Paleo Fail

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I have written about the before and after of eating a low-carb Paleo or low-carb non-Paleo diet for going on three years now. While it is extremely common to lose weight without effort, hunger, or cravings – and have amazing energy levels to boot (and temporary alleviation of health problems), that doesn’t make it healthy, sustainable, or permanent. In what I would venture to guess is the majority of those that embark on a low-carb diet, the results are short-lived, followed by the emergence of a clusterf$%# of new health problems related to adrenal burnout, hypothyroidism, and the hot mess that stems from it. Because of the roughly 3-12 month window of tremendous vigor, vitality, and effortless weight loss that many, myself included, experienced on a low-carb diet – I have dubbed this the low-carb “honeymoon.”

I’ve received no shortage of grief from people over my criticism of the deified low-carb Paleo diet. Low-carb, and particularly low-carb Paleo which combines two ideologies, is served up in the bowels of the internet as being the underground solution to the deadly and corrupt eating recommendations that flourish in mainstream media and academia. While I have little love for Western Medicine, or the industrial health/corporate food/drug/agriculture empire, that doesn’t mean that low-carb Paleo is the great “secret” to health that has been stifled by the “man.”

Anyway, in my experience personally and in communication with tens of thousands of people all over the world for the last half decade, I can say definitively that low-carbohydrate eating, with or without the silly Paleo fungus that often attaches to the groin region of this movement (manifesting in the desire to fast even when you have signs of a low metabolism, and avoid acceptable and sometimes preferable food sources like grains and dairy products) can be dangerous.

Sure, anything can be dangerous. I’m not saying that it’s not dangerous to eat fast food daily and sit around completely immobile on the couch for 30 years. I’m not saying that it can’t also end in disaster if you partake of the predominantly legume, grain, and soy-based diet of the mainstream while jogging daily. This too can end in disaster. Any diet and lifestyle endeavor can be dangerous, and any food or beverage or activity can be highly detrimental in the right context. But it’s important to plant seeds in those that are blinded by infatuation, so that a little light bulb goes off in their brains when they do, indeed, start to suffer some of the consequences of their dietary and lifestyle explorations…

Consequences like hypothyroidism, with obvious signs such as puffiness in the face, loss of sex drive, inability to exercise or recover from exercise, loss of energy, frequent illness or infection, being cold all the time, increased aches and pains, hair loss, mood disorders, menstrual irregularities, or any number of different ominous signs of dysfunction.

Anyway, here is a great example of someone who did what dozens of us here have done…

1) Got really unhealthy by eating and living really unhealthfully
2) Did low-carb or low-carb Paleo diet and maybe began exercising a lot too
3) Lost a ton of weight
4) Thought Paleo was the greatest thing on earth – the answer to all things, and that carbohydrates, a biologically-inappropriate substance to be consuming in quantities impossible to obtain during the Paleolithic era, were the cause of all that ails modern humans.
5) Began to get ill
6) Began to gain fat and lose muscle, looking worse despite having looked great at six months into the diet and exercise recommended by typical Paleo aficionados
7) Stuck with it out of the belief that maybe the failure is due to a lack of discipline, going even further in the extreme direction of carbohydrate restriction all the way down to a zero carbohydrate diet
8) Got even sicker, hitting rock bottom somehow
9) Finally said screw it, getting curious about what some low-carb Paleo hater (me usually) said about it not being the miracle panacea it’s touted to be
10) Reversed health problems immediately

Anyway, here is what was sent to me by Korg Kcuf (not actual name). If you remember anything, remember that short-term results can be deceiving. There are hundreds of ways to lose weight over a 6-month period, but all of the ways that have been studied end in long-term failure and weight regain – even if you stick to the diet you lost the weight on.  Health is not about how you look, but how you feel.  In Korg’s case, he steadily looked and felt worse on low-carb Paleo.  I personally looked better on low-carb by modern standards, but feel much better now…

“Hey Matt,

I have been a long time reader ever since you and Richard had that back and forth on Freetheanimal. That really opened my eyes to a world outside low carb paleosphere. I know you’re busy and probably get tons of email requests but I figure it’s worth a shot to see if you can help me with the direction of my diet. Here’s a little summary up until now…

I started paleo around 6 years ago after a long stint of eating horrible and binge drinking, I was 22, 220~lbs, 5,11 and weak as a baby. I radically changed my diet and life to a strict paleo (Loren Cordain’s version) and started working out heavily. For about 6 months everything was amazing, got down to 178, was the leanest I had been since I was 16 or so and had decent energy, then things got bad. I started not being able to heal after workouts and lost my sex drive big time, also started to get dry skin and dandruff. Of course at the time I was so enamored with paleo that I figured I should get stricter.

Started IFing (intermittent fasting), stopped drinking all alcohol and no sugar/salt of any kind. Anyway long story short, I got worse over the course of a couple years so much so that I couldn’t workout from lack of recovery and I gained back 3/4ths of the weight. After that I went nuts trying to figure out the best diet, still living in paleo world but cheating all the time cause I couldn’t stomach all those nuts and veggies. That’s about the time I read your site and started reading other sites who advocated high carbs, this to me was insane-sounding. Anyway I didn’t actually follow your refeed plan until about 4 months ago after a failed attempt at complete carnivory.

I made it 9 days on meat and cheese alone and I got some horrible abdominal pains. At that point I was totally depressed, nothing worked, and all of a sudden I thought about your site and you calling out Richard and I turned on my computer and read your refeed ebook front to back, same day I implemented it. Only two days later I felt tremendous, abdominal pains vanished, sex drive came back and my man boobs started shrinking. That last one really threw me for a loop and it proved to me that some hormones were in play.

Anyway today I am about the same weight but feel ten times better, workout and have sex daily and have gained a lot of muscle. Believe it or not but before I found your site I visited the doctor/endo 3 times for thyroid/testosterone issues and they all said I was fine!! I felt like death warmed over and was fat but I guess still healthy enough for today’s standards.

It was seriously a huge eye opener to say the least. For going on 4 years I was completely convinced that I didn’t need carbs to survive, all the while slowly deteriorating. The second day of the RRARF I realized I had orthorexia and was completely stressed out over eating. It’s also funny reading all those former low carbers start to change their tune on potatoes, fruit and rice, wheat is still the devil though. :D

I just searched through my photos and found these gems, first is from 2006, happy beginnings of paleo. Second is 2008, two years in and things are not great. Third is 2010, really unhappy and about to embark on VLC/carnivory. Shown from the side to highlight the second chin. Through this whole time I took paleo very seriously and tried to convert people, carbs are bad, blah blah. Now I’m almost embarrassed looking back at that first pic.”

126 Comments

  1. I have all kine thoughts, but wanted to take the time to write them coherently. And yet, gotta be first to post. Whoopee!

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  2. It's really hard to find a balance with this eating for me personally. I hope to be able to report some success soon, as things are happening, but I still seem to be having poor blood sugar control (I went from low carbing to RRARF to Ray Peat style fruits, starch and juice.) No weight loss, but instead massive gain over the last 4 months (60+ pounds on my already morbidly obese frame, but I have done a lot of damage to myself through low-carbing, obsessive low calorie dieting and other bad things :) Today I got shaky and dizzy, light-headed just before lunch and I think it has to do what I ate for breakfast- potatoes fried in butter, first time I ate that for breakfast. Had to drink some OJ first at lunch to stop the shakes, made me feel like an old alkie. This balance thing is hard for me. Hi, my name is Michelle, and I am orthorexic! (lol)

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  3. Ha-ha. Did you see my recent interview Matt?

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  4. ARRRGG!! It is totally asinine how paleo = low-carb in so many people's minds. The idea of our paleolithic ancestors eating bacon, cheese (wait, that's neolithic?), steak, and maybe a salad while shunning potatoes and fruit is so wrong its almost not funny.

    So, while I am not paleo myself (plenty of dairy and grains for me) it bothers me that posts like this only reinforce the blending of low-carb and paleo. While paleo may not be the ultimate diet, if done properly it won't fuck you up like low-carb will.

    Sorry for the rant. Every time I see these two terms used interchangeably I want to murder a squirrel and tear it apart with my teeth.

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  5. Quite a few prominent paleo bloggers have been moving away from low-carb. Hopefully it is not too late to separate the two. These include Don Matesz, Stephan Guyenet, and even Richard Nickoley himself.

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  6. At first I thought that list was about me.

    Theo, if there's a connection between paleo and low-carb in people's minds, the Grok Worshippers have no one to blame but themselves about that. [speaking as a former Grok Worshipper] Most of them won't even admit that root vegetables were part of the paleo experience, or that fruit can be eaten out of season.

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  7. I am just still amazed that he has sex everyday?!

