Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
15 Nov

I Am Strong, Energized, Off All Medications, and Feel Wonderful!

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

real life stories stories 1 2Mark,

In December 2009, I was 25 years old and weighed 210 lbs. I was obese for my 5’5″ frame, never felt well, and was popping handfuls of pills every day just to get by. I was taking 2 anti-depressants, anxiolytics, prescription sleeping pills, courses of Prilosec once or twice a month, acid-blocking pills or antacid tablets 1-3 times a day, anti-diarrhea pills several days a week, and I was constantly catching respiratory infections and frequently took courses of antibiotics. In fact, I was put on chronic antibiotics by a dermatologist to treat rosacea, acne, and a truly horrible condition known as hidradenitis suppurativa (acne inversa). I would take them for several weeks at a time until everything calmed down, but inevitably within a few weeks more I would end up with another debilitatingly painful HS boil and would need to start up the antibiotics again. I also got either a yeast infection or a urinary tract infection almost once a month (and sometimes both in the same month). I had dysmenorrhea and would typically miss one day of work per month due to my cycle. In the summer of 2008 I was diagnosed as pre-daibetic with metabolic syndrome and hypertension, so by the end of 2009 I was quite probably a full-fledged type II diabetic, I just never got an official diagnosis. I was falling apart mentally and physically, and scared to death of a miserable future full of multiple chronic illnesses and scary prescription medications, so I decided to make some drastic changes to my lifestyle. I resolved to do my research over the holidays and begin in 2010 with a new way of life.

I read up on all the conventional wisdom suggestions for weight loss, and believed in the now debunked theories of “a calorie is a calorie” (calories are all created equally, so just eat fewer of them and you’ll lose weight!) and “calories in, calories out” (just exercise to create a calorie deficit, you’ll lose weight!); that fat, especially saturated fat, was to be avoided at all costs; whole grains, especially whole wheat, were the ultimate health foods; meat should be avoided except for chicken breasts and fish, and meat replacement products are healthy sources of protein. I limited my portions, restricted calories, started up chronic cardio exercise (3-5x/week, 30-60 min at a time) with some machine work for strength training once or twice a week, too. My choice for cardio was running, because I couldn’t stand the idea of using some man-made machine for that purpose. Just like with the food recommendations, I followed conventional wisdom for purchasing the “best” running shoes. They were motion control and ultra-squishy (or as I like to call them, marshmallow shoes). They were designed to “correct” over-pronation and protect my body from the shock of repeatedly pounding my heels into the ground.

I kept up this new “healthy” eating and exercising routine for several months, and in that time I didn’t really see the scale budge (it would fluctuate down maybe 5-10 lbs but then creep up again) or notice my clothes fitting any better. But I sure did notice that I was hungry all the time, sore all the time, and almost felt worse than before I started! I felt so helpless and discouraged, and started to wonder if I would ever see any results.

pre primalcollage

If you’ve ever done this kind of routine, you know – it is miserable ! No WONDER so many people who “go on a diet” and “start exercising” fail to achieve results or maintain the regimen for very long. It simply isn’t sustainable, and all of that exercise isn’t good for an overweight or obese body. I learned that the hard way: I hurt myself running. It turns out, though, that getting hurt was one of the best things that ever happened to me and ended up leading me to the Primal lifestyle.

I was so frustrated when I had to stop exercising. I felt so betrayed by the bad advice I had gotten about running and shoes, so I started seeking alternative advice. I searched for things like “how to run without injury,” “are motion control shoes necessary,” etc., and I found Danny Dreyer’s Chi Running, and soon thereafter Chris McDougall’s fabulous book Born to Run, and from there found Barefoot Ted’s Google group. I devoured all of the information I could on barefoot running and immediately converted. The mechanics of proper barefoot running made so much sense to me, as I had always walked with a forefoot strike when barefoot (I have vivid memories of being teased for this as a child, but I didn’t care, and continued with my “cat walking”, as I called it). I was a regular on the Google group, and one fateful day somebody posted a link to Mark’s Daily Apple.

I was completely blown away. Everything I thought I knew to be true about diet, health, and weight loss was all wrong. I spent the next few weeks reading as many articles as I could on the website and spending time in the forums asking questions. I cross-checked references and read what was published in the scientific literature at the time to verify that the site contained valid information. Ultimately, it was the success stories that gave me the final push to try it myself. All of this coincided perfectly with the September 2010 30-day Primal Blueprint Challenge, which is when I took the plunge (albeit a few days late, due to travel), and I haven’t looked back since.

I lost 10 lbs and 2 inches off my waist in the first 12 days. By 1 month I was down 15 lbs and went from my pre-Primal size of 18 down to a 12. The weight continued to fly off after that. I didn’t keep super careful records of all my milestones, but by 1 year I was 80 lbs lighter (130 lbs) and in a size 6 and sometimes a 4. Just after my 2 year anniversary, I was pretty much the same weight but leaner and smaller, generally wearing size 2 or 4 but sometimes a 6, depending on the brand. Now, just after my 3 year anniversary, I actually weigh in at 140 lbs but I’m still wearing sizes 2-6 (and the same clothes I was wearing a year ago). I’ve added lots more body weight exercise to my routine and am definitely stronger. Also, I have also had an increase in breast size. I’m not exactly sure what to attribute this to, but I think it’s due to some positive hormonal changes, because I now typically have zero negative symptoms associated with my monthly cycle. While I saw huge improvements in this area shortly after going Primal, I would still occasionally have a bad one (although it was mild in comparison to pre-Primal – I stopped missing work over it!) So, despite weighing a bit more, I’m still the same dress size, and the weight is due to some muscle gain and breast size increase (can’t complain about either!). As I continue to progress, I expect to gain more weight (as lean mass) while my dress size stays the same or decreases.

