Carbs vs. Fat vs. Protein; High vs. Low; Everybody vs. Everybody

I got a pleasant and unexpected surprise a few weeks back.

Screen Shot 2013 01 12 at 9 24 33 AM
@robbwolf Tweet

Here was the post: “Protein is the New Carbohydrate,” and Why to Ditch the Low-Carb Catechism (Sorry Jimmy). Basically, I was poo-pooing the notion that the reason high fat combined with relatively high protein in a low-carbohydrate setting has proven problematic for so many is because of gluconeogenesis (the synthesis of glucose from protein), and not simply the more obvious explanation of eating too much, too often. And Regina of Weight of the Evidence demonstrates that, at least in the case of Jimmy: So Much for Cake, Let Them Eat Steak.

Wait a minute!

That’s not just reduced protein, it’s also less fat, and a significant reduction in calories! […]

And if that isn’t enough to get you to think about it, consider this – to lose 50 pounds in six months, the boogeyman calorie theory holds that one would need a calorie deficit of about 1,000 calories a day.

Jimmy’s calories are not precisely thae same each day, but if you subtract 2650 from 3756, you get 1106 calories a day less than he was eating at baseline.

Now look up – Jimmy is in range of the calorie deficit that explains his weight loss, with less calories, less fat and less protein.

This is a good thing. I’m happy for Jimmy.

In many ways, the whole goalpost moving of the LC paradigm strikes me as similar in form to The Dragon in My Garage, by Carl Sagan.

…And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won’t work.

Now, what’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there’s no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I’m asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so.

After Robb Wolf put out that tweet, we had a brief email exchange and he told me he was getting ready to blog about issues he has come to have with the low-carb diet as most commonly promoted which, I would characterize as: “calories don’t count so long as one keeps the carbohydrate (all carbohydrate) low to very low to ketogenic.”

And so he did:

Let me interject something. When I posted my kinda New Year’s post and vowed to distance myself from “the drama,” a vow I fully intend to uphold, I think some people mistakenly assumed that also meant the sane, appropriate, needed, healthy debate over the efficacy of low carb in general and how it’s pitched so often. I trust those who were around will know what dramas I was actually talking about.

In that same post I also wrote:

I’m going to go all Robb Wolf on you, but without the background science. Seriously. Robb is kinda my preeminent conscience, in that I need to focus on helping the same sorts of dying and debilitated folks I’ve helped over the years.

Here’s why I wrote that, not only the whole overtone of Part Deux of Robb’s series, but this quote in particular.

So my grand take-away from all this:

  1. Some people are incapable of learning and change.
  2. Some people are assholes who snipe from the Peanut Gallery while not lifting a finger to better the world around them.
  3. The vast majority of people are fucking righteous and if we know something that can help them, that could improve the world, we have a moral imperative to do something to help. (How do I have morals, yet am not religious? Hmm?)

Someday I’ll farm coconuts, but it wont happen until our medical and food production systems have dramatically changed and there are enough people who know about this Evolutionary Medicine schtick that our kids and grand kids will have things better than we have them.

Yep. I started this whole thing to help myself and others and that’s damn well what I’m absolutely going to get back to focussing on. And in the end, Robb, like me, is an advocate of low-carb intervention—either as a whole dietary lifestyle or, short-to-medium or cyclical interventions. I regularly have LC days and often enough, ZC meals.

A final quote from Robb, the last bit of Episode 3.

What I take from this is “If one TRULY stays in ketosis, is it IMPOSSIBLE to over eat?” My gut instinct is to say “No, I can find you people who can over eat, even in “nutritional ketosis.” But this is an opinion, I have no RCT to back this up. What I find intriguing from the simple interface of coaching/helping people is: How is this ANY easier/better than the basic eyeball method I have outlined in, again, my book, quick start guides etc. How much DETAIL will be necessary to guarantee we remain in nutritional ketosis? I hear the food scale getting pulled out, right along with the measuring cups. This seems neither easier nor better, and as I’ve said elsewhere, food neurosis REALLY kicks in when folks start scrutinizing their food as is typical in the CrossFit world of the Zone, or in what would be necessary to fit the standards here of ensuring nutritional ketosis. This feels vaguely of trying to make some kind of religious ritual produce a measurably beneficial effect in the real world…perhaps I’m missing something, but this line of inquiry seems to be valiantly trying to find a way to make ketosis magic.

