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!
I don’t know about this one. I was always super slim – I ran a lot and ate very well. One summer I was under so much stress from my job, I completely stopped running and ate whatever I damn well please. Nearly one year later I am STILL trying to recover from the 30 lbs I gained.
So I don’t think eating whatever you’d like and doing absolutely nothing works for everyone. I think that it can cause a lot of emotional issues & even lead to a depressive state.
Matt Stone says
That’s your body’s way of healing from stress. It’s natural to want to eat those foods and live that way because it shuts down your stress hormones and is actually protective.
My program isn’t so much about weight loss as it is stopping the yo-yo cycle, which, in the vast majority causes a long-term worsening of body composition and a lot of food issues.
I talk a lot about how doing “cardio” like running or lots of hiking and then suddenly stopping is very fattening as well. Because running primes the body for fat gain if you ever stop, which most eventually will because running sucks and is really hard on the body. It only works as a weight loss and maintenance strategy if you do it regularly for the rest of your life. Few that attempt to do that pull it off, and end up less muscular, with a lower metabolism, and more body fat – especially right in the belly.
Matt / Zach –
Thank you both for your responses & time.
I agree & definitely understand about cardio / running priming the body for fat gain. It does seem that it’s very easy for me to gain weight if I stop and/or am not careful about what I eat. However, I do love the way running makes me feel. Maybe it’s a sort of addiction?
I would like to read more about RRARF. I have noticed times where I seem to always be the cold one in the room, and I’m sure my metabolism is totally broken. I’m scared to “experiment” (lack of better word) at this point because I’m getting married in 4 months and still want to lose the last 15 lbs I’ve gained.
Matt – I understand that your main focus isn’t weight loss (although this may be an outcome of your approach), but do you ever treat circumstances differently for people who have a “deadline”.
(Thanks for posting, Emily!)
(just downloaded your free e-book, by the way ;))!
Totally understand the time crunch thing, Ann! My wedding is in 6 weeks. I quit GAPS because I was freaking out over not meeting my weight goals (which is actually to gain) by the wedding.
From what I understand, many people do tend to gain weight at first on RRARF. There’s a saying in the 180D community that goes something like, “Hurry up and gain the weight, so you can start losing it!” So, if putting on a few pounds right now would be a little too unwelcome, in case you didn’t lose it all by the big day, maybe you might want to hold off. It’s probably tough to predict how it will go for each individual. But in my opinion, it sounds like this is something you will eventually need. Good for you for being open-minded enough to consider it!
Oh congrats, Emily!!!! You must be so excited. Can you believe how quickly the time flies before the wedding? Needless to say, I wish I had your problem, but the grass is always greener on the other side, right? 🙂 I’m sure you’ll look beautiful no matter what!
I definitely like to keep an open mind so I don’t pigeon hole myself into a thought process or turn my diet beliefs into a religion. Although, I must say, I do seem to agree a lot with the Paleo approach. Reading Loren Cordain’s new book now “The Paleo Answer.” The chapter on vegetarianism is outstanding.
Thanks for your input, Matt! Runners actually turn into muscle-less fatties… wow. My brains. They explode once more.
Reading that makes me so happy! I hate to run haha!!
i just stumbled on this topic and very interesting. I am battling overweight since 2009.
the real culprit is stress(mental,emotional and physical in that arrangement!!) I once consider myself healthy, I eat what I want but not in excess…i just eat what I felt like to eat at times but most of the time I eat healthy foods, right amount of carbs,loves veggies and very minimal on any red meat. Until I had a very bad day at work and all my temper-holding flew out the windows…to the point that I was eating&crying and eating&crying and eating some more. I feasted on any food i set my eyes into, even tried those that I don’t normally or never tried before gasp! am now 36 and weighing 65kg! I desperately want to get back to a healthy weight for my age and regain everything I’ve lost gaining the extra extra pounds! and anything I’ve tried doesn’t work! reading the article above give me a hundred thoughts of trying it! I somewhat agree with Ann:-)
Emily Bartlett @ Holistic Kid says
Thanks, Emily. You’ve done a great job of summing up RRARFing in a concise understandable post. (No offense, Matt, but you can be a bit wordy for my short attention span ;)). While the concept makes sense, I’m still not quite convinced about the pigging out part, but as for the sleep and stress – what an important point. I am closing my eyes as I type this to give my mommy-hindered metabolism a much needed recharge.
Thanks so much, Emily! Haha, I’m glad it was concise enough for you! Brevity isn’t exactly my strong suit, so that’s good to hear. 🙂
I definitely wasn’t convinced about all this craziness at first, either. The more I dig into it though, the more things start to fit together. But yeah, the rest part is something everyone should be able to agree on! I think most people don’t have a clue just how stressed and sleep-deprived they are. Get a solid 10 or 12 hours in one night, and you’ll feel like you’re living in another dimension when you wake up!
Of course, that’s easier said than done for you mommies, I’m sure! 😉
Ann, there is a method to the madness. When most end up eating what they want and stop exercising its because they are stressed and usually depressed which leads to eating bad foods at bad times. Sure your eating junk and sitting on your ass which sounds a lot like Matts ideas but its not the same thing.
RRARFing is first and foremost about de-stressing yourself to let the body heal. Stress from work, exercise, food choices, obsessions, sleep deprivation and so on. Secondly its strategic over-eating where you are using certain foods to build a suplus of calories and nutrients to force your body into an anabolic and highly metabolic state. Third you are trying to heal the body through rest and calories. When you actively try to achieve this state, magical things can happen. Yes most will initually gain f weight in fat and muscle but if you ride it out long enough, you might find the fat reversing and your body feeling better and stronger then ever. Also although Matt is talking about using “junk” food to heal, there is a world of difference between mcdonalds burgers and some home made grassfed patties, pastured cheese, organic white buns and ketchup. Always put a premium on food quality. The problem comes when people mistake healthy foods for junk just because some guru says so. This diet also puts a premium on digestion so in that context, white bread is healthy and not whole wheat. Simple carbs over complex. Saturated over poly. Ice cream over fiberous veggies. You get the idea.
Thanks so much for your input. I’m curious to learn more about this RRARF approach. I’ve also responded directly under Matt’s first comment to me.
Also, Zach, I’m interested to know what your background is in. I’ve read some of your other replies and it’s wet my curiosity.
Great comment, Zach. I think a lot of people have a tough time seeing how RRARF differs from just the typical overweight SAD eater’s lifestyle. But that about sums it up. Great point about digestion as well — sometimes the “healthiest” versions of foods are not going to be in your best interest initially while you recover. I hadn’t thought of it that way.
I’m so happy you wrote this!!! I have been eating a strict Paleo for the past few months. Before that I was basically starving myself. I just couldn’t out why I couldn’t release my extra pounds. I followed all the popular Paleo gurus advise, joined a popular site for 20.00 bucks a month and still nothing. And to top it off I was feeling like crap – even getting moody emotional. AnnMarie from the Cheeseslave kept talking about her success w/ eating carbs and mentioning Matt Stone. I thought she was nuts at first! I was so brainwashed w/ the Paleo lifestyle. Even starving my young boys of carbs…poor guys!
Matt Stone’s Diet Recovery book is the best thing!!! I’m serious! The very first thing to change was my waking body temp. By a lot actually – 2 degrees in a month. I instantly felt better after adding carbs. I started to eat a big carby breakfast, didn’t skip lunch and kept it light for dinner. My appetite is not like a starving dog anymore, it’s neutral and calm.
I’ve also lost a few pounds w/ out trying. I will start my workout doing krav maga and cage fitness and happily eat my grains again.
Healthy grains of course – starchy veggies, and breads from a local bakery here in Boulder, CO that are traditionally prepared (soaked/starters/organic)…My husband is jumping for joy. Bless his heart he just sat back and did the Paleo thing w/ me with out saying a word even thogh he hated it.
Anyways yeah…Paleo sucks IMO! lol.
Love this!! Thanks for sharing, Stephanie! You’re in good company as an ex-paleo-turned-Diet-Recoverer now, though. So many people turn to Matt to fix what paleo did to them! The “Eat Better Than a Caveman” book is next on my list. Can’t wait to tackle that topic here. I’m mentally preparing for the backlash of the Sisson-worshipers now!
