The Calorie Myth Part 2 – Digestibility

Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Google+2

Continuing our conversation from the LAST POST, I want to continue to highlight the fact that whole food diets, raw diets, high-protein diets, and other coarse “health food” diets may not have some mystical slimming property, but may be reliant on inadvertent calorie restriction.

Now if you have followed my work for a long time, you know that I don’t have an outright problem with “inadvertent” calorie restriction, nor do I have a problem with “unintentional” weight loss.  These terms both imply that weight is lost automatically, without willful force against the body’s natural appetite and energy-regulating systems.

I happen to believe that there is a huge fundamental difference between eating less and exercising more as a RESULT of something (change in diet, change in metabolism, increased insulin/leptin sensitivity, change in attitudes and relationship with food/exercise) than eating less and exercising more consciously despite being hungry as hell and exhausted.  And the science, with the hormone leptin especially, fully backs this up (keep pumping leptin into a rat and they can literally starve to death even surrounded by tasty food).

In fact, in the category of weight regulation, for those that incur a significant negative health burden from carrying excess body fat (keeping in mind that the health risks normally equated with being overweight are blown WAY out of proportion), my primary emphasis has been on finding a way to trigger automatic and spontaneous fat loss.  In other words – losing body fat without being hungry or relying on cheap, potentially harmful, impractical, and unsustainable methods such as absurd quantities of exercise or laxative use.  This spontaneous fat loss is sort of the Holy Grail of Weight Loss, and is pretty amazing to experience if you have a history of perpetually making no progress trying to eat less and exercise more than you desire.  This is probably why Paleo, low-carb, vegan, raw, Intermittent fasting, etc. dieters become so obnoxiously evangelistic and develop pronounced HYPERchondria after losing weight and feeling good for the initial 6-month honeymoon period.

Regardless, keep in mind that say, raw foods like we discussed last time, may have a role to play in helping people with serious obesity problems.  I would definitely preferentially recommend a well-designed raw foods diet that induces weight loss because the food isn’t absorbed at a high rate over counting calories and “points” eating highly palatable refined foods.  Why?  Because on a raw food diet you can eat as much as you desire, maybe even more than you desire.  You also are eating more nutritious food, albeit poorly-utilized nutritious food.  And as you know if you have read Diet Recovery, I happen to think that indigestible matter actually plays a vital role in metabolic health due to the conversion of a portion of undigested food into short chain saturated fatty acids that increase insulin sensitivity, increase mitochondrial activity, and have helped rodents that have been studied to become metabolic dynamos.

This seems like a much safer bet than eating below appetite and taking in virtually no nutrition – a standard method studied exhaustively by obesity researchers with the same outcome every time… weight loss followed by reduced metabolism and extreme hunger and cravings followed by weight regain – whether you give into those cravings or not.

So I’m not discounting or discrediting filling up on wholesome foods, raw foods, unprocessed foods, and so on for losing some body fat.  In fact, that’s what I generally recommend.  I just want to get real about what the mechanisms are, and help offer up some reasoning in a world in which so many people attribute these supernatural properties to various diets – the food is “living,” “its life force is intact,” or “it’s the genetic blueprint from our ancestors,” for example.

We know that all species of every creature grows faster and reproduces better on a diet that is totally unnatural for it, just as we know that steroids make athletes a lot better than they would be following what is “natural.”  That’s not to say that cooked, processed food diets don’t have any negative consequences.  They clearly do.  Richard Wrangham speaks to both sides of that…

“We can think of cooked food offering two kinds of advantage, depending on whether species have adapted to a cooked diet.  Spontaneous benefits are experienced by almost any species, regardless of its evolutionary history, because cooked food is easier to digest than raw food.  Domestic animals such as calves, lambs, and piglets grow faster when their food is cooked, and cows produce more fat in their milk and more milk per day when eating cooked rather than raw seeds.  A similar effect appears in fish farms.  Salmon grow better on a diet of cooked rather than raw fishmeal.  No wonder farmers like to give cooked mash or swill to their livestock.  Cooked food promotes efficient growth.

The spontaneous benefits of cooked food explain why domesticated pets easily become fat: their food is cooked, such as the commercially produced kibbles pellets, and nuggets given to dogs and cats…

Even insects appear to get the spontaneous benefits of cooked food… Whether domestic or wild, mammal or insect, useful or pests, animals adapted to raw diets tend to fare better on cooked food.”

I hope this also highlights, in a roundabout kind of way, that if you are underweight and metabolically-Arctic as a result of eating a bunch of extreme “healthy” diets for years – you might want to loosen the f$%# up and have some pizza and ice cream.  Because you aren’t gonna get the calories you need from rabbit food or lean meats no matter how much of it you eat.

Anyway, here are some of the primary factors on how absorbable a food is from a calorie standpoint.  Keep in mind there are many factors involved in weight regulation, and there are no all-encompassing one-hit-wonder theories.  Notice the tremendous overlap with palatability – meaning that the effects of these foods are two-fold, or what I call, for the amusement of one 180 reader in particular, a “double whammy.”  In other words, what causes less stimulation or excitation in the brain kills appetite, and also is digested and absorbed less completely…

1)      Softness – The softer a food, the more completely it digests.  In animal studies, soft food promotes more growth and is liked better than hard, dry food.

2)      Tenderness – Along the same vein, tender foods are more digestible than tough foods.  This is one factor in the digestive superiority of cooked meats vs. raw meats, or cooked starches vs. raw starches, or cooked anything vs. raw anything basically.  Generally the easier it is to chew, the easier it is to digest more completely.  Notice how easy it is to chew fast food compared to the homemade version.

3)      Fiber content – Fiber seems to impair absorption somewhat

4)      Protein content – The more protein in a food, the more energy required to digest that food – so the smaller the calorie “profit.”  This is true except in extreme protein restriction, which seems to have a strong hypermetabolic effect – proposed by some to be an innate mechanism which enables a creature to get its required protein from low-protein food without storing excess fat.

5)      Particle size – The more a food is blended, chopped, or crushed into small pieces the more digestible it becomes.  Ground beef is more digestible than steak for example, which begs the question, “Why go out for steak when you’ve got burgers at home?”

6)      Meal size – It seems that eating big meals instead of small meals causes a slight loss of digestive efficiency.  I would imagine the greater the variety and complexity of these meals, the lower the percentage of calories absorbed as well (although we tend to eat considerably more when the variety is greater).

I’m sure there are tons of other factors.  Too many to mention.  I would think calorie density probably promotes better absorption. A higher ratio of fat to other macronutrients would promote better absorption.  Liquids over solids.  And so on.  Anyway, you can see a great many of the popular diet ideas woven into that list.  Sort of a Jon Gabriel meets Joel Fuhrman meets Martin Berkhan meets Sonya Black Widow Thomas (picture at top) – all Fletcherized somehow.

I don’t mean to be suggesting any grand conclusions here, just thinking out loud.  As usual.  And trying to bait JT, which is always fun.


  1. Hi Matt
    I’d be very interested into having your point of view or maybe an article on the ultimate diet recommended by coach Abel Scott. While I fully endorse and see the results of his training, thanks to you pointing to him in the first place, I was disappointed by his diet video that I bought.
    His principle is caloric restriction for a while – not drastic but 30% less than the ideal ratio until one get very little body fat; then maintain the regimen but with one day of “pigging out” per week. Apparently this triggers both fat loss and muscle gain and he has sustained it for 15 years without adverse metabolic effect.
    Personally I was very disappointed because I find this antinatural and the idea of restriction 6 days a week was really a bummer to me. I wonder why you take on it is, because it’s basically HED for one day and then restriction for 6…Have you tried it?

    • Scott Abel is in the business of achieving what is beyond natural following a casual approach to diet and health. I think his diet probably has some validity. It is also extremely hard. Brutal in fact. To be very restricted and very hungry 6 days per week. I can’t imagine it. It is not practical for very many people – especially those who mind their lives being taken over by their diet and physical training (an understood pre-requisite for extreme body composition metamorphosis). I personally would love to try it. I love trying anything. But I know that I personally couldn’t actually do it. I have no willpower whatsoever. I had very little before I went out and starved myself in the wilderness for 2 months, and have had absolutely ZERO ability to withstand hunger with gorging ever since. I can’t even make it 2 days hungry before I go crazy.

    • Also keep in mind that Abel works with elite athletes, not obese non-athletes. When it comes to perpetual calorie restriction for say, 6-12 months until an obese person loses 100 pounds and becomes supercomp lean, I don’t see that happening. At least not with any consistency amongst those that really have severe weight problems.