I hope this helps clear up some of the drama around LC and paleo. I see the evolutionary template as a means of making informed decisions about how we eat and live to optimize performance, health, and longevity. I see LC as a tool to be used for specific situations, and to achieve specific goals. Hopefully, a day will come when NONE of this is controversial or still adhered to with religious dogmatism. Someday ketone-ringer solution will be the go-to IV for folks with TBI. ketogenic diets will be used in conjunction with standard chemo and radiation to not only fight cancer, but protect normal tissue from the damage these blunt force tools offer. Primary care physicians will recognize the therapeutic value of LC for insulin resistance. World champion athletes will still, for the most part, be carb fueled.

Remember, hammers are just as important and valuable as screw drivers. It just depends on what the project is and what we are trying to do.

So no drama. It’s a tool, a valid tool. May be a tool some people have to avail themselves of every day, some every few days and others just might not need it at all. But regardless of when it’s used, let’s keep the food real and most particularly, sources of carbohydrate and to a lesser extent, fat. I.e: No Hot-fucking-Pockets!

I initially talked about the LC vs FR controversy or debate shortly after AHS11 on Angelo Coppala’s Latest in Paleo Podcast on the 5by5 network.  My take there, was as it remains: I see merits in the arguments of both Gary Taubes and Stephan Guyenet, merits that are mutually complimentary once one isn’t wedded to one exclusive set of arguments over the other. I think both are right about some things, wrong about some things. Over time, we’ll learn better which ones.

Since then, in addition to blogging about using more white rice and potatoes in meals and seeing how various things worked and didn’t work for me, I eventually realized that calories are simply important, they count: Synthesis: Low-Carb and Food Reward/Palatability, and Why Calories Count.

Subsequently, I sought to find common ground from various positions: Synthesis: Guyenet, Colpo, Calories Count, Food Quality Matters, Macronutrient Ratios are Qualitative.

Then there’s the multiple hypotheses approach: Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI) and Multiple Alternative Hypotheses and Dr. Peter Attia and NuSI (Nutritions Science Initiative).

Fortunately, throughout the whole deal, I have managed to maintain cordial and friendly dialog with: Taubes, Guyenet, Peter D., Colpo, Attia, Moore, Wolf and others who have taken positions to one side or the other. I intend to keep it that way.

…Of course, then there’s the recent potato diet experiment, where I and many others were able to drop roughly 10 pounds, give or take, in the space of a couple of weeks or so—without being hungry and eating as much potato (minimal added fat or protein) as desired.

Doesn’t this kinda falsify the hypothesis that carbs make you fat, per se? No, some LC / insulin hypothesis advocates say, because it tuns out that most people were in a significant caloric deficit. So isn’t this kind of a have your cake & eat it too explanation?

Well, yes, it is. What’s being argued is that if you eat lots of carbohydrate but are in a caloric deficit and lose weight, it’s because of the calories; but if you eat lots of carbohydrate and are in excess calories and gain weight, it’s because of the carbohydrates.

Really! This is the new logical insight into the debate that The Potato Diet has brought to light. Some just haven’t realized, yet, that they’re trying to have it both ways. How many remember back when GCBC was first published and saw Gary’s long lecture about it with the slides? …How it was touted that Pima could become obese on only 2,000 kcal or less per day of mostly carbohydrate in the form of white flour & sugar? Well, this doesn’t seem to hold for potatoes, so there’s something wrong with that notion somewhere. Let’s find out!

I propose a simple new starting point.

  1. First and foremost, eat real food vastly most of the time. Don’t count anything. Use your head instead. The rest that follow are all either/or. Don’t do the same thing every day, or even every meal.
  2. Eat high carb sometimes like potatoes or other starchy vegetables, or white rice. When you do, take it very easy on the fat & protein. Think Asian here, even if using potatoes instead of rice.
  3. Eat high fat sometimes, like heavy cream, avocados, dark chocolate, Fat Bread & butter, coconut butter, etc. When you do, keep the carbs AND protein low. Think Peter Ds “Optimal Diet,” here.
  4. Eat high protein sometimes. When you do, keep the carbs and fat low. If the meat is fatty (like ribs), no added fat and if it’s lean, sensible added fat for flavor, not swimming. Keep to non-starchy vegetables and don’t give your lettuce swimming lessons in olive oil.
  5. Eat it all in modest balance, like Paul Jaminet’s The Perfect Health Diet.

In the end, sorry, but I think a certain level of “gluttony” does have something to do with it. Telling people that they can eat as much meat swimming in fat as they absolutely want so long as they keep carbohydrate low is the wrong message medically and metabolically, but perhaps mostly so, it’s the wrong message for a species so marvelously successful that now he can actually eat absolutely as much meat swimming in fat as he can and wants.

Alright…now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy ribs & chicken to cook up for this afternoon’s defeat of the Green Bay Packers at the able hands of the San Francisco 49ers.