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  8. I LOVE this post and the testimonial. I am so sick of hearing/seeing "GROK" I could puke…on grok. I've been trying to make Paleo work for me for almost two years and in all that time lost a whopping 17.5 pounds, and that was in the first 4 months. The only thing I can say is that I haven't gained any of it back, but the bloom has been off that flower for a long time now.

    As you describe, I have been thinking that I was the problem, somehow I'm not trying hard enough, not strict enough, blah, blah, blah. At the same time becoming weaker and more lethargic and working out is a thing of the past.

    Just in the last two weeks I've been thinking I just "have to get really serious now" maybe "dial in some zero carb days and bring back IF" (I've done that off and on too).

    While I still do not intend to eat a SAD diet and will always believe grass-fed meats are best, I will be a regular visiter to this blog to try and relearn what I forced myself to forget.

    Oh, and I'm going to eat some fruit…right now.

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  9. Second that, fo' sho' Theo. LC and paleo are actually easily separable if you are not content to incessantly combine them.

    And second you too, Brock- paleo advocates were plenty quick to hop on the low carb bandwagon.

    But even as I eat beans and grains and dairy, I have sympathy for the principle of a paleo diet. Which I guess for me is kind of the same as a 'real food' diet. Whatev.

    Korg,

    Good on you man- glad you're seeing some turn around.

    And Matt, I keep giving you crap about disentangling paleo from LC, but I'm glad you keep putting the catecholamine honeymoon message out there. Did you see this blog post, linking back to you, on this very topic? repairrecoverrestore.com/ low-carb-paleo-diet-a-neolithic-fantasy/

    And I notice mention of dandruff and dry skin. Any way to address that if a round of RRARF didn't correct it altogether? Anyone have suggestions? Another round of it?

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  10. Re Rob A. on repairrecoverrestore.com/ low-carb-paleo-diet-a-neolithic-fantasy/

    That is probably one of the best, as in awesome and game-changing, nutrition articles I have ever read. I especially liked the part about how Eskimo diets aren't actually low-carb due to lots of fresh muscle meat.

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  11. Hi Matt,

    This article appears to conflate "Paleo" diets with "low carb" diets and damn them primarily on that basis.

    As a successful longtime kindasortapaleo guy, it's taken me every bit of my willpower not to bash my head on the nearest wall every time I read (or hear) someone claim that roots, tubers, fruit etc "aren't Paleo" because these are high carb foods and our ancestors only ate low-carb…

    This bassackward logic has plagued the Paleo community since the beginning, but the tides are slowly turning. People like Richard Nikoley and Melissa McEwan are carb-agnostic, if not outright pro-carb. Hell, even Mark Sisson has given potatoes, yams, and their ilk a half-assed thumbs up!

    Do you have any issues with Paleo beyond the carb one? It seems to me that the underlying philosophy of maximizing fresh foods such as meat, vegetables, fruit, and eggs while minimizing sugar, flour, and heavily refined corn, wheat, and soy products dovetails nicely with your own.

    Cheers.

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  12. @Theo

    Quite a few prominent paleo bloggers have been moving away from low-carb. Hopefully it is not too late to separate the two. These include Don Matesz, Stephan Guyenet, and even Richard Nickoley himself.

    Stephan Guyenet isn't paleo. He corrected me in a private email when I suggested in a blog post that he was paleo. I think he is one of the reasons some well known "paleo" bloggers have abandoned low carb and even the term paleo altogether.

    I also think Matt, albeit in a much more confrontational way, helped moved people along as well back in the day when he was butting heads with "paleos" on a regular basis.

    The low carb/paleo engagement has always been a misnomer, and it was only a matter of time before thoughtful "paleos" started gently moving away from the low-carb paradigm for many reasons.

    You will notice however some prominent low carbers are now glomming onto paleo (as if they are one and the same). Given the struggle with weight loss issues that many low carbers are having, I think its a survival move more than anything else.

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  13. I explicitly mention "lowcarb" Paleo to subdivide it as its own entity. I don't know what else to do besides that. I know lots who have failed on Paleo diets, and most of the failures were due to inadequate carbohydrate consumption, fasting, overtraining, or a combination of all three.

    But even a high-carb Paleo diet may lead to problems. Any diet can lead to problems. That's why it's important not to overly convince oneself of an ideology about diet – and Paleo IS AND IDEOLOGY – a very strong and seductive one.

    All that matters is what works and improves your health, whether it contains white flour, Skittles, and Velveeta or is built mostly around pastured eggs and grassfed bison doesn't matter if the grassfed beef and egg diet screws you up. Nothing has decimated my own personal health like eating a diet comprised mostly of pastured, organic, grassfed meat and fat while doing lots of hunter-gatherer-esque exercise.

    And I would have ditched it in a couple of months if the ideology that my diet HAD to be perfect wasn't getting in the way. Instead I rode it out until I had real problems much more serious than a soft boner and a couple of zits on my back (the first negative signs I encountered).

    People need the freedom to investigate, scrutinize, and experiment with diet and lifestyle manipulation with an open mind. Paleo clouds it up. Low-carbism and the prevailing belief in the Paleo realm that carbohydrates raise insulin levels (false) and cause insulin resistance (false) are particularly distracting.

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  14. @Michael – I know Stephan isn't paleo, but the way the paleo community treats his blog he might as well be. I'm not talking about ideology, but networking (linking to other blogs, overlapping readership, etc). Kind of like the way that Matt here is sorta a part of the paleo/WAPF paleosphere even though he often disagrees with them. I would wager that a lot of his readers come through you and Stephan. I know I did.

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  15. That makes sense, although that some people can have problems with any variation of paleo diets is probably very rare, it's not like grains, legumes and dairy are necessary for good health. One major problem seems to be that some people flat-out miss out on some nutrients, they don't get it that simply eliminating food groups isn't a panacea, you have to apply many dietary principles, that is probably 180 degree health's strength. Get that PUFA out of the cells, support psychological wellness, eat nutritious foods, etc. However if someone was really up on their nutrition and was doing everything right, then I would say that paleo is ideal for pretty much everyone, except I'm not so sure able dairy, good quality dairy can problem be included by most.

    Fruits are demonstrably healthier than grains. This study was essentially fruits vs. whole grains, and fruits won. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21621801 I know you're not into eliminating entire types of food, but I'm sure you at least agree with the principle that fruit and tubers are better overall foods than grains. Some people who don't turn it into an ideology have an 80/20 rule, so I would put any grains one wants to have into the 20% category.

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  16. sweet baby zombie son of grok, this is the male version of me, right down to the 'holy crapballs, i must not be doing it right, better go VLC AHHHHH WHAT HAPPENED I JUST GAINED 25 POUNDS' and i, too, am now worse of than when i started. i feel for you, korg, i do.

    i have resigned myself to a life of spandex and t-shirts for now because i absolutely refuse to buy an entirely new wardrobe.

    what absolutely pains me is seeing so many people on the low carb paleo forums that do suffer from thyroid issues, and they are absolutely convinced that LCP is the *only* way to go, instead of possibly considering that it could be the source of their issues. it is indeed an incredibly strong and seductive ideology. i can't fault it entirely, however – it did open my eyes to some true nutritional principles, but it also lead me here and snapped me out of the ones that were damaging.

    we went to an all you can eat french toast brunch yesterday morning. it was great.

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  17. Darrin,

    "Do you have any issues with Paleo beyond the carb one? It seems to me that the underlying philosophy of maximizing fresh foods such as meat, vegetables, fruit, and eggs while minimizing sugar, flour, and heavily refined corn, wheat, and soy products dovetails nicely with your own."

    When Joel Fuhrman describes his mostly-vegan diet, he says it maximizes fruits and vegetables and minimizes the unhealthy refined foods and animal products. That sounds quite reasonable, but really, he throws all animal products in the unhealthy category without full justification. And when people get healthy on his diet, you certainly can't say it was because they stopped eating eggs. Or meat. Or whatever.

    Paleo dogma can do the same thing: throw out the egregious refined stuff (like you said)… and then throw out all grains and legumes. As if dal bhat is giving people diabetes.

    (When in fact, it's probably the opposite. Dal bhat could easily be part of a Fuhrmanesque cure for diabetes.)

    I understand that some people come to paleo with digestive problems, and they can truly be helped by taking a break from wheat or beans, but that's far from a knockdown case against those foods overall.

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  18. To be fair i still eat a mostly paleo diet. Most of my carbs comr from potatoes, rice, fruit/fruit juice and milk. I avoid legumes, nuts, seeds and most grains 90% of the time. I think the stress of trying to stay 100% hardcore paleo was my biggest problem. Then adding on top of that crossfit, if, and low carb just ran me into the ground. But paleo can be a cult just like 30bad can be and the more i searched for the holy grail of eating the worse i got. Stepping back and really examining why i was avoiding things because some guru said they were bad was what helped the most. Now im just focusing on having fun, eating good (not clean) and keeping stress free and i think down the road the results will speak for themself.