  2. What I find interesting (and a little confusing) is that since I started following the RBTI plan 2 months ago, I have eaten much more digestible foods, hence absorbing more of the calories, and yet I am losing weight! Of course, normally if I had eaten these foods in the past, I would gain weight rapidly and steadily, so I guess it all has to do with the meal timing and avoiding the “no no” foods as to why I am losing weight eating these highly digestible (and highly delicious) foods.


    • Same here Cathy. Both on losing weight and gaining weight on the very same foods prior to RBTI. The primary difference seems to be the meal schedule, which has sort of an intermittent fasting effect (appetite-suppressing). I know I have been much less hungry and eaten far less food on RBTI than prior to it. I can’t pretend that my caloric intake hasn’t changed, because it did, and I lost weight. That’s one of the reasons I have been excited about maintaining a longer fasting period lately, because it allows many people to eat a totally normal and relaxed diet and get away with it – even get healthier and leaner doing it, thus making all this obsessive health food drudgery unnecessary.

    • but isn’t the rigid schedules a form of restricted eating too? I’ve been hearing so many good things about RBTI, but at the same time, I’ve been hearing a lot about not restricting your eating, eating to appetite, and eating what your body wants, and both ideas just seem to contradict. ):

      • They do contradict. But you can make your body want certain things and want to eat on that schedule by setting that schedule. Your body can get used to just about anything that you do with regularity, and the regularity itself is a huge important piece of what makes RBTI effective for some people.

      • Shu,

        They don’t cancel each other out – they actually complement each other. It’s all in how you look at it I guess. But you can actually get the best of both by combining the two. They work quite well together. Plus doing so minimizes fat gain and even facilitates fat loss – so bonus!

        You’ll find that eating the bulk of your calories and whatever your body wants in the first part of the day – or even the last part of the day (Chief-like schedule) for that matter, whichever you prefer – doesn’t feel restrictive at all. And that’s not really eating on a rigid schedule either, if you think about it. Quite the opposite. It’s actually very liberating because you no longer have to think about or fuss over food so much. It frees you up to do other things (like pursue your passions). In fact, I find the conventional mantra of “eat three ‘wholesome’ meals a day” to be much more restrictive and rigid – not to mention stressful!

        You’d be surprised how UN-restricted you will feel and actually how much LESS RIGID life becomes. If/when you do eat on a RBTI-like (or Chief-like) schedule, eating whatever your body wants, beyond appetite, makes you feel satisfied longer. Thus you don’t feel deprived or even hungry the other part of the day. So it becomes quite easy to eat that way.

        • That is certainly true with the basic meal schedule. I always resonated with Berkhan’s critique of the high meal frequency when he talked about how easy it was just to eat just a couple meals during a shorter feeding window. It’s just so damn easy and painless knowing that at 1pm or so you are basically done with food for the day – barring a little steamed veggies or slice of toast in a jiff with a glass of milk in the early evening.

          • so the actual timing of the largest meal doesn’t really matter, as long as there is a period of unintentional fasting going on? haven’t read much about chief’s method, but if that is the case, that is pretty much how it is for me. I don’t do it intentionally though, it’s just what works out to be easier. when there’s school, my meal is often the largest at night because i have time to cook a proper meal when I’m home, and then in the morning it’s a lighter meal because I usually don’t have time, so maybe fruit, or miso and a few scoops of rice (i’m asian). but now that it’s the holidays and I’m home most of the day, lunch is the biggest meal, though I often have it quite late in the day, after 2pm. it’s good to know that I don’t have to rush to down everything by 1pm!

          • The timing of the largest meal may matter. There is rhyme and reason to why the RBTI eating schedule is set up as it is. And it may not be negotiable. Then again, it might not matter at all. I think if you are consistent with it, and let your body adjust to a regular eating schedule of any kind, it is a step in the right direction.

          • I don’t know, I’m very thin and could not follow the RBTI pattern. Now I try to eat a decent breakfast (usually fairly small), and a good-size lunch and dinner with maybe an afternoon snack, and that works well and I’m still very thin. I’ve found regularly spaced meals the most effective thing.

      • Shu,
        When I think of “restricted eating”, I think of something that feels unnatural to the body, that causes some type of discomfort. What I have found with RBTI is that my body LOVES eating on a schedule. It THRIVES on eating on a schedule. I think I always knew this, down deep, but ignored it and made myself a meal when I felt like it or got around to it or was about to keel over from feeling so weak.

        Once I started feeding myself on a schedule, everything else started to fall into place, in ways they NEVER have before. I wake up at the same time every morning, get sleepy at the same time at night, my digestion and elimination are much better, I have developed a strong sense of thirst and a strong appetite, something I never experienced before in my entire life! And if that is not enough, I am losing weight eating donuts, pie, pasta, pizza, etc, along with more nutritious stuff too. :-) This doesn’t feel like restriction to me, it feels like HEAVEN. :-)

        I was a complete mess before RBTI, staying up until dawn, going to bed whenever, waking up whenever, eating whenever, with no real strong urge to eat or drink EVER (and yet being morbidly obese) and always battling with constipation. No more!

        • That is incredibly well said Cathy. I was most impressed by the ability of the consistency of the program to regulate bodily functions and rhythms. I think that is one of, if not THE, biggest contributor to the health improvements many people see with it. And it is SO enjoyable and liberating to be able to eat pretty much anything and everything to appetite and even beyond and not just “get away with it” but thrive.

  3. Well I totally hear you and that was the reason why I was so disappointed. I pointed out to coach Abel how unpractical and un-social it is for most people – he also recommend 5 small meals a day – and while he is great at answering any queries and criticism he didn’t seemed to get what was my problem with this diet; from his point of view he seems to suggest this is a perfectly easy and natural way to leave while achieving great results once you are used to it…Which make me think that for all the good he does he is on another planet with his diet.
    No way I’m gonna restict myself 6 days a week either – life is too short to go to this extent to achieve any kind of cosmetic result IMO.
    But he bases his diet on leptin etc. apparently there is science behind it and it could very well have been the diet of our ancestors – starving most of the time and then pigging out when they went lucky hunting…

    • Diet or our ancestors or not, I think this is flawed logic. Our ancestors were, after all, nothing like Scott Abel and Kevin Weiss. Most were like a buck 20 soaking wet. Like the guy in The Gods Must Be Crazy.

      But yes, I’ve always noticed the mismatch between the hardcore health and fitness nerds and the general public. Scott Abel thinks, “hey, what’s the big deal with eating 5 meals per day, starving yourself 6 days per week, working out hard for 75 minutes 5 times per week, etc.?” And your average Joe answers that question with “everything.”

      For a normal person to try to mimic the diet and lifestyle of Scott Abel is a mismatch. It’s someone trying to be someone that they are not and will never be. It’s like me forcing myself to study political science for 3 hours per day. Not gonna happen. It’s not me. It’s not what I was put on this planet to do.

      • Reminds me of a conversation I once had with a blogger who just bought a gym. She was astounded that I wasn’t willing to do all I could (such as never drink alcohol or eat sugar, eat 5 times daily, etc.). I tried to explain to her that people who make a living (bodybuilders, models, personal trainers) might be willing to go that far, but us single urban ex-fatties are trying to enjoy our life, and that extra 10 pounds that I can’t lose isn’t worth the sacrifice. Point not understood, but that’s okay.

  4. Well you already know now but this is what I was typing…

    “double whammy” Ha! :)



    Won’t even get into the others I noticed lol :)

    But this…

    “And trying to bait JT, which is always fun.”

    Yeah that’s always amusing too.

    In a good way, JT. You are missed :)

    • Haha… just finished catching up on the comments. Yes I caught the Bob Greene and the political science references… among other things lol :)

      • I’m saving the Cruller reference as long as I possibly can.

        • Haha. Crullers, Tiramisu, mmm… either one will do.

          And if you can work in a Bonobo reference that would be impressive! And definitely amusing :)

  5. I was not sure how to connect so I am doing it here. I bought your book series in 2010. Do I get the updates to those books free? If so, how do I access them?

    • I don’t have any recent updates. Send me an email though at and I’ll make sure you have everything you need. And that everything is current.

  6. How about enzymes? Mr.Stone, you are clueless and confused. It is clear that your specialty is English and Journalism. Please stop your nonsense and leave the nutrition/biochemistry/physiology to people such as Ray Peat, Lita Lee etc.

    • Enzymes have shown to be useless in digestion and helping to increase the amount of calories extracted from a food. What, you think Edward Howell was some great scientist or something? Bob Greene was more scientific than Howell’s “work” with food enzymes. I will leave nutrition/biochemistry/physiology to Ray Peat the moment he can come up with coherent ideas that can be put into practical use to do something other than make people fat and obsessed with taking progesterone.

