Thursday, October 1, 2009

Weight Loss

Yup, I'm going to comment. ;-)

I'm going to assume most of you have read "Good Calories bad Calories" for those of you that haven't here's a wonderful little synopsis courtesy of Barnes & Noble. As difficult as this book was for me to understand, (I had to read it twice) it opened my eyes and confirmed many issues for me.

"For decades we have been taught that fat is bad for us, carbohydrates better, and that the key to a healthy weight is eating less and exercising more. Yet with more and more people acting on this advice, we have seen unprecedented epidemics of obesity and diabetes. Taubes argues persuasively that the problem lies in refined carbohydrates (white flour, sugar, easily digested starches) and sugars–via their dramatic and longterm effects on insulin, the hormone that regulates fat accumulation–and that the key to good health is the kind of calories we take in, not the number. There are good calories, and bad ones.Good CaloriesThese are from foods without easily digestible carbohydrates and sugars. These foods can be eaten without restraint.Meat, fish, fowl, cheese, eggs, butter, and non-starchy vegetables. Bad CaloriesThese are from foods that stimulate excessive insulin secretion and so make us fat and increase our risk of chronic disease—all refined and easily digestible carbohydrates and sugars. The key is not how much vitamins and minerals they contain, but how quickly they are digested. (So apple juice or even green vegetable juices are not necessarily any healthier than soda.) Bread and other baked goods, potatoes, yams, rice, pasta, cereal grains, corn, sugar (sucrose and high fructose corn syrup), ice cream, candy, soft drinks,fruit juices, bananas and other tropical fruits, and beer. Taubes traces how the common assumption that carbohydrates are fattening was abandoned in the 1960s when fat and cholesterol were blamed for heart disease and then –wrongly–were seen as the causes of a host of other maladies, including cancer. He shows us how these unproven hypotheses were emphatically embraced by authorities in nutrition, public health, and clinical medicine, in spite of how well-conceived clinical trials have consistently refuted them. He also documents the dietary trials of carbohydrate-restriction, which consistently show that the fewer carbohydrates we consume, the leaner we will be. With precise references to the most significant existing clinical studies, he convinces us that there is no compelling scientific evidence demonstrating that saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease, that salt causes high blood pressure, and that fiber is a necessary part of a healthy diet. Based on the evidence that does exist, he leads us to conclude that the only healthy way to lose weight and remain lean is to eat fewer carbohydrates or to change the type of the carbohydrates we do eat, and, for some of us, perhaps to eat virtually none at all.The 11 Critical Conclusions of Good Calories, Bad Calories: 1. Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, does not cause heart disease. 2. Carbohydrates do, because of their effect on the hormone insulin. The more easily-digestible and refined the carbohydrates and the more fructose they contain, the greater the effect on our health, weight, and well-being. 3. Sugars—sucrose (table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup specifically—are particularly harmful. The glucose in these sugars raises insulin levels; the fructose they contain overloads the liver.4. Refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are also the most likely dietary causes of cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, and the other common chronic diseases of modern times. 5. Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating and not sedentary behavior. 6. Consuming excess calories does not cause us to grow fatter any more than it causes a child to grow taller. 7. Exercise does not make us lose excess fat; it makes us hungry. 8. We get fat because of an imbalance—a disequilibrium—in the hormonal regulation of fat tissue and fat metabolism. More fat is stored in the fat tissue than is mobilized and used for fuel. We become leaner when the hormonal regulation of the fat tissue reverses this imbalance. 9. Insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage. When insulin levels are elevated, we stockpile calories as fat. When insulin levels fall, we release fat from our fat tissue and burn it for fuel. 10. By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. By driving fat accumulation, carbohydrates also increase hunger and decrease the amount of energy we expend in metabolism and physical activity.11. The fewer carbohydrates we eat, the leaner we will be".
I've avoided the controversial subject for some time now, but I feel like giving my opinion today.
It seems a lot of folks eating the primal/paleo/ef way, are still struggling with weight loss.
Everyone sees (and probably more important, feels) some success right away. The simple fact is that when you lay off the bagels, pasta and other processed foods, it will bring immediate results. Eat REAL foods and your body says, thank you, quickly. Your pleased with yourself, you eat good 90% of the time, you exercise the right way and life couldn't be better. Then the weight loss suddenly stops..............

Now what I'm going to write does certainly not apply to everyone and I'm not a trained professional. But....if you eat the primal/paleo/ef way, you are in good health and you are still struggling, I humbly say, consider looking into my suggestion.

I've gotten so many emails with questions. Questions with detailed lists of what people are eating and asking what they are doing wrong because they can't seem to slim down.

It is not my intention to insult or discourage anyone, but I want to be honest and I want to help. So read this and before you say anything, read it again and think about how it applies to you.


