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Hello boys and girls! It’s your ol? pal Matt! I’m back and I’ve got a whole collection of lil? stories to wrap up our nice session of Low-Carb tales. But don’t worry. We’ll be discussing low-carb diets, when they may be and may not be appropriate, and much more till the end of time?

As always, my comments are in RED

I.

Hi Matt,

My Carb War story is on going, and the process of becoming one long. I’ll try my best to make this as short as possible. My story is a bit chaotic. Please bear with me!

I was a vegan (and at times raw vegan) for about 5 years. Before that I ate very little meat. My diet primarily consisted of carbs in the form of pasta, rice, bread and potatoes. I decided to go the vegan route because I just didn’t feel well, and my weight was getting out of control. I was also borderline diabetic. I have a long history of diabetes in my family (Great Grandma, Grandma, and Mom). The initial loss of weight from doing a high raw diet was great. About 60 pounds, my face was clear, my allergies and asthma subsided. I even did a 92 day ?Juice Feast?. Felt great. Life was good . . . so I thought.

92 days? 92 days!!! That’s amazing. And yes, my experiments with mostly raw vegan fare and juicing were also electrifying at first. But then I uh, wasted away and became an emotional basketcase, with my days alternating between ?best ever? to ?worst ever.

About 3 months after said Juice Feast I began to put on weight, I was tired, and working out was a chore. I still remained active doing summer boot camps, Bikram Yoga, and interval training. However, no matter how much I did, my weight would never go below a certain point. I thought this was strange since I was still overweight. I chalked it up to not getting enough calories on the Juice Feast and a lowing of my metabolism. I decided that I needed some professional diet help. I had a sinking feeling that I had really screwed myself up.

Ah, adrenal fatigue. Metabolic retaliation in response to starvation ? not just calories but fats and protein restriction ? as well as a few missing nutrients.

My trainer introduced me to a program that designs a plan for you based on genetic makeup. I did blood tests to identify my food sensitivities. I was muscle tested for deficient minerals, and I was encouraged to systematically start eating meat again. From the results of my testing it was deduced that I am a fast oxidizer, I’m insulin resistant, I have poor digestion, and I’m producing too much estrogen. All good things to know!

Didn’t need a test to know you were insulin resistant, also the cause of your high estrogen levels.

Every week I was given a new food goal. By week 5 I was eating only meat, vegetables, and oils with a free meal every 5 days. I was actually feeling pretty good! By week ten I was encouraged to eat primarily meat, veggies and oils with a protein goal of 349 grams per day! Yikes! That week, all my digestive issues skyrocketed, and I was a very unhappy girl. I seriously started to freak out because one, I couldn’t wrap my head around such a crazy protein goal, two, I felt horrible, and three my trust in the program after receiving such a crazy goal started to waver.

349 probably wasn’t specific enough of a target. You probably needed to hit exactly 349.24587 grams per day to get it just right. Como se dice WTF? 349 grams! Was your trainer a former Sumo wrestler?

The next 3 weeks of attempting to eat 349 gram protein goal were not good. I eventually told my consultant that the goal was insane, and I refused to believe my ancestors ate that much protein in one day. I mean 349 grams of protein is like eating two whole rotisserie chickens a day. She begged to differ. I wasn’t allowed to have anything else like nuts or berries until I had reached the goal. I just didn’t get it. Oh, I forgot to mention that my carb intake was limited to only 50 grams per day. This was instituted by about week 5.

Nice, a 7 to 1 protein to carb ratio. Sounds delicious. Can’t believe you had digestive problems on this totally sane-sounding regimen.

By week fourteen I was on the web looking for more info. This is when I found your site. I bought the two e-books, and read through the blog. I bought the Broda Barnes book, and have been taking my temp (started out at 96.5 degrees). Also read the whole Weston Price book as well. I was seriously looking for answers because I didn’t know what to believe.

But hopefully you knew, by that point, what NOT to believe. At least that experiment will make you less subservient to some bogus authority. Now you can start putting the pieces together for yourself.

