiratory quotient (less carbon dioxide) and the preferential oxidation of fatty acids damages the energy producing apparatuses of the cell, leading to insulin resistance.

    • Wow, I recently commented on the lack of overweight prediabetics on the board asking questions and now here you all are :)

      I too have difficulty with the OJ part of the diet sending my sugars way up. No problem with potatoes and oatmeal and grits, but fruit and rice and wheat and sugar in any combination seem to shoot sugars up 60-100 points! I even made a flan (milk sugar eggs and cream cheese) thinking that would be a most excellent Peatarian dessert, but my glucose monitor exposed high sugars after eating that.

      While I tried to eat peatarian, my sugars were climbing to over 200. So I’m still struggling with trying to understand how that isn’t detrimental. After two weeks I went back to just potatoes and oatmeal and occasional ezekial bread. I fear the Glucose monitor!!

      • @Saucychick,

        I’m not necessarily saying that all diabetics need to drink OJ and everything will be all right.

        I’m saying that the inability to clear glucose is one of the effects of liberated free fatty acids.

        Glucometer is cool, but I wouldn’t use it alone without measuring pulse and body temperature.

  30. So American Coke FTW, huh? Some fructose, CO2, caffeine, calories… I feel great when I have a coke with breakfast.

    • @Tierney,

      I’m not sure if you’re being serious or not, and I don’t know what you’re talking about.

      • I think she’s implying that Coke is unhealthy (mainstream views), but according the principles of Ray Peat and yourself (sugar / fructose, caffeine, calories, and CO2 all being beneficial), Coke should be considered a healthy drink, as well as other sodas.

        Besides her misconception about CO2 (byproduct of mitochondrial respiration), shouldn’t Coke and sodas be considered healthy?

        • I was being serious. I feel great when I drink a coke in the morning.

          I am pretty sure I have read either Danny or Ray saying that ingesting CO2 as carbonation would increase blood CO2 levels. Correct me if I’m wrong (about them saying that, or about it being true… I’m skeptical, but have to admit that carbonation is awesome).

        • Yes:

          “In a nutrition class, in the late 70s, I described the way metabolically produced carbon dioxide opens blood vessels in the brain, and mentioned that carbonated water, or “soda water,” should improve circulation to the brain when the brain’s production of carbon dioxide wasn’t adequate. A week later, a student said she had gone home that night and (interpreting soda water as bicarbonate of soda in water) given her stroke-paralyzed mother a glass of water with a spoonful of baking soda in it. Her mother had been hemiplegic for 6 months following a stroke, but 15 minutes after drinking the bicarbonate, the paralysis lifted, and she remained normal. Later, a man who had stroke-like symptoms when he drank alcohol late at night, found that drinking a glass of carbonated water caused the symptoms to stop within a few minutes.

          Realizing that low thyroid people produce little carbon dioxide, it seemed to me that there might be a point at which the circulatory shut-down of unstimulated parts of the brain would become self-sustaining, with less circulation to an area decreasing the CO2 produced in that area, which would cause further vasoconstriction. Carbon dioxide (breathing in a bag, or drinking carbonated water, or bathing in water with baking soda) followed by thyroid supplementation, would be the appropriate therapy for this type of functional ischemia of the brain.”

          • Very interesting..
            Thanks Tierney

          • Thanks for reminding me of this quote….

          • Isn’t the CO2 just burped up when drinking carbonated beverages? Sorry for mis-reading your earlier post. It just came off as sarcastic; especially the “FTW, huh?” part.

            I can understand the bag breathing technique or the byproduct of efficient glucose metabolism, but to “drink” CO2? How can anyone, including Ray Peat, know how much CO2 is actually being absorbed and not just burped out?

            Thanks for he above quote. I was unaware of it. Interesting stories.

          • Just want to add one more thing. I don’t care how “awesome” Coke is, based on its sugar / fructose, caffeine, easy calories, and possibly CO2. Phosphoric acid (and citric acid and carbonic acid to some degree) is the last thing I want washing over my tooth enamel.

            I know you can use a straw, but even then the drink still contacts the molars in the back of the mouth as well as the inward-facing tooth surfaces.

            Citrus fruits, while not as costly to the enamel, can be damaging over time. The easiest buffer against this is rinsing your mouth with water shortly after. I *could* rinse my mouth with water after drinking a Coke, but it would just get a bit silly at that point.

          • That’s true. My teeth have been so strong and healthy since drinking raw milk for the past 4 years, that I hadn’t really thought of it.

            Don’t misunderstand me- I’m not saying I really believe coke is healthy. Just that by Peat principles it should be, and also I feel great after having one, so by Matt’s biofeedback principles it should be, too. I don’t have more than 1/day. And I really enjoy it.