And oh my gosh, that is too cute about your husband… I say the same thing about my fiance when he happily went through GAPS intro with me. He is loving his bread and beers now, though! 😀
Sorry you both had such bad experiences on Paleo. Since starting Paleo, I have literally never felt better. I have lost weight and have finally gotten my blood sugars under control (I was always hypoglycemic for as long as I can remember). Add on top of that that all of my digestive issues have gone by the wayside! So I’m glad you’ve found something that works better for you..just wanted to share a Paleo success story!
I know what you mean! I felt that way for months, not on pealeo, but on 0ish carb
now the 0 carb is getting to me ( I didn’t even notice how low carb it was, maybe a vegetable a day and that’s it), so yesterday I did a big GAPS-like binge on honey and squash, and overnight I slept hours and hours more than usual! And my temp is great
I’m still probably in paleo-like range for daily carbs though. I guess everyone’s just gotta find their limit! I probably wouldn’t enjoy a high carb lifestyle
glad you’re healthy!
Mindy @ Too Many Jars in My Kitchen! says
I’m also in Boulder and would love to know where you are getting your bread. I’ve been meaning to look for some better, fresh choices for my hubby. I’m still on GAPS and so not doing any grains still. Thanks!
I essentially did this while trying to recover and figure out what the hell was wrong with me when many doctors just wanted to blame everything on my thyroid. My thyroid is literally dead because I had it treated with radioactive iodine post graves disease. Because I was literally too sick and tired to do anything, I mostly laid in bed and did nothing. I ate whatever I wanted pretty much, when I did eat. It certainly didn’t help me to feel any better, and I gained weight. I was told that all my aches and pains and stomach issues were from the hypothyroidism, or from IBS, or from fibromyalgia, or adrenal fatigue, or that I had chronic fatigue syndrome. Even when my thyroid is in “normal” range, I feel like pure shit. I have seen like a million doctors who can’t help me to feel any better. I have tried synthroid, synthroid and cytomel together, compounded t3 and t4, armour, and am now on naturethroid. I stopped eating gluten after my sister was diagnosed with celiac disease and that has helped my stomach a lot. I am currently on the intro stage of GAPS and it has dramatically helped stomach issues. However I am still fat and fatigued. Any ideas?
Renee K says
The GAPS intro diet makes everyone feel awful. It pushes through some pretty serious healing and Dr Campbell-McBride does NOT recommend intro for most adults, unless they have a very serious condition and someone is nursing them through it.
I would skip to full GAPS and certainly keep on eating LOADS of good GAPS-legal food and get lots of rest.
Where does Dr. NCM say that she doesn’t recommend Intro for adults? From what I’ve read she recommends it for everyone except pregnant/nursing mothers.
I see you’ve tried a bunch of different thyroid meds already, so I really don’t know if this will do anything for you at all, but my experience (hypothyroid due to radiation treatment) was that my absolute *worst* fatigue was when I was on Synthroid. I’d been on the generic levothyroxin, but the batches were getting unpredictable, so I got the Synthroid name-brand prescription. Horrible fatigue. Knowing that different people react to different brands differently, I begged for a different one (dr. was skeptical). Levoxyl was what did (does) the trick for me.
Possibly look into Josh Rubin of East West Healing. They follow a lot of what Ray Peat says, if you have heard of him. If not, google him. I’m just now learning, so I’m not saying that they are right on about everything, but I feel like I am learning a lot of information. Good Luck!
Violet, check out Sarah Wilson’s site. She writes about many of the same health issues, so it will be of interest to you.
I can’t say that I subscribe to Matt Stone’s POV, but it makes me glad I’ve never had a weight problem. It must be SO confusing to get so much conflicting information.
Personally, I think our bodies were designed to be active most of the day, and I think the industrial revolution (while beneficial in many ways!) totally thwarted what our bodies were meant to do.
I agree that our bodies are meant to be moving all day, but there’s a difference. That was supposed to be constant and steady. Running, even long distance, and other cardio exercises is very hard on the body. It puts a stress on it that it was never meant to have.
I strongly doubt that our bodies are not meant to run. I’m not much of a runner, so I’m not coming from a marathoner’s perspective. And I have concerns about the effect of too much running on joints, etc. But I have a hard time looking back into history for evidence that people in a whole variety of active pastoral jobs didn’t need to run on a daily basis.
Some (no, not excessive – I would never try for a marathon) active cardio has got to be good for you. I understand there are limits when a body is very stressed and needs healing. But a healthy body should be able to do a reasonable quantity of running.
Great post, Emily. Here’s the thing though. As much as I agree with this, it’s REALLY hard to convince people to do it. As a Nutritional Therapist, I tried with a few people and it didn’t go well. Now granted, the few people I tried with were really in the toilet health-wise (I’m talking 20-30 years of hypothyroidism and all it’s associated symptoms) but I couldn’t convince them to stick with it over the long term. People really need to take a leap of faith with this and it’s hard for many to overcome the “eat less, exercise more” conditioning. I think Matt says to stick with it for a month but even that is not enough for some people to get their metabolism moving. I’m wondering what he tells them when even after a month, things are still stuck. Hypothyroidism can be a real beast to turn around!
Hey Craig! Thanks so much. RRARF definitely does take a great deal of dedication, from what I gather, and a leap of faith, as you said. Even though it’s enjoyable and makes you feel good, as opposed to other dietary interventions!
I think where a lot of people get hung up is their inability to actually get the rest they need. Working moms and single parents and such would have a very difficult time sleeping enough, I would think, without hiring a nanny or something.
I also think it takes longer than a month for some people to truly overcome that “eat less, exercise more” conditioning, especially in order to actually allow themselves to go super heavy on the carbs, which is of huge importance for the thyroid issues of course. Did your clients’ temps improve at all during the time they tried it? If not, I would suspect they really weren’t eating enough carbs…
One client’s temps improved slightly, the other not at all. And yes, I didn’t think the person who didn’t improve was really doing what I asked her to do (though she said she was). Client compliance can be a real challenge!
RRAFing makes a lot of sense to me – especially when I saw my own weight go up and body temp drop after low carbing for a few months. One thing that I don’t agree with 100% with Matt Stone is that most digestive issues can be healed when the metabolism is healed. I think some people – despite relaxing and stuffing their faces, will still need help to deal with hormone issues caused by malnutrition. I kind of doubt that C-section and formula fed babies have higher obesity rates in adulthood just because they don’t get enough macronutrients or have stressful lives compared to their vaginally delivered/breastfed counterparts. It has to do with gut flora and enzyme production among other things. I know my own weight gain/fatigue issues began after a serious round of antibiotics. I’m looking into enzyme therapy in addition to RRAFing. It seems to make the most sense to me.
Sorry – forgot an “R” in “RRARF”
Exactly, it has to do with gut flora and the type of nurishment they get. A babies first gut flora come from the birth canal and then from live breast milk. Missing out on those two things, breastmilk in particular will cause a different gut evironment and can lead to many health problems later in life. Also compare the makeup of breastmilk compared to standard formula and you will see that they arent getting any near the quality nurishment on formula. Plus the immune protection babies get from breast milk cant be replaced.
SO interesting!!! I don’t really have a take on RRARF; that said, something about it does ring true.
The main thing I was glad to see is some cognitive rationale about the whole Paleo thing. It has always sounded so unlike evolution & the human body that in TEN THOUSAND YEARS the body couldn’t adjust to grains??!! And, though I don’t eat a ton of carbs, when my body calls for them the thought of saying “No, body, have some beef.” has kept me from going Paleo.
Thanks so much for this!!!
Susan R says
I am re-subscribing after reading this on fb. (But like cleaning out a closet, something else will have to go. Probably Mark’s Daily Apple. lol) I have a ‘life-ending’ disease, Pulmonary Fibrosis, and felt I might as well not worry about diet anymore. But I do! I’ve been reading Matt Stone for quite awhile now and really like what he says. It’s helped me ease up on low-carbing. Thank you for the concise overview. 🙂
The fact that I made the cut on someone’s RSS feed over Mark Sisson just made my day. No, week. Year? LOL.
Thanks, Susan. 🙂 I think we could all stand to ease up on a lot of things, you know?
