Report: A Carb Binge

So we went to a concert Friday night — Dave Mason, and then The Moody Blues. Hell yea! Because of the time frame in which we arrived in Arnold, CA, then had to leave for the show, no time to get dinner (and who wants to fast at a concert???). So, I quickly decided this would be a cheat. Then, I decided to make it an experiment in massive (for me) carb loading.

I’ll give you the background, and it’s going to be a bit long and moderately extensive, OK? …So here goes. My favorite driving activity these days is to catch up on jimmy moore’s podcasts. I’m going to get to why Jimmy got me to carb binge, later; but, first, let me divert you (again: many diversions here) for a minute. Number one, if you’re not taking advantage of Jimmy’s gargantuan efforts in his podcast shows, you are missing out on a lot of the very best — if only for its more total human experience: it’s people talking, discussing, which is quite different, perhaps superior in terms of our natural ability to take in, comprehend, and enjoy — far more than just visual input from reading a blog post.

Jimmy: your podcasts are unequalled in terms of a whole experience and high accessibility. They’re entertaining, and eminently valuable — and you have my (and my wife’s) sincere thanks. ‘Takes a lot to get me off of whatever classic rock station I might be able to find along my various ways, but you manage to do it very often. Thank you, Sir, and thank you especially for the quality of guests you are able to command, which, as you probably know, is the biggest part of it. I’m sure you have dozens of interview requests you’d never subject your listeners to. Easily, 80-90% of your podcasts are ones I listen and integrate in full, and some I listen to twice.

So, I would admonish all reader to check these out. Here’s the place, and you can access in different ways. Producing these shows is a lot of work, so I would suggest that if you listen to them and find value in them, as do I, then please consider donating to the effort.

On this particular trip I decided to finally listen to Jimmy’s interview with Lyle McDonald. Here’s the write-up on Jimmy’s blog. Well, I must say that I was highly impressed with this interview in terms of Lyle’s obvious good preparation for it, and also for the utmost respect he showed Jimmy; which, if you’ve ever seen Lyle in comments on his blog or posts in his forum…well, let’s just say I wasn’t expecting this, and particularly so when the topic turned to “metabolic advantage” of very low carbohydrate diets. Lyle was very conciliatory and explained his position quite well.

Alright, so that’s the first part of the setup. Next, one of Lyle’s books is The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook, which I read, tried, and blogged about here, and here. In total, I stayed on it less than a week. I just could not take the blandness of huge amounts of lean protein. But, I’m convinced the diet will shed fat rapidly in the short term. One thing Lyle talked about — both in the book and in the podcast — is episodic carb bingeing to sort of reset metabolism, notch up thyroid function, and capture some other benefits.

So, this was my excuse for doing what I did Friday night: yep, I’m blamin’ it all on Lyle and Jimmy. Gee, thanks, guys.

It started out reasonably enough.

antipasto plate
Antipasto Plate

I also had a draft beer, and this plate came with three slices of bread. Bea & I split the whole deal, but I probably had the lion’s share. Then I got my crazy idea. What would it be like to go wild on carbs? So, following this, I had none other than a huge tri-tip sandwich (bread too), a corn dog, and then another beer.

Actually, I felt fine for the duration of the concert, and didn’t even get drowsy. Got home around 11:30 pm, walked the pups, then began feeling really tired ’round midnight and hit the sack. But first, I began getting this tremendous craving for water. Downed two large glasses, then went off to bed. Fell asleep immediately, but then woke up two hours later, 2:00 am or so, thirsty as hell, and with nuclear heartburn as a bonus. It was so bad that I had to resort to baking soda. More water. Went back off to bed, then laid there, tossing & turning, until around 5:30 am, getting up at least three or four more times — to drink more water. Then, the eventual other half of the unpleasantness came, of which I’ll spare you the details…

Finally I got to sleep again, sometime before 6:00 am, and was able to get a decent two hours. Needless to say, I dragged ass all day, yesterday. Went down to breakfast at a local place around 11:00 am, with the intention of taking in an enormous protein load to get myself functioning again. I was screaming hungry, and still thirsty. It was that now unfamiliar, gnawing, nauseating hunger that all carb addicts know so well. I ate three eggs, four sausages, three strips of bacon, a huge mound of cottage cheese, and a few slices of tomato.

Now we’re talking! I began feeling better almost immediately, and continued to feel better — though tired — throughout the day. Now, here I sit this morning in full recovery, not hungry or thirsty a bit. On reflection, I’m wondering if the unending thirst was a function of glycogen storage from the carbs. As we all know, each gram of stored glycogen requires 2-3 times that in water retention. Can anyone speculate on that point?

In all, it was a good experience that I’d actually recommend from time to time for those already on a solid paleo path. It will definitely solidify your approach to a paleo-like lifestyle. I won’t be doing this again anytime soon.

Finally, on the subject of carb addiction, here is another great podcast from Jimmy: his interview with Julia Ross. “Carbohydrates aren’t food, they’re addictive drugs,” says Julia. She has very high success using particular amino acid supplements (protein) to diminish and eventually rid people of cravings for drugs, alcohol, and…carbs. It’s quite an amazing story. I, for one, have been experimenting with eating way more protein the last week or so (she says you can accomplish what her supplementation does by really loading up on the protein). Other than my foray into carb hell on Friday night, I have noticed an increasing sense of well being by eating two very protein intense meals per day, nothing in-between, and virtually no nighttime grazing. Check it out for yourself.

Any comments of shared experiences with carb binges?

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Ken on July 26, 2009 at 14:15

    Hi Richard,

    I’ve tried similar cheats with similar results (heartburn, massive thirst, but also headache, palpitations and general malaise). I think glycogen storage is part of it but I also think the seldom discussed aspect of how insulin increases sodium retention in the kidney resulting in rapid volume expansion of the blood is also to blame.

    See this paper: The Antinatriuretic Effect of Insulin: An Unappreciated Mechanism for Hypertension Associated with Insulin Resistance? Am J Nephrol 2007;27:44-54 (DOI: 10.1159/000098955)

    Abstract is at

    The question is whether that anti-natriuretic effect of insulin is only valid in the currently insulin resistant (pre-diabetic) or also includes those that are physiologically insulin-resistant (to use Hyperlipid Peter’s terminology) from a low carb diet. I don’t know, but I suspect that it does.

    For me at least, the effect is dose dependent. A smaller cheat will leave me asymptomatic except for maybe some mild sleepiness. A big cheat leaves me feeling downright sick for several hours and a few pounds heavier the next day. It will all be water weight as evidenced by puffy fingers and general bloated feeling. Over the next several days (as long as I go back to very low carb paleo eating) I will urinate a lot and return to my previous weight.

    If nothing else, it serves as effective aversion therapy that keeps me from wandering too often. It also is no wonder that so many heart attacks occur after large (presumably carb-laden) meals.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 27, 2009 at 08:33


      Thanks, very interesting. Always new things to become aware of.

  2. Jim on July 26, 2009 at 10:52

    Hmmmm, most shocking comment to me was the admission that you don’t use a sat radio! That and you consider that carb loading yet I saw no mention of ice cream. Tell me those are “good carbs” 😉

    nice post though, how were the Moody Blues? Did they play their biggest hits?