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  19. something is seriously wrong with my sex drive as I just kicked a 6'2 early twenty-something hispanic example of pure hotness out of my bed. don't know what is going on. am desperate, might even try reading the bible for answers, that's how serious this is becoming.

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  20. Grok, LOVE your new interview. So helpful to see what people have tried in the past and what is now working well for them.

    So great that some folks like you and Matt are putting themselves out there! As I read recently, "Grok on!"

    * goes to buy a dozen bananas *

    great video, Grok!

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  21. Kash-

    If I can get my sex drive down somehow we'll make a perfect couple. We can talk about nutrition, exercise, and conspiracy theories all day while hardly touching each other. It'll be perfect. Let me just get these damn carbs out of my diet and we'll be all set!

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  22. Batty!

    Welcome. Batty has a great blog. Go check it out.

    Now I gotta go check out that Grokcast.

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  23. um…"carbohydrates raise insulin levels (false) and cause insulin resistance (false)"…mind, blown. I'm a newbie here and I see I have a LOT of reading to do. but I'm up for it cuz Paleo is not doing it for me.

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  24. Batty,

    At least I haven't had to go buy new socks.

    I'm holding out hope that I can be like Chief and after eating a wide variety of healthy foods, helping my thyroid to believe that we are not in a paleocalypse, that it will allow me to fit back into all those cute clothes I had only six months ago.

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  25. I don't know how paleo got associated with low carb in the first place. I mean, how the fuck are fruit and potatoes not paleo?

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  26. lol, matt hit a home on his response to kashmir. I'm not a professional copy editor, and I would have passed that immediately. Such credibitlity I have.

    Kash, maybe you're problem is that your mind is too absorbed with matt's intense blogging and epic picture displays to step away from your computer and finish bumping uglies. You might also want to try reading that bible, skip the first part and go straight to the stuff on sexual immorality, lol. That could function as a preventative to say the least.

    What happened to Korg's 4TH picture? You know, the one where he's recovered from his paleo fail.

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  27. *a homer

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  28. Of course, the trouble with getting sick from one diet dogma and then feeling so much better from doing a '180' is that it could be all too easy to feel like you 'saw the light' and get all religious about the new system too…

    But we're in the home straight of the Writers Conference here in town, which is held about ten miles away from my home. This time last year, even thinking about trying to bike there would have exhausted me. This year, I've biked there. Thank you, carbs (rooties and fruities)!

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  29. Hey Matt,

    Good point- paleo is an ideology and may thwart efforts that might work better for feeling good, like when some dal bhat might be just what you need.

    And Michael,

    Good point that Matt's willingness to butt heads may have been instrumental for many. It was for me.

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  30. Kashmoney wrote:
    "I just kicked a 6'2 early twenty-something hispanic example of pure hotness out of my bed."

    Of course, when I read that I gasped!

    But this?

    Matt wrote:
    "If I can get my sex drive down somehow…"
    "…hardly touching each other. It'll be perfect."

    Now that is just crazy talk!!
    You must not be gettin' enough carbs!

    Or maybe carbs really are the devil and all those 'evil' carbs you eat are really messin' with your, ehem, head! :-)

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  31. Matt,

    Conspiracy theories? Does that mean you actually got to see the comment I posted yesterday, before it disappeared(!), and you're making fun of me??! :-)

    I tried to re-post it but it disappeared again damn it lol!

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  32. Hey Matt, are you still crushing sugar through juice and fruit? I'm totally on board with carbs but am still wary of having too much fructose. Curious to hear your thoughts because if you're still crushing it, then that would be a decent time frame to draw conclusions from. Thanks

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  33. subscribing

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  34. Low carb paleo didn't work for me, I have a tendency to low serotonin and ended up depressed, fatigued and with killer PMS and food cravings.

    Paleo, however, is working great. I am way better off grains and legumes, I have multiple food intolerances and probably should be off dairy as well. But the addition of some sweet potato, potato and white rice (not paleo but a good option a a source of non-toxic carbs for someone who lives where I do) has helped a lot. I found the Perfect Health Diet useful, they also were low carb paleo but found they did better with more carbs.

    I think it's about finding what works for you. What is recommended here isn't the holy grail either. We're all different and some of us in addition to that have specific health problems like the gluten damage I am trying to heal. Some people genuinely do thrive on low carb, high fat paleo. I'm not one of them but that doesn't mean I'm going to start preaching that I have the answer for everyone.

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  35. bullshit.

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  36. Really, we should be shocked when people say that macronutrient %'s must matter for normal people. Intuitively it doesn't make sense and doesn't jive with reality. I don't think a skittles and wonderbread diet is healthy for anyone though. I haven't eaten grains, vegetable oils, or white sugar for many years. I started low carb to drop the weight. Added back unlimited raw dairy, starches, fruit, and vegetables. This resulted in a weight gain of about 5 lbs. This is due, in my opinion, to the increased variety of food driving more calorie consumption. It's easy to eat some delicious salty/buttery potatoes and rack up the calories real quick.

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  37. Matt,

    I've been really interested in your take on how diet (low carb, high carb, RRARF, Peat, etc.) affects the lymphatic system, which I think is widely missing from current literature. I've been researching each diet theory and then experimenting for a few weeks with each.

    I am a 38-yr-old woman with a history of PCOS, hair loss after pregnancy and then giving up dairy, and quick weight gain (hypothyroid). I am a neuroendocrine medical writer/editor and also was a personal trainer, so I've known for some time that my health problems can be traced to a anterior pituitary malfunction, which has affected my sympathetic nervous system, which then affected my digestion, which then affected my lymphatic system, which then affected my entire body.

    I am currently coming off 6 weeks of hardcore Peat-style eating. What at first felt like euphoria, I soon ballooned up in my arms, chest, and abdomen. Initially, I attributed this to cortisol, but in hindsight, this was more than likely a lymph bottleneck (the highest collection of lymph nodes are in the armpits, abdomen, and inguinal folds). I suffered near bowel impaction from this, probably due to undigested protein and fructose, which is carried out in the lymph.

    So, to get around to my query, I'm interested in your take on the lymphatic system, and while I'm at it, your recommendations for anyone with lymphatic congestion.

    BTW, I enjoy your writing style. I read many paid writers who can't convey meaning as well as you.

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  38. I guess my sex drive must be a-okay because the number one thing I picked up on in this post was "have sex daily," followed by the thought "can Korg be my boyfriend?" The top pic helped, too. Sadly, I'm tragically single at the moment….

    Anyway, I think it's probably a mistake to jump right from low-carb to Ray Peat. Probably best to take a stop in high-starch-ville for awhile to let your body adjust before adding the sugar. Going from low-carb to high-sugar just sounds like a recipe for disaster, total shock to the body.

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  39. Anon: my fourth picture is in the works. I came to Matt for cutting advice which he didnt post. 4 months of RRARF is great for muscle growth but i did not lose much weight on it. I have a new diet and am doing some big time strength training wo i will make sure to have Matt do an update in a couple months.

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  40. Viciously well written, young man.
    your style, your writing is getting rather defined, sharp and
    delicious..

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  41. Amy-

    Painful perhaps, but not a recipe for disaster. Slowly adding carbs after low-carbing is a great way to gain fat in my experience with long-term low-carbers. Eating carbs in a way in which you gain no body fat is a better way to do it, and doing carbs with a minimal fat intake at first is a better way to achieve this. Low-carbers can probably recuperate most quickly by eating pounds and pounds of fruit daily with some starches and lean meat a few times a week.

    Peat's recommendations are very fattening to those prone to weight gain. So is RRARF if you do it with very high fat levels – although there have been many exceptions – some losing well over 50 pounds eating "high-everything."

    Mark-

    I'm still doing tons of sugar, but through mostly whole, fresh fruits like Grok up there. I can lean out pretty quickly on a fruit-based diet if fat levels are low enough. My only problem I had was bleeding gums, but that has disappered since eating more fruit and less of everything else.

    For those who don't tolerate fruit, they might consider experimenting with the rest of their diet until they can tolerate fruit – not eliminating fruit. The more fruit I eat, the better it treats me. The more of everything else I eat, the worse fruit treats me. That's why I don't like Peat's high-sugar, high-fat, high-protein all mixed together approach. A powerful anabolic cocktail perhaps, but that's no necessarily what an overweight person prone to fat gain really needs. I'm curious to see how Lisa Sargese does after working with the Rubins for a few months.

    AS-

    It's not crazy talk. I would have had much better relationships if my sex drive had been lower all these years. Instead they were all like being in prison (or a nunnery perhaps!)

    Rob-

    Ideologies are dangerous. Pure and simple. Like all the people who rushed to this post to defend Paleo as if it were a political party or something, whining about how it was unfair that I was talking about low-carb Paleo and calling it Paleo.

