Random thoughts that don’t belong in a From The News post:

Safe Starches Didn’t Cause Weight Gain

When I wrote a series of posts explaining why I was moving more towards a Perfect Health Diet, I said I’d report back if I gained or lost weight as a result.  I haven’t gained or lost, so I’ll report that instead.

I was at 198 lbs. when I started adding some safe starches back into my diet some months ago.  I was at 198 lbs. when I went to the gym last week.  So while I know from experience that keeping my carb intake at or below 100 grams per day level prevents me from gaining weight and makes it easier to lose weight, it’s simply not true (at least in my case) that the fewer carbohydrates we eat, the leaner we will be.  Below a certain level, there are no additional benefits for me that I can see or feel.

I don’t consume 100 grams of safe starches every day, by the way.  Some days are almost zero-carb because I just happen to have a taste for meats and vegetables.  Sometimes I have a potato with breakfast or dinner, sometimes I don’t.  Other days I’ll end up having a potato with lunch and another one with dinner.

Tonight’s dinner was two cheeseburger patties (from a grass-fed cow), broccoli with butter, and a medium potato with butter and sour cream.  My glucose peaked at 130.  Not bad.  Potatoes are on my menu, but rice isn’t.  I’ve found that it doesn’t take much rice to push my glucose over 200. Since I find rice basically tasteless, that’s not a good tradeoff.

Exercise Didn’t Cause Weight Loss

When Dr. Mike Eades told me during the making of Fat Head that exercises like walking, aerobic dancing, etc., don’t induce weight loss, I couldn’t believe it.  He sent me links to some research to overcome my resistance.  I’ve since read quite a bit more on the subject.  Yes, we’d all like to believe an hour on the treadmill helps burn away the fat – because by gosh, it just feels like that kind of effort should be rewarded – but it simply isn’t the case.

Here’s a recent example: when I weighed myself at the gym before Jimmy Moore’s recent visit, I was at (surprise) 198 lbs.  During his visit, we walked 27 miles in six days.  (I consumed my normal diet that week, by the way.)  I went to the gym the Sunday after he left and found that I weighed … wait for it … 198 lbs.   All that walking, no change whatsoever.

I still can’t believe all the hours I wasted on a treadmill back in the day …

Comedians With Asperger’s

Since I’ve been both a comedian and an indie filmmaker, some young comedians sent me information about a documentary they’re producing – which I found intriguing because all four of them have Asperger’s.  Here’s the trailer:

They’re asking for donations to cover post-production costs.  (Yeah, I know all about those costs.)  I just made a donation.  Please consider doing likewise by visiting their IndieGoGo page.

Wow, that’s a lot of eyeballs

Speaking of indie films, when Fat Head was released in 2009, one of the clips I put on YouTube was an edited version of the section titled Why You Got Fat.  I haven’t checked the stats in a long time.  Take a look:

Nice.  Very nice.

Chicken-Killer Stew Part Duex?

What was once Sara’s flock of 25 chickens is now a flock of 20.  The raccoon that ended up in our stew pot killed four of them.  Something else nabbed another one last night.  Chareva noticed the tarp over the top of the hoop-house had been ripped open, apparently so some critter (most likely another raccoon) could grab a chicken and pull it out between the bars.

So she spent a good chunk of the afternoon covering the hoop-house with wire mesh.  I did my part by re-baiting my raccoon trap.

Come on, Rocky Raccoon, I double-dog dare you …

62 Responses to “Odds & Ends”
  1. Tom! Those hours on the treadmill weren’t wasted at all! Exercise like that is good for the gut and the mind.

    Funny, I have come to the exact same conclusions as you in regards to eating and exercising. I find my weight is very stable. When I want to drop a few pounds, I do 4-5 days of a potato-only diet. Works like a charm, I’ll drop 3-5 pounds every time and it stays off unlike the weight you can lose fasting for a day or two.

    I’ve also evolved into an ‘eat what feels right’ kinda guy. Today was some moose I cooked in the crock-pot while I was at work and a humongous bowl of collard greens, no butter, no oils at all. For lunch I had some fresh pineapple. Other days I’ll eat a big pile of potatoes, beans, or (rarely) rice. I don’t count carbs, but I’d bet I average 100g/day throughout any given week.

    I’m still doing the potato starch. Some days mixed in yogurt, some days mixed in water. If I miss a couple days, no big deal, but a week off and I notice it in the ‘TMI’ department.