As it stands, I’m on week 16 and currently weigh 10 pounds heavier than when I started the program. I get in around 120-140 grams of protein a day. I’m lucky if I have one bowel movement per day, and I’m more confused than ever. I’ve learned many great things while on my program but the protein part seems a bit flawed, especially for someone who was a vegan for such a long time. I only had 12 weeks to become a meat eater again, and a rather huge meat eater at that. I feel as though I’ve actually done myself a disservice with all this meat, but it’s hard sifting through the info and coming to a conclusion that works for me. I’m glad I’m back on the meat because I believe it’s necessary to my diet, but to what extent have I jacked my metabolism up even more due to excess protein and lack of carbs! I’m banking on the validity of your info more and more everyday.

Well, you don’t sound like a total wreck, but a dose of dietary sanity would do you some good. There’s no need for you to eat so much protein unless you really crave it. If you do really crave it, I bet that craving won’t last for more than a few months, but obey it nonetheless.

I’ve started to add more oil to my diet. I still need to include more carbs. I have a serious carb phobia at the moment since I was told that I should never eat carbs based on my genetics. I don’t do the cow butter thing since I have sensitivity to everything from the cow, but I have tried incorporating goat butter. I’m still a little wary on goat butter since I was told that it increases insulin levels. I’m not sure I can do the sedentary thing as I enjoy my dance classes, power yoga and sprinting. I just feel better doing them. However, I’m willing to slow down if I’m truly hurting myself in the process.

Soooo, this is my carb war story. What a mess huh! :P

The sedentary thing is not a life sentence. Sometimes a break is great for healing in the short-term. It allows your adrenals to rest and your metabolism to recharge itself. Carbs may be poison to someone with insulin resistance in the very short-term, but that needs to be overcome, and hiding from carbs is a weak answer to that problem. Any diet that incorporates modest amounts of all the macronutrient groups, and isn’t too highly weighted to one extreme is probably a much better bet in the long-run. With the improvement in metabolism that comes with nourishing yourself from all the macronutrient groups, avoiding stimulants, drugs, and refined sugar, and avoiding undue strain upon yourself comes a lessening of insulin resistance and the rest should fall into place nicely. Keep monitoring your temperature closely for signs of improvement ? as well as any outwardly symptoms.

II. (not exactly a low-carb story)

Been reading your blog for awhile, new journey for me but loving it. Thanks for all your research and honest reporting, I wished I could have found it years ago, but better late than never. I will apologize for my editing and punctuation, but was a little impatient typing this out. I live in Knoxville,TN. It seems you’ve tramped through here a few times. If you’re in the area again and want to meet up or ever need help (emergency food on the trail, a ride somewhere) feel free to send a line…it’s the least I could do.

You had me at ?food.

Some questions and comments for you. Yeah, it’s a long one. I actually tried to keep it brief, easily could expand! Please read and comment…

Ever since I was a child I have been plagued with stomach aches, severe cramping, nausea, sweating, chills, etc. These have come and gone over the years and I’ve never been able to get them completely figured out. A few years ago, I decided to stop just accepting this and try to find a root cause. I was always “health conscious”, but never excluded any food group or dieted. About ten years ago, I started working in a health food store and converted to buying all the clean foods, no preservatives, dyes, artificial flavorings, colorings, and cut out chemicals in cleaning and bathroom products. My skin had always been sensitive, strong smells bothered me, and was always prone to “weird skin reactions”, never emergency situations. I’ve always known I had major environmental allergies-pollens, danders, dusts. I do feel all this has gotten better over the years, and one year I was able to treat my allergies with high doses of quercetin only.

Since then, I’ve been medicine free. I still get symptoms, I just tolerate them. Then I started to have more psychological problems, depression, anger, lots of lethargy, and brain fog.

Poor glucose tolerance.