      • Could you point to some studies confirming the ineffectiveness of enzymes? I took some a while back and it didn’t do much to improve my digestion.


        • It’s not so much that there are a bunch of studies showing that they are useless, there are just no studies showing that they have any use. Like many things in nutrition, it appears to be mostly just a made up story that sounds good. Like the Santa Claus story. These enzymes are like little elves that digest all your food for you.

          In reality, cooking a food until very tender increases its digestibility. So if enzymes do play a role breaking down food, they certainly don’t do it as well as cooking does to break down cell walls, denature proteins, etc. Eating food raw to improve how a food digests is like refusing to use a bulldozer because a shovel has been scientifically proven to help humans dig holes faster.

          • One important example of enzymes being very useful is milk. If you pasteurize milk you destroy the enzyme lactase which helps you break down lactose. Milk seems (to me anyway) to be one of those foods you want to drink raw or culture in someway like yogurt, or kefir which will change the sugar and make it easier to digest. I think pasteurization is a big reason that people are lactose intolerant because of the damage it does to enzymes.

          • That is probably not true. Cooked milk is much easier to digest and much less problematic than drinking raw milk. Pasteurized milk isn’t exactly cooked, because it is not heated that high. Lactase is useful in the lower digestive tract where it is digested, and all mammals produce it until they are weaned. That’s where lactase is useful. Most lactase and enzymes in the food itself are destroyed in the stomach before they reach the intestines. Same with probiotics – which are useful as a pre-digestant as in cultured dairy.

          • In terms of milk, maybe there is a reason that other animals do not drink milk beyond infancy.

          • They always drink it when given the opportunity, as all creatures instantly recognize the superiority of milk compared to all other foods. I think milk plays a key role in why we refer to non-humans as “other animals.” Dairy and grain solidified our place at the top of the food chain – providing nutritious and easily-digestible calories 365 days per year.

          • Matt,

            What makes cooked milk more digestible than raw milk? I am very curious about this. What factors make milk more or less digestible? fat content, raw vs. cooked, grass fed, homogenized, cultured? I constantly crave milk and dairy products but they seem to constipate me (except for butter). I wonder if it is the milk proteins that are causing my problems?

          • The denaturation of proteins with cooking is what enhances digestibility. Consuming food warm helps too. Drinking warm milk digests better than drinking cold milk. Culturing is a form of psuedo-cooking. It helps too without actually heating it up. Dairy protein seems to be particularly constipating compared to other foods. When I did a milk fast I thought I was going to tear my anus.

          • Matt, I’ve always thought enzymes to be bunk too .. I want to believe that they have some purpose though. One benefit I do get from taking an enzyme (Therazyme-Pan) is less gas. I was told that I don’t digest sugars properly and so this particular enzyme would be beneficial for me .. I haven’t noticed anything else, but less gas is definitely a benefit.

          • I was told the same thing as you Tyler and after taking enzymes to help me break down sugars, I can honestly say they do work. Without being to graphic, I can tell that my meals of veggies and carbs are finally breaking down and I no longer get gas and bloating after consuming them. I just spent the last week without the enzymes(ran out and was waiting for them to come in the mail) after having used them for a couple weeks and for that week I was not taking them my food looked completely undigested like before I had started taking them. I should also mention that it was only till the second week into taking the enzymes that my system finally started breaking my meals down. The first week of taking them I thought it was “bunk” too. The goal is to eventually not need them anymore as our bodies start producing the enzymes on their own. I hope this is what happens anyways! All I know is those of us who have a hard time breaking down certain foods we do see the benefits in these enzymes.

            God bless!

          • I totally agree. Our dog is a food FIEND, but when we put goat’s milk in one bowl and his food in another, he without fail drinks the milk first, and keeps licking the bowl feverishly even after it is dry, before touching his food.

      • plus one for thaat response lol

      • I thought you thought that Ray Peat’s ideas were pretty good. Was I mistaken?

        • You will never know what Matt likes or dislikes, it changes like the wind . . . .

          • Which is precisely how he discovers which beliefs he can trust in and which beliefs he can let go of… because he IS willing to seek the truth and change when something no longer works or holds true for him.

            This could be true for everyone. But sadly, many people just stick to their tired old beliefs.

            BTW, go read Martin Berkhan’s latest post from Friday the 23rd.

          • From that post…
            1. Never wait until you’re at your wits’ end, before a much needed change in your course of action comes – because if you do, it will come more by force, and not conscious will.

            2. Be a pragmatist – not a fundamentalist. Never commit to an idea, only to progress and results.

            3. Always be prepared to change your ways rapidly and dramatically, if required. Adaptability is the key. Rigidity is the killer.

            4. Forget the past and don’t try to save a sinking ship; the faster you abandon it, the better.

            5. Cultivate a sense of suspiciousness towards yourself, your mind, and your actions. Wipe out irrational behaviors and counterproductive patterns quickly and ruthlessly – show no mercy or leniency.

          • That’s true. I will soon be flogging Jon Gabriel like a red-headed step child.

          • Double whammy!

        • Ray is incredibly intelligent, and his prioritization of a high metabolic rate, the minimization of stress hormones and inflammation, and favortism of the parasympathetic I cannot disagree with. But it is all theory and no practicality. He hasn’t come up with a way to achieve what he is trying to achieve, for the most part. For example, he is right that it is good to keep sugar levels from tanking, and dropping sugar levels are indicative of a low metabolism – and in turn cause things like nightmares, seizures, migraines, fatigue, and so on. But follow his diet and you will likely find your sugar levels tanking more than ever, following a wild roller coaster ride, especially if you consume things like juice, fruit, and ice cream late in the evening. I would always wake up starving and wide awake at 3-4am following some of Peat’s ideas (a massive surge of stress hormones!). I also ballooned up to a sexy 210 pounds, which was chubby enough not to film any youtube videos for 5 months! He also wants to minimize inflammation, which is great! But again, his ideas don’t necessarily achieve that. I had much more pain, inflammation, difficulty recovering from exercise, and so on when trying to apply his ideas. In short, Ray Peat = great objectives and no clue how to achieve them.

          • That was my experience, also. Ray Peat has an incredible understanding of what the problems are, and the cause. The solution? Not so much. (I gained 30 pounds, my insomnia got much worse, I was always constipated, and my inflammation increased.)


          • Funny, I just listened to you with Josh and Jeanne Rubin talk for an hour last night via podcast and I’m surprised at your comment. There is NO Peat diet and Peat is not a nutritionist. You continually asked Josh how to “eat Peat” (in other words) and he continually stated there is NO ONE WAY, it is individualized. It appears you have tried what you (or someone else) have interpreted to be a Peat Diet, gained weight and blamed Peat… the very thing Josh says he is sick of people doing (to which you agreed) and why he is vague in answering questions with a blanket response because there isn’t one. I like you Matt… a lot, but I feel you’re not being as honest here and that is disappointing.

          • Yes. No one seems to have developed a high level of consistency with successfully implementing the ideas of Peat.

  7. I find that ground meat is extremely difficult to digest. I always end up nauseated, even though each time I have cooked it in a sauce/broth for about 2 hours. I’m not sure why this is, perhaps the meat quality is of the less digestible kind.

    • My mother also found ground meat to be utterly undigestible until I switched to grass fed lean, then it was ok..

  8. Matt, off to Hawaii, where should I send your plate lunch? or would you rather I boxed up a buffet from Dukes?
    Kisses and Hugs
    Da Kine Hag

    • Ho haggie, me like one plate lunch fo eat. One kine loco moco fo grind. Shoots hag. No can ansa question. Ainokea wot we grind.

  9. Matt, keep up the great work. I don’t know if I agree with everything you say, but for sure you make me think about things and question things that I thought I knew!

    Anyway, I count calories because I don’t completely trust my appetite. I ate dinner about 3hrs ago, and I know I could down a whole bag of potatoe chips right now, but I don’t because I’m trying to lose 20 pounds, and I’ve already eaten enough today for a 500 calorie deficit. I’m not starving, but I have a slight bit of hunger. Should I give into my hunger and always eat until I’m stuffed. Or is a little bit of hunger OK, as long as I’m not starving hungry.


    • A little bit of hunger is okay. As long as it is adequately met with plenty of food to counter periods of deficit. I think the danger is maintaining a constant deficit for days and weeks on end – staying perpetually in a sympathetic dominant state. Like recently I have taken to going long periods without any food at all. But when I do eat, I eat great feasts with everything I could possibly want until I literally push the food away from me in disgust. I think without these feasts I would be metabolically doomed.