So, yea…hey, and…yea, uh…if you like it and think people need to read it, why don’t we just let’s just go ahead and put it out there on those social channels, K? That’d be great. Uh, yea, Buttons to help you right there below. …And don’t forget that cover page on those TPS reports, m’kay?… Did you get the memo? …Alright. That’d be great!

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. Regina on January 12, 2013 at 12:21

    Doesn’t this kinda falsify the hypothesis that carbs make you fat, per se? No, some LC / insulin hypothesis advocates say, because it tuns out that most people were in a significant caloric deficit. So isn’t this kind of a have your cake & eat it too explanation?

    Well, yes, it is. What’s being argued is that if you eat lots of carbohydrate but are in a caloric deficit and lose weight, it’s because of the calories; but if you eat lots of carbohydrate and are in excess calories and gain weight, it’s because of the carbohydrates.

    Richard, I just laughed out loud for real.

    It still boggles my mind that folks can willingly ignore that calories play a role. Of course the hormonal milieu matters, but once you’ve stabilized that, you cannot consume excess habitually and not gain weight.

    Thanks for the link over to my blog!

    • Richard Nikoley on January 12, 2013 at 13:07

      My pleasure, Regina. Haven’t read your follow-ons yet, but it’s top of my list for tomorrow morning. Thanks for the voice of real.

  2. Andi on January 12, 2013 at 13:46

    Blimey! I agree with you Richard! Now there’s a turn up for the books!

    • Richard Nikoley on January 12, 2013 at 13:49

      I’m not surprised. I do get a smile now and then when I see comments here and there about myself. I don’t agree with anyone, entirely. It’s all matters of degree and for the purposes of this post, nothing it “unlimited.”


    • Joseph on January 13, 2013 at 17:32

      I don’t even agree with myself all the time. Where does that leave my agreement with others? What does “agreement” even mean, really?

  3. roadrunner on January 12, 2013 at 14:05

    Nobody mentions hunger. The macronutrient ratios affect many, perhaps most, people’ s satiety/hunger response so they don’ t have to count calories, even though a posteriori, calories do count.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 12, 2013 at 14:38


      Absolutely. Really, it’s where Taubs’ and Guyenet’s stuff meet up, but neither seem to really know it.

      Me, from 2009.

    • Nick Lo on January 13, 2013 at 18:09

      roadrunner: Yes! Hunger and satiety. I often wonder why those two don’t get much more prominence. I picture some kind of sliding hunger scale with some point in that scale being the trigger for us to act (go to the fridge, kill a wild pig, intensively farm some land in Brazil, grow non-native beans, process them and make a meat like substitute with a halo around it) with satiety being a kind of handicap on that scale. Some people will be triggered much earlier to react whereas others can spend longer periods in a state of hunger.

  4. Erica on January 12, 2013 at 14:13

    Love this, but “low” is subjective; what is actually considered low for each?

    • Richard Nikoley on January 12, 2013 at 14:41


      No, it’s not subjective. It is relative, i.e., to each other. So in each, a 1,000 calorie meal, 70-80% % the 1 of 3 macros, the other 20-30% made up of the others in whatever proportions.

      It’s not that hard and anyone with a modicum of awareness can eyeball that. If they can’t then calling Darwin.

  5. CatherineakaCate on January 12, 2013 at 15:06

    “like Paul Jaminet’s The Perfect Health Diet.”

    I decided he was dialed in after book#1.
    It boiled down to 1) I decided he was the smartest cat in Paleoland
    2) He doesn’t trip over his own ego 3) he actually spent a few years raking through the literature and has the background to discern/ draw likely conclusions 4) intention
    The concepts of eating adequate but less carbs than your glucose requirements, occasional IE, omission of industrial oils, attention to micronutrients, appreciation for circadian rhythm impact hormonal milieu.
    You don’t get cat scratch fever over there at his blog either.
    I must say I don’t go to the sites where it it is full on marketing, I am just not interested.
    He cuts right to the chase, explains his thinking and provide citations.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 12, 2013 at 16:17


      Paul and I have had an email exchange from time to time, met in person a couple of times.

      Got an email from him pretty soon after publishing this.

      I agree with everything you said. He’s just more than I could ever hope to be and I love that about him.

    • Bill on January 12, 2013 at 16:37

      I agree with everything that Paul says and preaches, but the photos of him tell me he has some facial inflammation and excess body fat. You don’t see that in Mark Sisson, Kurt Harris, Art de Vany, Robb Wolf, Chris Masterjohn et al…..

