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

The Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve

iStock 000007090743XSmallYesterday, low-carb blogger Dr. Michael Eades (he of Protein Power) posted a message from his friend and fellow low-carb guru Richard Feinman as sort of a call-to-action in public policy-making for upcoming 2010 USDA guidelines. Dr. Eades and Dr. Feinman have suggested that we ought to quickly find a way to help the USDA arrive at a sensible recommendation for carbohydrate consumption. Feinman asked:

“how can the benefits of carbohydrate restriction that you have experienced personally or in your immediate environment be translated into reasonable recommendations that the USDA could put out?”

In conjunction with my forthcoming book “The Primal Blueprint”, I have been working on an easy-to-understand explanation of how carbohydrates impact the human body and the degree to which we need them (or not) in our diet. I have also developed a chart (not the one above) that is intended to assist those who want to go “Primal” in visualizing the impact of carbs consumed within certain ranges. I was going to hold off on releasing this information until my book is published, but decided to introduce it here in response to Dr. Eades’ post. Since the choice of how many and what types of carbs in one’s diet depends on the context of one’s life (current weight, disease condition, activity levels, etc), I see carb intake as a “curve” ranging from “allowable” to “desirable” to “unhealthy”.

The following descriptions illustrate how carbohydrates impact the human body and the degree to which we need them, or not, in our diet. The ranges represent daily averages and are subject to variables like age, current height and weight and particularly training volume. For example, a heavy, active person can be successful at a higher number than a light, moderately active person. In particular, hard training endurance athletes will experience a greater need for carbs and can adjust their personal curve accordingly. This is a topic I address further in the book (e.g. – experimenting with adding 100g of carbs per hour of training per day), on MarksDailyApple.com and in a future “primal” book dedicated to endurance athletes. Here then is my “Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve.”

300 or more grams/day - Danger Zone!

Easy to reach with the “normal” American diet (cereals, pasta, rice, bread, waffles, pancakes, muffins, soft drinks, packaged snacks, sweets, desserts). High risk of excess fat storage, inflammation, increased disease markers including Metabolic Syndrome or diabetes. Sharp reduction of grains and other processed carbs is critical unless you are on the “chronic cardio” treadmill (which has its own major drawbacks).

150-300 grams/day – Steady, Insidious Weight Gain

Continued higher insulin-stimulating effect prevents efficient fat burning and contributes to widespread chronic disease conditions. This range – irresponsibly recommended by the USDA and other diet authorities – can lead to the statistical US average gain of 1.5 pounds of fat per year for forty years.

100-150 grams/dayPrimal Blueprint Maintenance Range

This range based on body weight and activity level. When combined with Primal exercises, allows for genetically optimal fat burning and muscle development. Range derived from Grok’s (ancestors’) example of enjoying abundant vegetables and fruits and avoiding grains and sugars.

50-100 grams/day – Primal Sweet Spot for Effortless Weight Loss

Minimizes insulin production and ramps up fat metabolism. By meeting average daily protein requirements (.7 – 1 gram per pound of lean bodyweight formula), eating nutritious vegetables and fruits (easy to stay in 50-100 gram range, even with generous servings), and staying satisfied with delicious high fat foods (meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds), you can lose one to two pounds of body fat per week and then keep it off forever by eating in the maintenance range.

0-50 grams/day – Ketosis and Accelerated Fat Burning

Acceptable for a day or two of Intermittent Fasting towards aggressive weight loss efforts, provided adequate protein, fat and supplements are consumed otherwise. May be ideal for many diabetics. Not necessarily recommended as a long-term practice for otherwise healthy people due to resultant deprivation of high nutrient value vegetables and fruits.

Drop me a line in the comment boards. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Further Reading:

The Definitive Guide to the Primal Eating Plan

The Definitive Guide to Insulin, Blood Sugar and Type 2 Diabetes (and You’ll Understand It)

Primal Fitness

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 hit the nail right on the head with the grams of carb’s consumed for your goals.0 to 50 grams thats where the obese should be and thats where i am at.When i get bored or feel i want to lose a little slower because ive lost alot already i will go to 50 to 75 grams to see how i lose ect.I have to tell you carb’s are so addictive when you cut way back you feel like you lost a friend.

    Bill wrote on January 14th, 2009
    • lol……aint that the truth…. I feel like my best friend stabbed me in the back…lol

      katrina wrote on November 16th, 2009
    • “feel like you lost a friend” YOU hit the nail on the head :P

      Meghan wrote on June 8th, 2011
    • Agreed – I only carry a few extra pounds and have no health issues. And even still, I have to be very low on the carb curve to see any pounds come off.

      Primal Recipe wrote on July 22nd, 2011
      • instead of restricting carbs be more active better you improve your fitness plus dont starve your self! just make sure their gluten free!

        alex wrote on October 12th, 2013
        • I agree, starving is very dangerous. Long term you will have very bad results, I starved a while and then I got all kinds of trouble, doctors, bad bones, everything.

          Valeriu wrote on March 13th, 2014
    • Strategically timing carb intake may be beneficial in this case. I have found that if I go too long without starches (a week or so) and continue exercise, I begin to feel fatigued and cranky. Overfeeding on carbs (preferably paleo/primal-friendly ones) one day a week and/or in the hour following a hard workout keeps energy levels high. And when glycogen is topped off after overfeeding on carbs, you feel like a rockstar!

      Abel James wrote on October 18th, 2011
      • As an endurance runner (I know, that’s SO not primal!) LOL
        I went through that when I cut carbs. I am at the -50 and below range due to diabetes and other blood sugar problems, but when I started, I found the wall within the first 2 miles and thought it would never work, but a friend told me it could be done, but I had to be persistent. After about a month, my endurance is better than ever. I carry raw walnuts ‘just in case’ but I never have to fuel. I recover faster, run longer and still have energy to burn afterward. I say, hang in there if you want to go low carb. Fueling is a myth! Just like ‘low fat’ diets!

        Gretchen wrote on January 17th, 2013
        • I completely agree. I am a distance runner–however, I never allow my heart rate to go above 75% max–and my performance has improved tremendously since giving up wheat and most other grains — I still eat a touch of white rice two or three times/year.

          Mila Bulic wrote on March 18th, 2013
        • Check out “The art and science of low-carb performance”. By Drs. Phinney and Volek, leading researchers on nutrition. They will show that even high endurance/performance athletes can low-carb effectively.

          Stephanie wrote on May 10th, 2013
        • pro cyclist eat tons of carbs, but high quiality ones. and their super skinny , im a cyclist myself i improved my performance going gluten free plus i dont eat red meat and no chicken n poultry! instead eggs and fish for me are easier to digest.plus vegan protein powders are a plus! soy free! no dairy! stay away from processed foods go gluten free,eat steady complex carbs like oats with almond milk with an omelette best energy breakfast plus fat loss!

          alex wrote on October 12th, 2013
    • just wondering if counting your calories is neccecary when your counting carbs

      Dana wrote on October 19th, 2011
      • The consensus seems to say no. This is because after the first few days, your hunger diminishes greatly, and there is no desire to overeat. Also, low carb eating makes you burn fat much more easily. You may overeat for a few days at first before your metabolism adjusts, but you’re also losing water weight at first, so you’ll still start looking thinner right away. Instead of counting calories, you can accelerate weight loss by doing short fasts (like just half a day) once your hunger is under control. At that point it is easy.

        Robin wrote on October 25th, 2011
      • I think if you are really eating low carb you will be less sensitive to caloric levels, but there are limits. People seem try to satisfy the cravings by eating a lot and, even if you’re eating steak, at some point your weight loss will be disappointing if you over do it.
        For me low-carb works best if I use a little self control and take food out of my rewards system.

        Andrew Watkinson wrote on May 24th, 2012
        • I agree with Andrew. For many calorie counting is not needed, but for those who haven’t learned to follow their body’s true hunger signals or have issues interfering with the normal functioning of those signals, it may be advisable until you get used to it or heal and rebalance.

          Personally, I found that at first I was overeating because I was used to needing to eat a lot to feel satisfied (symptom of gluten intolerance) for so long that mentally I wasn’t prepared to cut back on my food intake. Eating large portions had become so normal to me, it never occurred to me I could be satisfied with less once the grain issues were dealt with. I was able to lose weight at first, but when it stalled after about 3 weeks, I lowered my calories and I started losing again. I’m not talking extremely low calories either. I was eating about 2400/day which put me in the maintenance range instead of the weight loss range.

          I will say though, I am not one of those people who has experienced days of not feeling hungry, rather for me personally, now when I am hungry it’s not an insatiable ever present crazy monster. It’s something I can ignore if the timing is inconvenient without losing my focus. I also don’t have the out of control need to stuff myself with pizza urges which is great because I used to think it was all mental and would feel bad for being “weak”.

          One last comment because this is turning into its own blog post lol, is that for me personally, staying under 100g carbs/day doesn’t guarantee weight loss. I think I must be very carb sensitive because I’m unable to lose weight if my carb intake is higher than 65g carbs or so/day. Which really sucks because I like vegetables and fruits way more than I like proteins LOL

          Rosie wrote on May 4th, 2013
        • At present I am low carbing to lose weight. I don’t like to count calories but I did notice that on the Brie Cheese I had as a treat for a late lunch it was 700 calories (and zero carb). It was lovely an dI’ve not felt like any dinner (had a bit breakfast – bacon and eggs every day) but it was a lot of calories and typicl of me that however I eat even if just protein and fat I can pack away a lot of calories without knowing.

          EnglishRose wrote on July 17th, 2013
        • moderate carb intake is the fat loss and energy barrier! low carb is temporary and high carb doctor crisis!! just go medium to high on protein low to medium in fat and well the carb you know!

          alex wrote on October 12th, 2013
      • just try to eat at least 150 grams of protein a day with 150 grams of carbs and 89 grams of fat. WARNING the fat must be from olive oil, nuts, eggs , fish, omega 3 supplement !! thats 2,001 calories total! see is not that hard never go less than 100 grams of carbs unless your not going to workout! fasted cardio is a big plus! it just empty your bodys glycogen reserves making your sensitive to insulin so when you eat carbs more carb storage less fat storage!

        alex wrote on October 12th, 2013
    • Hi! I’m new here, and I’ve been perusing the website. One question I have not been able to find the answer to is: when counting carbs, which carbs are counted? Does this include fruits and vegetables (good carbs) too?I realize that all grains and starches are counted, but does this also include “moderated” foods, such as bananas, potatoes, and cottage cheese? Any advice is appreciated! Thanks.

      pianogirl wrote on January 11th, 2012
      • I’m pretty sure that all sources of carbohydrates are counted.