2year before after bread bacon

Regarding my health, I noticed tremendous alleviation of my multiple gastrointestinal ailments within just a few days of being Primal. I never realized how used to feeling bloated I had gotten – it felt so wonderful to have a calm tummy! By the end of the first week, I no longer needed my antacids and acid-blockers. Within a few days I also noticed incredible new mental clarity, improved mood, lower anxiety, and improved sleep. I stopped getting acne outbreaks, and best of all: I had immediate relief from hidradenitis suppurativa, and eventually enjoyed remission of the condition. My blood pressure normalized and I regained insulin sensitivity.

2yearface post primalcollage

In middle and high school, I was always between 115-130 lbs, but I was anywhere from a size 6-10. I now realize I was always “thin fat”: so-called normal weight but very flabby and weak. I have also always had low self-esteem and been very critical of my body, even before I became obese. Finally, I am able to feel confident and beautiful despite my flaws (losing 80 lbs of fat does a number on your skin), and I am strong, energized, off all medications, have reversed all of my pre-Primal ailments, and feel wonderful! From the bottom of my heart, thanks Mark!

3yearsprimal final

Best,

Amanda T.

Read Amanda’s full story on her blog The Curious Coconut

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. You look fab! Congratulations on your success.

    PrimalParkGirl wrote on November 15th, 2013
  2. Fantastic story Amanda. Grokette on.

    Nocona wrote on November 15th, 2013
  3. This is a GREAT story!

    Colleen wrote on November 15th, 2013
  4. You rock. So happy for you!!!! Amazing :)

    Nick wrote on November 15th, 2013
  5. Excellent, Amanda.

    D. M. Mitchell wrote on November 15th, 2013
  6. Excellent!

    Sharon wrote on November 15th, 2013
  7. TMIF – Thank Mark it´s Friday! :-)

    Günther wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • Love it! Big smile — I, too, TMIF!

      And MAJOR way to go Amanda!

      Elenor wrote on November 15th, 2013
  8. You look amazing Amanda! I love the captions on the photos, body by bacon says it all! I also have mild HS which is now gone after going primal. Have a blessed life of health and happiness.

    Kathryn wrote on November 15th, 2013
  9. What an amazing journey you’ve had. Congratulations on finding what you needed to be healthy and happy!

    JennF wrote on November 15th, 2013
  10. thats a great success story, well written, great pics… congrats on your success and thanks for posting. Helps those of us on our own primal journey keep looking forward.

    bikermike wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • Thank you, bikermike. I’m so glad you enjoyed it and I agree that seeing the weekly success stories is such a great feature of Mark’s site. I’m so glad to join the ranks of all the other amazing and inspiring stories :)

      Amanda Torres wrote on November 15th, 2013
  11. WTG Amanda! Amazing the changes we experience once we start listening to our bodies instead of CW ‘experts’.. best of luck and continued good health and happiness to you

    CarolB wrote on November 15th, 2013
  12. Great story! Happy to see that you are focused on your health — not your weight. Congrats!

    Myra wrote on November 15th, 2013
  13. Congrats! i’m so happy for you!

    Nomad wrote on November 15th, 2013
  14. Way to go, Amanda! These before and after pictures are incredible. So glad you feel as good as you look!

    Anne wrote on November 15th, 2013
  15. Amanda – you GLOW! Thanks for sharing your path to primal. Friday’s are my favorite posts!

    Melissa wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • Thanks so much, Melissa. I, too, look forward to the Friday success stories :)

      Amanda Torres wrote on November 15th, 2013
  16. That’s awesome, Amanda! Way to go! Putting HS into remission is no small feat. Feels great, doesn’t it?! :)

    Tara Grant wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • Hi Tara!! I learned about your story with HS shortly after I went Primal, and you were such an inspiration and beacon of hope for me in the first 2 years while I was still battling it into total remission. I am so grateful that you were (still are) so open and vocal about it, and so responsive to people with questions — I had a conversation with you in a forum somewhere, and you gave me some very helpful advice. It’s so amazing that none of the doctors I saw about it ever mentioned anything about food. Always the typical “use antibacterial soap” “just lose some weight, it will get better” “wear cotton underwear” “just take antibiotics every time you get a flare” etc. But yes, it DOES feel great :-)

      Amanda Torres wrote on November 15th, 2013
  17. Aaaaaand gorgeous.

    Anders wrote on November 15th, 2013
  18. Amanda you look amazing!!!

    purelytwins wrote on November 15th, 2013
  19. Way to go Amanda. I think one of my favorite things about the Friday success stories is finding out how people got on the right track, your story is somewhat similar to mine!

    Great job, you look wonderful.

