Review: Keto Clarity

      51 Comments on Review: Keto Clarity

I’d planned to review Keto Clarity, Jimmy Moore’s new book, last week.  But as you know, I was distracted by some videos and posts featuring really stupid fat-shaming and other forms of b.s., so I decided to deal with those instead.

As I’ve mentioned several times recently, I’m not on a ketogenic diet and don’t aim for ketosis.  I’ve done enough experimenting to know which diet gives me the best combination of energy, strength and weight control, and it’s not ketogenic.  I’m on a low-carb diet (usually below 100 grams per day), but I don’t restrict protein or carbs enough to stay in ketosis.

For reasons I explained in a previous post, I don’t believe a ketogenic diet was the default diet of our paleo ancestors, and therefore I don’t buy the notion that anyone who doesn’t thrive on a ketogenic diet is suffering from a metabolic defect that needs to be fixed.  There’s simply no evolutionary reason we should all be genetically geared to feel fabulous on a diet that few if any of our ancestors consumed.

But I also don’t buy the argument that since our paleo ancestors didn’t live on ketogenic diets, a ketogenic diet must automatically be ineffective or even dangerous.  Our paleo ancestors didn’t drink whey protein shakes either, but those shakes are certainly beneficial for people who lift weights to build muscle.  A ketogenic diet, like a diet supplemented with whey protein, is intended to be therapeutic – i.e., it’s supposed to help you accomplish a particular goal.

Obviously, one of those goals is weight loss.  That was the main motivation for Jimmy to adopt a ketogenic diet, and considering that he lost 80 pounds in a year, I’d say it’s working.  I also suspect that most people who buy Keto Clarity are interested in weight loss.  And the scientific literature shows that ketogenic diets are indeed a good tool for weight loss – not for everyone, of course, but for many, many people.

One of the silliest arguments I’ve heard dismissing ketogenic diets goes something like this:

Well, sure, people lose weight on a ketogenic diet.  But it’s only because people in ketosis end up eating less.

That almost sounds like an explanation, but it isn’t.  Imagine having this conversation:

“My brother-in-law used to be an alcoholic, but not anymore.  Now he drinks normally.”

“If he used to be an alcoholic, why isn’t he an alcoholic now?”

“Because he doesn’t drink as much.”

That’s not an explanation; it’s simply a restatement of a result.   If someone craves alcohol to the point where he drinks so much that it’s screwing up his life and his health, but then starts feeling satisfied on a drink or two, wouldn’t we want to know why?  Wouldn’t that suggest a dramatic and positive change in his brain chemistry?

I’d say the same thing about ketogenic diets.  If an obese guy loses significant weight and keeps it off for the first time after adopting a ketogenic diet, it’s obvious to anyone with a functioning brain that he ended up consuming less energy than he expended during the weight loss.  But that’s not the explanation; that’s the result.  Wouldn’t that result indicate that something rather positive changed in his metabolism?

Well, uh, the ketogenic diet is satiating, you see.

Uh-huh … which is as much of an explanation as He stopped drinking too much because he’s satisfied on less alcohol now, you see.

So without (I hope) re-igniting a debate about who should or shouldn’t try a ketogenic diet, I’m reviewing Keto Clarity for what it is: a guidebook for people who want to try a ketogenic diet, either for weight loss or some other reason.

The book begins by explaining what ketosis is and the difference between a truly ketogenic diet and a low-carb diet – an important distinction because, as Jimmy learned after his weight crept back over 300 pounds, it’s entirely possible to be on a low-carb diet or even a very low-carb diet without being in ketosis.  (That would be the case with me.  I drift in and out of ketosis, according to my meter.)

The next couple of chapters are the here’s how to do it guidelines:  how to determine the mix of fat, protein and carbohydrate that will produce what Dr. Jeff Volek and others call nutritional ketosis.  The required ratios, as Jimmy explains, will vary from person to person, but the most important lesson here is:  don’t make the mistake of thinking that if a low-carb diet is good, a diet low in both carbohydrates and fat is even better.  You have to get your energy from something besides protein.

I can attest to that one.  When I first tried a low-carb diet in the 1980s, I still believed in the low-fat nonsense.  I didn’t read a book on the Atkins diet or any other low-carb diet (my bad) and tried to get by on skinless chicken breasts, turkey ham, egg whites and green vegetables.  After a week of feeling half-awake and lethargic, I gave up.  Whoops.

Anyway, as Jimmy explains in Keto Clarity, it’s the fat in a ketogenic diet that keeps your energy up and appetite down.   But of course, the fats have to be the right fats.  As the book explains:

Saturated fats, like those in butter, coconut oil and red meat, and monounsaturated fats, such as those found in avocadoes, olive oil and macadamia nuts, are basically safe for consumption in terms of your health.  They don’t raise your blood sugar, and they don’t cause any harm when eaten to satiety.  In fact, they are quite beneficial: they are anti-inflammatory, raise HDL, help you feel full and – most important for our purposes – they help you create ketones.  Compare this to the polyunsaturated fats found in vegetable oils, which increase systemic inflammation and linked to multiple health problems, despite the fact that they are heavily touted as the healthy oils we should all be consuming.

