I haven’t really delved that far into the topic of weight loss in my research on health and nutrition, because it’s really rather irrelevant to me. As you may know, the last thing I need is to lose weight.
However, I realize this is obviously a subject of interest and importance to a very significant portion of the population. So, I’ve generally tried to keep an eye out for some truth on the subject to relay to people if and when they ask.
What I did know for a long time about weight loss, or rather, how you gain weight to begin with, was that it certainly isn’t from eating fat. Or at least, the right kinds of fat. And by that I mean, the good old-fashioned saturated kind your doctors are telling you will kill you.
PUFA‘s and fake versions of healthy fats however, yeah those can mess ya up. But what I really thought must have been the culprit was the over-consumption of refined carbohydrates.
Take a look at that food pyramid — 6-11 servings of cereal, pasta, and bread a day? But, isn’t bread made up of disaccharides which convert to glucose in the blood, spiking insulin levels, which then turn those sugars into fat?
Must be. Cause clearly, a basis of carbohydrates in the diet is making everyone fat.
Questioning the Carb Quo
Early on in my real food journey, I came across the primal/paleo diet movement via Mark Sisson’s very popular Mark’s Daily Apple. He’s a pretty convincing guy, that Mark. The more I read, the more I went — dang, is Nourishing Traditions wrong? Are grains really not something we’re supposed to eat?
At the very least, those carbohydrates sure do seem to be the cause of obesity and weight gain. Just look at all those pictures Mark posts of people going from flabby to freaking HOT by staying out of the carbohydrate “danger zone,” and watching the pounds “effortlessly” melt away on around 50-100 grams of carbs a day.
But, I later decided, based on the research of Dr. Weston A. Price, who studied many extremely healthy traditional cultures which ate plenty of properly-prepared grain-based foods, that while we are probably overdoing it on the grains these days, that they aren’t the health-robbing devil for every body that the Primal movement claims they are.
I determined that they aren’t absolutely necessary for health, since some people do fine without them and most of their nutrients can be found elsewhere, but aren’t detrimental when prepared healthfully according to tradition and consumed in moderation.
But the carb thing, that still has to be legit, I thought. So many people have success on low-carb diets that the concept pretty much speaks for itself. Going low-carb for weight loss works.
Well, as it turns out, according to Matt Stone of 180DegreeHealth, low-carb also works pretty well for accomplishing a few other things in your body.
Like wreaking absolute havoc on your metabolism and endocrine system.
Which then, quite commonly, causes the weight to come piling right back on, as your body goes into starvation mode and holds on for dear life to every little caloric morsel to pass your lips.
Most people who lose weight on any “diet,” gain it back. Dieting just doesn’t work long-term.
Low-Carb: Lose the Weight, and Your Health?
Proponents of low-carb diets claim that everything from heart disease to obesity and diabetes are caused by an overconsumption of carbohydrates. They blame the carbs for causing insulin resistance, a condition in which the body releases increasing amounts of the hormone insulin into the bloodstream due to high levels of glucose in the blood. Over time, the body’s cells become desensitized to all that insulin, and it starts to lose its affect on them.
Low-carbers say that carbohydrates are what causes those increasing blood glucose levels, thus triggering insulin resistance.
But the reality is that while insulin resistance is prevalent in those with illnesses such as diabetes, the theory that carbohydrate intake is responsible for causing the condition is entirely false and has been refuted in medical science time and time again.
So eating low-carb isn’t going to prevent you from developing insulin resistance or related disease. But it will throw a nice little monkey wrench into your endocrine system.
Hypothyroidism and other hormonal imbalances are largely affected by carbohydrate intake — that is, going too low-carb can trigger devastating effects. Hypothyroidism is crazy common these days and yet most people seem to be clueless as to what causes it.
Carb intake is actually directly correlated with T3 levels — the more carbohydrates in the diet, the higher T3 levels can be raised, with fewer carbs, T3 is lowered. So if you’ve got hypothyroidism, going low carb is a great way to keep on truckin’ with low T3 and dependence on pharmaceutical supplements. And this noted correlation is even coming straight from Paul Jaminet, author of the Perfect Health Diet which advocates a “slightly low-carb” diet of 20-30% calories from carbs.
And just what can you expect from a debilitated thyroid? Oh, you know… all kinds of fun symptoms like hair loss, inability to lose weight, loss of sex drive, and infertility (the single clearest marker for ill health that there is), to name a few.
Clearly, carb-cutting is not the holy grail of health excellence, nor effective weight management. Let’s think for a minute about why that might be.
A “macronutrient” is a nutrient which the body requires in large amounts (as opposed to a micronutrient, like vitamins or minerals, which we need much less of), and are the primary components of food. We only have three macronutrients to consume — fat, protein, and carbohydrates. That’s it. Three!
It makes absolutely zero physiological — or rather, just plain logical — sense, that severely cutting back on any one of the three macronutrients upon which human life is sustained could result in any lasting improvement in health, whatsoever.
Significantly restricting a macronutrient, especially carbohydrates, can result in devastating effects to your metabolism, or your mitochondrial activity — that would be what’s going on in every one of your cells in order for your body to function.
So yeah, it’s a pretty big deal. Essentially, your health (and your weight management) is all about metabolism.
