Character vs. Chemistry, Part Four

      62 Comments on Character vs. Chemistry, Part Four

If you’re a regular reader, you’ve already seen these pictures.  But take another look.

When people send me before-and-after pictures like these, they also usually tell me about their struggles losing weight – often covering many frustrating years — before Fat Head inspired them to try a LCHF diet.  Then they finally lost weight.

If weight loss is mostly about character, then here’s what happened to these people:  After years of being too weak-willed to simply eat less and move more, they finally developed the necessary discipline.  The fact that Fat Head convinced them to start eating bacon and eggs and dump the hearthealthywholegrains just before they became disciplined was pure coincidence.

If weight loss is mostly about chemistry, then here’s what happened:  Something about switching to a LCFH diet caused biochemical changes that allowed these people to consume fewer calories than they burned without feeling hungry and miserable.  They may have even felt more energetic instead of less while reducing their energy intake.

I of course vote for the second explanation, and the research backs me up.  Let’s look at just a couple of clinical studies of low-carb diets.

In this one, 10 obese subjects with type 2 diabetes followed a low-carb diet for 14 days and lost an average of 3.6 pounds.  The researchers noted that the subjects consumed fewer calories than before, which completely accounted for the weight loss.  Fair enough.  We’re not claiming that low-carb diets make calories magically disappear.  The money shot in the study’s conclusion is this:

… a low-carbohydrate diet followed for 2 weeks resulted in spontaneous reduction in energy intake to a level appropriate to their height.

Spontaneous reduction in energy intake. If people aren’t told to eat less but end up eating less anyway, what does that tell us?  It tells us they aren’t hungry.  That’s chemistry, not character.  Character is (according to the calorie freaks) being hungry and not eating anyway.

Well, perhaps everyone enrolled in a diet study decides to eat less and lose weight to impress the investigators, eh?  Perhaps we’d see the same results with any diet.

Nope … at least not in this study (and there have been several like it), which compared a calorie-restricted low-fat diet to a low-carb diet.  This time the subjects were obese women who followed the diets for six months.  Keep in mind that the women in the low-carb group weren’t told to restrict calories.  They could eat as much as they wanted as long as they stayed within their carb limit.  And yet look what happened:

Women on both diets reduced calorie consumption by comparable amounts at 3 and 6 months.

The low-carb women weren’t told to eat less, but they did.  Now let’s compare the weight loss:

The very low carbohydrate diet group lost more weight (18.7 lbs vs. 8.6 lbs) and more body fat (10.6 lbs vs. 4.4 lbs) than the low fat diet group.

Now, you could argue that if the low-carb group lost more weight and more body-fat than the calorie-restricted group, they must have ended up eating less.  Maybe, maybe not.  Maybe their metabolisms stayed higher.  But let’s suppose they did eat less, and that eating less completely accounts for the extra weight loss.  So what?  The point is that they weren’t told to eat less, but they did so spontaneously.  Either they just happened to develop more character than the calorie-restricted group, or they weren’t as hungry.

Studies like this one say it’s because they weren’t as hungry:

Symptoms of negative affect and hunger improved to a greater degree in patients following a low-carb ketogenic (LCKD) diet compared with those following an low-fat diet. Whether these symptom changes explain the greater short-term weight loss generally experienced by LCKD followers deserves further research.

I’ve lost count of how many people have told me in emails, in comments, in Facebook posts and in person that their appetites have totally changed.  They don’t crave desserts and other sweets anymore.  They aren’t thinking about lunch two hours after breakfast.  They sometimes skip meals because they’re not hungry.  They say “no thank you” when co-workers pass around donuts or pieces of birthday cake — not because they refuse to give in to temptation, but because the temptation simply isn’t there.  A piece of cake is no more appealing than a bowl of dirt.  They are eating as much as they want, but they want less.

When people change the composition of their diets and suddenly find they can eat less without feeling hungry for the first time in their lives, that’s chemistry.  If feeling full and happy on smaller portions then leads to a spontaneous reduction in energy intake to a level appropriate to their height, that’s chemistry.

