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Carbs and fat loss

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  • Carbs and fat loss

    As I look around the forums, I see plenty of people trying to lose fat by inducing ketosis. Not that there is anything wrong with this, but for anyone who is interested there is a simple way to shed off body fat while eating ice cream and pasta three times a week. Too good to be true? It's all about the timing. Mind you, this approach is not for everyone. Folks like DiabetesCanKissMyButt are at an absolute sweet spot for not only fat loss, but overall wellness. This post is not to discuss how this approach affects overall health, but to stress its effectiveness for fat loss. Many of you have already heard of Martin Berkhan's Leangains. An intermittent fasting protocol that also takes advantage of carb timing to deliver the best results. This is the post he made for The IF Life. I'll put a few of my own comments in brackets like [this].


    Sure-Fire Fat Loss

    My name is Martin Berkhan and I work as a nutritional consultant, magazine writer and personal trainer. I also happen to be a proponent of intermittent fasting for health, fitness and fat loss. I have my own blog about fasting (, but when Mike asked me if I’d like to make a guest post on his blog, I thought that’d be a great way to present my method in greater detail.

    The Leangains protocol consists of two phases; 16 hours of fasting, followed by 8 hours of feeding. During this period, three meals are usually eaten. Depending on the day, the composition of those meals varies; on workout days, carbs are prioritized before fat, while on rest days fat intake is higher. Protein remains fairly high on all days. That’s a very basic and general description of the protocol I employ; of course, variables change depending on goals, gender, age, body fat and activity levels, but it would be hard to describe it in greater detail without drifting off too far[he has worked successfully with athletes and diabetics].

    Most of my clients are fitness enthusiasts, athletes and weight trainers, but the great majority of them have one thing in common – to look good naked. The ‘gain’ in Leangains can therefore be a bit misleading, as most of my clients wants to lose fat, while retaining as much muscle as possible in the process. While their diets might vary [some are given a diet very close to PB] , it rests on some nutritional principles that I thought I’d present to the crowd reading this post. These principles will work for everyone, regardless of fitness level.

    Here are a few guidelines that I consider success factors for performance, fat loss and excellent diet compliance.

    • On workout days, break the fast with meat, veggies and a fruit. If you’re planning to train shortly after this meal, add a few carbs in the form of a starch source – potatoes or whole grain bread, for example. Make it a medium sized meal and don’t stuff yourself. Train within 3 hrs of having eaten this meal [but I myself have gone longer with no adverse effects] and have a much larger meal after your workout [50-80% of total calories for that day, a bomb of 1200-1500 cal]; in this meal, add more complex carbs [upwards to 250 grams]– and you may even have one of your favourite treats as dessert, if it’s not too high in fat and if eaten in moderation. Good examples of what I refer to as ‘treats’: low fat ice cream, sorbet or JC’s cheesecake. Bad example: Chinese buffet or your son’s birthday cake. You get the point, keep it within moderation and don’t pig out.

    [Average macro composition: C:50% P:35% F:15% , Diabetics or one client with Crohn's disease would have some closer to C:25P:35 F:40, with a big fruit platter post-wokout]

    • On rest days, eat less calories[25% less, training day calories are about 13-15 x bodyweight] than on workout days - do this by cutting down on carb intake, and make meat, fibrous veggies and fruit the foundation of your diet for this day. The first meal of the day should be the largest, in contrast to workout days where the post-workout meal is the largest. Largest doesn’t necessarily mean largest in terms of volume; I suggest getting at least 40% of your calorie intake in this meal, and the dominant macronutrient should be protein [1.5x bodyweight]. I’ll have some clients eating upwards to 100 g protein in this meal, so don’t be afraid to pile on the meat (or whichever protein source you prefer). Fattier meat and fish like ground beef and salmon are examples of some excellent protein sources that may be consumed on rest days.