    Primal and Proud wrote on November 15th, 2013
  20. Good for you, but I have to say that the misinformation you provide (or at least imply) concerning CICO galls me: The “theory” that “a calorie is a calorie” with regard to weight loss has not been “debunked”; on the contrary, all reliable data (particularly the metabolic ward studies) clearly indicate that the only relevant factor concerning the amount of weight lost on a diet is indeed the magnitude of the caloric deficit created by the dieter (as far as optimal body composition outcomes -i.e. maximizing (visceral) fat loss/minimizing lean mass loss – are concerned, the only relevant nutritional factor appears to be adequate protein intake). Paleo/Primal works for weight loss via the creation of a caloric deficit, just like every other diet. The crux is that Paleo/Primal appears to make the creation and perpetuation of said deficit an unconscious and effortless endeavour for many people, which is fantastic and should be emphasized; boldly disseminating easily refuted myths, however, does no one in the “Paleosphere” any service.

    Battousai wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • Please see Dr Lustig: Fat Chance. Fructose 2.0.

      The theory of ‘all calories are the same’ has been shown to be absolute nonsense.

      Have you the same credentials as Dr Lustig? Have you the same years of experience and experimentation? I would love to hear how you can say the garbage you have spouted here in the face of so much overwhelming evidence, not just by Dr Lustig, but other ground breaking doctors with real time experience.

      Do some research; you obviously need to.

      Michelle wrote on November 15th, 2013
      • Nowhere in my post do I claim that “all calories are the same” in every sense imaginable; what I am saying is that with regard to weight loss viewed in isolation, the sole relevant parameter is the magnitude of the caloric deficit created by the dieter- if you disagree, show me the (metabolic ward) study that points in the respective direction.
        As for all calories being the same from a health perspective, that is an entirely different proposition – and one not even the most conventional of “conventional wisdom” proponents would argue in favor of, I think. As for the specifics with regard to fructose: I am rather familiar with Dr. Lustig`s claims and the actual research allegedly supporting them, thank you very much. On the whole, the available evidence doesn`t justify the hype, appeals to authority notwithstanding – mostly because
        a)the studies indicting fructose as an inherent agent of harm use artificially high doses that are many times greater than typical human intakes,
        and
        b)much of this research is rodent-based, and rodents’ capacity to convert dietary carbohydrate to fat is roughly ten-fold that of humans.
        There are several diligent scientific reviews that have been done on this topic, which I would encourage everyone to read, since the full text is publicly available. To quote some snippets:

        “Despite the epidemiological parallel between the marked increase of obesity and fructose consumption, there is no direct evidence linking obesity to the consumption of physiological amounts of fructose in humans (≤ 100g/day). A moderate dose (≤ 50g/day) of added fructose has no deleterious effect on fasting and postprandial triglycerides, glucose control and insulin resistance.”

        “In considering the volume of contemporary literature on fructose, 1 conclusion stands clear: fructose is safe at typical intake levels but can produce adverse metabolic effects when abused—as is true of most nutrients. It turns out that the largest abusers of fructose are not American consumers, but research scientists. [...] It is only when researchers hyperdose human and animal subjects with fructose in amounts that exceed the 95th percentile by 1.5- to 3- and 4- to 5-fold, respectively, that adverse effects are provoked.”

        Battousai wrote on November 15th, 2013
      • Michelle,
        you are either attacking a straw man or missing the point; assuming the latter, may I respectfully draw your attention to my response to Günther (below)? (As for Dr. Lustig`s claims: Judging from the available evidence – which I am actually rather familiar with, thank you very much – , they are hyperbole at best, appeals to authority notwithstanding.)

        Battousai wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • Battousai, I would agree if I were a stove that burns (literally!) the food. But I´m definitely not an oven! Humans are much more than this simple physical concept of CICO can describe. That´s why the paleo-concept works while several other CICO-based diets do not.

      Günther wrote on November 15th, 2013
      • Günther,
        I do not claim that humans are simple “ovens”/”bomb calorimeters”, nor do the vast majority of CICO advocates. No one argues, for instance, that calories are fungible with respect to their metabolism in the body or that calories ingested from different foods share identical fates with respect to health outcomes.
        Having said that, the overwhelming finding coming out of tightly-controlled studies over the years (especially the metabolic ward studies) is that, however imperfect the calorie may be as a proxy for “metabolisable energy contained in food”, the CICO equation very accurately predicts body mass flux.
        This does not mean that the CICO equation answers questions relating to optimal diet design (i.e. food selection, macronutrient ratios, meal timing, control of palatability etc.) for the purposes of long-term diet compliance and psychological contentment. To think that it would, should or could do so is a category error.
        This also does not mean that the CICO equation is a trivial truth. It is, rather, a touchstone principle that serves as a necessary condition for the success of any of the individual weight management means people might want to select for themselves.
        All in all, it is clear that while the CICO equation is not a comprehensive dietary prescription per se, it is a vital arbitrating principle that serves as a useful BS indicator in a sea of same.