Very interesting article, however, does that mean on the opposite side of the coin, that a person who wants to gain weight should eat a restricted diet and exercise a lot? And is it the rest and de-stressing that helps the metabolism normalize or the overeating? I only comment on this because I have quite a few friends who are some of the least stressed people I know, they eat whatever they want, when they want it, they don’t work out, and they are fat.
Amanda @ Traditional Foods says
Are there compelling success stories? For every success story, how many people are there with an extra 20 to lose from their junk food kick start? (That’s where I would be.)
In my experience with weight loss, my best strategy is to cut calories and do rigorous exercise. I lost 10 in May this way. Working in the garden, taking in sun, and generally moving around tends to help with stress which can help with the weight loss as well.
Yay Emily! You’ve returned!
My experience with RRARF:
I had stomach troubles – heartburn, stomach aches, indigestion – so I went on GAPS to try and fix it. I went on intro and while I felt good over all (plenty of energy), my stomach problems got instantly worse and kept getting worse. Very painful. I only lasted ten days on it before I had to call it quits.
Then I jumped right from GAPS into RRARF (because my temps were all over the place and my feet were freezing), which was probably too fast a transition. I began eating lots of non-gluten grains, sweet potatoes, potatoes, as well as fats, meat, raw dairy, fruits and vegetables. All real foods still, and overeating them.
After a few days, my stomach problems completely went away. It turns out that it’s actually lack of starch in my diet that seems to trigger my digestive issues. Weird.
Anyway… even though my stomach felt better on RRARF, HOLY *^@! did I feel like crap energy wise! I was in the biggest brain fog all the time. Which ended up stressing me out. And I also began not wanting to eat anything at all.. my appetite was gone. Food was soooo unexciting and I really didn’t want to eat as much as I was eating because food just wasn’t fun anymore. Anyway… feeling bad and not wanting to eat, yet having to, was stressing me out…… counterproductive?
Anyway…. I gave up on it too (after only two weeks) and I’ve transitioned back into a regular ol WAPF diet that includes plenty of starch and isn’t so strict. I feel better and not so stressed out now. I’ve learned a lot from Matt Stone and love his message still and I plan to continue on with intuitive eating…. listening to my body. RRARF wasn’t that for me. Even though, I know, I know …. he says you’re supposed to feel like crap in the beginning… but…. I don’t know. I just couldn’t go on…. it still felt like a diet that I was supposed to adhere to!
That’s my story 🙂 oddly enough my feet feel a bit warmer now that I’ve stopped eating so much. Maybe mental stress has the most detrimental effect on my metabolism. From now on, I am just going to focus on emotional healing stuff …. meditation, yoga, EFT…. stress relief, instead of thinking about my diet so much. Which I guess in the end, is still the fundamental message behind Diet Recovery.
Four years ago I ate crap ALL THE TIME. Sugar was addicting to me and I was super thin. I got pregnant and after that would become VERY ill when I ate anything with white flour and sugar. I have just gotten to where I can eat honey in small amounts (the foods would cause panick attacks which I had never had in my life) I was trying to get healthy so in the midst of panick attacks and new baby and a lot of stress from being afraid of what was happening to me I started a low fat diet (thinking it was healthy) and was basically starving myself (seemed like then I reacted to everything so I didn’t know what to eat) and picked up running during which I miscarried 🙁 Started not caring and eating a lot of G/F breads and stuff. STILL underweight and VERY dry skin and food allergies. Started GAPS and did the INTRO and basically ruined myself with it… I had such blood sugar issues that I could barely eat and was shaking so bad… 2 months later and I am working with a doc on adrenal fatigue… I am stuck in bed with two boys under 5. My blood sugar is still up and down like crazy and everything is wearing me out. some days better then others but the laying around is so depressing. So, what the heck do I eat???? we have finally (today actually) decided that a paleo/wapf way of eating would be best right now. I went back to eating anything I am not “allergic” to and have gotten HUGE! I am not allowed to excercise and have to rest a lot. I worry about my blood sugar and not excercising… isn’t that bad for your heart?? I am going insane… lol… I am thinking high fat/med protein/raw yogurts and moderate nuts/cheese/fruits with plenty of veggies and one meal with properly prepared grains… any tips?! sorry, just really looking for answers…
Tim Swart says
Great article…Interesting thoughts for sure. As a former T2 diabetic who reversed the issue living Paleo this past year, I have added back in things like sweet potatoes and white rice for my carbs after workouts. Everything going great, sugars still normal, and I’m stronger than ever. I think the biggest mistake that People make when being Paleo is that it’s LOW Carb. It can be, but doesn’t have to be. The healthiest paleo’s I know are all eating plenty of carbs, just not the refined junk ones.
Now many will never be able to eat bread as most find this lifestyle because they are “celiac” which we all know cannot tolerate any grains at all. A few are even hypersensitive celiac and must consume whole real foods with no grain influence even in the meat supply. Being able to emphasize the info that “good” carbs are what people should be eating not the traditional “whole grain” carbs that the dietetic and medical communities are spewing daily is key.
Unfortunately this does not work for the metabolically deranged folks who have many autoimmune diseases, and especially T2 diabetes. Carbs do matter. I know I would never have been able to reverse this disease eating any kind of bread and starches regularly as Matt Stone talks about. PUFA’s are a huge problem, but grain based carbs are also once you have the disease. I ate my share of junk food for 3 years after diagnosis, but I did give the garbage up for a time, but my sugars never improved. All I got was another drug which made it even worse till I found Paleo.
I am experimenting with different carbs after workouts and so far, white rice and sweet potatoes are my go to for the need. I eat many vegetables but always grass fed meats, and pastured bacon. Plenty of good fats, and I’m in a pretty good place right now on my way to my goal of 220lbs…Started 4/28/11 at 312, 257 at 1 year, and many inches down. Finding the balance is what we all strive for. Thanks for sharing the info! 🙂
Kathy (aka Mrs Dull) says
Interesting post Emily! I think most people would definitely benefit from more calories from nutrient dense sources. I do think that suggesting lowering standards to permit junk food as a source of greater calories/carbs is confusing though. As I understand it Matt suggests this because it can be difficult for some to get high quality sources of calories. In his view it’s better to have plenty of calories and a less than clean diet than it is to have a clean diet that is calorie restricted. I’m in basic agreement with this. I think calorie restriction is pretty bad, especially over long periods of time. However, I don’t think it’s very difficult at all to meet calorie requirements even for re-feeding on an 80/20 real food diet. Perhaps Matt is just trying to let people know that they shouldn’t sweat the 20% of not-so-high-quality food. But, still I think Matt’s original suggestion in his RRARF ebook of eating high quality real foods is less confusing and makes it clear that to experience good results it’s necessary for a large portion of the food to be nutrient dense.
Also, I think it’s interesting to note that Sally Fallon in “Eat Fat, Lose Fat” also advices against calorie restriction for anyone with any health issues. That’s pretty much all of us 🙂 . Her advice is to eat as much nutrient dense food as possible if you are dealing with a health problem. Personally, I’ve been emphasizing nutrient dense food in my diet for not quite a year while I have gained some weight, it’s been pretty minimal in comparison to the relief in asthma symptoms I’ve experienced. I’ll take a few extra pounds in exchange for breathing any day :-).
Do you include carbs in your nutrient dense diet? I am curious because I also want to improve my health but I am underweight (I want to put on weight) and I feel this constant source of anxiety about carbs. I try to stay away from them and I lose weight, so then I get discouraged and I go back to carbs, but then I fear what the carbs may be doing to my health. : )
Kathy (aka Mrs Dull) says
Hi Aimee … I do eat carbs as much as I like. Potatoes, sourdough whole wheat bread and honey. Since my diet is about 80% real food and 20% average I also eat a small amount of white flour and sugar. So my diet isn’t perfect. The real turn around for me was realizing that what mattered most was getting as many nutrients as possible for the amount of food I could eat. In the beginning that wasn’t a whole lot so bone broths, raw dairy, fermented cod liver oil, butter and beef tallow figured prominently. Keeping my diet clean was secondary to this nutrient density. After the first phase I added a lot of lunches with liver in it. My symptoms are slowly but surely getting better and I have a better appetite. I hope this is some help to you in gaining weight :-).