    • Richard Nikoley on July 26, 2009 at 11:22


      Yea, I’m not so big on the idea of sat radio. I like the eclectic local stations I find along my routes. It’s even interesting to hear some of the adverts for local businesses.

      Nope, not even close to good carbs, though I did get quality food too, in the form of that antipasto plate and the tri-tip. Ice cream (real, full-cream) is one of the better cheats — in moderation in both quantity (a modest single scoop) and frequency. I haven’t in a while, but last summer I was making my own frequently by first making a fruit & full cream smoothie in the blender, then pouring it into the ice cream maker.

      Yea, the Moody Blues were great and played a pretty decent mix between some of the later hits and the older ones. I like the older ones best.

  3. kat on July 26, 2009 at 10:56

    I’m guilty too! I have been staying at my mom’s house for a few days of vacation, and her cupboards are fully stacked with Kashi “healthy” crackers, bars, and cereal. It had been a long time since I had a Kashi bar, so I thought, what the hell, let’s test this Almond Flax bar out! Well, it didn’t even taste good (a mixture between sawdust and cardboard), and it left me feeling like I had just eaten a donut. I swear, my tummy felt all jiggly when I walked.

    So then by dinner time I was on a losing streak, so I had a burrito with rice and beans…

    I woke up feeling a huge pit of despair in my stomach. I needed food….fast!! But I made myself wait, hit the gym for some super sets then made a 3 egg, 3 bacon scramble.

    I feel so much better now!

    I can’t even believe that I used to eat way worse. For the first 22 years of my life I was a complete carb junkie. I really feel like I’ve found a miracle in this Paleo thing. People may scrutinize, but results are results!

  4. John on July 26, 2009 at 11:28

    Just want to ditto Richard’s positive review of Jimmy’s podcasts. I get them via itunes and listen at work. They are a fabulous way to hear a wide range of viewpoints and opinions on health and fitness topics. The quality of these interviews is incredibly high.

    On going carb crazy: I think I’ll choose to learn from Richard’s experience and avoid it! I absolutely love, love, love my easy mini-fasts of 14 to 16 hours without noticeable hunger. Six months ago that would have been a horrifying prospect and the 20+ hour fasts unthinkable. The high fat, low carb, primal way has put me in complete control of my eating habits and that has changed *everything*

    Thanks for the reminder!

    Oh, and thanks for the switch to wordpress so we can subscribe to sitewide comments. That makes it so much easier to connect with the ongoing discussion.

    – John

  5. David Nikoley on July 26, 2009 at 11:37

    I did a similar thing last night on a date and went to Aldo’s, an Italian restaurant in Los Gatos and had a pasta dish. Have not had pasta or carbs for quite awhile and within the hour I was yawning, and felt like I was dragging my ass. I kinda like the fact, that when “cheating” I can recognize the difference in how I feel and how it directly affects my energy level. I woke up hungry this morning, but am waiting for dinner which will be a 2″ center cut pork loin and a salad.
    Thanks again Bro for all the help, I’ve never felt better!

  6. David on July 26, 2009 at 11:56

    Hey Richard,

    remember that carb binge I told you about at the business function in November? Two differences – more beer, and NO quality food at all. By the time I got home I felt so awful I didn’t even go to bed and inflict my tossing and turning on my wife, just dozed on the couch. I get all the carbs I need from F&V, with a few baked potatoes. Last night the kids had garlic bread with dinner, cut up from French bread. I had one littel round, and that was plenty.

    I don’t understand the “reset” aspect of the binge. Can you explain that more? Thanks,


  7. Bob in San Jose on July 26, 2009 at 12:21


    Interesting you “fell off the wagon” albeit intentionally. I’ve been working a hellacious physical schedule lately and arrived home Friday with not too many pantry choices. I ended up (having had but a light breakfast and no lunch) eating several handfuls of avocado tortilla chips. Wifage had a craving for homemade pizza so that was dinner. More carbs than I’d had in a week previous combined. No real ill effects except for the extreme drowsiness at about mid-evening.

    My view on occasional carb loading is the same as my view on lots of intermittent behavior (fasting for instance). Let me qualify first by saying that my opinion is based solely on personal experience and instinctive/intuitive reason.

    Like any exercise or diet regiment, I’ve long held the view that it is beneficial to occasionally deviate from it. I’ve found my body has a way of acclimating to the (new) norm pretty quickly and as such what you referred to as “resetting” I call shocking or jarring… the idea that one’s system needs to recalibrate occasionally to make the normal routine more effective.

    Thus I think it’s okay for me to allow for intermittent fasting, intermittent carbs (i.e.-gorging on berries), and changes in workout regiments. As far as the latter I think you know I advocate occasional high rate cardio workouts in lieu of strictly anaerobic workouts, and also the use of high repetition, low weight workouts in lieu of the predominantly low rep, high weight workouts that some people favor.

    With regard to ice cream, its nutritional breakdown (One cup of regular ice cream contains about 5 grams of protein, 32 grams of carbohydrate and 16 grams of fat of which about half is saturated fat) allows me as a paleo-eater to consume large quantities of it without too much guilt. Of course I’m speaking for myself here.

  8. Lute Nikoley on July 26, 2009 at 12:33

    I guess yesterday was cheat day for everybody. After 18 holes of golf, for dinner we had roasted leg of lamb (delicious) salad with our own garden grown tomatoes and swiss chard. Here’s the cheat: Bonny fixed her famous sautéed mushrooms and onions and rice. This was all washed down with a couple glasses of Champagne, Chardonay and MaCallan 18. No adverse affects, after doing the dishes I went to bed, about midnight and didn’t wake up until 9:00 AM.

    • Aaron Blaisdell on July 26, 2009 at 20:12

      The MaCallan 18 us wgat saved you. It’s medicinal.

  9. Arlo @phareon on July 26, 2009 at 12:44

    I have been following paleo for about a month and my only big cheat was about a week ago when I mowed down a third of a medium tub of ice cream. Definitely a carbon addict binge.

    Suffice to say I learned my lesson! Walking around town I just felt absolutely sick to my stomach and the weirdest part was that my entire abdomen heated up and was super hot for about a half hour.

    Correction though, it was actually “frozen dessert” 🙂

    When (if) I do at some point integrate some carbs post workout they will definitely be a moderate amount of whole, and/or fermented.

  10. Chris on July 26, 2009 at 13:20

    Hi Richard

    I do an occasional carb binge but have to be careful what it is or else it can really upset my stomach. Potatoes (chips / or what you would call fries) are fine, but too much bread will mess me up and upset the stomach. We went out for a good curry last night, but the naan and the beer just left me with bad guts….

    I also think JMs podcasts are very good – he is a good interviewer, but to be honest I do get frustrated with his own diet and the “low carb products”. I think he could lose more weight if he just ate like you – basic real food. I’ve given up looking at his diet blog because I found it too frustrating.

