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High-Fat, Very Low Carb, Unrestricted Calories

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The headline basically describes the diet I am on. After reading a number of texts* describing this type of diet and my family's having had a month's experience with it (wife lost ten pounds, daughter lost 3 pounds, I lost 9 pounds, all in less than a month), I have decided to make it a lifestyle diet, rather than a "diet" in the popular sense.

Restricting all carbs to under 60g/day, eating no flour, sugar, or other refined carbohydrates, and eating all I want of fats and proteins is what I plan.

So far, it's working. No hunger, satiety level excellent after small meals, no slumps in mid morning or mid afternoon. Any comments?

*Good Calories, Bad Calories (Gary Taubes), The Doctor's Quick Weight Loss Diet (Irwin Stillman), Eat Fat, Lose Fat (Mary Enig, Sally Fallon), Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution (Robert C. Atkins), Fat Head (movie) (Tom Naughton).


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Well,it isn't the low carbs that facilitate weight loss, it's calorie restriction.......you can contribute a good % of your initial loss in water weight.

Saying that I do restrict carbs to a degree.........150-250 a day and do find this type of eating very satiating, just like your experiencing, which I like. But the satiety your experiencing is coming from protein, not the fat....as a matter of fact fat is extremely low not only on the satiety scale but in the thermodynamic department as well. Stay with me here..........vegetables and fruit are very thermic and still relatively low carb, so by increasing your vegetable and fruits (carbs) you can actually feel more satiated. Basically a diet high in protein and veg is more thermic than protein alone or protein with fat resulting in better health as well from the micronutrients that are found in veg and fruit and not in fat. this doesn't mean you eat a low fat diet because you still are eating a lot of fat.....my fat intake is still around40%. People will tell you that it's the low carbs......but their selling something, I'm not. If their selling the fact that a ketogenic diet facilitates more weight loss than a high carb diet, then their right it does, but a ketogenic diet vs a higher protein diet is equal in many regards, and dare I say that with the addition of extra veg, it more thermic which translates into less net calories which = more weight loss on a calorie for calorie basis. Unrestricted calories is of course another one of their selling features, which I hope you understand is totally false......eat 5000 calories a day and see what happens. lol...Because of the higher protein and it's satiating effects people tend to eat less, that's it.....it's not magic.

Sorry, my friend. I disagree with your assessment -- but thanks for replying with your comments.

Wow, that sounds miserable. But, to each his own.

Jul 23 2011 07:05
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Stay a while and learn to count calories. I lost 50 pounds and have maintained for 4 years by counting and eating anything I want. At the start I stayed away from high GI stuff using the good old fashioned ADA diet (per my doctor's instructions) but I don't need it anymore.

If you really have celiac disease or are obese with type 2 diabetes like I was, I feel for you. Been there, done that, no fun.

I've been eating mostly low carb for a few years now. I feel much better when I focus on eating proteins, fats and vegetables. I don't like being hungry and love that I can eat when ever and what ever I want. I don't miss bread or pasta at all anymore. I'll eat pizza about once a month, after a workout and I don't crave it otherwise like I used to.

Most people can't wrap their head's around not eating bread ... don't bother arguing with them. If it doesn't make YOU feel good to eat it, then don't eat it. Do eat your vegetables though, they are more important than you think!

replace simple/unfilling/empty carbs with more fiber, more fat, more protein, and the result is....more satiety?!?! Must be magic.

I agree this type of eating keeps you satisfied.  But I do not think its healthy at all.  When I was doing that type of diet I became anemic, and had no energy (but was never hungry)  I did lose loads of weight.  I just felt like crap.  Also on a side note, I don't see how high consumption of animal products is healthy when those animals are given hormones, antibiotics, steriods etc.  I think the health benefits that are seen from this diet are due to the weight loss and not the actual diet itself.  I'm now vegan and am eating a rediculously high amount of carbs (with ample fat and protien as well-this is no problem with enough beans, seeds, nuts, edamame, brown rice, oats...) and have never looked or felt better.  