    • michael on January 14, 2013 at 01:37

      Those other guys you mentioned are more heavily into the exercise aspect of health. Exercise for muscle definition via low body fat has nothing to do with longevity, it usually allows them one to exert themselves at a higher clip during their life. I’m not advocating a sedative lifestyle, merely stating that six packs & large biceps don’t add years to your life. If you look at the longest living societies in the world, many of them have body fat. Heck it keeps you warm during the winter months, and in the past kept you alive during long periods of fasting. Not to mention Paul is coming back from being severely unhealthy. Some damage is tough to reverse. Ideally you would want a strong core & pelvic region, but looking at all the old yogis may lead one to believe that having a strong diaphragm is all you need to maximize longevity.

    • CatherineakaCate on January 12, 2013 at 19:24

      I’m here for the freedom 😉

  6. CatherineakaCate on January 12, 2013 at 15:08

    oops: IF

  7. Rip @ MIPWID on January 12, 2013 at 15:59

    Can we also say that to lose weight, one wants to keep actual nutrition as high as possible while keeping calories reasonably low?

    One of the first comments on the first of Wolf’s posts is “What allows a person to eat fewer calories without hunger? If Jimmy Moore is losing his weight via starvation, it’s not sustainable and so likely to fail”. At the moment, I’m averaging about 1500 calories a day – that’s three meals, of real food, and each is satisfying enough to nuke all cravings for crap and certainly keeps me full until the next meal. It certainly isn’t starvation and it certainly is sustainable.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 12, 2013 at 16:20


      That’s actually my even greater interest. I have a number of posts about nutritional density.

    • Joshua on January 13, 2013 at 07:14

      I agree that nutrient density i important, but I occasionally struggle with hunger no matter how wonderful the food is that I’m eating. Fortunately it happens less than it used to, And might be attributed to the fact that I’m still eating at a calorie deficit

  8. Sandra on January 12, 2013 at 16:08

    So, in the end, portion control.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 12, 2013 at 16:27


      Yes, in the end, yes. But just as I replied to Rip, it ought not be hard if one can discipline themselves for a shot time. Yea, family probs, financial probs, job probs, chronic pain probs (like I had) are going to fuck up most people.

      But being honest, the eff ups aren’t about real food, they are typically about using food to assuage whatever it is that’s messing with your life.

      So, there are levels of problems in life that people need to deal with. When I was only good, portion control was a cinch. When in 24/7 writhing pain, not so much. And I sought out comforts. Outside real food. So, it’s good to be aware of this regardless but, you will intimately have to square away other unrelated problems.

      It’s a personal problem, a social problem. It’s a human problem.

    • Gabriella Kadar on January 12, 2013 at 19:27

      Is there any way to factor in two shots of brandy at the end of a back breaking day? Robaxacet is mostly placebo.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 13, 2013 at 10:58

      No, I thnk it takes 4 shots to make it paleo.

    • Sandra on January 12, 2013 at 22:27

      Sure, there are bumps. But these bumps exist nonetheless and regardless of what approach one takes. It is the reason why I feel that additional complication only amounts to a greater cognitive burden and subsequent confusion when, in the final analysis, it all boils down to eating what the body needs and no more (the key being, no more).

      I say, start with the fundamental and inescapable understanding that there is a finite amount of food you are meant to eat and plan from there. Choose well, sure, but within the finite amount that rationally corresponds to what your metabolism requires to function and thrive at a given time. And no worries about being exactly on target. That’s what adipose tissue is there for (nowadays).

    • Richard Nikoley on January 13, 2013 at 11:06

      Sandra, yes. Everything is finite, limited. There’s no unlimited.

  9. Bill on January 12, 2013 at 16:25

    I would also emphasize that grains, gluten and gliadin should be absolutely eliminated.
    Not for the calorific value, but for the varying damage to the digestive system.
    Carbs from rice and potatoes can be debated, I consume both on a regular basis, but grains are an absolute no no.
    That’s my stance.
    I truly miss freshly baked bread, but I don’t know how much I can consume before damage. I’m not going to risk having a few french rolls and 2 months later I have a recurrence of alopecia areata, taking 6-12 months to recover.
    Just do without, it’s not that big a deal…. Totally anecdotal, but it’s true. I’ve been there.

  10. CDLXI on January 12, 2013 at 18:56

    ” Don’t do the same thing every day, or even every meal ”

    Curious, what is the harm in having the same meal every day? I WANT ( almost a craving ) to eat potatoes topped with a slice of cheese, 2 eggs and a glass of orange juice every morning.