        Taylor Rao wrote on February 9th, 2012
      • You count All carbs. I am not going below 200 grams of carbs daily due to working out. Also you must replace them with dietary fat. Here they don’t talk about that. If 100 grams of protein daily that is only 400 calories. 200 grams carbs, thats 800 calories and you might be starving. You need to eat fat to account for the rest of your daily caloric needs.

        Andy wrote on April 5th, 2012
      • You need protein, vegetables, and good fats in your diet for optimal health. What you don’t need is sweets, grains and junkfood. Some fruit is good but don’t go overboard with it. The same is true of nuts and seeds–healthy but fattening. If trying to lose weight, stick mostly with protein and lots of low glycemic veggies with very little fruit until you’ve achieved your desired weight.

        Shary wrote on June 1st, 2012
        • Which fruits are low in carb as i miss eating fruit?
          also what does ‘net carbs’ means i find this a little confusing

          tammie wrote on February 19th, 2013
        • @Tammie – Berries are your friend: Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc. They pack a lot of nutritional value for low carbs/calories

          diablo135 wrote on October 1st, 2013
      • I’m fairly new also but “All carbs” count I believe.
        I became diabetic 2 years ago at 55 & finally learned how to eat right.
        I count carbs more precisly than & calories but I monitor both.
        Marks Daily Apple has contributed greatly to my knowledge & desire to live healthy & fit.
        Trying to convince the rest of the family to eat better.
        Never stop learning now.

        Steve wrote on October 6th, 2012
    • this is so true when I limit myself I tend to crave more than usual

      Destynal 1030 wrote on February 19th, 2012
      • I agree. I’m very healthy and fit and prob have a low-ish body fat. I find that if I limit my carbs too much I crave stuff, especially chocolate (super dark, not necessarily a bad thing). I was trying to only have carbs once a day, at dinner, but I found that, even after a normal “adjustment period,” I would crave more chocolate etc. So i started including more, not tons, but fresh fruits etc (mmm berries) and I find that that helps a TON.

        And when I do have chocolate (which actually has less carbs than some fruit and a lot of starchy veggies) I have super dark. Nothing wrong with that because depriving yourself too much will just make you miserable.

        Rachel wrote on August 9th, 2012
    • I’ve also believed in a low carb diet but i have eaten oatmeal every morning for years. I am bodybuilder and ate oatmeal throughout my pre contest dieting. As well I also use karbolean right after I train. With both meals I am still under 100 grams of carbs. What is your view on this ?

      Randy seider wrote on March 29th, 2012
      • Protein, Carbs, Dietary Fat. Calculate your caloric needs for the day. Divide that into the desired amounts of Protein, carbs, fat. Fat has 9 calories per gram, carbs and protein 4. If you train add 500 calories daily for that alone.

        Andy wrote on April 5th, 2012
    • Mark- I saw you speaking the other night about gluten and was very inspired. Of all the health/fitness gurus out there, I think you’ve got it RIGHT! This part about the carb curve solves a mystery I’ve been working on for 20 years now. Competitive Nordic Skiing is my favorite sport. Weight is paramount due to the limited bearing capacity of snow- heavy people just don’t do well in Nordic, so weight loss is stressed. At the same time, nordic skiing is considered THE most calorie intensive sport on the planet and if you’ve ever skate skied up a mountain you will soon find out why. That said, during numerous times in my life, I’ve tried limiting calories to lose weight while training. The easiest calories to cut out are carbohydrates as they generally come in distinct doses: donuts, pancakes, rice dish, potatoes, bread etc. That works for a while and your body does burn off a lot of fat. But when you get below a certain body fat percentage, things start to change. Eventually you become chronically exhausted. So, that said, when engaging in prolonged high-intensity sports, complex carbohydrates are essential, otherwise your body undergoes extreme unsustainable hormonal stress trying to maintain blood sugar levels. Another thing is that when fructose is metabolized, it must pass through the liver. In so doing, 30% of it is converted to fat (per Robert Lustig’s “Sugar the Bitter Truth” and other referenced research). If you consume most of your calories via simple carbs such as sports drinks, you won’t lose as much fat as if you consumed them via complex carbs, sweet potatoes are a perfect example. Nevertheless, carbohydrates are a must for sustained high-intensity exercise. It’s like a pyramid- the base of the pyramid is fat(lipolytic), the middle is carbs(glycolytic) and the peak is phosphocreatine. The middle can only be replaced with carbs, preferrably complex carbs. Mark, I really love what you are doing and can’t wait to pick up your book! You are an inspiration to us all, keep up the great work, Charlie Bader, Anchorage, Alaska

      Charlie Bader wrote on October 6th, 2012
      • Be sure to research the effects of gliadin and amylopectin-A. The first is a protein In modern wheat that breaks down into polypeptides that bind to opiate receptors in the brain. These polypeptides do not provide pain relief or euphoria, but they do make one ravenously hungry. The second is a starch that is broken down by amylase (another pancreatic enzyme) into glucose. That is why wheat bread has a higher glycemic index than table sugar. (Source: Dr. W. Davis, cardiologist and author of Wheat Belly)

        Stephanie wrote on May 10th, 2013
        • Wasn’t Wheat Belly just the most amazing book? My mother-in-law told me about it and I rushed right out to buy it, then read it within a couple days. I felt like I was already pretty well informed about how carbs worked in the body, but I had no idea about the history of wheat and why our current wheat is so much more “fattening” than the wheat our grandmothers baked with back in 1935. This is awful scary, too. While I’m sure the genetic engineering of our foodstuffs in some ways has been useful/helpful (although I will only plant heirloom seeds in my garden) for some things, it’s these unintended consequences that have made the tinkering such a bad thing. Wheat Belly really illustrates this pretty well.

          DaisyDoll wrote on November 10th, 2013
      • thats why moderation is key! moderate carb intake is best for fat loss and energy the word low is temporary and high carb is only for true athletes if not doctor crisis!

        alex wrote on October 12th, 2013
    • Weight loss is not hard just eat a calorie deficit and you will lose weight. Stay away from process food like chips, cookies, white bread.

      I’m on a cutting diet and I’m eating 300g of carbs a day, 200 protein and around 70-90 fat. If you eat 200-300 calories below what you need per day your body is forced to lose weight at a healthy pace.

      Tony wrote on February 8th, 2013
      • Read “Why We Get Fat And What To Do About It” (Gary Taubes) for a very clear and intelligent explanation of the science and logic of why your prescription is wrong-headed.

        Seriously. It hasn’t worked for the past 60 years, and it won’t work – ever – because the basic energy assumption is too simplistic.

        What you eat matters, because you are what your body does with what you eat.

        Leaf Eating Carnivore wrote on May 9th, 2013
        • This book (Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes) was what convinced me 2 years ago to eat Paleo. It explained complex concepts about hormones adn history of food in a way i could understand. I have found Mark’s sight today and will get with the program. Did anyone hear that just recenly in Sweden the Pyramid Food Chart has been officially dissed?

          Ingrid wrote on January 7th, 2014
      • Unhealthy pace? What does that mean? Our bodies will heal themselves when fed properly, and when we have been accumulating fat at an “unhealthy pace,” we might expect to lose it when our body is healing itself.

        BTW, what source are your carbs? Are they NET carbs, or total carbs? The benefit to choosing non-starchy veggies over grains is that you get A LOT of food by volume for the same net carbs…And they taste great with FAT which will ensure that you have access to all the nutrients as well.

        Stephanie wrote on May 10th, 2013
      • Weight loss shouldn’t be the goal……fat loss should be if you are overweight or obese. You don’t have to have a caloric deficit to reduce fat….rather, your body needs to learn how to use fat as fuel instead of carbs.

        Sure, you can lose weight cutting calories…but the body will react negatively and you will eventually gain that weight back!

        Russ Stevens wrote on June 13th, 2013
      • Hmmm, not necessarily.. most of it comes down to the rate of your metabolism when it comes to weight loss. It’s not as easy as cutting back on less calories than you need, as likely this will slow down your metabolism which will have the opposite effect you want it to. Plus, the less calories you eat, the less you can stand to eat before gaining weight.. if that makes sense. Sometimes what people actually need when on those calorie restrictive diets is to eat more calories rather than cutting back (of good calories, from whole foods, not refined processed junk, of course) in order to lose weight. That and blood sugar control – vital. Insulin causes fat to be stored like no other! It’s not as simple as calories in calories out, that has been proven now.

        lana wrote on June 30th, 2013
        • This claim has never been backed by real academic research. Basal metabolism does NOT markedly decrease until bodyfat reaches about 4 or 5% in men and about 7% in women. And to further burst your myth bubble the starvation studies conducted on hunger strikers showed that these fasting individuals lost fat disproportionately to muscle – sorry folks, yes the body holds onto muscle as long as it can. Skipping a meal or cutting down on your caloric intake will not markedly decrease metabolism for gods sake.

          N wrote on December 27th, 2013
      • This sint true, ato least according to many in the loow carb/paleo world. Read Good Calories, Bad Calories or Why we get fat and what to do about it by Gary Taubes for more info.
        Low Carb isthe antithesis of calorie counting. If that truly worked we wouldnt have the obesity issues we have since as you say, “weight loss is not hard”. All we have to do is count our calories, create a deficit and presto! We lose weight. Not so for most ppl.

        Will wrote on August 3rd, 2013
    • Oh my. I know this is what I need to do. I lost a ton of weight before and have gained some back after going back to carbs and being sedentary after my husband and son were in an accident. But I’m so stuck on bread, etc. I know once I’m off of it for a while I can resist and not even consider it. But gosh it’s hard to get to that point. Someone encourage me!

      Rebecca wrote on March 25th, 2013
      • I completely understand. You must remember that the physical cravings are only temporary…. estimated at about 3 days. You can speed up this carb detox but doing cardio exercise to burn through your carb storage. If the bread thing is really presenting a problem try that Neuman’s Own Fiber bread…. eat it sparingly to satisfy craving until you deplete your carb stores. Hang in there…. it’s worth it!