Very glad you posted this!
I’ll admit that the first time I came across Matt Stone’s site I was less than impressed with the lax attitude towards junk food. This is down to two main reasons. The first being that I have healed a lot of my own hormonal and metabolic issues through elliminating all processed garbage and leading a better lifestyle, and secondly because I am completing a degree in Naturopathy and Nutrition so it upset my delicate sensibilities 😉
To see junk food encouraged probably challenged me more than it should have, and really I couldn’t read any more of his theories as I just dismissed it on that basis alone. I feel like my years of study mean I know too much about how every system of the body is negatively impacted by these foods to embrace such an approach. Your post is great because it shows the other factors for success such as reduced stress and more sleep, which I think are really wise.
I definitely agree with him that calorie counting is a ridiculous and damaging fad (both physically and psychologically), and calorie-restricted diets are a recipe for disaster… what I have difficulty coming to grips with in terms of this approach is how terrible I know I feel after just one weekend of doing nothing, relaxing, and eating absolutely whatever I want. Maybe this method is more for people who have essentially been starving themselves on restriced diets for a long time, and this certainly isn’t me. Perhaps it simply wouldn’t be therapeutic for me as I have already taken another approach and repaired myself successfully that way? I used to feel pretty wretched all of the time and have worked very hard to feel nourished and supported by my meals instead of depleted and woozy, so I know for me personally, experimenting with this protocol would be very difficult as I would feel that I was poisoning myself and taking steps away from health rather than towards it…
I’d love to see some longterm results of clients he has worked with (both successful and otherwise), as I really do find this fascinating. I can believe that eating an unrestricted diet in terms of caloric value is extremely therapeutic (especially if including plenty of natural, saturated fats), however it’s the comments on junkfood that make me hesitant to mention this to clients, or truly experiment with it myself.
I wonder, could you successfully use this introductory approach to correcting metabolism with a 100% clean (yet calorically unrestricted) diet and only relaxing, meditative exercise such as yoga rather than no exercise at all?
liz bird says
sorry I found the tone of this article so annoying, so I didn’t finish reading it- also some of the facts were wrong- there hasn’t actually been any research ever- that links heart disease to good quality, high saturated fats. Also, though I agree maybe it’s not good to go entirely on a low carb diet, there is research that shows the ill effects of refined carbs on the body. Also, why would you eat such bad food to get the body to react and lose weight? That seems very unwise to me. Thank you
Johnny Lawrence says
Welcome to the dark side.
LOL. Thanks, Johnny!
Annie Dru says
Really? Why be dismissive of Liz’s valid question? I don’t think she’s the only one who’s wondering how “junk food” can have a healing effect on the metabolism.
I also wonder whatever happened to ‘eating to appetite’? The concept of Hara Hachi Bu, or eating to only 80% of capacity, seems to work well for the Okinawans. Almost 30% of them live to be 100 years old, which is 4 times more than the western average.
I don’t hear Matt addressing the importance of digestion in his theory. “Overeating” seems like a recipe for ‘under-digestion’… at least that’s been my experience. Digestion requires an enormous amount of metabolic energy if one doesn’t pay attention to the quality and preparation of what’s being consumed; energy that could better be used for repairing and rebuilding the body. Also, it’s well accepted by traditional healing modalities that partially or undigested food sets the scene for imbalance and disease.
More important for healing than increasing caloric intake, is maximizing nutrient density. For example, according to Sally Fallon liver contains anywhere from 10-100 times the nutrients of muscle meat from the same animal. No one needs to eat more than their activity level requires if they emphasize consumption of Dr. Price’s “sacred foods” and then prepare those foods for maximum digestion using traditional techniques.
I do agree that those of us with spent adrenals and imbalanced thyroids need deep, recuperative rest and many more hours of night time sleep than our culture condones. We also need to spend less time in front of the computer… and so on that note I’ll take my leave (:
Lately I’m having serious gallbladder issues. If I eat anything with fat in it, I have an attack. Do you suggest still trying this RRARFing?
Hmmm I don’t think I’ll be trying this one any time soon… though I’d definitely be interested in hearing feedback from those who are brave enough to try it!
Joshua Tenner says
I will try it, and post results. Personally, when I’m hungry, I’m just going to eat good food until I’m full, all the time.
YAY! Way to go, Joshua. That’s definitely a great idea — eating til you’re full. Restricting food doesn’t do anybody any good! Keep me posted my friend.
I like the Japanese thinking (mentioned in one of the other comments) of eating till 80% full. People who eat smaller meals have a much easier time w/blood sugar.
Keeping in mind that it takes 20 min. for fullness to register, many people wolf down their food (in the process distending their stomachs) and are not in touch w/how much food their bodies actually need.
Joshua Tenner says
If you want to gain some weight easier, you can just choose some high reward high palatability foods like curry sauces, butter on mashed potatoes, spiced cheese burgers, coconut oil fried bananas(!) and other really tasty foods.
My friend put on 2 pounds in the past 2 weeks using this advice, and he feels better for it.
Of course, you could also try doing the opposite of what Matt Stone suggests. Either way, you should be drinking tons of coconut milk, and having a mini-cheat day, every day ;-).
Oh definitely eating whatever the heck kind of food I want has helped me tons!! 😀
You know what’s crazy though, this stuff works for people who are both overweight AND underweight. I asked Matt when I first started learning about it if I shouldn’t do this, since I’m trying to gain. He said, nope… it’s the same underlying problem. Metabolism matters so much!
When I permitted myself to eat whatever I wanted, it ended up being pretty much all carbs. After 2 weeks of that, I had to seek help from a nutritionist because I hardly had enough strength to climb stairs. In my opinion, most overweight people are too carb-oriented and do not eat enough animal protein.
Now I eat what I like, with the mantra “Produce & Protein” in the back of my head, and have been at my goal weight for 3 years with the help of Dr. Roberta Temes’ aptly named CD hypnosis set “Enjoying Weight Loss.” My stomach far prefers white bread to whole grain (boo hoo–I love the taste of whole-grain bread) and I have a serving or 2 for breakfast and lunch, but try to minimize starches for dinner.
Monica Koziol says
Lowering the T3 level in people who are hypothyroid is a BAD thing and this article is not scientific nor factual. T4, or Levothyroxine, turns into T3 in the liver, provided there is enough of the T4 to do this conversion. T4 only works for a little while, but usually patients need natural, desiccated porcine that contains T3, T4, T2 and T1 to restore the body.AND if you drink whole leaf tea, you can stabilize sugars in the blood. I am not an advocate of overeating carbs because the crap that’s in commercial breads and cereals in the past 30 some years have been stripped of nutrients. So on that, I agree.
I think you might have misread something somewhere. Not advocating lowering T3 here. That’s what a low-carb diet does.
“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.”
GREAT explaination 🙂 I’ve thrown low carb out the window for the last 6 weeks and have gone from a 97.4 body temp WHILE ON A COMPOUNDED NATURAL THYROID supplement that my naturopath Dr has me on to 98.2!!! My energy has never been better and my hormones are super way more balanced. I have 2 babies 3 and under and I don’t get the sleep I should be according to Matt Stone’s RRAFFing standards but I do try getting to bed before 10 and occasionally nap when the girls are down which I NEVER did before. I did stop running even though I was doing more of a HIIT train thing mostly because of the lack of sleep thing I deal with and because I feel like I’m finally admitting that my body has been trashed the last 4 years of being either pregnant nursing or delivering a baby – I need some freakin’ rest 😉 I do still keep gluten out for the most part since I’ve had sensitivity issues in the past but occasionally have sourdough bread that has been just fine on my belly. I have done Paleo, allergen elimination diets til the cows come home, and low carb for literally years…I feel like I’m finally feeling good – I’m NOT excited about the extra 6 -7 pounds I’ve gained to be honest…but I’d rather be feeling better than the extra 7 pounds…and maybe it will come off at some point 🙂 Thanks for the easy to understand post – I’m gonna pin it so my friends who think I’m already nuts can understand me better!
Woo hoo!! You go, Renee!! I bet once you get into the high 98’s, or even, if you join the Hot Chicks Club (lol… basal temps of 99+) you’ll probably drop the few pounds you’ve gained. But health is way more important than a number on the scale… good for you for recognizing that!