          • That is why I said I am skeptical. Although when I think about it, I don’t think I usually burp after a coke. Maybe I do and don’t notice it, but I feel like I don’t usually burp. Still… would the carbonations in a can of coke really raise blood CO2?

            And bathing in baking soda water seems REALLY silly.

            You raise a good point, the high blood CO2 is usually touted as being the *by-product* of efficient glucose metabolism

  31. This was a really great article. I follow this site, as well as Danny’s. I do have to say that I am sometimes off put by some of the critical articles, and bashing that happens on here directed at other sites, and health advocates. I’ve been on the same journey as many others here. You know what I’ve come to realize through this crazy journey of pills, macro-nutrient adjustment, extreme lifestyle modification, blah, blah blah??? It’s that everyone of these blogs, books we read, and health advice givers we follow is Right and Wrong! Absolutely no one will have ALL the answers. I think it’s instinctual in a lot of us “truth” followers, type A personalities to go whole hog on a new “program” that is our new perception of “reality”. Quantum Physics would blow all of this out of the water. None of this exists. Yes someone can, thrive on ice cream everyday, or juice fasting if everything that leads up to that moment has them believe this is reality. The hypothalamus is stronger than ANY diet we partake in. I no longer follow ANYONE’s program. I take every piece of information that I read, process it, and store it in my brain for reference. But alas, I appreciate Matt, Jimmy, Mark, Stefani, Cate, Stephen, Anthony, Danny, Lyle, Vince, Paul, Michael, Mary, Ray, etc….. For these are the fervent people that provide the information re-shape our reality.

  32. I would really enjoy reading all the original sources you used to write this. Do you have them on hand?

  33. @Kate,

    The article was a kind of just a stream of consciousness. You can find a lot of the original sources on,, or

  34. This is a great article and one that everyone that is struggling with weight should read. I work with obese people daily and people that have had weight-loss surgery. I see what people eat every day and I can say that that Danny’s and Andrew’s ideas work. Even if you have had the surgery- If you want it to work then you need to increase metabolism. If you can heal the body and fix the metabolism then you will lose weight and regain health. Being obese or overweight is a sign that the body is not working properly. If you apply the ideas that Danny lays out, and you understand what he is saying. His plan works. He just makes sense and if one can look at things scientifically ( instead of emotionally) It all makes sense. I see it working daily.

  35. I have no idea of what this article is saying. In English please. (Really, I would like to understand it…and I do not understand at all).


    • Keep reading and applying the idea to let your body tell you what to eat. Your brain/reason will try to override your body wisdom to think that what your body wants is garbage and fattening. Actually, it’s the actual micronutrients that are what the body is searching for….based on your body’s memory of various visual configurations it remembers/the end result food product. Carbs, protein and fats. If those foods combine to be delicious cake with butter cream frosting (carbsprotein/fat) ratio and that’s what your body wants, eat it. If another time it wants delicious (protein/fat/carbs) bacon and eggs with some tomatoes and onions, eat that. Read a little bit of Gwen Shamblin’s book Weigh Down. It’s got a heavy religious bent, but if you read just the bits that stresses faith in our food supply, that it’s all just variation on ratio of the three basics and let your mouth hunger decide what amounts to eat from what you’ve put on your plate, it’s very freeing. Sad that well over 10 years ago I read this book and still couldn’t relax and give my body permission to decide what ratios it wants each meal/each day. I’ve learned my lesson and am applying it now. And it works. I’m not stuffed when I stop eating when I satisfy my various carb/protein/fat hungers. And I don’t need to nibble all day either.

  36. Unfortunately, I can’t get behind this article. No offense, I can’t get behind ANY article that spends paragraph after paragraph talking about macronutrient ratios with no regard for food quality.

    To position your argument solely against “HFLC” (almost a straw man at this point) is a fallacy because it leaves out the most important factor: quality.

    Yes, high fat low carb crap food will leave you inflamed and with many health problems. It doesn’t take much science to figure that out.

    However, you’ve failed to make any sort of case against high quality, low toxin, HFLC eating. And all of the “studies” you’re reading about HFLC probably don’t address quality either. Yes, Atkins is probably bad for most people because Atkins doesn’t address quality — only macronutrient ratios — so examining Atkins followers for health enigmas is a waste of time.

    The bottom line is that it appears to me that macronutrient ratios are far less important than overall micronutrient content and toxicity. Yet the debate rages on between low carbers and moderate carbers and safe starcheys and so on. Wrong focus. Pick a macronutrient ratio that works for your body AND THEN PUT ALL YOUR FOCUS ON MICRONUTRIENTS AND LOW TOXICITY.