        Nicole wrote on March 29th, 2013
      • Have you read the book wheat belly? It provides a pretty interesting explanation of why wheat (and most other grains) can be bad for people even those are not gluten intolerant. If weight loss isn’t enough motivation to ditch the bread, reading this book may help. I think if I remember correctly, this book talks about bread being similar in ingredients to wallpaper glue! You can imagine that wallpaper glue is not good for your insides. Also the fact that grains have a very long shelf life without refrigeration is also a clue that something about them can’t be good ;) Anyways, good luck and I hope this helps a little.

        Rosie wrote on May 4th, 2013
    • When mark is discussing carbohydrates above is he talking about grams of net carbs or is he talking about carbohydrates weighed out in grams?

      Bret wrote on October 2nd, 2013
    • Haha I feel you there, def feels like losing a friend. But, for me, that actually isn’t far from the truth. I pretty much stopped going out to restaurants and started declining invites to party while I was dieting. Take about a diet taking over your social life, I didn’t see my friends nearly as much as before starting the keto diet. It’s pretty sad, but I’m almost at my goal weight, then I can start bulking cleanly afterwards. That means more carbs :D

      Hani wrote on June 30th, 2014
  2. Love it. Part of my beef with Atkins and extreme ketosis (less than 20 carbs/day) is it really limits variety, even one salad can put you over the limit. But I typically maintain 75-80 carbs a day, which allows for the occasional “sensible vice” like dark chocolate without the accompanying fretting that I’ve totally fallen off the wagon.

    Randy wrote on January 14th, 2009
    • I am 5’2″ and am over weight by 30 pounds. On low carb should I still count calories?

      Deborah wrote on September 6th, 2009
      • Deborah,
        You won’t gain more weight on a true low carb diet…but to lose what you are still carrying, you will have to create a deficit (so you burn off a bit of stored body fat every day). The book has details on how to create that deficit

        Mark Sisson wrote on September 6th, 2009
        • You still believe in calories in calories out? Haven’t you read Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes?

          primo wrote on July 17th, 2010
        • It’s not the amount of calories consumed, but the kind. Eat until you are satiated, if that’s 3000 calories fine! Just make sure you limit carbs. It’s carbs that drive insulin, that drives fat, cut the carbs and cut the fat!

          primo wrote on July 17th, 2010
        • people say carbs make them fat, the truth is people are eating the wrong types of carbs! just like fats and protein. for example compare quinoa to white wheat bread, quinoa has more nutrients plus high quality proteins and carbs! witch your body uses more efficiently. hot dogs to lean turkey, is processed foods that make you fat! not carbs alone!

          alex wrote on October 12th, 2013
      • Nope, just make sure you don’t eat any grains. Watch the movie “Fat Head”. It is an eye opener and supports the primal diet almost to a “T”

        Matt wrote on May 11th, 2011
        • I have to do a face plant every time I hear someone dismiss the importance of calories in a weight loss program. It *is* about the calories, always has been, always will be. Without a calorie deficit you’ll never lose much weight beyond the initial water loss. Yup, even a low-carb diet fails if a calorie deficit isn’t created. Sorry folks, that’s the law and no ideology in the world can change it.

          Rob wrote on March 18th, 2013
        • “I have to do a face plant every time I hear someone dismiss the importance of calories in a weight loss program. It *is* about the calories, always has been, always will be.”

          You really need to read “Why we get Fat,” by Gary Taubes. It’s a fascinating read, and will relieve you of having to do any more face plants upon hearing people dismiss the importance of calories. You need to have a better understanding of fat regulation, the role of insulin and how a low carb diet works.

          Calories are only important on the extreme end. Yes, if you’re packing in thousands of calories a day, you’re not going to lose weight. But one of the reasons calories don’t matter on a low carb diet, within reason, is that for most a low carb diet greatly decreases your urge to splurge.

          Calories in, calories out is one of the major myths of losing weight, and you should find out more about it, instead of spreading the myth.

          Stella wrote on April 8th, 2013
        • Stella,

          I have read Taubes’ book Why we Get Fat. Sorry but studies have shown that all successful diets, low carb included, were successful due to consuming fewer calories. The lies and half-truths in Taubes’ books are enough to give me a concussion from all the face-plants. Taubes has been known to misquote his sources to suit his agenda. Sorry, Taubes just leaves a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak. Last time I checked, Taubes credentials consisted of … being a journalist.

          Rob wrote on April 8th, 2013
        • Add to Fathead, “Science for smart people”, a free you tube video by Tom Naughton. Funny, informative, and reminds you how to look at science with a critical thinker’s eye.

          Stephanie wrote on May 10th, 2013
        • Thanks for that. I just watched Fat Head. Very good, those short of time watch the second half. It sums up all my views – fat good, carbs bad.

          EnglishRose wrote on July 17th, 2013
      • The body has many rebundant/futile cycles it can engage to burn off excess calories… especially if you’re 30 pounds overweight and your brain is receiving the leptin hormones generated by your fat cells. You’d have to eat a LOT of calories to hinder your weight loss once you’re no longer leptin & insulin resistant because your brain gets all like “oh shit! am I really 30 lbs overweight? Damn, I’m, like, soo gonna get eaten by a sabertooth tiger!! Alright fat, it’s hammer time!”

        But if you really want to cut the calories (maybe you want to save on your grocery bills?) make sure you get enough protein and figure out how many calories minimum you need before your thyroid starts to slow down your metabolism and make you too tired. For me it’s approx. 900-1,200 calories/day. I save so much money on grocery bills.

        Also, if your metabolism is as messed as mine (or as mine used to be) you may have to go very, very low carb, or even zero carbs to lose a decent amount of weight. When you get closer to your ideal weight you can try carb refeeds/carb loading (search Mark’s Daily Apple for an article on that)

        mm wrote on October 18th, 2011
    • Atkins doesn’t stay at 20g if you’re following the book. The point of the 20g is to make darned sure you get into that ketosis. You stay there for 2 weeks and then you’re supposed to increase by 5g a week and observe how your body responds.

      I really wish people would, I dunno, visit their public library and check out a book once in a while before they criticize something that’s been documented out the wazoo. It’s not just you, I see this stuff everywhere.

      Shoot, you can even do Atkins in a primal way. Nothing stopping you.

      Dana wrote on September 10th, 2010
      • Atkins also requires that a salad be eaten every day, regardless of what phase you are in. I know. Atkins ignorance is one of my pet peeves. The only flaw in the Atkins diet is products produced that contain evil chemicals and artificial sweeteners….if you did primal Atkins, you’d be the picture of good health!

        Gretchen wrote on January 17th, 2013
    • I am on Atkins right now and was considering switching to this program. Any advice in that regard or can I just
      jump in?

      Charlotte wrote on June 2nd, 2011
      • I am on the Medifast 5&1 plan and it works wonderfully and I am never hungry. The pounds are coming off effortlessly. Carb intake averages around 70g per day.

        Carrie wrote on August 30th, 2011
      • Don’t switch, just ditch the ‘products’ like Atkins bars and mixes. If you followed the book (as written) protocol and ate natural foods, you’d be golden. :)

        Gretchen wrote on January 17th, 2013
    • GEEZ I hate this! Atkins 20g of carbs is ONLY FOR THE FIRST TWO WEEKS. People, get it right before bashing it. People are on Atkins OWL, Pre-Maintenance and Maintenance around 50-100g of carbs. GET EDUCATED!!

      Shanni wrote on June 8th, 2011
    • Robin, the Atkins Diet recommends carb intake of 20g/day only for the first 2 weeks or so, to start ketosis and reduce appetite. After that (“Phase 2″), carb intake is initially increased to 25g/dy, and then gradually more until the ideal (for you) balance of eating/weight loss is found.

      By the way, I was skeptical when I first tried this. One of the most immediate and surprising benefits was that my chronic heartburn (20+ years) disappeared immediately. If I eat a lot of empty carbs, it coms back.

      John Steakeater wrote on November 3rd, 2011
      • same here

        Zach wrote on November 17th, 2011
      • Very good post. The Atkins system has a lot of merit. You do the first two weeks and later add carbs little by little until you find your level. I miss the old man Dr Atkins, his sharp wit when being interviewed on TV.

        WildGrok wrote on January 18th, 2012
      • Check the book to be sure..however -increasing is allowed after induction if desired -at 5gm/day -holding steady for at least one week or more to see if results. There is a risk of under estimating or becoming sloppy in measuring/remembering number of gms.of carbs eaten and also risk of carb/hunger cravings being stimulated by glucose/insulin surges, resulting in reports of “it didn’t work for me”.

        LC wrote on February 22nd, 2012
      • Same here

        Barbara wrote on February 21st, 2013
    • OTOH too much variety has been indicated as a prime source of overeating.If optimal health involves less variety overall, it may be worth it,especially for those more metabolically resistant. Not always easy to accept that we’re a bit spoiled in having such a variety of foods.

      LC wrote on February 22nd, 2012
    • Regarding extreme ketosis, on Atkins you really should be only restricting to less then 20 during the induction phase of the program.

      Andrew wrote on February 27th, 2012
      • This is true, depending on your metabolism. Some people (like myself) don’t lose unless we are in that zone….like, forever. Don’t worry, I do eat berries, lots of green veggies and coconut oil chocolate…I just can’t add more than that or my insulin resistance kicks in. :( It’s relative.

        Gretchen wrote on January 17th, 2013
    • Just remember, Atkins only suggests less than 20 carbs per day for TWO weeks (Phase 1), then in Ongoing Weight Loss (Phase 2), you continue adding in carbs slowly and in a controlled manner, until you begin to tip the scale toward stalling. This is Atkins way of getting you to know your personal limit for carbs and weight loss/gain. There are two more phases, which don’t really need addressing here. Overall, his plan is quite good and is tailored to the individual. The problem for most of us (myself included) is we all want the weight gone now so we use the quick fix of Phase 1, jump off to our poor eating habits because Phase 1 “got old,” and don’t really follow the “doctor’s orders,” which are quite do-able if we would realize we are running a marathon – not a sprint! Now, I just need to take my own advice (and the doctor’s)! :)

      Susan wrote on February 6th, 2014
  3. Randy, yes, the point here is that if we know what happens at different levels, we can choose to go from one to another level, fully cognizant of the impact.

