Joel Marion

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Joel Marion is a likeable dude. What I like about Joel is that he understands and can relate to the common person. While the fringes of alternative nutrition blogs like this one attract a certain nutrition and health geekazoid crowd, Marion’s target audience are people like him – people that live in the real world, socialize in the real world, and do dearly love slamming pepperoni pizzas and Double Stuff Oreos – on occasion.

The question is, can you lose weight doing that intelligently, and can you actually improve your health in the process? I believe you can, and that Joel Marion has captured what could very well be the most important concept when it comes to losing weight intelligently – the “cheat” day.

Bodybuilders have been practicing “cheat days” for ages, but Marion has put the cheat day into context of the discovery of the hormone leptin – the master regulator of energy balance in the human body.

In his book, Cheat to Lose (interesting, but probably not enough to impress anyone here), he points out what is the dieter’s dilemma. That is that calorie restriction in some shape, form, or fashion is required to lose body fat. You have to eat less than you burn, burn more than you eat via exercise, etc. to lose fat. And when you do that, your metabolism slows down, your appetite goes up, you lose muscle mass, and the body does anything and everything it can to protect itself from further weight losses.

While my emphasis is, and will continue to be finding how to make that happen automatically within the body instead of relying solely on behavioral changes – the reality is unchanged. You must burn more fat than you store to lose fat, and this, in general, necessitates at least a slight deficit in calories ingested vs. calories burned through total metabolic and physical activity.

What I’m more interested in, is whether one could do any type of dieting that they want to create a calorie deficit and get away with it (metabolically-speaking) by doing an aggressive “cheat day” once every seven days. Marion certainly thinks so, and I’d like to believe him.

The premise of Marion’s program, both his old program and his new, even more radical approach, is that leptin levels are not solely linked to body fat levels but to calorie intake also.

I would agree with this. While leptin levels tend to rise as body fat rises (increased metabolism, decreased appetite, inhibited fat storage) and fall as body fat falls (decreased metabolism, increased appetite, inhibited fat burning), the peaks and valleys in leptin are way out of proportion to body fat when it comes to altering calorie intakes.

For example, an often cited quote by Russ Farris that I often throw out, is that during an overfeeding study leptin levels increased by 68% during the study, while body fat levels didn’t even come close to increasing by 68% (it was probably more like a 10% increase).

Likewise, Marion repeatedly refers to a study in which calories were restricted in dieters, and by the end of just 1 week, leptin levels fell by 50% despite a drop in body fat by only a few pounds.

This is precisely why trying to cut calories – and even perhaps the act of cutting calories automatically (which often happens with a new exercise regimen, on a low-carb diet, uber low-fat diet, or a whole foods diet), works short-term, but continued over several weeks and months often stalls and results in accompanying health problems (no matter how “clean” or nutritious your food may have been).

This is exactly why a smarter and more sophisticated approach is needed, and, in the context of leptin, Marion has created just that. The good news is this… (p. 21)

“…while leptin levels drop around 50 percent after one week of dieting, it only takes one DAY of overfeeding or ‘cheating’ to bring levels back up to baseline. So the solution to our dilemma and the very premise of this diet is: CHEAT… It all makes perfect physiological and psychological sense. By periodically cheating on your diet, you circumvent the negative physiological side effects of calorie restriction. Each week you start fresh with baseline levels of leptin and a hormonal environment primed for burning fat, not muscle. The metabolic crash that occurs with prolonged dieting is no longer an issue, so keeping lost weight lost as you enter the maintenance phase of the diet won’t be a problem.”

What does this mean in the context of 180 and what is the answer that I lean (no pun intended) towards giving to people asking me what I personally recommend for losing pure body fat with no lean losses these days?

It means this…

1) For restoring a severely damaged metabolism, it requires prolonged rest and overfeeding – a calorie surplus, as outlined in the eBook DIET RECOVERY. Fortunately, given the new insights covered in the MNP post, there now appears to be a way to minimize fat gain and maximize muscle gain and increased body heat and metabolism while overfeeding – maximizing starch intake and minimizing fat intake (easier said than done as many have crippling problems with hypoglycemia and impaired glucose metabolism that must be overcome first, which may mean eating more fat and gaining more fat before body composition is addressed).

2) Once metabolism is restored, body fat can be lost any way you desire.  There is probably no “better” or “best” way to do it.  For me, that means cutting way down on fats (most days). I feel great doing it, and it happens to be the perfect counter to some imbalances I developed on a prolonged low-carb, high-protein, high-fat diet. It is very satiating, makes fat storage virtually impossible, and I enjoy being able to lose fat eating up to 10 pounds of food a day. But any method theoretically could be used – such as carb cycling, intermittent fasting, eating very small portions of all your favorite foods, or exercising your brains out.

3) To keep from developing health problems doing these practices, and to also limit the amount of weight you need to lose to look lean and attractive (by protecting lean body mass), overfeeding once every 7 days is absolutely mandatory. High-glycemic carbs like grains, corn, potatoes, etc. raise leptin the most. In addition, the higher the starch to fat ratio while overfeeding, the greater the ratio between muscle gained to fat gained during the overfeeding day. The main objective, however, is overfeeding. If you cannot do it with low-fat rice, oats, potatoes, pasta, bread, etc. (at least 1,000 calories above your maintenance calorie levels for the day), then you should be eating pizza, cheesecake, and whatever you are most likely to be able to overfeed on just as Martin Berkhan practices.

4) For greater muscle gains, overfeeding on high-starch, low-fat more than one day per week should be very effective. For each day with a 1,000 calorie surplus, assuming you maintain an 8:1 ratio of starch to fat by percentage of calories, you should be able to add at least .5 pounds of lean body mass with no fat gain at all. Resistance exercise also helps, but is not mandatory for lean mass gains – even for middle-aged women.

5) Once your metabolism is great, your health is good, and your body composition is good – it’s time to switch to a satisfying, nutritious, well-rounded maintenance diet consisting of anything you want to eat as long as most of your diet is wholesome, and you can eat to appetite without fat gain, health problems, or a decrease in body temperature. The “high-everything-diet” would be great – a mixed diet with all the fats, protein, and carbohydrates you care to eat. This can include sugar, alcohol, caffeine, or whatever you want to try to get away with. The healthier you are, the more dietary liberty you will have to relax and enjoy along with the rest of society.

But the basic message of Joel Marion is very simple and potentially one of the greatest “tricks” for losing body fat known. The basic concept is that you cannot lose weight 7 days per week. If you do, you will run into a brick wall because of low-calorie intake’s effect on leptin. To sidestep that problem, you overeat – really overeat, one day per week. The more starch-centered this overfeeding is, the more you will raise insulin, and the more you raise insulin the more you raise leptin back to baseline, which negates the negative impact of low-calorie intakes all week long – not to mention gives you pronounced muscle growth.

Note, for fat loss, the “cheat” day concept only works if you lose 1-2 pounds of bodyfat during the week prior to the cheat day. This cannot really be monitored with a scale, as 2-pound weight loss doesn’t mean a 2-pound fat loss, so you will have to judge it based on how your clothes fit, muscle definition changes, appearance, etc. With the lean body mass gains that can come with it, the scale becomes even more useless, so don’t use it. You will know within a month whether you are getting leaner or not.

P.S. – The 180 Kitchen revision is still not quite wrapped up, and I’ve got a busy week this week so you may not see it released until next weekend.

P.S.S. – I will be appearing on the Underground Wellness Blogtalk radio show with Sean Croxton this Wednesday evening at around 6pm Pacific time if you’d like to listen. Should be a good one.


  1. Great blog post as always Matt! I find that I need to get reminded of all the different aspects of metabolism. It makes this process much more understandable, especially since I tend to forget key concepts from the eBooks constantly…. I love the concept of overfeeding only once a week. That sounds doable for a very, very long time.

    It's so interesting that leptin would rise so much more than fat levels during overfeeding. That's perhaps why it feels so good to overfeed? Leptin does stabilize things metabolically speaking so it probably also stabilizes things psychologically?

    It also explains why my weight plummeted once I started eating white rice and only wanted to eat 3 meals per day instead of 4 (cause it's not as yummy). My leptin levels were so high the fat just disappeared in no time (but possibly also lean mass was lost, not sure…). I hope to gain it back when I can tolerate potatoes again.

    Personally, I love doing an overfeeding day because I'm still too scared of the "cheat" day (as in eat sugary things that I crave) cause I'm convinced it will ruin my health and drag me down into my old nutritional addiction habits of daily refined high sugar bingeing….I'm still in that headspace even though I may not really be in that physical state anymore.

    Even now I fear following my cravings, even if it's only cravings for yoghurt and fruits. It freaks me out cause it awakens the inner monster that just wants more, more, more candy!!!!!!

    Question: Matt do you think that in theory, it might be possible for someone like me that has impaired metabolism, and who is allergic to dairy/casein, to heal the metabolism and then be able to tolerate casein in milk again? Ie can that type of allergy be "cured" by a healed metabolism or am I always looking at having to avoid dairy?

  2. I'd like to believe it's possible, and many people have become able to tolerate foods that they couldn't prior, but am not entirely sure.

    A thought that I've been mulling over lately that didn't quite make it into this post was that all of the healthy diets people pursue all cause a spontaneous decrease in calorie intake (whether low-carb, low-fat, Paleo, whole foods, fructose-free, etc.).

    While things seem great at first, over months the metabolism is fully shut down and all kind of health problems ensue – even if the diet is extremely nutritious and otherwise "perfect."

    Perhaps it really is all about calories when it comes to body composition and health, and the only way to lose weight is to take steps like periodic overfeeding to prevent adaptation (whether it's to a low-calorie chocolate diet or an extremely wholesome whole foods diet that inadvertenly causes people to decrease calorie intake).

    Who knows.

  3. Glad to hear that there is at least a chance to overcome dairy allergies. Here's to hoping.

    Yes, that's also a very interesting point you make about the fact that any diet, no matter what it looks like, tends to decrease calorie intake. I think it speaks to our society's addiction to "perfection", and to trying to hard – which you've written about in 180 Metabolism. It's also a key in the 180 concept, since the general societal ideals is that overeating is always bad. And cheating is even a negative word, as opposed to a "treat day". lol

  4. I think the distinction to heal the metabolism first is so important and needs to be hella emphasized. Because otherwise, this is a great way to get fat. Drastically restricting calories during the week and then binging on cookies once a week, when you can't stand it anymore, is how a lot of people (mainly women) live their lives every day. And they're certainly not getting healthier or thinner by doing so.

  5. Good one, Matt. Balancing overfeeding and underfeeding for fat loss is something I've been working on with some success lately. This is the first time in memory that I can control calories without misery, partly due to experimenting with Berkhan's approach of delaying breakfast on lower-calorie days. I'm taking a really moderate approach and am not worried about losing the fat fast. I try to time my higher calorie days with my workouts and will see how that affects fat loss/lean growth. So far I'm finding this a much more pleasant and sustainable approach than any I've every come across.