And let’s be honest:  butter, sour cream, coconut oil, avocadoes and egg yolks are freakin’ delicious.  If you’re going to change up your diet, it certainly helps if your taste buds don’t feel punished.

In a subsequent chapter, Jimmy explains how to use a blood ketone meter to check your ketone levels.  And yes, if you’re going to try a ketogenic diet, you should invest in one of those meters.  The urine ketone strips Dr. Atkins recommended back in the day were all that were available, so that’s what ketogenic dieters used.  But once you become keto-adapted and are relying more and more on ketones for fuel, fewer ketones are excreted in the urine, even if your blood ketones are still high.

One of the advantages I’ve found of a low-carb diet (ketogenic or not) is that I can go for hours and hours without eating – unlike back in my high-carb days, when skipping meals would give me the shakes.  In a chapter on fasting — which many people consider the other “f” word, according to Jimmy – he explains that there are health benefits to intermittent fasting.  (Paul Jaminet makes the same point in his Perfect Health Diet book.)  One advantage of a ketogenic diet is that it allows many people who previously couldn’t stand the thought of going 16 hours or more without a meal to do so easily.  But, Jimmy cautions, you need to listen to your body.  If you’re really and truly hungry, as opposed to experiencing a stomach gurgle, you need to eat something.

Good point.  I don’t think starving yourself ever works out in the long run.

As I mentioned above, I don’t believe everyone will feel his or her best in a constant state of ketosis.  So in chapter titled Keto FAQ, I was pleased to see this comment from Bryan Barksdale, one of the experts Jimmy quotes liberally throughout the book:

I believe a well-designed ketogenic diet can overcome a lot of the negative effects people experience while eating a low-carb, high-fat diet.  One such strategy some people may want to use is cycling in and out the various macronutrients, just as would have happened naturally in an ancestral diet.

Jimmy then writes that some people shed more fat if they cycle in and out of ketosis, although cycling may not be appropriate for everyone.

Again, test it for yourself and see how it works for you … If cycling in and out of ketosis gives you the results you desire, then go for it.

My sentiments exactly.  Jimmy is obviously quite enthusiastic about the benefits he and the people whose personal stories he quotes in the book have experienced, but he doesn’t argue that everyone should be in ketosis all the time – despite what some internet cowboys will tell you.

He also doesn’t claim that being in nutritional ketosis automatically translates to weight loss.  When you burn fat for fuel, you create ketones.  That fat can come from your diet or your adipose tissue.   If you consume all the fuel you need in a day, your body has no reason to tap its reserves.  What a ketogenic diet accomplishes for many people is put their bodies into a fat-burning mode where it’s easier to tap those reserves – which makes it easier to eat less.  That’s the point.  There’s no magic involved that causes calories to vanish into thin air.

In one of the last chapters, Jimmy lists a number of diseases and conditions that have been successfully treated or may eventually be treated with ketogenic diets (some of the research is in its early stages), including epilepsy, diabetes, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, some cancers, fibromyalgia, autism and Alzheimer’s.

The emerging research is another reason that while I don’t buy into the “everyone should be in ketosis all the time” argument, I also don’t buy the “ketosis will ruin your health” argument.  That argument reminds me too much of this one:

Sure, your low-carb diet might help you lose a lot of weight, raise your HDL, and lower your blood sugar, blood pressure and triglycerides … but it will give you a heart attack.

I just don’t think our bodies are that stupid. I don’t believe we improve a gazillion health markers while we’re killing ourselves.

Given what we’re learning about the gut microbiome, the one real concern I’d have about going on a ketogenic diet would be depleting the healthy gut bacteria – but the problem there is a lack of fiber, not ketosis per se.  So as I’ve mentioned before, if I were aiming for ketosis, I’d be sure to include a lot of fibrous plants in my diet and supplement with some form of resistant starch – which doesn’t kick most people out of ketosis.

The final chapters of Keto Clarity include a shopping list and a bunch of recipes contributed by readers and friends of Jimmy’s.  Some of the recipes look pretty good and I plan to try them.  I don’t aim for ketosis, but I certainly don’t avoid delicious high-fat foods, either.

Jimmy is a gifted writer, and everything in the book is explained clearly and as simply as possible, with some humor sprinkled in for good measure.  If a ketogenic diet is something you plan to try – or are already doing but need more guidance – this is the book for you.

PROGRAMMING NOTE (so to speak):  I need to step away from blogging for awhile so I can focus on that book and DVD companion Chareva and I have been planning.  Ideally, we’ll be ready to release both by the time the low-carb cruise rolls around in May.  She’ll need to produce a ton of cartoon characters and other artwork, so I promised her I’d have a draft ready by Oct 1st.  (She’s talented, mind you, but she can’t draw scenes I haven’t written yet.)  With full-time programming work, kids, the farm, blogging, etc., I’m behind on my writing schedule.  If I don’t give myself some focused writing time, I’ll miss my deadline.  That’s the bad news.

The good news is that The Older Brother agreed to sit in the Fat Head chair until I get caught up.  I enjoy reading his posts and consider them a nice change of pace.  I’ll answer comments on my own posts, but otherwise the blog is all his for awhile.