Thanks so much for sharing! Now go get some freaking rest, girl. 😀
Hello! I have questions that I need help with. I have been in the GAPS diet for 8 months and am still having huge hormonal imbalances with very low progesterone and I have hypothyroidism. Temps around 97.4. I have low energy and depression. GAPS doesn’t seem to be working for me, but it’s low carb. Now I’m reading this about carbs and am super confused. I thought Gaps was healthy, this is what my naturopath recommended I go on. ????? So I need carbs, and low carbs is making my thyroid worse??? So I’m trying to avoid gluten all together, could someone please tell me what to eat carb wise? We eat plenty of grass fed beefs, good fats, raw milk, almond flour for baking etc. we eat no potatoes, rice, etc or refined sugars. Please help. I need to normalize my balance before I go crazy. I have a 10 month old and an 8 year old who need their mom back. Thank you so much.
Hi Jackie! I would really recommend you check out Matt’s books, either Diet Recovery or 180 Degree Digestion, and maybe even consider getting a consultation from him. He charges whatever you can afford — you set your own price.
I know it’s super confusing, all the conflicting information out there. And sometimes those we trust send us down the wrong path for us. I don’t want to knock GAPS because I know it can be a powerfully healing treatment for many people. But the most glaring problem with it that I see, is that it’s very difficult for most people to get enough carbs on the diet, and almost impossible to get a therapeutic level for someone suffering with hypothyroidism and looking to heal from it. In my mind, GAPS should be used on a last-resort kind of basis.
As far as what carbs to eat, that depends on what you’re able to handle right now. Did you have a problem with gluten or any other non-GAPS foods before you started the diet? I didn’t. And I was able to go off of it with no problems at all. I immediately started Matt’s RRARF protocol, and things got so much better for me. If you did have food allergies or intolerances, Matt can help with that, too. Believe it or not, your super-healthy, super-strict diet might be what’s hindering your progress. Sometimes even so-called junky things like sugar can be used as a tool to shut down stress hormones and increase thyroid production. I know that sounds pretty scary as someone who’s been adhering to GAPS, but after 8 months, I think you said it best yourself — it’s not working for you. (Please don’t let the Dr. Natasha worshippers convince you into thinking it’s your fault!) It might be time to drastically alter your plan of action, and I really encourage you to keep an open mind. Please keep me posted! I’d love to help any way that I can.
GAPS is not meant to be low carb!!! I too am hypo thyroid and have been on GAPS for a yr and a half. I also have adrenal fatigue. BC of the adrenals I was severely limiting my sugars (meaning little to no fruit or honey which are both allowed on GAPS. At first I felt GREAT but soon found myself doing terribly, having no energy at all. After visiting with a GAPS practitioner on the phone she encouraged my to be sure I was getting plenty of carbs and not to limit anything in my diet that was legal and I wasn’t having reactions too (the fruit and honey)I began to make a point of counting my carbs to make sure I was getting enough and within just a few days I felt a huge difference! Thanks to GAPS I can finally eat fermented dairy which I’ve not been able to have for years and thankfully that has a good amount of carbs so I eat yoghourt or kefir a couple times a day usually with honey and fruit in it. I have always craved a sweet snack in the evening so I often saute an apple in butter and honey and add some coconut cream to it for an evning snack or I make a quick blender ice cream from frozen fruit, honey and coconut milk. Carbs have made a huge difference in the way I feel and it always makes me sad to see how many people thing GAPS is meant to be low carb. No where in the book does she encourage anyone to go low carb we just have to focus on eating different kinds of carbs and bc starches are where most people naturally get their carbs those of us on GAPS do have to make a more concentrated effort to make sure we are getting enough. My body temps have increased some on GAPS though still lower than I’d like, my list of foods that I can eat has grown considerably the only GAPS legal foods I can’t have are eggs (which I’ve been allergic to my whole life)and I cant overdo nuts, Before GAPS the list of foods I could eat without reaction was small enough to list on a post it . I still struggle with my weight but I TRY no to worry about it as I know once I’m healthy it should take care of itself. I have not gained additional weight since adding more carbs but I never lost any when I started GAPS anyway.
You’re totally right that the GAPS is not intended to be low-carb. And I’m so glad you’re putting an emphasis on incorporating more carbs into your diet, even though you had to learn the hard way what happens when you don’t!
For me, and for a lot of others, I think the exclusion of starch was the kicker for me. It’s completely possible to eat tons of carbs on GAPS, but I found my choices to be too limiting. I was sick of yogurt. Sick of honey. Sick of fruit and piles of veggies. They just didn’t sound good to me anymore, and I needed a bigger bang for my carbohydrate buck, so to speak. I think this is where people start to really struggle with GAPS… it’s so easy to go too low-carb because your options for including ample amounts of carbs are so limited. I also just think there are easier ways to heal, because I don’t think the root of digestive problems ends with the gut. It goes beyond that. I think GAPS should be an absolute last resort.
Go Kaleo says
I lost 80 pounds by eating what most people consider a huge amount of food: usually 2500-2800 calories a day. When I finally decided to lose the weight once and for all, and really started studying weight loss and nutrition, what I realized was that making my body healthy was of primary importance (I speculated that once my body was healthy, it would normalize at a healthy weight), and there was no way I was going to get healthy without enough calories and nutrients. So I spent a few months figuring out how many calories I was burning every day and then ate that much, or just a few hundred calories shy, and lose 80 pounds over the course of 18 months. I never restricted carbs, in fact I typically ate 1000 calories worth of just fruit a day, or fat or protein, I made sure I got ENOUGH of everything my body needed.
Calorie and carb restriction is, in my opinion, the WORST thing a woman can do to her body. I have so many clients with long-term metabolic damage from these stupid diets. It makes me furious at the gurus selling this crap.
I lost 80 lbs in one year and got off all medications and reversed a slew of chronic illnesses by going low-carb grain-free primal/paleo. Carb restriction was the best thing I ever did for my body.
And to be Devil’s advocate: how is Matt Stone not a guru?
Hi again! No I had no issues with allergies to food before GAPS and I can eat anything. Since I last posted a few days ago I have started eating some potatoes, and some gluten free breads. My body temps are now reading 98.2 instead of in the 97s. I feel a little better than the strict GAPS diet with such low carb consumption. So my question is, how can I drop weight? Is my understanding correct that it’s not the carbs etc that make you gain weight, but is it consuming refined sugars and foods with preservatives in it? Foods that are not raw or whole foods? If its not the amount of calories you eat etc, is it just the choice of food you eat that matters? We eat nothing Pre packaged etc. I make all food from scratch or bought fresh etc. thanks for your help!
Good for you, Jackie! That’s great to hear that your temperatures are already improving.
How your body regulates weight has not nearly as much to do with what you eat as most people think. It has everything to do with how your body is functioning, and very little to do with your food choices. Metabolism essentially means the rate at which your body is able to produce energy and process what you put into it. So, if you have poor metabolism, your body will be more prone to holding onto weight as a response to stress. Low body temperature and impaired thyroid function are huge stressors to the body and are related with a sluggish metabolism.
If you’re struggling with weight loss, a slow metabolism is a very likely culprit, and in my opinion, you’d be much better off working on fixing that than eating a perfect diet. You can learn pretty much everything you need to know about how to do that in Matt’s book, Diet Recovery.
How do food choices not affect how your body is functioning? That makes no sense.
With regard to weight regulation, as I said, they have very little effect, for the most part. Eating all the perfect “real”/”traditional” foods will not make your body metabolize energy more efficiently, which is necessary for weight loss. For someone who has managed to achieve and maintain a high metabolic rate, but still eats processed food (like Matt), what specific foods they choose to eat will have little to no consequence on their weight regulation, because their body is physiologically more efficient and able to respirate cellular energy than someone who is eating all the “right” foods, yet has poor metabolism.
The biggest exception to this would be the relative water and salt content of the person’s diet. For the person with low-functioning metabolism, eating foods with lower water and higher salt content will help to achieve an isotonic concentration of extracellular fluids, which promotes metabolism. So in that case, yes, food choices will affect the way their body is functioning, by improving metabolic rate.
