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A complicated recovery

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    @girlstanding- Yeah, the “carbs make you fat” mentality is ridiculous. I think part of the problem is that many nutritional theorists get wrapped up in biochemical details and forget to observe the world around them. Just off the top of my head, here’s some strong evidence that carbs aren’t fattening:

    1) Every major civilization in recorded history has subsisted chiefly on carbohydrates. Mediterranean cultures ate wheat and barley, Asian cultures ate rice, Meso-American cultures ate corn, etc. Their high-starch diets gave them the energy to work, fight, develop new technologies, and build enormous civilizations, and obesity was not much of a problem. Yet for some reason, low-carbers ignore these people–and instead focus on the experience of a few very small groups living in extreme environments. For a drinking game, watch a low-carb panel and take a drink every time they mention the Inuit or the Masai. Doesn’t that seem strange? If I was trying to make a point about American culture, and I kept referring to one or two small towns somewhere in the wilderness of Montana, you might wonder why I only focused on such a small percentage of the population.

    2) Modern populations that eat high-carb, low-fat diets tend to be thin. The obesity rate here in the US is about ten times greater than it is in Japan, where white rice is eaten at every meal.

    3) Fruitarians are almost always very thin–often too thin. There are people eating upwards of 30 bananas a day and not getting fat (check out the 30bad website if you’ve never heard of this). Now, personally, I think these people are little extreme and obsessive, but they seem energetic and they don’t get fat. If they can live on sugar and stay thin, that experience basically proves that carbs aren’t the problem. In fact, if the 30bad group just added a couple cans of tuna every day, their diet would probably be pretty healthy.

    The “potato hack” is another extreme diet that’s become relatively popular. People are losing weight eating all the potatoes they want. Sounds crazy to me, but it’s more evidence that carbs don’t promote weight gain.

    4) Admittedly, low-carb diets can be effective for weight loss in the short term, but almost no one can stick with these diets in the long run. They either get sick, or their weight loss stops and even reverses. The paleo movement has basically given up on their low-carb origins.

    Your macros sound good to me. Don’t let anyone convince you that carbs are evil–based on whatever “bro science” they have to offer. If a high-carb, low-fat diet makes you feel good, and your keep the figure that you want, I’d say you should trust your experience.

    @Finngarian- Exercise does feel great when you actually want to do it, rather than dreading it. I started my current training schedule during May and June, and I dreaded almost every run because I just felt exhausted. However, after I drastically increased my carb intake (and reduced fat), I’ve started enjoying it again. The effect was almost immediate.

    The extra weight does make it harder to go fast. When I was younger and 50 pounds lighter, I got much better times. However, there’s a silver lining. With the extra weight you’ll develop really strong leg muscles! And hopefully those muscles will remain as the weight starts coming off.


    Here’s an update. Since I’ve been sharing all the positives, I thought I should also mention it whenever I had a setback. I finally hit my limit on physical exertion yesterday. I could tell when I got home from the gym that I had pushed myself too hard, and I ended up with a horrible headache for several hours. I woke up today feeling relatively normal (though plenty sore), but decided to take the day off.

    In short, although I’ve seen some amazing gains in my stamina lately, I’m still not an elite athlete yet.

    Now time to go make some more food!


    David, if your not crashing for an entire week your doing alright;)
    I have been doing a lot of fat during my re feeding. I’m sure that is why my weight gain has been so dramatic in the last few months. I was at 185 for quite a while and then put on 25 pounds in a couple of months. I had developed quite a taste for whole fat yogurt and milk. Peanut butter, butter, ice cream etc. I think that now that I’m feeling better I’m going to start cutting the fats back a bit and see if I can improve my energy and stabilize the weight gain a bit. Thanks for your insights. Let us know how things keep going for you, both good and bad.


    Ha, ha. Not quite a whole week… :P

    I really have difficulties with impatience. When I get a surge of energy, I usually spend it right away because I want to feel normal and pretend that I’m not fighting chronic illness. I rarely talk about my health struggles with anyone–friends or family–and I don’t even like admitting them to myself. Because of this, when I do feel good, I often end up pushing my limits and crashing.

    Still, despite my overzealousness, I feel like I’m enjoying better health overall. Mainly, I’m just sore as hell from overexercise, and I still feel really run down in the mornings. I can never accomplish anything in the morning. If that changes, I’ll know I’ve recovered.