Man, it’s nice to have a reliable guest host …


51 thoughts on “Review: Keto Clarity

  1. js290

    You can use the same argument about the gut biome. A therapeutic diet that restores/preserves health isn’t also going to cause unhealthy problems in the gut. The entire system is coupled.

    I kind of see the gut biome like CO2 is to climate change. They’re effects, not causes. They’re going to have to associate other relevant health markers (not the usual cholesterol BS) with the gut from many different types of people. It’ll be interesting to see the similarities and differences.

    The therapeutic effects of the ketogenic diet really affirms Nature’s optimization on a superior fuel. Natural selection dictates that Nature would not be wasteful.

  2. Pete

    Those searching for a review of Jimmy’s book may end up here without knowing anything about Fat Head. Do you not think it appropriate to disclose up front that Mr Moore is a personal friend of yours so they can decide if it has any bearing on the review?

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      If people read my review and then read the book, they can decide for themselves if the review is accurate. If they decide it’s not accurate, they’ll stop trusting my reviews.

      1. Pete

        That’s an interesting way of looking at things. I was unaware this is the kinda stuff they teach at journalism school in the US. Do you apply this same logic to researchers and potential conflicts of interest? I presume disclosure is of no interest to you, especially if you have a feeling that you can trust them?

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          One, this isn’t a newspaper. It’s a blog, and it’s quite clear that I’m opinionated. It’s also quite clear to any regular reader that Jimmy and I are friends. I’m not really concerned about somehow misleading someone who doesn’t know we’re friends, because my review of Keto Clarity would have been the same even I’d never met Jimmy.

          Two, I judge reviewers by how well their reviews end up matching my opinions of the works they review, not by what they do or don’t tell me about their personal acquaintances. Like I said before, if people who read the book don’t believe my review was accurate or fair, they are free to stop paying attention to my reviews.

          Three, the comparison between reviewers and researchers is just plain silly. Reviews are opinions. They’re SUPPOSED to be opinions. That’s why one reviewer will give a movie one star and another will give it four stars. Neither is wrong. They just had different opinions. Researchers are supposed to deal in data and facts. They’re not supposed to let their opinions color what they report about those facts. See the difference?

          Four, do you SERIOUSLY believe reviewers in newspapers and other media go out of their way to reveal a “conflict of interest” if they happen to be friends with the creators of the works they review? Roger Ebert and Michael Moore were buddies. If you can find any Ebert reviews of Michael Moore’s movies where he explained that their friendship might bias his review, be sure to send a link.

          1. Pete

            Thanks for the reply, although I’m not sure why you chose to deliver it in the manner of a PowerPoint presentation, poking your rhetorical finger into my shoulder, point. by. point. Rather than engaging in an unnecessarily detailed rebuttal, I’ll simply say that ethics are a valuable currency in whatever field one operates, be it publishing, journalism or science. I think you missed an opportunity in this instance to reinforce your credibility with full disclosure. Unfortunately, because of this bizarre defence you have chosen to mount, I now have reason to question your standards, which is a shame because, heretofore, I have greatly appreciated your contribution to the debate. (And, oh, the “But Roger Did It Too” defence is something I’d be disappointed at my seven year old trying to pull.)

            1. Tom Naughton Post author

              The “Roger did it too” defense was to demonstrate that no, it’s not the journalistic standard to disclose a supposed conflict of interest every time you review a work created by someone you know or write an opinion piece. (Ebert was just one example.) It’s no more the standard than to disclose that you personally don’t like the creator of the work.

              Like I said, anyone who reads this blog knows Jimmy and I are friends. But if you’re concerned about my ethical standards, take another look at the review.

              I started by saying I’m not on a ketogenic diet and don’t believe it’s the default human diet or best for everyone. That’s not exactly a statement I’d make if my goal were to push Jimmy’s book instead of review it. I could have just skipped that point, but didn’t.

              Then I briefly summarized what’s covered in the book.

              Then I finished by saying Jimmy is a gifted writer who explains things clearly, which is true.

              So what in that review was colored by our friendship?

            2. Pete

              I couldn’t possibly know what, if anything, in the book was coloured by your relationship with Mr Moore. I can, however, take a view on whether that relationship has a bearing – either way – on your opinion. And I think it does. Not because you are mendacious or untrustworthy, but simply because it is human nature. It would be strange were it otherwise. As a long time reader of your blog, I’m fully aware that you and Jimmy are friends; those landing here from Google are not. In the context of a book review, I think that is information to which they are entitled.

              The difficulty you have placed yourself in is that you are entirely confident that no conflict could possibly exist and that your honour is unimpeachable. Unfortunately, however much you protest, you are not to be the judge of that. It is for others to decide. And they can only make an informed judgement in light of any pertinent fact, amongst which I would most certainly include a personal friendship with the author.

              I’m genuinely puzzled why you have a blind spot on this one.