    • Joshua on January 13, 2013 at 07:17

      I interpreted this part as meaning don’t eat the same SET of meals every day.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 13, 2013 at 10:54

      I just mean in the spirit of the thing, like its not necessary to eat the same foods, macros or even calories every day.

    • Leo desforges on January 13, 2013 at 12:34

      But if you want to eat similarly every day, I’m sure you’ll be fine.

  11. CatherineakaCate on January 12, 2013 at 19:27

    I wonder why so many people are fascinated/ fixated on JM?

  12. Leo desforges on January 13, 2013 at 12:33

    Simple post. I like it a lot.
    We are all going to find slightly different paths, but ultimately it comes down to eating real food, and doing so in a way that allows you to achieve a healthy (not necessarily the aesthetic ideal) body weight. A combo of primal nutrition choices, delayed breakfast and heavy strength training have changed my life. I’ve always looked ok, but I was legitimately obsessed with food. It was bad. The last two years have been very light on the nutritional dogma and I couldn’t be happier. Everyone’s process will be different, that was mine.

  13. art on January 13, 2013 at 13:40


    As I understand it, Paul has rosacea – a bitch of a thing to fully shift (regardless of diet). Thus the not unpleasant residual ruddiness about his chops.

  14. Exceptionally Brash on January 13, 2013 at 13:41

    You stole my idea for a soon-to-be released blogpost on TPS reports. I had wanted to find the clip to refresh my memory before posting, but fortunately, we both seem to have found that channel it was on last night. (But, didn’t they cut out some of the fire-drama?)

    • Richard Nikoley on January 13, 2013 at 13:45

      Ha, you saw that too, eh? I only surfed through for a few minutes. But always funny.

  15. Jim Rendek on January 14, 2013 at 05:51

    Here’s the thing. For those of us that are truly broken (and many more are than realize it) it doesn’t matter whether it’s the carbs or the calories because you will never be able to consistently cut your calories until you break the carb addiction. When you remove most of the addictive substance the cut in calories becomes automatic because you are satisfied with reasonable quantities and craving/ hunger free.

  16. CDLXI on January 14, 2013 at 07:20

    “Here’s the thing. For those of us that are truly broken (and many more are than realize it) it doesn’t matter whether it’s the carbs or the calories because you will never be able to consistently cut your calories until you break the carb addiction.”

    WTF? Carb addiction? Really WTF? Absolute bullshit. As for the “truly broken” most people do not get much more “broken” than me ( illnesses and weighing 461 lbs. about 14 months ago ). I have lost nearly 100 lbs. eating POTATOES and RICE , FRUIT and MILK too. I am not starving or obsessed with food and feel healthier than I did doing low to very low carb for several years. Again, “broken and carb addicted’? ….My 2 pet peeves. Bullshit.

    • Joshua on January 14, 2013 at 07:49

      Congrats on your weight loss!

      Why would you assume that everybody else is just like you though? One of my favorite diet studies is the AtoZ study. There’s a youtube video of a talk that the study leader gave that convinced me that different people have vastly different metabolisms. Some people respond very well to low-carb, while others do not.

      I can’t rule out the possibility that it’s purely psychosomatic, but I find that when I eat simple / processed carbs I crazily crave them for a couple of days. No processed carbs = fewer or no cravings.

      From what you said, you’re not eating simple/processed carbs, but to my mind, it’s a specific example where Jim’s comments hold true.

    • Chupo on January 14, 2013 at 12:09

      Christopher Gardner, the lead researcher for that study, tested the subjects for insulin resistance. He found the insulin sensitive subjects did well on Ornish but not on Atkins. The insulin resistant subjects did well on Atkins but not on Ornish.

    • Peggy Holloway on January 14, 2013 at 18:27

      Well, that makes complete sense to me! The naturally thin people who have no problem with insulin resistance do well on a low-fat, vegetarian diet and try to push that on all of us. Most of us who have had weight issues are insulin-resistant and do horribly on an Ornish diet or the similar low-fat regimes the medical establishment prescribes. (That was my life for more than twenty years) Then are told we are just lazy and eat too much. So we starve and try to work-out in a starvation state and continue to fail! Then, we discover Atkins and feel like we have gone to heaven!

  17. Rocco Privetera on January 14, 2013 at 08:24

    I’m just working on my weight again and saw all this,and I’m trying to get super confused. I get your five points. Does it make sense (from what I’ve read that I *think* you said, but please correct me if not) that after the five laws of robotics you got, there might be a few more:

    6- Some eating/lifestyle choices like very low carb, extended fasting, carb loading, cold therapy, and so forth should be considered therapeutic methods, not diets. If you are insulin resistant, going vlc for some time is a good way to fix that, for example. Some medical conditions respond to various targeted diets. But these therapeutic methods are meant for dealing with specific issues and aren’t meant to be the one answer to everyone.