        Battousai wrote on November 15th, 2013
        • As far as the supremacy of “epigenetic paleo-wizardry” over those mundane “CICO-based diets” (ignoring, for the moment, that you are painting with a brush as broad as the Grand Canyon here, as many other dietary templates are no more (exclusively/explicitly) CICO-based than the Paleo Diet) is concerned, cries of victory are a tad premature at this point, considering the available data,or rather the lack thereof (and no, the plural of “anecdote” is not “data”). How do we know there isn`t a plethora of people who try Paleo, have lackluster results and – dismissing it with a “mental shrug” as “one of those fad diets” – simply move on without writing about their experiences on the interwebz? Confirmation bias and selection bias may create a certain impression (“Paleo works like a charm for me and I regularly read up on all those magnificent success stories on MDA – clearly it`s the one and only road to salvation!”), but Paleo success with regard to body composition management (among other things, possibly) need not be universal; my own foray into “optimizing my gene expression” according to “Primal parameters”, for example, left me rather underwhelmed in the fat loss department: Starting out from a bodyfat percentage in the upper echelon of the healthy range, three months of eating (to satiety) as per Mark`s blueprint resulted in ten pounds of (mostly visceral) fat gain – yes, gain – (as elucidated by DXA scans, inter alia), which even the most unconventional wisdom out there deems decidedly undesirable. Via counting calories, I discovered that I simply ate too much (apparently, it is possible for some people to unconsciously consume healthy saturated fat a tad too liberally – imagine my surprise), and adjusted that downwards – shazam, superfluous flab lost.
          Alas, I the vile banalities that are known as the “Laws of Thermodynamics” appear to hold my poor body firmly in their devilish grasp.

          Battousai wrote on November 15th, 2013
        • it is possible for some people to unconsciously consume healthy saturated fat a tad too liberally

          Absolutely. The advice to “eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full” is crap. After decades of SAD, it’s hard to feel when to stop eating. So yes, in the first few months you do have to watch the food intake. However, rather than counting calories, it’s better to count fat grams. Think about it. If you’re Primal, your carbs should be near-constant at ~100g/day and your protein should be near constant and 80-100g/day. The ONLY thing you can cut is fat anyway. So it’s not really calories in – calories out. It’s “fat grams in – fat grams out.”

          oxide wrote on November 16th, 2013
        • oxide,

          as described above, my body fat percentage was in the healthy range before I embarked on my “Primal Diet experiment”; since “decades of SAD”-eating to satiety thus obviously failed to leave me overweight or even “skinny-fat”, whereas my three months-long – or rather, three-months-short – “Primal” stint under the same conditions most definitely achieved the latter, invoking satiety signaling system-destroying effects of the SAD in order to explain why the “Primal Magic” failed to manifest in my case seems a tad far-fetched. In addition, I contend that being able to “eat when you`re hungry and stop when you`re full” – which, according to you, is “crap” – while still effortlessly improving/normalizing body composition usually is one of the big “selling points” Paleo proponents love to emphasize when contrasting “their” dietary template with “deprivation-riddled SAD-dieting” (You have to look no further than Amanda`s success story for confirmation.), which makes your apologia on the “Paleo/Primal Diet`s” behalf appear all the more bizarre. My point remains that the “heuristic framework” that is “Paleo/Primal”, while apparently being far more effective and enjoyable than “low-fat whole-grain SAD-dieting” for many of the people who regularly frequent MDA, can backfire for at least some people out there due to treating the “central tenet of weight regulation” like an afterthought for the sake of a “compelling salvation narrative”: While Mark readily admits that calories still count whenever someone explicitly asks him if they do, the overall setup of the “Primal Rules” creates a different impression; after all, what does the “Carbohydrate Curve” imply if not that carbs are the pivotal point of weight regulation while everything else doesn`t really matter as long as it is “Primal/Paleo”-conformal? This poses no problems for people who tend to overeat carbs and not fat but is counterproductive for the opposite constellation ( I have eaten decidedly more than 150 grams of carbs daily for most of my life and never suffered from “Insidious Weight Gain” before I started “Groking it out”.), the common denominator being caloric intake, which, thus, should not be “swept under the rug”.

          Battousai wrote on November 17th, 2013
        • oxide,

          as mentioned above, my body fat percentage was in the healthy range prior to my “Primal experiment”; my satiety signaling system actually worked just fine during the “decades of SAD”, while eating in accordance with “Primal parameters” threw a wrench in the works. Everyone is different. Some – like me – tend to unconsciously overconsume fat, not carbs (in which case a dietary template that consciously limits carb intake while promoting a “solid intake of healthy fats” tends to be counterproductive); for others it`s the opposite; still others tend to overconsume both fat and carbs, and so on and so forth – the common denominator being caloric imbalance, which is why CICO remains the central hub of body mass flux and should not be treated as an afterthought.

          Battousai wrote on November 17th, 2013
    • I’d have to disagree that “a calorie is a calorie” in the context of a diet. For example, a calorie’s worth of protein might be broken down into amino acids and reassembled into protein for a muscle, organ, etc, never burned for calories. A calorie’s worth of carbohydrate, on the other hand, will only ever be burned immediately or stored for future burning as energy for the body.

      Miryem wrote on November 15th, 2013
      • I do not argue that “”a calorie is a calorie” in the context of a diet”; I contend that “a calorie is a calorie” in the context of weight loss, and weight loss only; once we add body composition as a parameter, protein intake becomes relevant; once we add “health” as a parameter, a myriad of other dietary variables becomes relevant. Still, the fact remains that energy balance is the ultimate arbiter of weight loss, which is why “quality versus quantity” is a false dichotomy as far as overall diet design is concerned; both are important (see my response to Günther). Obviously, not everyone needs to consciously count calories; a “heuristic framework” can be entirely sufficient for some people in some situations – but said framework in isolation can, in other cases/ situations, do more harm than good by distracting from the crux of the matter that is stalled weight loss, thus triggering a vicious circle of ever more severe misplaced restriction and neuroticism (“Even though I am strictly Paleo and my pouch of belly fat is not completely gone yet, I haven`t been losing fat lately – clearly, my dearly beloved daily banana has to go, because the streams of butter I am drenching everything in can`t be responsible – after all, that`s what the “Carbohydrate Curve” implies, right?”).
        By the way, your “example” doesn`t do the humble carbohydrate`s array of functions justice: Carbs perform a variety of structural functions in addition to their (apparently more notorious) key role in energy metabolism – mostly via glycosylation, which is important for the correct folding of (some) proteins, cell-cell/cell-extracellular matrix attachment, intracellular transport/protein targeting, receptor function, the existence of blood groups, etc.;as a significant part of proteoglycans – due to being the building block of glycosaminoglycans – , carbs play a role in the regulation of cell growth and proliferation, developmental processes, angiogenesis, tissue hydration, chemical barrier formation, collagen stabilization and so on and so forth. In summary, there is a metric shitload of potential fates for “a calorie`s worth of carbohydrate” beyond simply being “burned immediately or stored for future burning as energy for the body”.