The nutrient content of ones’ diet does not have as much physiological effect on the body’s systems as most people in the world of alternative nutrition would have you believe, especially when it comes to weight loss. That’s the gist of what I was getting at with that statement.
Thanks for replying.
Are you saying that most people are walking around in a state of hyponatremia, and that this is causing low metabolism? If so, then can you provide a reference?
Can you also please provide a reference to back up your statement that isotonic extracellular fluid promotes metabolism?
I found this reference that micronutrient intake does, in fact, play a large role in how effectively cellular respiration occurs (full text .pdf is free)
Take a look at the table on pages 280-281 with a summary of how vitamins, minerals, and trace elements are necessary for metabolism. The table was compiled based on data from publications from the Institute of Medicine.
The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Energy Metabolism and Well-Being http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/field/jimr/2007/00000035/00000003/art00001
From the conclusion:
“An overwhelming body of physiological
evidence confirms the fundamental role of
vitamins and minerals in energy
metabolism. In particular, the B complex
vitamins are essential for mitochondrial
function and a lack of just one of these
vitamins may compromise an entire
sequence of biochemical reactions necessary
for transforming food into physiological
energy. It is also clear that several minerals
and trace elements are essential for energy
generation, although more research is
needed to elucidate their precise role.”
No comment regarding the importance of nutrients on energy metabolism?
Hi! I really enjoyed this post and wonder if you’d be able to email me?
I looked into Matt Stone’s website, and very interesting. But I cannot afford anything like that now (I’m on financial disability and can barely get the basic of life taken care of). I am TRYING to help myself somehow…there has to be a way somehow.
Namely I have depression and anxiety, low weight, IBS like symptoms for a long time (like I don’t absorb food) and I suspect a host of other tummy problems…but my doc just says to “gain weight” and my other doc has PUSHED mirtazapine and lorazapam on me for the last 2 years…I’ve not taken the mirtazapine cause it scares me 🙁 It apparently causes sleep (good things) but also weight gain (sugar cravings)…YES i want to gain weight..but in that way? i’m not so sure 🙁
I also have lorazapam here and I take it occassionally but that worries me cause its addictive and my doctor doesnt seem to care about that …
NOW I feel badly for not taking the mirtazapine + lorazapam the last 2 years because I’m still low weight, still lethargic, and as a writer I’ve producted LITTLE writing…plus I’m easily distracted, always “on edge”, ruminate a lot, poor sleep, achy tired muscles, lethargic, can’t run anymore because just exhausted (like my “candle” has been blown back).
I’m also worried cause I’m sure NOT taking the meds has only killed off more brain cells and keep high cortisol in my blood and scrwed my metabolism and hormones more.
I just started taking a multi, good fish oil, vit B, vit C, vit D. I also just purchased L-glutamine..
I’ve heard of S-AME, 5-HTP, GABA, and L-theanine But DO THEY work/….
should I succumb to the damn antidepressant (mirtazapine ) and lorazapam????or are there better meds to take??? maybe trazodone is less side effectual…
I just feel lost and a couple of other genuis bloggers linked me to this post and said to comment here….please email me if you can..Much appreciated 🙂
I will definitely email you! I’d be happy to help you out however I can. Oh but I did want to point out here for anyone reading that Matt does generously offer consultations on a “pay what you can” basis. Check it out here: http://butterbeliever.com/get-help-from-matt-stone
Melissa Murphy says
So glad you put me onto this. I went on GAPS for a month and lost weight. Bad news for me as I’m extremely underweight. Then tried Intro and even though I was forewarned and tried my best to eat carbs I had no appetite and lost even more. I’ve now been trying Matts approach and after just two days I feel so much better! Still low low temps but better. I’ve had cold hands and feet all my life. So much so I wear socks in bed and gloves in summer. I tried GAPS as I have fibromyalgia and thought I needed to do something ‘drastic’ to get better. Now I think maybe low metabolism might be my problem all along as I think new evidence shows fibromyalgia to have it’s roots in mitrochondrial weakness. Still want to avoid gluten but love eating rice and potatoes again. I’ve learnt a lot from Dr. Natascha, such as listening to my body. And will continue making sour cream and meat stock and taking detox baths. But will do so while stuffing my face and getting my beauty sleep! And will be thrilled if I gain some weight. You should have seen my bony ribs showing through my wedding dress so I know where you’re coming from! Now off to get some sleep!
I’m going through the same thing. Best of luck to you. Let’s embrace our carbs with love.
Ok, thats it, my mind is completely blown now! Emily I have just found your blog, yesterday in fact, and tonight I have spent some time reading through. Your recent post about white flour really being that bad caught my eye. I opened it fully expecting it to be another post I am so familiar with about how bad gluten/grains are. But then! It wasn’t!! Now as a coeliac/celiac (I’m an aussie so spell it coeliac) I found this post really confronting. I even thought that I was in the wrong place (reading your blog). But then I went back to your About Me page and yes, you sound just like me, we have many of the same principles. So I have kept reading, and found your skinny-mini post – omg, exactly like me!! Then somehow I have found this post on Matt Stone, and as a coeliac, sugar free and low carb/sort of paleo consumer who also incidentally has low temps, my mind is so completely fried and so confused I just had to comment. I have signed up to 180D blog, but as a thin person would it help? Plus being coeliac…I really do feel better not eating gluten but sometimes there is still SOMETHING wrong. I do feel like I have found your blog for a reason. But I can’t sleep now as I am so blown away by some of Matt’s comments, I have just started my own blog about health, and until 30 minutes ago I would have hand-on-my-heart announced paleo was the way for everyone!
Sorry for the long post, I am definitely interested in reading more of your blog, and will have to rethink my own views. I am a farmer from Australia though and am passionate about the quality of the food we produce and eat, I think we can agree on that, yes? 🙂
Thanks for being so open about your journey – I have never ever come across another skinny-mini and I feel like I am reading about myself reading your posts!
Oh I just love hearing from people who are so open-minded! I wish I would have been more that way earlier on in my journey with learning all this stuff. I was very “hand-on-my-heart” about a couple things before (which I also thought was the way for everyone) that I just don’t really buy anymore. I can see how you might have been confused about whether or not I really am all about eating quality, healthy food given how contrarian my current views are to so many of the other people/authors/researchers out there talking about this stuff today!
So you’re a skinny too, huh? Well I would answer your question about whether or not Matt’s health advice helps underweight people like us, with an emphatic YES. That’s because even his Diet Recovery book isn’t about weight loss, it’s about hormonal and metabolic (cellular) health. I not only have gained enough weight to look and feel “normal” for the first time in my life, but I just have never been healthier overall. My digestive system practically has superpowers. I went from having no appetite and feeling tired and cranky all the time, to burning through probably twice the amount of food I used to eat and feeling balanced, happy, and healthy.
I think you’re wise to question whether or not avoiding gluten is going to be enough to keep you healthy as a celiac patient. Given that you’ve been eating low-carb and (unsurprisingly) have low body temps, I think you could really benefit from reading Matt’s book(s). But keep me posted! I’d love to hear more about how you’re doing now that you’ve seen the light of healthy living beyond the “paleo” bubble!
I like the balance idea:) We are such extremist it is nice to see more balance. I can say not all carbs are created equal:) Different people need different diets. Due to health conditions I still have to use grains with caution. The T-3 connection was something new, thanks for sharing I always love having new information.
Coming from a white rice and cake-loving Asian who decided to follow Mark’s low carb, “get all your carbs from veggies” diet, let me tell you about this disaster.
Yes I did lose a lot of fat, until I became nothing but a thin strip of bone, muscle, and skin. Maybe that’s what some people want but it also came with these:
-complete lack of energy
-loss of appetite
-lack of ability to focus
-reduced blood count
-hate/obsession with food
-crazed carb counting
-disruption of hormones (no more periods despite not being pregnant)
-dissatisfaction with life
I actually ended up developing an eating disorder because of the “no grain” mentality and the “health” craze. Awesome.
As I struggle to mentally accept rice and white flour again, I actually miss my chubbier self. At least back then, I was happier and full of life.
It’s all about balance for YOURSELF. Extremes in either way are unhealthy. Your primary source of info about your best health should come from YOUR body, not someone else’s stories.