    7- If you have hunger problems, or hormonal eating issues, see 6. Fix those with a targeted diet until they are under control.

    8- You should experiment with various targeted eating methods to see which foods might be an issue for you. You might have a gluten sensitivity (or not), Dairy intolerance (or not), etc. You should experiment with how much sleep you need, how much water you need, and any other health factors.

    9- If you are very overweight, caloric restrictions may result in hunger even if you are properly fed and healthy. Losing weight may involve manageable levels of hunger. That’s not something you want to ‘avoid’ at all times with a diet.

    10- Lifestyle choices may also affect diet. Tons of specific labor may require eating more protein (putting on muscle), or eating more carbs (doing endurance work), or eating more calories (overall increased physical activity), or eating less calories (no exercise and a life behind a desk). You will need to adjust all these factors to match your particular lifestyle.

    How’s that sound?

    • Joshua on January 14, 2013 at 09:10

      For #6 – eating vl carb for a short time should return you to an insulin sensitive state, but eating it for very long will actually make you insensitive again. When you have very little glucose added to the system, your body wants to hang on to every bit it can, because the brain needs some glucose to run. In order to keep the necessary level of blood glucose, your body becomes insulin resistant.

      Otherwise, I generally agree with you.

    • Rhys on January 14, 2013 at 10:31

      But couldn’t you just reap the same benefits of insulin sensitivity from intermittent fasting on a higher carb diet? For instance, I eat one meal each day and fast for the other 21 or so hours. This meal typically includes 2-3 pounds of potatoes, so pretty high carb. I’m hovering around 10-12% bodyfat and consistently making strength gains.

    • Joshua on January 14, 2013 at 20:57

      Absolutely. I think carbs only get to be a problem when you’re constantly bathing your cells with sugar all day long. In a high carb IF regimen like what you’re doing, your blood sugar is only elevated for a very small percentage of the time.

    • RAY on January 14, 2013 at 17:04

      Endurance work is better run on fat than carbs. Heavy lifting should be run on carbs. Studies are showing that once you are fat adapted performance will increase. Lifting heavy while eating low carb really is just a bad idea at least in my eyes.

    • Rocco on January 14, 2013 at 21:40

      Ray: that makes sense actually, thanks.

      I imagine (re the insulin boomerang Joshua talks about) that a corollary to the “therapeutic” part is that once you reach the therapeutic results continued practice might push you past the benefits into new territory. Like, moderate IF spurs atrophagy and fat loss but too much fasting scavenges lean body mass. Again, that moderation thing.

      When flu season hits, and I start to feel fluish (achey and shivery), I use a therapeutic method: heat, whiskey, lemon/ginger tea, and blankets until I get good and drunk and break a severe sweat. The start slowly losing the coverings and cooling down as it feels comfortable. I’m better in a day. But I don’t mistake that kind of behavior as something to do “everyday” for health.

  18. Rocco Privetera on January 14, 2013 at 08:27

    I’m also realizing the painful truth that I was hoping – reading all these books and blogs and so forth – that I was truly hoping for a “just do this and you will lose weight easily and effortlessly” and… I guess that’s a childish pipe dream I need to put aside. Somewhere along the line, the “diet”, if there is one,is starting to look more like “do some work, eat real food, stop eating so much, act responsibly, and figure it out for yourself”. Everybody wants “the answer” and I guess that’s the first failing.

  19. CDLXI on January 14, 2013 at 09:58


    Having been grossly obese from the time I could walk and I am keenly aware that nobody is just like me, I have always been the odd-man out. I have no doubt that different people have vastly different metabolisms. I did well on low carb at first then not so well. I bought into the “broken” mind set for much too long and as soon as I realized I am not “broken” that I simply overate and was very inactive I understood FINALLY.

    As to the cravings of carby foods I think most of it is psychosomatic because it tastes so dam good. I had my favorite cake over the holidays and ate 1 to 2 pieces every day til it was gone. The cake (pineapple upside-down) was made with ingredients that I commonly eat without causing cravings but those same ingredients made into a cake made me want to eat it more. It’s not the flours or sugars in the cake it’s just the amount I eat.
    BTW, I have celiac disease so I understand the different needs for everyone but it doesn’t make us “broken” and unable to learn control.