    [Macros: C:20 P:50 F:30, you can manipulate fat and carbs as you please]

    • In the last meal of the day, include a slow digesting protein source; preferably egg protein, cottage cheese (or any other source of casein based protein). Meat or fish is also ok if you add veggies or supplement with fiber. This meal will keep you full during the fast and exert an anti-catabolic effect on muscle protein stores by ensuring that your body has an ample supply of amino acids until the next meal.

    • Whole and unprocessed foods should always take priority over processed or liquid foods, unless circumstance demands a compromise. For example, you might find yourself in situations when there is little time to eat or prepare foods – in such a situation, having a protein shake or meal replacement bar is ok, where as solid, more satiating foods should be consumed whenever there is ample time to cook.

    These are a few of the principles I’ve employed with great success; there’s a bit more to it, but this should get you started in the right direction.

    __________________________________________________ _______________

    So there you have it: an effective and satiating plan with plenty of carbs. Now remember this is mostly a fat loss protocol, and I do not believe that it has the overreaching power of the PB. If I have taken anything away from this diet is a more lax attitude towards carbs. I keep it low on most days, but if there is some pasta or tortillas lying around I help myself to a serving after a heavy workout.

  • #2

    The thing is I don't want to be able to eat icecream and pasta three times per week. Though it won't impact on my fat loss its not healthy for me.

    I want to get past eating foods like that on a daily basis and only eat them occassionally. Besides, for me eating them regularly just sets me up for more cravings. So for someone like me it wouldn't suit.


    • #3

      That may 'work' for weight loss, but some of us care about our long term health also.

      There is no way I would introduce a starchy carb source into my diet, even if I am working out that day. It is an unnecessary health risk.

      I'm sticking with high fat paleo.

      The "Seven Deadly Sins"

      • Grains (wheat/rice/oats etc) . . . . . • Dairy (milk/yogurt/butter/cheese etc) . . . . .• Nightshades (peppers/tomato/eggplant etc)
      • Tubers (potato/arrowroot etc) . . . • Modernly palatable (cashews/olives etc) . . . • Refined foods (salt/sugars etc )
      • Legumes (soy/beans/peas etc)


      • #4

        Why would anyone want to restructure their life to eat carbs on a regular basis after experiencing the health and weight benefits of the PB?

        “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” -Oscar Wilde
        "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." -George Bernard Shaw
        "The trouble with jogging is that the ice falls out of your glass." -Martin Mull


        • #5

          Why would anyone want to go through the brain-twisting math apparently involved in this protocol? Food should be instinctual, sensual, even spontaneous. It shouldn't be a chore.

          Regimented eating is boring enough.

          Painstakingly planned and timed meals designed to correspond to activities x,y, and z is just insane.

          And honestly, if you feel the need to preface a conversation with *disregard your overall health for a moment and listen to this great new weight loss strategy* then you haven't been paying attention to your surroundings.

          That kind of lapse would have turned Grok into the main course.


          • #6

            Serial Sinner

            Because there might be one or two people who don't really like going Primal. And to be be perfectly honest, this is an incredibly effective plateau breaker that, for me, works better than ketosis. Mind you, this was before I got into the Primal Community.

            BTW I LOVE your avatar

            Brain-twisting, brahnamin? It takes literally 5 minutes to figure everything out, and the meal timing is simplified, that you really don't waste time planning.

            "And honestly, if you feel the need to preface a conversation with *disregard your overall health for a moment and listen to this great new weight loss strategy* then you haven't been paying attention to your surroundings."

            Being a former client, not only did my weight decrease, but my strength increased, my insulin sensitivity improved dramatically, and all dental carries disappeared. All while having a carb bomb three times a week, sometimes even downing an entire box of cereal. If those aren't health benefits I don't know what are. But this was before I went full-on PB.