  10. People just need to relax and drink more micro-brewed beer… even better, some gruitale… then quit there shitty job and do something they want to do, and everything will fall in line!!!


    • Working on it man… working on it.

      • you just have to do it… if you just don’t do it, you will always be working on it…. or saving for it, or striving towards it… and then it becomes never doing it… and everything else that comes with it…


        • Yeah, sometimes “just do it” works for some people – myself included, at times, although not every time lol. (I know, Matt, I’m workin’ on it lol! :)

          Anywho… even just “working on it” can position you for things to fall into place. Just doing something you really enjoy can change your mindset and inspire you. That’s when the magic begins.

          • Its all the waiting that people do to be happy that makes me disappointed… and i understand the people that have families that just don’t leave it behind… anything is possible!!!


          • I know, Troy. I’m totally with ya on that! :)

        • Navajo, I wish I could jump on the craft beer wagon again. I was all about them for a while. Now I can barely tolerate any alcohol .. it makes my brix crash like crazy! Plus I think my liver isn’t functioning at top notch. I’m all for people doing what they want though .. I’m working on that myself right now.

          • Alcohol is the like the ultimate sugar crashing substance. I used to be so embarrassed every time I drank because I had to go pee literally every 10 minutes after 1-2 beers.

      • Glad to hear you’re working on it, Aaron :)

    • Or at least start with doing something they want to do when they are not working, instead of tuning out.

  11. Love the pic Matt.

  12. My boss likes to say to athletes: You’ve got to eat big to be big!, but maybe eating big can keep you from gaining weight.


    What do you think about finding reasons for your body to be thin like needing to outrun a predator? Or reasons to be strong or powerful, like to fight someone/something? Can you use your imagination to make your body into what you want it to be?

    • Excellent question!

    • Although the question sounds silly, yes – your thoughts effect your physiology, and in powerful ways. That’s how lie detectors work, changing skin temperature and circulation in an instant based on your thoughts. Even winning a fight is enough to raise testosterone significantly. I imagine winning fights in your head over and over again would yield a little surge there as well – the more vivid the imagination, the greater the effect.

  13. I’ve tried the RBTI eating schedule for a couple of months now and am practically down to the same level of leanness I had prior to discovering 180DH and the High Everything Diet, without the slightest hint of an increase in appetite/cravings, fatigue or cold intolerance.

    However there is no denying that weight loss with RBTI happens the same way all other weight loss happens, by not eating for the major part of the day you induce an elevation of catabolic stress hormones that burns up your fat, in addition to making you feel better, less inflamed, more energetic and less hungry. However losing weight for too long with this method can probably induce the same problems of elevated stress hormones as any other diet, although less severely if you can avoid all the phsychological stress of conscious deprivation.

    I’ve noticed during the months of doing RBTI, that whenever I break the restricted pattern and eat more ad libitum of food and sugar around the clock for an extended period, I tend to immediately (within a day or two) develop cold symptoms, nasal congestion, sore throat, fatigue, aches and feeing inflamed in general. Anyone else experienced this?

    So to lose weight you need to elevate stress hormones, and to keep your health you need to at least periodically rehabilitate with abundant food and rest to bring down the stress hormones and keep your immune system up and running. What I’m wondering is whether refined foods are more potent at bringing down stress hormones than raw foods, due to increased digestability, energy availability and so forth, and if so whether more refined and palatable foods are preferable to use in any program that works by periodic stress hormone elevation followed by periodic stress hormone minimization. Maybe refined foods are better for intense rehab after extended periods of elevated stress, or maybe they’re even better for everyday use to keep stress hormones from slowly escalating during an intermittent fasting program?

    I’m also wondering whether these factors that Matt lists as making foods more absorbable are also independently influencing its potency to reduce stress, or whether they’re just indirectly associated with ease of energy absorption.

    • I think the calorie is the primary stress reducer. And what brings stress hormones down the most is probably what you are craving and want to eat the most. That is highly variable from person to person. If you have been restricting fat, fat is the most destressing. If you have been restricting carbs, carbs are the most destressing. Salt, salt. Sugar, sugar. And so on. There’s no doubt that you eat more and absorb more when you eat easy-to-digest soft, well-cooked, highly palatable foods all mixed together buffet-style. Just having a wide selection is great because even during a meal what you want to eat changes. Eat enough cookies and you want some steak and potatoes. Eat enough steak and potatoes and you want some cookies.

      Your comment is absolutely 100% correct on all fronts. I just hope that there is a way to “have our cake and eat it too” – getting the benefits without drawbacks or long-term consequences. I want to keep eating this way. It’s awesome.

      On the comment of breaking the pattern, I intentionally added some leniency to what I was doing too to make myself at least slightly more resilient – not having negatives with slight deviations in the eating schedule. Or getting wiped out by having a beer or chocolate or late-night meat or sweets. That’s in disharmony with the basic premise, but one cannot stay on RBTI forever even if it was proven to be the holy Almighty of all things health. There are other things in life besides your health, which is part of living a healthy life.

    • that was what I was worried about when I first heard about this form of eating schedule. I get what you are trying to say about not being restricted because you can eat whatever you want, but not being able to eat at night just seems like a form of dieting still. (I know you’re not supposed to feel hungry at that time if you follow the plan, but I’m just saying, what if, and esp if you’re starting out, or when it’s a night out with friends.)

      thanks for clarifying about adding some leniency to make sure you’re resilient to this system! definitely an important point to bring up to people who are also going to try out this form of eating, because they may fall into another obsessive diet trap.

      • I think most people who follow RBTI do eat at night. It is recommended to have a light meal, around 5 or 6 p.m., as I understand it. Some nights I just have cottage cheese and tomatoes, or a bowl of cereal and milk, but sometimes I have something substantial, like pizza. If I went out with friends, I would probably try to avoid the meat or sweets, per the RBTI “rule”, but that leaves PLENTY of options – Mexican, Chinese, Italian, you name it. I find I usually sleep better and even lose more weight on the nights I eat the larger meal.

        • I have eaten at least a little something basically every night throughout the “journey.” Soup, salads, steamed veggies, quesadillas, and pizza have been the standby’s.

  14. Matt,

    I’ve seen you mention (and try) IF recently…what’s your official take (as of today) on intermittent fasting? I’ve been skipping breakfast M-F (hence doing 18 hour fasts 5x a week). Not sure my results are any better than when I ate breakfast…and while some mornings I am just not hungry, I am on others, so it’s easier to do on some days. Curious about your experience? Thanks.

    • I think it has applicability in some circumstances. I’ve certainly dealt with those who cannot and should not go for long periods without food until they get their metabolism straightened out. They simply don’t have the glycogen storage to go very long without food. This is very common.

      I like the version of IF that allows you to eat big every day. Fasting only works when combined with feasting. I’m not sure that eating most of the food late at night and skipping breakfast is superior. I would like to compare the two myself next year, giving the late night eating a fair trial. I find eating a light dinner is much easier. You fall asleep just before you would start to get hungry, and spend your hungry time asleep instead of counting the minutes until you can eat something.

  15. Thanks Matt…I am thinking about getting back to three meals (per your HED style). When I fast M-F by skipping breakfast I eat ~700 calories for lunch and maybe ~1200 for dinner (+/- 200 or so). I eat bigger during the weekends. That being said, I don’t think I eat enough on the fasting days, but this is me not letting go of bad diet habits when I was loosing a lot of weight (I was always cold and dizzy when standing, which has gotten less frequent once I started eating fruit twice a day and not avoiding healthy carbs…this was when I was on the Sisson plan…ugh).

  16. Matt, do you think the ability to have fevers is connected to general metabolic health? I was thinking about this as my cold just developed into my first full-blown fever in at least 5 years. I never had a fever during all those years I did calorie restriction and other types of restricted diets like low-carb and low-fat combined with exercising and used to think this was a sign of increased health, but then it struck me that those who have the most fevers are typically those with the strongest metabolism of all – children. Whereas those with the weakest metabolism, the elderly, typically contract fewer and fewer colds with age and rarely seem to get fevers.

    • I don’t think it’s healthy to feel the symptoms of illness frequently. If you do experience illness, it shouldn’t last very long. Kicking an illness very quickly is a great sign of health.

      Young kids have weaker immune systems and less overall hormonal potential due to lack of things like testosterone and progesterone. These adult hormones are part of the reason that adults have the lowest death rates during things like plagues – while young children and the elderly, who have fewer “youth hormones,’ have higher death rates.

      I know many that normally have a very low body temperature and feel all the symptoms of fever even with temps below 98.6F/37C. That is definitely a sign of a low metabolism and poor health. Having higher fevers beyond ideal body temperature is a much better sign of health – when you have a fever.