On some whim, I tried a week long juice fast and was thrilled with the results. I resumed my previous diet, but the results from that fast stuck with me. A year later, my health was to the point I was desperate and didn’t want to be stuck on meds. I had always believed food as medicine. Thinking there was something to the juicing, I started my raw food phase. Again, initially it was okay, but never great. Brain fog and digestion worsened. But I persevered, thinking it was due to one food group. I played around with the low fat vs. high fat camp, more greens, more fruit, more periods of juicing, and all the different combos. It seemed some things bothered me worse than others–mostly nuts and dried fruit. At times the bloating was so painful and severe it hurt to bend over let alone try to button my pants.

Social situations were becoming more stressful due to the gassiness and pain. Near the end of a year I decided to train for a triathlon, a sprint distance.

A triathlon. Perfect! Sounds like something I would’ve done back in my raw-ish vegetarian days.

Knowing the fruit and veg couldn’t sustain me through this, a friend was working this whole high fat meat thing, and again being desperate, I knew I had to switch. I also decided to do some testing. A gastroenterologist had me do a fructose intolerance test which came back positive and a SIBO test which after he admitted he doesn’t think is useful. I also had blood and skin allergy testing done. Thinking I could figure these things out, I first cut out all fruits and veg. For a period of time I was eating a few veg, but as some stomach symptoms continued I decided to remove them all. At this point, the major bloating, gas, and cramps disappeared. These actually weren’t what I had experienced throughout my life, just during the raw trial. After removing the fruit/veg, actually I didn’t have any gas problems. But I would still get these episodes of severe cramping, which I later realized felt like my body trying to expel whatever was in my stomach. It would start by making me very tired, to the point of having to lie down, then waves of nausea and burping where I wished I could have puked, cramps would then start and escalate to the point where I HAD to use the bathroom. Diarrhea would commence and only recently did I realize this was mucus. I might be slightly worn out after these episodes, but then things would be fine. Like one of those intense, dark summer storms, where ten minutes after it started if it wasn’t for the puddles on the ground you’d have no idea it just stormed. So, I wondered if it was some type of food intolerance and worked on removing the lists of things I had been allergic to, plus other things I didn’t seem to tolerate well. If I stick to a diet of starch (usually white rice or potatoes and sometimes millet), a protein (usually beef), and copious amounts of beef fat (i just received a 16 pound box of tallow from wellness meats) for a long enough time I can get to feeling really good. However, being this such a limiting diet, when I cheat my other symptoms come back. Namely, the stomach thing. Also, I can get that spacey/tired feeling after eating, will never feel satiated just get hungrier. This doesn’t happen with the rice/beef/fat, I will actually get to the point where I am full and then know the next time when I am hungry. Cravings go away and all is good. Eventually, I get a little bored and thinking that I’m doing good will “cheat”. This just leads to something else, and then I’m back where I started again. Dairy (and I’ve done trials of raw milk and sheep’s milk) makes me extremely constipated. Once I stop eating it and it’s finally expelled, then I get one of those stomach spells. Dairy, fruit, sugar, eggs, and wheat (and I’m sure there are others) all turn me into a crack whore where I can’t stop wanting and eating them, I can be uncomfortably full and still think about nothing else, just like an addict. But this doesn’t happen with the rice,potato, millet. Dairy and eggs give me the stomach spells, fruit just gives me the runs, sugar and wheat don’t create stomach problems.

Interesting complex of symptoms. There’s no way that your body is processing gluten and casein properly, leaving free-floating morphines cruising through your system. Not a crack whore, but an opium whore. It is another of the root causes of the psychological symptoms you have I’d bet.

So if you’ve been kind enough to read through all this, here’s where I’m stuck. I’ve been reading so much on your site and others, like whole health source. Your current stance seems to lie on the metabolism as root cause. I’ve also read where your digestion problems and allergies are a thing of the past. Did you have environmental allergies or food? Do you even believe that food allergies or intolerances are a real thing, and if so can they be overcome through any type of a diet? For myself I am just questioning whether it’s based on my metabolism…or if certain foods will always cause me problems. I would love to expand my diet, can you give me some opinions. I can picture you cringing at certain points reading this, so if something seems pretty off to you please point it out. I’m not as desperate as I once was and feel way more stable then I ever was. Then there’s part of me that wonders if mental strain/lifestyle stresses have an impact on
digestion and I’m barking up the wrong tree. However, some of my troubles I can definitely see as food related I just wonder if I’ve taken that road as far as I can. Rereading this I am afraid of repeating patterns, like in the raw phase always thinking it’s because of so and so. And that just wasn’t the case. I’ve tried to reason based on bodily symptoms and reactions. This is where more of an expert, non-biased opinion could be of value. Please help to set me in the right direction.

