The Science of Fat-Loss: Why a Calorie Isn't Always a Calorie

Calorie counting can work, but it’s often based on pseudo-science.

I’ve examined before how people can lose 20+ lbs. of bodyfat — or gain 34 lbs. of lean mass — within four weeks, replete with measurements and photographs, but there is still a chorus: “That’s impossible! You’d need to have a 4,000-calorie daily deficit” or “That’s impossible! You’d need to consume 20,000 calories per day!”

Nonsense. Thermodynamics isn’t so simple, and you can accelerate your body optimization results by understanding the real science…

I’ve invited Dr. Michael Eades, one of my favorite bariatric (obesity treatment) doctors in the US and the first to introduce insulin resistance to the mainstream, to explain the facts vs. disinformation. He is author of one of the few research-driven weight-loss books I recommend, Protein Power.

Take it away, Dr. Eades…

Dr. Eades:

I’ve taken some heat for my writing that weight loss or weight gain involves more than a simple accounting for calories.

The entirety of mainstream medicine and nutrition believe that calories are the only thing that counts and that a low-carb diet is nothing more than a clever way to get people to cut calories. Weight loss on low-carb diets, so they say, occurs only because subjects following low-carb diets reduce their caloric intake. A calorie is a calorie is a calorie they say. But is it?

I could argue that this idea isn’t necessarily true because of a number of recent studies that have shown that subjects following low-carb diets actually lose more weight than their counterparts on low-fat, high-carb diets despite the fact that the low-carbers consumed considerably more calories. But instead of going through these modern day studies, let’s go back and look at a couple of earlier famous studies to see what we can learn.


In 1944 Ancel Keys, Ph.D., decided to undertake a long-term study of starvation. It was apparent that WWII was going to be over soon and that much of Europe was starving. Although word of the mass starvation in concentration camps was just starting to filter out into the world, it was well known the Europeans, especially Eastern European, were not getting enough food. Keys wanted to do a study of starvation to see what really happened during the process so that at war’s end the victors would have a better idea of how to deal with the starving masses they were sure to encounter.

Key’s recruited 36 young male volunteers from the cadre of the conscientious objectors. These were healthy, normal weight men, most of whom were working for the Civilian Public Service (CPS), an entity created to provide jobs of national importance for conscientious objectors. The men responded to brochures and bulletins distributed in the various CPS barracks showing a photo of three French toddlers staring at empty bowls over the question: WILL YOU STARVE SO THAT THEY WILL BE BETTER FED?

The subjects came to the University of Minnesota where they were housed in the cavernous area underneath the football stadium for the course of the study. They were basically kept under lock and key for the study so that Keys and his colleagues could ensure compliance. At the start of the experiment the men were fed sumptuously for the first 12 weeks.

A full-time cook, two assistants and a dietitian monitored the food intake to the smallest fraction. According to The Great Starvation Experiment**, an excellent book about this famous study, during this lead-in phase the men ate well. A typical days food would include

a typical lunch… [that] consisted of fricasseed lamb with gravy, peas, and a carrot and raisin salad. For dinner…the men ate roast beef with gravy, whipped potatoes, tomato salad, and ice cream for dessert.

Although the three meals per day the men received added up to around 3,200 calories, which they were told approximated the normal American diet, the men said that they had never eaten better in their lives.

On day one of the starvation portion of the study, February 12, 1945, the rations were cut substantially.

The group shifted overnight from the three relatively generous meals of the control period to only two Spartan meals per day, a breakfast at 8:30 AM and supper at 5:00 PM.

The meals were designed to approximate the food available in European famine areas, with a heavy emphasis on potatoes, cabbage, and whole wheat bread. Meat was provided in quantities so small that most men would swear in later years that none was included at all.

One of the three dinners included the following:


185 grams of bean-and pea soup (made with 5 grams dried peas, 16 grams of dried beans, and 15 grams fresh ham)

255 grams macaroni and cheese (made with 130 grams wet macaroni, 12 grams lard, 108 grams skim milk, 2 grams flour, and 35 grams American cheese)

40 grams rutabagas

100 grams steamed potatoes

100 grams lettuce salad (80 grams lettuce, 10 grams vinegar, 10 grams sugar)

The relatively bulky 255 grams of macaroni made that particular meal an anticipated favorite among the volunteers. The wet macaroni served was roughly the amount required to fill a coffee mug about three-quarters full.

Over the twenty-four week starvation part of the study, the subjects not only lost a considerable percentage of their body weights, but suffered a number of problems as well. As the time wore on the men thought ceaselessly about food, they became lethargic, they were cold all the time, they became depressed, they developed bleeding disorders, their ankles became edematous, and some developed more serious psychological disorders.

Below is a photo of one of the young men in this study (the book shows multiple photographs – this one is typical of all the subjects). The first photo was taken a couple of years prior to the start of the study, the second is with about a month shy of the end of the experiment.


This young man suffered such psychological turmoil from the semi-starvation that he chopped off several fingers of his left hand a month or so after the bottom picture was taken.

The men in this study consumed macronutrients in the following amounts daily: protein 100 gm, fat 30 gm, and carbohydrate 225 gm. If you express these intakes as percentages, you come up with 25.5% protein, 17.2% fat and 57.3% carbohydrate.

Average energy intake of the subjects in the experiment: 1570 calories per day.

Now let’s look at another experiment conducted about 25 years later.


In the late 1960s John Yudkin’s group at the University of London performed a study that is most interesting in view of the Keys’ semi-starvation study. (Click here to get the complete pdf of this study)

For about 15 years Dr. Yudkin and his team had been running a weight loss clinic out of the university hospital using a low-carb dietary approach. Despite the patients’ doing well on the program, he and his staff had received the same criticisms all of us have who treat obese patients by restricting carbohydrates. In addition, because of his academic standing and long list of scientific publications, Yudkin’s peers had given him heat over the fact that his diet didn’t provide enough of all the vitamins and minerals required for health. As a consequence, he decided to do a study to see if there was any substance to their fault-finding.

He recruited 11 subjects aged 21-51 years for his study. He and his staff evaluated the regular diets of these 11 subjects over a two week period. The volunteers were then instructed on the basics of low-carb dieting as it was done in the hospital clinic and followed for two weeks on this regimen. The goal of the study was to determine the dietary intake of the essential nutrients in the low-carb diet to see if there were inadequacies.

Here were the low-carb instructions:

The instructions relating to the low carbohydrate diet were identical to those given to patients attending a hospital overweight clinic under our supervision. Essentially, the subjects were asked to take between 10 and 20 oz milk daily (about 300-600 ml), and as much meat, fish, eggs, cheese, butter, margarine, cream and leafy vegetables as they wished. The amount of carbohydrate in other food was listed in “units” with each unit consisting of 5 g carbohydrate; the subjects were told to limit these foods to not more than 10 units (or 50 g) carbohydrate daily.

As the low-carb portion of the study was progressing, Yudkin and his staff evaluated not only the intake of these subjects, but their mental status as well.

In conformity with our experience with this diet during the last 15 years, none of our subjects complained of hunger or any other ill effects; on the other hand, several volunteered statements to the effect that they had increased feeling of well-being and decreased lassitude. The average intake of calories and of protein, fat, and carbohydrate for the 11 subjects…were remarkably similar to those obtained for the six subjects of the previous study. [Yudkin had published a study in The Lancet in 1960 looking at the caloric and macronutrient intake of subjects on low-carb diets.]

Here is the chart from Yudkin’s paper showing the caloric and macronutrient changes when the subjects shifted from their regular diet to the low-carbohydrate diet.


The macronutrient consumption was 83 grams of protein, 105 grams of fat and 67 grams of carbohydrate. Putting this into percentages of overall intake, we find that diet was 21.3% protein, 60.6% fat and 17.1% carbohydrate. The energy intake was 1560 calories per day, almost exactly the same as the Keys study described above.

And, remember, these people were given all the food they wanted to eat. They weren’t forced to drop their calories to 1560 per day – they did it spontaneously because they had eaten until sated.

Here is the data in tabular form.


As you can see, the big difference is in the carbohydrate intake and fat intake. They are just about the reverse of one another in the two studies.

Both studies provided between 1500 and 1600 kcal per day, but with huge differences in outcome. In the Key’s semi-starvation study (high-carb, low-fat) the subjects starved and obsessed on food constantly. In the Yudkin study (low-carb, high-fat), the subjects, who had no restriction on the amount of food they ate, volitionally consumed the same number of calories that the semi-starvation group did, yet reported that they had “an increases feeling of well-being.” Instead of lethargy and depression reported by the Keys subjects on their low-fat, high-carb 1570 calories, those on the same number of low-carb, high-fat calories experienced “decreased lassitude.”

Both groups of subjects were consuming the same number of calories, but one group starved while the other did just fine. One group had to be locked down to ensure they didn’t eat more than their alloted 1570 calories; the other group voluntarily dropped their intake to 1560 calories and felt great. What was the difference? Subjects in both groups ate the same number of calories.

Maybe, just maybe it’s not the number of calories that makes the difference, but the composition of the calories instead.

I know that I’m not truly comparing apples to apples with the Keys and the Yudkin studies. But the Yudkin study does confirm Yudkin’s 15 years of experience before he wrote his paper and they confirm my 20 plus years of experience taking care of patients on low-carb diets. I’ve had many, many patients who have stayed on low-carb diets for much, much longer than the men in Keys’ experiment stayed on their diets of roughly the same number of calories. Most of the papers in the medical literature on low-carb diets show a spontaneous drop in caloric intake that’s about what Yudkin documented when people switch over to low-carb diets. It stands to reason that if someone had replicated Keys’ experiment using the same number of calories, but with much more fat and a lot less carbohydrate, that the outcome would have been much different.

Yet the calories would have been the same.

So, I’ll say it again. It’s not simply a matter of calories, and anyone who says it is should perhaps give the issue a little more thought.

** Gary Taubes’ book Good Calories, Bad Calories devotes a couple of pages to this semi-starvation study as well.

Enter Tim: This is just one of several topics I’d like to explore within the real-world science of body redesign — anything in particular you’d like to hear about?


[If you liked this post, please take a second to Digg and Stumble it!]