By the same token, when people try living on 1,200 calories’ worth of low-fat Weight Watchers meals and end up ravenously hungry, that’s also chemistry.  Of course, people who are on diets that leave them hungry are supposed to rely on character at that point and voluntarily suffer the hunger pangs.

Bad idea.  Hunger isn’t some annoying sensation created by Mother Nature to torpedo your weight-loss efforts.  Hunger is your body’s way of saying I need something … protein, nutrients, fuel — something that food could provide.  If your body needs fuel and you refuse to supply it, you may end up with a slower metabolism.  Or your body may cannibalize your muscles to make glucose.  Or you may wind up feeling lethargic and depressed – emotions your body produces to discourage you from wasting precious fuel by being active.  That’s chemistry, chemistry, and chemistry in action.  But once again, people made miserable by chemistry are supposed to suck it up, stick with the diet, and use the strength of their character to overpower the urge to eat — then go to the gym to spend an hour on the treadmill despite feeling lethargic, too.

That approach rarely works.  Humans aren’t supposed to voluntarily suffer.  We’re not geared for it.  The diet you can live with is the diet that works with your body’s chemistry, not against it.  You can’t go through life in a constant state of war against your body and your appetite, not if you want to be healthy and happy.

The people whose pictures grace the top of this post all tried to lose weight by going on other diets that made them miserable.  They probably stuck with those diets for a good long while even when the diets clearly weren’t working.  Then they probably felt like failures when they couldn’t stand it anymore and gave up on those diets.

Then they found a diet that worked because it didn’t require them to suffer – in fact, they got to enjoy delicious, fatty foods they’d been told were bad for them.  They felt full sooner.  They ate less spontaneously.  They lost weight – lots of it.  And it happened because of a change in chemistry, not because they finally developed superior character.

Does that mean character doesn’t play into it all?  Nope.  It does.  But I’ll deal with that topic next time.


62 thoughts on “Character vs. Chemistry, Part Four

  1. Lori Miller

    Oh, Tom. People lose weight on LC diets because when you cut out beans, grains and potatoes, there’s nothing left to eat. And a diet of nothing but meat, butter, nuts, eggs, fish, shellfish, coconut and vegetables (oh, I guess there is something left) is just so unpalatable that people don’t want to eat it, except when they’re gorging themselves on it.

    Yeah, that’s what I told my wife last night while eating a dinner of steak, cauliflower soup and spinach with butter and parmesan: “Good thing I don’t like this stuff, or I might be tempted to overeat.”

    1. Auntie M

      Yeah. I told a woman in a meeting once that I tried to follow a gluten-free diet (which is usually easier to explain for non-low-carbers), and she said, “What do you eat?” I thought about telling her that I eat dirt, just to mess with her. 🙂

      1. Jill

        Actually I think that quesion is very revealing.

        It shows how ubiquitous the gluten/grqin message and foodstuff is, crowding out other foods and being presented as necessary and always there.

        People are instructed to eat forms of grains at every single meal, offered biscuits, cakes, crackers as snacks, told to use them as the base for meals as pizzas, or crepes etc, use them as the basis for alcoholic drinks on special occasions and when just going out.

        No wonder people can’t see past it!

      2. Kristin

        I’ll never forget standing in the middle of a grocery store trying to stifle the tears and wondering what the heck I was going to eat. I had just realized that wheat was the source of the medical crisis I had been going through the last several weeks. I didn’t realize until that moment how many of the staple foods in my diet involved wheat. Now this was well before I gave up all grain. I don’t think I could have gone from my plain ol’ whole foods diet to the grain free one I do now.

        I always remember that feeling when I see the same look of puzzlement to panic in a person’s eyes when they ask me that question “What do you eat?” Now it seems silly. There is so much to eat that I had denied myself before.

        To people who eat cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and pasta for dinner, a diet that doesn’t include wheat probably does seem like a near-impossibility.

        1. Walter Bushell

          Damit all, wheat’s in almost what’s in the supermarkets, these days. Outside the produce, dairy and meat sections their is damn little that’s food. And they might carry few if any full fat dairy at that.

          Coffee(?), perhaps the average Americans chief source of real plant based food. I read somewhere that coffee was American’s chief source of dietary antioxidants.

