Last updated on May 10th, 2015
You look trustworthy, so I’ll let you in on something. I’m going to tell you the secret of how a low-carb diet helps a person lose weight. But first a word from our sponsor . . . Oh, wait — we don’t have a sponsor. I keep thinking I ought to monetize the blog, put up a few discrete blinking ads for Carb-Free Pudding or Miracle Weight-Loss Body Lotion (in five delicious flavors!), or at least add links to my books on Amazon.com (when I get them written), but I have held off out of respect for you, the reader. Either that, or sheer laziness. (Update: some monetization of the blog has taken place. See the Disclaimers. But as yet there are no books of mine on Amazon! The world somehow manages without them.)
Anyway, I was about to tell you the secret of low-carb dieting. I would’ve told you earlier, but anybody who has been eating low-carb for a while already knows the secret, and I figured new low-carbers would be unlikely to find their way here. Most people lack the patience to click through to page 5,000 of the Google search results. Then the other day I got a comment from someone who claimed to be just starting out on a low-carb diet. That got me to thinking that my efforts at search engine optimization must be paying off. Sure enough, when I googled “Life after Carbs,” this was first site that came up.
I promise to stay humble and remember all you little people and your insignificant problems that had almost nothing to do with my reaching the top in record time. And, yes, out of the goodness of my heart, I will share with you the secret of how low-carb eating helps a person lose weight.
The secret is hunger management.
Or, in my case, almost complete hunger elimination. When I eat a meal that is mostly fat and protein, with minimal carbs, I can go for six hours without feeling hungry. And even when I do start feeling hungry, it is not the ravenous, don’t-get-between-me-and-the-fridge-unless-you-want-to-get-hurt kind of hunger that I used to experience when eating a “balanced” diet high in carbs.
When I get hungry, I eat something; I’m not trying to fast. It just takes longer to get hungry.
I guess a big reason I don’t get that starving feeling anymore is that my body now burns its own fat for fuel, and still has plenty to burn. If I were eating carbs, I’d be producing insulin to deal with them, and the insulin would keep my fat safely locked away. That’s what I’ve read, anyway. I’m not a bio-chemist, not a nutritionist, and can’t testify as an expert about what insulin does. But I can testify about how I feel when I follow a low-carb diet (40 net grams of carbs per day or fewer), and how I feel is great!
My daily calorie intake has been in the range of 1,800 to 2,000 for the last few months. (Update: that was true in 2011, and is again true in 2015.) That’s up to 1,000 fewer calories than my body uses in a day, even when the most strenuous exercise I get is typing a blog post. Naturally, I am losing weight, although how much defies an easy calorie deficit calculation. The amazing thing to me is that I am losing weight without feeling hungry. But why should I feel hungry when my body is burning its own fat to compensate?
That’s the holy grail of weight-loss, folks – dropping pounds without hunger. No hunger, no temptation. No temptation, no cheating. Simple and painless. It’s easy to stay on a diet when you aren’t suffering to do so.
Will this work for everybody? I don’t know; I’m not everybody. Neither are you. So why are we even talking about everybody? This is just between the two of us. A secret, remember? I wouldn’t claim a low-carb diet will work equally well for everybody, but for many bodies, it’s worth a try.
Now you will have to excuse me. As the author of the #1 “Life after Carbs” blog in the world, I have monetizing to do. (Update: it took me four years, but I finally managed.)
Eric Anderson says
What are peoples thoughs and experience with vitamin K2?
After reading the literature I have started taking it for the lowering of insulin levels (Hard to know as insulin is not something I measure more than once or twice a year) and the reported effect on calcification and mortality morbidity reports.
I haven’t had any experience with K2.
Eric Anderson says
Is what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat more or less important than what not to eat, when not to eat, and how little to eat?
What do we say or write that we eat andthen what we do eat!
I like to measure blood sugar, Hemoglobin A1c, and other markers.
We can take the idea to “let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food” and use the concept of numbers as in hemoglobin A1c or absolute rates of mortality or morbidity.
Measure blood sugar after a meal. Does BS increase or decrease in protein from 4 or 5 or 6 eggs? Plus or minus one or two egg whites?