    Have you gotten on the corn yet? Try the stuff sold as Masa Harina…it’s nixtamalized and ground the way they ate it back in the good old days when corn was fueling empires. Makes awesome corn fritters and tortillas. Plus I can’t pass up fresh sweet corn dredged in butter. Beans, corn, and squash were the starches of the Americas for thousands of years…paleo enough for me!

    Have fun!

    • Tom Naughton says:

      So far it’s just been potatoes and the occasional slice of Udi’s toasted for me.

      The time on the treadmill might not have been a total waste, but it sure didn’t have the effect I wanted.

  2. Erica says:

    I’ve been eating resistant starch for the past couple of months, too. No weight gain. Well, I gained about 3-5 pounds, and then they fell off again. And yes, I really could stand to lose about 50 more, but the point is, resistant starch in the form of potatoes, green bananas, plantains, and par-boiled rice hasn’t made me fatter. I feel pretty good, too.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Same happened here. I gained a few pounds at first, but lost them just as quickly. Adjustment period, I guess.

    • gallier2 says:

      The quick weight gain you experience when (re)consuming starch after a period of VLC is water fixation in glycogen. For each glucose molecule stored in the glycogen 14 molecule of water are necessary.
      When you were eating the standard diet before dieting, your glycogen was always full and any carbs eaten would enable maximum fat storage. When you start a vlc diet or you had intensive exercise (intensive in the sense of “the guy lost 5 pound of water during the game”), the glycogen is quickly depleted , you lose a lot of water at the beginning. The glycogen store can again work as buffer. There is still one function of glycogen that is rarely acknowledged but that I think is essential, it is the only way to transform fructose in glucose. Fructose is ten time as toxic as glucose, when you ingest a lot of fructose, it is absorbed in the glycogen store where it will be changed to glucose. If the stores are full there is only one solution to get rid of it, it’s by making triglyceride from it.

    • Bret says:

      I feel pretty good, too.

      Same here. I had been pretty committed VLC for about a year prior to getting back into starch recently. Back then, breakfast for me was coffee, eggs, bacon, a small handful of berries, and once in a while some avocado or full-fat yogurt. Lunch liver, onions, cheese, and sometimes some sour cream, with leftover non-starchy vegetables. Dinner a meat dish, salad, and another non-starchy vegetable.

      Problem was, I wasn’t concentrating so great at work, and I felt a bit deprived of energy. Three to five lbs also crept back onto my frame, even though the hypothesis I took as gospel said that was more or less impossible.

      Now, with starch as a regular portion of my diet, including RS, those three to five lbs went away again, my body composition looks better in the mirror, and my concentration problems vanished in the blink of an eye.

      Maybe it’s just the power of suggestion, but I sincerely doubt it.

      • Bret says:

        Oops, forgot to mention that energy levels returned to normal (and then some) as well.

        Potential confounding variable disclosure: at the same time, I have been doing sprints about once to twice a week. Can’t say for sure which is making the difference, if not both.

        On that note, a ramble, if you will… I am starting to realize just how sloppy my own self-experimentation has been on this stuff, and it makes me appreciate the scientific quandaries that dietary researchers (of all flavors) face. It is so easy to get excited over new things that I read, and I want to implement all of them right now!

        I can totally see how we LC followers got ourselves into such a confusing controversy over this starch business. In rejecting the mainstream wisdom, we did not change one variable; we changed a ton! Elimination of processed ω-6 PUFA oils, elimination of sucrose & HFCS, elimination of grains, major reduction of starch, increase in unprocessed fat, increase in food quality overall (with awareness of grass-fed, pasteurization/homogenization, oganics), and (for many) increase in vegetables–altogether that is, to be precise, a crap ton. And we didn’t have rigorous scientific data to inform us that all of those changes were making the difference. And yet we convinced ourselves somehow or another that each of those inputs was (a) making a difference period, (b) churning out juice worth the squeeze, and (c) leading to no unintended consequences that might negate the positive effects.

        But I wouldn’t take any of it back. Our experiments, flawed as they may have been, gave us an excellent opportunity to learn science and to learn humility, and I suspect we would be less wise on both counts had we taken a different course.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          Exactly, and that’s a point I raised during the debates sparked by my series on resistant starch and safe starches. We go low-carb and see all these ailments disappear, and take it as proof that carbs caused those ailments. But as you mentioned, going low-carb means (usually) giving up sugar, wheat, processed vegetable oils, etc. It could be that wheat or sugar or vegetable oils were the problem, not a bit of starch from potatoes or rice.

  3. Torgo says:

    Tom, curious about the reference to Asperger’s — are you on the spectrum as well, or is it just incidental.
    I swear mine has ramped up in the 6 years I’ve been lo-carb, but I of course realize that correlation is not causation. Always watching out for people in similar situations in order to compare notes.

