I am a regular on the The Survival Podcast, as an expert on Primal health, nutrition and exercise. I share a lot of great information during this question and answer format. I have realized I cover a lot of information that may not be contained on my website or blog. So from here on out I will share it with you on my website as well. Below is the audio of my answer to the listener question. In addition, you will find the entire transcript below as well. Please feel free to leave any questions in the comments section, and I will make sure to answer it.
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Have you heard of something called “Goldilocks Syndrome” or of the phenomena by some other name. Seems discussed quite a bit on many low carb forums and such. This is where a person goes low carb, (paleo, Atkins, Protein Power, what have you) and has great results. Like it is almost too easy, the weight falls off.
Over time they “fall off the wagon” and gain a lot of weight, may be not to their prior weight but a lot. They give it a go again and it just doesn’t work like the first time. Is this real, if so is there any way to get unstuck with it so to speak.
I feel like this is me to a degree. I was over 325 pounds at only 5’10” about 10 years ago. I did Atkins and dropped to 205 and stayed there for a LONG time. About 4 years ago I changed jobs, had to travel and let myself go, a little here, a bit there, etc. Now I am up to 265 and I know it will be a lot more if I don’t stop it. I went full on low carb, more the paleo side this time and I am down like 5 pounds in about 3 weeks but it is nothing like the first time. What do you suggest, FWIW, I also quit drinking 100% until I get back to a reasonable weight? I wasn’t drinking much, say 2-3 a day 4-5 days a week but I figured that had to go until I get my shape back. I am also aware the Gubernet says I should weigh like 170 pounds or less, but I have a lot of muscle and a wide frank, I felt very lean at 200. Frank.
Gary Collins (Answer): Hey, everyone. Gary Collins, best selling author and creator of www.thesimplelifenow.com, and we have talked about the yo‑yo of the low carb diet. This is a phenomenon that is actually pretty common. I’ve gotten asked a ton of questions about this over the years as well, and Frank is going through what almost everyone who goes low carb and doesn’t quite have it explained correctly to them what they will go through.
Very simply, Frank went low carb, what did he say, a couple years ago, and dropped a lot of weight. Then, got off it, and when he got off it, gained a lot of weight. He’s asking because he started reading about the dummy net. You get on the dummy net, and you start looking at something, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, and understand the premise.
For me, I know what I’m looking for, if I’m looking for health questions, or information on health. If you go on there, and you look up low carb, you’re going to go in a bazillion different directions. You’re going to have every moron known to man giving you their two cents, and they don’t have a clue.
There’s actually a low carb supposed expert. He is the main guy, who is obese. I mean, he is huge. He can not control his weight. He’s a big ketogenic guy, low carb guy, the guru. The guy is clueless. I’ve actually offered to help him for free, get his act together, but honestly, I think it’s purely, I don’t know. All of his followers are the same way.
Don’t get caught in those groups. If you’re getting information to lose weight from someone who’s grossly overweight, stop. Just stop. Don’t even waste your time, but the low carb, the ketogenic, they’re different. Ketogenic and low carb are actually different, as far as the macro levels, and I don’t want to get into the weeds, and get too far into this, because this is a low carb question.
Let’s look at the low carb diet. Low carb is essentially getting your primary calories from protein and fat, and especially fat. Ketogenic, which is a similar thing, actually is an upper level of calories from fat, 75 to 80, 90 percent of your calories will come from fat.
What happens when you go low carb, what you’re doing is you’re taking away carbohydrates in order to up your protein, and up your fat consumption, to get your body to start to burn all that stored fat. This works in the beginning. Here’s why it works. Because we are sugar burners. All Americans are flat‑out sugarholics. We are addicted to sugar and carbohydrates.
What is a carbohydrate? A carbohydrate is a complex sugar, that’s what it is. That’s how it works. When you eat a carbohydrate, basically it has to be broken down into a simple sugar in order for your body to process it. By being these sugar addicts that we are, what happens when you over consume empty calories carbohydrates today?
Because most carbohydrates we ingest today are from pasta, bread, sugary drinks, soda pop, desserts, just junk. We just eat junk. Not to say all bread and pasta is junk, but the stuff we eat, as Americans, is. It’s empty. There’s no nutritional value in it. All of that’s been stripped out, and all you’re left with is a refined grain, with nothing left but the carbohydrate.
What happens is, your body inhibits its ability to burn and utilize fat. In addition, what happens too, it makes you retain water and sodium. That is where you end up with hypertension, by over consuming carbohydrates, and if you over consume carbohydrates, which turns into sugar, sugar is highly oxidating, which means it causes chronic inflammation in the body.
You start to see this slippery slope of health. Back on the topic of, how he lost a lot of weight, he was 325 pounds, went to 205. He said he did Atkins, which is a low carb type of diet, especially in the beginning. It’s very low carb, if any carbs, from what I remember.
