Low Carb


The recent Hawaiian Libertarian post on red meat and my recent link about blogger Inhuman Experiment inspired me to throw out my experiences on low-carb eating.

Ulysses made an interesting comment about how a large low-carb meal did not promote a sluggish feel for him. Avoiding Postprandial sluggishness has been the primary benefit I received from low-carb eating. I can be completely full after eating a low-carb meal but still ready for work. The same level of satiety from a more “balanced” meal would leave me feeling sluggish. I certainly would not be performing any rigorous mental work for at least an hour, maybe longer.

While many people claim massive improvements in energy when shifting to a low-diet, I cannot claim such radical shifts. My peak energy is no better but I, perhaps, have fewer fluctuations. I was already lean, so had no weight to lose, which is a reason many people adopt low-carb eating. What surprised me was how easy it was to shift eating styles. Although I never went to extreme induction (less than 30g of carbs per day), I did begin at around 60g of carbs a day. That was still low enough to get me into ketosis.

I thought I would badly miss my pasta, but did not. I was hungry between meals until I adjusted the non-carb quantities up to make up for the lost carb calories (a serving of pasta is about 200Kcal). I still feel an echoic pull when I pass the cookie aisle in the supermarket or a donut shop. I am sure I will eventually have high-carb day when I indulge in French fries, but mostly the shift was easier than I imagined.

Perhaps because I am lean, and have no weight to lose, I have found I do better with a slightly higher-carb intake. Even after adding extra low-carb calories, I still found myself hungry between meals. This was worst at night and felt close to hypoglycemic. I have since increased my-carb intake, and that has improved things. I am do not really count carbs any more (I do, but very casually) but at a rough guess I am at 80 to 100 grams a day.


  • Not much change in body weight. I perhaps lost a pound or two.
  • I am perhaps slightly more “cut.” This is probably related to small loss of weight, as I have not done any training.
  • My energy levels are more constant throughout the day although I do not have the reinvigorated feel that many claim.
  • The last time I did more intense aerobic exercise (I admit it was a while ago) I felt that I had more aerobic capacity (I felt less out of breath at my existing exercise level).
  • I never get carb cravings. When I am hungry it feels like hunger (a call to refuel) not a major craving.
  • Foods that once provoked an addiction like response (once you start eating, it is hard to stop) such as ice-cream, no longer do so.

What I eat.

  • I am certainly not paleo. I have some grains (oatmeal), dairy (cream and butter), peanuts, and other things that I am sure or not paleo.
  • I mostly avoid sugar (but I do eat fruits), starches (potato, pasta), and HFCS, etc.
  • I eat leafy greens without limit (practically speaking it is hard to eat huge quantities of these).
  • I eat beef, chicken, fish, as well as pork and bacon.
  • I eat most vegetables in moderate quantities (even decent portions can be carb light because some of those carbs are fiber).
  • I eat various nuts and seeds.
  • I cook in butter (mmmm!), olive oil, or coconut oil (can be very good).
  • I use plenty of cream and sometimes coconut cream. Coconut cream can make nice smoothies.
  • I use added protein (mostly Whey).
  • I did eat chocolate (85%) but recently cut it out. I will probably add it back at some point.

Eating out or at friends is the biggest problem. Most do not serve low-carb meals. To be fully fed means allowing for more carbs. I usually eat tons of salads along with whatever is the meat. I take small portions of the starches (rice, potatoes, etc.). I always allow myself a small piece of dessert.

Sometimes I still get hungry between meals. This is surprising as satiety is the one thing such diets are supposed to avoid. This could be due to no longer having those little snacks that are not counted (cookies, etc.). Some of it could be due to not eating enough calories. Being more generous with carbs can help here.

My total total cholesterol is high. However, my triglycerides are low and my HDL is high. The total number is higher than I would like. I will at some point take the VAP test. That gives a broader picture of actual cardio-vascular risk.

I have met a few vegetarians in my life. All of them seemed to be somewhat nervous ectomorphic types. I suspect that in a strange irony, many would do well on a low carb, higher protein diet. I suspect that such a diet would actually calm their “nerves” and the extra protein would offset the catabolic effect of nervous stress.

15 Responses to “Low Carb”

  1. Ulysses Says:

    Dude, I’m making a similar switch and am fucking starving right now. I ate lunch 1.5 hours ago and it wasn’t a tiny lunch. A friend just recommended using string cheese or nuts and acted like the hunger wasn’t uncommon on the reduced carb diet.

  2. Default User Says:

    Perhaps, like me, you are lean and thus have little fat reserves to reach into. A few extra carbs with each meal might help. Possibly more fat compared to protein, or the opposite.

    If you have only just switched, it can take your body a while to get used to the new format. In any case, I am not sure low-carb snacks are a bad thing. I think some paleo/low-carb advocates suggest five or six meals a day.