          Better I should not go into the fancy coffee drinks from which *$ et alia get their main income or I might start to rant.

        2. Jean Bush

          Did you know that IHOP now puts pancake batter in their eggs to make them fluffier??? I used to love their 3 egg, bacon & cheese omelet. I nearly threw it all up. Ugh!

          1. Tom Naughton Post author

            Ugh. We found out they did that on the Carnival cruise ships as well, so we all ended up in the custom omelet line to watch them break real eggs into the pan.

  2. Adam

    Great stuff, Tom. Said it before, and I’ll say it again: if the Food Pyramid (or Plate or Whatev) is Darth Vader, then “calories-in-calories-out” is the Emperor. If we rebels want to succeed, we need to destroy the Emperor!

    For now, I’m happy with convincing people to ignore the Emperor.

      1. Cameron Baum

        Honestly, it is the smartest tactic.

        If all the advice is ignored, an people are eating fats and other stuff, then there is a drop in sales for all the carbage. Less money for them will likely make the companies panic, and gear up to make the advice more strongly heard, huge efforts to debunk the fats and good stuff.

        The result would be that more people would likely question why there is such a huge drive to make us eat certain foods. We live in times where governments are not really trusted, and faith in big companies is faded. So, you can imagine more people would ignore them, and try other things.

        Hope this makes sense, did this on my phone.

        1. Josh

          If people ignored this advice and started to eat fats, the government would step in and bail out the carbage industry.

          True enough. They also support the grain industry.

  3. Joe

    Great post.

    I have people tell me very often when I pass up desserts that they wish they had my kind of willpower. I tell them that since I’ve gone LCHF it’s not really that hard anymore. Now, most people would generally consider me a strong-willed person but I can tell you that before I saw the LCHF light I was whiny baby on the inside even when I did conjure up the willpower to resist desserts. Now, I am (almost) perfectly content to watch everyone around me munch on sugary crap while I bask in my satiated appetite ha ha.

    I’m not only don’t find that birthday cake tempting anymore, I find the mere sight of it slightly revolting. It takes zero willpower or character for me to pass up a sugary, grain-based dessert.

  4. JW

    There’s biological character like you describe, and social character: being an adult and asserting your right to avoid certain foods, even when it would be considered impolite or strange to do so (think: birthday cake, celebratory beer).

    Vegetarians and vegans have a free pass on social situations by assigning moral virtue to their diets. Low-carb dieters have to get by on force of will.

    In this sense we have it harder socially, and learn more for it. But the trade-off is worth it: virtually no hunger and perpetual good health.

    I created my own vegan-style get-out-of-jail-free card: when people pressure me to eat that birthday cake, I tell them I’m allergic to wheat. Not exactly the truth, but the stuff doesn’t agree with me, so close enough. Tell people you have an allergy, it’s end of discussion.

    1. Boundless

      > I tell them I’m allergic to wheat. Not exactly the truth,
      > but the stuff doesn’t agree with me …

      Which means that the odds are high you’d test positive on a Cyrex Array 3 test, and then you could show them the proof. My recollection is that Dr. Perlmutter (“Grain Brain”) has said that 40% of the population will test positive on CA3. Anyone with a kid in government school needs to get this test run. They’ll need that piece of paper in the forced-feeding battle to come.

      If any of my co-workers demand to see test results when I tell them I’m allergic to wheat, I’ll probably just tell them to piss off.

    2. Molly56

      My Get Out of Jail Free card is now to say I’m “pre-diabetic” or even to make conversation “…not quite diabetic yet but I’m really concerned about my blood glucose level–I test regularly and it’s too high.” It’s amazing. No more cake, cookies, wheat or sugary treats are pushed on me. This is interesting because just a few years ago it would have had no effect. I would have just gotten a blank look or would be ignored or argued with.

      I think the word is spreading. I don’t even get an argument when I say bread, potatoes, and pasta raise my blood sugar. I don’t think it’s because I seem so wise all of the sudden.