        Battousai wrote on November 15th, 2013
      • You are disagreeing with a claim I never uttered (again, see my response to Günther). As far as your “example” is concerned, I should probably mention that the humble carbohydrate fills just as many “structural” roles beyond the trivialities of energy metabolism as protein does (I am too tired to describe the details – just google “glycosylation”, “glycosaminoglycans”, “proteoglycans”; that should suffice to give you an impression ); thus, your proposition that a “calorie`s worth of carbohydrate” has no potential bodily fates beyond being “burned immediately or stored for future burning” falls painfully short of reality.

        Battousai wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • I won’t get into a lengthy discussion about this here, but CICO is oversimplified and doesn’t take into account one’s overall state of health, digestive health (think about Celiacs who lose weight despite eating “enough” calories — if the gut can’t digest and utilize those calories, you lose weight), and (very importantly) hormonal status. My pre-primal diet was isocaloric compared to my initial primal diet, and the fat just FELL off of my body as soon as I switched to primal. The only difference in my food intake was exclusion of grains, legumes, dairy, and an increase in fat (particularly from pastured animals, eggs, and coconut products) and meat (exclusively local pastured meats — I lived in a haven for such meats!) CICO can’t explain my rapid weight loss.

      In addition to Dr. Lustig mentioned below, there is also Dr. David Ludwig, who has been conducting some very interesting research using isocaloric diets. Notably these two studies:

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22735432 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23483989

      Amanda Torres wrote on November 17th, 2013
      • Some observations on the Ludwig et al. study no. 1:
        1. This is not a metabolic ward study; free-living conditions are notorious for producing less reliable results. This ties in with point 2:
        2. The provided information concerning compliance is rather lacking, to put it mildly.
        3. Protein intake is an obvious confounding factor, seeing as it is considerably higher on the VLC test diet.
        4. Strictly speaking, this study only concerns itself with maintenance on different dietary regimes following previous weight loss; it is, thus, not applicable to weight loss per se.
        On to “the bread and butter”:
        5. During the run-in phase, a 12.5 % decrease in the participants` bodyweight was achieved by means of – wait for it – “restricted energy intake” ( on a run-of-the-mill RDA-type diet); the researchers then “established energy requirements for stabilizing weight at the reduced level”. It seems to me that manipulating energy balance worked rather reliably here, no?
        6. During the maintenance phase, “Body weight did not differ significantly among the 3 (isocaloric) diets” – yeah, this clearly constitutes a devastating blow to the CICO concept – oh wait…(One might argue, of course, that the allotted time frame simply was too short for the admittedly considerably attenuated TEE decrease on the VLC regime to take effect, but that would be a) speculation and b) not terribly surprising even if it were indeed the case, considering the fact that the VLC regime also boasted a considerably higher intake of the one macronutrient with a substantial TEF compared to the other two dietary regimes, which could influence energy balance up to a point.)
        Finally, I would like to mention that the Feinman/Fine-esque musings on the second law of thermodynamics that are apparently responsible for the conception of this trial seem to be based on the impression that entropy drives all irreversible chemical reactions while enthalpy is just sort of “along for the ride”, which is demonstrably false.

        Overall verdict:
        Unconvincing.

        As for study no. 2:
        This constitutes nothing more than a subset of study no. 1; as such, it offers no additional relevant information.

        As for Dr. Lustig`s claims: The available evidence suggests that they are hyperbole at best, as I have already stated (above).

        The only thing that is “oversimplified” with regard to CICO is the straw man version of it proponents of the “alternative hypothesis” love to debunk:Yes, there is a plethora of factors capable of influencing energy balance – which in no way changes the fact that those nice examples you mention actually owe the effects they exert to doing just that:Yes, a person`s “overall state of health” influences weight – by means of affecting energy balance:A decompensated type 1 diabetic might, for example, lose a lot of weight without changing how much he/she eats, because CO has drastically increased via the renal excretion of glucose; a person suffering from celiac disease might lose weight by means of impaired intestinal calorie absorption, which constitutes decreased CI; and so on and so forth. Gee, how could the energy balance equation ever account for – er, changes in its variables? True, “counting calories” should not come at the expense of food quality, it is rarely an exact science in an “everyday setting”, and it can occasionally produce quite baffling results in rare outliers in said “everyday setting” – but that certainly doesn`t justify discarding it as a “useless” concept. (“This map isn`t to scale and it tells me to go north west to get to Alaska! Screw it! I`m going south east until it gets perfected!”)