    A person's diet and lifestyle should not have a name. A temporary strategy can have a name maybe, but a diet and lifestyle – no way.

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  42. No one gets the subtlety behind Korg's name?

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  43. You mean besides that it's Grok spelled backwards?

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  44. the hairy guy that hates potatoes, but he paints them on the cave walls in his dreams..
    dripping of butter,none for the enemy
    Grok!!!

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  45. Sounds good Matt. I think I'm going to try and cut out some of the fat in preference for more starch and some fruit (just about zero now) and see if that helps lean me out some. I don't need to lose much but I would like to get to that 10-12% body fat range from 15-17% now.

    I keep on thinking about your story about the natives in some Pacific Rim place that you visited who ate primarily starch and how they acted like they had never seen belly fat before. As I grew up overweight, that story just struck a chord with me.

    I workout 3-5 times a week with a good amount of intensity and I know fat in my diet is not helping me perform, or likely even recover.

    Also thanks to you, I don't have an allegiance to protein anymore, I just eat it as I desire (such freedom from the days of protein shakes and grilled skinless chicken breasts). Anyways, let me know if you have any thoughts. Thanks

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  46. AS-

    Grok isn't the only thing spelled backwards haha! Read the first and last name from right to left.

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  47. Matt,

    That's one way to look at it I guess. But you also would have had better relationships had you chosen woman with healthy sex drives. That seems like a better solution to me :-)

    I only continue to have a relationship with men who make good use of both of their heads — everyday! And I make that known up front! :-)

    Reply
  48. Matt wrote:
    "Grok isn't the only thing spelled backwards haha! Read the first and last name from right to left."

    Ah! Got it. I had to go back and look again lol! I missed it the first time. I was distracted by something else! ;-)

    Reply
  49. matt – i totally got the kcuf. its either because i am wildly brilliant or i am very, very dirty. and yes, i am here, mustering enough cajones to finally comment!

    @goomama: oh yeah, socks! and hats.

    does this grok make my ass look fat?

    Reply
  50. "The more fruit I eat, the better it treats me. The more of everything else I eat, the worse fruit treats me."

    Ditto. I monoed on plain purple sweet potatoes last night. It was the last and final straw for me that starches are FAR inferior to fruit for so many reasons. Mainly digestion, energy, and ability to easily overeat, even when not being used as a calorie vehicle for things like butter, salt, gravy etc…

    Lean meat seems to sit better than most the starches, but it greatly slows down gut transit time as well.

    I'm tired of sub-optimal energy and digestion. Had them all my life. Proper implementation of lots of fruit in my diet has been the ticket to making both amazing.

    Reply
  51. Hi Matt (or anyone else who wants to jump in here) -

    I'm just coming off a failed 4-Hour Body experiment for the past 2-3 months where I subbed beans for carbs except on cheat days and no fruit or dairy. I just quit because I've had zero results and just didn't feel like eating this way long-term. Proponents of that diet were saying that the whole thing could be thrown off by consuming even a taste of sugar or dairy, and that started to seem absolutely crazy to me!! What you are saying here makes a lot of sense.

    I've read the RRAF book and so I'm going to start back with potatoes and rice, but I'm not sure what else to change. Aside from 4HB I've never dieted although have flirted with veganism in the past… I don't *think* I have damaged my metabolism but I'm not sure because my morning temps have been around 97.4-97.5. I suspect this is because I only have 1/2 of my thyroid gland left (thyroid cancer) and am taking a combo of Armour, Synthroid and Iodoral.

    I have about 10 lbs I want to lose that crept on since 2008 when I had my thyroid surgery. Blood tests in the past have shown high estrogen and low progesterone – I suspect maybe I have insulin resistance too because the weight gain is very flabby and in the belly, backs of the arms, thighs… and I have a lot of cellulite too. :-(

    Any advice on how to get my temps up and get my hormones back on track? Apparently my thyroid levels are "normal" according to my ND, but I can't get a handle on this creeping weight gain. I was thinking of getting a full blood panel done and asking my ND about progesterone cream since Ray Peat talks about that. I just would rather heal myself through food instead of the zillion vitamin supplements my ND is sure to prescribe.

    Any insight you guys have would be much appreciated!

    Reply
  52. Okay, Matt can bash low carb, and I can disagree, but I'm calling bullshit on this guy's story. I've seen too many people [many of them fat] claim something doesn't work because they eat "paleo" for breakfast and then eat a jar of peanut butter and chocolate cake for dinner. NOBODY (without forcefeeding butter & cream) gains 30lbs of fat while moving toward zero carb/alcohol, especially when that person is trying to lose weight. I've seen what happens when people eat mostly "lean meats:" they're called bodybuilders, and they get really cut. I don't care that it's unhealthy; I'm simply calling out this ridiculous story.

    Also, I'm tired of hearing about reduced sex drive in low carb in combination with recommendations for a low fat, low protein diet. Low fat undeniably reduces it, and I've never seen good evidence that low carb does (just anecdotes).

    Reply
  53. Michelle,

    If I had cancer the one thing I would absolutely try to eliminate from my diet would be polyunsaturated fats. But I'm not sure if that alone would help.

    According to Ray Peat it takes 4 years to completely change out your tissue concentrations of lipids to match your fat intake. However, it only takes 2-3 years to obtain the affects (coincidentally Jon Gabriel's weight loss took just over 2 years to complete). Ray's approach is more about looking for foods that are known to contribute to damage rather than promoting a certain way of eating.

    Having said that, it is also important to listen to your body as Matt Stone suggests. But your taste cannot distinguish between fats so I wouldn't act on a craving for something high in PUFA unless I could find an alternative.

    Best wishes!

    Reply
  54. "affects" should be "effects". My apologies to any English majors.

    Reply
  55. Thanks Charles – yes I've eliminated cooking with/eating PUFAs at home for at least the past 2-3 years (I do mainly coconut oil, butter, macadamia and sometimes olive oil). I actually read that 4-year stat of Ray Peat's yesterday so I guess I have a way to go. Although I suppose I occasionally have restaurant food and you never know how it's prepared… Also I have to wonder if the PUFAs are stored in the cellulite??

    As for thyroid cancer it's a bit of a different beast – I had radiation exposure very young and in my 20s consumed a great deal of soy; I am also very iodine-deficient so I believe those things contributed to a perfect storm of thyroid cancer. Although certainly the SAD diet would not help. I still regret having lost 1/2 my thyroid as I believe it can be restored with iodine therapy.

    Anyway, the weight gain tells me that something is still "off" that I need to figure out either hormonally or with my diet or both.

    I understand the thing about listening to your body and that there is no one perfect diet Matt's going to prescribe… I guess I'm just confused on the ratio of protein/fat/carb I should aim for… if fruits/sugar/dairy are ok for me… and if there is anything else I should be looking into here to restore estrogen/progesterone balance.

    Reply
  56. I have finally been working out again (weight training) after about a year and a half hiatus of close to nothing. Prior to that, since my first kid was born (she's 11) working out at all was tough to fit in. I have been chubby for awhile now, other than my stint with carb cycling. I figured if I'm going to be chubby, I might as well be big. So after a month and a half of weight training, 17+ inch arms and shirts getting tight around the shoulders and arms, it appears to be working.

    So now I'm gonna dance with the devil again…fasting. IF was a disaster for me but I think that it just wasn't intermittent enough for me, so I'm trying Eat Stop Eat (ESE) where you fast one day a week. You can do 2 days if you want but I'm OK with just one day. After a couple of weeks of this, not much weight change but I'm down in waist size by around an inch, which is promising. Anyone else tried something like this before? Infrequent enough that it won't trash the metabolism? Or am I just stooopid?

    I'm thinking that if I can trim down eating the 180 way, I don't mind not eating one day a week. Brad Pilon lists all kinds of studies that show that this type of fasting has tons of benefits. I think that the problem that I had with IF was that it wasn't really intermittent…even though I wasn't eating for most of the day, I was still doing it every day, which led to a reduction in calories, metabolism, etc. So on Saturday, I eat like a pig (more like a pig than usual, LOL!) then nothing on Sunday.

    Opinions? Thanks!

    Reply
  57. john wrote:
    "…about reduced sex drive in low carb in combination with recommendations for a low fat, low protein diet. Low fat undeniably reduces it, and I've never seen good evidence that low carb does (just anecdotes)."

    Anecdotal or not, my highly increased sex drive since my low-carb-low-sex-drive days, years ago, is all the "evidence" I need, personally :-)

    Reply
  58. Michelle,

    My 2ç says stay far away from the fat when doing those starches. I did a geek to freak type experiment with starch that put on 46lbs (154 to 200) in 3 months. I was eating fat, but not anywhere near paleo levels.