I miss carbs.
Thomas Sandberg says
While I definitely find Matt Stone a welcome and alternative voice in the field of diet/health I at times think he jumps to conclusions. I have no doubt his intentions are well-intended though which is more than you can say about many of the charlatans in the health/diet-field. To cut a…rant short I need to emphasize something not only personally experienced but also experienced among others eating LCHF which might be of relevance. The supposed metabolic repression that some people, including Mr. Stone, relate to LCHF might have more to do with the extreme sensation of satiety that is likely eating like that. A personal anecdote is that I started experiencing typical “metabolic decline” (for lack of better terminology) with plateauing strength in the gym, fat loss slowing down, cold feet and even cold hands at times (which was a new experience for me), sluggishness and a decline in perceived energy levels. My rescue was starting to track my nutrional intake (in regards to another matter though). Lo and behold, I was only consuming about 2500 cals/day in average which is extremely little for someone with my constitution, body size and activity levels. Since then I have added some 300 cals to my daily average every week and currently I am at 4000 cals/day with no signs of the symptoms from the metabolic repressed state I started out from. Still losing body fat and perhaps to fast for what I would consider ideal which means I have not yet reached my proper energy intake level. I think some, if not many, people on LCHF could benefit from actually – at least intermittently – keep some track on the energy intake to get a grip on their “macros”. Even people on the other end of the spectrum, i.e. mainly trying to escape obesity and not necessarily trying to reach fit levels,could benefit from that. Plenty of influential LCHF advocates make the mistake of ignoring or even discrediting the calorie aspect and just relying that the beneficial parts of LCHF like satiety, endocrinical stability etc will do the job somewhat magically. Some even claim that you can eat as much as you want completely regarding your energy requirements which is absolutely false. What is true though is that a LCHF diet is very likely to prime your body metabolically and biochemically to USE (body)fat instead of STORE it. However that is not the same as argumenting that calories does not count…because they (eventually) do.
Again, you have blown my mind. I have been paleo for the past 6 months, and at first experienced great results. But soon enough I started having all sorts of issues – menstrual abnormalities, terrible digestion, lack of energy, depression, weight loss in all the wrong areas, VERY low body temperatures, poor immunity (I used to never get sick and am still recovering from a week+ long “cold”), brain fog, the list goes on. Already, I thought that incorporating wholesome dairy may be good for me, but now I’m even rethinking my ideas about grains… and therefore foods in general! At my job, I have been known as a paleo evangelical, but you and Matt Stone are very quickly making me rethink these things. I just want to wake up ONE day and not worry about the carb-fat-protein-alignment of the stars ratio that I currently do. It’s good to see some people out there that actually encourage positive relationships with food.
That’s exactly what it’s all about for me, Aly. A positive relationship with food. One that doesn’t involve paranoia, extreme restriction, “forbidden” foods and other unnecessary labeling, and disordered thinking about the effects food does and does not have on us.
It’s always so great to see someone identifying issues like the ones you’ve had with a paleo diet, then thinking critically and addressing their causes rather than blindly following the herd and making excuses for what went wrong like most diet gurus would have you do. There are far too many people out there who would say to you, “You’re not doing it right,” as opposed to, “The diet isn’t doing right by you.” Which it clearly is not.
Here’s to hoping that one day of ditching all your worries over macronutrient ratios and stressing other pointless nutritional minutia comes sooner rather than later. 🙂 I’ll be back to blogging about all this stuff very soon after my ebook comes out. Hope you’ll stick around!
Julie Graff says
Well said! Wonderful post.
I know, it’s unfortunate that we live in a society that thinks that the more weight you lose, the healthier you are. Any weight loss is a good thing. Well, if that were true, then we’d all go low carb, and we’d all lose tons of weight, but carbs are very important
What about people with mood swings and food/sugar addiction with being overweight after two kids? I was going to try the gaps diet but I know now it would not go well. I have two young kids and I don’t want to deal with dieoffs, just seems like a bad experience. What I getting from Matt’s book it that it is for people with weight issues only? What about getting healthy mentally with food? I love sugar and over eating, I have been doing the WAP diet and eat healthy but I just can’t stop getting that 2nd or 3rd helping. Even though I really want to loose weight I can’t give up my food. Thank for your time.
Hi Sara, great question. The principles outlined in Diet Recovery are aimed not so much for weight loss, but simply regaining overall health through boosting the metabolism. Because metabolism is simply the rate at which your cells are able to produce energy, it affects everything your body does. Really, everything. Thankfully for many people, a nice “side effect,” if you will, of restoring metabolic health, is weight loss or achieving a healthy weight for your body type.
My experience with going through this definitely involved a huge improvement in mood swings. I had been really cranky and easily irritable, and it got way, way worse on GAPS. Fixing my metabolism improved my moods in a big way. I have heard of similar experiences from many people that Matt has worked with, or who have read and applied the techniques outlined in his books. You might want to check out his latest, Eat for Heat, because it’s a lot more straightforward and very easy to implement no matter where you are health-wise or what kind of diet you want to be following.
Another book I would highly recommend to you is Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon. The Kindle (ebook) version is only $1.99 right now on Amazon. It gives such great information on why we tend to overeat, and how to change your eating habits to result in eating an appropriate amount of food/calories for your body type, without dieting. Matt is a huge fan of this book as well.
By the way, sugar cravings aren’t necessarily a bad thing. It can simply be your body indicating that you need more easily digestible carbohydrates right now for whatever it’s going through, and sugar can be used as a tool to quickly supply glucose to your cells to boost metabolic health and thyroid function. I’d suggest reading articles by Ray Peat for more info on the science behind that. But Eat for Heat does cover sugar, too. As your metabolism improves, your body will become more balanced and you may not crave/require as much sugar as you are right now when your metabolic function is weak.
Calorie restriction (particularly carb and protein restriction) and slightly low T3 levels are associated with lengthened lifespan and “healthspan.” Perhaps being able to eat as many calories and carbs as you want while still maintaining or losing weight is not exactly a sign of health. If your goal is to be able to eat as much food as you want without being restrictive of any particular food categories and without gaining weight, then perhaps the “non-diet” is for you. But if your goal is to look and feel great when you’re 80, not need diapers or a wheelchair, and even live to be a healthy and mentally sharp centenarian, restricting calories, carbs, and protein (as well as excessive exercise and stress) might be a better plan (in my opinion). The Diet Recovery book still sounds like it would be an interesting read, and possibly life-saving for any chronic or yo-yo dieters out there.
“Perhaps being able to eat as many calories and carbs as you want while still maintaining or losing weight is not exactly a sign of health. If your goal is to be able to eat as much food as you want without being restrictive of any particular food categories and without gaining weight, then perhaps the “non-diet” is for you.”
I’m scratching my head. This is not the purpose of the book. The purpose of the book is not to avoid gaining or to lose weight. It is to heal a damaged metabolism and learn to stop obsessing about food.
As someone who lived with low T3 levels after eating a GAPS and paleo diet, I will take a shortened lifespan (if that is actually the case and I can find evidence showing it is not) rather than feeling like crud all the time, which is how people feel when their T3 levels are low. When my T3 levels were low, I was not mentally sharp even though I was in my 30s. I neither looked nor felt great.
Are you living with low T3 levels and feeling and looking great? If yes, that really intrigues me because everyone I have encountered with low T3 levels feels absolutely awful and, if the levels have been low a long time, looks much older than their age. In fact, many resort to taking synthetic T3 indefinitely so they can regain some of their mental clarity and get through the day.
I had to comment because I feel like this article and many of the commenters think that paleo is a carb obsessed “diet”. It is not. It is so much more than what is being portrayed here. I have never starved myself on it, forced myself to skip meals, or had any sort of issues with it at all. My daily carbohydrate is between 15-35% depending on the day. There is also no need who exercise obsessively. I barely have 3 20 minute light workouts a week and I am still getting stronger and more fit.
I have sat on the couch, slept and ate whenever I wanted several times in my life. Each time, I gain weight incredibly quickly.