            Honestly, the biggest difference is that the food is tastier, and probably healthier too! I agree with you that meal timing can be a bit of a chore, so I basically worry less about it now. Besides,I love it that I can be lean on 6 eggs a day, butter with reckless abandon, whole avacodos, chicken skin, pate' and a whole slew of fatty french dishes. Moreover I can really be much more spontaneous in my food intake and my workouts. With Leangains, the workout are pretty much exactly the same, and although I enjoy them there is nothing quite like inventing a new Tabatta routine, or making up a random bodyweight or sprinting circuit. But if I ever grow a gut again (which at this point will take a miracle), I'll get rid of it with my tri-weekly non-fattening carb bombs.


            • #7

              If it works for you, fine.

              For me it's not just about losing weight, getting buff, or even my insulin numbers. It's about total health. It's about not walking around craving processed crap.(And again, if all you see in this site is people trying to get trim and pretty you're missing the point).

              To me what you are describing still looks regimented and boring . . . all for the questionable glory of getting to taste foods I'm no longer into - foods that wrecked my body the first time out - not just by fattening me up but by causing inflammation, high BP, out of control insulin, artery plaque, high cholesterol, and a mild host of respiratory issues.

              Erm . . . thanks, but no thanks.


              • #8

                "Serial Sinner

                Because there might be one or two people who don't really like going Primal."

                I dare say, if anybody here didn't like going Primal, they wouldn't be here. We all love our lifestyle. It's not a diet and it's not a chore. It's a chosen way of life.


                • #9

                  And that's what I don't get about spam like this [and yeah, I'm calling it spam].

                  Plainly there are millions of people who "might not want to go primal" . . . erm . . . they're everywhere. Why come here and push that schpiel?

                  And claiming to be primal him/her/itself?


                  I don't claim to be 100% primal [I'm still experimenting] but this creature doesn't begin to "get" primal if it thinks weight loss is the only thing primal is about.


                  • #10

                    This sounds like a combination of intermittent fasting and the Anabolic Diet. I've heard of some people having success with both so it doesn't surprise me if some people have success combining both of them. After reading up on the Anabolic Diet and the crash and burn cycles that those following it end up with, it doesn't seem worth it to me just for a few more pounds of muscle. I'd rather have a general set of guidelines and eat when I'm hungry.

                    I'm not discounting the effectiveness of the original posters claims. It wouldn't surprise me if people are seeing great results (aesthetic, not neccessarily health) following this protocol.


                    • #11

                      I wouldn't want to trade in my even level insulin for the roller coaster ride ever again. Don't care about fat loss or weight loss. It's the other benefits that have me hooked.


                      • #12


                        ouch, seriously. Before this turns into an all-out flame war, let me clear few things. I'm not a primal saint, more of a health and fitness nut who was a bit too lazy for CW style of regimented overtraining.

                        And just a few things about me. I'll admit I am a bit on the vain side, that is most likely why I couldn't last with veganism (thank God I found the truth), since they said that it was healthy to be frail and anemic. But the reason I do what I do, train the way I train, eat the way I eat, is to get 70, 80, or 100 and actually LIVE those years. I want to jump, run, walk with a graceful posture, be virile, and not bust something when I pick up something heavy. That i what I want above all else. However, it is not a one-way road!

                        The point of this post was merely to post something factual for fat loss for anyone who might be interested. Health isn't necessarily avoiding starch and the occasional treat all the time, ask Brad Pilon,Jack LaLanne (low-fat proponent) or even Clarence Bass. I guess that Martin Berkhan is kind of young and possibly, just POSSIBLY, has years of negative effects ahead of him, but one thing he told me in later correspondence was that he wasn't anti-Paleo, or anti-Low Carb, just anti bulls%t. so am I. Primal does bring many benefits,I am not questioning that, but so does the aforementioned diet. Ask some of his diabetic clients who have had similar benefits to DiabetesCanKissMyButt.

                        If I may say you guys really take to Primal like a religion! If anyone gives you guys contradictory evidence you immediately look away. Which actually reminds me of another one of Berkhan's articles.


                        __________________________________________________ __________

                        Low Carb Talibans

                        [for this case we can replace Low Carb with Primal]

                        I subscribe to the idea, that the best diet is the one you can maintain in the long run. For me personally, this entails intermittent fasting and a cyclic approach of higher/lower carbs, plenty of protein and low/moderate fat. My main focus lies on high quality foods, with nutritious and satiating properties, and not discrimination towards a particular macronutrient.