  20. Ryan S on January 14, 2013 at 10:51

    Off subject here, but I have found the ultimate way to eat liver. I have been putting raw liver in my daily shakes. I call them my super shakes. I have one every day, post workout on workout days. I put 4 ounces of liver in my shake once a week. Is that enough? Not sure if I should be eating more or less liver. Anyway, it varies a little from day to day depending what I have on hand. But I seriously can barely taste the liver at all. Here’s what yesterday’s post workout shake contained: 2 cups raw milk, 2 raw eggs, 2 bananas, some fresh pineapple, a handful of blueberries, a little bit of baby spinach, a scoop of One World Whey Vanilla protein, half teaspoon of Optimally Organic Super Greens formula, a dash of sea salt, dash of cinnamon, 5 grams of BCAAs, and 4 ounces of raw liver. Now that is one healthy shake. Haven’t figured out the macronutrient breakdown but I know the numbers are up there. Anyway, seriously try it. I got my girlfriend and daughter to try it and they like it as well. This is our new way of eating liver. No more “liver nights” for us. We used to have liver for dinner once a week. We tried so many different ways of eating liver. Never again. Once you try it this way, you will never cook liver again. My son will eat liver raw, cooked , whatever. For the rest of us that find it disgusting, try the shake.

  21. Sam Knox on January 14, 2013 at 12:05

    The insulin-theory doesn’t hold that carbohydrates, per se, cause obesity, but that obesity is caused by hyperinsulinemia, and that the most common cause of hyperinsulinemia is overconsumption of carbohydrates.

    The existence of an individual or population that can consume a high-carbohydrate diet without becoming obese shows either that 1) the insulin theory is incorrect, i.e., the individual or population is hyperinsulinemic without becoming obese, or 2) the individual or population can consume a high-carbohydrate diet without becoming hyperinsulinemic.

    Neither n=1 experiments nor epidemiological studies allow us to confidently choose between the two.

  22. RAY on January 14, 2013 at 16:50

    I have to say I was a firm believer in never eating carbs besides a cyclical once a week deal. I have been eating carbs every single day for about a year and haven’t gained a single pound and probably look better. I do believe going LC for a day is good but it really just depends on the person. I don’t exercise a shitload anymore. I eat coconut oil from the jar and never hold back on the fat. I think Paul Jaminet has the best equation for optimal health. 65% fat (mainly saturated), 20% carbs(from starch), 15% protein. Keep the liver healthy and remove toxins…can’t really argue with it.

  23. Peggy Holloway on January 14, 2013 at 18:21

    I find myself drawn back here. I am waiting for a response to my previous posts where I ask for an explanation of my experience and that of my other family members. 15 years ago, after spending most of my adult life trying to prevent “diabetes” and manage my weight with a super low-fat, low-calorie diet (eating foods that I found completely unpalatable and unsatisfying( and tons of exercise, including marathon training, I was a mess. My stomach rumbled, growled, and gnawed constantly, I had hourly mood/energy swings from high anxiety to “brain fog, ” horrible IBS (never went anywhere without immodium in my purse) and acid reflux, and could not longer manage my weight. I remember distinctly being so desperate that I was eating virtually no fat and mostly vegetables. I remember so well because I had such a horrible experience after ordering the steamed vegetable plate at a restaurant at the height of my “fat-free” insanity and desperation to not gain weight. I had such bad diarrhea that I remember calling the restaurant to ask if they used MSG in the dish because I could think of no other explanation for the reaction . In 2000, I discovered the insulin-resistance/glucose intolerance theory and embarked on my journey to my current ketogenic-diet which leaves me feeling completely satiated and energetic on lots of high fat, moderate protein, and very low carb foods. I never feel hungry and all the GI and anxiety/depression symptoms are gone forever. The higher the fat % and the lower the carb/protein, the better I feel. I don’t think about portions (and of course, not calories). I just eat enough to feel satisfied and go for hours and hours without thinking of food. I rarely eat lunch and usually eat a moderate size dinner around 7:00 pm. (I am also the 60-year-old commenter who does 50 to 75 mile bike rides in a fasting state) Yesterday, I had my usual breakfast and went to the church where I am a professional musician. I had another rehearsal later, so decided to stay for the “pot-luck” where they were serving baked dark-meat chicken and I was very happy to see something I could eat. The mistake was also trying a meatball (tasted like pure brown-sugar) and a deviled egg that had a sweet tasting filling. By 4:00 pm I felt famished and was craving something to eat. What is the explanation?
    I have also asked for the explanation of my son’s experience going to a yoga retreat where he had no choice but to follow the provided vegan diet. He spent 10-days in absolute misery trying to live on organic potato soup. His ADHD, anxiety, and other mood issues came back full force and the only way he could survive was through his yoga and meditative discipline. He told me recently that when he returned from the retreat, he realized that his thighs were visibly smaller – that since he was very thin to begin with, he had lost muscle on the potato regime. He says it took months to get back his muscle mass and strength on his usual low-carb, high-fat paleo diet.
    I simply cannot “buy” any other theory but that we are genetically very insulin-resistant and can’t metabolize more than very small amounts of carbs in the form of non-starchy vegetables. We thrive as ketone/fat burners and will need to eat this way for life. Again, please explain for me why you think this theory is wrong. (It won’t make any difference in how I live my life – my experience is mine and what I am doing works for me).