    I think it all really boils down to the "more is better" mentality. Every dieter thinks if they could just cut a few more calories, log a few more minutes on the treadmill, it will make the weight drop faster and they'll get results quicker. It's amazing how consistently this backfires and causes negative side effects.

  6. @Annabelle: Absolutely, right on the money. Anyone with a history of metabolic issues should be careful with underfeeding and shouldn't approach it at all until they've experienced some level of healing.

  7. Nailed it Annabelle, and I think Marion would agree wholeheartedly.

    He is talking about keeping a healthy metabolism from slowing down and triggering massive hunger and cravings.

    But if your entry point is in a state of reduced metabolism, massive hunger and cravings, binge eating, etc., fugeddaboudit.

    I will never forget to emphasize that healing takes place first, followed by very careful, intelligent, and patient approaches to fat loss while monitoring biofeedback and body temperature to make sure you are not screwing yourself trying to look better.

  8. Good post Matt. It's been weird not eating much meat lately as I've been trying to eat more potatoes, yams, corn tortillas, and rice. I find I'm a little more hungry as I need to eat more carbs than I'm used to but I'm still adjusting. My fat is pretty much just coming from a couple of eggs, a little bit of coconut oil, some butter, and some Ben & Jerry's ice cream every night.

  9. Follow-up to get the e-mails but it was weird, I did some pull-ups and pistols on Saturday and felt pretty weak/tired on Sunday. I keep having to tell myself that I don't need more 100g of protein.

  10. Interesting post, Matt, and it answers a lot of questions I've been having. And it also brings something to mind that I'd been wondering about for awhile . . . I feel a little embarassed bringing up the "French Women Don't Get Fat" diet here, where everybody seems so much more informed than me, but I went down from 172 lbs (at a height of 5-foot-nothing) to 115 lbs, a weight I was fairly happy with. No idea what my body composition was, but I think I looked good. Anyway, basically, you eat whatever you like to appetite, but you try to be aware of when you're reaching that point, and stop just in advance of it. You wait for your body's slightly delayed response that tells you you're full. That way, I guess, the calorie deficit comes not from eating below appetite, but from not inadvertantly overeating. There's a cheat day each week, and once you've lost the weight, your diet becomes extremely flexible. Anyway, I didn't gain the weight back until I moved back in with my parents after a divorce, got a stressful job, and started eating desserts every night to cope. Eventually, I decided to do the "French Women Don't Get Fat" diet again, and failed at it. The weight just wouldn't come off, no matter how little I ate.

    After following your blog for awhile, and seeing you and other people mention it in passing, I've lately realized that the one thing I forgot about that diet the second time around was the cheat day. Either I would never cheat, because I was just so frustrated at my weight gain, or every day was cheat day. :p I had begun to wonder if that was the main reason for failure, because overall I think my health is all right (though I've been seeing some not-so-good signs recently). Anyway, your post kinda confirms my ponderings, and it also really helped me to understand where you're headed with the high-carb/low-fat posts lately. Thanks, Matt! :)

  11. Great post, Matt!

    Now all I need to do, is try to figure out what this means for me.
    I've been eating high-carb/low-fat to appetite recently. But even though I'm "just" eating to appetite, I'm consuming a huge amount of taters. That's because working out pretty much doubles my hunger and I'm quite sure that the increased hunger makes me consume much more calories than I could possibly have burned in the gym, or at least that's what I think. So, I do not think that I'm in a calorie deficit or anything, but you seem to be consuming huge amounts of food throughout the week too and still incorporate a overfeeding day.

    So do you think this is something everyone should do? 1000 calories above maintenance? Man, I really have to start counting calories (not that it would be that difficult, 80% of my calroeis probably are from potatoes anyways.

  12. Will AKA Willrob! Original Will, sorry, when I log in with my google account it just says Will.


    way to delay your 180kitchen, now I'm not gonna have a clue how to eat or what, I'm going to get fat and go crazy. Thanks !! haha JK!

    I am in pretty good health regarding metabolism, eat a HED and maintain weight, composition etc. But I am looking to have some body re-composition. So here is my plan, let me know what you think.

    On my workout days which is a full body routine usually 2x week, 3 at most. I am going to overfeed on a bland diet of starchy foods, while trying to keep FAT minimal. Off days I will eat a HED minus the H, so a everything diet, but try to keep at my BMR number or slightly under, in hopes to burn fat. So roughly 5 diet days if you call MED (moderate everything diet) a diet, and training days will be an overfeed of high carbs (starchy) in line with MNP. Of course on weekends I can't be responsible for any off track actions I have such as a few beers or cheesecake.

    Great post as usual, keep it up! Looking forward to 180kitchen.

    Will AKA Willrob so the original Will doesn't get mad.

  13. Annabelle, are you from northern california? The word "hella" is typically used by us nor cal folks?

  14. No, I'm actually from Toronto. Maybe interacting with Americans all day is starting to rub off on me.

  15. Great post as usual Matt.

    I think that it's very important that you stress eating a high starch, low fat diet on your off days.

    While Joel's concept of having the off day is widely know and used in bodybuilding circles most just say to eat a lot of whatever you want.

    I'm not sure that it is such a good idea to eat low calorie during the week and then binge on Saturdays that are high in things like processed fructose, omega 6s such as vegetable oils, soy products, etc…etc…..A lot of products that people like to binge on are loaded with those things.

    Binging on such things will create an inflammatory storm in one's body, reducing leptin and insulin sensitivity further.

    For a lot of people undereating and then doing things to further reduce leptin and insulin sensitivity could be a recipe for disaster.

    Also I wonder if one day a week of high starch eating is enough to counterbalance the negatives of creating a calorie deficit whether through under eating or exercising more. Perhaps someone on this diet would still experience the negatives side effects, albeit a lot slower. For example on this diet maybe ones metabolism is at 60. During the deficit during the week it slowly goes down to 55. And then on the refeed day it goes back up to 59 but not 60. Then the next week it goes down to 54 during the deficit and on the refeed day goes up to only 58.

    Those numbers are just used as an example and have no real meaning, but the point is that their metabolism still slows down but just much slower than would otherwise occur with regular dieting.

    So perhaps it might be a good idea to also have an overfeed week, maybe every 4 to 6 weeks? You'll still have the weeks in between to lose your 1 to 2 pounds of body fat per week.


  16. Great post Matt!

    I'm wondering about a few things. If the overfeeding phase is about going into a calorie surplus of 1000 calories, how big are the deficits on the other days?

    Also, I've been trying to eat chicken breast with a bunch of potatoes for most of my meals (which is probably less than 10 grams of a fat in a day) but eventually I feel like I hit a wall. My mood becomes a bit angry, I have trouble sleeping, and skin/acne gets bad, I don't know if I just have to give it time to adapt to a very low fat diet or if I just need a minimum amount of fat like Lyle McDonald recommends or otherwise my hormones go out of whack.

    So I was thinking that the best way to do this would be to eat high fat (around 35-40% of calories) on calorie deficits days and then on the 1000 calorie surplus days eat less than 10 grams of fat. What do you think? Should protein be higher on the calorie deficit days as well?

  17. Thanks Steven,

    That is almost exactly what you see guys like Scott Abel practicing, but that's why I think monitoring biofeedback and body temperature help to make any kind of dieting foolproof (in case you do lose a "leptin point" in each cycle). It reveals what you are doing to yourself, and you know it's time to take a break before going another round.

    I also agree that Oreos and other junk aren't the best choices on the re-feed day. But the idea is to overconsume calories – the higher in starch the better. I have no real desire for Oreos right now, and you won't catch me pounding them on a refeed day. You will catch me eating a lot.


    I've heard of the heart attack grill, as Bruce suggested we have a 180 gathering there, but I had no idea how clever and elaborate that place is. Sheer genius. I think Berkhan and Furious Pete should go in there shirtless on their cheat day/training day.


    Perhaps. I definely know you can't expect to sprint for the lean finish line and hope to succeed. The question is, can 1 day of "cheating" per week overcome that?

    But ultimately I think the point is that if you consume fewer calories, you will lose weight. Whether you do that in a "healthy" or "unhealthy" way probably is water under the bridge. But the body isn't programmed to allow weight loss to continue unabated without making adjustments that make continued weight loss next to impossible. If overfeeding one day per week can rewrite the dieting storybook, then it is truly a powerful and vital element to any approach to better body composition – and health as well.

    If only I would have known about the importance of re-feeds like this when I started Schwarzbein years ago, I probably could have saved myself a whole heck of a lot of trouble. But hey, I learned a ton.


    That sounds like a great idea, and I like the "MED." Thanks for turning me onto Marion as well. Much appreciated. Marion won my heart when he showed a picture of a pizza in his promo eBook with a caption that said, "You like this."

  18. Rosenfelt-

    I dunno. You'll have to experiment with it. As far as calorie deficits are concerned, I don't count calories on normal days. I know that I HAVE to eat at least close to appetite to have any chance at sleeping or being sane. But based on what I've seen, my calorie deficits probably run around 500 calories per day. This is enough to lose about a pound of fat, and then with a re-feed that virtually guarantees no fat storage due to the low fat content, I gain a little muscle.

    I have been doing it kind of non-chalantly, because I hate structure, but I might be a little more consistent with it. I do have to track calories on overfeeding days – at least ballpark figures, or I won't come close to eating enough food. 4,000 calories of low-fat starch is an incredible amount of food.

  19. Madmuhh-

    I think it's something that everyone trying to lose fat should do to keep from running into negative metabolic adaptation to weight loss and calorie deficits.

    When you actually weigh out the amount of potatoes you need to eat in a day to overfeed by 1,000 calories – you'll see why I say that some will have to resort to pizza and cheesecake to ACTUALLY overfeed by 1,000 calories in a day. It is tough. Tougher than lifting weights to gain muscle that's for sure.

  20. Alright Matt, thanks!
    Guess, I'll introduce a refeed day, my parents will think I've gone crazy. We are buying sacks of potatoes like crazy already.

    But 1,000 calories, that a bit more than 1kg of potatoes. That seems totally doable to me. I would estimate that I eat almost 1kg of potatoes per meal, so simply adding a fourth meal might do the job, even though I'd rather try to somehow squeeze that into 3 meals, we'll see.
    I'm looking forward to it and am scared at the same time!

    Oh and P.S.: If my friends knew what amounts of food I'm consuming right now, their whole belief system would totally crash. They always make jokes about how I'm only eating a leaf of salad a day or some vegan food or whatever, because I'm a pretty small guy and well, try to eat a little healthier than my buddies.

  21. Thanks for the quick answer Matt. I understand it's a bit subjective to the person, but I was wondering, and you can give me an estimate since you probably aren't tracking, but how many grams of fat do you eat a day? Is the amount different on calorie deficit days and calorie surplus days?