  5. J. Stanton

    Exactly, Tom. I began my AHS 2012 presentation “What Is Hunger, and Why Are We Hungry?” thus:

    “People aren’t obese because they like being obese, and diets don’t fail because people dislike being slim and healthy. Diets fail because hunger overrides our other motivations.

    Hunger doesn’t exist to make us fat: it exists to keep us alive. If we’re continually hungry, it’s because our cells need something they’re not getting — whether due to eating the wrong foods, not absorbing nutrients in those foods, or being unable to use energy from our fat stores to make up the difference.

    How and why this happens, and what we can do about it, has been the subject of my research for several years…and it’s become clear that the pattern of eating recommended by government and the medical-industrial complex is extremely efficient at producing hunger despite high calorie intake.

    One of my favorite statistics: a regular Jamba Juice contains the same number of calories as a Quarter Pounder.


    Your presentation and your many excellent posts on the subject of hunger are part of what got me thinking about character vs. chemistry in the first place. Great work, J.

    1. Kristin

      J Stanton, I saw your talk online and very much enjoyed it. I also chuckled because your style of speaking so closely mirrors your style of writing, which means nutrient dense. 🙂

      I’ve shared your blog on Eat like a Predator, not Prey post with a number of people both for the great conceptual information as well as pure entertainment. It was when I read that post that I realized that I had forever shifted a basic paradigm, and for the better. Fathead and Gnolls are my two favorite go to blogs to keep me focused in a world that seems to think I’m going to die at any moment for my choice of lard over bread. Thanks for your work.

    2. Walter Bushell

      Dear “J”,

      “Hunger doesn’t exist to make us fat: it exists to keep us alive.”

      I am so quoting that.

      Actually hunger exists to enhance reproductive fitness, but hey!

      Dead people don’t reproduce unless they have been eating a lot of conch. At least that’s what they told me in the Bahamas.

  6. Stephen

    Another great read (expected at this point!)

    One line that rang through to me is “A piece of cake is no more appealing than a bowl of dirt”. After having 4 eggs for breakfast (scrambled) this morning (about 5 hours ago) if i was offered cake right now I think i’d be sick!!!

    Keep fighting the cause Tom, because of people like you we will win.

    I honestly find the sight of donuts or cake to be slightly revolting. And I think the dirt would be a healthier option.

  7. annique

    “I honestly find the sight of donuts or cake to be slightly revolting” .
    I’ve found the same for years, every time I’m fasted for 24hrs. I’ll only break a fast with LC food.
    Please tell me if you find this reasonable : an aversion to sweets or simple starches may just be a healthy reaction when we’ve been in ketosis or thereabout, provided any prior social and psychological conditioning has faded so that they don’t overcome that reaction. Physiological insulin resistance from fasting or VLC means that if I ate that cake or a potato, blood glucose goes sky high (did this as experiment several times in order to actually measure the BG) and a large spike in BG makes me nauseous and light-headed. This is something I’d instinctively want to avoid, so there’s aversion to that type of food. A Pavlov conditioning response? (woof!)

    Yeah, that makes sense to me.

  8. Waldo

    Excellent series Tom. Spot on as usual. It’s amazing to me that since I’ve been LCHF, I can smell the sweetness of doughnuts across the cube farm and actually cringe. Yuck. However, dirt is a good source of probiotics ;).

    Another thing that makes me cringe now is the saying, “everything in moderation”. B.S.!!! Its another form of a character or willpower. The daytime doctors love to say it whilst the sheeple nod.

    I don’t eat in moderation. I eat until I’m full, which probably looks like moderation since I’m satisfied on smaller meals now.

    1. Kristin

      It seems to me that the ‘everything in moderation’ mantra is a way of saying that any restrictions regardless of what or why has become a way to just back off to a neutral corner. I take it that way and back off as well. I tried a whole foods diet that was everything (real) in moderation and I was still fat and sick. When you find your one true diet (which can of course shift as your chemistry does) that is what you eat. Mine is the LCHF way with lots of animal foods.

      I really got this down when a friend of mine announced that paleo was making her sick. Of course I was interested. Turns out her new love is really a paleo guy and she has always been plump so she went with his diet. She did indeed get sick. She is currently mostly vegetarian (not vegan) and low starch and grain. I think that may be a crossover point. The simple carbs that provide so little. She found a nutrient dense diet that didn’t involve lard. I need my lard but she does not. Really good learning for me on how we really are all different.