I am extremely familiar with the paleo philosophy. I own several books on it and have read hundreds of paleo blogs posts. Paleo is not carb obsessed but it is carb restrictive. The whole philosophy is to eat like a person from the paleolithic era, the cro magnon, the hunger-gatherer. Starchy tubers were only eaten if they happened to be found. Same with fruit. So the ideal paleo diet is to only eat a handful of berries in season, perhaps a small amount of dried fruit off season. Honey and maple syrup are considered “cheats” in paleo philosophy. The diet mainly consists of meat and the vegetables that grow above ground. This diet is naturally much lower in carbs than a diet that does not put a limit on grains, tubers, or fruit and includes sweeteners like sugar cane, honey, & maple syrup.
I am very glad that you have found an eating philosophy that gives you no issues. The are many, many people who have left the paleo diet, though, because it has caused a decline in their health (after an initial “honeymoon” period of feeling better). Matt Stone himself is a former paleo person, actually.
This article is very interesting to me, as I am trying to recover from this issue. For 5 years, I have maintained a thin body weight of 118-123 lbs and height of 5’8. I am 23 years old right now and will be 24 in less than 2 weeks. I have always been active (lots of walking and running, but not endurance running, even when I didnt know anything about “bad cardio” I always just listened to my body when I ran and a lot of it was sprint, walk, sprint, walk for the first 1/2 of the session then walk home the other half- I always thought I wasnt “as good” as other runners because I couldnt/didnt want to keep up the steady endurance type of running, but now Im happy I never did, knowing the consequences). I maintained this thin weight eating conventional healthy. I also suffered from disordered eating habits for 6 years. A year ago, I found the world of paleo. For the first time in my life I did a 180 on my diet and went complete opposite. From low fat high carb to high fat low carb. I made gradual changes during the first 2 months of Paleo, as I learned, then in may last year I did Diane Sanfillipos 21 day sugar detox. My carbs went from high to under 20g per day for a whole month. I have been gaining weight ever since, and my disordered eating habits turned into a full blown ED. Right now I am about 150 lbs. So this weight gain happened all in a year. Also, I developed chronic bloating issue, where my stomach distends itself and makes me look 7 months pregnant, every day. I have always had IBS symptoms but never the bloating all of the time. So, I am in recovery for my ED now but I am relapsing and I have good days and bad. No matter what I do I cannot lose the weight. I have tried cutting out everything, adding everything back in, eating food to lose weight (1.5 months now into this) but the last couple weeks I feel I have been restricting again. I am just not hungry and I hate over eating because I already feel huge. I feel like Im in a living hell that no one around me understands and Im not sure what to do. Im against diet plans (theyre bad for my ED) and I know I should give up the thought of weight loss, but I just cant. Im shocked at my body size every day since the weight gain happened in less than a year and I dont fit into anything, and my stomach wont stop being bloated. Help?
Wow, that is a heartbreaking story. My story isn’t identical but I do have some similarities. I did do extensive endurance running when I was younger, did lots of dieting, etc. I did GAPS and paleo and after and short-lived honeymoon with that way of eating I wound up feeling extremely tired, hair falling out, short-term memory loss, my teeth starting becoming transparent, gained 20 lbs. etc etc etc. Basically I felt and looked awful.
I am about 6 weeks into RRARF now and am trying really hard to focus on healing my ED thought patterns and raising my body temperature up into a normal range.
It is very possible that if you can get your body temperature up and your hormones balanced that your digestion will improve.
One other therapy that has been very helpful to me and others in my family is reflexology. You could look into it and a good practitioner will show you how to perform it yourself at home, too.
I hope you find healing and feel better soon.
I completely agree, I have tried paleo, primal, low carb, high protein , high fat. EVERYTHING!! The ONLY thing that has ever worked for me to lose excess weight is liquid dieting 4 days on and then a yummy fast food meal and back on liquids for another 4 days.. the reasoning behind this that I do is because the metabolism starts to slow down after 5 days so its a rev up tool to keep you losing the most weight possible. I KNOW liquid dieting is low calories, ( sometimes it’s not though) but I use the fast food principle for maximum effect.
I don’t know if I can fully believe this…I’ve been overweight, but always healthy (normal blood tests, exercise, etc.) because I never ate junk food, since I was a kid. Cutting out carbs definitely was my only chance to drop the pounds!
I think I’ll have to read Matt’s book to understand what you do AFTER you sleep, eat and lay around all day… cuz that hasn’t helped me feel better or lose weight – lol 🙂
I know this article is not recent, but the link for the free ebook from Matt comes back with a message that it is not found on the website. If I just type in rrarf the only option is a book for around ten dollars.
Oh darn, sorry about that. My guess is he doesn’t have that available anymore because it is somewhat outdated. I do recommend both Diet Recovery and Diet Recovery 2 if you want to learn more about the refeeding process.
Carrie Crowl says
I really want to read more. I tried to download the free e book, but it wouldn’t come up. Is there anyway I could obtain it?
Interesting article. But honestly, to be healthy and maintain perfect weight (every person has its own”perfect”) your have to be healthy physically, emotionally and mentally. Eat a variety of foods but feed you soul as well. Meat no meat, grains no grains is up to you. Don’t overeat and pay attention to your emotions. Why are you eating? Are you hungry for food or are you hungry for love? Analyze the whys and you will be in the right path for a healthy and happy life.
Oh! And add good physical activity. By good I mean the one you enjoy and are happy doing it.
You probably shouldn’t restrict exercise, research shows exercise is a poor way to burn calories you are going to have to run for about 2 hours to burn 2 m&m’s so when fixing metabolism you should still exercise for health benefits like serotonin production, for more information on “proper” exercise read up on baye.com or read a book called body by science.
2 hours to burn 2 m&m’s? Yes, our bodies are made of magic.
Im confused. Ive been rrarfing on high quality nutrient dense food but when does this magical weight loss kick in? Is matt saying you rest and refeed, then that raises metabolism and then you slowly back off calories to drop the excess weight? So far im just getting fatter 🙁
I’m also curious if the approach is more like a periodic refeed? Or do you always eat the same way, never lowering or increasing calories?
Ok. I will admit: mind blown.
There were a couple things that did make sense, a couple things that didnt.
Things that did make sense:
1:Your body needs rest to recover from the stress and pressure. This will in turn help to fix your metabolism and hormone systems.
2: You should listen to what your body wants to eat- really listen, not just think of what you CAN eat because you CAN, but listen to what your body wants, whether that be ice cream or steamed broccoli.
Things that didnt:
1: By resting a lot more, you use more energy. That does not make sense. If you ran a mile, you would use more energy between your basal metabolic rate, as well as extra exerted energy needed to finish the mile. I can see how it would raise your BMR, but surely will not increase your body temperature above that of exercise.
2: Eat as many calories as you can while resting? What? I do agree that restricting yourself is not good, but neither is having a free-for all where you eat anything in sight. There is no dispute that when your body has an extra 3500 calories lying around, it will be stored in a pound of fat. (which is why weight gain is mentioned at first,) so does he say that over time eating whatever you want by resting a lot will balance out? That your body will rise in its need for energy to the amount of energy you are providing? To me this just sounds like a recipe for weight gain, even though the emphasis is on de-sressing and fixing your body.
Hopefully that all made-sense. I am still trying to wrap my mind around this one.
I think everyone has to do with what works best for them.
Personally, I have a really hard time hearing anyone say “when you first start this way of eating, you’re supposed to feel like crap the first few days. That’s your body’s way of getting rid of the toxins.”
I have to say, I’ve felt like crap so many times before in starting the latest food craze. However, the only time that didn’t happen was when I started eating less-processed, real food.
Within 3 days I felt a thousand times better, and have not felt bad since. I’ve lost almost 20 lbs in almost 3 months. I’m not overeating whatever I want, but I’m not under-eating or restricting myself. I’m not counting calories, or carbs, or fat grams, or anything really. And I wouldn’t be able to take my temperature even if I wanted to because I don’t own a thermometer.
All I’ve been doing is really trying to feed and nourish my body with fresh foods, with as few overly-processed, unrefined ingredients that I can find. And it seems to be doing wonders for me.
Matt’s idea is an interesting one, and I’m sure there are plenty of people who will swear by it. For me, I don’t think I’ll be trying it since I seem to have found a way of eating that makes sense and works for me.
Thanks for the article though.