  4. Bruce says:

    Pretty soon you’ll have as many recipes for raccoon as Bubba had for shrimp

  5. Nathaniel says:

    I’ve had similar problems with raccoons and my chickens. For bait, my father-in-law suggested marshmallows. I caught 4 in a 2 week period, so, if you want to try something different, a few jumbo marshmallows are cheap and not really fit for human consumption anyway.

  6. tony says:

    Tom, 198 lb. and 34 inch waist? You look like an NFL defensive back. Keep up the good work!

  7. Julie D says:

    I’m happy to hear that adding RS to your diet hasn’t made you gain any weight, Tom! I wanted to stop by and let you know that your courage has totally changed the way my hubby and I eat (again! You got us into low carb in the first place!). After you very bravely said that you were wrong about RS, we started trying it out for ourselves. It took us a couple of weeks to adjust, but pretty soon we were feeling amazing. Happy like you wouldn’t believe, full of energy; actually, it was like when we went from the SAD diet to a low carb diet. It’s just that after a couple of years on a low carb diet, we weren’t feeling as amazing anymore. And no matter how hard I tried low carbing, I couldn’t lose the weight I’d put on through the winter.

    In my research about RS, I ran across the Weston A. Price Foundation. Their message really resonated with me. I read through Weston Price’s book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, and decided to pick up Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions. We’ve started lacto-fermenting vegetables, eating a lot more organs, started eating almost exclusively organic foods and as much local as possible, found a source of raw milk, and we’ve even been experimenting with traditionally soured bread. When I eat conventional wheat bread, my heart starts pounding, I get all flushed and uncomfortable, and my IBS symptoms return. But soured spelt bread doesn’t do that to me, and in fact I think it’s adding to my good mood and high energy that this diet is giving me.

    The coolest thing about this (maybe this happens whenever you change your diet and has nothing to do with the food you’re eating) is that even though my carb intake is higher (100-150g a day) than it was on a low carb diet, I’m actually losing weight. Even with the soured bread, and lots of milk, and potatoes and rice.

    I think this just goes to show that we all need to keep researching, keep experimenting, to help us find what’s right for our bodies right now; but most importantly, eat nutrient dense foods.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Absolutely, we should never decide we’ve got it all figured out. It’s an ongoing process of learning.

  8. Firebird says:

    All that walking on the treadmill caused me bodyweight to go down and bodyfat to go up! I lost a lot of muscle strength, too.

  9. Brian says:


    I often agree with your blog posts, typically because they are founded on decent research. The bit about exercise, however, is an anecdotal experience and seems to align with what you often fight against, scientific ignorance. Did your fluid consumption change? Did your food composition vary at all? Is walking 27 miles in 6 days enough stress to induce physiological changes? Was the walking done with significant effort? Are you an active person? Are you aware that exercise induces metabolic changes that increase insulin sensitivity (a good thing for weight loss) and that walking may be enough exercise to induce such changes in untrained or inactive people?

    I could say that performing 30 minutes of interval training (each workout involves lifting a total volume of around 6 to 7 tons) four times in two weeks is enough for me to lose 4 pounds while I am eating more (or maybe less…my normal diet..but the amounts of food may vary..I don’t know because I don’t measure out my food…do you?). What you wouldn’t know is that I am a competitive strength athlete and that type of exercise is very different from my typical routine. I can even lose weight without changing my diet and exercising less (But I won’t mention the changes in my fluid consumption).

    While I agree with you and the research that walking on a treadmill is a poor way, if not impossible way, for most active people to lose weight, it may be the best option for an obese, untrained individual. Vague anecdotes help no one.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      It’s not based on vague anecdotes. My anecdote is an example supporting the research on the subject. Walking just doesn’t induce weight loss for most people. The type of exercise most likely to induce those metabolic changes you mentioned is resistance training or another form of intense exercise.

      The people who push walking and aerobic dancing for weight loss aren’t talking about physiological changes, either. They talk about burning calories. Get on the treadmill and burn off some fat, by gosh.

      • Erica says:

        What I notice with walking is that it increases my stamina and makes me stronger than sitting on my butt (my actual favorite activity). I have been walking to and from work at Walgreens for a year, now, and then standing and moving a lot during work. I have lost no weight at all, but I feel better and have more stamina.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          I’m not at all opposed to walking. Exercise is good for overall health. I used to walk for miles at night and listen to books, even though I knew it wasn’t inducing weight loss.

    • Bret says:

      While I agree with you and the research that walking on a treadmill is a poor way, if not impossible way, for most active people to lose weight, it may be the best option for an obese, untrained individual. Vague anecdotes help no one.