                        I don't believe there is any magic to be had when one is excluding fat or carbs from their diet. Both have their place. However, there are people that subscribe to a completely different set of opinions.

                        After watching the documentary Religulous

                        (melding of "religion" and "ridiculous) yesterday, it dawned upon me how much some religious fundamentalists have in common with certain nutritional fundamentalists. In recent years, I have seen the rise of one group in particular. I prefer to call them the low carb talibans.

                        When I am using the term 'fundamentalist' here, I am using it to characterize religious advocates that cling to a stubborn, entrenched position that defies reasoned argument or contradictory evidence - I am not talking about religious people in general, and I don't have anything against them.

                        1. Religious fundamentalists believe in supernatural beings. Low carb talibans believe you can get fat without a positive energy balance, if you eat carbs.

                        Similar to the anti-fat proponents 15-20 years ago, we now have one group of people blaming one particular macronutrient as the sole reason for why people are getting fatter.

                        2. Religious fundamentalists base their beliefs on faith, not empirical evidence. Low carb talibans believe that dietary fat is unimportant for the development of obesity; the most jaded lot believe that you can eat an unlimited amount of fat, without weight gain, as long as carbs are excluded from the diet.

                        The 'rationale' behind this claim, is that the body can’t store fat without insulin (it can). Carbs equals insulin, and that means ditching carbs must mean no fat storage (wrong). They conveniently ignore that

                        a) eating protein produce insulin

                        b) fat stores itself with tremendous efficiency without insulin, due to a nifty little thing called acylation-stimulating protein (ASP).

                        3. Religious fundamentalists believe that forces of evil hide amongst us, trying to lead us into temptation and wrongdoing. Low carb talibans belive that carbs and insulin are to blame for obesity.

                        We live in an obesogenic environment; we lead sedentary lives and we are surrounded by easily obtainable foods with high energy density. High carb, high fat foods which taste great, and are extremely easy to overconsume. That people gain weight in such a setting is no great mystery, yet the low carbs talibans likes to make it out to be. It is the carbs specifically that made you fat, not that peanut butter jar you went through watching tv last night. Yes, that seems to make sense.

                        4. Religious fundamentalists believe there is only one way, and all other faiths are heretic. Low carb talibans tries to push their beliefs on others and will seldom accept alternative views.

                        More than one time, I have seen the talibans make the most ludicrous claims about their approach, often not accepting the fact that some people actually function better on a higher carb approach, and that people involved in anaerobic sports actually need them to perform better.

                        5. Religious fundamentalists do not accept current ideas of the creation of earth or human evolution, rather they make up their own stories of how we came to be here. Low carb talibans make up their theories regarding human metabolism.

                        Here's a quick primer on how it works.

                        Dietary fat is stored easily as body fat without the presence of carbs or insulin.

                        Fat metabolism increase when fat intake is increased, but it is primarly dietary fats that are burned off, not fat stored in adipose tissue. For the latter to occur, energy balance needs to be negative. Energy can't just disappear and an excess is stored*

                        When carbs are consumed, metabolism switches to glucose dependence; that is, while carbs do not get converted to fat**, they do inhibit fat metabolism to a point where dietary fats are more readily stored.

                        One can say that overconsuming dietary fat leads to fat storage through a direct mechanism, while overconsuming carbs leads to fat storage through an indirect mechanism, through blunting of fat metabolism/lipolysis. Either way you cut it, the key point is that energy balance is the main determinant for fat storage, or fat loss.

                        * carbs can only be converted to fat by a process called de novo lipogenesis (DNL). This metabolic pathway is very ineffective in humans and in studies it only comes into play during massive carbohydrate overfeeding. How come people still got fat from eating all those low fat foods back when low fat was the craze? Well, the body has the ability to upregulate key enzymes involved in the DNL pathway, making carb to fat conversion more efficient. And this occurs on high carb/low fat diets. So, there is no tricking the body from gaining weight during caloric excess by excluding fat or carbs from the diet.