    In the meantime, stop bashing people for their ratios — I don’t think it’s all that important.

    • I ate the most puritanical HFLC diet I could get my hands on. Didn’t even buy anything from the grocery store but sourced only local, biodynamic, organic, and wild foods. Oops.

      • “Oops” is blaming HFLC without regard for other factors such as exercise quantity and frequency, sleep, calories consumed vs needed, supplementation, and so on. I’m just tired of people demonizing macronutrient ratios when it’s probably the least important thing. There are too many factors involved in one persons anecdotes. Going after macronutrient ratios is low hanging fruit, IMO.

        • Well it certainly wasn’t worth the effort I put into it, and if I couldn’t figure out the magical way to do it “properly,” it’s probably pretty unreasonable to expect anyone else to do it either.

        • Actually the factors you mentioned, i.e. exercise, sleep, calories, supplementation, are relatively the LEAST important things.

          You’ve kind of built a strawman argument. HFLC has been used as a shortcut to refer to a fatty acid metabolism (as opposed to an oxidative glucose-metabolism). Instead of focusing on this, you’ve narrowed in on the label ‘HFLC’ and taken it quite literally.

          I see this article as ‘oxidative glucose-metabolism VS fatty acid metabolism’ where high-carb-moderate-protein-moderate-fat promotes an oxidative metabolism and low-carb-high-fat-low-protein promotes a fatty acid metabolism.

          • If what you say is true, the majority of Paleo eaters who don’t adhere to safe starch policy would be failing miserably.

          • So instead of discussing biology you reference generalized anecdotes?

            You’re really good at getting your point across and making sense.

    • Hey Kevin, I’m not sure what article you read, but nothing you wrote is relevant to what I’m talking about.

  37. So I’ve been doing some reading on Ray Peat (which includes listening to various podcasts with him). I have to admit he’s helped me to dispel a lot of my fears of sugar. I’ve been a long time avoider of PUFA’s, but I can’t help but wonder about some aspects of his ideas that bother me. For instance he’s really not happy with things like banana’s, because of their ‘high serotonin’ content and fiber. And drinking only orange juice with no pulp, that type of thing. I don’t seem to have problems myself with bananas, but I have to wonder, at what point do you take some of what he says with a grain a salt? If you have a low metabolism, something I’ve been struggling with after a long time of fairly low-carb eating, is eating a banana as a source of carbohydrates and sugars really going to be counter productive?

    • @Christopher in Seattle

      I have the same mixed feelings as well. This is why I still find Weston A. Price’s book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration so appealing: it keeps it simple.

      In short, Price argued against “displacing” foods. The refined foods were harmful in that they supplied enough calories *without* the important micronutrients (vitamins and minerals.) He didn’t bother with amino acid ratios, hormones, metabolism, flavonoids, anti-nutrients, glycogen, food combining, enzymes, pH balance, and so on. In fact, he even mentions that other diet fads (pH balance, food combining, et al.) are a waste of time that made no difference with the primitives he’s studied and lived amongst.

      Eat the calories that your body requires to sustain and repair itself (based on your particularly lifestyle), and pay attention to nutrient density. That is all. The rest of the book was a matter of where to get that extra boost and its implications on health (e.g, cod liver oil to help absorb fat soluble vitamins and provide vitamins A and D, as well as grassfed butter for vitamins A and K2, know as Activator X.) The fresher the food, the less oxidized, the better.

      He also went over other subjects of importance, such as soil quality and sustainability, bone density, jaw structure, tooth eruption, and how a mother’s diet affects her newborn’s health during and after pregnancy. (The child’s diet was not as critical as his mother’s diet.)

      It was a long book, but a had very simple message.

      I keep a certain quote in mind when I read through web sites about diet and nutrition, and all the complexity that goes along with it. I believe this comment was posted by a forum member on a Paleo message board. It went something like this:

      “We’re all animals, except that humans are the only animals that feel the need to research and study everything before we decide what to eat…”

      • Thanks for your reply. I’m aware of Dr. Price’s work and have generally tried to follow the principles he outlines, but I think I went off the deep end over the past year or two and went too far into the region of low-carb. Luckily I never went completely low-carb, but began to suspect something was amiss over the past 6 months when I was becoming increasingly stressed out, and easily so. I look back and realize I wasn’t eating enough carbohydrates and sugars, owing of course to them being ‘bad’. I did eat a couple of bananas a day, but otherwise tried to stay away from all refined carbs and sugars (I was always so proud of myself for eating plain yogurt, and drinking my coffee black). I’ve ended up having symptoms of low metabolism, cold hands/feet, low temp (I’m generally at about 96.5), frequent night peeing, and other issues. Luckily I’ve never done the yo-yo diet thing because I’ve not had weight issues, but I realize that all the fear mongering of sugar likely imbalanced me.