  11. Katelyn on July 26, 2009 at 17:23

    Richard, I’m sorry, but this was a horrible mistake on your part. Because you didn’t have time for dinner, you wanted to trash your body with carbage? I do very frequent bodybuilding with heavy weights and then follow it up with cardio 4 x a week at the gym. I also hike on the weekends. I eat Zero Carb (meat only, occasionally eggs, plus animal fat). I have tons of energy and no circulating insulin, so I can often go 10 hours without eating. You are really killing your insulin with the carb loading, and risking your cholesterol. The theory is junk. I would advise everyone here to not do a paleo diet high in fruits and carbs but instead stick with meat primarily, and if you MUST, low carb vegetables. You will have tons of energy and be muscular and lean without water-muscles from carbs and constant hunger.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 26, 2009 at 17:37


      Lighten up.

      Then, go ahead and go fuck yourself.

      I know what the fuck I’m doing, bitch.

      BTW, fuckhead, I regularly do 30-36 hour fasts, then I go workout. Been blogging about it for a year and a half, ignoramus.

      Listen, you want to challenge me? Go ahead, but get your facts straight, fiurst, and you’ll get nothing but respect.

      You’re just a zero carb zealot, and I have no prob with zero carb, though not for me. But get your facts well ahead of your zealotry, or I’ll pound the fucking shit out of you.

      Go away.

      • Jeff M. on July 27, 2009 at 07:04

        Nice! Very Nice! Best post I have read in a long time.

      • some bystander on November 13, 2009 at 16:09

        I check out the zerocarb forum sometimes…this Katelyn character is quite the insignificant floozy, lemmee tell ya…you can tell the other members don’t really care for her “contributions’…

        don’t knock the zero carb thing based on her fucked up view of it please Richard…

      • Richard Nikoley on November 13, 2009 at 16:17

        Well, OK, but I’m fine with her. That’s long past now.

        I’ll never go zero carb. I just think that’s obsessive and unnecessary (for me, it would be). I prefer striking a balance. Many meals are virtually zero carb or extremely low. Then I get to make some chips fried in tallow from time to time…

  12. Skyler Tanner on July 26, 2009 at 17:25


    The glaring problem, and I’m sure you see it, is that you just pigged out. Lyle (since he’s the reference) calls for controlled carb intake, from specific sources, under certain conditions. Quoting from his “Guide to Flexible Dieting” here:

    [b][i]”Along with that, people have a tendency to interpret “Overeat carbohydrates for 12-24 hours”
    as “Eat nothing but junk food for 12-24 hours straight.” I’ve heard of people who are doing a cheat day literally setting an alarm for 12:01 am and eating nothing but the worst crap they can find until 11:59 the next night, to ensure that they get exactly their 24 hours of cheating in. Then they wonder why their diet isn’t working. Clearly, this is an abuse of what I’m talking about. Along with that is the same pattern with the free meal but on a larger scale: they seem to go out of their way to put the worst kind of crap foods down their gullet during a refeed. This is important because, while I don’t have a problem with certain kinds of junk foods (mainly the high-carb, low fat type stuff that people have been overconsuming for the last few years, think Snackwells cookies or low-fat ice cream or yogurt and stuff), I find a lot of people gorging on a lot of high carb and high-fat stuff (think donuts, cookies, full fat ice cream) and that causes a lot of problems.

    Keep in mind that the goal of the structured refeed is to eat a lot of carbohydrates, not a lot of
    carbohydrates and fat. There are plenty enough high-carbohydrate, low-fat types of foods out there to keep most people happy. Many people, once they’ve lost their taste for high-sugar foods will just do refeeds with a lot of starches, bagels, bread, pasta and the like and ignore the junkier stuff; most seem to prefer a mixture. I’ll talk more about types of foods in a second.

    Length of refeed Amount of carbohydrate
    5 hours 1.5-3 grams/pound LBM (~3-6 g/kg)
    1 day 4-6 g/lb LBM (~8-12 g/kg)
    2 days 2-3 g/lb (~4-6 g/kg)”[/i][/b]

    It’s the dose that makes the poison and I’ve seen too many clients go batshit with “free meals/cheats” to not enforce rules.

    Further, since it’s food you’re not used to, digestive enzymes would go a long way. Even more, planning such a refeed after a workout, having to count your carbs (I know, paleo heresy), and taking some insulin mimickers/sensitizers would really make the most of a short refeed. In your case, you wouldn’t need more than category 1 (5 hours, 1.5 – 3 g/pound carbs) amount of carbs.

    I know it’s unlikely that it’s something you’ll do again but, frankly, you did it wrong.


    • Richard Nikoley on July 26, 2009 at 18:01


      It was not a big deal. I did it on purpose. I’ll likely do it again at some point, perhaps at another concert or some such event.

      This is a far different thing than uncontrolled carbing based upon addiction. Frankly, it was not from lack of control, but of heightened curiosity. I wanted to see what a carb pig-out would do to me (and the kiosks offered very limited choices). Cheats to this point have been modest, not really detectable.

      Frankly, I’m more than surprised you don’t detect any distinction, here.

      I’ve nothing to be either ashamed of, or to hang my head over, and I frankly — strongly — resent any implication that I ought to. Hey, I blogged it, right out in front.

      And, I’m quite over it, and to say I’m “back on track” would be a gross injustice to _myself_. My own record of progress is, well…on fucking record, mister.

      To tell the truth of the matter, I’, not impressed by pussyfooting. I rarely cheat even at all, but when I do, I’m going to make a splash. I like big impacts.

      From where does this silly Puritanism originate? I loath it, and will always oppose it.

      I’ll tell everyone this: if my blogging is such that an occasional foray into a fun experiment (with predictable and fully acknowledged results) is going to bring scorn or disappointment upon myself, then I’ve misjudged my audience.

      I’m the disappointed one. Perhaps I don’t need them after all.

      • Skyler Tanner on July 26, 2009 at 18:52


        Re: experiments. I’m on one now, as I just twittered about. That’s not what I was on about, though I see how that’s the bulk of my post.

        Citing Lyle’s very even handed suggestions and then pigging out…they’re different things with different results. That’s not to say that I haven’t said “fuck it” and nearly fell asleep in my meal from the serotonin. You were at a rock concert; I wouldn’t be counting either.

        However, my suggestions still hold: if you controlled the carb intake the result would not have been as bad and if you followed your workout with it, you would have likely had a good result. That might be worth an experiment sometime.


      • Richard Nikoley on July 26, 2009 at 20:05

        “if you controlled the carb intake the result…”

        Why, on a (this, as described) purposeful experiment, would I have wanted to do that?

        I’ve counted only anything in my one 4-5 day experiment with Lyle’s rapid-fat-loss protocol over a year ago. I don’t count, ever. Moreover, I advise to ground one’s self in paleo principle and explicitly never count.

        That said, sure, I did not carb binge per Lyle, which serves to bolster my point.

        This was a random, all-out foray (for me: plenty would have done worse). Nobody should do that anywhere near regularly and it was no justification or offering of excuse to do so. It was just what it was.

        Why the fuck would I have wanted to do a workout after a concert, at 11:30 pm? Jesus Christ, already (this speaks volumes about your response, BTW). We must be on completely different wavelengths. Did I say: Jesus Christ, yet? Christ, already. Workout?

        Look, Tyler, I respect the hell out of you…and I suspect you know that. I hope so, sincerely.

        I would never presume that a random experiment that you decided to blog about would be something that I would venture to take to comment and imply that you’re generally fucked up. To my read, that’s the message in your first comment, and your second didn’t change a damn thing.