    • Richard Nikoley on January 14, 2013 at 21:47

      Peggy, if there’s a comment out there I ought to have replied to, sorry.

      From what I recall, I read it, nodded solemnly, same as now.

      I think you have it handled. Very far be it from me to change anything about that. I post what seems sensible to me a at a point in time. I never think it applies to one and all. It’s only to think.

    • Peggy Holloway on January 15, 2013 at 06:46

      I appreciate that, Richard. I wish everyone who posts here would have the same approach rather than lambasting those of us who have found success eliminating grains, starch, and sugar in all forms and putting down Jimmy Moore for his ketosis promotion and questioning the validity of the insulin -hypothesis. It is essential for some of us and I hate to see people being put-off from trying what may be the only solution to serious health problems.

    • Bill on January 17, 2013 at 15:59

      Jimmy really is my hero. He must be so metabolically damaged and to pursue every way to resolve this, has to be admired.
      If his current strategy works, then he will have developed a solution to some of those people who weren’t just a bit overweight, but seriously morbidly obese.
      It seems to be working for him.
      I’ve always admired his energy and enthusiasm despite his weight problems.
      I hope he gets there, and it seems he may.
      Here in England it’s all about gastric bands and bypasses.
      Jimmy hopefully will provide a diet related solution that avoids these radical invasive solutions.
      Keep on trucking Jimmy. Ultimate respect!

    • Richard Nikoley on January 17, 2013 at 20:43



  24. J. B. Rainsberger on January 14, 2013 at 18:45

    I remember reading Protein Power. The Eades’ were pretty clear: high carbohydrate plus high fat means gain weight. Did we somehow forget this in the past 15 years? If we haven’t, then absolutely none of this should surprise us.

    • ray on January 15, 2013 at 05:10

      High carb from shit will absolutely cause weight gain. Eating some potatoes with butter will not. This is why chips and other food atrocities will ruin health.

    • Matthew on January 16, 2013 at 05:47

      a thin sliced potato fried in butter constitutes a chip…

      It’s pretty clear that calories can’t be discounted.

  25. Why do starchy carbs like sweet potato, potato, squash make me ill? - Page 8 | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 8 on January 14, 2013 at 21:12

    […] the blind leading those with reasonably good vision. It's completely backwards, and it speaks to Richard Nikoley's very recent post. This ridiculous self-righteous and dogmatic mentality is why this lifestyle remains on the fringe […]

  26. Thursday 17th January « KB CrossFit on January 16, 2013 at 00:53

    […] Primal Corner – Carbs vs. Fat vs. Protein; High vs. Low; Everybody vs. Everybody […]

  27. Marnee on January 17, 2013 at 11:07

    The potato experiment doesn’t falsify anything even if it could be used in that way. Even is one agrees that a good summary of the carb hypothesis is carbs = insulin = fat gain, well, you need fat in that equation don’t you? So on an extremely low-fat, all potato diet you may not be on a significant calorie deficit, but you are on a significant FAT deficit! Your body still needs fat to function when you eat only starch, ya know! So while insulin was not busy shunting about glucose, it and other hormones were busy helping get your body fat to needed pathways. You don’t need calorie talk to make sense of this.

    I gained 4 pounds on an all potato diet and felt like shit. What does that falsify?

    • Richard Nikoley on January 17, 2013 at 11:45

      “I gained 4 pounds on an all potato diet and felt like shit. What does that falsify?”


      The assertion is that carbs, per se, increase insulin increase fat storage. Not true, even for most. Are you aware that eating potatoes makes saturated fat?

  28. Marcy on January 20, 2013 at 14:53

    I would really enjoy your writing if you worked at not dropping the “F” bomb every paragraph or two. Is it really necessary? It really detracts from some otherwise great content.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 21, 2013 at 10:12


      You talking about this post, or the one on Gordon Pamsay’s scrambled eggs? In terms of the latter, just watch an episode of Hell’s Kitchen.

      “Is it really necessary?”

      I don’t know. I don’t necessarily blog in terms of necessities.

      “It really detracts from some otherwise great content.”

      I’ve found over the years that it depends on who you ask.

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