Then, like I said, he said about four years ago, then he changed jobs, and went low carb again. He’s going low‑carb again because he gained the weight back, and this is very common, too. People who go low carb go ketogenic, it works good for a while, and then they slowly start to gain the weight. Here’s why.
Here’s the physiological process that goes on in your body. By eliminating almost all carbohydrates, primarily upping their protein, but they primarily up their fat. The only time in nature where your body would be utilizing an overabundance of fat as its primary energy source, long‑term.
Remember, our body is going in and out of utilizing different macro nutrients for energy. Our blood sugar is quick, burn quick. If you’ve got to bolt, take off, run fast, get out of there, that’s going to be your glycogen stores. It’s going to be your glucose in your bloodstream. That’s your blood sugar.
That’s what’s going to happen. Protein and fat, through gluconeogenesis can be converted to blood sugar, glucose, but the problem is it takes longer. Fat is a long‑term burner, usually, but everything is working together. In‑out, all these energy systems are constantly moving all the time.
By eliminating carbohydrates, and eliminating that free borne glucose for the most part, your body thinks it’s going into starvation mode. The only time where you can continuously burn nothing but fat is starvation. What happens if, your body goes, “OK, I’m not getting enough glucose or carbohydrates in the form that I’m used to, so I’m going to down‑regulate my metabolism. I’m going to slow all the processes down.”
This is why I always recommend, anyone who’s listened to me, and I answered this question before, in a different format, that ketogenic and low carb only work for roughly two to three weeks, and then you’ve got to get off it, because the longer you do it, the more you’re down regulating, the more you basically break your metabolism.
What happens is, once you do it so long term, now your body is carbohydrate sensitive. It’s very hard to break this cycle, because it turns into a boom bust cycle. I’m not real sure, I haven’t been able, the science isn’t real clear why this works, but my opinion is it basically breaks your metabolism. It just breaks it.
Once you do that, it is very hard to recover, and get your body to assimilate carbohydrates in sugar correctly. It basically goes into hyper storage mode, because your body has been thinking it’s been in starvation mode for so long, any time you get this carbohydrate or sugar, it goes, “Boom, I need to store this stuff right now.”
You end up gaining weight, and gaining it very, very, very rapidly. For that problem, now he’s trying to do it. He’s trying to return to that, and it’s not working right. He’s been doing it for three weeks, he’s only lost five. Well, there’s a good probability that his metabolism is just slow.
Slowed down, it’s stuck, and the best way to do it is to follow the Primal lifestyle. You’ve got to make sure that you get enough sleep, you exercise regularly, you get your heart rate up at least two, three times a week. You can use high intensity interval training, do sprints, run, swim fast, ride your bike fast. Do something. You’ve got to get your heart level up.
You’ve got to get all the systems in place, and you’ve got to get your macro nutrient basics, your protein, fat, and carbohydrates in balance to what you’re doing. That’s the only way. Once you implement these carbohydrates back into your diet, you’ve got to exercise. You’ve got to make sure there’s exercise.
Where I find this to be very, very common is people who try and lose weight, and be healthy by diet only. They’re still living the American, sedentary life, and not moving. Not exercising, and if they do, it’s the chronic cardio, getting on the Stairmaster, getting on the elliptical for an hour, never getting their heart rate up. That just doesn’t work.
You’ve got to lift things. You’ve got to do resistance training. You’ve got to get some cardio in there, you’ve got to get your heart rate up, which means you’ve got to take it up a notch, one way or another. That’s the only way it works. I’m telling you, people have tried to shortcut this stuff a million ways.
They’ve tried to exercise the weight away without changing their diet. They’ve tried changing their diet without doing any exercise, it doesn’t work. It’s all got to be in balance. He’s also said he’s quit alcohol, and not drinking until it’s under control, and he indicates how he’s drinking two to three a day, four to five days a week.
That’s too much. That is too much alcohol. I’ll be honest with you, if you’re drinking two to three beers or mixed drinks, four or five days a week, you’re an alcoholic. I hate to be blunt, but you shouldn’t be drinking that much, that many times a week. There’s another issue there.
I am not an addiction specialist. This is my interpretation of what I’m seeing, and not to shed bad light on Frank. To be honest with you, most Americans drink too much alcohol today, anyway. I’m not saying alcohol was bad, but I’m talking one drink a night, seven days a week. I have problems with that, even though the medical association says it’s healthy.
I don’t know. I don’t think drinking alcohol every single day is a good idea, especially the alcohol today. It’s highly processed. It’s just like our foods. Unless you’re making your own alcohol, got your own distillery in back, got your own beer brewing factory, it’s not doing you much good.
I hope that helps, and it explains the low carb system of, if you do it too long, the ketogenics, like I said, it ruins your metabolism, and then you become carbohydrate sensitive, which makes it very hard, long‑term, or down the road to implement those carbohydrates, or take them back out with any results.
Again, if you have any questions, hit the comment section, or email me at [email protected] Thanks.
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