      But I don’t ever really get ill or run a fever, and I don’t think this is because I’m unhealthy, but the opposite. I probably could make myself ill and have a fever by staying up too late, drinking lots of alcohol, overexercising, undereating, or a combination of all those. Things that wear down my immune system basically.

  17. Ha, I just saw “The Gods Must be Crazy” last night!

    Several things. I’m really glad that you’re laying it out up front about the calorie restriction, while acknowledging that calorie restriction is far more complex than CICO.

    And it’s ok to be a bit hungry: like you said, your body can get used to anything, with time. Until quite recently, I couldn’t go without eating a snack between meals: now, most days, even if I’m hungry between meals, I don’t want to eat anything because I know I won’t feel good afterwards. On the other hand, my ND is still saying I should eat something every couple hours. I can’t do it.

    Meantime, between reading Stephan’s comment on one of his posts, saying that anyone can lose weight if they create a calorie deficit, and other research of my own (and increase in thyroid med), I’m just working on creating a calorie deficit. I already ate less than anyone I know, but now I’m eating much less, and I feel fine and even energetic for the most part! And here’s my question: I eat mostly raw food, and no animal products save two raw eggs per week. I eat a lot of whole carrots. Generally very low reward food. Have been doing so for years, with a brief and horrendous Aajonus experiment. My question is, if you’ve been doing the high fiber, low reward, etc, diet for years, does its effectiveness wear off? I.e. do you start getting high reward effects from carrots and celery, and just need to eat less and less?

    One other thing. I love that you recap the hard vs soft food, and those other distinctions. However, my favorite meal may be a smoothie. Periodically, I go off smoothies simply for this “hard vs. soft food” logic, but in fact, I find smoothies to be the exception: for me at least, they’re super-filling.

    Would appreciate your thoughts on this.

    • Unfortunately for you in particular Ela, knowing your history and tendencies, my advice is to completely forget about all this health stuff and try to eat “normal.” That all sounds like classic eating disorder-induced norepinephrine addiction to me. People shouldn’t have to be hungry to have energy. Or avoid food because they “won’t feel good afterwards.” That’s why eating disorders are self-perpetuating. Eating causes withdrawals from all the feel good feelings of the catecholamines, which feel like a really good caffeine buzz, making you energetic, happy, talkative, and alert.

    • Ela, I agree with Matt, and honestly this sounds like a relapse (coming from personal experience).

      I think it’s worth noting that once I finally gave in and ate everything (a la Rrarf) was when my body comp became fantastic (after a small short-term weight gain, then loss). I eat plenty of veggies now, but definitely a lot of digestible starch, too (like sweet potatoes, rice, wheat – mainly whole grains). I actually try to make my diet as digestible as possible with very few raw veggies for that reason other than lettuce. I don’t know how it works, but it does. There is something very powerful about listening to the body and eating lots of real food. I give into my cravings now, but the beauty is they are almost always for things like brown rice, certain veggies, fish, etc (weird but true). I think as unrestrictive as you can make your diet, the better. I think in your case, you probably would benefit from more animal protein, too, if you can possibly stomach it.

  18. Thanks, you guys–darn, I was hoping that wasn’t what you were going to say! I guess I can’t imagine doing the “unrestrictive” thing: it just doesn’t sound good to me. But then my alternative would be to assume that I’ll always need to be restrictive, and that what used to be “low-reward” foods become high reward foods just in my case… That’s the mechanism I’m curious about.

    I’m having 2 raw eggs a week–that was going well, then I didn’t have any for a few weeks because I was traveling and then didn’t get back into it: since I’ve started again, they’ve made me nauseous every time, so I think that’s as much as I can bear on the animal products for now…
    Amy, I’m glad that the “cravings” you get sound so well balanced!

    • It’s weird actually and I don’t quite get it, but it’s real. The girl with the former sweet tooth. Definitely a result of Rrarf. Low-reward foods have become high-reward in my case, so I think it definitely can happen, but it doesn’t cause weight gain.

      Just curious, why raw eggs? I think that would make me nauseous, too. Have you tried cooked (at least firm whites)? I don’t think raw egg whites are very digestible, and I think I read they can interfere with protein digestion (wasn’t that a ray peat-ism?). Or maybe try cooking eggs into a dish (like as a binder in a legume dish, maybe) so you don’t notice them?

      • Thanks, Amy–and sorry, I still haven’t figured out a way to see comments back without remembering to come look!

        Your comment that low-reward foods become high-reward but don’t cause weight gain in the process is extremely reassuring.

        Raw eggs: because I just think they’re ‘better.’ Despite the current nausea thing (and right now pretty much everything’s making me nauseous) I think I digest them far better that cooked eggs–I don’t burp them up, for ex. Also, raw eggs was the first animal protein I ate after having been anorexic/vegan/fruitarian in some combination for almost a decade and at the time was very depleted, had a broken arm and a staph infection, and although it wasn’t overnight, the effect of the raw eggs was verging on miraculous, both physiologically and emotionally, so I remember that and tend to stay with it.

  19. I’ve been practicing HED for about 10 days now, noticing that my fingers go cold for three different reasons. 1) Hunger; 2) Exercise for 15 minutes and no snack.(since experiencing this, I stopped exercising for the time) 3) Stress (small and large) I also notice I can get them warm again just with eating.

    Is metabolism a finicky thing? For example, I overate yesterday at 1pm, light snack in the evening, and then this morning, I got up and had a little bit to eat. I wasn’t feeling hungry, but I got cold again, so I went and ate a large bowl of rice with milk an a splash of maple syrup. Warm again.

    Is this standard or does it suggest that I have more to heal?

    • That sounds pretty standard. Although as you continue you should notice yourself getting more resilient, and not crashing and getting cold with various minor and major stressors.

    • Kerry,

      I am the same way and I recently found out that I have very low sugars and cold hands and feet are very much a sign of low sugars and a messed up metabolism. I too instantly warm up when I eat carbs like sweet potatoes, squash soup ect. If you think about it it all makes sense. As soon as we get carbs(sugar) into us, we start to warm up because we are raising our sugars which, if you are like me, are probably crashing. The goal is to prevent your sugars from crashing. Do you notice if you don’t eat by a certain time that you get sleepy and/or want to curl up in a ball and sleep? If so, you could be dealing with the same issue as many of us. For me, my sugars start to plummet around 11:00 am and if I don’t eat carbs by 12:00 the latest, I get that sleepy feeling and all I want to do is go to sleep without eating. At that point my sugars have crashed and I have no desire to eat. Probably because all I have the energy for is to sleep. This may not be your case and I could be completely wrong. If so, please feel free to just ignore me! :-)

      I think this is why it is so important for us to start listening to our own bodies again and put aside what we have been taught through all these radical diets. We need to listen to our instincts. Unfortunately, we have been programed to feel we are only doing good by ourselves if we are in pain and/or punishing ourselves such as in over exercising or eating how someone else thinks we should eat based on this crazy notion that we are only beautiful if we fit the exact same mold as each other. It is quite liberating to just trust ourselves without the fear of gaining weight just because we may find a food palatable, eat more in a sitting than what we will usually allow ourselves, eat carbs and the silly list goes on and on. Anyhow, I wish you all the best of luck in your quest for health and happiness. Just remember to be true to yourselves first and foremost! This brings so much health to the human spirit!:-)

      God bless!


      • Jennifer,

        Thanks for that very well-thought out and passionate response. It was refreshing to read. Not everyone gets sleepy and tired when sugars crash though. For me, I tend to start feeling wired and irritable with an almost nervous energy. Then I eat and my sugar goes up and I feel warm, relaxed, happy, and tired. Maybe not tired, but definitely semi-sedated.

        • Thank you for the kind words, Matt! Good point about the irritability when the sugars crash. I notice that right before I get sleepy I get a bit cranky. Wow… I sound like a lot of fun to be around! lol Good thing I learned a long time ago how to bite my tongue. :-)

          God bless!

        • I sort have a combination of both those scenarios- when I fast through breakfast, I have that super wired and nervous energy feeling, like I am on speed. (I drink a cup of coffee in the morning too…). I like it though, it is my super productive time when I get lots of stuff done. Then I love a big lunch, and generally feel pretty good eating a large quantity of food at this time. Lots of protein- fish, chicken breast, with some fruit, yogurt and 100% pumpernickel bread, perhaps a couple hard boiled eggs. But then throughout the day I am prone to bouts of lethargy or apathy- it’s interesting, I can feel changes in my emotional state almost as much as my physical/energy state based on what I’ve been eating.