  9. Kelly B

    “If weight loss is mostly about character, then here’s what happened to these people: After years of being too weak-willed to simply eat less and move more, they finally developed the necessary discipline. The fact that Fat Head convinced them to start eating bacon and eggs and dump the hearthealthywholegrains just before they became disciplined was pure coincidence.”

    Obviously, the subliminal messages in Fat Head (if you play it backwards) say “don’t be such a big pig!” over and over and over. Right?

    As for sickening donuts, I saw one at work the other day that was decorated by being covered in Froot Loops – so disgusting! No temptation to chow down on that one at all.

    If you play it backwards, the voice-over also announces that Paul McCartney died in 1967 and was replaced by an imposter.

    1. Kristin

      Wait! Donuts covered in Froot Loops? Did it come from VooDoo Donut? They make great donuts but you must be 20 years old and headed to a rave in order to consume one safely. I did have a bacon maple bar (yes, a real piece of bacon adorned this) some years ago and understood that I was too old and too unlikely to dance at a rave all night for this. That said it is now a Portland institution.

      1. Mary D

        Perhaps a saner choice in PDX is Petunia’s over on 12th downtown! Gluten free, although carb-heavy. I have yet to make it in there, but their online menu looks yummy. They do lunches, too.

    2. Cameron Baum

      Interesting you should speak about stuff backwards. I once tested out the claim by getting my original CD of Britney Spears’ first album, and then ripped Baby One More Time. Then flipped it.

      I then had a heart attack when I heard “sleep with me, I’m not too young,” six times throughout. I then watched the video backwards, and had another heart attack. Because each rime that phrase appeared is at apoint where she is most suggestive.

      Britney was sixteen at the time. I don’t beleive she was behind it all for a secons. But it is alldeliberatly placed, and it scares me. Even the lyrics are wrong; when I thought about it, “hit me” was wrong. Is she wanting people to hit her, beat her up? Or is this an euphemisim for more carnal “hitting?” The proper lyrics should be “Love me baby one more time.” That then makes sense with the rest of the song.

      If you don’t believe me, look up the music video backwards on YouTube. Also, read up ‘Backmasking’ on Wikipedia. It is something that has been going on for decades- the Beatles even did it as an art effect. ‘My Immortal’ by Evanescance is another brilliant one. You have a second song when you play it backwards.

      Sorry for going off topic, thought this was important to share.

  10. Firebird7478

    The same thing has happened to me in relationship to the cravings. I don’t get that urge to have Hagen-Dazs like I use to or grab a Reese’s Cup in the check out line. I haven’t voluntarily purchased a pizza in ages.

    However, I have not been able to take off the weight or lower my bodyfat % at all, and that has me baffled.

    1. Jean

      I, too, struggle with the weight loss, but I’m completely satisfied in every other way. I would probably not lose weight on a calorie-restricted low fat diet either, so this is still the better option. Freedom from hunger rocks!

  11. Rae Ford

    Finding out about the LCHF diet has been a life changer. Before it, I was following the 6 week body makeover, in which its only merit is that it is a lot lower in carbs than other diets I have seen, but was also extremely low fat and low in protein. While on it, I lost a considerable amount of weight but other than being miserable, I started noticing memory and mental clarity problems and my hair started falling out. Fast forward to a LCHF diet and for the first time in my life, I went to bed not being hungry. My mood improved, My hair, skin, and nails improved. My knees no longer felt like they belonged to someone twice my age, and on top of all of that I was losing weight.

    Having gone through all that, it baffles me that this past week, two identical twin brother doctors who tried the LCHF and low fat diets said that a LCHF diet wasn’t sustainable! If it wasn’t sustainable, those pictures wouldn’t be up there. The one even admitted that he lost more weight but said that he felt sluggish both mentally and physically. I never had symptoms like that, quite the opposite.

    Yikes. If you’re losing hair on a diet, that’s not a good sign. (Going by your name, I’m assuming we’re not talking about male-pattern baldness.)