    I ask because there is low fat and there is also very low fat, Kitavans ate about 20% of calories from fat but then lately as I've been eating less than 10 grams of fat a day thats 3-5 % of fat, so maybe that's too low?

  22. Just curious, but how much fat (% or grams) are you consuming right now?

  23. At one point you said eating a high-carb diet for weight loss (i.e. a lower calorie diet) is dangerous becuase it increases muscle losses.
    If I'm eating to appetite and very satisfied on high carb/low fat, can I be sure I'm not causing such damage? I'm just not sure I get enough calories by appetite alone– starch is filling when not refined! I do want to lose fat, but I'd like to retain muscle or even build it. I will practice the refeeding just in case I suppose?

  24. This post is very interesting to me. Back in 2005 when I was a DISASTER of an adrenal meltdown mess, my husband and I did Body for Life. (Seems I remember seeing it slammed around this blog, but I might be thinking of somewhere else.) Anyway, even though I was a mess and had to adjust a bit because of that, I lost weight, had GREAT body comp changes and I think may have even healed my adrenals to some extent…all while cutting calories and working out 6 days a week.

    I will admit that my cheat days were a train wreck. I used to get up early just to fit in more food, and the food wasn’t good. I was the queen of Oreos, pizza, ice cream and anything else really, really horrid that you can think of.

    I have considered going back to BfL it since gaining a ton of weight over the past couple years (with MUCH more nutritious refeed days), but was starting to think that maybe it wasn’t the best idea. Well, after seeing this, I think that once I get my metabolism healed, I might just head back in that direction to dump the excess 70 pounds I’m carrying around!

    Thanks for posting this, Matt!!

  25. @Selena: The high-carb diet is not a good combo with low-calorie if you're thinking in terms of percentages like 80-10-10. Eating those ratios on a low-calorie diet would definitely melt some lean mass if you stuck with it for a while. My personal take on it is that on low-calorie days it's important to get enough protein and at least some fat, too. Just for instance, if I'm taking in 100 grams of protein a day, on a high calorie day that's about 15% (for me). On a low-calorie days it's more like 25%, which would appear to be high protein but it's the same I would eat on any other day. So basically when you're varying caloric intake day to day, you're probably not going to have the same macro percentages every day.

  26. @Elizabeth-

    that makes sense. high calories=lower protein is ok, lower cals = higher protein needed. i won't count because it makes me crazy/neurotic but i can at least get the ratios somewhat in that ballpark.

  27. I like to eat pizza which contains no polyunsaturated veggie oils.

  28. This is interesting, as I had always thought low-carb diets led to less lean body mass losses than low-fat.

    This is the abstract of a 2004 study:

    Overweight and obese men and women (24–61 yr of age) were recruited into a randomized trial to compare the effects of a low-fat (LF) vs. a low-carbohydrate (LC) diet on weight loss. Thirty-one subjects completed all 10 wk of the diet intervention (retention, 78%). Subjects on the LF diet consumed an average of 17.8% of energy from fat, compared with their habitual intake of 36.4%, and had a resulting energy restriction of 2540 kJ/d. Subjects on the LC diet consumed an average of 15.4% carbohydrate, compared with habitual intakes of about 50% carbohydrate, and had a resulting energy restriction of 3195 kJ/d. Both groups of subjects had significant weight loss over the 10 wk of diet intervention and nearly identical improvements in body weight and fat mass. LF subjects lost an average of 6.8 kg and had a decrease in body mass index of 2.2 kg/m2, compared with a loss of 7.0 kg and decrease in body mass index of 2.1 kg/m2 in the LC subjects. The LF group better preserved lean body mass when compared with the LC group; however, only the LC group had a significant decrease in circulating insulin concentrations.


  29. @ anonymous,

    There are too many variables to control in studies like that to get a revealing result. Eating nuts/seeds is a common recommendation for going low carb, which of course is negative. Mineral intake is an important consideration as well. I've seen a study where low-calorie diets were compared, and carb+protein was better than only protein (for maintaing muscle mass), but not when subjects were given salt and a potassium supplement.

  30. That's fascinating! and good point, there's just no way to account for every possible factor influencing the human body.

  31. That's fascinating! and good point, there's just no way to account for every possible factor influencing the human body.

  32. Anyway, of course it would be nice to eat whatever you wanted, but I think it is a good idea to still be somewhat restrictive (in terms of quality) when overeating. Avoiding vegetable oils and corn syrup is a good start, but even "sugar" as in haagen daaz makes me breakout. I'm currently trying to figure out if fruit does as well. I think once the metabolism is running well, fat plus carbs should still not cause noticeable fat gain. I put lots of cream or butter or coconut oil on sweet potatoes and consume lots of coconut milk dishes and never gain fat.

  33. To add to that, rats fed a high fat diet that following a standard (whatever that means) diet don't gain weight, but rats fed a high fat diet following a high fructose diet do gain weight…

  34. "To add to that, rats fed a high fat diet that following a standard (whatever that means) diet don't gain weight, but rats fed a high fat diet following a high fructose diet do gain weight…"

    So what, John? If we are thinking of the same study, the rats where fed 60% percent fructose diet for four weeks (I think). That study proved absolutely nothing!

    By the way, I can't believe that people cite that worthless piece-of-crap study when they are looking –perhaps "grasping" is a better word– for evidence that fructose "causes" leptin resistance. When people quote that ungodly ill-designed study, I want to ask them what animal eats that much fructose in nature? The truth is, there is no way a natural, whole foods diet could contain that much fructose; even honey, one of the most natural fructose-laden foods that can be found, contains "only" 53 to 54% fructose by calorie. And rats don't eat honey! Some rats eat a little fruit, which contain anywhere from 20% to 45% fructose by calorie, but fruit is never their complete diet. My point is: No rat eats 60% percent fructose in their diet. Hence, by that consideration alone, that study is not worth the time of day or the taxpayer dollars spent on it. And to I haven't even addressed the other gaping flaws in that study; maybe later.

  35. Er…I left the word think out of my last sentence, it should read: And to think…etc.

  36. On second thought, there is ONE thing that study demonstrated: Rats fed ungodly unnatural amounts of fructose develop leptin resistance. Big whoop, who cares?; it has no practical implications for everyday life.

  37. What is your main point? Are you saying polyunsaturated fat consumption is the only bad dietary choice?

    To me the study says that if somebody (human or rat) is healthy, eating fat plus carbs won't make that person unhealthy and/or fat, assuming good quality.

    I didn't say anything about fructose and health other than it makes me breakout. You're inferring incorrectly…

  38. "You're inferring incorrectly…"

    That's hilarious coming from someone whose response to me is to ask if I am "saying polyunsaturated fat consumption is the only bad dietary choice?" when there is nothing in what I wrote to suggest that I think that.

    John, the stuff I wrote about that study wasn't addressed to you specifically, as indicated by the phrase "By the way," sorry if that wasn't clear. It was something that I have wanted to address about that study for a while now, and when you mentioned it, the opportunity presented itself.

    And based on your comment:"To add to that, rats fed a high fat diet that following a standard (whatever that means) diet don't gain weight, but rats fed a high fat diet following a high fructose diet do gain weight… " it seems that you where talking about more than just how fructose makes you breakout, considering that the study mentioned nothing about rat acne!

  39. Cycle diets can be good for some people and bad for others, it just depends on the individual. You will have to be very strict consistently during the under eating phase, or you will just get fatter. If you have emotional issues with food, or a history of eating disorders, or digestion issues, the binge could be a problem.

    You people need to discover for yourself what works best for YOU. Some do better on low fat, some low carb, and some on a mixed approach.

    It seems like the problem with most of the people here is that they can't find BALANCE! Constantly going from one extreme diet to another will just keep you unbalanced and your body unadapted to any type of diet.

  40. Matt,

    So what are you recommending now?

    Is it basically low calorie Schwarzbein with a high starch, low fat re-feed once a week?

  41. @ DML,

    I just asked if you thought that.

    Just because there are shortcomings of studies does not mean they're useless. It's about proper interpretation.

    I never said rats and humans have the same metabolism. All I said was that healthy animals don't get fat/sick from quality/traditional diets, even if they consist of carbs plus fat.

  42. so to unstuff your fat belly, you fill it full of double stuffs.
    Maybe I missed something…….
    did ya miss me Matt?

  43. It's crazy how things can go full circle.

    Touting my pro starch viewpoint, I am encountering paleo dogma akin to that of vegans and raw foodists.

    I got into a dialogue where the blogger ended up censoring me, stopping the conversation and telling me that I need to do more research about how "H-Gs and pastoralists are lean, muscular, and athletic, while farmers universally suffered terrible health."

    I cited how sprinting athletes universally eat a lot of starch, and he said Usain Bolt is not evidence because he would be a world record holder regardless of what he ate'.

    The link is here:

    This makes me angry because this dogmatist told me I am ignorant then told me I couldn't talk about the subject anymore.

  44. The way some paleo people are, I swear, what are they even doing on a computer? Hunter-gatherers definitely didn't have them…

  45. John,

    You said:" I never said rats and humans have the same metabolism. All I said was that healthy animals don't get fat/sick from quality/traditional diets, even if they consist of carbs plus fat."

    If you actually read the study here:, you will see that both the rats that ate the fructose free diet (FFD) and the rats on the high fructose diet (HFD) gained weight. The only difference was the amount of weight they gained. The FFD group gained 30.4 ± 5.8 g while the HFD group gained 50.2 ± 2 g. This was a result, as the study discusses, of the leptin resistance induced in the HFD group.

    Hence, this poorly designed piece-of-crap doesn't actually demonstrate that "healthy" animals "wont get fat" eating a high fat diet with carbs, as you claimed.

    However, I must apologize for something: I was misunderstanding the point you were trying to make. Mea culpa! Nonetheless, the points I have made thus far still stand.

    Note: Another problem with the study, aside from the ridiculously unnatural amount of fructose fed to the rats, is the researches made no effort to control the nutritional status of the rats in terms of vitamins and minerals. There is no getting around the fact that the fructose component of the diet was nutritionally void compared the group fed the corn starch (see study for reference.) Animal nutritionists have known for a long time that nutritional deficiencies wreak havoc with an animals hormonal balance and response. It is pitiful indeed to see so many people quote this study and ignore its numerous pitfalls.

  46. DML,
    I know the study you are talking about. It actually says nothing about fructose and it's effects. The fructose from the experiment is derived from corn starch. So it is no natural fructose and contains polymetric substances that have some toxic effects which are probably responsible for the results of the fructose group.

    HFCS and Sugar from fruits or even the normal table sugar are two completely different things.
    What people including Matt do not acknowldge is that what is responsible for the american obesity epedemic is not sugar it's the high fructose corn syrup.