            3. Tom Naughton Post author

              Yes, that is for others to decide. But I’ll say it again: it is not at all unusual for reviewers to be friends or acquaintances with the creators whose works they review, and yet you almost never see them preface reviews with “I feel the need to disclose that Mr. Director and I occasionally meet for dinner” or “I feel the need to disclose that Mr. Author and I once had a shouting match at a cocktail party and I dislike him intensely.” So for whatever reason, you’re insisting that to satisfy your standards of reviewer ethics, I need to engage in a “full disclosure” practice that is hardly the standard among reviewers, even in major media. So I don’t see how I’ve placed myself in a “difficult situation.” You see it that way, but I certainly don’t.

              Since you seem so concerned about this, I’ll ask again: what in my review seemed biased to you? If I have a blind spot about my conflict of interest, explain how you think that conflict of interest caused me to write something about the book that would be misleading to that reader who landed here from Google and isn’t aware that I consider Jimmy a friend. Which paragraph?

            4. Pete

              We seem to be running out of column width, so I’ll keep it brief. I know you’re a comedian but your straw man caricature is needlessly overblown. Full disclosure in this instance could simply be “I’d planned to review Keto Clarity, my friend Jimmy Moore’s book, last week.” That’s all. Two words that signal to the reader that this review may not be unbiased. The intellectual counter to any accusations of bias is what you actually write, the quality of your ideas, the experiences you detail, the expression of the knowledge you’ve acquired.

              Let me answer your question about bias with a couple of my own. If Jimmy Moore offered to pay you ten bucks to write an honest review of his book, would you feel it necessary to disclose that fact? Seemingly not. What about a hundred bucks? Or a thousand? By your current logic it’s entirely irrelevant because there could never be a reason to question your motives. What if I asked you to recommend an illustrator to hire for a project and you volunteered a rather charming lady with a nice sideline in zucchini muffins? Would her being your wife be apropos? I guess not. In your world, it seems to me, there is no distinction to be drawn between family, friends, acquaintances or strangers when it comes to questions of this nature. Fair enough, but that would certainly make you unique in my experience.

              No doubt your opinions are honestly held. I have not suggested otherwise, despite your repeated demands for proof of malice. But when you’re encouraging people to shell out twenty bucks, a proportion of which goes directly to your buddy, I think the existence of your friendship is germane, particularly on a matter of personal health.

            5. Tom Naughton Post author

              If I were paid 100 or 1000 dollars by the author, that would sure as shootin’ create a financial incentive and therefore a bias for me to make the review positive — the incentive, of course, being that I’d like him to hire me for a future review.

              But I wouldn’t accept money from an author to write a review.

              And once again, on that matter of personal health, I made it crystal clear that I’m not on a ketogenic diet, that I don’t feel my best on a ketogenic diet, and don’t believe it’s the right diet for everyone. I ended the review by saying IF you want to try a ketogenic diet or already on one, this is a good guide. Which it is in that case.

          2. john

            “Two, I judge reviewers by how well their reviews end up matching my opinions of the works they review”

            Nice way to immerse yourself in a bubble.

            It’s that mindset that probably led you to buying into all the gibberish your low carb friends spout.

            It must be a hard line to tow. Admitting how important carbohydrates in the diet are, at the same time being an apologist for ketogenic diet pushers.
            You did it reasonably well though. Jimmy and Richard probably won’t mind this blog post.

            1. Tom Naughton Post author

              I judge reviewers by how well their opinions match my own for all kinds of works. If a book reviewer or film reviewer recommends works I don’t like, I no longer trust his or her opinion. If, on the other hand, I find that a particular film reviewer consistently recommends movies I end up enjoying, I’m going to trust that reviewer. That’s not “immersing yourself in a bubble,” that’s having the brains to seek guidance from people who haven’t steered you wrong.

              It’s not about a toeing a line, either. It’s about recognizing that there’s no perfect diet for everyone. I’m still on a low-carb diet and find it works best for me. It’s just not a zero-carb or ketogenic diet. A ketogenic diet is a godsend for some people and a bad idea for others. You seem to be in the diet-tribalism camp: what works for me is what’s best for everyone, and anyone recommending a different diet must be wrong.

            1. Tom Naughton Post author

              Indeed, and what I remember (although it’s been 32 years) is that you disclose a conflict of interest if, say, you’re reporting on the financial fortunes or misdeeds or whatever of a company and your cousin owns the company, or you’re a major stockholder, or you once sued that company, etc. In other words, you disclose if what’s supposed to be an objective, fact-based news story might be colored by your bias. (Although the belief that hard-news reporting isn’t biased by political preference, world view, etc., is frankly laughable.)

              I don’t remember anything about revealing a “conflict of interest” in what’s already assumed to be a subjective opinion piece.

            2. Craig Rich

              Pete is just trying to find fault where there is none. I think your review came off fair, just as I find just about every post you make. As far as I know, you need only reveal if you were paid for this review. I doubt people are randomly ending up on a site to randomly read your review of the book without first trying to figure out who you are and what your stance is.

              While Pete isn’t quite a troll/idiot, he is under some assumption that you’ve done something wrong and won’t relinquish that opinion even after you’ve proven his assumption wrong. Thus he’s starting to get into idiot territory.