      Uh-huh. And if Tom had posted an anecdote (“vague” or otherwise) about how exercise helped him lose weight, I very much doubt you would be making the same complaint. It’s not the anecdote that bothers you; it is the information contradicting your own belief.

      Chill out already. Different people have different experiences with the same thing, and we don’t need to pretend otherwise. That is the beauty of anecdotes. Someone can share an experience that might not match your own, but they are not forcing you to (a) do the same thing, or (b) adopt the same belief.

  10. Josh says:

    So! 100 grams of safe starch carbs eaten not everyday! Obviously, you are a dangerous radical!

    Personally, I have found that I can consume 60-100 g of carbs a day (safe and not so safe) and not gain weight, as long as they are not made up of sugary foods. But, potatoes, starchy veggies and yes, even the evil grains, don’t seem to cause weight gain for me if kept in the 60-100 grams a day range. Your milage may vary.

  11. Heather D says:

    Does exercise have a beneficial effect on blood sugar levels? I was told by a diabetes educator (whose dietary advice I ignored since she recommended over 150 grams of carbs a day) that it lowered blood sugar levels if a person did some gentle walking after a meal. In fact, I believe she said to “stay active” for 15 minutes after a meal.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Intense exercise — the type that burns through your muscle glycogen quickly — can increase insulin sensitivity, which in turn will lower your glucose level generally. However, it’s common to have higher glucose levels for a brief period immediately after exercise, as your body tries to pump out the fuel the exercise requires.

      • Erica says:

        I have noticed a reduction in blood glucose if I walk for 20 minutes when it’s high. Not super fast, but more than a stroll.

    • Pierson says:

      Heather, it is absolutely true that walking for 15-30 minutes after a meal is good for your blood sugar. There’s some research on it, and it does seem to be an effective treatment for mild metabolic stress. I’ve noticed that it has good effects on my occasional high blood sugar, so take that as you will

  12. Stephen says:


    If I remember from your movie, you’ve never been seriously overweight, right? Wish I could say that about myself 🙁

    So all your self-experiments are in a 5kg weight range?

  13. Sally says:

    I gained 6 pounds on PHD, which if you read one of the later chapters on women of a certain age, can happen.

    I kept the potatoes and ditched the rice. And started fasting (5;2). That’s five off and two on fast days each week. Lost the 6 pounds.

  14. Andy Lopez says:

    If you find rice tasteless you’re not putting enough butter in it, shoot for a quarter to a half a stick per cup of white rice, and avoid brown rice as its basically tasteless unless you put enough butter in it, so shoot for a quarter to half a stick per cup.

  15. TMA says:

    If only a small amount of rice pushes your glucose over 200, that means you would likely be classified as diabetic on a typical glucose tolerance test, where 200 is the threshold for diabetes. Out of curiosity what are your fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c like?

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Fasting glucose is usually around 90. Haven’t checked the A1c.

      Rice seems to have a disproportionate effect on me.

      • TMA says:

        I suppose it’s possible that you are unusually sensitive to rice, to the degree that a small amount pushes you over 200 but otherwise your glucose levels are normal. As you may know, a standard oral glucose tolerance test requires you to drink 75 grams of glucose as the provocation, and a glucose over 200 is diagnostic of diabetes. I think it would be surprising if 75 grams of liquid glucose had less of an effect on you than a small amount of rice, but I guess everyone’s different and anything’s possible.

        Actually come to think of it, ANY random glucose > 200 is considered consistent with diabetes based on ADA guidelines (I know how highly you think of them), though it would generally need to be confirmed with another test. I might look into the HbA1c if I were you just to be sure.

      • Boundless says:

        > Haven’t checked the A1c.

        You can get home test kits for this. Some things you need to know:

        Bayer exited this business in the recent past. Their former “A1C Now” testers are now manufactured and sold by Chek Diagnostics. Any Bayer kits still on the market are likely to be both cheap and entirely expired, and with many Amazon sellers, for example, it’s hard to tell what you’ll get (and what recourse you’ll have, based on the complaints I see).

        Don’t know about other brands, but the A1C Now testers are matched to the consumables, and ALL of it expires at the same time (at least a year out).

        You can get kits with 2 sets of consumables, or 20, perhaps others. Choose thoughtfully. We ordered 20, so we can make several checks over time.

        Shelf life is extended with refrigeration. The product is not shipped refrigerated, however (at least ours wasn’t).