        Why do you choose to do that with me?

        It was an event lasting a few hours. I made the most of an experiment, mostly for entertainment effect (after the fact), but also to signal that it’s something that can be done without feeling one’s self a failure. Thanks for trying to signal otherwise; so that’s why I’m a bit pissed and persistent; this, coming from you, of all greats,

        The event is long past.

        Should I not have blogged about i?. Do you presume that others have not had similar forays, planned or unplanned, and do you presume that some others would get no benefit form reading that it can happen, but that there’s always a new day?

        My responsibility in this blogging effort has many facets. Do you not get that, sir?

  13. Dexter on July 26, 2009 at 19:51

    I am curious if anyone who follows a paleo diet has done such a carb binge but with things like regular and sweet potatoes, brown rice, honey, oats or any other non-processed carb heavy food?

    If so, what was the outcome?

  14. Andy on July 27, 2009 at 10:53

    Heh, I too went on a carby binge this weekend — results? Pretty similar. Currently throwing down a fast day after a more normal dinner last night (roasted chicken and a mound of broccoli) to clean things up and give my system a break.

    What’s immediately noticeable for me is the stuffy nose that follows wheat consumption virtually instantaneously — I’ve been noticing this for a few months now, but even wheat beer triggers it these days (which sucks, because I love weizens). The speed of the reaction is kind of amazing.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 27, 2009 at 11:37

      Yep, beer and other grain products give me congestion almost right away. In fact, it’s one of my best signals, now, for when I’ve eaten something that’s probably not optimal for me.

      Also, almost any amount of sugar, even from 80%+ dark chocolate gives me a sweaty face.

  15. Derek S. on July 26, 2009 at 22:58

    You certainly did “free the animal” in your response to Katelyn! Your inner hunter-gatherer was in full force with that one. 😉

    Puritanism is great if one needs that sort of extreme structure in their personal life, but the problem arises when one tries to force that puritanism on others. That’s when it crosses the line into religious zealousness. How can we truly free the animal when there are always that select few that run about trying to constantly leash our animal for their own purposes?

    Just a thought.

  16. Diana Hsieh on July 26, 2009 at 23:04

    I’m with you, Richard. I’ve not done a carb binge, but I do think that going off-diet on occasion — deliberately and consciously — can be helpful for keeping in touch with your reasons for sticking with the diet day in and day out. Basically, you’ll experience that (1) the food didn’t taste very good and (2) you felt like crap afterward. That’s what I’ve found, even just from my occasional indulgences in dessert.

    That kind of deliberate experiment is completely different than “falling off the wagon.” That would require a great deal of self-deception — not clearly laying out what was done and the results thereof on a public blog!

  17. VN on July 26, 2009 at 23:10

    love your get-back-on-track attitude,
    coincidentally, I had been experimenting with higher protein and lower sugar (by reducing my fruit intake a bit-the only sugar I usually consume) for the past week, but I was experiencing cravings for fruit. That is, until yesterday at family dinner (pasta restaurant, enough said). I wonder if the cravings for sugar would have subsided had I continued low-carb?

    Anyways, thanks for this post- I do feel less guilty now and it did make me appreciate primal eating. Will fast until tomorw. On the road to recovery! Im currently downing jug of water as I type.

  18. Owen Leahy on July 26, 2009 at 23:15

    Christ, get off the man’s back. What’s with all this nit-picking and castigating?? How better could he have set up the post; by stating it was an on-the-fly decision to push the carb intake…just to see what it would be like??
    Richard, I applaud you for taking a shot and not condemning yourself to the guilt-based adherence to any ‘program’, least of all turning this lifestyle into yet another system of counting this, that and the other.
    I will warn you though, it seems your next binge will see you excommunicated….or sent to Azkeban.
    You’re doing great work, and your science is top-notch.
    Thanks a million!

  19. Diana Hsieh on July 26, 2009 at 23:19

    Derek — I disagree. Puritanism is self-destructive, even if a person never imposes it on others. The puritan imposes arbitrary rules of himself — and castigates himself as failure for any deviation from them. He lacks confidence in himself, particularly in his capacity to exercise good judgment in face of supposed temptations. That’s a terrible way to live.

    Instead, a person needs to always act in pursuit of his long-range goals, based on values and principles grounded in facts. In doing that, he’ll need to be super-strict about some things but not others. The fact is that eating a single corn dog won’t kill a person, but eating rat poison will. To treat them as the same is to indulge in a kind of bizarre self-deception.

    If a person cultivates that kind of approach to life, he will not need the self-flogging whip of puritanism to act rightly. Instead, acting rightly will be easy, pleasant, and second-nature.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 27, 2009 at 09:13

      Though I certainly appreciate the spirit in which Derek delivered his comment, you’re right, Dr. Diana.

      Seems some just can’t ever rid themselves of a fundamental sense of guilt. Original Sin all over again.

      Of course, we both know who said it best:

    • Derek S. on July 27, 2009 at 15:19

      Diana…sorry for the confusion. Perhaps I didn’t word my post as I should have. When I used the words “Puritanism” and “great” in the same sentence, I meant it’s fine with me if someone espouses that sort of philosophy for their own life. What I did NOT mean is that I think Puritanism is great. I definitely do not think that. Just wanted to clear that up.

      I just want to avoid the hypocrisy of enforcing my non-Puritanism onto a Puritan, just as I hate when they try to force their religious zealotry onto me. I try to avoid hypocrisy at all costs, as I believe it is one of the worst possible human character flaws.

      Richard, you are right on about guilt. People who burden themselves with a Puritanical ball & chain are people who inevitably are also bound by guilt, shame & condemnation.

      The revelation of your carb-fest in a public forum was a nice little social behavior experiment, whether or not your meant it that way. It was inevitable that the guilt/shame/condemnation crowd would make themselves known in response. They cannot help it, because the idea of splurging like you did triggers their own inner fear of failure and as a result the guilt/shame/condemnation. Of course, they then proceed to project their own insecurities onto you by bashing and/or questioning you.

      Pretty interesting stuff.

      • Richard Nikoley on July 27, 2009 at 15:25

        Cool Derek. However, in all fairness to Skyler, that’s not at all where he was coming from. He essentially was clarifying that what I did was not a refeed a-la Lyle, and he was right about that.

        I don’t think he was trying to foist guilt.

      • Derek S. on July 27, 2009 at 15:28

        Agreed…was more pointing that one towards Katelyn.

  20. Richard Nikoley on July 27, 2009 at 15:04

    For a decent example of the kind of show Lyle runs over on his forum, see this:

    It’s pretty much all I ever see over there. Same posters, same echo chamber jerking each other off about how smart they are and how dumb everyone else is.

    • Kurt G Harris MD on July 30, 2009 at 21:22


      I just checked out this forum and was rather shocked to see the level of infantile discourse there, much of it by McDonald himself. There is even one poster slagging me (not sure how I got involved, I guess I am a “paleotard” or maybe my MD and actual scientific background makes me a target – I’m not sure) There is also a later posting advising murder and rape or either your family or mine, I could not tell who was the suggested target. Aren’t the internets a lovely place?