    Here is something Ray Peat wrote me some time ago:

    "In animal studies, they use extreme amounts of a fairly pure fructose, but when they talk about humans, they are usually thinking of "high fructose corn syrup," which contains a little more fructose than glucose, but also a significant amount of a poorly defined mixture of starch-derived polymeric substances. There is practically no fructose as such in the american diet, and huge amounts of corn-derived carbohydrate material.* The actual carbohydrate content of the corn sweeteners, according to Wahjudi, et al., is much higher than the "fructose" content. The non-fructose, non-glucose content of corn syrup undoubtedly has some toxic effects, besides its caloric value, that have simply been ignored. US medicine and medical nutrition are thoroughly cult-like, and they are very reluctant to talk about the political economic factors responsible for poor health."

    FASEB Journal 2010 PN Wahjudi
    Carbohydrate Analysis of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) Containing Commercial Beverages
    Paulin Nadi Wahjudi1, Emmelyn Hsieh1, Mary E Patterson2, Catherine S Mao2 and WN Paul Lee1,2
    1 Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, Torrance, CA
    2 Pediatric, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA
    The carbohydrate analysis of HFCS is based on methods which first hydrolyze the syrup into simple sugars before quantitative analysis. We have examined whether HFCS can be hydrolyzed under the same conditions suitable for hydrolyzing sucrose. A new GC/MS method for the quantitation of fructose and glucose as their methoxyamine derivatives and 13C labeled recovery standards was used to determine the carbohydrate content of HFCS in 10 commercial beverages. Samples were analyzed before and after acid hydrolysis. The carbohydrate contents in commercial beverages determined without acid hydrolysis were in agreement with the carbohydrate contents provided on the food labels. However, the carbohydrate contents of beverages determined after acid hydrolysis were substantially (4–5 fold) higher than the listed values of carbohydrates. As fructose and glucose in HFCS may exist as monosaccharides, disaccharides and/or oligosaccharides, analysis of the carbohydrate content of HFCS containing samples may yield widely different results depending on the degree of hydrolysis of the oligosaccharides. With inclusion of mild acid hydrolysis, all samples showed significantly higher fructose and glucose content than the listed values of carbohydrates on the nutrition labels. The underestimation of carbohydrate content in beverages may be a contributing factor in the development of obesity in children.

  47. Matt, I think you are saying that we can do a "diet" that works for us, although you prefer high starch. This can work as long as you don't go crazy cutting calories and have a high calorie day each week also incorporate modrate exercise. Is this the basic premise? For me the goal is to be HEALTHY but also to lose some of my weight (30lbs), not fast but maybe over the course of a year or so without gaining more. Can I get my body temp up without eating 1000's of calories of potatoes or gaining 15 more pounds? Can I do that with moderate exercise wich I don't do now?

  48. Great post, as always, Matt! I wonder if limited sweet eating would provide the same function. Within a KISS wholefood diet(probably calorie deficit due to 'carbohydrate drift'-I never counted calories)I was able to maintain a stable body weight without conscious control, and I wondered how much calorie packed sugar could bump you up the few calories to stop the body going into starvation mode. More mysterious is how would my body know how to regulate sugar intake (eg I ate sugar to demand)to these exacting requirements?

  49. Hi everyone i just got a blood sugar moniter through free-cycle. I know absolutely zilch on bs. Any tips on when to take it, what are good readings etc etc appreciated

  50. Selena-

    I think Anthony Colpo does a pretty decent review of all the diet studies that have been done comparing fat and lean losses on high-carb vs. low-carb. The general consensus is that low-carb causes less lean losses. I know my experiences with it, I actually grew muscle at first while presumably in a calorie deficit.

    But my long-term experiences with it suggest to me that it is not that healthy, and is a dead end, regardless of whatever short-term effects it has.

    You can definitely preserve or even gain muscle on a high-carb diet low in calories though – if you re-feed and do resistance exercise. I have had no lean losses.

    As for my fat intake, it varies from day to day, but in general I'm really enjoying cleaning the pipes so-to-speak with a very low fat intake most days. Some days I may go as low as 20 grams of fat, some days as high as 100 grams, and averaged out probably 40-60 grams per day.


    You're cracking me up. Actually, anything that raises triglycerides too high will induce both insulin and leptin resistance. The danger with excessive fructose – whether it's from fruit juice, sucrose, or high-fructose corn syrup (we had an obesity epidemic long before HFCS), is that fructose activates acyl-CoA in the liver, which induces greater fatty acid synthesis in the liver.

    This doesn't happen when glycogen stores aren't overloaded, such as when eating to appetite, in calorie deficit, after hard exercise, or first thing in the morning after a fasting period.

    But it certainly happens when you combine overfeeding with a high-fructose intake (Spurlock), which is reversed when starch is substituted for sugar. McDougall-doggy-dogg can tell you all about that.

    Alcohol has the same effect, promoting triglyceride synthesis in the liver which induces insulin and leptin resistance.

    But again, this is only activated in calorie surplus.

    However, refined sources of sugar promote greater calorie intakes. HFCS promotes far more calorie consumption than white sugar because it is in liquid form (known to increase calorie consumption) and sweeter (known to increase calorie consumption).

  51. Matt,
    I doubt that Spurlock got fat because of sugar. I also doubt that McDonalds in America is even using sugar anymore. I assume they completely subsituted it for HFCS.
    The point is: Everybody who eats approx. 75g-100g of PUFA a day like Spurlock did will get fat, no matter if he eats starch or sugar.

    Sugar doesn't raise non-esterfied fatty acids. And those are the bad guys. It raises tryglicerides only if needed.
    If Fructose made you fat how come the banana girl looks almost anorexic? Every fruitarian I have seen including those who eat protein and fat together with it are very lean.
    This is because Fructose especially from sugar raises metabolism. HFCS does not. As the study I posted suggests this is because of it's toxic substances

    When you say that excessive fructose is a problem than this is just wrong.
    You remember what Lustig says in "Sugar the bitter truth"?
    During his presentation he shows all those diagrams which show that people who consume lots of refined sugar/HFCS products become fat.
    But than there is this one study which shows that there is no correlation between obesity and orange juice. This is because orange juice contains sugar and no HFCS. I forgot how he tried to explain away this fact but one could clearly see that it was really bothering him because it doesn't fit into his cult.

    You can eat 200g of fructose from fruits every day for a year togehter with other things and not get fat.

  52. Madmuhh:

    I've known Irishmen that could eat five pounds of potatoes in a single meal. Go for it!

    Gabriel: Yeah, the dogmatists are quite hilarious. Some universally unfit farmers should get together and kick paleonerd ass. Seriously stupid assertion. There were plenty of farmers among WAP groups of healthy people.

  53. Jannis I haven't consumed HFCS in over ten years. I'm very careful, even a bit paranoid about it. I find that I am still sensitive to fructose from raw honey, fruit and table sugar. I eat a lot of it, my allergies kick in, my skin gets zitty and it happens pretty quickly. I'm still hoping to heal this problem. Matt has suggested that possibly eating a lot of fruit on its own as a "meal" might be the answer. I appreciate that Matt is trying to fix this sensitivity. I don't think Matt has ever said fruit is evil any more than he has said wheat is evil. My metabolism still isn't perfect. My basal temps aren't quite there yet, so I'm hoping when my metabolism is fixed, I can add fruit back in.

  54. Jannis,
    Interesting points about fructose. I will need to re-watch Lustig's video. He may be falling in the same boat as Gary Taubes: lambasting the lipid hypothesis and then focusing on the evil macronutrient.

    One question I did have about fructose… I thought it always converted first to triglycerides, so an excess should be avoided for that reason. But it sounds like, same as with starch, that is not true.

    Actually, this was one of my main remaining hangups with reintroducing carbs in general. The whole carbs->triglycerides->VLDL->LDL scenario. But I think as we're pointing out here, that's not necessarily true.

  55. @Jennythenipper:
    Five pounds, not that certainly wouldn't fit on a single plate anymore (I developed the silly habit of trying to stuff my entire meal on one single plate, which often causes food falling off the plate and me having to be very careful when moving the plate. I dunno why I do this, I guess I'm just stupid).

    Anyways, I might actually mainly go for rice on my overfeeding days, just because I think that will be easier to digest. We'll see.

  56. After reading the recent blog posts here (plus comments) and the MNP site I think I have arrived at one of those AHA moments!! Just wondering if I have picked things up correctly:

    1. Provided glycogen stores are not full, over-feeding on carbohydrates will cause very little fat gain (but any fat consumed will be stored).

    2. Over-feeding on carbs increases protein accretion significantly (27%) (i.e. muscle gain).

    3. A low-carb diet in conjunction with weight training will rapidly deplete muscle glycogen stores.

    4. A low-carb/moderate protein diet in conjunction with weight training is excellent for preserving muscle tissue when in calorie deficit.

    5. Short periods of low calorie dieting will have very little impact on leptin levels/metabolism provided they are followed by periods of over-feeding.

    6. Over-feeding (HED or High Carbs) will help increase body temperature.


    By eating a high carb/moderate protein/very low fat diet (say 750 kCal above-maintenance) for a few days followed by one or two days of low carb/moderate protein dieting (say 750 kCal below-maintenance) to deplete glycogen and remove any deposited fat we should see a gain in muscle, a loss of fat and an increase in body temperature!

    Repeating this cycle numerous times will result in a significant improvement in body composition. Weight training will help significantly.

    Sounds too good to be true but I will have to give it a try. Please let me know if my AHA moment makes sense of if it will become another Boo-hoo moment!!

  57. sounds like we came to the same conclusions daidL however i have a feeling it might be a ticket to gaining fat as well…i dunno opinions are so varied.

    i just dont think i would be down with having to worry so much about the macro stuff… nor do i find a lowfat diet at all appetizing, but this may be because i starved myself for like 6 years

    btw here's some low fat tips i do know about
    -cook rice & potatos in veggie broth…good flavor
    - pick up a bunch of ethnic spices/pastes/hot sauces
    - tomato or broth based sauces
    - cook with potato flour
    - rice cakes?
    - thick dips with O% geek yogurt(has a lot of protein though)

  58. Thanks Jenny. Yeah. Farmers are some of the healthiest people I've ever met!

  59. AaronF,
    As I understand it fructose is converted mostly to palmitic acid which is one of the most saturated fatty acids on earth. Coconut oil for example contains palmitic acid in large quantities. palmitic acid has som very good effects such as stimulating metabolism, destroying bad gut bacteria and so on. Basically all the beneficial effects coconut oil has.
    That is only one reason why sucrose is good. The fats which are made from it are highly saturated!

    Lustig behaves rather like a priest than a scientist. Demonizing sugar has become his lifework and there is no way you can convince him of the contrary. Guys like him are dangerous and the reason why science today is highly corrupt and misleading.

  60. Aaugh! As Charlie Brown would say. I had a much longer, more detailed post typed up, there was a glitch in the system, and it was forever lost to the cosmos.