            3. Tom Naughton Post author

              No, not an idiot at all. In fact, he strikes me as intelligent. But yeah, this determination to convince me I’ve violated an ethical standard that, as far as I know, isn’t an ethical standard among reviewers or journalists does seem odd.

            4. Chuck

              I don’t know how everyone else does, but when I’m looking for a review, I read as many as I can find, or enough to satisfy my decision. My usual method is to go to Amazon and start with the bad reviews of products to see if the same issue comes up a lot, then I check out the good reviews and compare. The book reviews are great too. Many times if the book isn’t what is expected, informed reviewers will suggest better ones. Well that’s my two cents. Don’t read just one review, do a little work so you can make an informed decision. For the record I thought your review was quite neutral. People sure get their panties in a bunch over silly things. LOL

  3. Fredrick

    Something you did not mention Tom. If people spent their whole life eating what would be an ideal diet for them, they may never need to tap into what a ketogenic diet can provide. Someone who has spent years eating a diet rich in sugar, flour, seed oils and processed foods in general may have really screwed up their metabolism for life. A ketogenic diet may be the only way to stabilize blood sugar and not be an unhealthy, overweight diabetic.

    August 2014 somehow I found the book “Why we get Fat” by Gary Taubes and soon thereafter the movie “Fat Head”. By then end of August I started an Adkins style diet. By October I had found out abut nutritional ketosis and that is how I have been eating ever since. I was 150 lbs overweight, I have lost over 50lbs and still have about 100 lbs to go.

    For me ketosis works. I have more energy than I have had in 10 years. I no longer have to snack every 2 hours to be able to make it through the day. Maybe someday I will switch to WAPF or Paelo style eating with some more carby food in my diet. For right now, I feel so good eating this way and so bad when I introduce more carbs, I think I am going to stick with ketosis for a while. Just like you, I am listening to what my body is telling me works best for me.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Exactly why I consider a ketogenic diet a therapeutic tool. If your metabolism is hosed by modern foods, what our paleo ancestors did or didn’t eat is no longer relevant. At that point, you need a diet that addresses the metabolic issues.

  4. Fredrick

    There are some people who seem to do great on a vegan diet. Some for many years are healthy and vibrant. We also hear of people who felt better eating vegan for 6 months or a year, but then stared experiencing health problems.

    I saw a Youtube video from 2011 of a vegan health professional who was stunned. Vegans think their lifestyle must be the best. Vegans take pride in knowing they eat better than everyone else, but they had no proof of it. Well between 2000 and 2010 several studies came. They showed the vegans had the same rate of heat attack, stroke, and cancer as the general population. They also had double the rate of Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

    His recommendation, eat more flax seed and chia seed to get the Omega 3’s up higher. My recommendations would be to “just eat real food” JERF. Health outcomes would be better if people ate high quality foods. Things like pastured meat and dairy and avoided processed sugar and seed oils.

    I wonder what the long term outcome will be for people for people who live a ketogenic lifestyle and are eating real food. There are not that many of us out there. Even if someone is doing a study, it will be 20 or 30 years before we will really know the outcome.

    All the science points to any lifestyle that cuts processed oils, and carbs being healthier in the long run. So I have a good feeling about it.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Sure, you can eat low-fat, high-fat, vegan, vegetarian, etc., and pack your diet with real food or with junk. And I think that makes more of a difference in long-term health than any particular macronutrient ratio.

  5. John

    You have not discussed starvation, at least not in this article as it relates to ketogenic diets. You cannot argue that famine is not a major part of human history, or that wars are a major part of human history, or that long voyages on sea or land are part of human history. For whatever reasons, even seasonal variations in food supply, people have had to survive with little to no food for long periods of time — Alexander’s Gedrosian desert campaign, the seven years of famine in Genesis, the silk road travellers, desert nomads, Innuit following the caribou or reindeer herds, and on and on. Maybe the Paleolithics did eat plenty of fruit and tubers to stay out of ketosis, but we can all be sure they did enter ketonic states at least now and then. Periods of starvation were all too common. Just look at the third world today. Humans always have needed to be able to burn ketones. It’s how we survived.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Sure, that’s why we have that ability. But the fact that we can endure starvation for a time doesn’t make a ketogenic diet the default diet for humans, and it doesn’t mean we should all feel fabulous if we get into ketosis and stay there.

    2. js290

      Hunter–gatherers have less famine than agriculturalists

      The idea that hunter–gatherer societies experience more frequent famine than societies with other modes of subsistence is pervasive in the literature on human evolution. This idea underpins, for example, the ‘thrifty genotype hypothesis’. This hypothesis proposes that our hunter–gatherer ancestors were adapted to frequent famines, and that these once adaptive ‘thrifty genotypes’ are now responsible for the current obesity epidemic. The suggestion that hunter–gatherers are more prone to famine also underlies the widespread assumption that these societies live in marginal habitats. Despite the ubiquity of references to ‘feast and famine’ in the literature describing our hunter–gatherer ancestors, it has rarely been tested whether hunter–gatherers suffer from more famine than other societies. Here, we analyse famine frequency and severity in a large cross-cultural database, in order to explore relationships between subsistence and famine risk. This is the first study to report that, if we control for habitat quality, hunter–gatherers actually had significantly less—not more—famine than other subsistence modes. This finding challenges some of the assumptions underlying for models of the evolution of the human diet, as well as our understanding of the recent epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

      "Ever since Cain, the agriculturalist slew Abel, the hunter..a diet of fat and protein makes for mental..stability"— Tim Noakes (@ProfTimNoakes) June 3, 2013

      Mark Shepard on Restoration Agriculture – YouTube “Every culture that has depended on annual plants for their staple food crops has collapsed.”