Related and Most Popular Posts:

How to Lose 20 lbs. of Fat in 30 Days… Without Doing Any Exercise

From Geek to Freak: How I Gained 34 lbs. of Muscle in 4 Weeks

Relax Like A Pro: 5 Steps to Hacking Your Sleep

How to Travel the World with 10 Pounds or Less (Plus: How to Negotiate Convertibles and Luxury Treehouses)

The Art of Letting Bad Things Happen (and Weapons of Mass Distraction)

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

Leave a Reply

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)

251 Replies to “The Science of Fat-Loss: Why a Calorie Isn't Always a Calorie”

  1. Tim,

    As a writer for Men’s Fitness and Men’s Health and fellow training aficionado I have to say you and Dr. Eades hit the nail on the head. There is much more at play than what people think.

    To lose fat, sometimes you have to eat fat. People have a hard time understanding that. Monounsaturated fats and certain polyunsaturates actually speed up the metabolic rate.

    The best of the fat burning bunch are the highly unsaturated omega 3s called EPA and DHA. These omega 3 fatty acids can potentially help burn fat through a variety of different mechanisms. A diet supplemented with something omega 3-rich fish oil promotes losses of body fat with simultaneous gains in lean mass.

    And the importance of protein should be neglected, either. While all macronutrients require metabolic processing for digestion, absorption, and storage or oxidation, the thermic effect of protein is roughly double that of carbohydrates and fat. Therefore, eating protein is actually thermogenic and can lead to a higher metabolic rate.

    What does this mean for the average guy? Eating a diet rich in protein and good fat (high satiety factor)and moderate in “complex carbs” usually yields the best benefit with regard to looking good naked.

    And that’s not even talking about the training aspect of caloric expenditure and the EPOC (Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption) Effect.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t this article show that the men eating more carb and less fat got thinner than those eating the same calories but less carb and more fat? I’m a big low carb, healthy fat advocate, by the way.

      1. It does show an emaciated man that chopped off a few of his fingers because he went crazy. Not sure if the studies referenced anything about body mass, but the photo of the starved man looks to me like he lost precious lean muscle along with fat. Not healthy or ideal. The premise of all this being, is that low carb/high fat burns fat while preserving lean muscle mass and strength.

      2. This is due to the fact that he was locked up and wasn’t working out. If all he is doing is eating small amounts of undesirable food underground with people watching your every move than he is going to go crazy and look like he was starved.

        My personal experience in dropping bf% this year involves the same 16 hour fast of which I fasted between 9pm and 1pm at 1500 calories. I went from 160 to 140 lbs and am currently at 10.4% body fat (roughly according to my scale.) Not hard to do with a small 500 calorie meal at 1pm and a kicka** 1000 calorie meal at 6 or 7pm while meeting my macro goals. The main difference is eating the foods you enjoy to keep from going crazy and to workout at the same time so that you look fit with muscles and not skinny and anorexic.

  2. Nice Post! I think this is true. I have noticed many people on low carb diets drop fat like crazy and those on on low fat not so much. I myself have experimented with both, and the low carb diet seems most effective.


    Jose Castro_Frenzel

  3. Until nutrigenomics is fully realized, lowering carbs by way of starch elimination seems to be a better dietary choice for most of the population. I especially like this study where, in spite participants being fed nearly 5000kcal/day (4000kcal from fat) for 45 days and refused to gain fat:

    The research is clear: have carbs when you’ve earned them…after a workout!


    Excellent point, Skyler. Nutrient timing is another topic I hope to explore very, very soon. Thanks for the reference!


    1. I just started this diet. I am on day #2. I already feel better. I take supplements and I’m wondering if that is acceptable on this diet. I take omega 3, biotin, D, and Gaba Calm. What are your thoughts on these?

      1. I would also do k1, k2 and magnesium supplements unless your testing and don’t need them or are absolutely sure you’re getting enough bioavailable from food sources (unlikely).

  4. I meant to say “the importance of protein should NOT be neglected either.”

    From a personal training stand-point, the compliance rate is much higher with clients who are put on an eating plan where the fat is equal to or slightly higher than the carbohydrates.

    It’s easier on the stomach but it’s hard information to swallow.

  5. Great comparison! It’s certainly intriguing to see results like that.

    I remember reading about how strict Lance Armstrong was with his diet and how he weighed his food, but like you said, that’s not the whole story.

  6. Great post.

    Ever heard of Vince Gironda? He was a trainer of pro bodybuilders in the 50s & 60s. He was a strong advocate of high protein & fat, low-carb diets for losing fat while minimizing loss of muscle mass.

    Coincidentally, he also believed in FAST workouts. He recommended starting out with 30s rest between sets, and working down to maybe 10s or less.

    Compare that to most of the people you see in the gym that spend more time walking around or talking than they do lifting.

  7. Hey Tim,

    This is very interesting, currently I’m trying out what your diet in your lose 20 lbs article does to my body. Although I agree with this article I do want to point out; cutting calories did make the people in the first study lose weight. Although I don’t have scientific proof backing me up I’m pretty sure that the basics of calorie deficit equaling losing weight still stands. Yes it is less maintainable but I think people need to remember you can’t use the excuse that “cutting calories doesn’t work for me.” Unless physics have changed since I’ve taken them (and since I’m just about to graduate I doubt they have) mass doesn’t just appear and since your body uses some food for energy if you eat less calories then your body needs to maintain weight you will lose weight.

    Also I just read your book after following your blog for a few weeks. It was a great read and has changed my plans for the future. Like I said above I am getting close to graduating with my B.S. in computer science and now I’m not looking forward to getting a good job as a means of career growth but I’m looking forward to getting a good job as a means to finance the personal growth that I think will stem from me achieving my dreams.

    Thanks for such a good read!

    1. This post makes some really valid points. I myself also agree that calories play a huge role in weight loss. However, it can definitely get out of hand when people become obsessed and this is what leads to the health problems you see in connection with losing weight.

      I truly believe that you can lose weight and maintain it simply by eating controlled portions of healthy foods combined with a good exercise regimen.

      1. Wendy, obviously they can’t lose weight by your suggested method or there would not be a majority of fatties around, trying the damnedest to get rid of the fat by your suggested method, and failing. The reason these same people, don’t lose weight on the HFLC method is because conventional dietitians believe if we eat fatty foods we will kill ourselves. I am 68 years old, and remember when this was not the case, The kid we called fatty at school, and they were rare, would not be called fatty today, we are fat because instead of eating our bread and butter, and our meat, with fat on and whole eggs and 3 veg. no rice no pasta, no today we are filling up on crapand wrecking our bodies, then we can’t get of the roller coaster (insulin) until we repair our broken health, either the hard way, as you suggest by portion control, or the easy way using HFLC. Not everyone has to use the same system, and it also depends on how broken your health is. If you are 100lbs and upward of weight above normal, then you can get those fellow sufferers, and show them how it is done. My bet is on HFLC. Cheers.

    2. David no-one said a calorie deficit wouldn’t lose weight, but it was a hell of a grind for those poor buggers, on low fat , always hungry, locked up so they couldn’t steal food, were as, the low carbers chose their own amount of calories. I know it is hard for you clever people to understand, but we don’t give a flying f… about calories in, calories out, we want to lose fat weight without resorting to starvation, and in my experience, HFLC is the easiest way to lose fat weight. cheers .

  8. Just started following Chuck Norris on Twitter. Tim – I think you should make an exception to your low information diet for him. ; )

    I don’t really know what I think about this. I wonder how much impact the psychology of volunteering for a starvation experiment had vs. volunteering for a weight loss experiment. As Dr. Eades mentions – not quite apples to apples.

    I’ve never experimented with a high protein / low carb diet. I eliminated grains completely while I was a raw foodist (apart from the occasional sprouted grains – which are almost vegetables at that point) – but eliminated all animal products (meat and dairy) at the same time. I had good results – though I think my body temperature was low (raw fooders will say it’s because there are fewer microorganisms introduced to the body and so the higher temperatures required to kill them are unnecessary). Plenty of healthy fats and lots of carbs but qualitatively different carbs, I believe.

    In re-scanning the “geek to freak” article I noticed Tim’s cholesterol drop. I find that interesting, since one of the chief statistical benefits of veganism is lower cholesterol. I also wonder how the high quantities of protein are handled by the liver, as I have heard it can cause strain.

    Tim – you mentioned somewhere about your mom’s struggle with food allergies – I’d like to hear more about that. Her journey, how your family joined her on that journey, how it did or did not inspire your study of nutrition, etc. Though I have never had allergies of any sort, one of the most influential dietary books for me was Nicollette Dumke’s 5 Years Without Food. It stresses the benefits of rotating one’s diet – as opposed to relying so heavily on wheat, corn and soy as the Standard American Diet does.

  9. Tim, I love these types of post that you do. Being a kind of gym rat myself, I’ve always been interested in the anatomy/bodybuilding area, and you do some of the best posts about this stuff (besides of course.)

    I dugg, stumbled, and delicioused this post 😉

  10. Hi Tim,

    It’s my first time posting but I’ve been a loyal reader for a couple months now, and I have to concur about your sentiments about eating less carbs and eating better proteins and fats. I myself, am experimenting with your slow carb diet that you posted a while back. It is my 3rd week in and I gotta say that I really don’t miss the rice or heavy meats that we Filipino’s love to eat (no rice for Filipino’s is like no water for fish). I’m chronicling my experiment/adventure with this weight loss technique on my blog … inspired by yourself and by my friend Alejandro who dropped a whopping 45 lbs. in the course of a couple months by decreasing carb intake.

    Anyone can feel free to take a look at how I do through the duration of my weight loss. I started at 160 and am trying to get down to 140 lbs.

    On this post itself…the results of both studies are fascinating to say the least. It is true that what matters most is not necessarily how much calories you take in, but rather where those calories are taken from.

  11. Tim – as usual – you are right on. I wrote an essay for a class I took last semester about the fallacies of the USDA food pyramid, which I chose to target because it is an “icon” that people trust. I honestly think that the epidemic of depression in Westernized nations has a lot to do with the push of low-fat diets, and the majority of our other “non-communicable” causes of death (heart attack, stroke, cancer, diabetes to name a few) have a lot to do with the refined grains and sugars that make up the “core” of the old pyramid. There is a revised one, but most people don’t know about it, and it still has its flaws.

    My essay is posted here, if anyone is interested:

    Then on to foods that heal – our bodies really need fresh (local) foods that are pesticide-hormone-antibiotic free, and (getting off my soapbox in a second :)) animal meat (if you choose to eat it) that is fed all of the above. We are what we eat. Eat fresh produce, as raw as possible as often as possible. This is what we *evolved* eating.