    The Zone (not really low carb) also suggests not going beyond five hours between eating (light snacks in between main meals).

  3. Keoni Galt Says:

    Thanks for the linkage…good to see others willing to buck conventional wisdom and see for themselves.

    One thing you should take away, DU, is to not worry about rigidly sticking to your diet. Mark Sisson at Mark’s Daily Apple has a principle called 80/20. If you stick to your diet 80% of the time, 20% “falloffs” is not going to derail the benefits of eating right.

    In other words, if you’re at your friend’s birthday party, or your sisters wedding, don’t be the LOW CARB HOLIER THAN THOU stick in the mud…eat the fucking cake!

    If your eating out with friends, order something protein heavy, and eat everything but the carbs. I’ve gone to pizza parties and eaten the toppings off of the crust with a fork. When people ask, I just tell ’em I hate crust but love pizza.

    As far as what you eat, sounds like my own diet pretty much. I try to avoid grains as much as possible…but seriously, I’m not going to have tacos without tortilla. Difference is, I’ll only buy corn tortillas, making sure it’s the type without partially hydrogenated oils (you’d be surprised at how many diff brands of tortilla have that crap in it), and I’ll fry my own tortilla chips or taco shells using coconut oil.

    I’ll also eat potatos on occasion (infrequently)…often fried in coconut oil too.

    But even when I do eat “non” low carb foods like potatos, I kinda stick to the 80/20 ratio on that as well….like 80% of the meal will be proteins and fats, only 20% would be the carbs like potatoes.

    As for this: I have met a few vegetarians in my life. All of them seemed to be somewhat nervous ectomorphic types. I suspect that in a strange irony, many would do well on a low carb, higher protein diet. I suspect that such a diet would actually calm their “nerves” and the extra protein would offset the catabolic effect of nervous stress.

    There are two things that are related to this – Vitamin B12 deficiency could certainly be one cause, but another one is the aversion to animal fats.

    Fats is one of the primary building blocks for your body to create hormones, neurotransmitters and other substances.

    This is also why Omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies are linked with depression – not enough of the essentials, your body cannot produce enough of the dopamine, serotonin and all the other stuff your body needs to maintain a normal state.

    Here are some other observations I’ve noticed since changing my diet over 3 years ago:

    – I almost never, ever get hangovers anymore – unless I go on a completely insane bender where I”m drinking wine, whiskey, rum, beer all in the same night…I can put away quite a few drinks and wake up the next morning feeling absolutely fine and ready to go.

    – Indigestion? Can’t remember the last time I had any kind of indigestion whatsoever. Diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, excessive gas….all gone.

    – The ability to fast and still have a lot of energy. On occasion, I’ll have a huge, high protein/high fat breakfast, and than go and do some rigorous manual labor or activity, and have energy and not feel hunger…sometimes over 8 hours without eating, and still having energy.

    – Increased libido. I’m in my late 30’s…and I feel like I’m back in my teens again. I didn’t realize just how much of an effect diet has on your sex drive until I look back on my late 20’s and realize I could go for days on end without sex and not really feel the hunger. This is certainly not the case now.

    Finally, you may not have been fat when you started…but there is one thing about skinny people who eat a high carb/low fat diet – they could have plenty of visceral fat on their internal organs and not even know it. People can be underweight, and still suffer from fatty livers for example.

    So even if you never had a weight problem to begin with, you may in fact be burning off unhealthy fat deposits internally.

  4. Default User Says:

    @Keoni Galt
    Thanks for the reply. I certainly enjoy your blog. I have never been a great believer in conventional wisdom (or at least I have always been comfortable going my own way). I love seeing the Red Pill view.

    Looking back, I realize that I never fully followed the conventional dietary wisdom. I probably always ate a higher fat and protein diet than many others did. I remember, a long time ago, someone wondering how I could eat all that “fatty food” (pastas with creamy sauces) but stay slim. I did not realize it at the time but I was following a more low-carb diet (pasta not withstanding).

    My weaknesses were things such as cookies (choc chip – mmmm!), potato chips, ice cream (Haagan Daz for the win), and milk chocolate. All of those (especially the first two) created an addiction like response. I would start and find it hard to stop. It was a craving not hunger that drove the response. That was the primary thing that caused me to look into officially going low-carb.
    [Note: I specifically made the choice of Haagan Daz because it had the fewest ingredients. It is more like home made ice-cream containing: cream, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla. This compares to the usual: water, skim milk, high fructose corn syrup, milk solids, flavoring, cream (I suppose they have to have a little of that to call it “ice cream”), etc.]
    [Second Note: I tried making ice cream at home. I wanted to be able to control the sugar content (lower). I had some success but it was not worth the effort. It cost as much to make as to buy ready made and was more variable (you know blocks of creamy ice instead if blocks of ice cream. Also, I think the process needs the sugar to help with the binding/freezing of the ingredients or something.]