        Battousai wrote on November 18th, 2013
        • PS:

          As far as point 6 of my “observations on the Ludwig et al. study no. 1″ is concerned, I forgot to mention the lean mass retention effects of protein, which, in addition to its TEF, are also potentially relevant with regard to the attenuated TEE decrease on the VLC test diet.

          Concerning your personal experience and its implications for the validity of CICO: What you have achieved with regard to health improvements is something very few people ever manage, and it`s great that you have found something that works so brilliantly for you, but – poorly controlled anecdotes are firmly located at the “pretty damn useless” end of the “continuum of evidential value” for a reason; let`s leave it at that.

          Battousai wrote on November 19th, 2013
        • Battousai, I hereby proclaim you as the poster child for the failure of Evidence-Based Medicine. You are so consumed with the dogma of EBM that it blinds you to the truth that is all around you. You do know that there are many, many EBM studies that were later refuted or worse, proven corrupt and fraudulent, right ? Perhaps you still smoke cigarettes because there were studies in the 40′s and 50′s that said it was beneficial to health…or maybe you take statins to reduce your cholesterol – which we all know from EBM is the cause of CHD (sic).

          I find it amusing that you provide rebuttals to the EBM studies provided by others here, (maybe you have an agenda, I don’t know or if I’m honest, really care), but yet you flipantly dismiss Amanda’s personal experiences as if they carry no value. n=1 experiences carried the world for thousands of years before EBM came along.

          Please try and contain your melancholy, you’re killing our buzz :)

          EBM is Gospel wrote on November 19th, 2013
        • “EBM is Gospel”,

          if you were aiming at an elegantly ironic demonstration of Poe`s Law, well done.
          Assuming you are actually serious, I should probably disabuse you of the wrongful notion that apparently makes up the focal point of your musings: Contrary to what you seem to believe, mocking “the dogma of EBM” is just plain moronic, not cleverly oxymoronic: Unwavering scepticism that demands constant impartial reevaluation of the available evidence constitutes the very soul of EBM; seeing as “dogma” refers to beliefs considered to be absolutely true reagardless of evidence/without evidence to support them, EBM is pretty much its polar opposite in every practical sense (philosophically speaking, the maxim to “never be dogmatic” is, of course, a paradox, but that`s neither here nor there), which is why your way of putting things is a substantial contradiction in terms. The “truth” is like the elusive oasis in an otherwise merciless desert: What is “all around you” may appear clear and unambiguous, thus making skepticism manifesting in careful and unhurried double- and triplechecking of your sensory input seem absurd – After all, you can clearly see where the water is, and you are dying of thirst now, dammit! – , but rushing off prematurely will most likely result in the painful realization that there are myriad fata morganas for every actual watering hole; turns out, what you thought – were sure,in fact – you saw is nothing more than hot air – literally. Mirages such as these are what the dreadfully slow and counterintuitive-appearing process of truly “evidence-based reasoning” actually “blinds you to”, thus allowing you to steadily close in on the genuine “truth”, inch by painstaking inch. Contrary to what you seem to believe, “science” and its application in the form of “studies” are not automatically synonymous with EBM – in fact, EBM is the “mortal enemy” of “bad science”:None other than the methodology of EBM in action did the “refuting” of those “corrupt and fraudulent” studies you are referring to, thus leading to the knowledge that smoking is unhealthy and broadening the scientific picture with regard to the links between diet and cardiovascular health. Accordingly, I do not “provide rebuttals to…EBM studies”; what I am trying my best to achieve is the refutation of confirmation-bias- and agenda-driven misinterpretation and -representation of study results, which I set out to do by means of diligent application of the principles behind the concept of EBM – in order to further my “agenda” to separate fact from fiction/speculation from evidence (not all that sinister, huh?), because failing to properly do so lead us astray before, as the examples you mention nicely illustrate (Your allusion to the diet-heart-hypothesis is ironic in this context, though, because the “Paleosphere” loves to mock Ancel Keys for his unsubstantiated antics on the basis of poor, at best weakly suggestive data, while simultaneously heaping praise upon Dr. Lustig, who is jumping the gun in a very similar manner – but hey, his hypothesis fits in with “preconceived Paleo notions”, right?).
          In this vein, I do not “flipantly (sic) dismiss Amanda`s personal experiences as if they carry no value”; what I am doing is criticising her interpretation of a subset of said experiences on the basis of a huge body of “higer order evidence” and my own experiences in a similar context, because I believe this information may be helpful for at least some of the many people who will doubtlessly try to emulate Amanda`s strategy for weight loss/health improvement. As for your claim that anecdotal evidence in the form of “n=1 experiences carried the world for thousands of years before EBM came along”: True, and look how well that turned out: People routinely died of banal infections, and “medical treatments ” almost across the board were either useless or actively harmful – right up until the scientific method (i.e. the methodology behind EBM) came along and was widely implemented, at which point the knowledge base of mankind rapidly started to make such giant leaps forward that the prior rate of “progress” appeared to be somewhat akin to that of a snail suffering from muscular dystrophy in comparison.
          All in all, I am pretty sure your “buzz” needs “killing”.

          Battousai wrote on November 19th, 2013
  21. Wow! Just…WOW!! You look fantastic–living proof that primal/paleo WORKS. I am delighted for you.

    Shary wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • Thanks so much for the compliment, Shary!

      Amanda Torres wrote on November 15th, 2013
  22. Just like you in my third year of primal I have actually gained weight but stayed the same size. I think it’s muscle as I am doing yoga again. It’s interesting to see the scale go up but clothes fitting the same!