    1. Kristin

      Low fat, low protein, low carbs. What the heck is your body living on? Oh right. Hair, nails, etc. And it would have started eating your muscles and organs if you didn’t figure it out. Congratulations.

      I believe that’s called the “No Food Diet.”

      1. Rae Ford

        I was living on 8 oz of chicken, 1.5 cups of sweet potatoes, 2 cups of broccoli, 1 cup of raspberries, and 100 oz of water a day. I believe it came to just under 800 calories. Not enough to support the thick coarse hair my Nordic ancestors gave me and thus it thinned out. Thankfully its back to its full (impossible – as some people like to say) thickness.

    2. Susan

      If I remember correctly what I read on Dr. Briffa’s site about this experiment, the low carb twin was actually eating more of a low carb, high protein diet. No wonder he felt bad!

      1. Craig Rich

        Yep. I read the article and thought: “He’s not doing high fat at all. It was low-carb, high protein.” Not nearly as effective.

  12. Azurean

    “A piece of cake is no more appealing than a bowl of dirt.”

    While I do agree that LCHF makes it a lot easier to resist to sugary tentations (I can count on my hands the number of occasions I ate a non-fruit sugary product last year), let’s not go to the other extreme. We’re not vegans “disgusted” by meat, or wanting to persuade themselves that they are, and that they love lentils and soy.

    In your “Fat head” documentary, Dr Al Sears explained that all humans have cravings for salt, fat… and sugar. The last one will never disappear, even after a lifetime of low-carb.

    It really and truly has disappeared for me. I smell a donut or a piece of cake and find it slightly revolting.

    1. Firebird

      My sweet tasting needs are with beverages…protein shake, iced tea or hot tea. In the summer I make homemade 7UP by using lemon & lime juice + stevia in some seltzer water.

      Most of the food I eat satisfies my salt tooth.

    2. Steve

      Same for me Azurean. Because I’m low-carb, almost no wheat now, it is really easy for me to avoid cake, donuts, cookies, ice cream, and dessert. But, in no way do I find them disgusting. I would gladly eat them, and a lot of them, but I know what the result of that is so I don’t. I have had them a few times over the last several years, and when I do I usually binge for a weeks (usually around the holidays).

    3. K2

      You and me both, Tom! On occasion, mostly when I am too lazy to make something good and knowing the folks in my office love their sweets, I’ll make those break-n-bake cookies (dough sold in the refrigerated aisle) to take in for some office event. I used to L-O-V-E the smell of cookies baking, but now…I can’t stand it. It makes me almost nauseous. And I am not exaggerating that. The smell is just overwhelming. Hence, I have stopped making cookies and am now taking in hummus.

      I do still like some sweet tastes, like roasted yam, dark chocolate, and rarely some sweetener in my iced tea, but regular sweets truly do not appeal to me. No one is more surprised by that than me!! 🙂

      Also, I am not terribly low-carb (need some from yams, rice, winter squash to fuel my runs), BUT severely limiting my exposure to “sweet” over the years has indeed greatly lowered my tolerance threshold.

      Best to you all!


      I’m not disgusted by fruits or sweet potatoes or even desserts made with stevia. But I can smell the sugar-laden stuff and it turns me off.

    4. Dave

      I agree with you. I still love the taste of sweets, but I can much more easily satisfy it these days with things like 85%+ cocoa chocolate, which to the average person probably tastes very bitter.

      I am experimenting with doing a therapeutic fast. I got the idea from one of Jimmy Moore’s recent re-broadcast podcasts. So, as an experiment I fasted for about 60 hours last weekend. I’m not interested in fasting for weight loss so much as a possible cancer prevention therapy. By the end of the fast, I was having cravings for the kinds of carbage that I haven’t touched in a while. Once an addict, always an addict, eh?

      Fortunately, I finished off the fast with scrambled eggs and bacon. Carb cravings gone!! But I won’t kid myself. Over Christmas while visiting family, I made chocolate chip cookies (my Mom made me do it!), and they were so very delicious.