    This Saturday I ran another 5k, and although I was in high spirits and felt good, I had to walk part of it because of a minor injury I recently picked up. That was a big disappointment, and it forced me to acknowledge that even when I do get a surge in energy, my body’s still not ready for that much hard exercise. I understand it’s just going to take time.

    I’d love to hear your results after you experiment with cutting back on fat–and like you, I’m interested in both good and bad results. I really hope it’s possible to benefit from re-feeding without the rapid weight gain that seems such a common result.

    Another modification I’m thinking about is to cut back a little on protein, because I think I’ve been overdoing it with the meat. I want to eat enough protein to build muscle–since I’ve been lifting weights–but I think excess protein is slowing down my digestion and making me feel a bit bloated. So my meals are becoming even more carb-centric–loaded with cheap, easy, and delicious starches and sugars. I’ve stocked up on bread, potatoes, and noodles, and I have a pile of almost twenty bananas in my kitchen. This is definitely the most enjoyable diet I’ve ever tried!


    You could also swap for different kinds of protein – more dairy and eggs over muscle meats. That way you could ensure adequate protein and maybe avoid some of the less pleasant effects of a high muscle meat diet.


    I’ve been increasing carbohydrates and decreasing fat over the last week or two simply because of preference, not with a predetermined intention to do so. I find that I am able to eat much more. I am eating under 50 grams of fat per day now – mostly from cheese and cream, and I’m eating over a 1000 grams of carbohydrates. I can’t say that I notice dramatic changes in energy or anything else. I will post an update if I start to notice anything like that.

    Regarding protein: I am now tending to believe that adequate quality protein (in other words, from animal sources) is super important for me. I don’t have a scale, but I’m guessing that I weigh somewhere around 170 lbs. I strive to eat a minimum of 100 grams of real protein (only counting animal protein) a day – preferable more. I hardly ever eat muscle meat simply because it doesn’t appeal to me very often. But I eat a lot of dairy (milk and cheese) and a lot of gelatin. I eat some eggs and occasional organ meat. I don’t have any problems with these forms of protein, and honestly, when I eat 200+ grams of protein in a day I feel better than when I eat less than that – but I find that difficult to achieve most of the time presently because I don’t move a lot. I expect that if I was moving more I would have an easier time (and a greater need) for 200+ grams of protein. Anyway, my own experiences are in agreement with the comment YarnJess made – that non-muscle-meat protein is easier for me to digest when compared to muscle-meat protein. Personally, I have gotten a weird anxiety-like state when eating too many egg whites, but never had problems with yolks. Dairy and gelatin are easy for me in any reasonable quantity. Organ meats are so dense that I find that more than four ounces at a time (or in a day) is too much for me. Again, if I moved more then I might have a different experience.


    Jess and j-lo, thanks for sharing your thoughts on protein. I might try using different sources to see if that helps. Any other suggestions besides eggs and dairy? Do you think that protein from fish or shellfish might also have a different effect on the body that beer, chicken, or pork protein?

    J-lo, I’ll be interested to hear if you notice any effects from your fat reduction.


    Yeah, I think fish/shellfish would be different than mammal protein. There’s also gelatin as a protein source. I’ve been making fruit snacks recently that are pretty tasty and easy. I’ve personally been trying to swap out muscle meats for other animal protein sources recently because of muscle meats’ anti-thyroid tendencies. I haven’t been officially diagnosed with hypothyroidism (my TSH shows normal when it has been tested), but I have a visibly enlarged thyroid, low BBT, dry skin, and a handful of other hypothyroidism symptoms. Since I’ve focused on more pro-thyroid foods and limited anti-thyroid foods my temps have been better (97.5-97.7 generally preovulatory this cycle vs 97.1-97.3 last cycle) and my thyroid gland is getting smaller. I have been looking for more egg filled recipes that are more interesting than scrambled eggs and a glass of milk, so if you’d like some links, let me know.


    Thanks for your thoughts, Jess. Do you have a source handy for why muscle meat is anti-thyroid? Do you know if this is mainly a Ray Peat thing? I’ve been skeptical of some of his claims, but I guess it can’t hurt to give it a shot.

    I’d love to see a cool egg recipe if you find one. I generally stick to simple dishes, but every once in a while I try something a little more challenging!