    Diane wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • Diane, it can be disconcerting to see the number go up, too, so I stopped weighing myself (except for only very occasionally) and just go based on how my clothes fit. Glad to hear you are building muscle! That’s gotta be the reason :) You can also use a tape measurer to track your progress in addition to checking your weight.

      Amanda Torres wrote on November 17th, 2013
      • Not to play devil’s advocate but I have been wondering about that: I have been Primal for ~3 years too and I did regain some weight. I saw wonderful results with primal diet, I got very lean easily but even better I have way more energy and no more intestinal issues. So I wouldn’t go back and appreciate the benefits but I did regain some weight, mostly upper body fat (belly, breasts and hips).

        I was reading recently that any type of diet, by creating a new routine shakes the body a little bit and helps you loose weight. With that in mind, part of the success of Primal diet is the same as all diets, if you switch to vegan you may loose some weight too, the time for your body to adjust.

        Maybe there is always a smalll rebound. I do feel stronger too, but there is def not mistaking it: the added breast size and belly on my side is added fat… It is not going to change my opinion about living primal but my expectations about staying very lean by doing the same. Either I accept my body with some added fat (still a 0/2 size so no prob) or I will have to shake things up every 2 years or so…

        Anais wrote on November 18th, 2013
        • Women need a bit of body fat for their hormones to work properly, I think. A bit of lush softness is healthy, isn’t it, on a female body?

          dmunro wrote on November 20th, 2013
  23. How inspiring!! Love your story!!

    The Beckster wrote on November 15th, 2013
  24. Your story does my heart good. You were on a scary downward health spiral there and what an amazing reversal! Plus, you look awesome, not even the same person! Go, baby!

    Tina wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • Thank you so much, Tina. Yes, I was indeed on a very scary downward spiral and am so glad I took matters into my own hands after conventional dietary and medical advice failed me :)

      Amanda Torres wrote on November 15th, 2013
  25. You are a ROCK STAR!!!! Congrats!!!

    Gwen wrote on November 15th, 2013
  26. Congrats Amanda. Great story. Look great but more importantly you feel great. Very cool!

    Luke wrote on November 15th, 2013
  27. Amanda,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! It is a tremendous encouragement to me. I have been Primal since around April of this year (with one partial backslide of two weeks in September during a huge upheaval in my family and my own move out of state – I found comfort in potato chips). My health has improved somewhat, however, I am still plagued by chronic fatigue and constipation. Unfortunately I have to rely on Miralax to keep me anywhere near regular. The chronic fatigue, it turns out, may be due to low vitamin D, low iron, and adrenal fatigue. I’ve come through some incredibly stressful years of late and only recently moved to a situation that took a tremendous psychological, financial, and physical burden off my shoulders. I know that I feel better than I did, and I look forward to feeling even better! Your story of the last three years encouraged me to know that I just need to keep plugging away at taking care of my whole self (not just what I eat) and I will eventually be fully in good health.

    Babar wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • Keep it up Babar. Stress can really make things tough, and like you I’ve recently underestimated its effect on us. Keep your head up!

      Stacie wrote on November 15th, 2013
      • Thank you, Stacie. Encouragement is soul food right now!

        Babar wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • The constipation, also, may be due to the adrenal fatigue; it’s a common symptom.

      Elenor wrote on November 15th, 2013
      • Thanks for the input! It’s been a lifetime problem but I still hold out hope that living primaly will solve it over the course of time.

        Babar wrote on November 15th, 2013
        • Magnesium Citrate daily helps in retaining water in the colon…excess calcium (as in milk) puts the colon asleep.

          Fiber Menace is a great book to learn about why humans get digestive problems and ultimately end up with colostomy or ileostomy bags…

          If you haven’t read it yet…please do! :)

          Issabeau wrote on November 16th, 2013
    • Hi Babar, I’m so glad to hear that my story is so encouraging for you. I would suggest that you find a doctor that you trust to help you on your journey — it’s up to you to make a call, but I would personally recommend either a Naturopath or a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor. Or, if you can find one, an MD who practices functional medicine. In the last year+ I’ve been working with a TCM doctor (and doing Qigong) and have noticed some pretty incredible improvements (as if the ones I saw just from going Primal weren’t enough!), mainly related to some lingering annoying digestive issues. Paleo/Primal alone isn’t enough to heal a leaky gut, as I have learned. If you happen to be in Florida I can recommend an excellent doctor :) I know there are also some non-pharmaceutical treatments indicated for constipation (Smooth Move tea by Yogi Teas, for example) but there may be something else at play that a doctor can help you get to the bottom of. My own n=1 experience showed that adding in a good probiotic (Bio-Kult is what I take) really helped me with regularity, but that may not work for you. I wish you the best of luck on your continued journey and let me know if I can help with anything.

      Amanda Torres wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • I occasionally suffer from mild constipation and when it happens I eat three prunes in the morning for a few days and find that jump starts the system back into order.

      Mel wrote on November 19th, 2013
  28. Wow! Congratulations! I’ve noticed the same results with my monthly cycle. I used to be completely out of it for 1-2 days and now I’m not nearly as affected. Your change is beautiful and I’m so happy to hear you’re no longer on medications. That’s huge! Keep it up!!!