    5. vera

      perhaps your cravings for PROCESSED sugar has disappeared, but I daresay you still eat fruits and sweet vegetables. That is a source of sugars, just not unhealthy refined sugars

  13. Jesrad

    Back in April of 2008 when I replicated your McDonald’s stunt (though over 3 weeks only) and lost a little over 4 pounds, I noticed my appetite changed indeed. Subsequently when I switched to full blown low carb, I went through two phases: at first I would gorge on meat and veggies, to the amazement of my colleagues (I was eating twice as much as they did), and then as weight loss progressed my appetite changed again, it reduced a lot and I found myself skipping some meals for lack of hunger or feeling full after a fraction of what I’d use to eat.

    I went through a bit of a gorging phase at first too, but it didn’t last long. I think that was a case of new foods / old appetite.

  14. Tomáš Bleša

    I know from my own experience with high-carb diet that hunger is not a problem for me. I once lost significant weight with these two rules:
    1. Eat “only two slices of bread” in one meal.
    2. Next meal is allowed only if stomach rumbling
    Whenever I gained weight on high-carb, it was because of cravings. I eat long before I was really hungry and that’s because I got fat.
    What I like with LCHF is that it kills my cravings and I can easily postpone eating until hungry. To me this chemistry stuff is more about changing craving signals than changing hunger signals. Am I alone with this?

    I’d say it’s a bit of both.

  15. Richardson

    I saw the movie today for the first time. What a piece of crap. Why in the world would anyone for 1 second defend in any fashion, fast food or the processed food industry. You seem to have missed the entire point of Super Size me. This is just a stupid and potentially dangerous way to profit off what was a quality and influential documentary, by cratering to the millions of people who want to keep their heads in the sand. Watch all these movies…Fast Food Nation, Food INC etc. You little cute way of making a buck is actually playing right into the hands of the evil food empire. I would not doubt if they in some way aid you financially.

    “When your opponent in a debate is making a fool of himself, don’t interrupt.” So I’ll be quiet.

    1. Alex

      Blast it Tom! I can’t believe you left such a dangerous comment for everyone to read. This is the type of thing that needs to be moderated out. It caused me to spray hot coffee through my nose – do you know how dangerous that can be? I know you probably don’t care sitting there in your palace paid for by the “fast food or the processed food industry” but this is just unconscionable!

      Rant over – I’m off to have a cup of coffee and a Pall Mall and relax 🙂

      I apologize for the coffee spit-take. That would hurt.

    2. Dave

      Richardson, did you and I watch the same movie? I don’t recall any part in it where Tom defended the fast food industry. I will admit that back in the day when I first saw Super Size Me, I liked it. There was a time when I liked Forks Over Knives, but that’s besides the point. Two things: Spurlock withheld important information about his McDiet, and we don’t need more government intrusion into our personal choices of where and what we eat. Maybe you missed out on those major themes in Fat Head.

      If you take the time to find out what fellow Fat Heads really think about corporate food, you might see that we don’t keep our heads in the sand.

  16. Ulfric Douglas

    Rae : “Having gone through all that, it baffles me that this past week, two identical twin brother doctors who tried the LCHF and low fat diets said that a LCHF diet wasn’t sustainable! If it wasn’t sustainable, those pictures wouldn’t be up there. The one even admitted that he lost more weight but said that he felt sluggish both mentally and physically. I never had symptoms like that, quite the opposite.”
    It was a Horizon programme on British telly.
    Their diets were supposed to be HighSugar vs HighFat but neither actually was.
    It was quite strange, and conclusions were made from one week to four weeks later.
    kind of how NOT to do a comparative diet test.

  17. Paula

    Just had to throw my two cents in. I see that many people say they feel at least somewhat revolted at the sight or smell of sugary/carby things. For me, that has never happened. But here’s the thing…now that I eat LCHF I can see and smell these items without a sudden, overwhelming NEED to eat them. Do they still look/smell good to me? Sure. The difference now is that I understand just what they will do to my body (the blood sugar swings, the resulting, raging hunger, the intense lethargy that follows), and I don’t want to feel that way ever again so it is in no way a temptation to me any more. I’ve had several people remark to me about my “newfound willpower”. Yeah, well, “willpower” is a lot easier to come by when your stomach is full and content with bacon, eggs, meat, cheese, etc. I would call it a combination of character (saying no to begin with) and chemistry (the saying no leaves my body in a position to continue saying no).