    I think what I would like to hear more about (and get more info out there about) is the true causes of depression and other diseases (as mentioned above) being preventable simply by diet. To include ADHD and the like in children. I truly believe it’s that simple, but we are a nation consumed by what we are *told* to eat, and what is readily available; the statistics of causes of death in Westernized nations tells the tale.

    @ Nate: I really like what I have been seeing in Men’s Health. Kudos to you & that magazine. I wrote a little bit about eating fat to lost fat here:

    I happen to know there is a book by the same name, I haven’t had a chance to review it yet. Comes from the same publisher as Nourishing Traditions

    which I have read. A great place to start (with recipes) to learn to eat how we evolved eating, and stay healthy.

    Enough for now 🙂

  12. Dr. Eades, Tim, fellow readers,

    As a graduate in exercise sciences with experience in coaching people who want to lose fat, I can attest the validity of Dr. Eades’ remarks.

    There really is a growing current in the scientific community that’s recognizing the potential for high-protein and low-carbohydrates diet to help fat loss above and beyond simple the thermodynamics “calories in minus calories out” approach (as Dr. Eades’ pointed out).

    I’d add that your mileage may vary: it seems that the individual response to a low-carb diet differs a lot from one person to another (I’m saying that out of my scientific and practical background). For example, I know for sure that losing weight (for a photo shooting) is terribly easy for me on a high-protein and low-carbohydrate diet. I feel full, my moods stabilize even more than when I eat a regular-carb diet, and my fat % drops.

    If you’ve been trying to lose fat, I encourage you to try it.


    Tim, to answer your question, I’d like to read more on the mechanisms of muscle growth and the best training methods to do that.

    Cheer everyone,


  13. So, which literature do you recommend about low-carb diets (apart from Dr. Eades’ book, of course) that has done it’s homework? bonus points if there’s a spanish edition since my mom is interested in the topic and she never quite learned english

  14. Tim,

    Having read your post, and the related posts, I am left with a conundrum. I am currently training for a 1/2 marathon and marathon, which would lead me to believe that I would need to consume plenty of carbs for my training runs (I am averaging about 25 miles a week, with more to come). Reducing carbs does not seem to be an option.

    I am also a vegetarian, which means my protein sources are limited. I realize that I am a fringe case, but any suggestions for those of us who don’t eat meat? How about for those training for endurance sports?

    1. Jeredb, you might look up Phil Maffetone (who would be great on a Tim Ferriss Podcast). Your body can only hold so many grams of glycogen. Also you can only consume during your run so much food. A 150 lb person will burn about 100 calories per mile. If you are running 10 minute miles you will burn 600 calories per hour. (more if you are heavier, less if you are lighter) . You can eat about 350 to 400 calories per hour and exercise at the same time. If you burn glucose (carb loading) you may “bonk” about mile 20. If you become more fat adapted you will burn ketones and be less prone to bonking. I run and train with ultra runners there is no way these people can eat enough carbohydrate on these 50 and 100 mile runs to run only on carbohydrate.

    2. Protein is in MANY foods, not just meat. People equate protein to meat and this is a major issue in western society when you look at the significant health issues involved in meat consumption. As a vegan i get more than enough protein from plant based sources. Anyone who says any different is simply wrong.

  15. One possible alternative explanation is that in the Keys study, all food was provided and thus measured by the investigators. In the Yudkin study, it was not.

    There is a pretty big scientific literature showing that self-reported food intake is generally inaccurate, even after training.

    So one alternative reason the participants in the Yudkin study didn’t suffer any effects is that they were not really eating only 1560 kcal/d.

    Also, the Yudkin study was only 2 weeks long, while the restriction in the Keys study lasted 24 weeks. Even if they were eating only 1560 kcal/d, they knew it was only for a couple of weeks. The Keys participants got starved for an extended period of time. How can you even begin to equate the psychological effects of these two studies?

  16. Excellent post Tim! I’d like to hear more about weight GAIN. And I guess it’s not as much about the actual weight as it is increased muscle strength and size. (I want to be strong and look strong, not just weight a lot…haha) Also, I know a few younger people (high school age) that are trying to gain weight and there doesn’t seem to be any consistency to the information we get. According to what you posted and the comments, weight gain powder and other supplements may actually increase your metabolism and make it more difficult to gain weight…even thought that is specifically what it is designed for? And if that really is the case, I can’t imagine what many of the other foods may be doing to decrease our abilities to gain weight. Common sense and conventional wisdom says eat lots of protein and calories and workout and you’ll get bigger. I’ve done that and it hasn’t worked (at least not in any significant amount). You’re good at throwing out conventional wisdom and getting to the point, which is something I really like to see on the subject.

    Very interesting post…I’ve got lots more to research now.

  17. I’ve been in the nutritional cleansing industry for a while and have witnessed hundreds of people lose 20-30 pounds in a month very easily. What I’ve learned is that if your body is being fed all the nutrients it need, which by the way you absoutely cannot get without supplementation nowadays, you don’t need a ton of calories. We don’t crave tons of food if we’re being satisfied with quality nutrition. On my website you’ll read (and see) people who successfully lost 30 pounds in a month and have kept it off for years.

    Thanks for your post Tim. What’s up with all the violent winners this past weekend? I’d love your opinion on the state of our media and where you think it’s headed.



  18. Great read Tim thanks. I believe in low carb diets but I still think those studies show that the people lost weight based on calories ultimately even though they didn’t feel hungry. However that study pointed at by Skyler is very interesting and it seems to indicate that certain fats can boost metabolism levels high enough to lose plenty of weight while taking in high levels of calories. I’ll have to look into that more.

    Also as for Tim’s cholesterol dropping in the Geek to Freek article much of that may be due to the supplements and wine he was taking in as all but possibly the chromate are known to have cholesterol lowering effects.

    Thanks for these types of posts though I really enjoy them.

  19. LOL!

    Dr. Eades,

    This post didn’t have anything to do with the comment I left under your calming video blog post—the one about Tim’s Experiment—did it?

    In any case, it’s great to see this post.


    If you want to laugh your ass off, just have a look at Eades’s blog and look at some of his responses to dumb comments. A funny guy he is…


  20. Protein is power!

    Besides your friend’s book – I HIGHLY recommend BodyRX from Dr Scott Connelly.

    His program changed my life. Well … maybe not as drastic as 34 lbs of new lean muscle in 4 weeks… but history only shows one man has ever been able to do that 🙂

    So, to your blogging viewers – if you would be so kind to allow me to mention another authority on the subject of protein power and how it works in the body!

    And – Dr Connelly – everyone in the world of fitness and bodybuilding knows who he is …

    His book BodyRx has been out a while , but it is ( in my opinion ) the best book on living fit and lean.

    Note :

  21. Hi Tim,

    Yet another great post. Have you read or heard about Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman? The basis of his nutrition philosophy is that to eat healthier you need to increase the ratio of nutrients to calories in your diet.

    It’s pretty simple. If you eat a lot of nutrient-deficient calories, then your body is going to crave more. If you eat a lot of nutrient-rich calories then your body is satisfied. Perhaps the key difference between the two diets is even simpler than the protein-fat-carb breakdown, and is simply that the latter diet provided more nutrients and thus results in healthier, more-satisfied people.

  22. I am thrilled that someone with your higher profile is posting about stuff like this. Yes, as both you and a commenter pointed out, the studies weren’t exactly parallel. That’s the damned problem with food-based studies: so hard to eliminate variables and reproduce conditions precisely.

    My own fascination with this started five years ago, when I put myself on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet to help bring my Crohn’s disease into remission. All grains and most complex sugars are verboten; honey is the only sweetener allowed, and even the simple sugars are only “legal” as part of the whole food itself.

    This goes along with the Michael Pollan/new food revolution dogma that generally warns against eating food your grandparents wouldn’t recognize. It’s difficult to tell what’s does the patient the most good on the SCD: elimination of complex carbs or a wildly dramatic reduction in processed foods (or both).

    What is certain is how many of us have turned our lives around with the diet. Like many people with IBD, I struggled with dangerous underweight; the SCD helped me put on pounds where carbs failed. But the spouses and families of the patient, who often end up on SCD, too, as it’s simpler for everyone to eat the same stuff, many times end up losing weight they were unable to on the Standard American Diet. People tend, it seems, to normalize on SCD.

    I’ll step off the soapbox now. It’s just that I marvel at those who insist on supporting conventional wisdom when it’s been proven neither constant nor wise.

    And it’s probably pretty far afield from the kinds of things you’re wanting to explore with this series, but as I slide into 50, I’m more and more interested in the effects of stretching and limberness (?) on disease prevention and age retarding.

    Oh–and a link to an SCD description, for the helluvit:

  23. Great Post Tim,

    A lot to think about. As a trainer and martial artist for 20 years I have seen many examples of what you list here. Some of the best ones revolve around the concept of carb vs. protein. One of the issues that I see now is the huge difference between quality of protein – especially in supplements and organics. I have personally tried dozens of supplements and almost all of them seem to slow me down and rot my gut out.

    My wife has a friend that introduced us to shaklee’s soy protein and it is simply amazing! No stomach problems and I have noticed a huge reduction in post training recovery. (I don’t sell for shaklee and the stuff is pricey but man, it rocks)

    I have also tried their drink during bjj practice and definitely noticed an increased endurance using it.

    I just want to stress that this isn’t an ad – I’m just sharing some info-

    Two final notes I have found useful on this topic:

    1. The biggest challenge with any change in diet is not the content or the quantity of the newer foods. It is the emotional attachment that they have with eating specific foods at certain times. This may sound “fluffy” or “Dr. Phil” but I have seen it over and over. The weight loss needs an emotional redirection for it to have long term success. Whatever payoff feeling the person gets from eating the way that they have in the past needs to be isolated and dealt with on a conscious level. If you take something out, the hole needs to be filled back up with another purpose. Otherwise it’s back on the see-saw again.

    2. The second most ignored element in achieving weight loss is intensity. That is intensity in exercise, and intensity in commitment to their eating routine. It doesn’t matter as much if a person walks or runs, but the person who has a fire in their mind to achieve will call to arms more cellular support than the punch-the-clock version. This is why you see the treadmill cattle that ride for an hour a day yet have no gains. They need a rabid dog chasing them! The mental intensity will manifest itself as creative solutions when the chips are down (pardon the pun)and everyone else feels guilty and attacks the effort with their own bad eating habits.