    In other words, if you’re at your friend’s birthday party, or your sisters wedding, don’t be the LOW CARB HOLIER THAN THOU stick in the mud…eat the fucking cake

    I agree wholeheartedly, that is how I manage it. I think it is selfish and annoying to force others into your special way of eating, or to inconvenience hosts by demanding special treatment (assuming there is no strict medical reason – e.g., diabetes – for the diet). Sometimes dessert just demands to be eaten, sometimes convention (e.g., family meals) demands that you join in. In any case the real aim is a more enjoyable life; there are times when suffering in stoic silence is not the correct thing. So as you said: “eat the fucking cake” and enjoy it.

    I often advise people on any kind of diet to stop worrying about the times they fall off but, as you said, just stick to it most of the time. If you are trying to forma new habit, I think occasional fall-off-but-get-back-on actually helps build the habit. The worst thing to do is the say “I have broken the rules therefore all is lost” and give up. That said, I should be clear that low-carb is not suffering for me. I eat as well as I ever did.

    I have not tried frying potatoes in coconut oil, I will have to try that.

  5. Ulysses Says:

    If you’re so inclined, I have a super-easy recipe for homemade ice cream. You will need a churn. I’d go electric. Email me if you’re interested and I’ll find the recipe and send it to you.

  6. Default User Says:

    I don’t have a churn. I used a mixer, taking the freezing (not fully frozen) mix out of the freezer and beating it. I performed the partly freeze than mix process a few times.

    I did not have a recipe (perhaps that was my problem), I just did it by eye (or taste to be more accurate). If you can easily put your hand to the recipe, I would like to have it. I will send you an e-mail (or you can add a reply – I am not embarrassed to have recipes on my blog).

  7. Ulysses Says:

    I actually found it here. You can omit the Heath bars and have basic vanilla. I’ve done that and added Grasshopper cookies. I’ve added malt powder. No cook, so it’s easier.

  8. Default User Says:

    Thanks Ulysses.

  9. You Might Not Have Seen: Cake Wrecks « Default User Says:

    […] any case cake is not a low carb […]

  10. dream puppy Says:

    This seems like a really healthy way too eat. You are not depriving yourself of anything but are making good choices. I am also low carb. I try to stay around 20-50 on the weekdays and around 100-200 on weekends. It’s worked pretty good for me. I am a size 4 (usually less in Misses, but talk about vanity sizing).

    I know you are already lean, but another very good option for optimal health is to IF. Here http://lowcarbish.blogspot.com/2010/08/day-2-bbs-workout-20.html are some links (on the bottom) as to its benefits. I try to eat once a day and I have been able to sometimes up my carbs (and even eat more!) while maintaining.

  11. Default User Says:

    @dream puppy

    I have not yet tried IF. I would probably find it difficult. I do not eat huge quantities of food but do need to eat regularly. I find I get cranky when I get hungry. Of course, that could be a sign of poor glucose control that IF might help. Your links look interesting and I will investigate IF more.

    My understanding is that caloric restriction the only intervention that has non-contradictory evidence pointing to life extension benefits (the evidence for vitamins, etc. is less certain). My understanding is that IF is an attempt to garner the same benefits without the permanent hunger.

    I suspect (with little data to back me) that low carb is the closest to caloric restriction for those who refuse to be ever hungry. I would not be surprised to find that many of the benefits of calorie restriction come from reduced insulin.

    A long time ago I exercised first thing in the morning before breakfast. I lost weight, but that was not a good thing. Many people asked me if I was OK as I was looking a little thin. During that period, I felt my pants looser, my ring would sometimes fall off my now thinner finger and my face became gaunt looking.
    [The only reason I exercised at that time was to fit my work schedule. It was not part of an experiment]

  12. Linkage is Good for You: Still Playing Catch-Up Edition (NSFW) Says:

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  13. dll Says:

    stupid question…
    what’s protein whey and how do you cook/use it?

    (I visualize a gray unappetizing goop!)

  14. Default User Says:

    Whey is a milk derivative. Whey protein is the protein extracted from the whey (removing most of the fat and lactose). On its own, it has a slightly milky taste and is creamy colored powder.

    Mostly it comes in flavored versions though. Most have added low/no calorie sweeteners.

    It mixes quite easily with water or juice. It blends well into smoothies.

    Even unflavored/unsweetened it is palatable if not appetizing.

  15. Ghislaine Hopfensperger Says:

    The next time I read a blog, I hope that it won’t fail me just as much as this particular one. After all, I know it was my choice to read, however I actually thought you’d have something useful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something that you could possibly fix if you were not too busy seeking attention.

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