  6. Cindy M

    I would caution parents of autistic children to proceed very carefully if trying a keto diet for their child. It may not help. Going full blown ketosis for my son caused more problems in his social interactions and repetitive behaviors, even transitioning him over the course of 6 months to such a diet (at the advice of his pediatrician, gosh I love Wyoming sometimes). For him, it just didn’t work. He now eats at least 3 pieces of fruit a day, and a lot of carrots and potatoes, and we have found his even keel. We are desperate to try anything in the hopes that it will “cure” our children, but we need to be careful. Because at the end of the day, our children are our children, and we should not push something that makes them more uncomfortable in the real world.

    *stepping off soap box now*

    Thanks Tom for your insights =)

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Always a good idea to proceed with caution and go by your own results.

      I wish you and your son well.

  7. Aaron

    I found your blog post about ketosis at odds with your review of Keto Clarity. Jimmy is purporting this diet to be a cure all for all people to follow. But in your post on ketosis, you point out how many of Jimmy’s claims about how this is a healthy default human diet are flawed. I also find it fascinating how during Jimmy’s experiment with safe starches, he was appalled by BG levels that were fairly normal around 150 post meal, and gave up on safe starches after one week. You have changed your mind about starches as you find new evidence and I think Jimmy needs to take an honest look at the evidence. I think He honestly believes that Kerry Gold butter should be the main ingredient in every meal. Jimmy has also gained weight while on a ketogenic diet and chalks this up to metabolic derangement, hormones or other, but could it be that his body is simply craved of glucose and over consumes fat to attempt to make glucose from the fatty acid glycerol backbone ? I fear that Jimmy may have gone off the deep end and is now even counting carbs from non starchy veggies, net carbs or fibers, as carbs. These carbs go towards feeding beneficial gut bacteria, and get turned into short chain fats, what irony that he now limits even these foods! What will his next book be, something on how to further restrict your diet? I’d love to see him give something like PHD a fair shot and see what happens to his weight and health, but I fear he is so wed to the low carb dogma that he will not change and perhaps even further restrict his diet.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Jimmy doesn’t state anywhere in the book that ketosis is a cure-all, and I didn’t state anywhere that ketosis isn’t healthy. I wrote that a lack of fiber may be unhealthy, not ketosis per se, so I’d be sure to get fiber in my diet if I were going ketogenic. In the earlier post you mentioned, I specifically said that some people don’t do well on a ketogenic diet and therefore shouldn’t try to stick with it, while for others it’s a godsend.

      He did try PHD. I asked him about that. He said consuming safe starches made him ravenous and he started gaining weight. A ketogenic diet isn’t the right diet for everyone, and neither is PHD. There is no diet that’s right for everyone.

      As for the rest of your points, I’ll cut and paste my reply to another comment on another post:

      It’s funny how every internet cowboy out there knows what the proper diet is for Jimmy. Every internet cowboy knows how Jimmy could lose weight. Every internet cowboy knows how Jimmy could improve his labs. Every internet cowboy knows that if Jimmy just did it this way or that way, he’d weigh 210 pounds for the rest of his life, his cholesterol would plummet, he’d have the hormones of an 18-year-old Zulu warrior, and his shoe size would shrink. Apparently the only person who can’t figure out the Super-Special Perfect Diet To Save Jimmy Moore is Jimmy himself.

      Of course, if Jimmy tried that Super-Special Perfect Diet to Save Jimmy Moore and it caused him to gain 50 pounds because of the higher carb content, the same cowboys would jump all over him yet again.

      With all the experimenting he’s done, all the weight he’s lost and regained and lost again, all the tracking he’s done of his glucose and other markers, all the experts he’s consulted and followed, etc., I think it may be time for the cowboys to consider the possibility that Jimmy actually knows what’s best for Jimmy, and that given his genetic history and his former status as a 400-pounder, there’s no diet he can adopt that’s going to produce numbers that will satisfy the cowboys.

      1. Aaron Olson

        First let me say that I consider Jimmy a friend. I listen to all his podcasts, and think he’s a great guy, I’ve talked with him on my own podcast. I thought his Cholesterol Clarity was good.

        When you put a health book out there claiming that his version of a ketogenic diet is a healthful way to eat, and include your own experiments, you are also putting yourself out there to be critiqued.

        The problem is, he’s developed a phobia of carbs, even the leafy green carbs that are mostly fiber He’s become like a religious zealot with the carbs, always saying on his podcast things like, “if you can handle the carbs, go for it, so long as it doesn’t affect your blood sugar”. Of course carbs affect blood sugar, the problem is he sees even normal levels of BG as “toxic”.

