Welcome all seeking refuge from low carb dogma!

“To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact”
~ Charles Darwin (it's evolutionary baybeee!)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Please pardon the appearance

I was looking at something, accidentally applied another template, and lost a bunch of stuff.  I was planning on switching things up a bit at some point but not now!  Ahh well ... this will have to do unless there are major readability issues.  Thanks for your patience!


carbsane said...

Also my apologies for a possible handful of comments that not have gotten posted during the brief time Disqus was offline. Please repost if applicable.

carbsane said...

PS ... Dunno what happened to the Edit button either :( This may get fixed if I get a chance ... or may take a couple of days to sort out. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Susanne said...

Random question: have you ever heard of anyone who gained weight on a low carb diet? Calorie-controlled to be below maintenance, I mean, not the gain where people are going over calories. I have done low carb three times now, twice inadvertently for several weeks at a time while calorie-counting, most recently this month to support a family member (who, thank the Lord, lost interest in it after six days: "You mean you are not supposed to eat potatoes OR bread on this diet? This is insane.").

Not only I do never get any of the famous water weight whoosh, I actually gain several pounds, which disappear when I go back to steel cut oats, rye bread and potatoes. Even at or below maintenance calories, which I know pretty well by now after tracking almost four years and now since August with a fitness tracker on to control for activity. I googled around to try to find something about this but all I can find is the articles about people who have the calorie creep issue. I am mystified.

I do know that for me going below 120 net carbs for an extended period is pretty stressful. The first two times I thought I was going through menopause before it occurred to me that it might be my macros. (Yes, that happened two separate times, and my Facebook ads reacted rather entertainingly to my internet searches for "early menopause symptoms" during those weeks. Low carb also makes me really stupid, apparently.) So maybe it is some kind of water-retention stress reaction.

Also actually on topic, I like the minimalist look, but are you going to keep these colors? That rose pink was kind of part of your brand, I think. Maybe you could work it in somewhere.

Nutrivorous said...

It most certainly is possible to gain weight while eating low carb. I know of at least one person who gained 45 pounds while writing and promoting a book about nutritional ketosis.

A few factors could be at work. First, it's possible that you're not actually gaining weight if you look at a 30-day average, or if you compare your weight to the same day approximately 4 weeks ago.

Second, it is possible that you're gaining muscle or water weight, and not actually gaining fat. On the other hand, it's also possible that you're losing muscle and gaining fat. Muscle gains are usually associated with smaller waist size, but again this is best measured month to month rather than day to day.

Third, there is a concept in the scientific literature called NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. As some people cut calories, their body temperature might drop slightly and they might stop fidgeting / pacing or doing other minor activities which can actually add up to several hundred calories per day. In overfeeding experiments, they found that people who are "naturally thin" had a tendency to do stuff like this when they overate. In underfeeding experiments, they found that people who struggle with their weight often conserve their energy unconsciously. A Fitbit isn't going to figure this out. A 24-hour heart monitor and body temperature monitor might.

Fourth, the calories on the activity tracker aren't particularly accurate. They might be OK as a relative measure of total activity, but just because it says you burned 200 calories, it doesn't mean you actually burned 200 calories. Plus, another adaptation to weight loss is that your body becomes more efficient, so you might be burning fewer calories for the same number of steps as before.

Fifth, a lot really depends on the definition of "low carb" diet. If the brain uses 130 grams of glucose per day, then 120 grams IS "low carb". Even Dr Atkins would have called that "low carb". But people on the internet keep trying to be all "low carbier than thou", and would have you convinced that 120 grams of carb is this enormous amount.


Personally, I lost a lot of weight eating a nutrient dense lowish carb diet. When I hit my target weight, I started to slowly up my carb and calorie intake, and surprisingly lost 17 more pounds.

These days, I don't pay much attention to my macronutrients, but I do try to get my micronutrients while staying below my calorie limit. I use an app called Cronometer to do this. As it turns out, foods like whole oats, rye and even the lowly white potato are chock full of nutrients and certainly do belong in a well-formulated nutrient dense diet. So I'm not surprised you would do well eating these foods.

StellaBarbone said...

I tried it for a while. I gained a few pounds and I was so hungry. I'm more of a cheese and olive oil fan than a sweets fan, so low carb, high fat for me was more a case of unleashing control of the foods that I prefer than cutting back on excessive sweets and carbs. Cutting out the fruit, potatoes and grains left me hungry, plus it would never have lasted through peach and plum season. There are a lot of people on Weight Watchers who have tried and failed low carb diets, too.