    Mark Sisson wrote on January 14th, 2009
  4. I love it.. it looks great. I don’t see the USDA going for it by any means though. Especially when grain and corn farmers put most of them in office.

    The SoG

    Son of Grok wrote on January 14th, 2009
    • A nutritionist doesn’t know of any other sources of B vitamines other than grains? Whoever they are charging should ask for their money back.

      Drew wrote on May 21st, 2009
    • So true!

      Sean wrote on August 9th, 2011
  5. This reminds me of the argument I had with a nutritionist friend last night. I made the mistake of telling her I didn’t eat grains, ever. She was stunned. How did I get my B vitamins? And fiber? It was like there were no other sources of either anywhere in the food chain. Sigh. So much misinformation has been perpetuated for so long…

    Rachel wrote on January 14th, 2009
    • And there is the fact that if you follow the USDA recommended daily values for grain/bread intake and carb intake, your body converts all those carbs to the equilivent of 1.5 cups of sugar in your bloodstream. *note* that amount is considered fatal if consumed at one time.

      Matt wrote on May 11th, 2011
    • Fiber: The Most Useless “Nutrient”… most doctors don’t even know the difference between water soluble and insoluble fiber, or how they work in your intestines… if they did, they wouldn’t be recommending any form of fiber at all.

      mm wrote on October 18th, 2011
  6. Your recommendations as to amounts of carbs is very good, but your rationale for the lower ranges is fairly weak.

    Isotopic bone analysis of H. Sapiens sapiens paleolithic hunter-gatherers in temperate latitudes shows about 96% animal sourced nutrition (Neanderthals show 100%). Plant material was primarily high calorie nuts and seeds and to a lesser degree fruits (and paleolithic fruits bear no resemblance to those of today). Only in equatorial latitudes did any degree of starchy tubers or other vegetation enter the diet.

    A human being does not require a single gram of dietary carbohydrate and can obtain every necessary micronutrient from whole-carcass animal consumption.

    Even today when we follow only a model of the paleodiet (and generally don’t consume whole-carcasses…) all necessary micronutrients can be derived from animal sources. Particular attention can be paid to lightly cooking meat to preserve Vitamin C analogs and preparing bone broths to obtain minerals.

    Extreme ketogenic diets (as Randy above characterized it) are paleo-historically the norm. Grok would have been in ketosis the vast majority of the time, with the obvious exceptions when he discovered honey or fruiting trees.

    Note that I’m not claiming carbs are evil – I’m just attempting to show there’s a more accurate view of paleonutrition than the one Cordain et al presents.

    Sam wrote on January 14th, 2009
    • bla bla bla who r u trying to impress? the basic info laid out on this web site was right and understandable

      maggi wrote on June 25th, 2009
      • Sam, thanks for that. Maggi what’s the problem? That was good info.

        styrac wrote on November 3rd, 2009
      • lol… tell um

        katrina wrote on November 16th, 2009
    • Plus you don’t need as much vitamin C on an animal-foods-only diet. Arctic explorers laid that myth to rest in the early 1900s. If they ate like the locals they didn’t get scurvy even though there wasn’t a citrus fruit to be seen for miles and miles. Apparently vitamin C is structurally similar to glucose and uses the same receptor, but cells preferentially uptake glucose since vitamin C’s not going to kill you if left circulating in your bloodstream. You can see where it goes from there.

      Dana wrote on September 10th, 2010
      • Hi Dana, that is good info, my sister is actually allergic to certain types of Vit. C and has a hard time doing any diets that use extreme fruit and veggies. I will have to forward her your comment. There may be hope for her yet!

        Elisha wrote on July 3rd, 2012
    • That isn’t the ideal way to fuel an athlete’s body, though. I can’t run a marathon on steaks. And to suggest that ancient humans were more carnivorous than bears and even our genetic counterparts, apes and chimpanzees, is sort of ridiculous. I would need some kind of citation to ever believe that.

      Scoozy wrote on December 22nd, 2010
      • Apes are hindgut fermenters. Smaller brains, bigger guts. Google around… human brains are a big energy drain, had to lose something somewhere. We can’t eat grass and extract nutrients from it… and we have to cook a lot of our food (=pre digest).

        Another Halocene Human wrote on April 30th, 2011
      • WRONG!!! you can run a marathon on steaks. Once you lower your carbs to a normal, primal level your body will start to use fat cells to fuel your muscles instead of blood sugar. I ran a marathon last november while in ketosis. Felt awesome during and after.

        Matt wrote on May 11th, 2011
        • I enjoy endurance cycling, 60 to 100 mile rides, some with lots of climbing. I did them all in a ketogenic state. I fueled with berries, turkey and cheese, and a low carb electrolyte drink.
          It was my 3rd year of riding and my first on what I call “Primal Atkins” Unlike the previous 2 years, I never BONKED. I was very surprised. I am also a type2 diabetic.
          Paul

          Paul von Elsner wrote on May 29th, 2011
      • Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Nutrition: The Influence of
        Brain and Body Size on Diet and Metabolism
        WILLIAM R LEONARD RNU MARCIA L. ROBERTSON
        School of Human Biology, Unrversrty of Guelph, Guelph,
        Ontano NIG 2WI, Canada

        … just to be annoying :P
        well known fact that humans and our acestors consumed more animal meat than our related acestors i.e. chimp.

        i don’t think anyone would recommend only eating stakes if you’re a healthy althete about to embark on a marathon. i think this article is primarily about consuming what we REQUIRE (keep in mind that most people are sedimentary today, and so then require less carbs, run a marathon and that’s a different story!)

        sienna wrote on September 18th, 2011
        • I wouldn’t want to eat stakes either! I’d get splinters in my tongue! Kind of rough going down too….

          Desiree wrote on January 9th, 2013
      • I run marathons on steaks. And ultra-marathons too. Carbs are not really needed for long distance running.

        George wrote on December 7th, 2011
        • BS!!! True marathon runners eat plenty of carbs. Your post is utter crap!

          Robert wrote on August 28th, 2012
      • I run marathons. Yes, you can. Look into the book ‘The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance’…..I don’t fuel on carbs, and I drink water, and I run fine. ;) I do not fuel for any run.)

        Gretchen wrote on January 17th, 2013
    • I’d like to run into some people in the community that actually eat an all meat diet. I do and I totally thrive on it. In fact, an all meat diet is the only variant of the paleo diet that I have been successful with. I occasionally eat a little cilantro and green onions because they’re good on soup. Once every couple weeks I guess I eat an avocado. I make bone broths and eat organs. Occasionally I have a day where I eat fruits or sweet potatoes but it is only occasional. Most days I eat only meat. I too have a problem with Mark’s advice not to eat an all, or nearly all, animal product diet. I really think he should go into the strategy, benefits, and history of 90% – 100% animal sourced nutrition.

      Peggy wrote on May 8th, 2011
      • Strategy? Huh?

        I, too, am seriously doubtful that human ancestors ate an almost entirely meat diet. I am wondering what your sources are for this claim, Sam.

        Avi wrote on May 23rd, 2011
        • hey, this was taken from an article i found (i do bio at uni, so i have access to these). ancestors did not eat an “entirely” a meat diet, but a substancially higher meat diet than our relatives.

          “Food items included
          in the “animal” category were meat,
          insects, and larvae, while those categorized
          as “reproductive plant parts” included
          seeds, nuts, fruits, bulbs, and tubers. All foliage
          and leafy material were categorized as
          “structural plant parts.”
          Animal foods contribute anywhere from
          one third to more than 95% of energy intake
          in these contemporary foragers (mean =
          59 +- 24%; median = 56%). While this would
          hardly qualify humans as “carnivores,” it is
          substantially more animal material than
          any other primate of our size. By comparison,
          chimpanzees, the most predatory of the
          large-bodied apes, derive only about 5-7% of
          their daily energy intake from animal material
          (2-396 from meat; 34% from insects,
          estimated from data in Teleki, 1981; Mc-
          Grew, 1974; Wu Leung, 1968).”

          sienna wrote on September 18th, 2011
        • You should be skeptical. Our ancestors didn’t eat an all-meat diet. All hunter-gatherers consumed varying amounts of plant foods. With the quality, or lack thereof, of the meat today people eating all-meat diets are fools.

          Robert wrote on August 28th, 2012
      • Sounds great, works great,,,,,,,,,,,,,but go and have blood work drawn. Your numbers will most likely be out of Wack!

        A. Owen wrote on June 3rd, 2011
        • I thought the same thing! After spending most of my adult life on a similar diet, I started annual serum tests when I reached 40 years old (company-sponsored freebie). I was surprised to find iron and potassium way over range, so I consulted my doctor for further testing (she checked liver and kidney function), tapered on meats a little and increased fish, supplemented magnesium (which was low), and started donating whole blood regularly (recommended way to control high iron over time).

          That’s not to say a high-meat diet is wrong, just sharing my own experience. (I’m another endurance cyclist without a high-carb diet).

          Pete wrote on September 19th, 2011
        • I was off and on with Atkins for a few years, but I really hit it hard last August. During this time ate mostly protein; steaks, chicken, eggs, bacon, cheese, heavy cream for my coffee, lots of water. I lost 40 pounds eating this way and never had a problem with cravings or energy, etc. The following January i changed doctors, and she needed to know what she had to work with.

          When we discussed my diet, she was very skeptical, and was sure i had a whole slew of problems. She decided to have me get bloodwork done, because she KNEW i would be deficient in several places and was sure my cholesterol and sodium were through the roof. No bread? No. No fruits? Nope. No juices? No. Veggies? Barely. Only eggs, bacon, meat, jerky, cheese? You got it, Doc. Got my blood work done and she was shocked –

          All of my levels came back absolutely perfect, every range (except vit. D, but living in the Pacific Northwest AND having an indoor office job doesn’t help). She shook her head and told me to keep it up.

          I didn’t eat bread or fruit, hardly any veggies, no processed foods either – so all i can rely on is my own facts as i see them, the truth of personal experience.

          This July, I’ve come to eat more Paleo because my kids also share my table and it’s important as they grow that they learn to make proper food choices. As long as things are done in moderation and my kids see me eating the good healthy foods, they’ve got the best start in life that i can give them, right?