    Specifically calling muscle meats “anti-thyroid” is a Ray Peat thing, though I’ve read several other places that muscle meats are more inflammatory than other protein sources. While I don’t accept everything from Ray Peat as gospel, his reasoning about muscle meats makes sense to me. When the body is under stress and/or doesn’t get enough protein or food it breaks down its own muscle tissue to supply the needed protein and fuel. Some of the amino acids that are released are thyroid suppressive so that the metabolism slows so you don’t break down all your muscle tissue so quickly. It’s a protective mechanism. So, if all you’re eating is muscle tissue, it would have a similar suppressive effect on the thyroid. Eating muscle tissue in balance with other protein sources helps to ameliorate this effect. I am by no means not eating muscle meats at all, though. I just try to eat them one meal a day (usually dinner) or, if I have them at lunch so, have a gelatin or dairy based dessert to balance it out.

    Given that your issues are more digestive in nature (based on your earlier post), that might not be such a consideration for you. I was just letting you know where I’m coming from. It’s pretty easy for me to preference non muscle meat protein sources because I like them better anyway. Plus, they’re less expensive and not as much hassle when you’re making breakfast or lunch for just yourself and your 1 year old. As I said, though, I have been noticing a positive effect from being more deliberate in these choices (the shrinking of the thyroid gland to a more normal size). I also make sure I eat plenty of sugar and some coconut oil each day. Whether it’s one thing or a synergistic combo, I’m seeing improvements.

    If you’re wanting more eggs, French toast is a pretty easy way to get some in that doesn’t feel like eating eggs. I’ve also added eggs to oatmeal. If you’re into homemade ice cream, there are lots of custard style recipes that use egg yolks. Quiche is pretty yummy and not too hard. Here’s a spinach quiche with a no-roll crust:

    Here’s a egg filled pancake:

    And here’s a chocolate mousse recipe if you’re feeling adventurous and decadent:

    I haven’t tried the last ones yet, but I’m thinking of doing the pancake one for breakfast tomorrow.


    I hope I didn’t sound dismissive when I mentioned Ray Peat. He is an interesting guy, and I’m going to read up a bit on the different amino acids to see if it makes sense to me. Besides, I can’t see any harm in replacing some of my muscle meat with other sources, just to see if it makes a difference.

    Actually, I do have some concerns about the amino acid tryptophan, since it’s a precursor to serotonin. I’ve experimented with SSRIs before, on the theory that my health problems might be rooted in depression, and I felt horrible on them. I could barely function. On the other hand, I tried an atypical antidepressant (an SSRE called tianeptine, which isn’t FDA approved) that reduces serum levels of serotonin, and I found it both energizing and mood-elevating. I’m going to keep thinking about this.

    Those recipes look good. I think I’ll try one of them out for breakfast tomorrow.


    I sometimes make Spanish tortilla which is basically potatoes, eggs, onion, and some fat for frying. Tasty basic food, lots of eggs.


    Earlier today I got a couple of e-mail notifications letting me know that some friends here at 180 were asking how I was doing. The questions were on different threads, but I thought it made sense to make an update here.

    Since I started posting at 180 a couple of months ago, my diet has been pretty consistent, though I’ve experimented with a few variables. The reason for the continued experimentation is that I still haven’t quite fixed my digestive symptoms–and the poor digestion exacerbates fatigue and a chronic pain issue that I deal with. The cause of my poor digestion is unclear to me, but I do know that diet has a major effect. I haven’t found the perfect solution yet, but I’ve been doing much better the last couple of months than I have in many, many years.

    So what am I doing? A good illustration of my current diet would be the lunch I ate at Chipotle today. I ordered a burrito bowl with double white rice, double steak, pico de gallo, lettuce, and a large Mr. Pibb. This is probably my ideal meal, and not just because it tastes so damn good. It contains all the major categories of my diet in about perfect proportions:

    REFINED STARCH: I generally eat a large portion of refined starch at both lunch and dinner. A lot of times it’s white bread or pasta, but I have a feeling I do better with white rice. I really don’t want to give up wheat (again), but I try not to make it my only source of starch.

    REFINED SUGARS: I have sugar (or corn syrup) at every meal, in the form of juice or soda. Sometimes (okay, frequently), I’ll replace my soda at dinner with a couple of beers.