    Here is the abbreviated version:


    I am aware of the explanation you gave for how fructose might cause insulin/leptin resistance. However, where is the actual evidence? All I have ever seen are studies the demonstrate association, not cause and effect.

    My points regarding the study still stand. It is irrelevant because it uses an unnaturally high amount of fructose, and it ignores the nutritional status of the rats.

    The researchers obviously had a hypothesis to confirm, otherwise they would not have used such an absurdly high amount of fructose (I defended this in more detail in my post –the one lost to the cosmos ; ).

  61. Jannis,

    Where did you get the information that the rat study used fructose derived from corn starch? I don't doubt it, but as far as I can tell, the researchers never stated in their paper where the fructose came from.

  62. malpaz – thanks for the tips, I'm finding it very difficult/bland over-eating on very low fat. I am trying to get 3000kCal per day(approx 2500 from Carbs) and attempting to keep sugars low.

    I was also staying off wheat but have decided to start eating bread as it is an easy source of complex carbs. I have never had a problem with wheat but everyone seems to think it causes problems! I've noticed no changes since re-introducing it.

    I am also going pretty low in calories on my carb depletion days (approx 1200 calories).

    This approach seems very like that suggested by Martin Belkhan at LeanGains (without the restricted feeding window).

  63. DML – a bit late but heres a quick tip I try to remember to use:

    Always press Ctrl+A followed by Ctr+C to copy all your text to the clipboard before submitting it. If the server goes tits up you can always paste it into a new post.

  64. DavidL said: "I have never had a problem with wheat but everyone seems to think it causes problems! I've noticed no changes since re-introducing it."

    Gotta agree with you there. I've never had a notable problem with wheat, but I reduced my intake drastically to see if I could reap any benefits. Didn't notice anything special to be honest. Now I've been eating wheat several times a week or even every day sometimes, and my health isn't failing yet. ;)

    One thing I still do, though, is vary my sources of carbs. I do rice, potatoes, corn and some wheat, oats and quinoa, too. A couple years ago I'm sure about 90% of my carbs came from wheat! Now I figure there's no reason for me to bombard my system with gluten even if I don't seem to have an intolerance.

  65. Has anyone any ideas on how to tell if glycogen stores are full?
    I've just checked my postprandial glucose after 200g of carbs (my 3rd day on high carbs, 3rd meal of the day) and it seems even lower than on day 1! I assume that if glycogen stores were getting full glucose would be elevated as lipogenesis (DNL) would take time kicking in after a meal.

    Elizabeth – glad to hear that I'm not seen as a leper for eating wheat! Do you soak your quinoa and oats? If so what technique do you use?

  66. Jannis,

    I found your information on the benefits of palmitic acid interesting.

    However the research I've seen shows that palmitic acid causes both leptin and insulin resistance.

    Here is an interesting article in the Journal of Clinical Investigation showing just that.

    I'm still investigating this so any information you have to share otherwise I would be interested in hearing.


  67. Without having seen the study..I doubt that palmitic acid has any negativ effects. Coconutoil ,which is rich in palmitic acid, is known to reduce weight, increase metabolism and to have many other benefits. Matt once talked about that in one of his ezines, by the way. People who live in the Pacific, South East Asia and India have known the benefits of coconut oil for hundrets of years.

    I've just had a quick look at the study. I think it's worth mentioning that not only the rats on high sat. fat diet had those results but also the ones that were fed a high oleic fat diet. So the results show that probably every kind of fat in this study would have produced the effect. Like in almost every other study on fat the study design was probably poor and unrealistic. I assume the control group on the low fat diet received far less calories than the group on the high fat diet.

    There is a study were rats were fed coconut oil. Rats were fed either a high unsaturated fat or a high saturated fat diet.
    The rats in the high sat group ate considerably more than the other group. Yet they were lean and lived longer than the other rats which became obese and died prematurely. This is because of the toxic effects of the PUFA.

    I can't find the abstract right now but will try to find it for you.

  68. David, how many carb depleted days are your having?
    More low carb days than high carb or vise versa? What do your workouts look like?
    What about your macros?

    cant say i can join the wheat bandwagon, i stayaway from the stuff, as well as coconut oil and fructose

  69. DavidL: I don't always soak my oats and quinoa, but I do at times. It basically depends on whether or not I feel like it. ;)

    My method is pretty simple: basically I put the dry grains in a pot and cover them in filtered water. Then I stir in a tablespoon or so of whey (buttermilk, yogurt, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar works, too) and leave it to sit overnight. In the morning (or whenever I cook it) I drain off the soaking water and use new water for cooking. That greatly reduces the sour taste that accompanies soaked grains–my family hates that taste, but usually this works for us.

  70. Davidl,
    No need to make it so complex man. You wont need and don't need to measure when your glycogen stores are full. Your point #4 is not true for a lot of people. Low carb dieting strips muscle off of me faster than anything, even when I am weight training. But, when you are low calorie, you will need more protein or you will lose muscle. If you go really low carb on the low calorie days and then have huge spikes of high starch low fat, then you are just asking for a big hypoglycemic episode because your body is not prepared for it, it has adapted to one type of eating and then you throw something else at it all of a sudden.

    What makes you think this is the ticket to gaining fat? Don't you want to gain weight?

  71. Matt,

    I agree with Jannis. Spurlock did not even come close to proving that sugar was the problem. He ate a ton of PUFAs which were probably the real problem. He ate mostly HFCS not sucrose. He ate a ton of starch and a high fat, high carb, high calorie diet which is the best for making someone fat.

    I bet the results would have been completely different if he didn't eat the PUFA soaked fries, and replaced the calories with more soda, especially if it was made from real sugar.

  72. It's funny to me how all these claims being made in defense of refined sugar promise the exact opposite of what I experienced during my final years of gorging myself on it everyday.

    Sugar raises metabolism! Sugar fights bad bacteria! What next? Sugar prevents tooth decay, acne, and myopia?

    Wish I knew all that when I was eating enough sugar daily to put Ray Peat to shame, and my metabolism crashed and yeast overtook a third of the skin on my trunk. I was calorie-unrestricted and fairly low-PUFA too. I guess the solution was to eat more sugar?

    Anyone can get away with eating fake food for a few years. I did. But who can point me to a culture consuming large amounts of refined sugar everyday, with perfect health from birth until death? Anyone?

  73. For all the Ray Peat fans:

    Does Peat actually recommend large amounts of sugar? I've read most of Peat's online articles, but I'll admit it's a lot to take in. However, what I've seen of his dietary advice is not really laden with refined sugar at all. More like normal meals with meat, potatoes, broth (or gelatin-based sauce), and coconut oil; plus milk and fruit for snacks. And ice cream at times if you like, and sugar in your coffee. Is this accurate or have I missed something?

  74. Mike-

    Thanks. I agree that refined sugar's association with modern disease, common sense, and observation all make the pro-sugar stance something that has a very low chance at being foolproof. And yes, Lustig may be a "dangerous man" as he is a crusader that is a little too sure of himself and his theories. I wonder why he says that fruit juice is worse than refined sugar so adamantly?


    Your points about the rat studies are totally valid. I wasn't criticizing that, just pointing out that over-activation of acyl-CoA, which triggers accelerated formation of triglyceride, is something that is well-known to induce insulin and leptin resistance. When fructose and calories are both high, this induces increased de novo lipogenesis, which is performed by increased activation of acyl-CoA. Rats that don't produce acyl-CoA have higher metabolic rates, greater physical activity, and no leptin and insulin resistance.

    Starch overfeeding induces a minimal and almost insignificant increase in De novo lipogenesis, if any increase at all. But since fructose is processed in the liver, if glycogen is full and fructose hits the liver, it is converted, not to more glucose obviously, but to fat that can be stored. Straight studies showing where starch was traded for sugar showed instant cessation of de novo lipogenesis. However, when glycogen stores are not full, fructose is unlikely to get converted to fat but used as glucose.


    That is basically the theory and program of Rob Faigin, but Faigin just recommends 1 meal twice per week of high-starch overfeeding, which is not enough to get any real muscle gains from starch overfeeding.

    I also think JT is right in that cycling carbs can be really tough and induce a lot of blood sugar instability and post carb food comas from big blood sugar spikes. On a starch-based diet, the body does not just start converting excess starch to fat, but converts excess starch to heat and energy. So I don't think you need to worry about glycogen depletion. In fact, all in all, glycogen depletion is quite a stress and, even though it all sounds good in theory, is really damn hard. Brutal. At least I think so.

    But then again, so is starch overfeeding. It's certainly a case of easier said than done.

  75. Elizabeth-

    In general no he doesn't. But people I know who have consulted with him were told to eat a pint of ice cream per day and at least a quart of orange juice.


    Thanks for your Paleo comment. I'm actually thinking about doing a guest blog post for a blogger friend entitled something like "Adios Paleo," pointing out the many flaws in their logic, inconsistencies, and how half is built around what is pure fantasy about our ancestors. The more I think about it, the more I realize that Paleo nutrition is one of the biggest slabs of counterproductive pseudo-science out there – in any field.

  76. Elizabeth,
    Peat prefers fruit sugars over sucrose, but sucrose is better than starch.

    I agree with you on the Paleo. This fantasy needs to be put to rest before it harms more people.

  77. JT-

    I know how you feel about Paleo, and your thoughts about it are dead on. I hope to make ya proud with the post I do on it. I'm just excited to be done with circular masturdebates about traditional and ancestral human diets, instead looking into the simple fundamentals of how food affects human physiology without the limitations and constraints of paleo beliefs or speculation about various traditional diets.

  78. malpaz – I have been graduating towards higher carb over the past few weeks and for the past few days (after reading MNP) have been aiming for 3000 kcal (approx 2500 from carbs) but am finding it difficult getting all the calories in.

    I have no real health/digestion problems but my body temperature is low – rarely above 97F. I am not too overweight but have always been soft/flabby (skinny/fat) so my main aim is body re-composition.

    I have been weight training quite hard for the last 2 months using a full body 5×5 routine ( but am a bit disappointed with the results and have changed to more volume & lighter weight (2-day split routine).

    I am planning to overfeed (hi-carb) on my lifting days (mon,tues,thurs,fri) and under-feed (low/moderate carb after Matt & JTs comments) the other days. I train early morning so have all day to replenish stores.

    I only finalized my routine today after the "science" finally clicked and have spent this evening putting together a spreadsheet to help get the diet right (I promised myself I would never do this again after my Tom Ventuo BFFM days 5 years ago but its just for a few days as hi-carb is new to me).

    John Bernardi uses the term "G-Flux" (energy flux). I see this plan as "Glycogen-Flux" i.e. Maximising the throughput of muscle glycogen – hopefully drawing protein into the muscle with the glycogen then removing the glycogen, ready for the next influx – probably a bit simplistic but seems to fit with what I've seen elsewhere.

  79. Matt,

    "Your points about the rat studies are totally valid. I wasn't criticizing that, just pointing out that over-activation of acyl-CoA, which triggers accelerated formation of triglyceride, is something that is well-known to induce insulin and leptin resistance."