          • Yeah, when I skip breakfast I crash much harder in the afternoon. When I skip lunch and eat a big dinner I crash really hard the next day mid-morning. It seems that the RBTI eating schedule template really does have validity in terms of creating maximal stability. But I’m open to other ways of skinning that cat for sure.

  20. No, I don’t notice wanting to curl up and lay down. I notice getting cold and ornery. Reeeeally ornery, yet I don’t notice hunger at all. As for low blood sugar, that has been suggested to me.

    I’d love to find a way to speed up metabolism without gaining a ton of weight. That would be nice. I really don’t want to buy new clothes on the up and down swing!

  21. Agreed with Jennifer and Matt. I still have issues denying myself stuff. I eat 95% healthy and usually use Sundays to go a little nuts. Last night I woke up at 12am craving (of all things) Fig Newtons, milk, and peanut butter. The craving literally woke me up. I gave into it, and after killing a sleeve of the Netwons, a glass of milk, and four scoops of the good stuff (yes I know PB isn’t the best with Omega 6)…I went out like a light and felt great. :) Of course I would like to avoid these types of cravings so I need to loosen up a bit during normal eating hours.

    • Yeah, I’ve found that the better you eat during the day the less hungry you are and the fewer the cravings. That’s why I’ve been enjoying the buffet eating so much. You literally let yourself choose from virtually everything there is until every possible desire for anything has been fully eliminated. To the point where you are really turned off by the thought of ingesting another single bite of food. This is powerful – physically and mentally.

      • I know that feeling…I did this on Christmas…well over did it I guess…to the point where I had some cut up fruit at the end of the day (to get something healthy in me after all that food) and after the second piece my stomach was in pain. I wanted nothing to do with eating after that. Perhaps an extreme example but I know what you mean. :) How often do you hit a buffet…and is this dinner or lunch? Thanks.

        • No buffets this week. But ideally I would eat “buffet style” every day – meaning having a broad selection of anything and everything my body could want – and choosing from that assortment. I usually do this at lunch, and at dinner time I might have something small or nothing at all. Usually a bowl of vegetable soup, a couple slices of toast, and/or a glass of milk. Prior to the Holidays I was eating at a buffet 2-3 times per week. It was awesome! And many buffets are $5-10 per person, which is a pretty slammin’ deal if you get 80% of your food intake for the day at the buffet.

          • Nice…there aren’t many buffets around here where I live. That being said, I’d love to talk more with you about your eating and exercise philosophies and how I can better use them. Is this something the 1 hour phone call can be used for?

          • Yeah. I usually reserve the phone time for people that really want something very specific in terms of either diet, or exercise, or both. Or whatever seems appropriate given a person’s history, health problems, and what they are trying to do.

  22. So Matt, do you find it frustrating that you have, at long last, discovered the Holy Grail of weight control and everyone isn’t jumping on the bandwagon? I know I do! I participate in some online forums and have talked about my experience with RBTI there as well as mentioning it to some friends, and their response seems to suggest that either they think A. I am lying. B. I have lost my mind. or C. In a short time, I will wake up one morning and discover I have gained 30 lbs. over night.

    I tell people I am eating French toast or muffins or pancakes or whatever for breakfast, eat a 3 course meal for lunch until I am so full I can hardly move, and a dinner of often pizza or pasta and cheese and veggies, and I am losing weight! (And I don’t take any RBTI supplements or test my numbers, so it is just following the meal times, avoiding the no no foods, and eating the types of foods you recommend at the recommended times in your e-book). Meanwhile, they smile and say things like, “Uh huh, that’s nice. I just ordered some HCG drops and plan to cut down to 500 calories a day and see how that works.” And I am like, “Huh??? Did you HEAR me? I said I am eating pizza and muffins and cookies, as well as lots of nutritious stuff, and I AM LOSING WEIGHT!!!”

    What is UP with that, Matt? From the MINUTE I read your post “In Context” about how you were eating pizza and donuts and ice cream and losing weight eating that and other foods that normally made you gain weight, I couldn’t order that RBTI e-book fast enough! (And if it keeps working as well as it has in the past 2 months, I will definitely be putting you in my will!) :-)

    You have said that you believe a lot of the “magic” of the weight loss is due to a reduction in calories and appetite suppressing. I think that is only part of it, since I am eating a LOT of calories, although I admit, my appetite has been gradually getting smaller. But I think for me, a lot of it has to do with a major reduction in stress hormones, given the improvement in my skin and the reduction of joint and muscle pain, as well as weight loss.

    All I know is that I find it frustrating, because in my opinion, you HAVE discovered the Holy Grail, and everyone I know is still looking for it! So many people believe there has to be some suffering involved in order to feel good about themselves and like they are really taking care of their bodies. Too bad they don’t ask their body how it feels on that subject. I am sure it would say, “Let’s ditch the suffering and lay some comfort food on me, baby!”


    • It’s not the Holy Grail for everyone. Consider this email that I received yesterday…

      “Hi Matt-at your request you asked for feedback, re: the rbti info pkg I purchased. I did the program exact from the get go for a little over 4 months. I gained 30 pounds and really felt horrible from day 1, but my doc convinced me to go on.Personally I am very open minded to try most anything, and even though I was tested every 2 weeks, bought a refractometer and closely monitered everything things just did not work for me. What little energy I had, it is completely gone now. Long story short…like an idiot I had my gall bladder removed 23 years ago. Digestion is not good. I have dieted/ate wrong for 30 years. I HAVE HAD ENOUGH!!!
      I am very interested in the not dieting and just eating normal since I feel so “obsessed” with what I should weigh and food. (ie: when should I eat, what should I eat, etc.) I know I am very overweight, but for once in my life I want to just to eat without the mental baggage. You did a great job of your presentation of the rbti pkg…it is just not for me. I keep gaining weight.”

      That’s by far the worst RBTI story I’ve received in terms of weight. I thought initially that it was virtually impossible to gain weight eating a light dinner, but quickly saw that not everyone responded that way.

      I understand your frustration. My sister’s favorite tv show is The Biggest Loser for crying out loud!

      • I can’t say for sure, but I wonder if people who are experiencing more benefits are people like you and me who are also relying heavily on our body’s intuition? For example, I tested the Brix the first few days and diligently followed the drinking protocol, and I felt awful. All the liquid depleted my electrolytes and I had terrible muscle spasms and felt so weak, I could barely get out of bed. I spent an entire day just chugging OJ, slamming down coffee, taking in lots of sodium, until finally the spasms stopped and I felt like I might just survive. After that, no more testing, no more drinking regimen.

        After that, I stuck to the recommended meal times, avoided the no no foods, and ate the types of foods you recommended at each meal. (Although I don’t use the molasses and I do drink coffee and eat dark chocolate on occasion.) I drink distilled water, but only when thirsty, which was almost never in the beginning. But now it is much more frequent. And I only recently started drinking some “lemonade”, but only because my body started craving it. (After 2 months.) I did keep some of the basic principles in mind, like when I felt cold and started peeing a lot, I did not keep drinking water. I listened to my body a LOT in the beginning, and still do.

        I found that the MORE lunch I ate, the bigger the meal, the better I felt throughout the evening and the better I slept and the more likely I was to lose weight. And I found that I needed to eat a fairly substantial dinner in order to get to sleep and sleep soundly at night BUT that it was very important to eat this meal and be finished by 7:00 P.M. Any later than that and I would toss and turn all night and not lose weight and sometimes even gain. I also learned that I tended to do better eating highly digestible foods, a lot of white flour based foods, and that whole grains tended to cause more problems with digestion and elimination, skin problems, and insomnia.

        I also noticed that drinking Sierra Mist when that really dry mouth, intense thirst kicks, seemed to be the best thing for it. That went on for a few weeks, and now I don’t get as many incidents of the dry mouth/intense thirst thing. Now I have a strong sense of thirst throughout the day, which I have NEVER had. It is not the dry mouth thirst, just a healthy desire for a nice glass of OJ or a glass of low fat milk or water or lemonade or whatever. My body is enjoying being hydrated for the first time in my life! (I am 59 years old.)

        I have had a large thyroid goiter for many years that pressed on my windpipe and was uncomfortable, especially when lying down. That has shrunk down considerably, to wear I can’t see it or feel it, even when I am lying down. My body temp and pulse is in the normal range. My skin, which was breaking down due to diabetes, is healing. So there seems to be a lot of healing going on here.

        It seems to me that a lot of the people who are consulting with practitioners and taking all the supplements and following strict drinking regimens are constantly complaining about various problems and bad reactions. Unless you are suffering from a very serious illness and need to see a practitioner, maybe just following some of the basic guidelines of RBTI combined with your own intuition might be a better approach. What do you think?