    Thanks again Tim!

  24. Maybe it is something you can make it 4hww diet style but not in the fadish manner.

    A diet that can be implemented into the 4hww philosophy. Hack and outsource the diet method.

    There is mass of distraction in the diet industry. Weight loss guru said this and another weight loss guru said this. Why can’t they agree to disagree?

    With your weight loss and weight gain blog post and you have proof. You have a large number of readers following you. It is a good market for someone like you with the authority.

  25. The thermodynamics model not only is insufficient, it’s probably outright wrong. We know, for example, that when the body takes in some things in excess it excretes them to maintain itself in balance. Why can’t that be true for calories? Many of us know somebody who seems to be able to eat anything and not gain a pound. Most people can eat plenty of bread, pasta, etc and not gain weight. Perhaps some people have a metabolic disorder, one that causes the insulin load of a high-carbohydrate diet to interfere with the body’s attempt to maintain balance. They get fat on moderate-carb or high-carb diets, while low-carb diets allow them to lose that fat.

    1. Part of it has to do with the combination of foods. A person`s blood type plays a role sometimes. Often mood and body weight are both affected by your heritage. If there was higher fat in your ancestor`s diet (coastal / fish,etc.) then your body is going to need more fat. It isn`t as cut and dried as some of the experts try to make it sound. Basically, they`re each focusing on one piece of the puzzle. It isn`t either or. It`s all of the above. Great comments from Tim and everybody!

    2. Bob Smith… 66% or 2/3 of the white population of the USA are over weight, The reason for high fat low carb moderate protein diets, is not only to lose fat, but to attempt to repair their broken metabolism. Low carb does this by restricting the craving for sugars, and the high fat is to give them energy, the moderate protein helps to spare the muscle tissue. Cheers.

  26. Great article…..I get sick when I hear friends talk about fad/crash diets or talk about how many calories they burned on the treadmill. If you take the time to learn how your body works (I don’t know how anyone could live life and not put any time into learning about themselves). I’d much rather fine tune my workout routines to be brief and efficient – allowing myself to burn the fat while I sleep, rather than in an extra couple hours at the gym.

    Great read, keep up the fitness posts – hell, start a seperate fitness blog. Your passion for health and time management is a winning combo that I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on, it’s great hearing about some of this stuff that doesn’t get any press.

    You forgot to include the most effective fat burning technique though….the Hawaii Chair:

  27. Hey Tim,

    I love the book (have read it & listened to it numerous times, and have advised half a dozen friends to do the same) and am now starting to love your blog as well.

    For your geek to freak article and general muscle building/fat losing advice, what kind of calorie breakdown (how much protein daily, how many carbs, fat, total calories) are you looking at? I ask because my current diet is fairly limited (sorta vegan, but eating eggs & seafood) and I’m allergic to nuts (peanuts include legumes, so for instance beans are sketchy) and soy, limited my protein sources. I want to try your mass gain program and think with Tuna, Whey and Eggs I can get enough protein.

    Thanks & keep up the good work,


  28. Hi All!

    Thanks for the great feedback. Dr. Eades actually sleeps, where I am a night owl, so I expect he’ll be joining us tomorrow to add his additional thoughts.

    In the meantime, just a few things:

    @Jaredb –

    If you’re training for a marathon, a strict low-carb diet makes little sense. I would focus on low-glycemic index carbs (more to come on the pros/cons of this soon), avoid white carbs in general, and perhaps consider a cyclical ketogenic diet if you need to lose bodyfat for competitive or performance purposes.

    @Aaron –

    What’s to be made of the violent winners at the Oscar’s? Not much, I think. In this case, I think you just have a coincidental confluence of good filmmakers with scripts that contain violence.

    @All –

    More on my cholesterol modification and familial food allergies to come.



  29. Hi Tim,

    Great book.

    I would like to know the best way to gain muscle in the shoulders, scapula areas.

    I am a vegan.

    Can you help please ?

    Best wishes,


  30. Hi Tim,

    a good article, but in fact, nothing too new in there for a fitness enthusiast.. Benefits of a low-carb diet for fat loss are quite well known.. I’ve personally had very good experiences with a cyclical ketogenic diet. I’m really interested about your muscle-gaining experiment.. I would swear that a gain of 34 pounds of lean mass in a month without steroids is impossible. (I would even say that it’s a good result with steroids.) Are you sure there were no banned chemicals in your supplement regimen at the time? 😉 (No offence, really.) Anyway, please write something more about your calorie intake and nutrition in that period.

  31. Great to see you giving Dr Eades some exposure to a different audience. He is a great writer and an original thinker and deserves to be read more widely. I like to see you challenging the orthodoxy – as you always do!

    Taubes in his books and recentl lectures has demonstrated that there is so much more to it that calories:

    and there are even occasional scientific studies that indicate that carbs are not as healthy as some would indicate:

    by the way there are some out there who viciously attack eades for these views, so expect some criticism……



  32. On the point of nutrient timing, even high GI can be had right after exercise. A sugar coke is ideal, as it also contain caffeine, which helps to stop aches and pains after exercise.

  33. These studies prove nothing about calories. The calories are meant as a control (assuming the self-reporting was accurate). Which means that the studies are measuring the effects of everything but calories.

    A calorie is simply a measure of energy. So it’s intellectually dishonest to say that a calorie isn’t always a calorie. It’s like saying that a mile is not a mile. It makes no sense.

    What I think you mean to say is that your body processes different types of food differently, so if you eat different types of food in different quantities, then your body will react differently to the different intake. Of course, when you say it that way, you get a big “Duh!”



    Hi Q,

    This is true, but we are pointing out the fallacy in terms of quality and not quantity, which is where most people misspeak when they say “a calorie is a calorie.” It reminds me of the question: which is heavier, a pound of feathers or a pound of brick? They’re the same, of course, but I’d rather have a pound of feathers land on my head. Qualitatively and functionally, they’re completely different.



  34. Tim,

    Have you checked out any of the research into “Evolutionary Fitness” done by Art Devany?

    He’s been eating a low-carb, high protein diet for probably 50 years, and he advocates high intensity, short duration weight training. The guy is 70 years old and from what he posts, he’s incredibly healthy. Here are a couple of links to his research and his blog.

    One thing I wondered about was the economics of eating like this. It seems like you’ve got to at least be in the middle class to avoid processed foods and grains.



  35. Excellent post. This is the only diet that works for me and I’m pre-diabetic. My husband’s doctor put him on the high-carb, low-fat diet that my husband insisted was good for the whole family. Our children became overweight within a few months. I gained 30 pounds in a year, even with working out daily. My husband, who had a different metabolism, lost 30 pounds in a year and looked like a POW–people used to ask me what terminal illness he had. Since switching to this diet, I’ve lost 20 pounds and feel GREAT and my kids are back in shape, too. I divorced the husband.

  36. Tim,

    I lost 60 pounds without exercising dramatically. The weight disappeared over three and a half months.

    My food program consisted of


    4 oz. Protein

    4 oz. Grain (whole)

    1 pc Fruit

    3 Tbsp Oat Bran

    1/2 oz. fat


    4 oz. Protein

    12 oz. Vegetables

    1.5 oz. Grain (whole)

    1/2 oz. Fat

    1 pc Fruit


    4 oz. Protein

    12 oz. Vegetables

    1.5 oz Grain (whole)

    1/2 oz. Fat

    1 pc Fruit

    8 Glasses of water a day.

    This plan puts 95% of the people who take it into an Alkaline state which creates optimal metabolism, a non-infectious environment, and generally faster synaptic response.

    Few people who write about Health talk about pH. Over time, that will prove to be key.

    Most who look at the above plan get confused and think it can’t apply to people across the board. As scientists, they look to the familiar Chemical Equation Formula PV=nRT and think that the “size” of the container (human body), or Volume, has an impact on the rate of human metabolism.

    Humans are an intricate “closed system” where V is nearly negligible in the way that particular equation is meant to work.

    Regardless, no matter how much we “know” about health and wellness, evolution has this fancy trick of moving a little faster than our microscopes can run.

    My best to you on your quest. Perhaps at one point, deep fulfilling breathing, healthy meals prepared with love, and the knowledge that your food and water are PURE will be enough to indicate “good health”.

    Keep up the query.


  37. Tim,

    After reading Gary Taubes book at Thanksgiving, I basically gave up processed flours and sugars. Given the prevalance of these kinds of foods in our society, that basically means that I had to eat more protein, fat and vegetables than I had previously.

    I quickly lost around 25 lbs. (from 276lbs to 250lbs.)– despite no real exercise in my life — and have maintained that loss easily. I have not been hungry at all. I do not restrict my portions of protein, fat or vegetables (note: I do avoid starch vegetables like potatoes, etc. However, I do eat beans and lentils from time to time.)

    Once the weather begins to improve, I’m hoping to increase my activity and expect that I could lose another five to 10 pounds by doing so.

    I have more energy and am eager to see what my bloodwork looks like when I have my physical in June.

    I would be interested in hearing more for you on the weight-training that you do to build muscle. I’ve read your previous post on it and the Colorado experiment, but am a bit daft and could use you showing some step-by-step examples of how you do what you do without a spotter.


  38. “Weight loss on low-carb diets, so they say, occurs only because subjects following low-carb diets reduce their caloric intake.”

    I’ve never heard anyone explain it like this before. If people actually believe that then they’re screwed up in the head. Low carb diets, should mean a diet, low in carbs.

    Calories really are the things, but like you’re illustrating your body reacts differently to different things. I remember the first time I took on weight loss, I calculated my calories before I started. I was eating about 1500 calories a day. I never ate breakfast. Then I started to eat smaller meals more often(every 2-3hrs) and I was eating 2200-2500 calories a day and started dropping weight.

    Yeah, calories are everything, but it’s a two sided equation. You can’t just look at the food you eat, but look at how you can maximize your bodies calorie burning with food.

  39. Tim,

    There are two ways to look at this:

    1) A calorie IS a calorie. It doesn’t matter which foods you eat, if you burn more calories than you eat you WILL lose weight. In this sense, you can be on the all grapefruit diet, the all steak diet, the all potato diet, or the all lard diet.