      I can’t picture other nutrition or “training” bloggers running a forum and allowing comments advocating murder and rape without censure or rebuttal. I for one now have zero respect for McDonald as a human being.

      • Richard Nikoley on July 31, 2009 at 10:01

        I hadn’t been over there in many months. Nothing has changed.

  21. rich collins on July 27, 2009 at 04:50

    Richard, Your irreverent attitude is refreshing.Could it be said, though, that your response to the “meat lady” was more gangsta than primal?

    • Richard Nikoley on July 27, 2009 at 08:49


      More gangsta? Perhaps, but this has been a ways in coming. I would normally never treat a reader like that, unless in the rare case that I would actually prefer a person not to be a reader…

      Katelyn shows up every now and then in comments, and it’s always the same thing: meat only. And it’s always, always delivered with an unearned sense of superiority an authority.

      See is not content to enjoy her life way and recognize that others have different tastes and needs. I have said many times that paleo has wide array of choice, from a high-carb equatorial diet to a zero carb arctic diet, and everything in between. I question whether either of those extremes are optimal, but so what?

      Katelyn is welcome to her meat only plan and I’m glad it works for her. Hell, I believe her when she says she feels great. But in her delivery, she implies that others can’t possibly feel [as] great as she, cause they eat carbs.

      She’s a religious zealot. It was time to deal with her, and that will be the standard treatment she gets from here out.

      There’s one great advantage to my style, and that’s that people always know I not lying.

      • rich collins on July 27, 2009 at 12:33

        btw your blog, keith’s blog at ttp, and prof. DeVany'”s are 3 I never miss – you have been my biggest IF inspiration – peace

      • jon on August 4, 2009 at 15:21

        You often come off sounding the same as Katelyn.

      • Richard Nikoley on August 5, 2009 at 12:44

        You’re full of shit.

  22. Chris on July 27, 2009 at 06:34

    Richard, any inflammation in the face from the binge?

    If I cheat, my face swells up like a marshmallow immediately. It’s a pretty good deterrent to cheating.

    Anyone else notice immediate inflammation from carbs?

    • Richard Nikoley on July 27, 2009 at 08:49

      Didn’t notice anything. I expected to be puffy from the water retention, but all I felt was a bit bloated.

  23. Ken on July 27, 2009 at 08:25


    I stumbled across an old post of Mark Sisson’s titled “What happens to your body when you carb binge” at You’ve probably read it before and I had too but had forgotten about it. Under where it says “The Domino Effect” the description he gives pretty much matches your experience (and my own as well). He even mentions trying to sleep it off but tossing and turning all night like you did. He surmises that being able to feel these effects is a result of no longer being insulin resistant after having gone primal/paleo. Anyway, in light of your post I found it worth a (re)-read.

    Also, bravo on not accepting any puritanical, dogmatic BS. The tastiest steaks always come from sacred cows.

    Thank you for your blog.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 27, 2009 at 09:05

      Thanks Ken. Yea, I particularly remember the photo. Good idea to give it another read.

  24. Raj Gulati on July 27, 2009 at 08:43

    Excellent, and much needed, post. Family events this past week had me consuming an excess of fruit (one of the few suitable things to eat), and one too many tequila variations. Definitely noticing a slight inflammation starting to take place throughout. Interesting to know that carb binges are the necessary event to wake up and reset the system once it gets too comfortable. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if the heart burn and “dry hunger” are worth further experimentation. I’ve enjoyed your journey into the primal/paleo lifestyle so far – keep the quality posts comin’!

  25. Jimmy Moore on July 27, 2009 at 08:43

    Hey Richard,

    THANKS for the plug of my podcasts. We’ve worked hard to make it the best show for information on low-carb diet, health, nutrition and fitness online, so I appreciate the added exposure on your fantastic blog. As for the naysayers like Katelyn, you’ve got more kahunas than I do…but I admire the way you handle them in your own unique way. 😀

  26. Andrea W. on July 27, 2009 at 08:44

    Wow…what timing! I actually had a nasty carb binge this weekend while at a friends’ housewarming party, only I allowed sugary treats like brownies and chocolate chip cookies. Not more than twenty minutes after the binge I began to feel nauseous and had to take a strong antacid and lie down for a while. The rest of the night I felt horribly bloated. Before I went Paleo, feeling this way after eating was standard for me most days. I truly do not miss it. I stopped eating around 9PM that evening and fasted until lunchtime the next day and ate lots of protein (about 6oz of rotisserie chicken and three fried eggs). I finally feel like myself again. 🙂

  27. Aaron Blaisdell on July 27, 2009 at 08:58

    It’s amazing how going paleo/primal renders us more, not less, sensitive to the effects of carb binging. I wonder why that is? Perhaps we’re feeling so good now that feeling bad is more noticeable, whereas our baseline used to be that of feeling sort of bad all the time?

    • Richard Nikoley on July 27, 2009 at 09:10

      I liken it to the resistance one can build up to drugs, tobacco, & alcohol (it may very well be exactly the same thing). It takes only a short time to lose that resistance once off those substances, and any foray back will kick in that renewed sensitivity.

      I’ve definitely noted that if I go a few days of no evening cocktails, that it only takes a drink or two to get a big buzz, whereas, that amount normally doesn’t phase me.

      • Aaron Blaisdell on July 27, 2009 at 09:36

        I think that may be an accurate explanation. It’s amazing how much like an addiction carbohydrates resemble. I’m heavily battling the carbohydrate addiction in my 4 year old daughter. I may have to commit her to a carb farm!

      • Richard Nikoley on July 27, 2009 at 10:11

        You might want to listen to that Julia Ross interview. For a 4 year old, it’s probably just a matter of finding protein sources she really likes, and keep it around and let her eat as much as she wants.

  28. Lyle McDonald on July 27, 2009 at 11:16


    High carbs + high FAT is not how you refeed.

    Don’t blame ME because YOU fucked it up


    • Richard Nikoley on July 27, 2009 at 11:33

      Always true to form, Lyle. 🙂

      Anyhoo, yea, Skyler is completely right that this was a pig out and not your refeed, and I probably should have made that clear.

      “Blaming” you and Jimmy was, of course, entirely tongue in cheek.

      That was really a great interview and I plan to listen again.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 27, 2009 at 15:15


      Just read the silly little thread over at your place. This, sir, is a lie:

      “But if someone is going to slam my name b/c he can’t follow directions…”

      Slam your name? From the post:

      “On this particular trip I decided to finally listen to Jimmy’s interview with Lyle McDonald. Here’s the write-up on Jimmy’s blog. Well, I must say that I was highly impressed with this interview in terms of Lyle’s obvious good preparation for it, and also for the utmost respect he showed Jimmy; which, if you’ve ever seen Lyle in comments on his blog or posts in his forum…well, let’s just say I wasn’t expecting this, and particularly so when the topic turned to “metabolic advantage” of very low carbohydrate diets. Lyle was very conciliatory and explained his position quite well.

      Alright, so that’s the first part of the setup. Next, one of Lyle’s books is The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook, which I read, tried, and blogged about here, and here. In total, I stayed on it less than a week. I just could not take the blandness of huge amounts of lean protein. But, I’m convinced the diet will shed fat rapidly in the short term. One thing Lyle talked about — both in the book and in the podcast — is episodic carb bingeing to sort of reset metabolism, notch up thyroid function, and capture some other benefits.”