        In his promotional material on his podcast he says that this way of eating is a good way for nearly anyone and everyone to eat. He also neglects the fact that glucose itself is a nutrient, and has many beneficial functions in the body such as mucin production, joint lubrication, tears, and creating reactive oxygen species for immune system defense. To call this type of diet safe for the anyone to use long term, I think is a stretch, and may even be detrimental from the majority of people. There was a diet similar to this in Sweden called the Perfect Diet and several of their members died of stomach cancer.

        I don’t think he is as open to safe starches as you may think, he even wrote about it on his blog, entitled “More ‘Safe Starches’ Stuff And Why I’ve Decided NOT To Test Them On Myself”.

        Regarding your point about Jimmy knowing whats best for himself to eat. It simply isn’t true that he knows what is best. Sometimes we need to rely on others. I wish I had a friend telling me about the importance of carbs when I was trying the ketogenic thing, all the problems I experienced with ketosis were not because I wasn’t doing it right, it was because I wasn’t eating carbs – a health promoting substance in their proper context. Sometimes to be a good fiend, you have to tell your friends when you think they are wrong, it doesn’t mean you think less of them, but it can actually show that you care.

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          I’ve eaten quite a few meals with Jimmy, and I didn’t see him avoid vegetables, just the starchy variety. I agree that glucose is necessary, which is obvious since our bodies will make the stuff even if we don’t consume it, and I completely agree that some people will become glucose deficient on a zero-carb diet. That’s why I praised PHD as something people should consider.

          Jimmy believes he’s producing enough glucose from the food he eats and told me he isn’t experiencing any signs of glucose deficiency. I have no reason to doubt him on that. I also have no reason to doubt him when he tells me he tried adding some safe starches into his diet and ended up ravenously hungry. If he’s hyperinsulimic, that could well be the case. Name almost any diet, some people do well on it, some people don’t.

          Keep in mind, he did seek help. Lots of lots of it when his weight was going back up. He even joked about it with me, saying he should run a “Who Can Fix Jimmy Moore” contest on his blog. He decided to try the ketogenic diet and started losing weight again, so he’s sticking with it. I would too in that situation.

          Jimmy published emails on his blog from people who felt great after switching to PHD. He’s not against it at all for people who find it beneficial. But I don’t think fans of the Perfect Health Diet (and I consider myself one) should be lecturing him about why he needs to go that route. He’ll have to judge for himself what works for him and what doesn’t. It’s his body, and he’ll have to listen to it.

          Like I said before, he comes from a family of very fat people. He spent a chunk of his life weighing more than 400 pounds. He lived on a perfectly awful diet for years. He probably has metabolic damage that’s beyond repair at this point. I doubt there’s any diet that’s going to produce the numbers — weight and otherwise — that will get his critics off his case.

          1. Pierson

            Regarding the glucose deficiency thing, could ravenous hunger after consuming carbs be a sign? Really, though I needed the vitamin C to fight a stubborn cold, the months-long stretch of eating <50g carbs daily had to have at least something to do with the 2-5 3 lb. bags of oranges consumed daily for a week. Didn't gain an ounce, however, and fighting colds became much easier. Speaking of which, has Jimmy been having some immune troubles? If so, that may also be sign of a glucose deficiency

            1. Tom Naughton Post author

              Well, I look at it this way: some people can’t have a single drink without triggering an irresistible craving for alcohol that leads to way too many drinks. We wouldn’t characterize that as a symptom of alcohol deficiency.

              So it makes sense to me that some people might not be able to eat a potato without triggering an irresistible craving for more carbs. Perhaps people like Jimmy produce an exaggerated insulin response to foods like potatoes, which in turn drives down blood glucose and causes the body to scream for more glucose. Or it may be some other factor at work.

              Either way, I don’t think we’re in any position to presume that Jimmy’s real problem is a lack of carbs in his diet.

  8. Mark

    I just love reading about the ‘side effects’ of a ketogenic diet. One is bad breath. “Help! My breath is slightly obnoxious to other people. Quick, call me an ambulance!”

  9. PJ (RightNOW)

    You know, being fat with a metabolism that does not appear to work by any “predictable” means (likely meaning there are multiple underlying blackbox issues) is a real PITA when it comes to people giving advice. Even people seriously overweight themselves are certain if one is even 10# heavier than they are, that they have the right to lecture you with often stupid and irrelevant if not outright harmful advice, or just advice based on “what worked for them would surely work for you” — as if you are their genetic and environmental clone, so of course they would know.

    Most people who are very fat and health-conscious have tried so many damn things and often in cycles, because sometimes those things work really well and sometimes they don’t anymore. There is no “should” in food plans, perhaps aside from, “If you have diabetes you should moderate your carbs as much as possible” or “if gluten makes you sick you shouldn’t ingest it” or “if you don’t get enough healthy lipids and spectrum protein eventually your health will suffer, so you should.” Those are pretty generic or obvious though.