    2) But diets are more complex than calories and weight loss.

    a. Our bodies need nutrients. If we don’t have the proper nutrition, our health suffers and we feel cravings, making it difficult to stick to the diet.

    b. There are strong psychological aspects to dieting including positive or negative self-image, stress, personal history of dieting, etc. These aspects affect a person’s ability to stay on a diet.

    c. The taste and volume of the diet food also has a psychological effect. By volume, I simply mean caloric density. If you’re going to eat 800 calories, it seems like you’re eating more when you get 40 cups of broccoli as opposed to 1 cinnabun.

  40. Tim/Dr. Eades,

    This material eludes to, but does not address the power of the mind, perhaps because it is difficult to actually quantify in a study. Eating high protein/high fat diets lead to a high level of satisfaction, where as high carb low fat diets leave you wanting more. I think the reason the participants of the low carb diet prospered was because of their mental state. The two studies could also be significantly different because of the way the participants were sold on it. The first study was meant to study starvation, right from the start the participants knew they were going to be starved. I weigh 350lbs and I eat about the same way the participants in the first study ate. I have to wonder if they weren’t mentally prepared to starve where the participants of the 2nd study were there to study the effects of a dietary pattern.

    Another thought I had was about Ketosis. The Atkins diet gets you into a state of Ketosis for a controlled amount of time and they claim that is what is responsible for the weight loss. I wonder if the participants of the first study were in a more intense period of ketosis and that type of limited diet caused extreme weight loss because of ketosis. Any thoughts?

    Thanks, I read your blog religiously and I love the eclectic nature of the topics you pontificate on.

  41. Hey Tim,

    I’m looking forward to giving your slow carb diet a try. I’m lean at the moment, but want to get ripped (through practical experience, I’d say the difference for me is 5-7 pounds).

    There are several different topics I’d like to read about: lactic acid tolerance – I know the traditional ways to increase this, but I was wondering if you had any tricks up your sleeve.

    How to increase strength in some lifts quickly (particularly the squat and bench press).

    What you do to speed up motor skill acquisition. I know that you train in the martial arts. I do too, so I was wondering if you had any insight into that.

    Keep up the great work!

  42. Everyone, can you help me?

    I’m a vegetarian, for ethical reasons. But I’m a vegetarian that hates tofu and mpost vegetables and fruits. So most of my diet is made up of cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, pasta, pizza, peanut butter sandwiches, and the occasional Indian meal.

    What do you recommend as a way to follow this diet without eating animal flesh? (or tofu etc.) Would concentrating on black bean or lentil soup do it? I’m a busy diet neophyte and need some tips.

    (I run and work out and I’m not fat per se, but I’d like to lose 10 pounds of fat in the belly area!)

    THANKS so much! I am so appreciative of all your help.


    1. As an omnivore who LOVES meat, I give all my stars to Red Lentils. They are filling, they are high in fiber and most importantly, THEY’RE CHEAP! 😀

  43. Tim,

    Its great to see such a prominent blog trumpet Dr Eades’ work. For some more scientific background on why homo sapien is not evolutionarily suited to munch on carbs all day you should check out Loren Cordain’s work:

    Dr Eades is quite familiar with Dr Cordain’s work.

    To take the low carb/Paleo approach to the next level, you really ought to familiarize yourself with Art deVany’s work, which he wraps up in a big ball he calls “Evolutionary Fitness”. His site is here:

    Now Art blogs about a lot of stuff besides fitness, so a list of Art’s writings on EF and other topics are here:

    Art is a retired econ professor from UC Irvine.

    In August of 2005 Art blogged a post on Intermittent Fasting that changed my life. Thanks to IF I have insanely good blood work numbers – triglycerides, glucose and insulin, cholesterol, etc.

    Please check Art’s work out. I promise to buy 5 more copies of your book to donate to charity if I waste your time. I’m pretty confident you won’t have to call me out!

  44. It’s not the lack of carbohydrates that’s causing the fat loss, it’s the increased intake of fat.

    That increased intake of fat causes an individual to become satiated (feel full) much sooner, thereby causing the overall calories consumed to drop, and as has been known for a long time: when the calories you consume drops below what you’re burning, you lose weight.

    What I think you’ve done here is mis-identified the variable responsible; this is why scientific experiments only change one thing at a time and keep all other factors static. Here, more than one thing has changed (you’ve got multiple variables: fat intake, carbohydrate intake, and protein intake) so just how the hell do you know that it’s the decreased carbohydrates that are responsible??

    Check out a book called ‘The Fat Fallacy’, I’ve personally used it to go from 220 to 160 (I’m back up to 180 now, but that’s by choice and most of it is muscle).



  45. Hey Tim

    I am a huge fan and I never would have left Japan to seek my fortune back in America if it was not for your book. Thank you.

    I have been teaching low carb for ages even back when I first entered nutrition school. Like you, Protein Power is up there as one of my favorite books and I have been recommending Michael and Mary for ages. I have also been faithful follower of low carb/Slow carb for last 13 years. I have maintained a pretty lean physic after being over weight in high school and college. Low glycemic/low starch is the way to go and it is a trip to come back to America after 7 years overseas and see it embraced (at least in california)

    As a disciple of this kind of diet I know it well and have had my successes and struggles with it. Living so long in another country opened my eyes to another facet to diet that I had never considered. That is environment, strangely now, I eat so much better now that I have returned to America but it was so much easier to stay thin in japan, even with all off the beer intake necessary for living there. I think there is another huge factor to body composition and that is mind state/environment.

    I struggle with the argument made with the first experiment possibly because of a huge negative placebo effect. Like Eades says it is not apples to apple here. There was a huge environmental gap. The starvation group was in a starvation setting, it was surrounding them, it was their framework. I would argue that in a different environment we would get totally different results.

    A past president of the American Holistic Medical Association commented once on the placebo effect. ” the placebo effect can change the body chemistry, change the internal hormones. It shows that mind and body are a single unit. If you read a chemotherapy protocol with all of it’s side effects to a patient, and the inject him with saline, the patient’s hair falls out!!” -Dr. Bernie Siegel.

    So once again I whole heartedly agree with low starch approach but I believe there is more going on than meets the eye. This is not apples to apple but is more like comparing apples to mac n’ cheese.

  46. Hi Tim,

    Glad you posted on this. I’ve been experimenting with intermittent fasting and had meant to ask you about your thoughts.

    I’ve found it to be time saving, plus I’m leaner and performance is fine.

    Any thougts?



  47. Oh yes, the calorie con. It only makes sense that a calorie from broccoli is better for you than a calorie from McDonalds. If you compared two people who consumed the same amount of calories, except one got their calories from Carbs and one got their calories from Protein you would see two completely different people.

    I’ve personally lost a lot of weight and built muscle by only eating complex carbohydrates in the morning along with protein & green vegetables the rest of the time with no salt, sugar, butter(fats), etc…and I get to eat as much as I wanted. (Steak, Steak Steak!) It was a strict diet but the pounds run off you.

    Keep spreading the word Tim. High protein/low-carb diets are the way to go.

  48. Also…as far as “Body Redesign”. I think people need to learn more about Body Fat % vs. Weight. Who cares what you weigh as long as it’s all muscle. Hoorah!

  49. Yep, low carb/high protein works, just don’t forget the in the long run it may be bad for your body. I do a slightly low carb diet with a fair amount of exercise supplements etc. and that keeps me right where I should be weight wise.

  50. Tim,

    A body design topic I’d like to hear the science about is how many reps you should do when working out. For example, does doing curls with 40 lbs to fatigue build more/less/same amount of muscle as does curls with 10 lbs until fatigue? I’ve heard lifting heavier builds more muscle, but what’s the science behind that? To me, VARYING the workouts between light and heavy seems to matter more than the actual weight.

    Keep the great topics coming!


  51. Tim,

    If someone were doing high intensity full body sprint-like activity for a period of 3-10 minutes during competitions what type of diet would you recommend—a low-GI or a low carb?


    Hi Alex,

    My preference (I used to wrestle) was always low-GI and not low-carb. More on glycemic “load” soon.


  52. Okay, I’m sold.

    What’s the easiest way for me to avoid processed sugars and grains? I don’t cook per se, but I will seek out specific foods and products when I dine out and shop to accommodate this plan. Thanks in advance!

  53. Ugh! I hope this isn’t the pale, bloated, debunked corpse of Dr. Atkins rising from the grave.

    Another way to be in great shape is to do a balanced workout of anaerobic and cardio daily and eat freshly made, balanced meals. I know – that’s too sensible. Go for the quick fix on the hamburger and butter diet!

    Professional athletes and body builders do not eat “as much butter, meat, eggs and cream as they want”. And certainly not the ones that play to win.

  54. Hi all–

    I’m glad so many of you found my article thought provoking. There are several comments that I’ll address directly:


    The subjects in the starvation study did indeed lose weight by cutting calories, of that there is no doubt. The point is, was it a healthful weight loss? If you get the chance to read the book on that study you’ll find out that the subjects were constantly tired, slept at every chance they got, and were depressed. They were responding to the caloric restriction.

    There is an energy balance equation that many people confuse with the first law of thermodynamics. The energy balance equation says that weight loss (or gain) = calories in minus calories out. In other words, if you take in more calories than you expend, the difference ends up as stored fat. It sounds good in theory, but the reality doesn’t work that way. Most people, scientists included, think that the two terms on the right side of the energy balance equation – calories in and calories out – are independent variables, but they’re not. The standard thinking is that if one reduces the calories in that the calories out will stay the same. Or if one increases calories out (i.e., exercises) that the calories in will remain the same, and that burning off an extra 3500 kcal a week will result in a one pound weight loss. Unfortunately, this isn’t how it works. Calories in and calories out are DEPENDENT variables. In other words, if you decrease calories in for a length of time as the people did in the Keys study, you will decrease metabolic rate and sleep more to compensate. This increase or decrease of metabolic rate as a function of calories in is called adaptive thermogenesis and has been clearly demonstrated and written about a lot lately in the scientific literature.


    These volunteers were conscientious objectors during WWII and were eager and excited about helping the war effort, which was how the experiment was advertised. I don’t think there would have been the same negative psychological impact then (especially since the first part of the study was overfeeding) as there would be now for a study advertised as a come-here-and-we’ll-starve-you-for-half-a-year study.

    And there is no strain to the liver from protein intake – that’s a myth.

    @Jaime Herazo–

    There are a number of scientific papers available that give in-depth discussion to the scientific merit of low-carb dieting. Unfortunately, most are in journals requiring a subscription. I’ll look around to see if I can find a good one that all can access, and if so I’ll post it in the comments next time I weigh in.