      I then went to say that it was “an excuse.”

      Look, though you’re an ass most of the time, I’ve always taken you for a smart and informed guy.

      In no way have I asserted that what I did was anything more than a binge or pig out, and neither have I criticized your notion of a refeed.

      You must be pretty dense if you can’t see that the above was a post in praise of both yours and Jimmy’s work. I just decided to put it in a funny context that was really unrelated, and that should be obvious.

      And, no, I have no interest in any debate, either. Your childish “paleotard’ rhetoric aside, we have very little to disagree on. I eat paleo-ish, with dairy, because it makes me feel good and has transformed me. Meat, fat, veggies, fruits, nuts… What’s so fucking hard to understand about that, and why is it imperative for me to include grains and sugar? Huh? What’s “retarded” about it, dipshit?

      My results speak for themselves.

      • John Campbell on July 27, 2009 at 22:07

        Wow for a cool summer (in most of North America) things are certainly heating up over here Richard!
        I am with you – life is short and no one knows the absolute final effect of everything we are doing following this paleo lifestyle. I know it is right for me and it makes total sense, but life is short, and you gotta let go once in a while. I used to be a proselytizing pain in the ass in my first full year of paleo. Now I just explain what I do and why, and invite people to join me and check out my progress on my hundredth birthday which I fully intend to rock – time will tell. No final answers have been written – we are all on the journey of discovery.
        Sheesh – Diana has it right too although I have to admit that some of the cheats DO taste good at the time and what the hell. As a Canadian I cannot culturally or physically give up on Caesars completely – for the uninformed it is a Bloody Mary made with clamato juice rather than tomato juice. Mott’s makes by far the best clamato juice but the damn stuff has those old devils glucose/fructose, but a lot less than pop. Delicious – spicy and savory! And Canadian eh although they can be found in other enlightened areas such as Minneapolis and Chicago.
        Some people have to lighten up here – Richard is this animal called a human being and he is simply telling us what he is doing. He is not coming to your house to pour Coke and Cap’n Crunch down your damn throats.
        Richard – keep up the good work, intelligence, honesty and integrity – we love you for it.

      • Richard Nikoley on July 28, 2009 at 09:04

        Thanks, John. Yep, as fart as proselytizing, I now just wait until I’m asked, which is quite frequently, now.

        The best way to represent the paleo life is to just do it and let your results speak for themselves.

        I do like the shock value, sometimes. “How did you do it.” Oh, easy: lots and lots of fat, especially saturated animal fat.

        “Huh???” At this point, most people are less curious about the health aspects than they are the apparent contradiction.

  29. CJGabel on July 27, 2009 at 11:32

    Any bets on whether the “Lyle” comment above is the real Lyle, or a sock-puppet for Skylar?

    • Richard Nikoley on July 27, 2009 at 11:35

      No way it’s Skyler. He’s an honest guy and I was probably a bit overboard in my reaction to his comments.

      • Skyler Tanner on July 27, 2009 at 12:12


        Thanks for that; I wasn’t trying to be inflammatory; just help make it better.

        I’ll wait to dispense advice until it is asked on another’s blog. I don’t have to do that with clients and sometimes I forget. 😉


    • Jordan on July 27, 2009 at 11:36

      It’s the real Lyle. From his personal forum: “My single response made.”

  30. CJGabel on July 27, 2009 at 11:34

    Oh, and Richard – thanks for the great blog. I went paleo about 11 weeks ago & have lost 53 lbs. It’s shocking how easy it’s been.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 27, 2009 at 11:35

      Whoa! 53 pounds.

      • CJGabel on July 27, 2009 at 11:51

        Well, I’ve got a helluva lot to lose, so it’s coming off real fast right now. I’m 6’3″ and started at (gulp) 374 lbs. Would like to get back to my college weight in the 190’s… so you get the idea….

  31. Brigitte on July 27, 2009 at 14:41

    Dear Nephew – you call this a carb binge? I call it “Gluttony”. 🙂

  32. Katelyn on July 27, 2009 at 20:32


    I’m sorry to have upset you–truly. I enjoy your blog and your blog was one of the factors influencing me to stop being a vegetarian and enjoy eating meat. I have no problem with your experiment. I guess I was just upset at the idea that is still around that one cannot be an intense athlete without eating carbs or having carb ups.

    I will continue to be an avid reader of your blog, but I will keep my comments to myself.

    Best to you.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 28, 2009 at 09:08


      We’re cool.

      I’m not going to tell you how to eat or suggest that my particular high-fat version of paleo (with some dairy) is superior to yours, or that you’re missing out not doing it my way.

      When you say that you feel great, I believe you, and I’m glad for you.

      One final observation: you went from veg to zero carb? Have you asked yourself why you were drawn to two extremes?

  33. Sharon on July 27, 2009 at 23:54

    First of all – a couple of pieces of bread, a sandwich and a few beers is a very mild carb binge. SHEESH! Slightly astray but a carb binge??? If you said you ate the whole loaf or 12 beers or a whole cake, you might be talking about a carb binge.

    Second, this is the other problem: “Look, though you’re an ass most of the time, I’ve always taken you for a smart and informed guy.” See, Lyle just sounds like a smart guy to his followers who don’t think for themselves. He spouts lots of scientific sounding stuff and loves to quotes studies but in the end it always comes down to calories in, calories out. He just SOUNDS like a smart guy but ISN’T. This is the guy that said if you are hungry, take some diet pills. Huh? If you are hungry all the time, maybe there is a problem with your eating plan??? His “paleotard” comment just shows his actual lack of intellectual depth. This is also the guy that disses Gary Taubes as being all wrong. Uhm, yeah, okay.

    I got a real kick out of Skyler, one of Lyle’s followers, giving you formulas for carb binging. Take a hike would ya??? What fun would that be? Skyler negatively commented about how Paleo types don’t want to count anything. In real life, no one counts anything. There are many folks in real life who are thin and eat whatever they want, including all the sugar and wheat they want. No, I’m never going to be one of them but that shows that it is not just calories in, calories out.

    So Lyle and Skyler – where are the photos of either of you when you were 60 pounds (or more)overweight? I would listen more to what either of you had to say if you had walked in an actual fat persons shoes.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 28, 2009 at 09:18


      Thanks for the perspective. In regards to Lyle, that’s pretty much been my assessment since I found I could no longer read the forum (same posters, same circle jerk, same schoolyard adolescent behavior — all the time).

      I did think he did a good job on that interview and I’ll probably listen again. But, yea, he does seem to rely a lot on studies, as if he’s devoid of any principles whatsoever (you see me harp on them — i.e., I don’t care what a study associates, veg oils, as one example, are principally crap). He also seems to lack any sort of intuition. I’ll put my intuition and principles up against his study interpretations any day.

      Skyler, on the other hand, has always been an enthusiastic supporter and valuable commenter on this blog. I value his input a great deal. And, not that I have spent a whole lot of time there, particularly lately, but I’ve never seen him on the forums.

      The one member on those forums I find disappointing is the Leangains guy whose name escapes me at the moment.