    Matt, can you point me in the direction some good studies that demonstrate this, please? Most studies on this that I have read have been rather unconvincing to me, suffering from, once again, being ill-designed or using improper statistical methods and confidence levels.


    I hate to pester you with the same question, but where did you find the information regarding the source of fructose in the rat study?


    Thank you so much for the tip! I'll have to remember that.


    I think this study spells out how central triglyceride production is to leptin and insulin resistance, and how DGAT1 and DGAT2 are not just the primary catalysts of triglyceride synthesis, but the only known catalysts of mammalian triglyceride synthesis.

    Another interesting connection is that in NAFLD, it is well-known that acyl-coA is increased. The connections between fructose and NAFLD and hypertriglyceridemia are no secret. Granted, PUFA intake is a factor.;45/5/1012

  81. Hello Matt

    Starch overfeeding induces a minimal and almost insignificant increase in De novo lipogenesis, if any increase at all."

    Is this your conclusion from the Tracy Horton et al paper which Veganmaster provides in his detailed analysis, or do you have another study ?

    I find this very interesting.

    Thank you.


  82. Here are some of the starch-meister's references – McDougall doggy dogg himself…

    5) Hellerstein MK. De novo lipogenesis in humans: metabolic and regulatory aspects. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999 Apr;53 Suppl 1:S53-65.

    6) Acheson KJ, Schutz Y, Bessard T, Anantharaman K, Flatt JP, Jequier E. Glycogen storage capacity and de novo lipogenesis during massive carbohydrate overfeeding in man. Am J Clin Nutr. 1988 Aug;48(2):240-7.

    7) Minehira K, Bettschart V, Vidal H, Vega N, Di Vetta V, Rey V, Schneiter P, Tappy L. Effect of carbohydrate overfeeding on whole body and adipose tissue metabolism in humans. Obes Res. 2003 Sep;11(9):1096-103.

    8) McDevitt RM, Bott SJ, Harding M, Coward WA, Bluck LJ, Prentice AM. De novo lipogenesis during controlled overfeeding with sucrose or glucose in lean and obese women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Dec;74(6):737-46

    9) Dirlewanger M, di Vetta V, Guenat E, Battilana P, Seematter G, Schneiter P, JÇquier E, Tappy L. Effects of short-term carbohydrate or fat overfeeding on energy expenditure and plasma leptin concentrations in healthy female subjects. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2000 Nov;24(11):1413-8.)

    10) McDevitt RM, Bott SJ, Harding M, Coward WA, Bluck LJ, Prentice AM. De novo lipogenesis during controlled overfeeding with sucrose or glucose in lean and obese women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Dec;74(6):737-46

    11) Danforth E Jr. Diet and obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 1985 May;41(5 Suppl):1132-45.

    12) Hellerstein MK. No common energy currency: de novo lipogenesis as the road less traveled. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Dec;74(6):707-8.

    13) Tappy L. Metabolic consequences of overfeeding in humans. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2004 Nov;7(6):623-8.

  83. It will be adios paleo when they all start getting CV disease from their huge fat intakes

  84. Thanks Matt

    This will keep me quiet for a while!!


  85. I remember being confused about this when I was actually losing weight. I was eating lots of carbs in the form of raw fruits, raw veggies, cooked veggies and grains/pasta. I ate meat and eggs/fat 2-3 times a week. 70% of my daily food intake was raw. I would stay on track all week, and then on Sunday I would just eat whatever my mom had cooked (big after church southern family meal) The next day I would check my weight and I would have lost again. I assumed taking a break from the diet somehow helped it along.

    Total I lost about 35lbs in 4 months, lost about 2 clothing sizes, but, I was still flabby and not toned though I did moderate exercise. Then I became pregnant and once morning sickness ensued, that diet was history. Consequently, my baby was born with trisomy 9, and I wonder if it had to do with a lack of nutrients during those early weeks. (raw food is good for you, but babies need fat and protein too!) I was never able to go back to that eating plan again- it was just too hard and I was starving all the time. I wonder if my metabolism just crashed after the scary pregnancy and birth…

  86. @Will (WillRob) not mad at all my friend…I actually changed my name to "The Real Will". That should differentiate us with such a fine name, LOL!

    Matt, that my have been me…I remember emailing you info about Joel because of his leptin info. There are too many of us Will's to keep track of, LOL!!!!

  87. Hey Matt and JT,

    I'm curious to see your reasoning behind calling paleo pseudoscience. I don't actively avoid grains, beans or dairy these days, but I don't think doing so is dangerous at all. And as much as farmers today might be healthier than the average Joe, from my years as an archeology and anthropology students, it's not true that farmers are universally healthier than foragers. Far from it. Now, maybe there are alternate reasons why we see the preciptious drop in health after the initial adoption of grain agriculture, and if so, I'd like to hear your take on it. But there are many good reasons to look at the beginning of agriculture as certainly a milestone and something that changed the trajectory of human development away from health in at least some respects.

    It sounds like your beef is with macronutrient intakes- high fat generally, rather than high carb, but that's not at all indicative of the paleo principle, just teh application of it. You can eat 75, 95% crabs from tubers, and never go near beans or grains. So again, not that I'm an active paleo identifier, but I think the arguments are in many ways sound, and deserve less casual dismissal than I'm reading in your words. Be eager to hear back, maybe in that guest article coming up Matt.

  88. Mike Jones,
    I wasn't talking about refined sugar. But even refined sugar is not as bad as some people want us to believe. I think refinde starch especially flour is much much worse than refined sugar. I only have to eat white flour one time and I get a nasty gums inflamation. That doesn't happen with sugar. I can eat all the high quality ice cream in the world without having any problems.

    I think refined wheat is probably what caused your yeast infection.
    I know some guys that cured their yeast infection or morbus crohn with a SCD diet which allows only simple sugars from fruit, honey and vegetables.

    The problem is that people eat highly artifical diets with things like coke, cookies, donoughts, pastries, cakes and so on. All the stuff that is full of PUFA, HFCS and refined flour.
    And then they listen to some douchebag who is whinning about how evil sugar is in his presantation and believe that all their problems are caused by sucrose.

  89. Great stuff as ever here.

    Matt: why don't you debate/interview Ray Peat for a guestpost? I'm pretty sure he'd be keen to do it, he's so responsive to inquiries, does radio interviews and wanted to debate Mary Enig on EFAs a few years ago. It would be a real event.



  90. Hey Guys,
    I just wanted to echo Rob A.'s comments. The current thinking in Paleo world is more about what to avoid rather than what to eat. What to avoid: PUFAs, Grains (rice and corn aren't recommended for daily consumption but are allowed, wheat is enemy number 1 here), legumes (unless properly prepared and even then, see how you tolerate them), and possibly dairy (cheese and yogurt are preferred over milk, butter and cream are fine). These guidelines always come with the stance that, "Give yourself 30 days without these foods and then slowly reintroduce afterwards. See how you look, feel, and perform. Go from there."
    I make these points because I just don't want your Paleo post to be bashing old thoughts. Dr. Cordains Paleo Diet book is outdated and he would admit that himself. Fructose and sugar is currently a heavily debated topic as some see fructose in any form as the devil while others tolerate it as long as its from natural sources. Please let me know if you have any questions as I try to stay current on thinking from multiple camps.

    Outside of this, are we really just looking at PUFAs as the main thing to avoid? I generally avoid wheat and beans because they don't make me feel good but I do like ice cream.

    Also, I'm wondering about protein. I think Matt made a comment earlier that due to it's increased energy need to digest that an increased protein intake is counter-productive when trying to increase the metabolism. With this in mind I have not been eating as much meat lately, trying to throw in more carbs, and I feel much weaker and more tired. I've kind of gone back to lower carb (100-150g/day) recently as I was just too tired and weak on high carb/low fat/low protein. Any thoughts?

    Lastly, I know it's coming, but the meal ideas for a higher carb approach will be appreciated as it's very hard to wrap my head around how much to eat when it comes to eating higher carb.

    Thanks guys. Good stuff as always!

  91. I would love a debate/interview! With Matt's knowledge there are some nasty questions to be asked, new territories to be conquered. And I predict, Peat would impress us.

  92. Jannis-

    Many of my problems with sugar were noticed when eating a diet without any refined sugar or junk at all – just raw organic honey, and raw fruit and vegetable juices (local, organic, tropical).


    You'll have to wait for the guest post I guess, but I have a lot more to say than just what you addressed, and I'm talking not just about the transition to agriculture but the whole modern movement that surrounds Paleo.


    70% raw will definitely make you starving, as it is nearly impossible to get adequate calories in unless you are high-fat/raw. In general, losing weight right before pregnancy is a terrible idea. It's almost destined that metabolism will slow down, and I believe that a low metabolism is a far bigger promoter of health problems in the kid than lack of certain nutrients (unless deficiency is acute).

    Peat debate-

    I don't know if "debate" is really something I'm looking to do. I'm not in the business of proving my way is right over another's point of view. Like I said, I'm interested in Peat's beliefs and I always have been. I have a fetish for having my theories toppled, but science, history, observation, personal experience, and epidemiology are all strongly weighted against Peat's beliefs – so I still remain very reluctant to entertain his ideas on carbohydrates.

  93. "I wasn't talking about refined sugar. But even refined sugar is not as bad as some people want us to believe. I think refinde starch especially flour is much much worse than refined sugar. I only have to eat white flour one time and I get a nasty gums inflamation. That doesn't happen with sugar. I can eat all the high quality ice cream in the world without having any problems."

    Yes, because you personally have a problem with white flour it is the devil. I don't seem to have any issues with wheat. I do have problems with fructose. Does that make me right and you wrong, Jannis? I came here a while ago with a huge chip on my shoulder about certain things: supermarket dairy and whey protein powder, because they made me sick. Lots and lots of people don't have a problem with them. I think the point is that when your metabolism is screwed up you can have lots of intolerances and sensitivities that you might not have if you were healthy. I've said this before, but I'll say it one more time. The point of this whole community is to fix the metabolism and in doing so, to hopefully by able to reduce some of those intolerances not just create a big list of bad stuff or debate which food is worse.

  94. RobA,
    I was one of the worst paleo ideologues, I was completely trapped in that box for a long time and it caused me severe health problems. The main problem is not just the macros they recommend, but the ideology.

    How many paleo gurus do you know of that recommend or would even consider 75-95% carbs? No, they will only eat what Grok ate, and he only ate large ruminants. Of course they will arbitrarily make up exceptions to their rules as it becomes necessary or convenient.

    If the paleo guys you know allow grains, legumes, and dairy then they are not hardcore paleo.

    Maybe a more moderate carb diet is better for you. But, it will take time to adapt to a higher carb intake, it took me months. You will be more tired and weak in the beginning because you have been living on adrenaline and cortisol for so long. The extra carbs will reduce this, and can make you feel weaker and more tired in the beginning. One thing you might want to consider is saving your higher carb meals for the evening.