        • I agree with you 100%. Especially with the drinking regimen, which is not only the most frequently problematic part of the program, but also the most tedious. Our fluid intake is so highly variable from day to day and hour to hour depending on what we are doing, what we are eating, the water content of our food, etc. – that to think we could drink a set amount of fluid at a set time every day and get the same result each day is ridiculous. I’m totally with you on that. The drinking schedule really washed me out as well. Even just drinking the lemonade and no water was enough to wash me out, leaving me cold and irritable.

          And you are right that the emphasis should definitely be eating a bigger lunch, not eating a smaller dinner. The bigger the lunch, and the tastier the lunch, the more supercharged you are entering into the evening – needing only a little something to take that warm, balanced state and carry it all through the night.

          The fact that you are slapping diabetes and a goiter in the face with white flour and Sierra Mist is pretty freakin’ epic. Excited to hear how you continue to progress and really, really appreciate your comments. They are getting me fired up for a big interview I’ve got coming up for an online Paleo Summit, in which I’ve been chosen to be the anti-Paleo person :)

        • Hi Cathy,
          You talk about the holy grail of weight loss, but what I hear in your description is a lot of intuition. You are using that intuition to override RBTI principles where appropriate, which I think is part of your success. So your success is as much attributable to RBTI as it is to simply tuning into your body. It’s not that RBTI is a magic bullet, but that you have sought out and combined solutions and information that work for you.

  23. Hi Matt,
    In order to provide a learning experience for everybody here could you provide the outline of the program and the numbers this person started with and ended with?

    • I have no idea. That was the only communication I got from her. I do not know who she was working with or how things progressed. I would try to get that information from her but it sounds like the last thing she wants to do at the moment is converse about it and relive it.

  24. it feels like something is being missed here in regards to raw foods and absorption. I have seen people whose overall protein was higher after being on all raw foods for an extended period of time as documented by their doctors. I have also talked with people who had perfect health and perfect levels of all their vitamins minerals etc (and this was an improvement of their state prior to raw foods.) So I am wondering if something is being missed in this kind of generalized assumption that raw food is harder to digest and gives less of what the body needs to build etc. I dont think we can assume that “well obviously those people we’re eating cooked food and not telling..” because ultimately that’s not very scientific if we are trying to get down to the truth of things. thoughts?

    • There are definitely exceptions. I would assume that the people struggling on cooked food diets were problably experiencing some level of IBS, IBD, or malabsorption – perhaps due to an inflammatory or allergic reaction to what they were eating. I would assume that some with say, Celiac Disease, would switch to a raw foods diet and do much better. You can definitely get enough nutrition on a raw foods diet, you just really have to eat a lot – a major point that is stressed by two of the more successful people in the raw food scene – Durianrider and Aajonus Vonderplanitz.

  25. Hi Matt,
    Thanks for the reply! But to be honest: I am still confused. She followed your package, but had her numbers taken, and her doc pursuaded her to continue? Sounds like she had a MD or ND looking after her. RBTI is about going by the numbers. If something did not work, a trained consultant would have recognized this and changed the program. I just get the impression that this person has serious health issues and has had professional help that hobbied around somewhat. Sorry, but that confuses me.

    • Well, I’m not the least bit confused nor surprised that RBTI didn’t work for her. Nor am I surprised that she gained weight.

      She wrote:
      “Long story short…like an idiot I had my gall bladder removed 23 years ago. Digestion is not good. I have dieted/ate wrong for 30 years.”

      That part jumped way out at me. Gallbladder removal aside, any person’s body, even with all their organs intact, and with such a long history of dieting is highly likely to gain (much needed) weight – including body fat AND lean body tissue – during the healing process. And, as part of the healing process, the body will eventually shed the extra body fat when it’s ready. Those who are losing on RBTI are probably at that phase in their healing. Those with extra body fat, who aren’t losing and/or are gaining, probably aren’t there yet.


      Given the fact that she no longer has her gallbladder – which contrary to conventional medical bunk, is very vital to liver function (and as we know, healthy liver function is quite key to one’s health and healing with RBTI, according to Dr. Reams) – clearly RBTI was not the problem, in her case. And unfortunately, with a missing organ, RBTI had little chance in hell of being the solution for her either.

      • Actually, I have no gall bladder but I am still achieving many health benefits from following RBTI – weight loss, improved sleep, improved temp, improved digestion and elimination, improved skin, improved mood, reduction of goiter, and reduction of joint and muscle pain.


        • Cathy,

          First, I wanted to let you know that I had followed up that comment with a rant about gallbladder removal (and conventional med ugh!)… but that comment was caught by the mod-bot and is still being held for approval because of the links I included. Anyway, just wanted you to know so that when it does show up, you won’t think it’s in response to you or that it was directed at you in any way. I posted it way before you commented about your gallbladder removal success story :)

          That’s really good to know that you’re getting such great results from just following the basics of RBTI – even with a missing gallbladder. You are one of the lucky one’s who can “live” without your gallbladder. That’s awesome! :)

          Thanks for all of your great feedback. Your comments are very inspiring and really good for people to hear – especially those who might be feeling somewhat hopeless.

          Much continued healing, good health, and happy to you! :)

          • Hi Corena,
            Thanks for the “heads up” about the gallbladder “rant”. I probably WOULD have thought you were talking about me had you not forewarned me. Of course, now having read your rant, I am completely freaked out about NOT having a gallbladder! Still, I am probably a poster child for everything you talked about – gained about 80 pounds in the 15 years since I had it out, developed diabetes, and have never felt quite as energetic or healthy since. I think one reason I have felt so much better, first following Ray Peat and now RBTI is the emphasis on minerals. I am sure I was very calcium and magnesium deficient when I started.

            My only consolation is that I really had NO choice about having my gall bladder out. I never had a twinge or the slightest sign of a problem. Then one night I went to a holiday party in 1995, a pot luck, and no one bothered to coordinate who was bringing what. It was the MOST high fat meal I have ever eaten in my life. EVERYONE brought cheese, in one form or another. Cheese and fruit plate, 7 cheese dip, lasagna, cheesecake. We all laughed about how we would all be constipated for WEEKS! I wasn’t laughing so hard at 3:30 A.M. the next morning, however, as I was being prepped for emergency surgery to have my gall bladder removed after several hours of the most EXCRUCIATING pain of my life, like I was being crushed to death from the inside out! A big stone had gotten lodged into the duct and the doc said my gall bladder was VERY swollen and inflamed and in danger of bursting so it had to go. No argument from me! I was ready to pull a “Murphy Brown” and scoop that thing out with an “old rusty melon baller” myself at that point! (Or are you guys all too young for Murphy Brown references?) :-)

          • Hi Cathy :)

            That’s what I was afraid of. Sooo glad I forewarned you. I didn’t want you to think I was mocking you. I would never do that. Was only mocking conventional medicine. And not that I don’t think it has its usefulness. Of course it does in certain acute, life-threatening/saving situations and other circumstances. I just have a love/hate relationship with both conventional medicine & science. I won’t go there. Haha. I’ll just say that I know some really amazing people in the conventional medical & scientific communities and some, um, not so much! :)

            But please don’t be freaked out by my gallbladder rant. I ‘was’ curious though how long ago you had yours taken out – cause I wondered if it had been long enough to notice any significant effects. So good to know it has been that long. It sounds like you are doing great – considering. Really glad you’re doing so well! :)

            You wrote:
            “I think one reason I have felt so much better, first following Ray Peat and now RBTI is the emphasis on minerals. I am sure I was very calcium and magnesium deficient when I started.”

            I agree and was thinking the exact same thing when I read your other comment. I almost mentioned that in my last comment to you. But I figured you’d pick up on that yourself after reading my rant… as you did :)

            P.S. Yes I’m too young for Murphy Brown references ;)

    • What’s that damn gallbladder thing good for anyways?

      Well, not much, according to effed up conventional medical beliefs like this…

      “Many gallbladder problems get better with removal of the gallbladder. Fortunately, the gallbladder is an organ that you can live without. Bile has other ways of reaching your small intestine.”

      What?! That’s gotta be one of the most retarded statements I’ve seen come from the medical community ever! You gotta freakin’ be kidding me!

      Just because a person can “live” (if that’s what you wanna call it) without their gallbladder doesn’t mean it’s a good idea… and certainly not without complications – including weight gain (to say the least!) and a list of health issues that goes on and on.

      RBTI aside, healthy liver function is essential to good health. Your liver needs your gallbladder (and other organs) in order to function properly. And your liver needs to function properly in order for your gallbladder (and other organs) to function properly. Ya can’t have one without the other. If one is missing or not functioning properly, you’re gonna have major issues.