I'm not a registered dietician, just have a BS in exercise science, so it's just my opinion :) (but planning on going back to school for Holistic nutrition. yay)

Thanks everyone for your comments. They are valuable. And -- no -- I'm not looking for a fight! Smile . It is interesting, the fervor that surrounds people's opinions about diet. It's almost less like science and more like religion!

I'm going to stay on this regimen for awhile. Many years ago, I weighed 245 (at 5'7") ... I went on Irwin Stillman's Quick Weight Loss Diet and lost 65 pounds in four months and felt great. Now, at 64 and after a couple of knee surgeries that contributed to my sedementary lifestyle, some of the weight has crept back on.

I think that what appealed to me about this "paleo" kind of eating was that exercise wasn't absolutely needed, though I walk frequently.

Thanks again or the input ... Bill

Original Post by billinsprings:

It is interesting, the fervor that surrounds people's opinions about diet. It's almost less like science and more like religion!

You'll find that generally people are pretty open about different diets... until someone claims that they can lose weight without keeping calories below what they burn.  If you have a specific way to eat less than you burn while still feeling satisfied, that's great.

Just don't fool yourself into believing that you are able to eat more than you burn and still lose weight, as long as it doesn't include carbs. That's when you lose the science.

Original Post by billinsprings:

Sorry, my friend. I disagree with your assessment -- but thanks for replying with your comments.

Ok, no problem that you disagree.......that was pretty much some fairly basic nutrition though. I guess when a belief falls outside of science there needs to be a believable story and paleo is a pretty good story for the most part.........but when someone or a specific mandate of a diet believes they can eat unrestricted and still lose weight, then I think that falls into a whole new definition for group hug and logic be damned. just my opinion.

Jul 23 2011 18:25
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So far as paleo goes bill the hunting and gathering counts for a lot more than any diet regime. And there seems to be a new wave in paleo that doesn't restrict carbs as much as old originsl paleo. Based on kitavan and southern African ancestors. Still high on meat and down on sugar/grain though.

Well, no offense, but that's definitely *not* very low carb. Very low carb would be 20 g carbs per day or under to get and stay into ketosis.

I am on a very low carb diet and it's generally working great for me, but I'm not doing unrestricted: I don't have too much weight to lose and I wouldn't lose that way. Keep in mind you may hit a stall when you can no longer lose if you're eating too much! But congrats on your success so far.

Thanks all for your input. This is a great site for keeping a count of carbs, fat, protein, etc.

Original Post by billinsprings:
a couple of knee surgeries that contributed to my sedementary lifestyle

Get injured once and you shale never take good health for granite again.:)

Original Post by amethystgirl:

Original Post by billinsprings:

It is interesting, the fervor that surrounds people's opinions about diet. It's almost less like science and more like religion!

You'll find that generally people are pretty open about different diets... until someone claims that they can lose weight without keeping calories below what they burn.  If you have a specific way to eat less than you burn while still feeling satisfied, that's great.

Just don't fool yourself into believing that you are able to eat more than you burn and still lose weight, as long as it doesn't include carbs. That's when you lose the science.

I have been doing low carb since Aug 2010 and lost over 100lbs.  During my low carb experience, I have had to start tracking and reducing my calories again because I stopped losing weight after 4 months on low carb.  I kept my carbs below 30g and ate whatever I wanted.  Lost weight, but over time learned more about low carb snacks and eventually stopped losing weight  because my snacking increased.  I did not gain weight, but I just was not losing either (for probably 5 weeks straight).  So, I started counting the calories and saw that I was usually above 2000/day.  I started limiting myself to 1200-1500/day and the weight loss has continued ever since.  I just have consciously fight my old desires to snack.  I found I was not snacking because of hunger, I was snacking because I love food.   So reducing the snacking was easy.  I found the better I limit, the better the weight loss (some weeks 5-8lbs lost).