      Oh, and I agree with you about the carb binge. A whole lot of that post was designed to be a bit funny and tongue in cheek, and I guess some didn’t take it that way.

    • Skyler Tanner on July 28, 2009 at 19:37


      If you’d like to discuss what I’ve done with fitness/health, both in my personal and professional life, you’re welcome to discuss it on my blog. I’ve nothing to hide.


    • Matt P on July 28, 2009 at 21:35

      Sharon I find your ad-hominem/strawman argument to be extremely ironic considering the position you’re supporting.

      Can you actually point out any flaws in the reasoning that don’t rely on appealing to your guru of choice?

      As someone that actually does have access to a research database, is trained in research methods, and does emphasize critical thinking, I don’t see these errors that you seem to see.

      Considering I’m one of the “Lyle followers” you’re attempting to ad-hom, I figured I’d chime in and ask for any real data-points you have to support your statements, or if this is just the usual tantrum from someone having his/her beliefs challenged.

      If you’d like to actually discuss this in a rational, civil manner (no flames, no ad hominems, just pure debate), then I’m more than happy to do so with you, Richard, and anybody else that wants to do so.

      • Richard Nikoley on July 28, 2009 at 22:11


        Nothing against you in the slightest, and you and Sharon are welcome to your own battles (feel free to use this as forum).

        I was willing t totally suck up Lyle’s original comment. Then, he had to go and lie.

        I assume you know how to access.

        If you are shocked by my approach, I always try to give people what they want.

      • Matt P on July 28, 2009 at 22:25

        I don’t care about angry trolling; that’s old hat.

        But it does detract from attempts at meaningful discussion. If it’s going to be an emotional screaming match, then there’s no point.

        Discussion and rational debate are a different matter.

        Also you need to fix the CSS formatting on this child response form; the fonts and forms are sized in em values in your .entry class. Use a fixed value to standardize it.

      • Richard Nikoley on July 29, 2009 at 01:34

        “Discussion and rational debate are a different matter.”

        And that’s what you think Lyle’s Monkey Farm is about?

        “Also you need to fix the CSS formatting on this child response form; the fonts and forms are sized in em values in your .entry class. Use a fixed value to standardize it.”

        Yes, I know that once we get to three children deep, Things go awry.

        On my list.

      • Matt P on July 29, 2009 at 02:17

        “And that’s what you think Lyle’s Monkey Farm is about?”

        Nope. That’s for trolling idiots. Nothing more, nothing less. He has a “nice” forum for other stuff.

        Style over substance aside, no one has yet bothered to explain how low-carb magic, no matter your flavor, overwhelms thermodynamic balance.

        It always comes down to appeal to authority (or appeal to pictures) and emotional yelling, not any real understanding of science.

        It is most entertaining how easily people are willing to throw out basic scientific tenets while pontificating over the matter.

        Then again, we don’t let artists design bridges. Nutrition is a science like any other, and people with no science background are trying to act like experts.

        Which results in hilarity.

      • Richard Nikoley on July 29, 2009 at 09:41

        “Style over substance aside, no one has yet bothered to explain how low-carb magic, no matter your flavor, overwhelms thermodynamic balance.”

        I tend to suspect that it does to some extent, at least in some individuals, but, I also think it’s a moot point because the fact is that low-carbing (of whatever flavor) seems to tend to reduce appetite over time, and that likely contributes far more to long-term fat loss than any supposed metabolic advantage.

        Really, I hate how people beat each other up over an issue that really doesn’t matter.

        Also, I think there’s another distinction to make: is this supposed advantage more to fat loss, or more to preventing fat gain? I think the latter. For me, so long as I keep carbs really low and lay off the fruit, I can eat as much meat, fat and nuts as I want and don’t gain any weight.

        As far as the thermodynamics, well, that part of the argument has been rightly ridiculed.

        See this physicist’s rebuttal to the conservation of energy.

        The short version is that it’s impossible to say what’s going to happen to an energy surplus. It could be shat out, result in more heartbeats, or any other number of metabolic processes.

        The therm crowd claims that excess will be stored as fat, only stored as fat, and macronutrient ratio is irrelevant.

        I doubt it, but, as I said, it doesn’t matter in the long run. For most of us, a paleo way greatly reduces baseline hunger over time, and that’s gotta account for the lion’s share.

      • Matt P on July 29, 2009 at 14:34

        Ehh, that’s not actually refuting CoE as much as handwaving where said energy and/or heat goes.

        Yeah, humans do exist outside of thermal equilibrium (that’s one of the definitions of life), but that in itself has no bearing on energy balance.

        Internal combustion engines use fuel to do work, and they also generate waste heat in the process (anything that does work creates heat in the process); yet we certainly don’t say they violate CoE. We put gasoline in, and we get X amount of work and Y amount of waste heat.

        This argument is tantamount to saying that your car’s engine violates CoE because we can’t account for the energy losses due to mechanical vibration and soot deposits. It’s not a violation of CoE as much as it is simply not being able to accurately account for all the energy.

        The argument boils down to this: if the human body is not meeting basal metabolic needs via calorie intake, then how is it storing fat?

        Or rather, why?

        In other words, if you can’t pay your rent and light bill, are you putting money in the stock market? You can, but it doesn’t make much sense from a survival standpoint.

        If that’s how physiology works, you could postulate someone on a carb-only diet actually growing fat while simultaneously dying of starvation.

        Has this ever been observed? If not, why not?

        The relevance of CoE to the argument is that calories that come into a human body will match the calories that exit (or are stored in) a human body. And for the record, the human body is a closed system for book-keeping purposes. We’re surrounded by a permeable, radiative membrane that exchanges energy with the environment. That’s pretty much a textbook “closed system”.

        At best the argument can be made that low-carb diets can favor calorie wastage (leading to more entropy/heat loss), but even then an objective look at the research doesn’t really bear that out, physiologically, when compared to overall calorie control.

        Dietary content can modulate the process, but suggesting a violation of CoE is pure nonsense.

      • Matt P on July 29, 2009 at 14:38

        The short version is that it’s impossible to say what’s going to happen to an energy surplus. It could be shat out, result in more heartbeats, or any other number of metabolic processes.

        The therm crowd claims that excess will be stored as fat, only stored as fat, and macronutrient ratio is irrelevant.


        I actually missed this bit. This is a strawmen of the position, actually.

        I’m well aware of the fact that energy is “lost” by other mechanisms; you can’t understand biochem on any functional level w/o understanding that.

        I just consider it part of the “calories out” side of energy balance.

        Macronutrient balance is largely unimportant once nutrient requirements are covered – the qualifier there being very important. There are essential needs for both amino acids and fatty acids that must be met; if they aren’t bad things happen (not the least of which is unfavorable changes in body composition).

        In short, calorie excess won’t be 100% stored as fat, no, but if you were to hypothetically account for every bit of “lost” energy while eating in a surplus and set that as your “calories out” or metabolic rate, then ate more than that rate, you would get fat.

        It’s not any more complex than that.

      • Richard Nikoley on July 30, 2009 at 10:44


        Sorry, and I wish you well, but the argument doesn’t interest me very much. I read Taubes, and I think he makes a good case that the COE isn’t the whole explanation.