    PROTEIN: I also like to eat meat at lunch and dinner. Today at lunch there was about 8 oz. of steak in my burrito bowl, and for dinner I’ll probably have a couple of small fish filets, which will contribute perhaps 8-10 more ounces. One pound of meat for the day seems about right for me. I don’t feel nearly as well if I deviate by more than 1/2 a pound either way.

    A few weeks ago, I tried introducing several alternate sources of protein, such as Greek yogurt, eggs, legumes, and gelatin, but it became clear that meat is actually the best protein for me–even though I have to be careful not to eat much more than a pound.

    FAT: I generally don’t add much fat to anything, but there’s always some fat on my meat, and often some oil in the starches I use. For example, there was some oil in the rice at Chipotle, and most white bread is prepared with oil too. If I add much extra fat to anything, my digestion gets worse and I just don’t feel as good. Other people seem to have different experiences.

    FRUITS/VEGGIES: I add some for flavor, but I wouldn’t say they contribute significantly to my diet at this point. I was briefly trying to eat a lot of fruit, but I just get so sick of it.

    DRUGS: I have a moderate amount of caffeine and alcohol just about every day, but I’m not taking any medicine for my chronic pain or sleep issues. That in itself is a great sign of improvement.

    EXERCISE: I’ve been continually working on my physical fitness since I started posting at 180. Eating this way, my energy levels are much greater than they used to be, and I’m making continual progress in the gym. When I started, I hadn’t exercised for ages, and I could bench press 135 lbs. about five times. Now, not even a full two months later, I can bench 200 lbs. fives times with relative ease. I’m definitely not the strongest guy in the gym, but my current diet has supported some decent strength gains. I also run about every other day and run in 5k races every couple weeks just for fun.

    DAILY ROUTINE: One of the most remarkable things about my current diet and exercise routine is that I AM STICKING WITH IT EVERY DAY. Despite some minor experiments (milk and bananas, gelatin, etc.), I have been more consistent than I have been in ages–and I am notoriously inconsistent! This is the great thing about finding something that works. My day looks like this:

    9- Wake up, drink a glass of something sweet like OJ
    9:30- Take bus to campus
    10- Exercise (alternate weights/running) and shower at gym
    11- Eat lunch (starch, protein, sugar–e.g., turkey sandwiches and soda)
    11:30- Read and otherwise prepare for the day
    1:30-5:30- Teach and attend classes
    6- Take the bus home
    6:30- House stuff
    7:30- Eat dinner (starch, protein, sugar/alcohol–e.g., rice, pork chops, and soda/beer)
    8- Relax, watch TV, visit wife, write, read

    As you can see, my life is pretty easy right now and this schedule is helping me to live relatively stress-free, though I don’t have as much time for internet forums as I did during the summer. I’m still hoping to make the final tweaks in my diet to fix my last remaining problems, but my health has reached the point where I can live a fulfilling life even if a few problems remain. Overall, I’m feeling very optimistic about the future, and I hope I will continue to see improvements over the course of the next year.


    Great that you are doing&feeling so well:)


    Hey David thanks for the update! I’m dying to know – did the milk and bananas make you feel groggy and tired – or were you just bored? I ask because like you I’ve recently had far better energy on carbs – especially fruit and sugar in my case, until a bad patch of feeling drugged, too sleepy, almost narcoleptic, with migraines and nausea. worst of all my already ghastly years – long insomnia got so much worse I was a total wreck. Trying to get to the bottom of it, I wondered if all the milk and bananas I was having was just too much tryptophan. But it’s impossible to avoid, So after lots of reading and chasing up all references to the subject, I decided to try reset my circadian rhythms by keeping the higher tryptophan stuff for supper and bedtime, avoid the rest of the day. I also added bcaa. I also moved my exercise to as early as possible in the day, just for now. Well, the bcaa helped immediately – taken first thing in the morning about 30 mins before food I immediately felt clearer headed. Everything has started to get better though this has only been a week. But interestingly ,you mentioned muscle soreness and as a bonus when I took the bcaa after gym it worked and the 5 days of stiffness I’d been
    having turned into zero.not even 1 minute. I thought I’d share as I too have a low carb history, energy problems, crashing, and really bad unfixable insomnia. @

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