Well, no human being could read this and give you pinpoint accuracy in terms of what you need to do. Obviously your body didn’t respond very well to the digestive difficulty of consuming a ton of raw roughage. Wheat and dairy are bound to be problematic for a while, but many believe, myself included, that such sensitivities can be overcome.

In general, my stance is not to necessarily put all your energy on what you can and cannot eat, but identify what does and does not give you problems and get determined to overcome those issues over time. Although Natasha Campbell-McBride’s book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome is far from well-written, her general advice to emphasize saturated fats while eating a gluten and dairy free diet is pretty sound. Other than that, you may need some ?outside? help with troubleshooting some of your glandular issues via glandular supplementation. This is your own puzzle to solve, but you seem very astute at figuring it out. Keep us posted as you progress in the comments sections of the blog posts. There is always a pretty good stew of ideas floating around here and a large armada of folks to shoot down B.S. that is overly extreme, likely to cause long-term damage, and so on. Like um, eating a raw diet and doing a boatload of juice fasts. They are great once or twice a year, but usually dead end in a big way ? particularly in the digestive and emotional categories as you have discovered.

III.

Well Matt Stone, I think you might receive many more low-carb stories in the near future, but in case you don’t here is my Carb War. I am 5’5, female, 125 lbs with a healthy BMI however I’d like to lose a good 5 lbs and keep it off.

I have been on a high-fat diet for about a month now. I ferment cream ? la Hyperlipid to remove lactose and eat loads of peanut butter, butter, eggs, olive oil and extremely small and ridiculous amounts of meat, and vegetables. I have no energy, I always look bored or uninterested and I’m actually gaining weight. I don’t even eat as many calories as I would on a regular SAD diet, yet I am gaining, gassy, unhappy and sluggish. I finally have clear skin and my joint pain in my bad knee is completely gone. I just wish I could find a way to actually lose weight on this diet. I can’t seem to tolerate any significant quantity of meat including fish, or concentrated carbs like sugars or starches (including grains and potatoes and squashes), fiber, fruit, milk, cheese or even egg whites without experiencing back pain, knee pain, acne, restlessness and irritability. The only problem I have with my high-fat diet is weight gain. I don’t even really know what I’m asking for in particular, I feel I have honestly tried almost every possible diet known to man (feel free to ask, seriously, I have tried it all). I guess I’m still hoping it’s possible to not experience knee pain or acne while eating what the people I’m with are. I’m just tired of being anti-social because of a diet. It’s worth it in many ways, but is there a way to have it all?

Sounds like you were in need of some good fats. There’s no doubt it can be quite medicating, especially to things like joint pain. Still, you’re not eating any carbohydrates, and it sounds like you’re getting that low-carb grog and puffy thing going. I’m sure you have a pretty low basal temperature (below 97.8 under the armpit). That’s probably the root cause for your many problems and the black hole of dietary sensitivities that you’ve fallen into. You may find as you troubleshoot minor thyroid and adrenal issues with glandular supplementation that you are released from dietary prison. I’d say it’s worth a shot for someone who has already exhausted diet in so many ways. That is, of course, if you can’t find a way to incorporate carbohydrates in with your fat and protein. Try giving the starch + fat thing one more good shot. At first, you will feel worse no doubt. Give it several weeks of persistence this time. If there’s absolutely no improvement whatsoever during that period, it may be glandular time. Really give it a good go though first. As many have reported when going ?high-everything,? the first few weeks can be pretty rough.