    The Real Will,

    I still feel properly done fasting can be very effective. 16-17 hours breakfast skip Berkhan style is pretty easy for me. I've done it very successfully in conjunction with fruit only diet. Way more effective that keto. It's still a weight loss diet mindset and not a lifestyle change. "I can eat X and fast it off." Fail.

    Reply
  59. John:

    Of course i had some cheats and in those four years i probably fell off the paleo wagon 2-3 times for weeks at a time. I did however follow paleo first by Cordain/Wolf then by Sisson, to the tee for months on end.

    Like i said, the first 6 or so months i dropped weight quickly with decent muscle gain and felt pretty great compared to the former drinking/sad days. The fat gain happened very slowly over the next 3+ years along with the other symptoms. No i am not saying a paleo diet was the only reason it happened, it was a combination of things like stress from an eating disorder (orthorexia), intermittent fasting, very low carb and high fat intake (a lot of PUFA aswell), intense training (crossfit and cardio). I am sure i crushed my adrenals and thyroid and the result was muscle loss and fat gain. And yes when it comes to sex drive, at least for me carbs > fat.

    Reply
    • Hi korg,

      I’m basically in your shoes when you were low carbing. My diet is low to moderate carbs now, but after reading this article I’m likely to try this high carb/low fat diet. Since going low carb, I’ve just become smaller all around, my muscles are SO small…but the abdominal fat and chubby face HAS grown back.

      Anything else you suggest besides Matt’s high carb/low fat diet? I’m really trying to gain my body mass/muscle mass back. And if I can lose the face fat/abdominal fat…that would be ideal.

      Reply
  60. "I only continue to have a relationship with men who make good use of both of their heads — everyday! And I make that known up front! :-) "
    AS- what a lady!

    @Matt-
    "Ideologies are dangerous."- I hear you buddy. I think back on my (more?) politicially radical days and people would ask me a question, and I'd say something like, 'Just read the Situationist and you'll totally get it- they already answered it.' As if a citation was a sufficient retort, and as if not being able to articulate a thought for myself, but instead accepting someone else's word, wasn't a red flag.

    Nevertheless, my refrain that I try to call attention to this stuff because I don't want folks to dismiss you is still true here. Though as Michael pointed out, maybe your antagonist posture has more currency than my conciliatory one. So you know, keep on doing what you're doing, homey.

    Oh, and Theo- glad to pass that article onto you!

    Reply
  61. korg,

    My problem lies with blaming "paleo" or "low carb," as if anyone has the same definition. The fact is that people and cultures have had success with all sorts of diets. I've never had an issue going low carb, but mine is probably different in that I actually eat little "meat" and lots of dairy and gelatin–so I don't how that factors in. Also, Cordain's saturated fat stance is dumb, so I guess that plants a bad seed for a lot of people.

    Reply
  62. Right, i dont blame either specifically. What really got me was the paleo mentality that made me think that i found the holy grail of nutrition and that was my downfall. I had blinders on even when there were obvious signs of a bad diet.

    One problem with paleo "success stories" though is most are only a quick fix like mine, you dont here many stories of years or more and i think thats why Matt chose to post my email.

    Reply
  63. Rob wrote:
    "AS- what a lady!"

    Thanks, Rob. And you're quite a guy! You know I have a huge brain crush on you, so yeah I'm biased :-) but the way you use that brain of yours… hot!! Keep bringin' it!

    I always look forward to your comments — and I know I'm not the only one :-)

    Reply
  64. Note that the lesson so many of us have learned the hard way regarding the low carb/paleo ideology can be generalized to other sphere's of life like politics and philosophy.

    Yes, ideologies are indeed dangerous. The truth is coy like a woman, hard to win and pin down. A person's ideological persuasion is usually more a reflection of some inner aspect of the person than the truth.

    Not that ideologies are entirely false. They true but partial or partially true. Integration is needed.

    Reply
  65. I've been wondering along the same lines as Michelle… I am recovering from birth control (IUD) that really messed with me. (meaning: gained 20 lbs in 4 months, low energy, low sex drive, etc.)
    So I'm really wondering, when you have hormonal issues, do you deal with those first (getting tested to see what's going on), or would RRARF be a better idea for me at this point? I don't want to mess things up any further and I don't know if I can handle gaining any more weight!

    Reply
  66. Btw, my morning temps have been 95.2 and 95.7 for the past two mornings. I did RRARF last Nov. And saw temps in the low 99's!!

    Reply
  67. Matt,

    You mentioned "doing tons of sugar…through mostly whole, fresh fruits". What fruits are you using?

    Reply
  68. How timely,
    Don Matesz (respected paleo blogger) quits his 14 year paleo experiment.

    Read his blog entry.

    Reply
  69. On the sex drive issue, I can't believe fruit has never been touted as an aphrodisiac. At least that I know of.

    Reply
  70. The Real Will-

    in my experience its the intense fasted exercise that is the problem, unless you eat like serge nubret. your articles on him were very interesting btw. i fixed this by eating normally on workout days. also i like to eat high carb/low fat meals and low carb/high fat meals in the same day. i think the value of fat is being lost a bit in all this carb lovin

    Reply
  71. and i agree pretty much with john. most people who go "low carb" or "paleo" already have some kind of metabolic problem plus they add in intense exercise and/or fasting, not to mention nut butters and whatever else. metabolism is ultimately what matters and theres plenty of people (being irish/french i am one of them) who do well eating plenty of fat AND starch. and i doubt i'd have my gaelic size and looks eating 20% fat or loads of fruit.

    Reply
  72. didn't the irish eat mostly potatoes forever or something? :)

    Reply
  73. for a while and only because they were forced to. they ate meat and dairy when they could afford it. they were in good health but short like anyone else eating low fat and protein. you can do much worse than eating mostly potatoes

    Reply
  74. just to add that while the irish poor had almost nothing but potatoes to eat the rich and invaders ate "the fat of the land". ireland was full of wild game and produced loads of beef and lamb and dairy which was exported even while the poor famished

    Reply
  75. High carb paleo diets are unhealthy too. Diets high in fruits and tubers gave me big problems. The quickest health decline I have ever had was low carb paleo. The second worst was fruitarian. Both diets stripped me of muscle rapidly and made me sick and weak.

    Diets high in lean meats and white rice made me strong and lean. Improved my physcial and mental health problems that came from paleo.

    The greatest health benefits I have ever seen were from eating more grains. I am pretty sure that man is essentially a starch and grain eater. Those that weren't able to adapt to the neolithic diet mostly died out 10,000 years ago. An asian style diet with maybe a little higher protein is optimal in my experience.

    Reply
  76. How do you guys eat starch without fat? Are you really eating dry potatoes??

    Reply
  77. Hey Matt

    Since switching to mostly fruit for your carbs, what effect, if any, has this had on your muscle mass? As I recall, back when you were doing the Abel training and putting on quite a bit of muscle, you were doing mostly starches I believe. Do you think you could have gained the same amount of muscle eating fruit/juice instead?

    Also, I'm curious as to how many calories you are consuming these days, as I know this will ultimately impact how much protein you need and how much muscle you hold on to.

    Reply
  78. I guess JT just answered part of my question.

    Reply
  79. Flowerdew,
    It sushi rice. Sticky rice does not need any fat to be palatable. Oatmeal, bread, and pasta don't need it either. I don't eat much potatoes because i think grains are healthier, but I have no problem eating them without fat, especially if you use another type of sauce.

    KT-John,
    If your goals is to gain muscle mass then you must have enough starch and protein.

    Reply
  80. Thanks Grok and terpol for the info. I did a few stints of IF that took up most of 5 years. I did well on it at first but after a year or two, with my bodyfat almost down to 10%, my bodyfat would start going up while eating the same way. It happened the same way each time…it just took less time to happen each succeeding time. There were other factors involved as well, but it happened every time.

    terpol, were you the person that was saying that they ate low fat but had a fatty meal every now and then and lost weight doing it? It's hard to keep track of everyone here, LOL!

    Reply
  81. Strangely, in Korg's third, "after" picture, he looks much less bloated and puffy and all-around sloppy than Matt looks in his most recent pics and videos.

    Reply
  82. Hey, this Krog guy sorta looks like me.

    Reply
  83. Rick: Thats the thing, i have yet to see pics of Matt looking in the least bit lean or toned for years! His face has looked podgy for some time. Not saying that is particularly important but it is worth noting.

    Reply
  84. JT, what sort of meats do you normally eat? Lean meats? Organ meats? Fish?

    I agree that grains are good. I do great eating a diet with grains, some protein and fruits and veggies

    Reply
  85. JT, you have any theories why fruit gave you problems?