                        ** metabolism does increase a bit when energy consumption is increased; just a few percentages, nothing drastic (called 'luxusconsumption' or adaptve thermogenesis by some scientists). Ironically, this effect is greatest when the extra energy is provided from carbs, not fat.

                        Why low carb really works

                        I have extensive experience with all forms of low carb/ketogenic diets. I’ve done them all, the traditional standard ketogenic diet, the cyclical and the targeted ketogenic diet. I've come to the following conclusions:

                        1. There is a mild hunger blunting effect on ketogenic diets, which may help intially. This has to be weighed against the deprived feeling you get from not consuming carbs and the decrease in performance during weight training. This can be partially amended by doing a cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) or a targeted ketogenic diet (TKD), where you either carb load through the weekend or consume carbs in conjunction with workouts.

                        2. Making the diet highly restrictive, in terms of completely cutting out one macronutrient, may help with adherance. It certainly takes away the hedonic aspect of eating.

                        Studies actually show that diets which allow ad libitum intake of protein and fat, usually leads to a spontaenous reduction of calorie intake. Cutting out carbs from the equation may be a sound approach for the average joe, who's idea of carbs are in the form of cereal and white bread. IME, you're less likely to binge on egg omelettes and ham, as opposed to chicken and pasta.

                        3. When people start eating low carb and lose weight, it is partially because they start eating more protein than on their past (failed) diet approaches. Protein leads to better satiety than any other macronutrient. There's also the issue of being forced to make sound food choices overall, such as increasing veggie intake to make up most of your carb intake in order to stay below the threshold (max 50 g carbs/day usually).

                        4. And of course, there is also the insulin sensitivity/resistance factor to consider. Some people do in fact feel better on ketogenic/low carb diets, for physiological, not behavioral, reasons. No energy dips, hunger pangs and so forth. ***

                        *** However, as I see it, people have a tendency to draw the conclusion that they need to follow a low carb approach without having visited the middle road. I've had some clients that were convinced they could only do well on low carbs - and it turned out they did just as well, if not better, when I incorporated veggies, fruit and berries as their main carb source. The middle road, with a minimum of refined carbs, is very workable for most people that label themselves as 'insulin resistant'.

                        Anyway, rant over.

                        __________________________________________________ __________

                        So there you have it, if you got any beef you can contact Berkhan at

                        But just be prepared to be flooded with a ton of scientific papers when discussing with him. I think that the very knowledgeable poster, Nick, can have a lengthy discussion with him, and probably even change Martin's mind with the right evidence.

                        I guess I can't call myself Primal anymore. Oh well, I still love Mark and all aspects of the PB, but the truth is what is most important to me. Not just for aesthetics but for health. By health I mean being free of disease. And I have been free of disease ever since starting IFing with Martin, NOT PBing with Mark. That came after.



                        • #13


                          Ok, I'm bored with this.


                          • #14

                            I don't think anyone has reviewed the science more thoroughly than Gary Taubes did in writing Good Calories Bad Calories. I suggest you read it if you are really interested in the science.


                            • #15

                              Taliban? Really? Invoking terrorism imagery to make your point? That should be a new subset of Godwin's Law.

                              And if Clarence Bass is the best you can do as an example of non-primal living I really wonder if you're familiar with the man at all. You know, given his habit of getting most of his carbs from fresh veggies (he only eats sprouted bread), eating good protein, good fats, walking daily, getting plenty of sleep, training hard once or twice a week . . .

                              Clarence Bass is the guy who pushed me down this path to start with. Yeah, his thinking is still old school CW (though I'd say his thinking represents better than the best CW usually has to offer) but his living is pretty primal.

                              No, I don't really think you have to worry about a flame war. People here seem waaay to reasonable to indulge you like that. Though at this point it might be useful to invoke the ghost of David Formosa.