    I hate to tout one of my own books, but a small overview of low-carb dieting we wrote about 5 years ago titled The 30-Day Low-Carb Diet Solution is available in Spanish.


    Reducing carbs is an option. The idea that one must carb load to do endurence exercise is fallacious. Reducing carbs increases insulin sensitivity and allows the body to access stored fat (of which there is plenty, even in a thin person). Studies in which athletes are given time to adapt to low-carb diets typically demonstrate an increased endurance capability. The only time low-carb diets can fall a little short exercise-wise is in short-term, intense activity such as sprinting.

    @Call me Ishmael–

    There is no doubt that there is a problem of underreporting in nutritional studies. Data show that the more overweight an individual is the more likely he/she is to under report consumption and over report exercise. In the Yudkin study, the subjects were not particularly overweight, were enrolled in the nutritional program (and were thus more attuned to the necessity of honest reporting), and weren’t being evaluated for food intake, but for micronutrient content of the food consumed. Yudkin had a hospital-based obesity treatment center that was in operation for many years, and he said that the amounts of food consumed by the study subjects were about what was consumed by his own patients, which was why he believed their reports reliable. I’ve myself treated somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 patients with low-carb diets, and I can concur that those numbers are pretty accurate.


    If you can figure out how to gain weight easily, assuming you’re a person who can’t gain, you can make a fortune. Although the focus seems always to be on losing weight, there are a huge number of people trying to gain. And let me tell you, for underweight people, gaining is a lot tougher than losing is for the overweight.


    Tim and I have the same book editor. I had gotten a copy of his book and read it a while back, but I hadn’t seen his blog until your comment on one of my posts. Thanks.

    I’m glad you enjoy the responses to comments.


    A tip. In my years of practice I’ve taken care of a number of patients with Chrohn’s and ulcerative colitis. The mainstay of therapy, in my opinion, for these problems is a low-carbohydrate diet. An addition to that diet is l-glutamine. I gave my patients about 6-10 grams/day. You can get it in a powder and mix it with most anything or add it to a shake just like you would protein powder.

    @Bob Smith–

    Here is a great peer-reviewed, open-access paper on the thermodynamics of low-carb dieting that addresses your comment. Also see my answer to David above.

    More later as comments continue to accumulate.

  55. I used to lose 1 lbs. of fat a day on a diet of 1300 calories. However it was not Low-Carb and I used to get so incredibly irritable – 10 days in a row was all I could stand. The only exercise permitted was strength training, No Cardio (too inefficient at burning calories). I don’t do it anymore because it causes me too much distress.

    The other interesting part of this regimen was the use of Heat Dissipation. I never hear anyone talk about this. Basically more calories get burned through heat loss. The strategy was to wear clothing that exposed more skin, like shorts and sleeveless shirts as well as to drink a gallon of ice-cold water every day! The author (Ellington Darden /one of the Nautilus Guys) referred to the ice water as a negative calorie food!

    Anyway, it definitely worked but MAN it was hard!

    Perhaps adding a Low Carb diet to this would make it easier.

  56. Welcome to 1972? (When Atkin’s book came out)

    /* rant

    These are two hand picked studies that had very different aims. In the second it seems liked the researcher was focused on low-carb, right? So of course he ensured that the general vitamins, minerals, etc needs were met. The first was simulating starvation in concentration camps and only ate 2 times a day if I’m reading correctly. Not apples and apples, not even two fruits! Not that I am saying confirmation bias played in here (even though it may have) it seems like both studies were aiming for different things and thus got different results. Many “results” in the first study are at best subjective. Hell, I have been on 1600 cal a day for 2 months now (not low carb) and have no side effects other than that I’ve lost 20lbs. “1500 calories of garbage” is the name of the first diet.

    Both were calorie restrictive so it IS as simple as reducing calories isn’t it? Heh. Low amounts of high GI carbs are of course going to make you have less cravings (insulin spike and drop). And a lot of the initial weight loss from no-carb is from the depletion of glycogen in the liver (which is mostly water). I have done no-carb diets 4 times, I lost 10 lbs easily in first week, it isn’t fat that’s absurd. My Tanita says it is but I can manipulate my water levels and sway my BF by a few percent each day if I want.

    Low carb works, yeah, and better (due to ketosis and more good fats) than simple low calorie but not much better. Not so much better that it warrants the hassle of being no-carb (90% of people will have a hard time staying on a no-carb diet just from lack of cheap food choices imo). I would argue 1560 diet that was semi-low-carb and high in fiber and unsaturated fats would be just as good and a helluva lot easier to follow.

    I guess it comes down to trying to be extreme and controversial to get more hits or books sold. It’s the name of the game I know.

    rant */


    P.S. Tim, your book is totally awesome, you are the man. Dr Eades I’ve read much of what you have written on paleolithic style dieting and have nothing but respect for you.

  57. You really hit a point that ive been trying to teach people for a very long time.

    When I tell people that the key to fat loss is to eat fat they just laugh at me! I believe their misconception must come from the fact that the FDA says that weight loss comes from a “low fat” diet…

    Ive proven it to people time and time again, a low carb high fat diet is the key to real weight loss. Results are not gradual but are noticeable within just a few days.

    Initially everyone will go through a form of “carb withdrawal” but after that, its amazing how well you physical and metal body feels.

    One main thing for people to keep in mind however is that too much protein can cause problems without an equal amount of water. What can happen is your kidneys will have to work to hard to break down the protein without a subsequent amount of water.

    Ive been thinking about doing a blog series on this topic for a while and this post has pushed me over the edge. Ive gained a few extra pounds this winter and its time to take it off. Ive decided to do the embarrassing and post my daily results on my blog so stay tuned for the results…

    Anyways Great topic, keep them coming!

  58. In an earlier comment I wrote that I would try to find a good paper or two on the science behind low-carb diets. I found a couple that are both arguments by academics for low-carb science to be taught in medical schools. One is in pdf format that I emailed to Tim so that he can figure out how to get it up. It is from a subscription only journal, but I got permission from the author to post it.

    The second can be found in the link below:


  59. Tim,

    I have to call you out on your Oscar twitter posts. Pictures or it didn’t happened.


    LOL… OK. I’ll see if I can dig up some photos. If not, you’ll have to settle for the word until the pics do come out. I was Audi’s guest and there were plenty of photos.


  60. Tim and Dr Eades,

    I started living by the four rules in one of Tim’s previous posts (lose 30lbs…) and have found the results of your study to resonate with me.

    I started on a Wednesday, I was so excited by the post, which is very unusual for me as I find that I like to start new goals on a Monday (things should have a proper order, don’t you think?).

    Anyway, I woke up the next morning feeling so fulfilled/satiated and generally with a better sense of well-being than on any other ‘diet’ or my normal routine and I ranted about it so often that I’ve converted my housemate. By the Wednesday following (Sunday is my ‘cheat’ day), I had lost 1.5kg without feeling at all deprived.

    I’m sure I get more/better nutrients than previously, and I’m looking to add another dimension to my wellness. I plan to stop paying donations to the gym and actually go as well as harness the power of supplements, and I just wanted to thank you for the sense of excitement I feel about getting to know a new dimension of myself.



  61. @Dixie: “What’s the easiest way for me to avoid processed sugars and grains?”

    Shop at places that carry organic. I don’t like to throw around that term (organic) because it means different things, but in general, shop in places that sell “organic”, local, etc. and you have good odds of fulfilling your goal, without having to read a lot of labels. Keep educating yourself. The price tag is technically higher (although there are other ways, like a farmer’s market or growing the things you love yourself) – but the benefit to your health is definitely worth it.


  62. Tim,

    Love the blog since I first saw your pen spinning tips front paged on digg. Like a few of the other commenters, I’m interested in diet tips for gaining weight. Obviously, muscle weight to be specific. I already work out regularly but know I won’t be able to get bigger unless I change my diet and want to make sure I’m doing it right.

  63. Everybody gets down on Atkins, but they probably didn’t read the books. What on earth is wrong with eating fresh lean meat, tons of vegetables, and whole grains in moderation? All of these were advocated by Atkins. I’ve lost 25 lbs in one month just since starting that program and I feel great, not deprived.

    Read the books before you flame.

  64. Tim, I’m sorry, but this article is utter nonsense. How could the good doctor possibly expect us to believe that the depression of the subjects of the first experiment was due to diet when he’s already told us THEY WERE LOCKED UNDERGROUND FOR 36 WEEKS. (Emphasis mine.)


  65. Hi, Tim,

    I’m interested in the idea that regular aerobics doesn’t help you, and that in order to improve your heart & lungs, you need to work anaerobically (sp?).

    And is there any way to maintain a high metabolism as you age or are you stuck wtih the decreasing numbers no matter what?



  66. The long-term effects of high-fat, low-carb diets can be disastrous. High-fat, low-carb diets raise insulin levels and contribute directly to “blood sugar metabolic disorders,” including diabetes, chronic fatigue, and candida overgrowth (yeast). The theory behind low-carb diets (i.e. Atkins and The Zone Diet) is that you should limit carbohydrate intake in order to limit insulin release. But what they overlook is that protein and fat-rich foods cause significant insulin secretion. For example:

    – A quarter pound of beef raises insulin levels in diabetics as much as a quarter pound of straight sugar. (Diabetes Care 7 (1984): 465).

    – Cheese and beef eleveate insulin levels higher than “dreaded” high-carb foods like pasta. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 50 (1997): 1264). In this article, the AJCN states that meat, compared to the amount of blood sugar it releases, causes the most insulin secretion of any food tested.

    A study done at Tufts University (and presented at the American Heart Association convention in 2003) compared 4 popular diets for a year. Out of the four diets (Weight Watchers, Zone Diet, Atkins, Ornish), Ornish’s vegetarian diet (almost all carbs) was the only one to significantly lower insulin (27%), even though that’s supposedly what The Zone and Atkins diets were designed to do.

    If you restrict carb intake, you are left with either eating a higher percentage of fat, or eating a higher percentage of protein—neither of which is good for long-term health. High-protein diets can lead to osteoporosis (the body leaches calcium from the bones to neutralize an overly acidic internal environment) and kidney disease. Human breast milk (the ideal food for a growing infant who doubles his birth weight 5-6 months after delivery) is only 6% protein. We are not designed to eat overly high amounts of protein.