    Reply
  86. Chanelle, I ended up going to see my naturopath today (got a last minute appointment) and she suspects I have high insulin and estrogen – I am doing a saliva test on day 20 of my cycle to measure all the hormones to see where I'm at. I was surprised to find out that my weight is actually the same as it was 2 years ago but my body composition seems to have changed (more fat less muscle) so something is definitely off. Although I totally believe in the idea of raising body temperature I'm a bit scared to jump into Matt's diet until I know what my exact problem is as I too don't want to gain weight. Until I get the test results I'm starting an estrogen detox as well as adding more fibre (flaxseed, chia) and watching my carb choices (for what it's worth she said to choose low-GI stuff).

    Reply
  87. I know it's been mentioned before, but one thing I didn't see mentioned in this particular post/comments is something that definitely happened to me on low carb: continually loose stools. For months. Seriously, I was baffled. I went to a gastroenterologist and had a colonoscopy. I just never suspected that the "real diet of man" could be the cause. I thought the GI bacteria mainly ate carbs/fiber anyways.

    Never before in my life had I had loose stools (very rare and briefly), and never again since stopping low carb (took some time to normalize though.)

    It's sad how the anti-fiber guru Monastyrsky (fibermanace.com) thinks loose stools are normal.

    kirk said…

    "On the sex drive issue, I can't believe fruit has never been touted as an aphrodisiac."

    Seinfeld fans should remember George and "the Mango"! http://youtu.be/kp4YpEShSKY

    Reply
  88. The Real Will-

    yes that got me down to <10% bf. by the end i was eating high carb high protein very low fat for 3 days with lots of moving around/walking and the 4th day eating more fat/calories and working out. this was very comfortable, didn't feel like dieting/restriction.

    now i mostly IF with high carb/low fat and high fat/low carb meals and i haven't regained any weight. i don't do hard workouts fasted and then only twice a week but i walk a lot.

    Reply
  89. Thanks JT

    I love starches (particularly grains, but I an't no tater hater either), and like you I don't need any fat with them to enjoy them.

    By the way, out of curiousity, what do you think is the lower limit of protein consumption one needs in order to gain mucle?

    Reply
  90. Amy,
    I eat lean meats and fish. I like organ meats, but only eat them if I am at a restaurant that serves them because they are more difficult for me to cook.

    My ideas on grains have changed. I think the healthiest diet is basically a TCM/Macrobiotic type of diet with sufficient protein and some fruits.

    Kirk,
    I think fruit is a healthy food for most, but it will cause a problem if it is the bulk of the fuel. It is not good for building up the body, and seems to cause a deficiency if consumed in excess.

    Modern man is essentially a starch/grain eater. Any diet where this rule is violated will cause a problem.

    KT-John,
    If you want to build muscle you need 1 gram per pound of LEAN body mass. So subtract the body fat from your weight and use that number. Some may need a little less and some a little more. But I think this is a good starting place. Also, most people will not gain much unless they have sufficient overall calories and starch. You could eat 500 grams of protein a day, but you will not gain any muscle if you dont have starch and enough calories.

    Reply
  91. Thanks, JT. I thought macrobiotic diets stressed brown rice, but you eat only white rice? Or did I mix that up?

    Reply
  92. JT

    You know there is that 14-day study where a moderate-sucrose diet lead to greater gain of fat-free mass than a starch diet? Plus many Peat followers report gaining a substantial amount of weight without any increase in waist/hip measurements, I personally have gained 26 pounds on a high sugar/fruit diet while my pants still fit the same as before. I have a really hard time squaring this with the idea that sugar is not good for building up the body.

    Reply
  93. Amy,
    Yeah you are right about macrobiotic diets stressing brown rice, but I am not really big on that. I don't support a macrobiotic diet, I just think they are right about grains needing to be the foundation. Look a TCM dietary theory instead, it is better.

    Collden,
    Ask any bodybuilder who has put on much muscle mass which is better. There is no dispute among those who do this at an advanced level, starch is better for muscle gains.

    Also, just because someone gains fat free mass does not mean they are gaining muscle tissue. It is more than likely water and glycogen. Anyone who has ever cut weight for a competition will tell you how easy it is to gain or lose 20 pounds in a day just by manipulating water and carbs/ Humans do not put muscle mass on that rapidly, even with large amounts of steroids.

    Reply
  94. Thanks terpol, that's what I had recalled. I was doing that instinctively and had remembered that you were doing the same thing successfully. I would go low fat for a few days and then I would get a craving for fat and then I would just eat it (ice cream is a personal favorite, LOL!) So I had been doing this for a few weeks and then 2 weeks ago I started fasting on Sunday. It's the only day I don't work out but I stay busy all day and don't even think about food. The week after the first fast, I was lighter and thinner the first day or so and then I went back to where I had been pretty quickly. This week the waist measurement went down and stayed down so far. It will be an interesting experiment.

    Reply
  95. Real Will-

    I don't think it's stupid. If you are well-supported otherwise and have taken action to rehabilitate your metabolism with rest and refeeding, a little spike in stress hormones once a week with ample recovery may work well for you. I've also seen people who were trashed be able to do normal dieting by many mechanisms and have success with it after they had done RRARF or something similar. Short fasts like that may have health benefits as well. I actually fasted for 24 hours the other day to cut out a little inflammation – something I rarely do. Fasting is probably great if it's not part of some eating disorder or paired with intense exercise, calorie restriction, low-carbing, or all three – starting off with an already fried system and low thyroid.

    Terpol-

    Great points. Most people take up some kind of diet to starve themselves in new and creative ways, but the root problem is some metabolic issue.

    Chanelle-

    99 to 95.2? You bad girl!!! Yeah, birth control is the devil incarnate. I'm seeing a theme here between you and Michelle, with high estrogen in proportion to progesterone. Boo!

    Reply
  96. Thanks Matt! I make a point to eat VERY heartily the Saturday before my Sunday fast, LOL!

    Reply
  97. Rick-

    I'm not much of an advocate for being overly lean, and I myself am not that lean. I put the fat on bingeing after 5 months of endurance exercise. The exercise dropped my body temperature by nearly 2 degrees F. I stored fat readily and got my metabolism on track with about 15 pounds of added body fat. This is still with me. But I do seem capable of trimming it off when I eat extremely "clean," having absolutely no refined foods at all. But I have trouble going to extremes like this nowadays. It feels highly dysfunctional. We'll see what the future brings. Health is my primary concern, and in my experience fat gain is what the body does in an attempt to heal itself, and in the process of healing itself.

    But there's no question that my overall body composition has improved in the last 2 years. I have much more muscle tissue, with much less fluid in my face compared to January 2010 when I had my highest ratio of body fat to muscle mass post endurance exercise/binge.

    John-

    I think the sex drive is more attached to calorie intake than anything. Extremes of fat or carbohydrate restriction both yield spontaneously reduced calorie intake in most cases. But even at very high calorie intakes on low-carb I had reduced erectile function and sex drive. And this was something I could overcome within 24 hours by eating lots of carbs. It was one of the many signposts pointing me back towards a higher carbohydrate intake.

    Fruit/Starch Bodybuilding-

    I have had no problem building muscle on either. Some fat helps a lot too. It is anabolic and increases calorie intake. The problem is that you are more likely to gain a higher ratio of fat to lean mass the higher your fat intake goes, so there is probably a sweet spot.

    Starches, grains in particular, have a lot more protein than fruits/sugars. So that is one of their advantages in a straight side-to-side comparison if you are trying to gain mass with a low meat intake – something I have found to help exercise recovery and performance so I have come to prefer. If it were me I would eat both sugar and starch in large amounts and tweak the fat and meat levels in the diet until you feel the most anabolic.

    Collden-

    Sugar has made my body denser, no question. Lean mass is very easy to add. But I have gained fat in the waist with lots of Peat-style. Like eating ice cream and drinking orange juice with it to appetite.

    Reply
  98. I just started RRARFin' again today. I'll be back in the 99's soon!!

    Reply
  99. Matt, what's wrong with following say a WAPF type traditional diet that's heavy on the fruit and has veg. juice, but doesn't have grains/starch (because of digestive issues)?

    I'm talking about say 4-10 bananas a day, 1 cup of orange juice sipped over the day, and the bananas being eaten as smoothies with egg, honey, and butter or coconut? Any problems with this approach?

    Reply
  100. Matt,
    What do you mean when you say you gain lean mass easily? Do you actually believe that you are gaining structural tissue, or are you just saying that you are carbed up and full of plenty of water and glycogen?

    Humans do not gain actual muscle tissue rapidly. It is impossible unless you are a complete newb, doing lots of drugs, or recovering from extreme dieting. Even in these best case scenarios, actual muscle gains will not be anything like the muscle mags claim.

    Realistic muscle gains are not going to be more than a few pounds a year.

    Reply
  101. Collden,
    I have had the same experience as you. I have been following the Peat guidelines for 7 months and have gained 17 pounds. My measurements are all the same as when I started except my waist is one inch smaller. (Maybe Matt was eating ice cream with corn syrup and additives instead of vanilla Haagen Dazs only?)