          Finally, everyone is different AND entitled to their own opinions. we talk about ancestral eating and assume that everyone comes from the same roots – which we do, originally – but as the tribes broke off and spread over the globe, think of the genetic makeup of each individual race, their history, and how their cultures adapted them to eating their local foods. Just saying, when i was younger I loved rice but when i ate it, i had huge cravings and the weight piled on. i was always hungry. I’m of german/native american decent. I have a friend that is slim and svelte and she eats rice at least twice a day every day, and doesn’t gain an ounce. She also happens to be 1/2 Japanese (3rd generation)…

          just my two cents!

          The Derb wrote on September 7th, 2012
    • You are right on!
      Those are exactly my thoughts…I totally agree with you.
      Hazelnuts, Chestnuts placed behind stones near fire to be roasted, wild Rose Hip also slow roasted behind flat rocks near fire, the flower tops of the small european clover plant (taste nutty), the flowers of wild rose bushes (tastes sweet). Occassional wild onion, wild carrot (which is white in color not orange), wild berries including a european berry I haven’t been able to find in the States called Johannisbeere.
      Grasshoppers, small rodents like squirrels, occassional small eggs from birds, snails, frogs, brown trout, depending on season european salmon (extinct from over farming, called Lachs), rabbit (different breeds), turkey, pheasant, elk (extinct from over farming), wild boar, deer, wild mountain goat (Gemse, still available today in some dishes mostly goulash), occassional bear and wild cats (extinct, over farmed). The entire carcass was consumed, including eyeballs, salivary glands and brain. Bones were broken with rocks to get to marrow, which was high prized.
      The blood was also consumed, not wasted.

      And in some regions in central europe (southern germany, austria, switzerland and northern italy called Tirol) people still consume traditional, native foods on a daily basis…usually served with a slice of Vollkornbrot und Butter, which would be neolithic. You can even get dandalion salad (with pedals). The cooking methods are of course neolithic, nobody wants a boar roast 5 hours after ordering coming with sand and dried up flies attached.

      Arty wrote on September 25th, 2011
      • Loved your Post – I remember the German Foods so wholesome …

        firefly wrote on December 24th, 2011
      • Hi,
        I love your description of wild foods. I just wanted to add a note of caution for those who might be tempted to run out and do some gathering of their own: please do NOT try to gather wild carrots. The poison hemlock plant bears a truly remarkable similarity to the carrot/parsnip family, with feathery leaves and a long, tapered, creamy colored, sweet-scented root. It is responsible for deaths and hospitalizations every year among inexperienced gatherers. My sister-in-law found it growing in the herb bed of her newly purchased home in the Santa Cruz mountains here in CA. A small nibble of the leaf, to see what herb she was growing, ended her up in the hospital for two weeks with severe liver damage….she almost needed a liver transplant. She is well now, and much more cautious about what she puts into her mouth!

        Jessica wrote on April 1st, 2013
    • Yeah, I’ve noticed Mark Sisson really loves his anti-oxidants, and over-promotes fruits while steering people away from ketogenic diets in the process. I don’t share his views on plant anti-oxidants; I think their effects on our bodies are often unproven, potentially harmful or only weakly beneficial.

      mm wrote on October 18th, 2011
  7. Excellent Guideline.

    Earth Beauty wrote on January 14th, 2009
    • look ur all wrong so SHUT THE HELL UP!!!!!!!

      bellybuttons123456 wrote on June 17th, 2011
  8. So, are these effective carb numbers or are you counting fiber in your carb continuum?

    Patrick wrote on January 14th, 2009
  9. Gary Taubes describes a study of low-carbohydrate dieters where one individual couldn’t even eat an apple without immediately beginning to gain weight again. He also claims that the Inuit would avoid all vegetables unless they were starving.

    Maybe the zero carbohydrate diet is healthiest. Of course, tens of thousands of years of evolution have given certain populations (like Europeans and Asians) a certain amount of resistance to the problems of carbohydrates, and these grounds develop much less diabetes, etc., on the “Western diet.” Perhaps they are also somewhat dependent on carbs for health by now? After all, with larger populations due to agriculture, evolutionary change has sped up a great deal in the recent past. (The number of new mutations in a population goes up linearly with population size, and the total number of fixation events goes up linearly with that.)

    Probably worth it to study the problem before setting anything stone about public health recommendations below 100 grams of carbs. Hasty recommendations are what got us into this mess, after all.

    Thras wrote on January 14th, 2009
    • Are you seriously using something Gary Taubes has said to justify low-carb? No one has ever rapidly gained weight by eating 1 apple. That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.

      What needs to happen is people need to stop buying these bs diet books and actually go to college and take some classes in nutrition. There’s a reason that the information in college costs thousands while the information the general public has is just a $20 book in their favorite book store…..

      Grambo wrote on September 8th, 2009
      • hhahaha ya…. because college nutrition classes are spot-on! I think you need more $20 books of your own picking in your life, as opposed to the $200 books shoved at you by colleges to ensure you are brainwashed to “go with the grain.” Maybe branch out.

        leslie wrote on October 1st, 2009
        • The best thing about a good college education in nutrition science is understanding the underlying biochemistry of digestion and nutrition, which you can then apply to any theory and see if it rings true. A lot of $20.00 diet books don’t stack up when it comes to biochemistry – but unless you have studied it you would know and go along with them thoughtlessly.

          Julianne wrote on October 1st, 2009
        • Right on!! Preach it sister!!!

          lleigh wrote on February 15th, 2010
      • Aren’t the academics who teach the nutrition classes the same ones who devlope The Food Pyramid? Buyer beware!

        Adriana G wrote on March 1st, 2010
        • Correction: …a relatively tiny number of carbs…

          Leaf Eating Carnivore wrote on April 13th, 2010
      • It’s clear to me that you don’t understand the metabolic mechanisms of weight gain, so I have to ask: have you actually read Gary’s book???

        The guy is impressively smart and thorough, with a Real Scientist’s mindset – he started with a profound understanding of what makes good research, brought no preconceived agenda to the task, looked at the science, good and bad, and let the data take him to his conclusions. He is intelectually honest, and he writes well to boot. I could say the same of the Drs. Eades and their work.

        Find some holes in these peoples reasonings, back it up with some sound evidence, and I will be happy to listen to your point of view. Until then, I will continue to follow a program that my own education and knowledge tells me is sensible.

        And you know what? I believe the apple story: I myself can only eat a relativly tiny carbs before my body’s insulin response starts holding water and packing on the pounds. And I’m not alone.

        Leaf Eating Carnivore wrote on April 13th, 2010
        • +1

          Greg wrote on June 9th, 2012
      • I remember that same study from GCBC. I think the point was that refined carbs are bad, and the sub-point was that some people have trouble with even small amounts of carbs.

        It’s pretty hard to argue that any class could have taught you how every single person will react to a given situation.

        Also GCBC is quite pro low carb (I’m guessing that surprise was facetious?)

        Kit Perkins wrote on September 10th, 2010
      • Not only can someone rapidly gain weight by eating 1 apple, it can be much less carbs than that! My body is so sensitive that I can only eat 25 carbs a day and 1200 calories or less OR I gain weight, rapidly and immediately. It’s referred to as “Liquid Pounds” and is absolutley related to insulin.
        Keeping a strict food journal with calculations and daily weight has made this very clear and REAL. Also Dr. Christiane Northrup sees it often in her practice. Everyone is not the same.

        Dbeee! wrote on September 16th, 2010
        • You said it right evrybody is differrent you have to do some experimenting yourself with a low carb diet to find out what suits you.I certainly found out quickly through fatique (because I work out 5-6 days a week)that my carb intake was to low at 75 per day. You have to keep a strict log of what you eat and dont cheat your self.It took at least 8 weeks for me to find the best cab intake that suited me and now i feel great.

          Phil wrote on January 25th, 2012
        • +1, I’m the same way

          LESLIE wrote on July 31st, 2012
      • Most university nutrition programs are puppets for the ADA. The ADA is sponsored by soda and fast food companies. You’re better off doing your own research or taking bio-food classes to understand the science.

        University programs are mostly a crock.

        kitty wrote on June 17th, 2011
        • Sadly, I remember the nutrition counseling I received when I was diagnosed with diabetes…I was told I should eat some oatmeal and lowfat yogurt for breakfast because it was sensible. HA!
          I am also in the 25g or below crowd, no longer need Metphormin, and run marathons. College nutrition classes certainly didn’t get me here! Seriously! Think for yourself! Find what works for YOU!

          Gretchen wrote on January 17th, 2013
      • I learned more from reading books from Gary Taubes and watching Fat Head than I did from my Food Science Health Nutrition classes. Got books from library and video from NetFlix so practically free…and advice actually helped become healthier…imagine that :)

        Fat Guy Weight Loss wrote on September 15th, 2011
        • I love your pizza crust recipe…thanks for posting :-)

          Arty wrote on September 25th, 2011
      • Gary Taubes isnt a diet book writer, he is an investigative writer. Maybe you should give one of his books a read?

        kaisanan wrote on February 21st, 2012
    • I think the key element here is not so much whether an apple can cause weight gain as it is that:

      People need to listen to their bodies.

      Yes, some people can eat cake and cookies and be fine. Others might blow up like a balloon on one apple. These guidelines are bogus for SO MANY reasons (faulty science, corruption and political influence, basic human biology).

      Thras: Where did you read about this?

      Shauna wrote on November 23rd, 2009
      • Use your gift of reason. You really believe a piece of fruit like an apple, so low in calories will make you “ballon up”? I mean sure if that apple was 3500 calories, which it isn’t.

        Justin wrote on June 6th, 2011
        • Justin, a bee sting injects less than a gram into your body, but if you’re sensitive to it then you could put on a few kilograms in weight when you swell up, i.e. a factor of many thousands. So, while I’ve not seen it happen myself, the concept of eating an apple and gaining weight a fairly small multiple of the weight of the apple is plausible. After all, we aren’t actually talking about the calories themselves here.

          Nick wrote on September 21st, 2011
        • Hey Justin, I am one of those people who balloon up 2,3,4 pounds IN A DAY if I eat wheat or grains OR if I go over 25 grams of carbs a day. Holidays are murder for me. Inflammation and edema are real and yes, an apple can affect you, calories are not the issue. Things are happening on a cellular level.