So, for me, there is still some maximum calories I can consume and still lose weight, but is there a minimum I can eat before I gain weight?  I don't believe there is from the science I have been reading (If you don't eat the carbs and get that big insulin dose, your fat cells just won't get the signal to absorb the fat).  I can't wait to test that theory, once I am at my goal weight (still more than a year a way).  

I have done some mini tests by just eating tons of meat in a day.  I never really gain any weight to speak of after doing this.  Like today, I will test it again when we go to a brazillian steak house.  You can eat all the meat you want there.  I have been there many times in the past on my low carb diet.  I never seems to gain any weight as a result for the week.  And believe me, for $37/person, I am getting my money's worth of steak.

Has anyone out there doing low carb and maximizing their calorie intake?  Have you gained any weight?  I am very curious.  The only time I have gained weight was when I have purposely eaten carbs on a chosen "cheat day" (5lbs over 3 days) or when I have reduced or eliminated a medication (10lbs gained over 5 days when dropping a med).

Gcousins, thanks for your post and quote of Amethystgirl's and my posts. it seems your experience confirms everything I've read, that I believe and am experiencing, none of which I explained in a detailed way in previous posts.

Your experience of not gaining weight even when eating a lot of beef goes right along with the science in Gary Taubes's long and excellent 2007 book, "Good Calories, Bad Calories," in which he details the results of many trials and studies, going back many decades, to the seminal work and experience of Banting and the original and still-confirmable trials of Pennington. He also details the ridiculous work of the McGovern Commission, which led to the USDA's harmful ultra-high-carb Food Pyramid, which has led a third of our population into an obesity-creating eating style.

The Carohydrate Hypothesis, as it is called, claims (and has been proven to illustrate) that carbohydrates (especially refined carbs in sugar, white flour, etc.) sold to the American public have created a physiological train wreck: Insulin is released by the carb loads we take in, and not only pushes fat into the fat cells but keeps it from being released for energy as long as it creates continuing hunger by supressing blood sugar. We have been on metabolic a roller coaster and one that does not allow us to ue our own internal nutrition from our own fat cells.

It sounds as if your experience confirms most if not all of this hypothetical set of facts. It is what I am relying on as well, and so far, it is working. (And, to address a post above by another individual, I've had no problem at all with constipation. Regular as ever.)

In my original headline, I said "unrestricted calories," and that is what I believe is a possibility as long as the calories taken in are the right kind of calories, such as your experience with the Brazilian steak house. (Sounds fantastic, by the way!) As was predicted in Gary Taubes's book, however, the logs I have kept here since beginning to record my daily intake show that I have yet to reach the 2,000-calorie diet I selected (a generic choice, made just to have a recognized "standard" against which to compare). As was your experience, my weight is going down and part of it is probably due in part to the reduced calories, but also because of the type of calories I am eating (carbs under 50, so far, every day).

The nice thing about this present diet, which was predicted in Taubes's book and which I didn't believe, is that there is no hunger at all between my (small) meals of protein, fat, and low carbs. I've found that to be a new experience: I can practically ignore carb-loaded food, TV sales messages at night, the smells of a bakery at the mall, etc. I'm going against everything the guvmint has preached most of my 64 years of life and I still sometimes wonder, "how could this really work?" ... but it is working and I am very glad.

By the way, I would highly recommend "Good Calories, Bad Calories," to anyone who has a dog in this fight (as we all do or we wouldn't be on this site). It's not a diet book, but an exhaustive and fair analysis of history of and a huge number of experiences and scientific trials that deals with fat, carbs, government guidelines, etc. I have no relation at all to Taubes, but I recommend the book without reservation. (Also, Taubes wrote a long, informative article for New York Times Magazine in 2002 that begins to explain most of what he has researched and found; here is the tiny URL: http://preview.tinyurl.com/NYTmagazine-taubes .)

In Taubes's book, in answer to your ending question, are examples of studies in which people who were eating "balanced" diets ate as little as 800 calories aday and did not lose weight; there were also examples of studies in which others ate as much as 3,000 calories a day, with mention of some consuming up to 5,000 calories daily, and still losing weight. These documented results, I would think, might be more meaningful than the experience of individuals who post here. (That probably includes myself; unavoidable!)