    Reply
  102. @AS

    I only continue to have a relationship with men who make good use of both of their heads — everyday! And I make that known up front! :-)

    Lucky man :P

    @Rob

    Nevertheless, my refrain that I try to call attention to this stuff because I don't want folks to dismiss you is still true here. Though as Michael pointed out, maybe your antagonist posture has more currency than my conciliatory one.

    Well I mentioned both Stephan and Matt, whose styles and temperaments are very different. :-)

    @In Said

    Not that ideologies are entirely false. They true but partial or partially true. Integration is needed.

    Which of course is another ideology. Just saying, LOL

    @Kirk

    On the sex drive issue, I can't believe fruit has never been touted as an aphrodisiac. At least that I know of.

    Aajanous Vonderplanitz has pointed that out.

    @Flower One Hundred

    How do you guys eat starch without fat? Are you really eating dry potatoes??

    Potato soup FTW! I can't stand dry potatoes, nor does some sauce make up for the lack of fat. But in soup without fat (especially blended) I have found them to be quite tasty.

    Sweet potatoes I can blend and then spice up with cinnamon, nutmeg, and even some honey.

    Homemade bread fresh out of the oven is more than fine on its own. Oatmeal okay, other grains and pseudo-grains not so much.

    That is my N=1 :P

    @jib

    I seared chuck (or round, can't remember) stew beef and left it red in the center. It was like shoe leather. My mom *stewed* it (who would've imagined) and it was fantastic.

    Not to sound like a spoil sport, but it is fairly common knowledge that you have to stew chuck (or grind it) if you want to have something that is fit to eat. :P

    Reply
  103. This is really a well laid out website. I like how you have presented your information with excellent detail. Keep up the great work here.

    Reply
  104. ^ haha, funny matt, even spammers are actually reading your blog, and liking it! ;)

    Reply
  105. Michael wrote:
    "@AS
    I only continue to have a relationship with men who make good use of both of their heads — everyday! And I make that known up front! :-)

    Lucky man :P"

    LOL! No such man in my life for the time being. But that's intentional on my part. I have a couple of projects that I'm working on (1 for-profit and 1 not-for-profit). Both are labors of love — very fulfilling investments of my time. And being that I like to be able to give a relationship the attention it deserves, I just haven't had that kind of time of late. But I'm getting there. Plus, I plan to move soon (to more tropical pastures). So don't wanna start somethin' and then leave.

    Funny, I've actually said that (no time for relationship & moving soon) several times lately… when I've been asked out. To which some have replied that they're just asking for a date, not a relationship. I get that. But I don't date anyone in which there's no potential for long term. And I don't date 'just' for fun or sex. Yep, I'm a serial monogamist. There, I said it! :-) My body IS sacred to me, and it takes a special kinda guy for me to share it with. And I definitely have to feel an emotional connection with someone before "going all the way" with him. But sex is a very important part of a relationship for me, so it does take really good sexual chemistry and compatible sex drives to get me AND to keep me interested. That's what caused me to end my last relationship. Great guy but just not compatible in that way.

    I wrote more but left it out cause I've already entered TMI territory here and I don't wanna jack Matt's blogpost :-)

    Reply
  106. I don't know how to handle the fact that you mention often hypothyroidism as one of possible consequences.

    My wife at 62 began eating more or less in a Low-Carb Paleo-ish way (but with some dairy etc.).

    Besides lowered pression, regained strenght in her thumbs, and some other little things, the biggest one was not having anymore hypothyroidism.

    Of course no meds were involved.
    She was sedentary before, and so she is now.
    And, trust me, she was eating different before, but in a way that could be defined as a healthy high-carb diet (no junk food for sure).

    So… you might be right anyway, I'm just quite a bit surprised.
    We'll see. For the moment, though, one can guess she is sticking to it.

    Reply
  107. p.s. she started in September 2010

    Reply
  108. Stranger, you say your wife eats some dairy. When I learned about Paleo and followed it for 6 months, I read Dr. Cordain's version of it, which was to completely avoid dairy. And I think it was the complete avoidance of dairy that was responsible for my health decline during this time, and probably for many other people, as well.

    Reply
  109. I started drinking raw milk again. Man, it makes me smell. cool story bro, I know.

    Reply
  110. Joe-

    Nothing at all. That's how I eat. I think you'll like it with lower amounts of things like butter and coconut oil though.

    I greatly prefer a high fruit diet to a high starch diet at the moment.

    Winning!!!-

    I actually forgot that I was going to go off on you. I'm still in disbelief at what a horrendous failure to correctly reference pop culture that was. You said, "I'd like to solve," which is from Wheel of Fortune, and then linked to the theme song from The Price is Right.

    This is one of the most atrocious crimes against gameshows I've ever seen committed. Shame on you.

    Kudos for the name "Winning!!!" though. I do believe that this is one of the greatest words to come out of pop culture in a long time.

    Still, I cannot excuse your total gameshow fail. Pat and Vanna owe you several kicks in the nuts each. I would happily kick your nuts for them, if you are too busy.

    Reply
  111. It is much better to take natural supplements than synthetics. Desiccated porcine thyroid fetches good results in battling thyroid problems.

    Reply
  112. Hi, Matt. I agree completely. Most of these Paleo gurus promote quackery. The whole idea is flawed.

    On a side note: Sisson likes to brag, but Clarence Bass owns him for being "ripped", and Clarence Bass is a dedicated grain eater ( at least for breakfast).

    Sisson is a notorious charlatan. Among the worst.

    I myself was taken in by their diet in the past and just did not feel myself. Real anthropologists are not even making the claims of Sisson et al Dr. Katherine Milton is very outspoken about the logic behind it.

    They are cultists.

    Take care,

    Raz

    Reply
  113. Matt: "I’m not saying that it’s not dangerous to eat fast food daily and sit around completely immobile on the couch for 30 years."

    Isolate your variables. Is it fast food as a whole that is bad or are certain elements the main culprit, like HFCS, PUFA oils, hydrogenated oil, and processed meats? You have no right to extrapolate to it as a whole, no more than bleached white enriched white flour is equivalent to unbleached unenriched.

    Reply
  114. I’m so glad I found this book! My mother is overweight and for years doctors simply told her to eat less. However, she eats very little, excercises constantly and continues to gain weight. She’s tried several diets and the results have always been minimal. Finally, one doctor said she might be insulin resistant. This book clearly details how your body’s metabolic system can function more effectively by linking protein with carbohydrates at every meal. Unlike other diets that ask you to eliminate carbohydrates, which is unhealthy, this book tells you how to effectively keep carbohydrates in your diet. Some great recipes are also included. This book is better than a diet! It tells you how to successfully boost your metabolism with the foods that you eat!

    Reply
  115. I am someone who went seriously, clinically hypothyroid by following a high-fat, low-carb, “paleo” diet, so I really appreciate finding this site. Rather than doing it for weight loss reasons, I was doing it for chronic GI problems. I think the problems with “diets” in general – and those who promote them, especially as one-size-fits all cures for everyone – is that we all have very different constitutions and metabolic tendencies. Most of this we get from our unique genetic heritage. Roger Williams profound book, Biochemical Individuality, certainly elucidates this idea nicely.

    Some people can eat 400 grams of starch a day and not gain a pound. Other people gain weight by simply looking at a bagel. A lot of people have chronic, undiagnosed thyroid issues, and the backward medical climate that severely under diagnoses thyroid problems does’t help that either, since it seriously messes with one’s metabolism: In that case, it’s not just about the fuel sometimes. Low-carb, IF-style eating will work fantastic for some people, and ruin others.

    The problem with “Paleo” is that it works well for “some” people, like Robb Wolf, for example. Then these people write books and become gurus, coming up with great, lofty scientific reasons for why their diet is perfect for everyone. I remember reading his chapter on lectins, knowing that if you want to really avoid lectins, you might have to really eat a totally elemental diet of purified amino acids, glucose powder,and MCTs! Good luck with that! Most, real paleoltihic food had lectins. Then I saw his book next to Dr. McDougall’s book – The Starch Solution at the local book store, which was an ironic juxtaposition.

    McDougall’s book uses science to debunk high-fat and high-protein, low-carb diets, and has plenty of case studies where people LOST WEIGHT dramatically and turned around diabetes, etc by eating a low-fat, HIGH STARCH diet! I couldn’t help but laugh. If we focus externally, and look for our answers on the internet, through books, and especially through diet gurus, we are totally LOST.

    Only you can really intuit what your body needs to function well, and unfortunately, you have to somehow throw out all the garbage in your head that you’ve read – lectin science, calorie theory, leptin/ghrelin, insulin/glucagon, good carbs/bad carbs, eicosenoids, fructose is evil, grains are evil, dairy is evil, saturated fat is great – or evil …. you have to throw it all out the window. How did it ever come to this?? In the history of the world people never had to go through this much effort to “figure out” what to eat. We have way to much information and totally lack wisdom. Should it really be this complicated??