Nutrivorous said...

Again, I think you have to define what "low carb" actually is. A medium-sized peach only contains 14 grams of carbs, 2 of which are fiber, so Atkins would have called that 12 grams. An entire plum provides 7 grams carb (or 6 grams of "net carbs"). These could easily be incorporated into any healthy diet, even one where carbohydrate is restricted to the point that excess carbs are not being converted into fat.

Susanne said...

FYI: The St Paul Pioneer Press today has an article on the Minnesota Starvation Experiment on its 70th anniversary, including interviews with a couple of the original volunteers. It's very illuminating to read about their motivations, and their experience as conscientious objectors, and to remember that the goal of the experiment was to help people starving in war, and not to provide fodder for diet wars 7 decades later.

It's also interesting to see how they were recruited -- pamphlets were sent around to work camps where the men were doing civilian service. and many of the men volunteered because they thought the experiment would be harder and more worthwhile work. Although one flyer pointed out that one of the benefits of participating in an experiment on a college campus was the presence of co-eds!

Susanne said...

These are all good points if I were a diet newbie/trying to lose weight. But all my low-carb "experiments" happened while I was maintaining. I did lose about 50 pounds in 2010 (calorie counting, focusing on whole foods and basically Mediterranean diet/AHA macros). But since then I've maintained in a 5-10 pound range. I know from experience that I still have to track calories, so I've been doing that for 4 years, and I know pretty well know what my maintenance calories are by now. So I can be pretty confident that I was at or even below maintenance.

The time scale (about a week to gain the weight, and another week to lose it) makes it pretty clear that it was water weight and not "real weight" (fat or muscle). I and the other middle aged ladies on my weight mainainers forum had to give up the idea that we can gain muscle that fast quite long ago! And it's quite hard even for testosterone-laden teenage boys to gain muscle even with a perfect storm of calorie surplus and muscle stimulation -- just look at any bodybuilding forum. Lyle McDonald is quite good on the realities of this process — see or

On NEAT: it is possible in the earlier low-carbing accidents that I was moving less — I remember being totally exhausted in the evening and falling asleep on the sofa a lot. But a lot of my NEAT at that time was job related and unavoidable, since I was teaching and had a certain number of hours standing/walking in front of classics and moving around campus buildings. (It's enough that I actually have to allow about a 200 calorie average per day difference in burn during holidays.)

That's why it's interesting that I had the tracker (it's a Fitbit) this time — I don't trust its absolute calorie figures any more than I do the ones on an elliptical machine or treadmill, and I had to configure it so that it doesn't link with my calorie tracker and give me "credit". But as you say, it is useful for comparing relative amounts of activity from day to day or week to week, and it doesn't show any difference between that week's total "steps" and that of the other weeks.

So my question is: why do so many people on low carb seem to lose quite a lot of water weight on starting a low carb diet, and I don't? I mean, I assume a lot of people do because I've read about it, and I can't imagine what else motivates you through the low carb "flu" on starting. Is this quick loss fairly universal as I understand it from the internet, or does it only happen to some people?

Susanne said...

Ha! That's why I could never dedicate myself to a low carb diet either (besides the fact that it doesn't seem to work for me physiologically) — mango season! and after mango season comes cherry season! and peach season! And then all the other wonderful fruit seasons.

Nutrivorous said...

Congratulations on maintaining the 50 pound weight loss. It's a difficult thing to do and requires quite a lot of vigilance. As for the original question, there are several factors which might be in play.

First, as you point out,a lot of the weight lost in the first few weeks of a low carb diet are simply glycogen stores being depleted. Glycogen binds with several times its weight in water, so a lot of that weight loss is water. OTOH, a lot of the first few pounds gained on a carb binge is also water bound to glycogen.

If you've lost 50 pounds already, you don't have the excess weight that an obese person would have. There isn't any low-hanging fruit for your body to chuck out the door. If you've been maintaining that weight for some time, your body is probably satisfied with things the way they are. It might take you the same effort to lose 5 pounds that it used to take to lose 20.

Also, most of the people you see on the internet bragging about their quick weight loss are "testosterone-laden males" in their 20's and 30's. It's simply easier for them to lose weight. They have more muscle and more glycogen and the first few pounds is going to come off pretty quickly. On the plus side, statistically speaking, you're likely to live longer than they will no matter what your weight is, so you're really only haggling over which size dress you'll be wearing at their funeral.

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