        What I know is that I’ve dropped over 50 pounds in a couple of years, I’m rarely hungry, it works for me. I eat high-fat paleo, 60-70% of kals from fat. Many days I eat over 5,000 cals. I also intermittently fast, so who knows. And, in terms of friends and family and readers, I’ve seen amazing results, results that seem to stick.

        As an example of complications this COE issue (I’m not arguing total energy, or even total weight loss/gain, I’m arguing fat accumulation, period), here’s a pasting from a comment on another thread:


        David Brown Reply:
        July 28th, 2009 at 23:22


        I mentioned overfeeding studies because these past several months I’ve been investigating the effect of gut microbes on energy apportionment. For example, when a person consumes plenty of high quality (especially protein-rich) food, the 2 kilograms of microbes in the digestive tract multiply profusely. When poor quality food is consumed, fewer microbes are produced.

        Each gram (dry weight) of microbes in the feces represents 5 kcal of energy that didn’t get absorbed into the bloodstream (1). Since feces is 50 to 60 percent dead gut microbes, I thought it might be interesting to calculate the amount of calories utilized by gut microbes. Problem is, I haven’t been able to find contemporary data on the dry weight of gut microbes. In a 1914 textbook, the low and high estimates were 5.34 to 8.54 grams respectively (2). This translates to 27 to 43 kcal of heat energy.

        But on page 15 of The Truth About Poop by Susan E. Goodman the author writes, “Each day, on average, people produce 1 ounce of poop for each 12 pounds of their body weight.” Since an ounce is 28.409 grams, I calculate that a 160 pound person (me) will produce about 379 grams of fecal matter per day. fecal matter is about 75 percent water, the dry weight would be 95 grams and the dry microbe weight would be about 47 grams. Multiplying by 5 kcal/gram yields 235 kcal which is a significant amount of energy. Add to that the energy content of the microbes themselves as well as any food residues that appear in the feces and the amount of energy absorbed into the bloodstream shrinks significantly.

        If the biological potency of food determines, to some extent, the rate and amount of caloric absorption into the bloodstream, then metabolic chamber measurements cannot accurately measure metabolic activity. In addition, since gut microbes can burn fat calories, subtracting the amount of fat calories in feces from total fat intake does not yield an accurate figure in terms of fat absorbed into the bloodstream.



  34. John Nugent on July 28, 2009 at 07:39


    I just spent 2 1/2 weeeks at my house in France. I ate some bread and a few desserts and non paleo meals. Felt okay though but did lose energy, so the lesson was clear enough. But when you’re in France somehow the food can dominate and you lose your control mechanisms.

    Love your candid response to Katelyn and her mature rejoinder. My kind of language!


    • Richard Nikoley on July 28, 2009 at 09:21

      Where’s you house? I used to live in Toulon, in the Morillon area, right across the street from Ft. Saint Louis.

      Not a particularly great city, but certainly a great region.

      • John Nugent on July 28, 2009 at 23:40

        My place is not a long way from Toulon. It’s between Carcassonne and Toulouse in the Aude region in a town called Castelnaudary where there is a big Foreign Legion base. Lovely, edgy, market town and beautiful country in the Pyrenees foothills. Famous for Cassoulet which I don’t eat anymore (full of beans).

  35. Katelyn on July 28, 2009 at 10:05

    Oh, that is definitely me as a person, Rich. I am a Type A, all or nothing person. If I decide to do something, I guess I do it all the way.

    This attitude has helped me in a number of ways–getting great grades in school, being super fit, never struggling with eating something “off plan”, but I admit that it has the disadvantages of rigidness. Recently I’ve been more open socially and willing to try new things. I like having discipline and routine in my life–I thrive on it actually–but I have always been almost too independent that I really have started sharing more of my life with others and am trying to be more engaging and somewhat spontaneous 😉

    I do love your blog, by the way. I love your in your face attitude and defense of saturated fat! I will continue to read, but only post if I have something constructive to say. Thanks for your kind reply.

  36. Nicole on July 29, 2009 at 07:24

    I find it funny how everyone deems carbs the enemy because they feel like shit after they OVEREAT them, and low quality/processed carbs at that.

    A serving of oatmeal or sweet potato is not going to sap your energy, make you shoot piss out your ass, or bloat your face. But overeating them will, and overeating anything has the potential to do that. It’s just way easier to overeat protein or fat without any physical repercussions.

    • rich collins on July 29, 2009 at 07:47

      if there are no “physical repercussions” when one “overeats” protein and fat, how is it possible (what are the standards) to determine that one has been in “overeat” mode ?????

      • Nicole on July 29, 2009 at 08:05

        By overeating I just mean eating over maintenance calories, whatever that means for you. Carbs tend to be more energy dense than protein. Protein satiates you quicker/better than the same amount of calories from carbs (go read some Leigh Peele for real references, I am obviously a layman). I’m sure you can find exceptions, but generally that is the case.

        I said EASIER to overeat without feeling it physically, as in bloating or increased therm effect (sweating) like these people are reporting. Go over maintenance by 500+ cals with a steak and I doubt you will feel these effects as much as if it were 500+ cals of bread/rice/sugar. Assuming you’re dieted down (fatter people have less of a physical reaction in general because of their dulled insulin insensitivity).

      • rich collins on July 29, 2009 at 10:37

        anecdotal, to be sure, but I have lost 20 lbs. with increased energy and sense of well being over the past year and a half by not worrying about fat and protein calories and by keeping carbs very low and avoiding crappy food, even if low carb – I feel better and stronger at 62 than I did at 42 – I think you’re on a very slippery slope when you start to equate overeating with maintenance calories, particularly if one is more or less eating paleo/low carb

    • Diana Hsieh on July 29, 2009 at 12:17

      No way, Rich.

      Last year, I discovered that I’ll feel sluggish for a day and a half if I eat an ordinary-sized bowl of oatmeal (soaked overnight in water and whey). I’m not exaggerating. I tested it a few times, always with the same results.

      Not everyone responds that way, of course. My husband tolerates the oatmeal just fine. For some people though, what you’d call moderate, high quality carbs are too much.

      • Diana Hsieh on July 29, 2009 at 12:17

        Whoops, that was Nicole I was replying to. Sorry for the confusion.

  37. Matt P on July 30, 2009 at 13:05

    Sorry, and I wish you well, but the argument doesn’t interest me very much. I read Taubes, and I think he makes a good case that the COE isn’t the whole explanation.

    What I know is that I’ve dropped over 50 pounds in a couple of years, I’m rarely hungry, it works for me. I eat high-fat paleo, 60-70% of kals from fat. Many days I eat over 5,000 cals. I also intermittently fast, so who knows. And, in terms of friends and family and readers, I’ve seen amazing results, results that seem to stick.


    No worries Richard, it’s good form to bow out of a debate when you have to start relying on dismissing points and appealing to authority to continue.

    The last comment I want to leave, with regards to your results, is that you shouldn’t confuse an operational solution with a physiological one. It’s wonderful that you’ve had success and have found a method that works for you.

    We just have to be careful generalizing: is it the specific system of steps you followed that did the magic, or did the magic come because the rules forced you to do the right things in a more general sense (i.e., you ate to cover nutrient and calorie needs)?

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