  95. Hey JT,
    I don't think I said that they allow grains, legumes and dairy. He (Robb Wolf primarily) advocates no gluten ever, rice/corn tortillas/beans once a week if desired, limited cheese, and no milk unless trying to gain mass. I agree that the "hardcore Paleo"/"eating what Grok ate" is not the right way to look at it. The way I look at "Paleo" is strictly a food quality thing for me. Macronutrient ratios can be swung to almost any desire as long as the food is quality. I really don't see how this is controversial. I understand that some say that they are fine with wheat and that's great. I would just ask them to take it out of their diet for 30 days and then go have a pizza for example. I know I have bad reactions when I have a good amount of wheat. I can deal with small amounts but anything substantial does me in.

    Thanks for your advice. I have already following your advice as I'm eating more carbs after workouts, which are at night. For the rest of the day it's mostly fruit and green veggies.

  96. Matt:

    I just looked into one of the studies you posted:

    I have to say it again: Overfeeding on carbohydrates without fat gain is just a fantasy.

    C/F/P was 86/3/11 and more than 60% of the weight gain was fat.

    "…this study also demonstrates that de novo lipogenesis can become a major metabolic pathway for the disposal of excess glucose carbon."

  97. Unfortunately I agree with Sven.

    Quod erat demonstrandum.

  98. Sven
    In that study-
    "Much of the excess carbohydrate was provided by sugared
    fruit juices…"

    Obviously starches are preferred as they will not overwhelm the liver and cause rapid formation of triglycerides.

    Also, after glycogen levels are full, of course de novo lipogenesis will increase some. But I believe matt is not reccomending overeating starches 700-1100 grams everyday even if that was possible. And if you are eating 3 spaced out meals it becomes even less likely. But, "We (6, 7) and others (5) demonstrated that humans
    cam ingest relatively large amounts of carbohydrate without
    initiating de novo lipid synthesis at rates exceeding
    concomitant fat oxidation. These results are consistent
    with in vitro data demonstrating very low fatty acid synthase
    activity in human liver and adipose tissue (27) even
    after the ingestion of a carbohydrate-rich diet…"

    "By extrapolating from in vitro data, Bj#{246}rntorp and
    Sj#{246}str#{2(2426)}malso concluded that de movo fatty acid synthesis
    from carbohydrate is a quantitatively insignificant
    pathway in the whole human organism. They presumed
    that it remained so even during carbohydrate overfeeding
    where excess carbohydrate would cause hyperglycemia
    and hyperinsulinemia and eventually glucose intolerance."

    "Our laboratory
    and others (5, 27, 30) showed that de novo lipogenesis
    does not contribute to increasing the body fat
    stores even when very large amounts of carbohydrate
    (500 g) are occasionally consumed. Glycogen storage followed
    by high subsequent rates of glucose oxidation cam
    easily accommodate the daily ingestion ofrelatively large
    amounts of carbohydrate without there being a need to
    convert carbohydrate to fat."

    All from that same study…

  99. Matt,
    what kind of problems did you have?

    In which way is science weighted against his ideas? So far i haven't seen any solid study that proves that sucrose is bad. If you have it than please show it to me!
    I have been reading quite a lot of studies on sugar recently. And a lot of them show beneficial effects of sucrose.

    No it doesn't it's just an anecdote. I didn't mean to say that this proves anything.
    It has always been my goal to fix my metabolism, too. If you fix your metabolism you will atomatically fix most of your problems too. And i don't write all this stuff about sugar because I want to annoy Matt or anybody else here but because I think natural sugar can help a lot of people with that.
    I personally have almost reached that goal. My average temperature is now 97.9F and my resting puls ca. 75. And most important is that I feel really good. And the reason for that is that I have been following Peat's advices. HED was not too bad for me and I wasn't sick or had any severe problems with lots of starch. But I felt sluggish and unmotivated all the time. Sugar also helped me get rid of some nasty paddings and it really improved my skin condition.

    About Peat:
    Just to get this straight. I think some people here think that he advocates eating a lot of refined sugar. He clearly doesn't. All his offical recommendations are about fruits. He only thinks that refined sugar (not HFCS!) in certain amounts is no problem for most people and that people are better off with refined sugar than with refined starch.
    But he definitely wants people to eat whole foods.
    He doesn't think that natural starch is a problem, either. He loves potatos. He just thinks that fruits are superior. All his points on sugar are based on approx. a million studies but more important on year long experience with his patients!

  100. Jannis, can you describe your starch, fruit and refined sugar intake for a day. Thanks

  101. I didn't read the study, but from the excerpts Riles has posted, I have to agree with his interpretation.

  102. JT,
    Are you still doing Bikram Yoga? How often a week do you practice it? What kind of positives have you experienced with it?

  103. Riles,
    I haven't been doing it for the last few months because it is too hot in the summer and I just can't handle more heat at this time. When it gets cold again I will start back.

    The benfits I noticed were increased flexibility and just feeling better overall. Doing it in the evening was also a great way to induce a very deep sleep.

    It burns a ton of calories and is very physically demanding. This is good for a lot of people, but I am still trying to gain, so I had to be careful with it.

  104. Yeah well, Riles, I can see you take a different view on the total outcome of the study, which you are entitled to do.

  105. "Yeah well, Riles, I can see you take a different view on the total outcome of the study, which you are entitled to do."

    Ha Ha Ha! Weak! Don't pout too much, Leon!

  106. Matt,

    Thank you for the study links. I haven't had time to completely read and digest them yet, but they do seem to be fairly decent studies.

    I will say this though: The one on the Fatty Liver that fed 60%, while better than the rat study on leptin resistance that fed the same percentages, suffers from the same problem. Namely, ridiculously high amounts of fructose. I am always suspicious when researchers use extremely high amounts of any nutrient because I always wonder if that is the only way they could have gotten the results they did. In fact, the only reason I say the Fatty Liver one is better is because the researches gave the rats a vitamin and mineral supplement which might have covered any potential nutrient shortages.

  107. If, as a couple of people mentioned above, carb-cycling can cause trouble, does that mean it's a bad idea to go high carb/low fat only on exercise days (three times per week), and eat a MED the rest of the week?

  108. Kalaneet,

    What would be the point in doing that? Pick a macro ratio that you feel best on and stick with it so that your body has a chance to adapt.

  109. JT: Thanks. I'm still trying to figure all this out, and I guess I thought it would help me recover from exercise without needing to go high carb/low fat every single day. I seem to recall somebody else talking about doing something similar, but maybe I misunderstood. Anyway, at some point I got it into my head that it was a good idea, lol.

  110. DML , old buddy, I guess you haven't looked at the study.

    Y'know, I was being polite to Riles and all, seeing I was disappointed that effect he was talking about was only temporary.

    Y'see this was a 10 day CHO overfeeding on three young athletes, where they had been underfed for three days, thus depleting their glycogen stores. Consequently, on the first few days of CHO overfeeding their glycogen stores filled up, and there was just a small amount of DNL fat production. (This was the bit Riles referred to.) Over he next seven days, however, there was a build-up of fat deposition from DNL, until about half of the fed CHO was converted into fat. Hey, go have a look at it. There are are some some real pretty graphs at which you can pout.

    In addition, of the 4.6 kg of weight gain, 1.1 kg was fat gain, 665 gm was LBM, and the balance of about 2.9 kg was estimated to be 700 gm of Glycogen plus its added water.

    If I pouted, boy, I was lookin' for the free lunch.

  111. Leon,

    I have indeed "looked" at the study.

    The problem with the study is its irrelevance in terms of starch overfeeding. As Riles pointed out, most of the excess carb came from sugared fruit juices. This is not the same as starch-overfeeding. Even the "veganmaster" fellow said that too much sugar would shift the mass gain from muscle to fat; that is why he recommends maximizing the starch to sugar ratio.

  112. Hey, Jannis: sounds like you've made real progress with your metabolism. I did the same with HED. I did a short period of Peatism in the middle of HED and found it put weight on quickly around the middle and did little to improve my temps. There is a possibility I didn't do it right. I mean, I didn't use supplements or anything. I just added in orange juice to a regime that was already pretty heavy on the potatoes and the bone broths. It's possible though that I was eating too much fat at the time period (I was still eating a fair amount of pork, I think, probably the equivalent of a few pieces of bacon a day) and that the PUFAs in even the healthiest raised pork are too high for adding in the OJ. I looved the OJ though. I was sad to give it up again. Recently my kid has been on a juice binge so I've been giving him fresh squeezed juice and having a little myself. I'm kind of tempted to try it again now that I'm doing much lower fat.

  113. Jenny,
    Did you eat enough protein and made sure PUFA are low?
    Sometimes it really needs some effort to get the metabolism going.
    In order to start my progress I had to eat like 400g of CH a day. most of it was sugar. And CH made up only 50% of my calories. Ray Peat recommends a balanced diet. Something like 50,30,20
    I also had problems with my sleep but drinking some milk and orange juice before bed time helped me with that.
    The problem was probably that my liver didn't store enough glycogen to keep T3 production steady. I think for a person with a good liver a high starch diet is no problem. But especially for people with a sluggsih liver sugar seems the best way to go.

  114. Leon

    As DML & Riles have said the type of carbs (complex-starch vs simple-sugars) has a MASSIVE effect. The following study compared the Effects of a Low-Fat, High-Simple-Carbohydrate Formula Diet with the Effects of a Low-Fat, High-Complex-Carbohydrate, Solid-Food Diet. This study is actually trying to prove the HARM of hi-carb diets but they surprised themselves:

    "Unexpectedly, we found a rapid inhibition of fatty acid synthesis as manifested by an increase in fasting percentage 18:2 (Linoleic acid) in VLDL triglyceride on the low-fat, high-complex-carbohydrate diet. Accompanying the increase in 18:2 was a decrease in 16:0 (Palmitate produced by DNL) in VLDL triglyceride. Thus, the composition of the carbohydrate appeared to be an important variable affecting the lipogenic response to a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet."

    I think this is a very balanced study and worth reading. Here's the link:

    Effect of High-Carbohydrate Feeding on Triglyceride and Saturated Fatty Acid Synthesis

  115. Riles/JT:

    Come on, you don´t really want to rely on in vitro-experiments. Those are of the lowest evidence order.

    Of course there won´t be much de novo lipogenesis if glycogen stores are not full. That´s what quite some studies show. But there is no magic about carbohydrates. When you eat a lot carbs (overfeeding) without exercising your ass off (or your glycogen stores empty) your glycogen store will be filled sooner or later and that´s the time de novo lipogensis kicks in. When you eat 90% carbs with meals a couple of hours apart and don´t go (much) above caloric maintenance there won´t be much de novo lipogenesis.
    Reading this blog you could get the impression that you could eat as much carbs as you want (while keeping fat intake low) and won´t gain any fat. Folks, that´s just not true. It might be true for some individuals but on average you will gain fat while overeating (carbs, fat or protein). At least that´s what most studies show.