At 5?5? 125 I wouldn’t worry about weight. If you truly want to get off restricted diets and be a real person once again with your buds, you’re going to have to ignore your weight for several months to a year. Weight is the last thing to fall into place once the other systems have been repaired it seems.

IV.

Hi Matt,
I pop in on your blog from time to time. I stumbled across you when I was researching another diet at one point. Right now your blog seems to be sort of a war on low carb, and I’m trying to understand. I’m sure low carb is not the be-all and end-all of human nutrition, but I know so many people who have done spectacularly well on it, and I’m talking about *years* – not just a few months of weight loss. One who in the course of 3 years went from 310 pounds to running in and completing the NY Marathon, and embarking on a new career as a personal trainer (still maintains her loss and works out, eating her low carb diet, 10 years down the road), another who lost 170 pounds on low carb and when I last lost touch with her she had kept the weight off for 6 years. Another who lost 125 pounds and has now been maintaining for 5 years. And these three were all middle-aged women, as I am.

There’s no doubt that many low-carb stories are not war stories at all, but great successes. The point of this series of posts is to get insights on when low-carb diets are appropriate and inappropriate. I would venture to say that most of your friends did induce starvation and lost a lot of weight via low-carb’s hunger-killing effect, and I believe that will catch up with them. I’m sure their diets, calories and carbs aside, are better than a typical diet.

I’m interested in their story as I also have over 100 pounds to lose! So the stories of “big losers” interest me. But weight loss does not seem to happen for me. I like low carb as I enjoy all the foods allowed on it, and it does not cause my blood sugar to spike – and it goes through the roof when I eat most “carby” foods. I’m not starving every single waking minute of the day (as I was when I attempted a doctor-recommended low-fat diet at one point) but I don’t think I’m suffering from the problem of too few calories. I know many low carbers who do say they almost have to remind themselves to eat with an alarm clock, and struggle to get in 1000 calories a day, but I have never been in that category. I enjoy my fats too much, and take in plenty of butter, tallow, lard, bacon grease and coconut oil – all major favorites. That keeps my calories generally in the 2500-3000/daily range, though it varies. A few days ago my intake was only 1600 calories but yesterday it was over 4000! (I went on a bacon pig-out).

I’m not an ultra-low carber or zero carber, but generally keep my carbs in the 50-70g/day range. This seems to make me feel best. It’s about the range recommended by Barry Groves, Mark Sisson and some others whose names escape me. I know Broda Barnes recommends not dropping below 50g day for optimum thyroid functioning. Some days I do drop below it but it’s not my intention to do so, and I try to add more carbs if it seems I’ll be going too low. I eat meats, fish, eggs, veggies, nuts, nut butters, raw cream, cheeses from raw milk (I have gluten issues so avoid grains), avocados, plus plenty of the fats mentioned above. I try to keep my protein under 100g/daily as I have blood sugar issues if I eat too much protein also. Fat is my Friend in the calorie department.

Broda was a big fan of high-fat diets for weight loss. He went on to say that he never saw a person highly overweight fail to lose weight on his diet ? which was high in fat by percentage of calories, but restricted total energy. In other words, it was a high-fat, low-calorie diet, which he actually felt did not exacerbate symptoms of hypothyroidism. It is possible that the fat released from the adipose tissue creates a calorie surplus despite limited intake, circumventing the yo-yo effect as I proposed in 180 Metabolism. Still, I’m very wary of low-calorie diets over the long-term, but it might be worth a try.

And overall I feel excellent. I just can’t seem to lose any weight. But I have never been able to no matter what method I try, it seems. So I admit to being jealous of my friends who found weight-loss so spectacularly easy to do and to maintain on a low-carb eating plan. I know so many of them. I’m just not one of them. :-(

Feeling excellent is important too. Let’s not forget. But don’t get too engrossed in low-carb dogma. Be flexible. It may not be the right route for you. Then again, Charles Washington might be your messiah, but I doubt it. I’d feel much more at ease knowing that you had fixed your poor carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar surge-tendencies rather than hidden from them in fear and declared them ?el Diablo!

Thanks everyone for participating in this lengthy saga. Let’s move on shall we?