          DBeee! wrote on September 21st, 2011
        • it has NOTHING to do with caloric intake.

          I could eat steak all day on monday, take in 2000+ calories, and still weigh the same or less on tuesday (and probably be in ketosis to boot).

          if i eat grains, i can gain 1-3 pounds in one day. it happens. (corn chips are my own achilles heel). i lose that weight in a day or two, as long as i’m good, but still, who wants to be bloated??

          water weight gain is the bane of my existence. ask any woman out there, and she’ll likely tell you the same.

          kate wrote on September 22nd, 2011
        • It has a lot to do with water retention. Well, an apple probably wouldn’t make much of a difference, but if you go heavy on carbs, you could retain a lot of water, especially if there’s a lot of fiber…I’m surprised how much fiber is touted as a digestive panacea, and yet how sick it used to make me, and even then I’d think it was because I wasn’t eating enough of it…fiber absorbs water and expands…bloat, bloat, bloat!

          Milla wrote on September 22nd, 2011
        • I’m agreeing with DBeee.
          I wake up in the morning and weigh myself. I eat nothing and 2 hours later I’ve gained 4 lbs from eating nothing…how is that possible?
          Sometimes I lost 6 lbs over night while sleeping (and not using the toilet either). At times I’ve gained 10 lbs just by eating a small plain yogurt with a handful of berries for breakfast, how is that possible?

          Where would weight gain come from when nothing is consumed? Not even water. And no clothes changed either btw…

          Arty wrote on September 25th, 2011
        • sure it will if that apple makes your gutt growl with hunger and you go looking for other carbs…it is addictivel

          sherry wrote on May 23rd, 2013
    • They don’t have that good of resistance to carbs in Europe and Asia. The only thing keeping them from being as messed up as we are is they still eat some of their traditional foods, whereas we have thrown 90+ percent of ours on the trash heap of history. Lucky to find anyone from the first generation after immigration onward who will even eat liver anymore, and I include myself in that number. And you still see chronic disease *and* obesity in Europe and Asia. And cancer.

      Dana wrote on September 10th, 2010
  10. I have the same question as Patrick. Do these guidelines refer to overall carb grams or “effective” carbs (I believe that is the correct term) – grams of carbs that are left after you’ve removed the fiber.
    A good example is an average avocado. It has 20grams of carbs, but 16 of those are dietary fiber (or so says the nutrition database). So do I count it as 20 or 4?
    I know this is getting picky and the overall message is lots of protein, veggies and some fruits, but it would definitely help me understand the PB plan a little better. Thanks!

    Heather wrote on January 14th, 2009
    • I think as far as weight control is concerned, you can discount fiber in your calculations, because it simply isn’t absorbed. However, for general health maintenance reasons, fiber can make you bloated, and wreak havoc on digestion. I count all carbs, but when I was just starting I initially stuck to just net carbs, because it was easier that way than going cold turkey. :-)

      Milla wrote on September 22nd, 2011
  11. It would be useful to have a reverse BMI calculator to estimate lean body mass and assess a carbohydrate load from that. For example, if we assume your lean mass is a BMI of 18 given your height, then we can say you should ingest around 1 g carb/day per 1 kg lean body mass.

    Robert M. wrote on January 14th, 2009
  12. C’mon Mark: 150-300- Steady Insidious Weight Gain? Maybe if it is coming from sugars and processed grains. You do realize that many fitness buffs thrive on that amount of natural low-GI amount do you not? Besides, by timing it just right you can consume 300+ grams of carbs each day and be at single digit bodyfat year-round, like this guy: http://leangains.com
    Or this bloke: http://fitnessblackbook.com
    Or this fella: http://cbass.com
    Plus, did you not remain at 10% bodyfat year-round when consuming carbs? I’m not knocking your wisdom, because your lifestyle has done wonders for me and many readers, but the opposite has gotten people ripped.

    JE Gonzalez wrote on January 14th, 2009
    • Exactly. Because it’s calories that matter more than anything else. You can eat zebra cakes all days but as long as your in a negative energy balance you will lose weight. Though you will probably be hungry all the time because your getting no fiber and no protein…. So it will be almost impossible to stay in a negative energy balance eating zebra cakes all day just because of the hunger that will come.

      Grambo wrote on September 8th, 2009
      • The type of calories absolutley does matter. You cannot seriously believe that 3,000 calories of protein will have the same terrible effect as 3,000 calories of sugar, right?

        Just because something is taught in college does not make it automatically correct. Americans have been following the same nonsense, low fat diets for decades and are fatter than ever because of it. While there are alot of BS diet books out there….there are PLENTY with accurate and thought provoking info in them. Taubes is one of them.

        By the way, it is “you’re”…not your. They must have skipped that in college, huh?

        James wrote on May 3rd, 2011
        • a lot not alot

          Craig wrote on May 24th, 2011
      • I agree. I can eat a carb based diet and not gain weight, but I’ll feel terrible for it with all the blood sugar rollercoastering…

        James wrote on May 30th, 2011
      • Mmmm Zebra cakes LOL

        Erin wrote on July 18th, 2011
        • I imagined something like crab cakes, but made from zebra meat. I have no idea why my brain gave them stripes.

          Eva wrote on July 21st, 2011
      • Fiber is not a staple…neither is sugar.

        Arty wrote on September 25th, 2011
        • Of course it is, as well as butter, flour, and eggs. Lol. My Grandmother lived to 85 on such traditions. She felt that was much too long.

          true wrote on January 3rd, 2012
    • I agree if you aren’t eating grains, legumes, or processed stuff, sugar.. and just sticking to fruit and vegetable carbs… you won’t gain weight at 150+ I have dropped 30 lbs since just giving up all bad carbs, sugar, and meat and dairy.. and even with 150+ carbs and eating meat and dairy if i stay within a certain calorie range.. i will not gain weight.. One thing I am trying out is keeping my carbs low like 80 or lower and uping the protien and fat to see if i will loose more weight or stay the same or gain.. we’ll see.. anyway.. you can maintain with carbs if they are vegetable carbs.. and just to put it in perspective .. i have maintained 105 since april 2009 and I am 5-5 ft.. with eating only fruit, vegis, and some protein. Although if I exchange some carbs with protein it seems not to make a difference.. but we shall see.. if i loose a couple pounds or not..

      Daniellle wrote on May 17th, 2010
      • Um… WHAT? Unless it’s a typo, if you’re 105 at 5’5″, you’re dangerously underweight. A healthy weight for a woman your height is between 120 and 150. The lowest possible weight you can be and be “OK” is about 113. AND you want to lose MORE? No offense but that’s insane (and dangerous). Besides, low-carb AND low-fat is “a recipe for disaster”, as per Mark’s words, and I second them because my own experiences tell me so. Your information about processed stuff is wrong too. I keep good carbs between 50 and 80. I do eat meat and some dairy, but not a lot of fruit. I have been a steady 135 lbs for years (and I’m the same height as you). Not everyone will lose a lot of weight if they just cut that stuff out. They may lose a lot at first, then hit a plateau, and nothing short of starvation combined with rigorous exercise will change that, and I don’t see how that’s healthy… Not to rain on your parade, but the real reason you lost so much weight is because you’re not giving yourself enough food. And if you keep it up you’re going to get sick.

        Maria wrote on May 21st, 2010
        • I hate to disagree in regards to height/weight – I am also 5’5″ and weight 105 – I still have curves and my doctor considers my weight healthly considering my bone structure – based on tests, my bone structure is extremely small but dense so there is currently no concern in regards to bonde deterioration or my weight – all other tests regarding my health are excellent so I think telling anyone what their healthy weight should be without having additional information such as skeletal size, bone density, family history, etc. is irresponsible at best.

          sara wrote on June 1st, 2010
        • Sara, I agree with you. It was a knee-jerk comment, and I realize that people are different. However, you can’t deny that there is a dangerous double standard existing today. You say we shouldn’t make blanket statements and tell small-framed people that their weight is too low without taking in their individual stats, and I agree… However, most people seem to believe it’s their duty to tell larger-framed people that their weight is too high. Makes sense to you? My weight fluctuates between 135 and 140 (I’m 5’5″), and I’m as healthy as can be. I wish I had a coin for every time I’ve heard that a woman my size “needs to lose weight”.

          Maria wrote on June 2nd, 2010
        • 105? Wow. I’m 5’5″ also and I fluctuate between 130 (current) and 140 (bad–metabolic disorder begins). I was 120 at 5’2″ or so. I really don’t want to drop below 130 because I feel like I’ll start losing muscle but my bodyfat percentage is too high.

          I’m trying out IF and minimizing fructose and trying more primal movements like squatting to see if I can improve my functional strength and get ‘cut’ at the same time. I found a HF day followed by 20 hr fast worked out but I was showing some signs of hypoglycemia. I’ll keep trying, but that aspect really bothers me. Perhaps I’m hyperinsulemic?

          Another Halocene Human wrote on April 30th, 2011
        • You think 150lbs is a healthy weight for 5’5″. What quack told you that?

          Robert wrote on August 28th, 2012
        • 5 5 ( or 5 4 )is my height too and indeed is average UK height.
          I have always taken 112 as the lowest it is wise to be simply because that’s 18.5 BMI lowest safe BMI and because I find Victoria Beckhams not as sexy as glamour models who are more likely to be 112 to 126. My daughter, same height, is about 130, very fit runs marathons looks great. I am trying to get back to around that level but would be happy down to 112.
          However I live near lots of Chinese and Indian girls who often are well under 112 (112 in UK is called “8 stone”), It is not a shape I find asthetically pleasing but looks much better than over 140 pounds on most people.

          EnglishRose wrote on July 18th, 2013
      • This is an interesting bit isn’t it? When it comes to someone’s weight and what we ‘should be’ all sorts of alarm bells go off don’t they? It’s all individual and we also have to take into consideration where we started and what our goals are. For me, the question is am I feeling better now than I used to? As long as that’s a great big Yes! then I’m sticking with this.

        I think if we go back to the real issue, the balance of carbs and protein. Danielle said “I dropped 30 lbs since just giving up all bad carbs, sugar, and meat and dairy.. and even with 150+ carbs and eating meat and dairy if i stay within a certain calorie range.. i will not gain weight” OK, well I just think carbs are carbs and I’m glad to see your eating meat again, but are you really going to give up cheese?? Really?