When the metabolism isn’t functioning properly, not only does sex hormone and growth hormone production fall, but the body’s rate of fat burning decreases and it starts to produce more fat from food — particularly carbohydrates — causing a rise in triglycerides in the blood.
And that, actually does lead to insulin resistance, which means an overly increased appetite and storage of fat into fat cells. But you wouldn’t have this problem if your metabolism was functioning as it should, and burning up those carbohydrates properly as fuel.
Carbs are not the problem — metabolism is. And that’s exactly what Matt’s program is designed to fix.
Matt believes that there are a number of things that can contribute to a messed-up metabolism, and weight problems that result. Some of these primary factors include:
- Low-carbohydrate dieting
- Low-fat dieting
- Low-calorie dieting
- Other forms of restrictive dieting
- Mental/emotional stress
- Insufficient sleep
- Consumption of alcohol, caffeine, or other drugs
- Nutrient deficiency, such as iodine, magnesium, B-vitamins, or vitamin D
All these things can contribute to adrenal burnout, hypersecretion of the adrenal hormone cortisol, or both, leading to a sluggish metabolism.
So, how are you supposed to go about fixing that slow metabolism of yours?
The answer might be pretty shocking to you.
RRARF — The Anti-Diet
Let’s paint a little picture in our minds, shall we?
What would you say would be the worst possible thing for someone trying to lose weight to do?
If your answer is, “Hmm, probably sit on the couch all day long and eat as much possible food, like whatever kind you wanted, at every moment you felt the desire to do so. Basically stuff your face like crazy. Oh, and don’t exercise. At all. Yep, that’s all just about the worst thing for someone who’s overweight,” I’ve got a little surprise for you.
That’s exactly what Matt Stone wants you to do if you want to lose weight.
And the crazy thing is, I think he’s right.
*cue audible gasps and low-carb Paleo-ites rushing to press the little red “x” at the top corner of this window*
Allow me to explain.
What we just described was basically RRARF, which stands for Rehabilitative Rest and Aggressive Re-Feeding. It’s Matt’s defining program for metabolic restoration — boot camp for they body’s metabolism.
Just like the name says, it involves a lot of rest (read: sleeping literally half the day if you can, and avoiding exercise at all cost), and a process known as “overfeeding.” The rest part goes a long way in healing the adrenals and decreasing cortisol levels, as well as providing the body a chance to repair itself metabolically. But only if you’re providing the fuel to make that happen. Enter “overfeeding.”
“[Overfeeding] is unmistakably a negative feedback system, in which the more you eat above your appetite, and the more sedentary you are to minimize the amount of calories you burn, the more the body fights back against this surplus by:
- Raising the Metabolism
- Decreasing hunger
- Increasing physical energy
- Increasing the pulse rate
- Increasing body temperature
- Increasing the rate of lipolysis (burning fat for energy)And the list goes on. These are all the homeostatic feedback mechanisms that regulate body weight kicking in. Whether thin or fat, virtually all humans share this same physiology. The more you eat above your level of appetite, the more difficult it becomes to continue gaining weight.”
In his original e-book on RRARF (available for free here), Matt is careful to emphasize the importance of eating quality real food in abundance on the “High-Everything Diet.” Very refined carbohydrates and sugars, in addition to PUFA oils, are to be avoided.
Matt even said that “RRARF is designed to address the refined carbohydrate and excessive omega 6 issues that lie at the core of metabolic syndrome/low mitochondrial activity.”
But more recently, he’s has encouraged a lot more relaxation when it comes to choosing the foods you’ll need to gorge yourself on when doing RRARF. (Although the O-6/PUFA oil theory is still holding strong. Polyunsaturates are pretty bad news.)
Matt actually thinks that junk foods, including those with tons of sugar and white flour, can be used temporarily as a tool to establish healthy metabolism and therefore, long-term health.
It’s okay, brain. Please don’t explode at the thought of that one.
Because the thing about Matt’s research is that it’s based off of reasoning, logic, history, and observation, not what industry-paid scientists have to say to back up pre-asserted hypotheses. Yes, there’s plenty of research out there that points to sugar and “refined carbs” as the all-encompassing culprit of obesity and other illness. There’s also plenty of research that proves butter causes heart disease.
Can I get an
Restrictive diets are not a good thing — they lead to metabolic ruin. So when we’re trying to rebuild metabolism, the last thing Matt wants you to do is cut out every non-perfect food labeled as “junk” by the health diet gurus. We don’t want restriction. We want a food superabundance — and some of the tastiest (read: junkiest) foods are the most bang-for-your-caloric-buck ones available. Just what the doc — er, uh — metabolism expert ordered!
So if swapping out sauteed broccoli and kale for buttermilk pancakes and maple syrup sounds like a good deal to you — especially if it means losing weight — you might want to look into this whole Matt Stone thing.
And if you’re a “diet failure” with a weight problem that nothing seems to fix, I’d encourage you to check out Matt’s book, Diet Recovery, and/or consider calling him up for a consultation. Investing in either of those things is not something I think you’ll regret. Matt really is one of the leading experts today on metabolic health, and in my opinion, educating yourself about the subject with his help is worth every penny and then some.
What do you think?
Have I gone completely nuts, y’all? Or are you just as interested as I am in learning more about how all this metabolism stuff works? Experienced 180D‘ers are more than welcome to chime in with personal experiences!