        One thing I’ve noticed, since I’ve been eating a lot more sugar my stamina has increased for biking. I bike around Seattle which has plenty of hills. Since I’ve been eating more sugars/starches, I’ve noticed a definite increase in my biking stamina. I’m only a couple of weeks in and am still trying to get my body temp up.

  38. So I find myself struggling to reconcile some of this new information about sugar with other anti-sugar items that pop up, such as this latest study showing a correlation with sugar and diabetes.

    I’d sure be interesting in getting Peat’s take on something like this.

  39. Danny,

    you wrote ‘brief bouts of intense exercise or fasting will raise free fatty acid levels’. Why would intense exercise raise free fatty acids level? Isn’t muscle glycogen (and CF) used as a primary source of fuel for intense exercise?

  40. Hi Danny!
    Are you familiar with Nick Lane’s work? If so, would love your thoughts. He seems to be on the leading edge relative to understanding cellular metabolism and his ideas seem to support Petro Dobromylkyj’s conclusions.

  41. Hi Danny!

    I’m so happy I found out about all of this information, so thanks for putting so much time and effort to help others out. I had been in the low carb high fat world for many years –on and off since college but mostly on since having 3 babies and needing to get weight off. I was LCing when it was the new controversial scientificly superior thing to do…read all of Dr. Eades blog, Gary Taubes book, etc…and it worked, for a little while, it seemed, until I started adding IF to the game and then I gained 15 pounds! I guess my body doesn’t like starving every other day. Anyways, at the beginning of this year was when I really started noticing a change from within that I couln’t put my finger on…why wasn’t I losing weight anymore no matter how “strict” I low carbed, even fat-fasted (90% fat) Why was I starting to feel unhappy when I am usually the happiest girl on the block? So the quote by Einstein started coming into my head a lot something like “crazy is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results” and that was what I was doing. So, I decided in February to not be crazy and let part of my identity (it seemed) go and I decided to go the complete opposite route and try vegan after watching some 30 Bananas A Day videos and feeling inspired. Well, that worked, right away I felt happpppppppppppppy again and began losing inches while eating things that were SWEET (what a joy that was!) and feeling light and free! Of course since then, I have gone from that to vegetarian, to ovo-pescatarian to Peatarian to now eating a bit of meat as I have begun dabbling in Haylie Pomroy’s Fast Metabolism Diet and doing the “confuse it to lose it” thing (2 days low fat high carb, 2 days low fat low carb high protein, 3 days high fat.) Anyways, I’m still trying to figure things out and what works with me, what makes me feel good, etc… I have noticed, though, without taking my temp, that I’m finally warm and it’s the best! My husband used to always tell me something was wrong with my circulation or something because my hands and feet were always freezing when we went to bed! I would need tons of blankets while he said he was hot, and we could NEVER have the fan on. Now the past few weeks I have noticed I can sleep with the fan on all night and my hands and feet are no longer cold! It’s great to be warm!

  42. Seriously though, do any of you even lift?

    • lol

  43. Its worth pointing out that increasing the respiratory quotient is synonymous with increasing oxidative stress, in fact dr.jaminet uses that as argument for eating a higher fat diet. Also i dont think eating fat causes stress hormones to rise unless youre eating very low carb. I cant remember where i read this now, but isnt it also true that a large percentage of the carbohydrates we eat end up converting to fat anyway and are then liberated as free fatty acids to be burned for fuel? (I think this effect is particularly pronounced during sleep).

    • From what I understand, the percentage of carbohydrates that can be converted to fat in humans is extremely small. The rest you should discuss with Danny, particularly the part about respiratory quotient because I’m sure he has some strong thoughts about the idea that a higher RQ is synonymous with oxidative stress.

      • Actually i got that wrong about RQ, its more nuanced that.

  44. Increased levels of cortisol, which sustains the stress response.

    Can you put in links to support this in people on long term (beyond 1 year) proper* ketogenic diets?

    I assume you also mean that that cortisol levels are sustained?

    *=there are more ways to get a ketogenic diet “wrong” than right.

    • Ignore my previous comments on increased levels of cortisol. I found a reasonably well researched explanation here:

      (Summary of above link cortisol figures depend on cortisol production rates and cortisol clearance rates. The mechanism of cortisol production/clearance in an LCHF diet happens to be different from that of a what would be considered a ‘normal’ stress. )



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