    Emily wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • Thanks, Emily! Yeah, it used to be SO embarrassing to call in sick once a month like clockwork (or show up obviously feeling terrible and acting grumpy). And I am also so happy to no longer take any pharmaceuticals. I’ve used some herbal/supplemental/nutritional remedies for things these past 3 years, but my need for having to use any of those things has greatly diminished over time :)

      Amanda Torres wrote on November 15th, 2013
  29. So happy for you!! You look amazing and I am so glad you feel amazing! Congratulations!

    Rhonda the Red wrote on November 15th, 2013
  30. Amanda, your photos remind me of yesterday when I went to shop for some auto speakers at a nice audio shop. It had a nice showroom and I made the mistake of listening to some French Focal component speakers side-by-side against the cheaper speakers I was going to buy. It was a fortunate mistake because the A/B test proved to be unmistakable – the French speakers were superior in every way. You, Amanda, are the French speaker and there’s no going back – you sound so good.

    I love your story because it indicates causation along with correlation. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Jeff F. wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • What a unique compliment! Thanks so much for that, Jeff. I really appreciate it. And glad you got some awesome speakers :)

      Amanda Torres wrote on November 15th, 2013
  31. I want a “BODY BY BACON” t-shirt!

    BonzoGal wrote on November 15th, 2013
  32. Awesome story and congratulations! Thanks for including the details about how you were able to ditch the antacids. I think that’s really important. I often forget to tell people that adopting a primal eating plan allowed me to ditch antacids too! I used to carry a bottle of them with me everywhere I went. It’s interesting that your discovery of MDA began with reading Born to Run — the same thing happened to me!

    Trip wrote on November 15th, 2013
  33. Thanks for sharing your wonderful story!! Inspiration.

    Nikki wrote on November 15th, 2013
  34. “I kept up this new “healthy” eating and exercising routine for several months, and in that time I didn’t really see the scale budge (it would fluctuate down maybe 5-10 lbs but then creep up again) or notice my clothes fitting any better. But I sure did notice that I was hungry all the time, sore all the time, and almost felt worse than before I started! I felt so helpless and discouraged, and started to wonder if I would ever see any results”

    I think this probably reflects the experiences of about 90% of those who adopt conventional wisdom and work so hard in an attempt to get their health and weight under control. And healthcare professionals/trainers are left scratching their heads and wondering why their patients/clients “give up” (what sane person would continue this non-sense when the only results they get are fatigue and pain?) Of course, then everyone in the industry ends up doing a Jillian Michaels and blames the victim. Sad.

    Amanda–I’m so glad you were able to cut through the BS and find primal living. Congratulations! you look outstanding and healthy! Love this story!

    fritzy wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • Fritzy, yep, I agree. I can’t tell you how many other people I have known over the years who have gotten absolutely nowhere following the CW for diet and exercise. And yes, the typical reaction (I got it from doctors) was “well, you must be doing something wrong! You aren’t strict enough/add more days at the gym/cut back on fat more” etc. Ugh. Thank you so much for the kind words. Means a lot, and I am so grateful to have stumbled upon this site 3 1/2 years ago! :-)

      Amanda Torres wrote on November 15th, 2013
  35. Oh my God! You have done a wonderful job of becoming you!

    Vanessa wrote on November 15th, 2013
  36. You look Amazing Amanda!
    Its so crazy the instant reaction my body has when I eat something non-primal, like, hey, remember why you stopped eating that crap? No? Let me remind you by giving you acne, cellulite, terrible stomach bloating, cramping, and general disturbing body noise. LOL
    Keep up the good work!

    Katie C. wrote on November 15th, 2013
  37. Being on all those medications and dealing with all those health problems sounds miserable. Glad you found the healthy way of correcting those issues. It always impresses me to hear how many medications you can remove once your lifestyle becomes healthier. Congrats, this is a great story.

    Captain Competition wrote on November 15th, 2013
  38. Fabulous story! It’s these weekly success hits that keep me going when I’m having a bad day or I’m tempted by the dreaded sugar monster. You look fabulous! Well done x

    Kathy C wrote on November 15th, 2013
  39. The latest in a long line of one inspiring success story after another. Keep up the good work.

    Paul in Australia wrote on November 15th, 2013
  40. I’m curious…how did your doctors react to your changes? Did they fight you about your nutritional choices? This is a great story!

    Jauna wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • Juana, I fired my Western MDs after going Primal. This is not always a smart choice and one should definitely be careful about dropping medical supervision and prescriptions. I only went back to my primary care doc once after going primal, about 3 months in. I just bit my tongue when we talked about diet, exercise, my weight, etc. She just said “oh, you should keep up what you are doing! You must be cutting out so much fat to have lost so much weight”. The only reason I really went that time was for annual bloodwork, which was VASTLY improved vs. pre-primal. I saw no reason to pay money to go back to the dermatologist after all of my skin conditions cleared up so drastically in such a short time eating Primal, but I’ve considered contacting her to let her know my success at using diet to clear up everything, including the HS. Looking back, I wish I had started seeing a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor or a Naturopath in the beginning, but I didn’t start seeing a TCM doc until this past year, and she’s fully on board with my lifestyle, and in fact, prescribes Whole30s to patients regularly (especially the autoimmune protocol).

      Amanda Torres wrote on November 15th, 2013
      • If your dermatologist open-minded in any way, PLEASE contact her. Maybe she’ll tell some of her other hopeless patients about this “weird diet” that Amanda did. If it helps even ONE other patient, it’s worth it.

        oxide wrote on November 16th, 2013

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