        Kimala wrote on June 2nd, 2010
        • Agreed, Kimala. Felling great and healthy is all that should matter. However, I feel a lot of people these days concentrate more on how they look than on how they feel. I have a woman in my gym class who looks extremely thin, and it’s obvious from the way she acts that she has no energy. She insists that she’s “perfectly healthy”. But I don’t think quitting halfway through a simple aerobics class because you can’t keep up (which is what she usually does) is in any way normal for a young 20-something woman. Many people are in denial these days, and damage their health for the sake of looks, that’s a fact.

          Maria wrote on June 3rd, 2010
        • Here in Asia 105 is a normal weight, 99 is a normal weight too, height irrelevant, anything over 120lb is considered fat. 130lb is considered obese. Americans need to get real.

          SM wrote on December 30th, 2012
    • The only way to get to that level of carbs daily is to ingest grains, that is why it is insidious. Try getting to 150 carbs in one day on broccoli, cauliflower and other non-starch vegetables, can’t be done (you would puke it all up before you get there.)

      Matt wrote on May 11th, 2011
    • Mark does emphasize that very active peoples can eat more carbs without gaining fat, because they use it all for glycogen in workouts. :-)

      Milla wrote on September 22nd, 2011
    • Er………. most people wanting to lose weight are not fitness buffs!
      Most people wanting to get healthier are not fitness buffs!
      Your average Joe needs to know that eating 150-300g of carb a day is the reason they put on a few pounds every year.

      Wish I had known that bit of info in my twenties when I was eating pasta and getting heavier every year.

      Lizzy wrote on September 13th, 2012
      • eating do not make you fat,eating to much of any food,yes even protein makes u fat,calories matter and always will athletes and me eat over 700 grams of carbs day and gain no weight the 2 biggest ideas of proof is the show the biggest losers,proves 100% cals in vs out…and gastric bypass,calories always will mater..

        ken wrote on September 13th, 2012
        • it is physically impossible to eat too much protein that you would gain weight from it. Protein uses so many calories to be processed by the body and it’s very filling. Look up smarter science of slim on youtube (there are many vids in a series, it’s one of the more recent), this is explained how if you eat 300 calories of protein, 100 calories are burned just breaking down the protein to the amino acids which can be used by the body. After that point, if the body has extra amino acids it can’t use, it will convert them into glucose or glycogen (sorry I can’t remember which, but it IS one of them) and this process also requires quite a few calories – so end result is maybe HALF the original calories consumed are actually taken in by the body to contribute (but not really) to weight maintenance or gain or loss. And being protein which repairs muscle, etc, in the first conversion to amino acids, any of that weight gain would be muscle.

          Wen wrote on September 13th, 2012
        • HES 100% and I for get the exact # but to digest protein the body us like 4-6 cals,and carbs 2-4..this could be the funniest thing I ever seen..lol EAT MORE PROTEIN CALS THEN YOU NEED AND YOU WILL GAIN WEIGHT,100% FACT

          ken wrote on September 13th, 2012
      • These LC gurus have you all sucked in. It is about calories in, calories out and its not the carbs, unless you are from Mars.

        Rob wrote on September 13th, 2012
        • then why do so many people have SUCCESS going low carb? the proof is there

          Wen wrote on September 14th, 2012
        • Because LC causes a net reduction in calories. LC has never been research long enough to see what the long-term effects are. Weight loss is all there is about good health btw. Hope this helps…

          Rob wrote on September 14th, 2012
        • I meant weight loss ISN’T all there is about good health.

          Rob wrote on September 14th, 2012
        • I understand fat loss isn’t the only thing in achieving good health, but when you balance hormones (helped by eating low carb) and repair tissue (with amino acids from protein), you are contributing to good health also. Grains also have the effect of preventing nutrient absorption, would you agree that we need to absorb nutrients for good health?

          Wen wrote on September 14th, 2012
        • Yes I would definitely agree but the mineral blocking effect of grains is overstated. LC is too risky without enough long-term research. The short-term benefits may be nice but 20-30 years later (if you live that long) you may have regrets. IOW, not enough data to support the LC lifestyle.

          Rob wrote on September 14th, 2012
        • LOL LOW CARB WILL ALWAYS BE ABOUT LOW CALORIE..CALS IN VS OUT

          ken wrote on September 14th, 2012
        • Rob, I think several hundred thousand years of evolution and what we know about diet of our ancestors should count something towards “long term research”. Though we can’t know exactly what they ate, we do know what food they had available to them and high carb it certainly wasn’t. I think the problem is you’re assuming that everything we know about “what we should eat” was invented in the last 50 years since food companies started telling us what we can eat.

          And if you really want to talk about the long term effects of a lower carb diet, you can’t really ignore the very well understood long term effects of higher carb diet on increased incidence of diabetes and metabolic disorders, as well as higher risk of cancers developing.

          The question is, therefore, what is the right level and what are the right types of carbs to include. And the reality is that most people are taking in too much of the wrong types.

          Nick wrote on September 18th, 2012
  13. So, can someone give me an idea of what 50 to 100 grams of carbs looks like in terms of real food? When I think I’m going really low carb (i.e., only veggies and like one or two pieces of fruit per day) I still end up around 150 grams when I plug it into fit day. Is it ok to eat some meals that are purely protein and fat (e.g., chicken breast and almonds, eggs and avacado, simply steak)? Maybe I’m still too hung up on the zone/balance thing…But I always thought I had my bases covered with just fruits and veggies–no counting necessary. I’ve found I can’t get below 12% bf with this approach and am consistently more like 14%. So, to get lower bf I have to get sub 100 grams I’m assuming? Again, what would this look like in terms of real food?

    Patrick wrote on January 14th, 2009
    • I used to be in the same boat as you Patrick. Primal diet was excellent for getting me down to about 14% bodyfat but I couldn’t really get below that. I cut out all fruit and that kept my carbs below 50 for the day. …but it backfired. I didn’t start shedding fat, instead I started losing strength in the gym in all my lifts.

      Personally I think it’s a mistake to think that the magic “carb number” is what’s preventing you from getting to those really low bodyfat numbers. What DID ultimately work for me, was not to try to cut any more carbs out of my daily diet. But to introduce intermittent fasting days to my week. A couple IF days a week and the FAT starts dropping off. (instead of the strength and muscle). It’s not easy, but it works. And it’s certainly what primal man would have done, albeit not intentionally! ;)

      fixie wrote on May 10th, 2010
  14. Enrique, my advice for ideal health/fitness includes NOT doing so much cardio that you burn through 300 grams of carbs every day. If you are, you can probably maintain a given body fat level for years, but it’s a never ending treadmill of burning carb calories and then replacing carb calories. Yes, I did it for 20 years and regret it now (inflammation issues mostly). The above chart was meant to suggest that someone who is not an avid exerciser consuming that amount WILL steadily gain fat over the years.

    Sam, part of my rationale suggests that for the majority of the populace, a zero-to-50 gram diet is unrealistic and, furthermore, all bets were off when the available forms of meat, fish and healthy fats got contaminated in 21st Century farming methods and starting lacking all the micronutrients paleo meats had. Better to rely on some amount of veggies and fruits – at least most of the time.

    Mark Sisson wrote on January 14th, 2009
  15. When you say “…protein requirements (.7 – 1 gram per lean bodyweight formula)…” do you mean pounds of lean bodyweight or kg?

    Traditionally, I think Ive seen it has pounds, but that would be 195 grams of protein a day, that seems like a lot. Ive done the math, Im barely getting above 100g with two meals of meat, veggies and fat and a low-carb protein shake, and that combo leaves me stuffed and I dont even feel hungry until about 1, 2PM the next day.

    Brandon wrote on January 14th, 2009
  16. Brandon, I mean pounds. If you have 195 pounds of non-body fat lean, that’s your range. If your carbs are low (like 125, say) then your total calories from those two are only 900. If you get 120 grams of fat, you are at under 2,000 calories a day. That’s not much for a big guy.

    Mark Sisson wrote on January 14th, 2009
  17. Great question, Patrick. Take a look at this:

    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fitday-results/

    and this:

    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/two-minute-salad/

    And I may try to do a post with this in mind in the future.

    Mark Sisson wrote on January 14th, 2009
  18. Mark –
    Your two-minute salad post was great and I’d welcome more diet hints like that.

    I’m a distance runner which I know makes living PB somewhat more difficult. I’d love to see some sample days that fit the 100gr net carb guideline much like you did in the fitday results post.

    I’ve experienced many benefits since switching to a high protein, and veggie diet. My runner friends can’t believe that I don’t live on bagels and pasta, but my race results have proven to me that Primal is the way to go. I do find that my increased aerobic efforts get my sweet tooth going, but I try to make my vices Primal-friendly (coconut milk with fruit, etc.) Anyway, great post and I second Patrick’s request for several samples of what a 100 gram carb day would look like.

    Heather wrote on January 14th, 2009
  19. Heather – Congrats on your Primal successes and thanks for the comment. I’ll see if I can work in some sample menus early next week. Cheers!

    Mark Sisson wrote on January 14th, 2009
    • I started the P90X program a few weeks ago and really am enjoying it. Prior to that, I spent the last 5+ years doing a combination of cardio and weight training. I started this process losing ~35 pounds 5+ years ago and have maintained ever since by keeping to a fairly low carb diet plus the exercize. I have not, however, been able to get visible abs. That is one reason I have started P90X. I noticed the the P90X nurition plan promotes more carbs than I would have expected. And bases that on how hard the program works you, thereby needing some more carbs. For example, I purchased the recovery drink that you promote — and I like it. But, I noticed that it has 39 carbs. How do I reconcile that with the 50-100 carbs that you describe for weight loss?

      Jim Kletzien wrote on February 12th, 2010
      • Jim, I am no longer involved with P90x (it is a great program, for sure). I designed the Recovery Drink to their specs, not to PB specs.

        Mark Sisson wrote on February 12th, 2010
    • Where does the 100 g recommendation come from? I read and enjoyed your book. Shouldn’t the number of carbohydrates consumed be based on the individuals lean body mass? I am 6’2″ and an “athletic” 245 pounds. I have tried the 100 g recommendation while crossfit ting 2-3 times per week and doing limited to no cardio. I have seen changes in my body composition but feel better and more energetic at 120-130g/day. When I limit to less than 100g I have serious muscle aches, brain fog, and irritability.