    If eating starches/carbs makes Jimmy eat like a raving hyena and some people it DOES, then obviously that is not for him right now. Maybe later it will be different. The body flexes and everything we do to it changes a little, so perhaps another time doing that will work better for him. But right now if he wants and needs to be ketogenic and it’s working for him, geez why argue with that? Why does him choosing thing-X for his approach personally mean he’s assumed to be against thing-Y, no matter how much support he’s actually given publicly for thing-Y? It’s ridiculous.

    He’s never going to be lean. It is irritating that people seem to think that if anybody is doing something right for their body they’d be lean. Once a person has been very fat, aside from a few freaks of nature the percentage is so small, they are very unlikely to be — or stay, if they get that way — lean, and the older they are, the longer they were heavy, the heavier they were, the more that’s true.

    separate topic, re the comments above:

    On, if you review a book that you got free solely for the agreement you would review it, you are expected to be forthright and say so. (Although if the caveat is honest review — you could eviscerate it — I kinda think it should be optional.) But if you happen to know the author, you are not expected to say that, nobody says that, criminy if that were true, probably the first half dozen reviews (at least) on every book on the whole site would have to say that, and given the numbers there and my eons of reading reviews there, I think “none” do. (A rare exception is when someone is actually bragging about it.) I’m not sure where that obsession with your friends list came from, but while I agree it may or may not influence some peoples’ reviews (not necessarily yours, I’m sure it varies by person), I don’t agree that’s any kind of standard expectation for book reviews.

    What is up with all the backseat driving of other peoples’ shoulds lately. The position of the stars or something…

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I heard a song once I loved. The refrain was “Don’t should on me, and I won’t should on you.”

      100% spot-on about dismissing people who were once huge because they’re not lean. Most formerly obese people can never look like people who’ve never been fat.

  10. Stephen

    Wow, almost all the reviews for Keto Clarity on Amazon are 5 stars (196 of 212 votes). That’s pretty impressive. It’s a #1 seller in a few categories. Hats off to Jimmy Moore and everything he’s accomplished in a field he’s pioneered. I’m proud of him.

    I listen to all of his podcasts, and find them very entertaining. I happen to have views 180 degrees opposite of his, but I’d still rather listen to him than a vegan blogger/podcaster.

    I buy health and nutrition books, but the subject of this book is too narrow for me. I have no interest in learning about a ketogenic diet. I’m surprised that it’s such a big seller, because I can’t imagine anyone wanting to limit their carb intake so dramatically. Just shows how the two sides (high-carb vs. low-carb) often fail to understand the other side’s perspective.

    Again, congratulations to Jimmy!

  11. Nick S

    Good review. Not worth arguing with the “CONFLICT OF INTEREST” trolls above; they’re not here for a conversation about pundit integrity, they just want to argue. It’s perfectly easy to see that you’re a friend of Jimmy’s without a flashing red warning label on this post.

    The bit about fasting is very true – when I was first starting out and stayed in or around ketosis for approximately three months straight, I stopped eating breakfast… then started having lighter and lighter lunches… then stopped eating lunch entirely. Not because I was desperate to lose weight, but because I simply wasn’t hungry. My diet eventually became coffee with cream for breakfast, a handful of nuts around lunch time, a snack after work, and a big dinner around 9pm. Despite effectively being on an “intermittent fasting” regimen (purely by accident) I only felt really hungry for about one hour per day, between 4pm and my 5pm snack when I got home. I used to joke that I was having long pork belly for lunch.

  12. PJ (RightNOW)

    “Compare this to the polyunsaturated fats found in vegetable oils, which increase systemic inflammation and linked to multiple health problems, despite the fact that they are heavily touted as the healthy oils we should all be consuming.”

    I know this is the assumption. But as Zoe Harcomb pointed out, every natural food has a blend of many fats. There isn’t anything that has only one kind of fat. I suspect that poly fats are fine in their place and it’s the rancid nature of them in modern foods (and processed oils) that makes them so inflammatory.

  13. rs711

    Thanks for your review – it’s well appreciated Tom!

    My only bone to pick: you say “A ketogenic diet, like a diet supplemented with whey protein, is intended to be therapeutic – i.e., it’s supposed to help you accomplish a particular goal.”

    1) In this statement, you are equating whey protein supplementation (a highly processed amino-acid isolate) with ketogenic diets in terms of how ‘natural’ they for humans to consumer. This is incorrect for obvious reasons.
    2) You are pigeonholing nutritional ketosis as a default therapeutic approach. This is also incorrect. I know of no evidence (that isn’t internet folklore) showing a ketogenic diet to be unsuitable for healthy people. If anything, the evidence that keeps coming in supports the opposite (more and more at that).

    Pigeon-holing ketogenic diets as therapies first & foremost is essentially a cop-out: people recognize the positive therapeutic effects but then reason a non-sequitir, that it thus cannot/should not be regarded as an appropriate diet for the putatively healthy.

    I’m not arguing that it SHOULD be the default diet (for the sick or the healthy) but simply that it’s therapeutic efficacy cannot logically argue against it’s non-therapeutic use.

    I hope this comment finds you well!

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Sure, I understand. The point is that what paleo humans did or didn’t eat is a guideline, not a straightjacket. Given a particular need or goal, a diet our paleo ancestors didn’t consume could be the answer.


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