    The high-fat diet leads to heart disease and a high likelihood of diabetes. The fat/diabetes connection is not usually mentioned in conventional medical circles, but the correlation was documented as early as the 1920’s. A few examples:

    * In 1936, Dr. Rabinowitch of Canada presented 1,000 case studies demonstrating this point to the Diabetic Association in Boston. In his presentation, he proved that the main factor inhibiting the metabolism of blood sugar in the presence of normal insulin was too much fat in the blood.

    * In 1959, the Journal of the American Medical Association documented the causal relationship between fat consumption and diabetes.

    * A 1979 article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states, “Medical research confirms that up to 50% of people with Type 2 diabetes can eliminate diabetes risks and discontinue medication within 3 weeks by adopting a low-fat, plant food diet and regular daily exercise.”

    * In 1998, Duke University Medical Center rsearchers reported the findings of a study demonstrating that Type 2 diabetes can be COMPLETELY REVERSED in mice by lowering dietary fat. The study showed that foods high in fat were responsible for the onset of diabetes in the mice, whereas sugar had no effect at all on diabetes symptoms. The press release states, “Without the fat, the diabetes does not occur, even in diabetes-prone mice. When the high-fat diet is stopped in mice that have been raised on it, the diabetes disappears.”

    I could go on, but I think you get the point. Over the years, I’ve read a lot of different books on diet and nutrition, and I think the best book (by far) is The 80/10/10 Diet by Dr. Douglas Graham. Highly recommended. Some of the facts above were excerpted from Dr. Graham’s book.

    Something I’ve found to be true in my own life is that the “majority/mainstream” way of doing things—in any field (lifestyle, income generation, nutrition/diet, dating, etc)—is almost never the best way. I like contrarians, and I guess that’s why I don’t like see the usual low-carb, high-fat Atkins diet being promoted. Especially since the effects of such a diet can lead to very poor health.

  67. Tim,

    I can’t believe I just read all of the above comments!! Actually I’m glad I did because there’s some really fascinating info on here and being that health and fitness are 2 passions of mine there are definitely some ideas I’m looking forward to implementing!!

    I’ve always been an advocate of a well balanced, nutritious diet that promotes a healthy body both inside and out. And I agree that there’s something more to calories than calories in vs calories out to achieve one’s health and fitness goals.

    Would love to hear more on this and related topics!!!

    Take care,


  68. Hey Tim,

    That hyperlink does not take you anywhere. Can you double check it and see what is the situation. I am using Safari on OS X by apple.


    Jose Castro-Frenzel

    BTW That is crazy that you have stalkers…..Some people just don’t get it. You wrote the book to help others not have others stalk you. Thanks again for the ideas you have given to all of us.

  69. I’d like to know how to incorporate high protein sources that are low in animal fats and cholesterol with “good fats.” Also how a high caloric intake from fats affects heart health.

    A discussion of post-workout recovery and optimization of muscle gain would also be greatly appreciated!

    Great post!

  70. Candice – animal fat is good fat! If we look past the dogma, Cholesterol is not an issue. Dr Eades certainly sees no problems with saturated fat in the diet!

    With respect to fitness, there was a study recently that indicated that low cholesterol levels were strongly associated with injuries in female runners:

    and another study that showed that lower levels of cholesterol in the diet can actually limit the muscle gain associated with exercising

    There are some great videos by Dr Malcolm Kendrick on Youtube explainig why the whole “cholesterol is bad for you” idea is flawed e.g.:

    Post Workout nutrition? avoid carbs:

    and don’t waste money on post workout shakes:

  71. nutritional studies have so many confounding factors that I cannot trust their conclusions.

    for instance, one study administered olive oil to group A, and coconut oil to group B, and then attributed any difference in outcomes between the groups to the fact that olive oil has less saturated fat. But they did not take into account the high vitamin E content of olive oil.

    I’m very skeptical of anybody who claims to have the absolute correct answer on nutrition.

    /didn’t read the whole post

  72. I’m curious…given that animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gases than automobiles, and livestock farming makes for more water pollution than all the other causes (combined, I’m told), and the obvious ethical considerations involving animal suffering — is no one else concerned about exploring alternatives to animal fat/protein? Am I alone on this?

  73. Am i mad or am i right in taking away that if you follow the kays diet, i.e. high carb, low fat, you’d lose more weight than following the yudkin diet?!

  74. Excellent stuff by the good doctor! I love reading his blog and thanks for reposting it here.

    Tim, as a current PhD student in Exercise Phys and part time trainer, I am fascinated by the nervous system and also lately repartitioning effects (shuttling food stuffs into muscle and minimizing fat gain or even promoting fat loss at the same time).

    Technically, even in a caloric deficient we have enough energy as stored fat to use, but the body would need a really good reason to direct it more towards muscle gain (repartition it).

    I think the key is to promote health as that will transfer to athletic/body comp improvement via various mechanisms (insulin sensitivity in specific tissues, nervous sys involvement, leptin, etc). Now how much, what type, etc of exercise is hard to say.

    Keep up the great work! I would be very interested in your thoughts!

    Mike N

  75. Hi all–

    I feel compelled to jump in here again just to set the record straight.


    Ah Chris, Chris, Chris. I fear that your vegetarian diet has gone to your brain – literally. The brain is an organ composed primarily of fat and cholesterol – and when one doesn’t get enough, there can be problems. Studies have shown that those on low- or no-fat diets have longer reaction times, reduced short term memory, and a host of other subtle neurological findings. But, I stray from the point at hand.

    Your comment reminds me of one of my favorite Mark Twain quotes: “If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.”

    Starting at the top.

    Your first citation (Diabetes Care 7 (1984): 465) was completely misinterpreted.

    As even a quick read of the abstract shows, your statement attributed to this article is totally and completely inaccurate. Even more bizarre in light of your misstatement of the results of this study is the fact that this group of researchers is one of the more prominent academic proponents of the low-carb diet out there today. Frank Nuttall, the lead author, starts all his academic presentations (and I’ve seen many) with a slide that shows a giant piece of steak under which are the words: Today’s health food.

    Your comments on the second citation are, if anything, even more off base.

    Readers can go to the above link and pull the pdf file of the study and look at where beef and cheese rank. What needs to be remembered is that insulin isn’t the entire story. Insulin partners up with a counter-regulatory hormone called glucagon. Usually when insulin is up, glucagon is down and vice verse. During protein consumption, however, that isn’t the case. Both insulin AND glucagon are elevated. Why? Because protein intake stimulates an increase in insulin, not as much as does carbohydrate, but some. Why? Because insulin is required to get amino acids (the building locks of protein) into the cells just like it does sugar. But if protein intake runs up insulin, that same insulin will run blood sugar too low. If it weren’t for glucagon, eating protein would give us low blood sugar. The secretion of glucagon compensates. And, since glucagon is also a fat mobilizing hormone, we burn more fat if glucagon is higher, which is yet another reason the low-carb diet works so well for weight loss.

    Just for grins, take a look at this classic study done in a metabolic ward comparing what is basically a Protein Power diet to a low-fat, high-carb diet. If you look you will see that the PP diet lowered the fasting insulin levels by about 50 percent whereas the low-fat diet lowered them by about 8 percent, and 8 percent came about only because the calories were so low.

    As to the study comparing the Atkins, Zone, Ornish and LEARN (more or less the basis for the Weight Watchers program) diets…this study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and showed the Atkins diet to be the best of the four. This very study was what gave the American Diabetes Association the impetus for the first time to declare in their latest recommendations that low-carb diets are an acceptable therapy for those with diabetes.

    Here is the link to the full text version of the JAMA article. You can read it for yourself.

    The idea that protein causes osteoporosis and kidney problems are what I call Vampire Myths. Why Vampire Myths? Because despite the voluminous scientific data that disproves them, they just won’t die.

    To read about protein and calcium, look up any studies by Herta Spencer at Loyola.

    Here are a couple that I have at hand on protein and the kidney that are available in full-text version.

    All these earlier studies you’ve quoted are probably misquoted as well. I don’t have them at hand and don’t want to go to the effort to get them through interlibrary loan. But I can assure you that for every ancient study you can dig up purporting to show a problem with low-carb, high-protein, higher-fat diets, I can dig up a dozen more recent studies done with better analytic equipment that show just the opposite. In fact, in comparing low-carb to low-fat diets, the best the low-fat diets have done is to be about equal in terms of efficacy. In most cases, however, the low-carb diets have been proven to be vastly superior for both weight loss and modification of risk factors.

    I wouldn’t doubt that Duke researchers figured a way to reverse diabetes in mice by lowering fat. It’s done that way often – in mice. But mice aren’t simply little furry humans. They have mouse physiology, not human physiology. What works for them doesn’t always – or even often – work for us.

    I’ll bet you could go on and on with this kind of nonsense. But let’s stick with what the modern scientific literature shows. Not what you think it shows or want it to show, but what it really shows. As I say, I can match you a dozen citations for each you come up with, but I seriously doubt that you will be persuaded because apparently low-fat dieting isn’t a science with you; it’s more of a religion. To change your religion requires a lot more than science.

    I’ll leave you with an apropos quote from Harvard economist Henry Rosovsky:

    “Never underestimate the difficulty of changing false beliefs by facts.”

  76. Regarding environmental effects and health effects of eating meat.

    It’s important to make a distinction between conventional “factory farms,” which do hurt the environment, and biodynamic/grass-based farming, which helps it.

    Factory farms feed their cattle grains like corn and soybeans, which fattens them up and gives you meat with lots of omega 6 but little or no omega 3 (a 20:1 ratio or worse).

    Grass farming yields superior meat and milk, in taste and makeup of omega-3 and omega 6 fats (1:1 ratio) and it has more conjugated linoleic acid, commonly sold as a weight-loss supplement. If you have never had a grass fed steak you must try it, it is beefily delicious.

    Grass-based farming done correctly sucks carbon dioxide out of the air and put it in the soil. In fact one can buy carbon credits from grass farmers, if you are interested in offsetting your carbon footprint [ ]

    articles –

    Grassfarming Benefits the Environment

    health advantages of grass-fed meat

  77. Wow! The principal of my high school (1971) was one of the subjects! Harold Blickenstaff (John Woolman Friends School, Grass Valley, CA). A great guy who told it like it was. He walked (walks) his talk and inspired a lot of us to follow our hearts. Always wondered about the study. Thanks for pointing me in this direction!