  18. Laura S.

    I found the whole low carb/high fat diet to be a revelation. I always thought that I was weak-willed or self-sabotaging because I could lose weight for a while, but then I would go off the diet and gain everything back plus more. I also could not control myself around desserts – eating 3 donuts in one morning was not a problem. I was hungry too. All the time. I thought something was wrong with me, either psychologically or physically. There was something wrong with me, but not what I thought it was.

    Now, I have no interest in desserts and I can smell the sugar on baked goods from a distance. It arouses no desire in me to eat. Also, when I started eating low carb, I would dutifully eat my snacks until one day, I realized that I was not hungry for them and just stopped eating them. Now, I even skip some meals because I am not hungry and if I get held up in a meeting or something and I can’t eat at my normal time, I don’t have issues with being hypoglycemic. I am just fine.

    People do comment on my ‘great willpower’ and I don’t think they believe me when I tell them that I have no willpower and none is required when eating low carb. It really has been a revelation to me and I am still amazed every day.

  19. Laura

    I can tell you what Dr. McDougall (who advocates a starch-centered, no-added-fat, vegan diet) would say. He would say that low carb success is just MORE proof of weak character. Why? Because, in his words, “people love to hear good news about their bad habits”. The “bad habit” he’s talking about is a love of meat, cheese and fat. And the “good news” is that those foods are good for you and will make you thin and healthy if you eat more of them.

    (Please note that I do NOT endorse this opinion in any way. Just reporting what I’ve read on his site.)

    McDougall is what Moe, Larry and Curly would refer to as “an intelligent imbecile.”

    1. Boundless

      > McDougall is what Moe, Larry and Curly would refer to as …

      McD has lately authored a hit piece on Wheat Belly (Davis) and Grain Brain (Perlmutter), and someone linked to it on the Wheat Belly blog. Dr. Davis unlinked it, and called McD a “madman”. A few days later the blog was attacked and taken down. The madman’s minions? Random WordPress hack? No diagnosis so far.

      Backups were apparently inadequate, so 2 weeks worth of content is gone, including the thread containing the McD remark.

      I think a couple of other paleo/low-carb sites went down too. If this was a coordinated effort, my guess is vegan nut groups were at work.

    2. Bret

      McDougall would also say that his opinion is correct because he is a medical doctor, and that he cannot let someone like Tom or Jimmy Moore, mere bloggers (the horror!), give advice to people. And that is exactly what he told Jimmy Moore on a LLVLC podcast interview from a few months ago.

      The situation sounds strikingly similar to a speech somebody posted on YouTube recently, contrasting two phenomena called ‘the wisdom of crowds’ and ‘the vision of the anointed.’ If only I could remember who gave that speech…

      It’ll come to you.

      I was happy McDougall was so dismissive and rude to Jimmy. It showed him to the arrogant ass I already suspected he was. He didn’t help his cause a bit.

    1. SB

      If I were in that diet study, I’d hate to be in the low-fat group. 500-1000 calories per DAY!? That’s breakfast.

      FWIW my trigs were 49 after being on a LC diet for ~11 months. Never had a cholesterol check before so no idea whether that’s a change.

  20. E

    Denounce Jimmy Moore and then we’ll talk, Tom. Give CarbSane equal time!

    First you have to fly over my farm on a smoking broom and write “Surrender Dorothy” in the sky.

  21. Jean Bush

    I know this is an old article, Tom, but I like re-reading it (and other posts) but wanted to ask you, I grew up in the 50s on the “basic 4 food groups” and was never fat, but skinny and active like all my friends.

    I noticed in my research that Americans didn’t start gaining weight until the Food Pyramid was introduced in 1992 with it’s grain based bottom. I think that’s what did it. I do know that most people are hungrier on a carb based diet then a more balanced one.

    I did try the LC for 3 weeks and didn’t lose an electron. But being 65, lack of sleep and colon surgery probly put the brakes on it for me.


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