It's a pleasure conversing here -- Bill 

Okay, I was going to stay out of this, but I find I can't.

Let me start by saying that low carb is a perfectly fine way to eat.  Lots of people diet this way very successfully, and it's particularly good for those who are diabetic or have insulin related health issues. 


Taubes' book isn't that good.  It cherry picks the data that it reports and ignores anything that doesn't confirm the author's hypothesis.  It's called "confirmation bias" and we all tend to do it, but a good author will review data that contradict his hypothesis. Taubes simply pretends it doesn't exist.

James Krieger of Weightology gives a good review of the problems with Taubes' book and the way he ignored more recent, higher quality data that undermines Taubes claim that carbs cause weight gain, not calories. He concludes:

The bottom line is that the vast majority of the information in chapter 14 is misleading and based on very selective reporting of mostly old, low quality data.  Unfortunately this journalistic style of Taubes continues through the rest of the book.  Supposedly Taubes did 6 years of research for this book, yet it took me only a few days of PubMed searches to find better research.


I recommend that you read it before you become too convinced that Good Calories, Bad Calories is a good guide to the science of nutrition and weight loss.


On Amazon, where hundreds of individuals have reviewed Taubes's book, and where your own post above seems to be posted (or uses the same basic terminology, anyway), the overwhelming majority is positive. There was one exceedingly long post that claimed the same thing you claim, that Taubes was suffering from confirmation bias.

Let me posit this: Based on what they say in their criticisms, it sounds curiously as if most of those who disagree with Taubes's book have not read it in detail. They have -- to borrow your term -- "cherry picked" those sections they believe confirm their preconception that Taubes's research was one-sided. I have to disagree. Gary Taubes is not the first researcher to find huge fault with the USDA guidelines, the McGovern Commission's results, etc. Dr. Atkins's Diet Revolution proved it. Fat Head The Move proved it. The Dr.'s Quick Weight Loss Diet proved it. I have proven it -- once when I was 20-something and recently while I am 60-something.

"Old, low quality research?" I would only argue that research that is old isn't necessarily low-quality, and research is worth considering that disagrees with the USDA guideline of 6 to 11 servings of grains, cereals, etc., which, by being followed along with the removal of fats from the diet has been partly at fault for leading nearly a third of Americans into obesity. That fact and the reasons for it can't be argued with, unless you also believe that Morgan Spurlock's "Supersize Me" was a modern-day clarion call that supported the USDA's Food Pyramid.

They say people with good motives can disagree; in that spirit, I disagree with your assessment of the Taubes book and others that echo his general conclusions.

Best wishes -- Bill

I've been eating low carb for about 4 months now and have lost 50 lbs.  I eat 50 g per day, and have the whole time.  Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less.  I do, however, eat a ton of veggies.  I just had a chicken sausage and 3 servings of broccoli for lunch.  That's about 15 g of carbs, but the first I had all day (eggs and turkey bacon for breakfast.) 

I'm not an RD, but I do have a degree in Chemistry (ie, have studied calories, not just in the nutritional sense, a kilocalorie is a measurement of energy.)  The bottom line is that our bodies will use a certain amount of energy daily.  If we eat more than that, it will store it (gain fat) and less, we'll lose fat to make up the difference.  The key though is that carbs are converted to sugar very quickly.  They aren't very complex molecules.  Whereas protein takes much longer.  So you can eat equivalent amounts of calories from carbs and protein and the protein will keep you fuller and you will eat fewer calories in general.  However, I count calories as well, because as the pp found, I suspected that as I adapted to the low carb diet I'd discover foods I'd eat more of/new foods and take in more calories.  So far this has worked for me, I try to keep my calories under 1500 per day.  At first I was around 1200 naturally, but now it's a little higher.  I'm still losing, probably have 60 to go to be at a recommended weight, I'm aiming to lose 35 or so more for now. 

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