      “Your gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ under your liver. It stores bile, a fluid made by your liver to digest fat. As your stomach and intestines digest food, your gallbladder releases bile through a tube called the common bile duct. The duct connects your gallbladder and liver to your small intestine.

      Conventional medical doctors make no attempt to help people “save” their gallbladders when stomach or other symptoms is believed due to gallbladder attacks. In fact, many gallbladders are removed even when scans do not show anything wrong with the gallbladder. Because there is no attempt to preserve this organ in conventional medicine, and because many people feel better after surgical removal of their gallbladder, people mistakenly believe that the gallbladder isn’t important and that living without it makes no difference. Unfortunately, this viewpoint is incorrect and can be downright unhealthy.

      Contrary to common belief, the gallbladder isn’t just a “vestigial organ” with little or no importance. One of the primary jobs of the gallbladder is to control the flow of bile which in turn is needed to absorb fats, oils and fat-soluble nutrients. Once the gallbladder is removed, these functions cannot happen normally…”

      So what happens if we just take it out? Let’s see…

      “Essential Fatty Acids regulate everything from cardiac function to immunity and inflammation.”

      “When the gallbladder is removed, vitamins A, E, D, K, and essential fatty acids are not absorbed properly. Unfortunately, the symptoms of declining fat-soluble vitamins and essential fats come on slowly and most often, unnoticeably. Health problems can be many and varied, associated with a deficiency of any or all of these fat-soluble vitamins.”

      “Removal of the gallbladder, especially without replacement of bile salts (which is NEVER suggested in conventional medicine), could contribute to the premature development of so many and varied health problems, all related to fat soluble nutrient assimilation.”

      “60% of post-gallbladder removal patients suffer from magnesium deficiency and 40% from calcium/magnesium deficiency.”

      SOURCE: (with references).

      Yep, all that just from the removal of one wittle itty bitty (useless?) organ that we (apparently?) don’t need to “live.”

      “You’re right, Doc. Go ahead and take it out. It’s just causing a shit ton of problems and a crap load of pain. That damn thing’s gotta go! It’s nothin’ but a useless pile of dung!”

      Sorry. Just had to go off for a minute. Okay. I’m good now :)

      • what i don’t understand is why can’t drs just cut people’s gall bladders open with a slit and scoop out all the stones that are filling it up? sew it back together, and off we go! personally, i’ve done four liver/gallbladder flushes a la Andreas Moritz and have seen HUndreds of stones come out – i’m not in an emergency like Cathy. but why do they have to take the thing out??? stupidity and money i guess. that’s usually the answer.

        • I suppose they figure that since they are digging around in there and they think we don’t NEED a gall bladder, they might as well just take it out so there are no future problems. Of course, we DO need our gall bladders, but apparently doctors aren’t aware of this.

          I think I read somewhere recently that Ray Peat said he couldn’t think of single function in the body that doctors DO understand correctly! Comforting, isn’t it?

  26. The writer has absolutely no idea what he/ she is talking about.

    It is easy to get enough calories on raw foods: by eating raw nuts. or alternatively: seeds, avocados, olives, olive oil, durian fruit…. depending whether raw-vegan or not also raw dairy and raw eggs. (This is not to say that getting lots of calories from fats – whether in pizza or lots of nuts – is healthful.)

    Also, horses eat grass and thrive on it. What amount of calories do you think they eat daily? Has anyone ever tried giving the grass to them cooked?

    Just because farm animals ‘grow bigger’ on cooked food does not mean they are healthier or grow ‘better’. It is completely possible (and often the case) that they just get overweight.

    • I agree with this, my first dog was fed normal dog food from a bag which is basically crap cooked grains etc. and got very fat over time and sluggish and less playful My other dog which i have now i only feed raw meat and a little raw carbs (not ideal but still better). She is full grown but still acts like a puppy, very energized playful and healthy looking with very shiny coat etc. I have no concerns about her becoming overweight over time. Also I was reading something about 70% of pet deaths being a result of cancer, which animals in the wild Do not get on their raw diets. I am not saying one is better than the other but for me I am hoping to heal and raise temps with rrarf and then see how much raw i can add into my diet over time. i want my skin to glow like it did when i ate stacks of fruit

    • I don’t think anyone was trying to suggest that it is impossible to get enough calories on a raw vegan diet, only that it is possible people on these diets are not absorbing as many calories as they believe they are, so when weight loss occurs it is not attributed to caloric restriction.

      As you pointed out nuts, seeds, oils, and fatty fruits provide dense sources of calories for raw vegans. But I think this post is a reaction to the current trend in raw food circles, where the more dogmatic “gurus” preach against eating too many nuts, fatty fruits, and oils. Generally speaking, those who advise against consumption of these calorie dense foods support it with rationale that is unrelated to caloric density. These people claim that fats should be limited because they are hard to digest (so are leafy green vegetables), they cause candida, they will make you sleepy, ect. Even without these fats, its not impossible to get enough calories on a raw vegan low fat diet, but it is likely that the calorie count for most on this regime will not accurately reflect how much energy they were actually able to absorb, so you have to eat a lot more in order to compensate.

      This is the case with almost any diet that does not require calorie restriction. “Rules” that ban calorie dense foods or highly pleasurable foods are established based on some sort of pseudo scientific grounds. Dr. Atkins book tells readers during the first stage not to over consume cheeses, and advises against consuming nuts entirely (the two things one is most likely to overeat while staying below 20 grams of carbs per day). Atkins claims that these foods can stall weight loss through allergies, but when you consider what is left (meat, fish, eggs, 20 carbs from low starch vegetables) it becomes clear that it is hard to overeat these foods unless you really love steak.

      Paleo diets provide rationale for limiting or eliminating the consumption of nuts, fruits, tubers, honey/maple syrup ect., and diary in addition to eliminating processed foods, grains, and legumes. Again, this doesn’t leave much that most people are likely to overeat.

      Basically, my point is, if you come up with a dietary regime that does not require one to limit calories, some people will not lose weight even when following the plan to a tee. Others realize this, and set out to “prove” that the foods people over eat most within the diet are somehow bad for your health. With this modification, a much higher percentage of people who follow the diet will lose weight, but the weight loss does not come entirely from nirvana or ketosis or whatever.

      Also, horses are adapted to eating grass. They extract calories from grass much more efficiently than we do. In North Korea, where the majority of the population has suffered a prolonged food shortage, the people forage for wild grass to supplement their diets. There is no shortage of grass, but many die of starvation and North Koreans are on average 6 inches shorter than South Koreans (not saying that taller is necessarily better, but six inches is a pretty drastic difference in average height in humans)

    • actually, ucat, you have no idea what you’re talking about. Horses, and cows, and many herbivore animals, have about 23 extra stomachs where their meals of grasses and hay sit and ferment for hours so their bodies can extract the nutrients therein.
      there really is no similarity between animal and human digestion.

  27. Great article, Matt! There’s gold in them here comments! I ought to re-read them, but I will say this right off.

    @Matt, excellent comments!

    @00-dave-0, why would there be lactase in milk? if there were lactase in milk, there wouldn’t be much lactose- right? lol!

    @Troy, that philosophy kicks ass. I’ve been thinking about moving to the country and trying my hand at sustainable animal exploitation- thanks for the encouragement! :)

    @Valentine, well said.

    @Ucat, gimme a break! Your comments display a massive lack of knowledge in biology, ecology, nutrition, or English for that matter. Basically, you obviously have no effing clue what you’re babbling about.

    Raw veganism is one of the most unscientific, idiotic, and immoral ideas a person can promote. Veganism spreads irrational self-loathing and idiocy- just like most fanatical religious sects.

    Basically kill it and grill it for the highest fulfillmet. ;)

    @Everyone- Happy New Year!!!! Time to eat-up and get-down! <3

  28. So wait…cooked milk is more easily digestible, and yet milk proteins tend to make people constipated? That sounds contradictory. Do you think maybe the milk proteins are problematic because of being pasteurized and/or homogenized? I mean, I don’t know, it’s just something I wonder about.

    On the other hand, I naturally have been one of those to consume most of my calories in the first part of the day and not need much to eat for dinner. Also I don’t crave sweets after like 3 or 4 pm. I have zero problem maintaining my weight (unless, as I’ve noticed, I’m eating too much grain). Maybe that is why.



  1. Reference Articles « The Pantry Book - [...] on calorie myth [...]
  2. Health Articles « The Pantry Book - [...] on The Calorie Myth [...]
  3. Eat to Live Links | Eat to Live...Abundantly - [...] after the re-feeding and digestive healing phase is complete, it can be done with the help of this information.  …

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>