You see, the reality is we ALL eat too much. I can only truly state the above because I learned it myself by trial and error.

You want to look like Mark Sisson or Art Devany? They look dang good for their respective ages right? Start eating less.

Steve wrote a great post on his blog Applied mastery, soon after Chris at Zen To Fitness also put up a post. They both addressed portion control

I want to show you something. I plugged yesterdays food into FitDay.
Take a look at my break down:

Fat 59%)
Carbs 6%)
Protein 27%)
Alcohol 7%)

Total Calories


What amazes me is the how little food this really was. (you saw my breakfast yesterday)
and if I took a picture of all the food, I think you would be surprised too.
So what did this breakdown consist of;

1 cup of coffee with splash of heavy cream
1 small avocado
3 oz of ground beef
3 cherry tomatoes
Large green salad
1 tomato
shredded carrot
7 oz of grilled salmon
4 tbspoons evoo
1.5 cup of chicken (crockpot)
onion garlic broth (from the crockpot)
1 large glass of red wine

Yesterday was a non-activity desk day.
Like I said, I think you would be amazed if I put all this on a serving tray and took a picture. (I will soon).

You see how easy it is to quickly come into the 3000-3500 calorie range? Or even 4000 calorie range. I'm not saying it's as simple as calorie in calorie out mind you.......BUT, how much fuel does your body need? REAL foods nourish your body, but you don't need a whole lot of it.

As an example, look at these beautiful strawberries. Strawberries are so big these days. If you are trying to slim down, a portion of them should consist of 2 or 3, not 8 ;-)

There are some really smart bloggers out there, I'm not learned enough to explain the physiology, nor give links to studies that take me hours to read and that I struggle to comprehend, but I CAN share with you what I've learned by carefully observing myself and others. So I hope that this gives some insight and something to think about if you are still struggling with your weight, even though you are doing everything "right".

What do you all think? Does it make some sense? Do YOU eat too much?


Teen Girls said...

Great, great post. I'm almost finished reading GCBC and I have to agree with you. I know that I eat too much:) I find that I can eat as much as I want (as long as it is low carb) and not gain. However, I do have to control my calories to lose.

Yummy said...

GREAT post! I have two words to add: intermittent fasting.
It works! :)

Monica said...


I lost around 15 pounds pretty quickly on low carb. I lost 5 more recently, but only when I started IF, which I did 2-3 times in the past week and a half... plus my caloric intake was down around 1000-1300 for a couple of days. had a really good post about this the other day as well: that the weight loss does stop after a time. I'll have to go back and read it. There was some information on thyroid depression that I thought was interesting.

Jeff said...

You might very well be right.

I have been on a weight gain experiment for around 2 months. I have been fasting a bit less and eating more at meal time and snack time. The grand total after eating all that? Around 5#. Based on calorie count I should have gained 15#, I think.

I tend to think it is more of a hormonal game rather than eating too much. If a person is really being strict Paleo and still not losing then reducing intake may certainly help. If they are hungry all the time then it is just a matter of time before they up the intake or worse start eating the carbage that is everywhere.

Good thoughts marc.


Beastie Girl said...

Ha, yes! This is something I struggle with MASSIVELY - I have never ever managed to drop weight on the Paleo diet, I think it has something to do with the fact that I'm SUPER sensitive to sugar, and the fact that I'm very much attached to my three meals a day and eating to complete and utter repletion.

That's something I'm going to have to give that up because...I hate admitting this...I eat too much.

Bryce said...

I think another thing to consider is that 6% bodyfat (for men) is not necessarily evolutionarily advantageous. I think for most people, eating primal will bring you to a healthy body composition. However a little fat actually is a good thing, because it enables you to endure low food supplies.

So, I think eating as much as you want of primal foods will get most people to a healthy weight, but if you want to get ripped, decreased calories can be necessary.

I think IF is the way to go personally.

On another note . . .

Let's not forget we produce a good amount of insulin for protein too! Fat is more hormonally neutral. I was toying with the idea of doing IF 1-2 days a week, and on another 1-2 days having mostly fat based meals until dinner. At dinner I'd eat any protein and maybe carbs (fruit/sweet potato) that I wanted, but for midmorning/afternoon snacks/meals I'd focus on just getting fuel for the rest of the day (fat).

This way, even on my IF days, I'd have the lowest possible insulin levels for the longest possible time. This would be one alternative to portion control. So acceptable foods before dinner would be: cheeses, heavy cream, coconut milk, etc.

I think you're right Mark, even though it's "not about calories," I think descending into social eating (mindlessly munching healthy nuts and fruit) can derail one's efforts to get truly ripped.

What do you think of my "only fat till dinner" idea?

Richard Nikoley said...

I agree with you, Marc.