  116. modified hyperlipid / Kwasniewski > optimal diet to me. im lean. im enjoying food. and is just wayyyyy easy. i used to fast/ exercise thinking about my "pizza day", "my chocolate day" my " ice cream day" etc, never ends. i was lean, but also miserable (until my fix) if something " calls me from the refrigerator" that something has to go. meat,fish,eggs, butter, cream,cheese,water and LOTS of milk. No refined sugar. No fructose. No vegetable oil, No wheat / starch. No crap. is not that difficult.

  117. Sven

    If you read the study I referred to above it is an "in vivo" high quality study.

    The studies suggest that if glycogen stores are NOT FULL virtually NO DNL will take place if eating COMPLEX CARBS. Eating lots of simple carbs will initiate DNL.

    When glycogen stores are full/near full your body will increase its energy expenditure (e.g. higher temperature, involuntary twitching etc.) before initiating DNL so a small amount of overfeeding (say 10%) is fine and will encourage your body to lay down muscle, not fat. MASSIVE overfeeding WILL result in DNL – I dont think anyone is suggesting that "you could eat as much carbs as you want (while keeping fat intake low) and won´t gain any fat."

  118. Thank you DavidL for clearing up what Riles and DML were really saying. Your explanation to Sven works for me as well.

    I had not come across Hudgkins' summary paper with references to all her previous work, so thank you for the reference.

    The notion of the "cheat day", or a one day over-feeding of a food component not part of one's usual diet is an example of the hormetic idea of not letting one's metabolism becoming habituated. The body up- and down-regulates when it get used to a set of inputs – in this case food.

    Fool it every so often. Maybe with the occasional fasting day also? :-)

  119. Sven-

    Carbohydrate overfeeding does cause fat gain, and does so because of de novo lipogenesis. But when starch is substituted for fructose-containing sugars the ability to convert carbohdyrate into triglycerides which can be stored as body fat is very minimal. Notice that in the study you linked to that the bulk of the "excess carbohydrate" came in the form of "sugared fruit juices."

    I'm not talking about carbohydrate overfeeding which essentially becomes high-fat/high-carb overfeeding after triglycerides have been formed. I'm talking specifically about starch overfeeding which is not a fantasy. Because there are very few fat molecules ingested or produced in the liver on starch vs. sugar, the body has no choice but to generate a tremendous amount excess heat and store the rest in muscle tissue.

    This is why I believe that RRARF can be done more efficiently, getting more bang per calorie in terms of lean muscle mass building and increase in thermogenesis.

  120. Jannis-

    Good point about the liver and keeping glycogen stores full and thus increasing metabolism. That is a valid point, and there may be cases in which some fructose is more helpful, certainly with hard exercise. I certainly don't think that's the case with overfeeding though.

    I think the future of 180 will see a lot less division between good and bad foods, and more focus on getting specific physiological results from targeted nutritional strategies.

    If you need specific studies linking sucrose to metabolic syndrome, obesity, hyperglycemia, hypertriglcyeridemia, hypertension, insulin resistance, etc. than actually go look for them instead of waiting for someone to provide those to you.

    A simple Google search of "sucrose-induced" preceeding any one of those terms above will give you plenty of leads.

    I'm very curious as to why sucrose is beneficial for you, and am not trying to deny it or brush it off. I'm just doubtful that your typical hypometaoblic American on high-calorie fare is suffering from sucrose deficiency.

  121. LeonRover:

    Ok, I agree. With minimal overfeeding (like 10%) complex carbs might be the best choice.


    The body has another choice: adipose tissue DNL. There is a pathway for carb/fat-transformation and the body uses it. There is some thermic effect in the range of 10% – 30% (depending on the study you look at). There is a scientific debate about "luxusconsumption" but direct evidence is scarce.
    But starch seems to be a better overfeeding agent than sugar. Nevertheless I am convinced that you would also gain fat with (massive) starch overfeeding.

  122. Hey Matt,

    I just have a little confusion regarding fat accumulation that maybe you can clear up for me.

    You said: "Carbohydrate overfeeding does cause fat gain, and does so because of de novo lipogenesis. But when starch is substituted for fructose-containing sugars the ability to convert carbohdyrate into triglycerides which can be stored as body fat is very minimal."

    However according to Gary Taubes his logic is as follows.

    1 – Insulin stimulates the transport of glucose into the fat cells

    2- glucose is the primary source of glycerol phosphate

    3 – the rate at which fatty acids are assembled into triglycerides, and so the rate at which fat accumulates in the fat tissues, depend primarily on the availability of glycerol phosphate

    While he says that glucose is the primary source of glycerol phosphate, fructose is more efficiently converted into glycerol phosphate.

    So he's saying that the formation of triglycerides happens in the fat cell itself and is basically stuck there until it's broken down and the fatty acids can be released.

    Any help to clear up this confusion will be greatly appreciated.


  123. Matt I have some questions I was hoping you could answer:

    1) How have you found adjusting to a lower fat intake? I have eaten less than 200 carbs daily for about eight years and so have eaten a lot of fat with that. My percentages were usually 70/20/10. I am now in the process of adding more carbs and decreasing fat. However, I am finding it VERY hard. I just do not feel as satisfied with less fat. How have you gotten around this? Maybe you did not eat a high fat/low carb diet for as long as I have?

    2) How did you figure out your maintenance calories? I tracked my cals for a few months and saw that I eat 2500 on average, sometimes reaching 3000. Yet according to various online calculators I should be maintaining at only around 2000 cals. So, obviously those calculators are pretty inaccurate. I think they are skewed to reflect a society where people starve themselves to compensate for undiagnosed thyroid issues, food allergies, messed up cortisol levels etc. It's not like I have been blessed with a great metabolism either; I have thyroid issues. Anyway, I am wondering what calculator did you use to calculate your maintenance calories?

  124. Matt,
    I am trying to find studies which link sucrose to metabolic syndrome. And of course I have been so clever as to search them with google.
    But so far I haven't found any that proofes your argument.
    For example, we base a lot of what we think about sugar on studies on rats which are totally unrealistic but don't consider the fact that our closest relatives (apes) eat fruit all day long. But even the well conducted studies on rats show no harmful effect of sucrose. It's actually the other way around.

    The other thing is the data that link increasing obesity to increasing sugar consumption.
    As I already said, the appearance of two factors at the same time doesn't necessarily mean there is a causal connection.
    This is aggravated by the fact that it has become impossible to distinguish between HFCS, other artificial sweeteners and sugar. I think the USA are consuming more HFCS than sugar meanwhile.

  125. Matt said:
    "Many of my problems with sugar were noticed when eating a diet without any refined sugar or junk at all – just raw organic honey, and raw fruit and vegetable juices (local, organic, tropical)."

    How much vegetable juices did you consume? Combining PUFAs with sucrose, after all, is a perfect nutritional storm….. ;-)


    I've always appreciated your comments, keep them coming, please.

  126. Sam,

    My emphasis was mostly fruits, and I did consume quite a bit of coconut oil (but also some nuts high in PUFA). The vegetable juices I did consume were not high-pufa.

    I have had noticeable improvements in my ability to eat sugars of any kind while keeping PUFA low since the beginning of this year. It has made a difference.

  127. Anonymous-

    Any dietary switch is usually difficult, especially if you have a low body temp., insulin resistance, etc. I think you'd do better eating very high-carb low fat later in the day, once every few days at first. Then try to increase it if you are curious.

    I used a calculator linked to at the MNP site. Make sure you are getting a number for TEE – total energy expenditure, which is generally about 40% higher than BMR. Mine is about 3,000, which I know is true and was certainly reinforced by the milk diet, in which I lost weight below 6 quarts daily and gained weight above 6 quarts daily.

  128. This paper sums up the issue quite nicely, also distinguishing why fruit and refined sucrose cannot be equated due to fiber content as alluded to by guys like Lustig…

    "Previous work led to a number of conclusions [1.]. The
    increase in plasma triglyceride concentrations on increasing
    dietary carbohydrate is a consistent and reproducible
    effect. Plasma triglyceride concentrations increase in a
    dose-dependent manner, even after increases by as little
    as 10% in dietary carbohydrate (i.e. there is no apparent
    threshold for the effect). Simple sugars are worse
    offenders than starches, and even modest changes in
    the ratio of simple to complex carbohydrate (e.g. from
    40% : 60% to 60% : 40%) can induce hypertriglyceridemia;
    fructose-containing simple sugars may be the most
    detrimental. Liquid diets are worse than solid food diets
    for inducing hypertriglyceridemia. Finally, fiber tends to
    mitigate the effects of high-carbohydrate diets.
    Bantle et al. [2..] recently conducted a well-designed
    study that compared isoenergetic fructose and glucosebased
    high carbohydrate diets. Those investigators
    reported that a 6-week diet containing 17% of energy
    as fructose, as compared with a diet containing 17% of
    energy as glucose, resulted in 32% higher day-long
    plasma triglyceride concentrations in men. Surprisingly,
    there were no differences between the two diets in
    women. No differences were observed for plasma
    apolipoprotein B or insulin concentrations between the
    diets in men or women. Interestingly, postprandial
    triglyceride effects of the fructose-based diet were
    greater than effects on fasting triglyceride levels, which
    is consistent with postulated direct effects of fructose on
    hepatic triglyceride synthesis. Bantle et al. proposed that
    differences from previous studies that failed to show
    speci®c effects of fructose can be explained by study
    design (e.g. previous comparison of fructose with
    sucrose, use of outpatient menu, or supplements instead
    of providing all meals to the participants).
    Vidon et al. [3] evaluated the lower end of increased
    carbohydrate intake. Those authors compared 55%
    carbohydrate with 40% carbohydrate diets, using a
    cross-over study design. Of note, the ratio of simple
    sugar to complex carbohydrate was 40% : 60% in both
    high-carbohydrate diets, and both diets contained equal
    proportions of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated
    fatty acids. The authors reported no changes in
    plasma triglycerides concentrations on the higher carbohydrate
    diet, but did note improvements in LDLcholesterol,
    ratio of LDL to HDL, and oral glucose
    tolerance tests with the higher carbohydrate diet. They
    concluded that modest changes in dietary carbohydrate
    without inclusion of simple sugars can result in broadly
    bene®cial effects on plasma lipids. Hudgins et al. [4.]
    also showed that changing the ratio of simple sugar to
    complex carbohydrate from 60% : 40% to 40% : 60% in
    low-fat/high-carbohydrate diets prevents stimulation of
    de-novo lipogenesis (see below).
    In summary, recent work has strengthened the importance
    of the ratio of simple sugar to complex carbohydrate,
    and particularly the presence of fructose, in the
    effects of high-carbohydrate/low-fat diet on plasma

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