Wednesday, July 25, 2012


When it comes to figuring out our optimal macronutrient intake, we get reports of a wide range of ideals.  Most agree, limiting protein becomes important when the low-hanging-fruit of the controlled-carb diet has been harvested.  Once you've cut all the carbohydrate-rich foods you're willing to forgo, reducing the amount of protein-foods adds that extra fillip necessary to get the fat burning again.  More fat is added to the diet, and the scale starts measuring downward anew.

This seems to be pretty universally applicable in the LC community.  The truism that low-carbing allows ad-libitum meat-eating is, like most of its logical kin, only true up to a point.  Ideally, eating the appropriate meats will fill you up long before fat-burning is threatened, but in practice (especially as one approaches one's goal) it seems to be easy for some people to take in too much.

There seems to be one great big exception, though -- the closer to zero-carb you go, the more protein you NEED.  Even though it's been documented that the body CAN make glucose out of fat, it appears to be easier for it to do so with protein.

Also, there are many beneficial effects of insulin that are stimulated in the ZC enthusiast by protein metabolism.  Insulin is far from being "the enemy" to people who have trained their bodies to burn fat and ketones as the primary fuels!  Going ultra-low-carb induces physiological insulin-resistance in muscle cells, particularly.  To drive amino acids into cells for muscle-building (important in us old broads), we do need a bit of an insulin spike from time to time.

And it seems to work spontaneously.  My husband, neighbors and local acquaintances see me too often to notice those body changes which happen over time, but when i was with some friends in the spring who hadn't seen me since last autumn, i was made aware of something:  after a round of hugs, somebody said, "You're turning into quite a hardbody, aren't you?"  I was surprised -- i have been very remiss when it comes to intentionally seeking a gain in strength.  My goal is ENERGY ("vitality") gain as well as fat loss.  It got me thinking....

Just as "the paleo diet becomes the fail-eo diet if you don't add enough fat," a ZC diet is not going to be healthy without sufficient protein.  And ironically, it may be all about the insulin.


  1. IMO this hits home as to why near zero carb is the best possible plan for me. Binge eating seems to have stretched my stomach to the point where I even considered stapling in the past. The closer to zero carb I eat, the more satiety producing protein I can tolerate. I do miss my veggies and fresh fruit with yoghurt, but they simply aren't as filling as brisket and tallow. One thing about Taubes theories I dont agree on is that you cant gain on fat, Ive disproved that one.

  2. do you read J Stanton at his post about "why snacking makes you fat AND weak" was eye-opening for me....

  3. Yep. There seems to be a huge difference, for me anyway, between ZC and VLC. ZC = ad libitum meat intake, no need to count or measure anything, effortless weight loss, zero hunger. VLC = tricky. Can't eat ad libitum meat because the protein and carbs add up to stall weight loss if you overdo on the meat. I have to make an effort to get the fat ratio right on VLC. Plus eating things like full fat dairy and macadamias still doesn't annihilate the appetite quite as much as ZC all-meat. IMO, people who say ketosis hasn't decreased their appetite are probably not doing it quite right or not doing it long enough. It can take a few days for the effect to kick in but I think on an all-meat diet it is virtually impossible to gain weight or get hungry in the conventional carby sense. Dairy and nuts still have carbs in them as do vegetables and berries. I find that total elimination of plant food is the ultimate appetite suppressant.

  4. indeed -- playing with ZC, LC and VLC the way i've done over the past several months convinces me that they're very different animals. on LC, i get reduced appetite as you say, but to completely zap it, i need to do without plants, and that includes wine but not coffee/tea. anybody who thinks they have an out-of-control appetite should consider trying Strong Medicine for a week, in my opinion.

  5. 100% agreed. An all-animal diet is what's needed in these VLC nonresponders. Any amount of plant food, even trace amounts, increase hunger IMO. If you're an insulin hypersecretor to begin with...

  6. I've found that regarding protein and LC diets, it's best to cycle it. Have a couple days where you eat pretty low'll lose weight and have no appetite. Soon you will start to feel haggard and depleted and retain water, attention will suffer, etc... an expected outcome. When that occurs, eat a chicken.

    Unlike carbs the body actually needs protein so I don't think it's wise for health OR weight to be continuously low protein...but by cycling protein and bolusing yourself every couple days with amino acids you can avoid the worst of the insulin/glucose issues and still get most of the benefits of a higher protein diet.

    ...sort of how athletes do with glucose and carbs, eating lots of them over long periods so they don't become depleted but arent subjected to the problems of not burning fat well and high insulin.

  7. that's something i need to try, when plateaus are a nuisance. do you go heavier on the carbs when you're limiting protein like that? do you go toward fruit, or toward mascarpone? (omg, i LOVE mascarpone....)

    1. WHen I'm limiting protein, I'm trying to lose weight typically and will eat less calories in general. Carbs and fat will decrease and i will lose body weight ridiculously fast, because I find restricting protein is the easiest way for me to reduce insulin and augment body fat oxidation at this point in time. Protein is pretty gluconeogenetic/insulinogenic and in my present state that's super bad news (easily resist weight loss/easily gain due to being thin and weight reduced) .

      When i start in on chicken and steaks and big slabs of salmon I can eat like crazy.

      When I go meat free for a few days and eat only 50 grams or 60 grams of protein, I never want to eat and shed body fat pretty fast. It's as if the lack of protein is directly resulting in body fat oxidation.