IMHO testing for yourself is best. I have found the diet advice of Doctor Richard K Bernstein for his type 1 and type 2 diabtics to be a good starting point. limits carbs to 6==12==12 grams per meal and moderate protein subject to BS levels.
Maybe the future will provide tests that help adjust to individual optimal eating quantity and time. Each individual should manage food according to individual results. (YMMV)
I just found your site (via Feinman’s)
I don’t believe hunger management is the key to weight loss success. Otherwise people would lose weight just by controlling their hunger in a hypocaloric diet. And they don’t.
If low-carb diets worked for weight loss, the key must be something else (like not reducing our metabolism in the long-term, for example).
I lost 24Kg with a low-carb diet and have kept my weight stable for the last 13 months. A low-carb diet worked for me. I just don’t think hunger is that relevant.
Jim Anderson says
Vicente — The thing I wasn’t taking into consideration is that eating a low-carb, moderate protein diet makes my body’s fat available to burn as fuel. That body fat would not be available if I ate carbs and so had a lot of insulin circulating in my blood. The calorie deficit is being made up by body fat; therefore, no hunger. So, I guess I agree with you that there is more to it than just hunger management!
The advice to eat heavier meals early in the day and a lighter dinner is some I’ve heard before. I can see a rationale for it. The same for not eating late at night, though 6 pm is too early to stop for me. I try not to eat for a couple hours before going to bed. For low-carbers, I think it’s important to spread the carbs out through the day as evenly as possible to avoid blood sugar spikes.
Yes, eating lots of candy will make a person gain weight, but is it from the calories alone or also from the concentrated refined carbohydrates? It could be you would do better weight-wise to eat a steak with the same calories and no carbs. But of course, it’s easier to carry candy with you than steak!
It’s a big generalization to say low-carb diets work for men but not for women. I have encountered many women in forums and blogs who say that low-carb works for them. My own barber, a woman, told me she had lost lots of weight on Atkins. Still, it is commonly asserted that women have a harder time losing weight than men do. If that is true, it could be true on a low-carb diet too. I’ve heard similar claims about older people having trouble losing weight. But specifically for the low-carb approach, it seems like the most important variable is whether and to what degree a person is insulin resistant. If a person is insulin resistant, low-carbing is more likely to work for weight loss and avoiding other conditions, such as type-2 diabetes.
Yup, that’s it, pure and simple.
I am now in my 60’s and began the LCHF WOE three years ago. I am only 5’3 1/2 ” tall, with a small frame, and unable to carry a great deal of weight without looking fat and dumpy. Began dieting at 16 years of age and have been on just about every wacky and crazy diet that ever came down the pike including the Protein Sparing Modifying Fast that should have put into the hospital! Tried Weight Watchers and lost so damned slowly and felt so fricken hungry that I gave up. Having to weigh in at their headquarters once a week and dole out hard-earned money to boot really rubbed me the wrong way.
Went on Joanna Lund’s diet back in the 90’s, and did lose 30-40 pounds, but I also walked a lot, 7 days a week, and had to deal with the damned hunger as well.
Needless to say, when I fell off of her plan and began to eat “normally” again, the weight came back. To sum up, I have weighed between 113 and 175 lbs, and at every point in between.
Lost 30 pounds since beginning LCHF, WITH NO HUNGER, and, just as importantly, it is staying off this time!!!!!!
Yes, I do continue to keep my daily food diary, but it’s no big deal. Keeps me honest. My daily carbs? 18 – 25. For three years.
I’m 6-2, and have carried my weight well until the last 10-15 years when my stomach just ballooned. When I graduated from high school, I was at my full height and weighed around 180. Last summer I was up to 260 — and of course no taller! Right now, I am at 230 and seem to be stuck there. But I have let my carb count climb to 40-45 net grams per day. So I think I will knock it back down into the 30-35 gram range and see if that gets me off the plateau. If not, I can go lower. I was in the Atkins induction range of 20 grams a day when I first started this “Way of Eating.”
I haven’t tried that many established diets over the years. But a couple years ago, I did try cutting down to 2,000 calories a day on a conventional, government-approved low-fat approach. It was torture! I lost a couple pounds, but quickly put them back on plus a few more.
It’s great to hear that you have been eating low-carb for three years and keeping your weight off without hunger pangs. I especially like to hear it because like me, you are a “mature” person. I can’t use age as an excuse!