    It’s true that a lot of people these days cannot handle so-called “neolithic” foods, but this is mostly because of the generational degeneration of gut ecology, via 20th century abuse of antibiotics. While I do not have time to go into that subject here, GAPS diet founder Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride does a fine job with it; also, the prolific use of rancid, PUFA probably also plays a significant role, especially as it relates to hypothyroidism and mitochondrial dysfunction. But let’s face it: Before antibiotics and PUFA, (and modern environmental toxins) most of the chronic, degenerative diseases – especially autoimmune diseases – that the Paleo folks blame on neolithic foods – were very very rare or hardly existed. Get it? I don’t know why that obvious,undeniable fact is lost on so many Paleo supporters. People in 1900 were not that concerned with being “Paleo.” You’d get laughed at. They were “grain sensitive.” People en-masse did not suffer from so-called “good allergies” or “candida.”

    This is very important. All of human civilization = every great work of art, war, sport, music, literature, philosophy, or religion, was done under the influence of neolithic foods. Do you realize how many millions of people have weight issues, gut dysfunction/IBS/IBD, auto-immune conditions, degenerative conditions, “mental” imbalances, autism, asthma, etc? It’s at an alarming, epidemic rate currently. We cannot blame neolithic foods for these because that line of thinking DOES NOT MAKE ANY SENSE and collapses upon even cursory exploration, because all of our epidemic maladies have seen exponential growth in the later half of the 20th century to the present time. Neolithic foods were not causing these kinds of epidemic problems in 1906 or 1810 or 1500, or earlier. Autoimmunity disease – the paleo poster child – was rare prior to recent times. What would be more fair and realistic to say, is this:

    Due to the degeneration of our guts, and due to the variety of toxins, poisons, PUFAs, and crap we’ve been exposed to since the advent of modern chemistry, many of us can no longer function well on some neolithic foods, and if this, by chance, is at odds with our genetically given metabolic tendencies, we’re gonna have some problems.

    I, for example, am a slender, athletic dude who has always done well with neolithic carbs, until i had a few rounds of antibiotics that ruined me. Now, I can’t deal with carbs, BUT a high-fat, low-carb diet leaves me totally exhausted, depressed, and fatigued. I tried Paleo strictly for 6 months and there was no “adaptation” phase for me that ever happened. I felt bad from the beginning and it never got better.

    I think a lot of people have this kind of problem where they are stuck in a catch-22. Those people – and they number, according to some researchers at about 30% if the population – function really really great on a high-fat diet. Everyone who is not built like that will either feel less-than-stellar or downright shitty.

    Diet gurus, whether paleo, low carb, vegan, carnivore, high starch, will all cherry pick science and manipulate results to support THEIR THEORY. They will present THEIR THEORY to you as dogmatic truth and they will always slam the opposite perspective. I see so many people suffer by following various dietary fads. So many suffer because they are afraid to eat what makes them feel good because it violates some rule (one reason why I like Ray Peat, for example, is that he’ll drink a gallon of orange juice a day, which would totally freak out the fructose-fear camp!). So, good for you all for questioning Paleo, especially if you are not getting results. All the lovely and lofty theory in the world is useless if you are not getting the actual results you want. And if that’s the case, you have to do something different, even if it breaks some rules.

    Reply
    • Welcome Sean. Lots of good points here. I think one of the aims of 180D is to promote deeply critical engagement with dietary dogma in its many forms. There is so much information out there to sift through, and it can be easy to be seduced by one or another camp, or become paralyzed by the analysis. Trying to keep an open mind and help the body function well are big goals here. Good luck on your ‘diet recovery.’

      Reply
    • wow…i just realized the first time i took antiobiotics was in high school. i would have never thought to put this connection together. it was shortly after finishing the antiobotics that I started gaining abdominal fat and a chubby face. wow.

      any remedy to reverse this!?!

      Reply
  116. Hi,

    Been on a high fat – low carb – MODERATE protein diet for a loooong time. I have none of the symptoms described in here. My plate is usually full of veggies (mainly raw) but also animal foods (fat, meat and dairy except milk) to some extent. I have fruits occasionally. In another life, I was a very high carb eater and yet, always avoided processed foods. My health was not optimal then. So after some experimenting (never really fully went paleo myself, I would say my diet / lifestyle is closer to like Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint). It’s another n=1 data point so I would say that there is no one-diet-fits-all recipe.

    P. E.

    Reply
    • Hey PE

      Glad it’s working for you, and I hope you don’t run into trouble. I think Matt’s writing is aimed for folks who do run into challenges and don’t have any idea why their ‘optimal’ diet might be playing a role. There are good physiological reasons why low-carbing works well for a while but then the benefits taper off (see here: http://180degreehealth.com/2010/06/the-catecholamine-honeymoon ), so I encourage you to be open and responsive if that starts happening to you, and don’t be lulled by the compelling ideology of paleo eating.

      Reply
  117. The paleo lifestyle as describe by Mark Sisson is there as a guide. If any of you had any sense you would see this and understand that this way of eating has to be refined for the individual.

    Most of you just can’t stand the thought of giving up those brightly coloured packages that contain what the food industry call ‘food’.

    Follow the paleo lifestyle and all you do is eat fresh food. The carb, protein and fat content of your diet is up to you and how your body responds to it.

    Don’t tell me that this isn’t true, because then I’ll know that all you want to do is sell your book.

    Reply
  118. Paleo works well for blood type O that majority of people have. On the other hand blood type A and AB can have serious health dangers by following this diet.

    This explains why most people do well on paleo while others damage their health!

    Reply
    • Most people don’t do well on Paleo. Some quick weight loss for 6 months and less inflammation is not a sign of success. Just a temporary high.

      Reply
  119. So I’m glad I read your site because I have been trying this Paleo thing for about two weeks and said screw this as I was getting hungry all the time and very faint at the gym or even just sitting at home. I jammed a bunch of Paleo friendly stuff, nuts, seeds, lean meats, eggs, apples, fruits etc into my mouth and ended up eating WAAAAY more calories than I ever would have in my previous balanced eating life that, yes, included healthy whole grains including the devil wheat…because none of it would satiate my hunger. Nuts and healthy fats totally do not work for me at all. The only reason I tried this Paleo deal was because I have mega sinus issues and thought it would help with inflammation. I was by no means a low carber paleo either, BUT my carbs came from fruit and veggies and sweet potatoes not a piece of healthy bread or other grains etc. I also want to lose maybe 5-10 pounds maximum, but have ZERO energy at the gym to do so, and frankly just eating my regular healthy diet will result in weight loss anyways – that was never my major concern. I go regularly, 5 days a week so need bloody energy to work out the way I want to. After doing pushups I literally thought I was going to black out I was so dizzy from hunger, even though I had eaten plenty before. I am going back to eating my organic flax cereal for freaking breakfast because that kept me full until my break at work (recess I’m a teacher) and then I have my banana. On paleo if I ate a jillion nuts and seeds it would NEVER satiate my hunger and was so high in fat, it made me feel like ass. I think it’s pretty counter intuitive to ingest way more fat and calories to try and satiate the hunger a piece of bread would satisfy for hours. My blood sugars were fine before I tried this madness and now they’re all wonky and I’ve had them checked a million times at the doctor before and they were always very normal. I hope I can get myself back to feeling normal because having the shakes and headaches from eating this way is NOT cool. I can’t imagine this is the best way to live a balanced lifestyle for people like me who feel this way on Paleo. I really don’t think eating grains and, heaven forbid, some organic flax wheat cereal everyday is bad for people. I feel for people with serious allergy concerns, but my body does waaay better on a 200-ish carb per day (healthy non-white/enriched flour/grain), low fat diet. Nuts have just never worked for me, I need a small amount of grainy carbs to satiate my hunger for long periods and to sustain my workout level. I don’t know how anyone could survive that ridiculous Atkins thing either. I eat fruit and veggies like they’re going out of style – bananas and potatoes included. My weight fluctuate MAYBE 5 pounds up or down, just eating a balanced diet of good carbs, proteins and fats. I think, like you said, people should eat how their body wants them to because mine sure as hell can’t eat like a caveman. Great site and articles. Thanks for this!

    Hilary

    Reply
  120. “I made it 9 days on meat and cheese alone and I got some horrible abdominal pains.”

    A key aspect of the paleo diet is getting ~100g carbs/day from 6-8 servings of fruits/vegetables. Those are key sources of micronutrients which are essential to proper fat metabolism, hormone regulation, etc. Paleo also strongly recommends eliminating cheese and dairy, as many people have subclinical intolerances. So your subscriber wasn’t doing paleo at all, he was poisoning himself. You might as well go vegan by eating pop-tarts.

    Reply

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