    -Jon Stevens

    Camano Island, WA

  78. Hi Dixie – yep, I certainly am. There’s a good explanation of where vegetarians get protein in their diet here:

    That said, I think men tend to crave animal meats – there is an evolutionary reason for this. But it’s become way too easy (and cheap) to pick up a burger in the drive through or a pack of steaks at the grocery store. We eat too much meat in our society, IMHO 🙂

  79. Carbohydrates drive insulin drive fat.

    The economist Art DeVaney has been on this for quite a while, he calls his diet Evolutionary Fitness, but the name doesn’t matter, he simply suggests that we limit our diet to products available 10,000 years ago, when our our digestive system finished evolving (though, of course by definition, that could change).

    The gist of it is: avoid refined sugars, no bread, no sweets, no pasta, anything that could cause insulin spiking and eventually insulin resistance. It is not a no-carb diet as plenty of carbs are ingested via plant matter, and it is not as cavalier with ‘greesy’ food that Atkins seemed to be. [Devany also has a lot to say about how you should work out, basically espousing the Power law, less is more as long as it is intense.]

    Also, I highly recommend Mr. Taubes book and see if you can find a talk he did at Berkeley online, it’s highly enlightening.

    Actually, Here is the Taubes talk:

    What’s amazing is that this stuff was figured out chemically over fifty years ago, only to be hijacked by a different and wrong idea about how fat gain is caused.

    Tim, great post. Thank you Dr. Eades

  80. Interesting post! I will try that diet as soon as I´m leaving Malaysia. Most of the food here is high carb (rice, noodels)

  81. @Dr. Eades – I think we will have to agree to disagree. There are many studies conducted on nutrition that disagree with your conclusions.

    People are free to conduct their own research, and draw their own conclusions which may differ from yours. Calling someone’s mental health (neurological health) into question–just because he does not agree with you–is low, uncalled for, and does not reflect positively on you. I did not attack you personally. Please show the same courtesy to others who may not necessarily agree with your viewpoints.

  82. Diabetics should pay close attention to this material.

    Traditionally, a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet is recommended for the obese and type II diabetics. This low-fat approach is based on simple math. Fat has about twice as many calories per gram as carbohydrates and protein. Regardless of the lower calorie content, applying the theory has proven disastrous. It has secured America a seat in the worldwide Fat Ass Hall of Fame while giving birth to a diabetes epidemic. No surprise, math isn’t the best measure of a foods effect on the body. Biochemistry is – go figure.

    In contrast to carbohydrates, eating healthy fat (not trans fat, but naturally occurring fat) has proven to be the most important method for ensuring fat loss and warding off diabetes. This is courtesy of fats inability to spike the fat storing hormone insulin (as discussed above) – and prevent us from feeding our pie hole excess calories. Thus, despite eating fat in the form of grass fed beef, seeds, nuts, avocados, coconut oil or fish, you won’t suffer from unsightly belly fat. This phenomenon has been proven many times.

    The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently showed that eating twice as much fat led to greater weight loss. Researchers compared two eating plans that were similar in caloric intake but vastly different in fat consumption. Obese individuals who consumed 61% fat energy for eight weeks lost 18 pounds; those consuming a mere 30% fat lost 14 pounds (they replaced the fat intake with 46% carbs). (1) Far more staggering than the differences in weight loss are the differences in biochemistry among the two groups.

    Low fat, high carbohydrate eaters have the perfect biological environment for obesity and type II diabetes. Their blood levels of glucose, insulin and triglycerides skyrocket.(2) The Nurses’ Study by Harvard found that women who adhere to the Big Fat Scam and eat mostly carbohydrates increase their risk of diabetes 2.5 times! Men are not immune to the deadly carbohydrate effect.

    The best way to avoid being an honorary member of the Fat Ass Hall of Fame and the diabetes epidemic is to avoid the Big Fat Scam. Start eating more fat (avoid trans fats, of course, and give preference to fats with omega-3’s). Judge your food based on its effect on insulin (via glycemic load), count calories second. While calories aren’t the most important measure of eating, they still play a role, perhaps not as big a role as people think…

  83. This is certainly an interesting pair of studies. However, I find it very difficult to compare the two and draw any reasonable conclusions. You mentioned that indeed they are not exactly the same, but I feel that the differences really are crucial and make any comparison dangerous.

    In one study the people were locked up for the duration of the trial and although it doesn’t say exactly what they had to do all day, my guess is that if the idea was to simulate what people were going through in starving Europe at the time, they may well have been performing tasks involving manual labour (whether or not this is correct does not alter the difficulty in comparison – for a scientific study of diet, all other factors must be controlled and unless stated, I can’t presume that it’s the case)

    The conclusion is that they starved and had major psychological effects. The idea of putting this symptoms down to food, when the other conditions don’t seem to be discussed does not look like good science (I’m not saying that either study was not good science, but simply that such a trivial comparison does not seem sensible).

    It is noted rather provocatively that:

    “One group had to be locked down to ensure they didn’t eat more than their alloted 1570 calories”

    However, the argument can be put in almost exactly opposite terms:

    By locking down the subjects, they craved food.

    That is that the craving was not only a matter of what they were eating but the conditions they were subject to.

    A quite agree that a calorie is not just a calorie (in some sense) and this is a fascinating area to explore in more detail. However, I do find this particular comparison difficult to use for drawing any sort of conclusions.

    As someone interested in diet I look forward to hearing more discussion of such subjects on this extremely interesting blog, but as a scientist (though not of biology) I do find myself recoiling when I see people so quickly won over with such arguments.

  84. Chris @ #90

    This isn’t about differences in tastes. This isn’t like you picking Colonial architecture while I pick Bauhaus. The point of any scientific research is to be able to get as close to the truth of a theory or hypothesis as one can get. Not to agree to disagree. This means that the high fat, moderate protein way of eating will be eventually be proven to be the correct dietary approach for the majority of human beings. The research that supposedly proves the opposite has been done so badly,that it will all be refuted.

    Nutrition science, which after reading Gary Taubes book, “Good Calories, Bad Calories,” I consider an oxymoron, has been using bad formulated research now for about 40 years. The studies that are supposed to show that lowfat/highcarb is good for you really haven’t. The most recent ones especially, show results that are inconclusive or downright contradictory. Please go to Dr Mike’s blog, for review of such studies and pick up Taubes book–it will knock your socks off in terms of information. I counted his bibliographic entries ( a bit OCD, I know) and came up with 1584–he did not include the ones from the 300 or so pages he had to remove, so he actually researched much, much more.

    There is now simply no one else who has done the kind of extensive research that Taubes has done and then gone on to put it all in one book.

  85. Just like to put my 2 cents in. I have been following the Protein Power Plan/Protein Power Life Plan for almost 6 years now. I guess according to some commenter’s I should be dead by now or at least in renal failure and or diabetic.

    I originally started because my then diet(basically the standard American diet) plus a lot of aerobics(running and elliptic machine) was doing less then nothing. I was gaining fat, blood pressure and cholesterol were rising and I was feeling like crap. The kicker was I was going to have to go from 36 waist jeans to 38s and my doctor put me on Baycol(it was later removed from the market because it KILLED PEOPLE). Needless to say I don’t take statins anymore.

    A co-worker recommended I check out Protein Power so I went down to B&N and picked it up. At the time I was 38 6’0” 225lbs and about 30?. After 6 months I was down to 175 and around 15?(the BF numbers are estimates). I would have gotten there in 5 months but the wife and I went on a cruise and you know what that does to you.

    Currently I am 190lbs and 10? working for 8% and as long as I stay away from beer(my only carb weakness) I can maintain any weight I wish. My normal food intake is a protein shake in the morning(40g protein) on workout days, some form of meat that provides 40grams of protein plus a 1/3 cup of nuts(usually almonds) for lunch and for dinner another 40grams of protein and whatever low-carb vegetable the wife cooks up. My workout calorie day is about 1550 and my non workout days are about 1250. Even on the 1250 days I’m only hungry just before lunch. The nutrient percentages are 59% fat, 38% protein and 3% carb. If I wasn’t trying to drop to 8? I would be eating the 1550 plus a few beers on the weekend ?

    I’m now 44 years old and I’m in the best shape of my life, even better then when I was a teenager. So I basically live on about the same cals that the guys on the starvation diet and still build muscle and feel great. I got all my fingers too.

  86. Chris – Agree to disagree. That’s an interesting choice of words and rather revealing. That’s something you use when you have a difference of opinions. You may argue on whether eating meat is ethical or not. But there are no right or wrong in this argument.

    However when you leave the realm of opinion and move into science, you no longer deal with opinions but scientific facts. Either the facts supports your position or they do not. Trying to twist and bend the facts so they fit your point of view is no longer science, it becomes a religion. Similarly is looking only at studies that supports your beliefs. That’s the point Dr Eades was making. If you can’t look at the science with an open mind, then abandon all your pretenses of a scientific justification and just say you are a vegetarian because you believe eating meat is wrong. Period. Then everyone will happily agree to disagree.

  87. Chris (#73),

    You said:

    * In 1936, Dr. Rabinowitch of Canada presented 1,000 case studies demonstrating this point to the Diabetic Association in Boston. In his presentation, he proved that the main factor inhibiting the metabolism of blood sugar in the presence of normal insulin was too much fat in the blood. *

    I suspect this is one study you quoted correctly. But, unfortunately for you, it supports Dr. Eades’s case, as the best way to reduce fat in the blood is to restrict carbs.

  88. @Monique – Please re-read my post. Nowhere in my post did I say I was vegetarian (I’m not). Nowhere in my post did I mention the issue of “meat vs. no meat.” I discussed the high fat/low carb diet. You (and Dr. Eades) have automatically assumed that I am vegetarian simply because I mentioned a book by an author who is vegetarian. (He’s actually vegan.)

    “Agree to disagree. That’s an interesting choice of words and rather revealing. That’s something you use when you have a difference of opinions.”

    Exactly. We have a difference of opinion. Diet is a personal issue, and each individual is free to decide what works best for him. Presenting scientific studies/evidence is helpful to everyone. Calling someone’s mental health (neurological health) into question–just because he does not agree with you–shows a lack of respect and reeks of insecurity. Readers will be less likely to express their viewpoints, if they are greeted with personal attacks. Discussion is healthy (this includes opposing viewpoints), and should be encouraged.

    @Peter – Thanks for that. You made me laugh.