I'm out there looking at a lot of stuff and it often amazes me how much food some people eat, and they do it like three times per day.

I have continued and am continuing to drop about 1 net pound every couple of weeks, and have been it for over two years now. Sure, there have been spurts of a couple of pound in a day or a few, but it always evens out over time.

I post lots of meals, but its usually the meat and a bit of salad for me, maybe some FAGE yogurt & berries for dessert. My fasting has become very intermittent, in fact, I don't even do it formally, anymore at all. I just don't eat until I really feel the need, which come to think of it, it's 11:30 am and I ate yesterday at 6:00 pm.

Feeling a bit hungry.

Andy's Blog said...


Good summary. I agree that in general people eat too much - of the wrong foods. The calories from the sweets, etc. add up quickly with little nutritional benefit.

A while back I had a Paleo gorge day and counted the calories ingested for curiosity. I ate like a pig (all Paleo) and it only totaled up to about 2400 calories. One lousy meal at the golden arches and someone could hit half of that.

Chris - ZTF said...

When eating really strict Paleo, A la Cordain I think you can pretty much eat as much as you want.

Once you start adding; Nuts, Cream, Butter, Yoghurt and Other high calorie foods (cheese) then you need to start limiting portion control. Not because these foods are bad just because they are easy to over eat on...

Keep a sensible cap on Olive Oil, Cheese, nuts and other dairy by using them as condiments rather than real meals and you will be fine...

As well as this eating to a point of satiety and sticking the rest in some foil as leftovers is something that can be hard (due to our gorge mentality) but well worth it for the day after and your health. Feeling stuffed on whatever food is not a good feeling or good for the body.....

Great article as usual and a great reminder to those eating EF/Primal etc and finding things slowing down or stagnating.

Marc said...

Primal mama,
Thank you. Pay attention to it and see if it helps.
GCBC was a fantastic eyeopening read!

IF is key, you're absolutely right.'ve got to keep it random.

Thanks so much for leaving a comment. Like the above note, IF is KEY. Although it's much less regimented for me now then it used to be. Thanks for the link.

Remember a while back I said to be really really strict in the beginning when starting primal? I think this "resets" the hormones somewhat...just a speculation though.

Keep at it, nake sure you move your body also. Try some IF and being really strict for a 3 month period. Keep me posted and say hi to my Dutch peeps ;-)

I like the only fat till dinner idea. I have often had just one avocado until dinner, and never gotten hungry. You mentioned snacking....I left that out of my post, but it derails most people I think. It's to easy to eat too much, Mark Sisson and Dr.Eades have adressed that frequently.

Like you my IF is much less regimented then it used to be.
A lot of times I will have "breakfast" around 12:30 1. Even after having had a solid morning workout. Then diner around 7 and that's all. Sometimes though breakfast is at 9:30, it all's random.
Keep up the great work. I've said it before, I send anyone with an interest in my lifestyle to your site.

Chris ZTF,
I agree with you.
I think that many people that eat real paleo (Cordain) have a hard time sticking with it. Yes you can eat to hearts content on strict paleo, but it's hard to get that old fashioned satiated feeling. People miss it, and then they fal off the wagon. So I think eating butter is better....but you have to be careful of quantity....if you are trying to lean out.
Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

THANKS EVERYONE great feedback.

Anonymous said...

i just finished gcbc and the book was actually debunking the idea that obese people simply "eat too much" - they eat too much *because* they are storing fat instead of using it! there's a big difference (just as a child doesn't grow because they eat more - they eat more because they are growing).

the idea is that you can eat all you want (to satiety and beyond even) if you limit your carbs. this post just sounds like a call for calorie restriction - which if gcbc is right calorie restriction only works insofar as you limit your carb intake: because only carbs cause an insulin response, only carbs can be stored as fat. (depending on how your body handles carbs, the number one person needs to stay lean will be higher than another person.)

now maybe gcbc is wrong and calories matter (for me, when carbs are lower, calories are lower - i can't force myself to eat more just to check the hypotheses), but it's a little puzzling to me that this is the conclusion you came to *because* of the book.

Marc said...

Hi Anon,
Thanks for leaving a comment.

I agree with you, GCBC does debunk the calorie myth, as I said in the post it is not just a simple calorie in calorie out situation.

I don't know if you read Keith's site Theory to Practice (link on the right of the blog)but he has some good thoughts about the fact that it takes time to become a "fat burner". I mean by this that you burn fat for energy. Most people come from eating the SAD diet. Then they eliminate the carbs and the weightloss starts but then suddenly stops. Like Keith I also think that they have not yet become effecient "fat burners". During that stage where they are trying to lean out and they are not yet efficient fat burners....I do think you need to watch how much you consume.
I welcome your thughts on this.
Again thanks for stopping by,