        BG and HbA1c either matter, or they don’t. Until we have more knowledge on mitigating factors, I’m assuming they do, and aiming to keep the BG at or below 90 fasting, 100 postprandial and HbA1c at or below 5%.

  16. Kathy from Maine says:

    A couple comments. (By the way, my RSS feed is working again, go figure!)

    I have a special-needs sister who is confined to a wheelchair and lives in a group home in another state. She’s been diagnosed as diabetic and is on a low-sugar diet (meaning the staff limits her intake of cookies and ice cream and all foods containing fat, but not orange juice, cereal, bread, fruit, etc.). She has been steadily gaining weight. She’s 5’2″ and around 220 pounds. When I talk to the staff about her weight gain they say it’s because she’s in a wheelchair and doesn’t exercise. It can’t be the doctor-prescribed low-fat diet, because everyone knows a low-fat/high-carb diet will cure diabetes and make you thin and healthy (not!).

    What I don’t understand about their way of thinking is that they (the staff) are all very obese, and yet their jobs are VERY active … lots of heavy lifting of the residents, lots of running around. Why aren’t they skinny? Why is it that their activity level seems to have nothing to do with their weight, and yet if my sister could/would only exercise a bit, the weight would come off?

    As for the raccoons or whatever it is that is eating the chickens at night, have you thought about getting a wildlife camera? It’s not for deterrence, but if you could see what the animal is and how it’s getting into the coop, it might help you remedy the problem. Granted, you might not want to watch video of something devouring your chickens, but it would be interesting nonetheless. My husband got me a wildlife camera last Christmas that we put near the house, trained on a tree hung with bird feeders. So far we’ve seen deer (of course), lots of raccoons, coyotes, and fox. We’re still waiting to see moose and bear. We know they’re around, just haven’t gotten pictures of them yet.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I can almost guarantee that the obese people on the medical staff are telling themselves they need to spend more time at the gym.

      We have a trail camera. I set it up again after the latest chicken-killing incident. Nothing on it so far.

      • Walter Bushell says:

        I’ve seen many, very obese men doing heavy manual labor, not to mention American Football linemen. Then there are the Pima Indians with their heavy labor and low fat diets.

        It’s just outrageous that this idea has persisted.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          Our movers lifted 15,000 pounds down at least one, sometimes two flights of stairs in California, then did it again in reverse in Tennessee. They do this all the time. And two of them were very fat — strong as apes, but very fat.

  17. Randy says:

    I remember Dr. Robert Lustig said the same thing years ago about exercise and fat loss–

    Lustig: http://tinyurl.com/qd8f48x

    For me….High carbs including fructose/sugar causes weight gain, high carb without fructose/sugar/wheat (e.g. starch/milk etc) no change. Low-carb causes weight loss.

  18. Bob Geary says:

    When I read Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet, I was intrigued; I can’t say for sure how much of that was genuine scientific interest and how much was the desire to eat potatoes again, but both were certainly involved. And once Tom got on board with the Resistant Starch idea, I had to try it.

    But my mileage, unfortunately, varied a LOT, and I gained weight. My weight usually hovers between 240 and 245 (at 6’2), and 250 is that psychological panic point of OMG I’M FAT. But after a couple months of baked-then-cooled-then-warmed potatoes and rice, I had blown past 250 and was getting dangerously close to 260, which would be the heaviest I had ever been in my life. I abandoned the experiment (and – SOB! – the potatoes).

    I’ve never felt any of the effects that Jaminet describes as a result of “glucose deficiency,” so there was no pressing health concern causing me to try adding (resistant) starch – just my preference for rice and potatoes as side dishes, compared to spinach and asparagus.

    I dropped the potatoes and rice about three weeks ago, and I’m back down under 250 (whew). I’ll probably give it another shot when (if?) I’m at a more-optimal weight, as that might be one indicator (among many, I realize) that my metabolism is firing on all cylinders – but for now, sadly, the only “white” food for me is cauliflower.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      That’s why I think this is all about individual tolerances. Some people apparently need a bit starch, some people need to avoid starch, and I suspect most people are somewhere in the middle.

  19. Eddie says:

    Your body fat percentage must be really low to begin with. With all that lean muscle there is probably no more weight to lose. Although I must agree that exercising hasn’t sped up any weight loss for me. Can’t deny the increased energy though.

  20. Allyson says:

    I don’t have the slightest clue what the hell you’re talking about in Chicken-Killer Stew Part Duex, but I appreciate it so much more because of that. That’s some well-written nonsense, man.

    That Asperger’s Are Us video is absolutely hilarious. I laughed until I cried at the bit about inviting aliens.

    That’s all. You rock at this whole humanity gig.

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