      Primal boy wrote on April 21st, 2013
  20. Thanks for the informative post Mark. I’m still not fully decided on carbs. A lot of what you say on this blog makes sense but I need to do some more reading on it from different sources. However, this post has helped me a lot because it quantifies the level of carbs I would be shooting for if I went primal.

    Tom Parker - Free Fitness Tips wrote on January 14th, 2009
  21. I’m going to say, that you left quite a bit of range in that continuum. Plus you have to factor in a whole bunch more for a person before you can just assume they fall into a number category.

    “By meeting average daily protein requirements (.7 – 1 gram per pound of lean bodyweight formula), eating nutritious vegetables and fruits (easy to stay in 50-100 gram range, even with generous servings), and staying satisfied with delicious high fat foods (meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds), you can lose one to two pounds of body fat per week and then keep it off forever by eating in the maintenance range.”

    That quote alone tells me its more about protein than the carbohydrate amount. Seems another attempt to go after carbs, when in fact a good nutrient balance all around is the real key.

    Zen Fritta wrote on January 14th, 2009
  22. Mark –

    Thanks for the descriptors of each of the ranges. It’s good to see the differences.

    About a year ago I switched to a Paleo/Primal diet. Keeping in the 75-100 grams of healthy carbs each day and 20lbs easily melted away. I’m back down to just a bit heavier than I was in my teens, but I know I’ve put on more muscle since then.

    Now, I digress from the Primal Lifestyle in that I’m an endurance athlete, because that’s what I enjoy. But I can attest that sticking to a Primal Diet, I was easily and comfortably able to complete a 40-mile run last September. And will be doing another this March.

    Please keep the great articles coming.

    Bill wrote on January 14th, 2009
  23. How does the carb continuum change for a 25 year old male trying to gain muscle mass/healthy weight? It seems inaccurate to broadly categorize carb consumption in this manner?

    Eric wrote on January 14th, 2009
  24. How feasible is Primal consuming only fish and shrimp for meat with eggs and dairy for main protein sources?

    It would be great to see a sample menus!

    Thanks for all the information.

    onelasttime wrote on January 14th, 2009
    • Though I’m no nutritionist and this reply is over 2 years late maybe someone can benefit from it or maybe you’ll happen to see it.
      I think your protein sources are fine. Just try to get all of them without any preservatives or other junk. I spent about a year getting most of my protein from eggs, dairy, and nuts with bacon and other meat on occasion. For carbs I ate lots of berries and vegetables, a couple pieces of fruit every day (normally apples), and some grains, which was often in the form of huge bowls of sugary cereal.
      That diet combined with regular exercise (weights, calisthenics, climbing lots of trees, biking around 20km a day to travel to and from school, and generally staying outdoors and moving around a lot) I cut down my body fat drastically and put on a decent amount of muscle, especially in my legs and arms.
      During a period where I wasn’t eating as many carbs and was relying mostly on trail mix and massive omelettes with large amounts of cheese and butter for my calories is when I really lost a lot of fat and got a lot of muscle tone. I didn’t know it at the time but I was actually living fairly primal and I assumed my fat loss was from cutting out a lot of the carbs since I was still eating way more fat than I thought was conventional.
      Throughout the year I also got a lot of protein and carbs fairly regularly from Life protein bars and Amp Energy Balls, and lots of carbs from energy drinks and small pouches of “organic” candy, and though those products definitely kept me hyper-fuelled through school and summer days until I could get home and eat a real meal I think we’re all better off getting what we need from natural sources.

      Tim wrote on April 9th, 2011
  25. Very interesting stuff. I probably weigh in at about 100g a day considering I eat mainly protein/fat/veggies with 2-4 pieces of fruit maximum, so not counting fiber my daily carbs probably come in at about 150g on higher days and 75g on the lower days…..

    Chris - Zen to Fitness wrote on January 14th, 2009
  26. It would be good to see some sort of table or at least rough calculation on carb intake vs. activity. I can live pretty comfortably on < 50g/day if the most strenuous thing I do all day is walk a mile…if I’m doing repeated max-effort sprints (as in my preferred sport, ice hockey) I’m not sure 100g is enough to avoid degraded performance.

    Kim wrote on January 14th, 2009
  27. That sounds about right. I carb cycle: most days in 50-100 and a few days in 100-150 range. Feels great, works nicely, and doesn’t limit you as much. I could eat in primal maintenance level for ever easily.

    LOLfitness wrote on January 15th, 2009
  28. I love it!
    This is in stark contrast with conventional wisdom related to endurance athletes that suggests that one should eat between 7-10 grams of carb each day for every kilo of bodyweight.
    That would mean that I should ingest up to 850 grams of carb during serious training. Every day!
    And according to most nutritionists in Sweden (half of them working towards athletes are paid by grain producers..)this would be my best choice for improving fitness and maximizing endurance.
    For me, neither of this black or white and even though being a stickler for ingesting quality protein and fats; I still eat some bread, quinoa and the occasional pasta dish.
    And if I get enough Coke to drink during a race or a really long and hard session; I can go forever! There´s isn´t a bonk in the world that can get to me while on the caffeinated sugar.
    But again, that´s a case of “training low and racing high” which is a healthy way to train, live and maximizing fatburning and endurance.

    Jonas Colting wrote on January 15th, 2009
  29. Thanks for the simply stated yet powerful information Mark ! Any modifications of the suggestions in application to an otherwise healthy yet somewhat overweight 8 year old ?

    Eddie wrote on January 15th, 2009
  30. Great list. I like to tell people to eat carbs based on their workout intensity, like using carbs as a turbo boost. Those who are leaner and workout harder tend to easily use carbs for muscle glycogen replenishment while those more overweight and doing lower intensity work should go with less carb intake. I also like carb timing, to use higher intakes in the pwo window and lower amounts otherwise. If I do a high carb day, then I make sure to keep the fat lower to not lead to excessive calorie intake as well. All in all…it’s fun to play with all this and see how the body responds on a personal level. We should all play around and learn from it.

    Mike OD - IF Life wrote on January 15th, 2009
  31. I would say your take on this is spot on… my only complaint is that your carb ranges seem to assume a young, fit, active male.

    Few people who needed to lose weight in the first place are going to maintain weight loss eating 100-150 carbs per day (unless the cals are rigidly controlled).
    Few people who need to lose weight are going to see “effortless” loss at 50-100 per day (that is without cal / hunger restricting)

    I imagine a man in his 20s or 30s who has no significant obesity might find that true, however.

    As for me, 50 carbs is where I do best all the time. To control blood sugar, insanity, and weight, that’s where I should be. I often creep up to higher levels but anything more than 100 is intolerable.
    Then again I’ve numerous issues carb related (pcos/hypoglycemia/obesity/mental health). I’m controlling these pretty well by following the diet (no longer PCOS, stable sugar, thin, brain doing pretty well most of the time) but my carb restriction must be a lot more extreme than it has to be for others.

    ItsTheWooo wrote on January 16th, 2009
  32. I came here from Michael Eades blog and have to say my metabolism pretty much agrees with your numbers.

    I have suffered from Reactive Hypoglycemia for about 50 years and what was obviously “diabetic dyslipidemia” for 30, and was only progressing gradually and insidiously towards diabetes UNTIL the dietician got a hold of me and pushed my carb input up from 150 – 300 range. Also the reduction in fat seems to have been key in causing me to put on weight for the first time ever in my skinny life.

    50 – 100g carbs is my “sweet spot” where my blood glucose and lipids have pretty much normalised, the weight went away again and many of my “mental” and physical symptoms resolved. Below that and I don’t have the latitude to adjust my BG manually when required.

    The most curious thing (or is it?) is that in the absence of the high BG and high trigs (and high insulin resistance and insulin levels) I convert those naughty saturated fats into HDL rather than LDL.

    IMNSHO all those “Healthy Whole Grains” had turned me into a heart attack on legs, I should have been eating lard instead. The rest of my diet hasn’t changed much, plenty of protein especially fish and hordes of vegetables and salad but in the presence of too many carbs and insufficient fat they weren’t helping very much.

    The Harvard Pyramid

    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/index.html

    would be a major step forward over the official one

    Trinkwasser wrote on January 16th, 2009
  33. ItsTheWooo, I know your site and have seen your posts here and on other like-mided sites, so I am aware of your situation. You probably have a better handle on this (and the information) than 99% of people. I see where you are coming from on the assumptions. Maybe we’ll add a caveat regarding that. Keep up your own good work.

    Trinkwasser, not curious at all regarding sat fat and HDL. Several studies bear that out. Looks like you have it dialed in pretty well. From here you can choose where you want to be at any time and know what the effects will be. That’s true personal power!

    Mark Sisson wrote on January 16th, 2009
  34. “I second Patrick’s request for several samples of what a 100 gram carb day would look like.”

    Patrick and Heather work it out yourself. All you need is a food scale. Its best you did it yourself with the foods you like to eat.

    Sue wrote on January 17th, 2009
  35. Trinkwasser, not curious at all regarding sat fat and HDL. Several studies bear that out. Looks like you have it dialed in pretty well. From here you can choose where you want to be at any time and know what the effects will be. That’s true personal power!

    Would have been good if The Authorities had told me this instead of the opposite. :(

    Been looking round your blog (so many blogs, so little time) and will probably point a cousin here. She is slim and exceedingly fit (marathons, triathlons, swimming, running etc.) yet already in her thirties she is showing distinct symptoms of the familial insulin resistance. I’m trying to persuade her to reduce her carbs but as a vegetarian conditioned into the benefits of Healthy Whole Grains I’m in need of allies to get through to her! (Her skinny fit and active father is only now starting to go down the same path in his sixties which I have been travelling since childhood.)

    We need to find ways to NOT express these genes and so far carb control/reduction is the winning strategy

    Trinkwasser wrote on January 17th, 2009
    • What’s familial insulin resistance?

      Avi wrote on May 23rd, 2011
      • Familial means that it runs in the family.

        DeeDee wrote on April 11th, 2014
  36. Well, i personaly just found out that I have a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome. When i first found out I thought it just has something to do with my female things, but as my doctor was explaining it affects my whole body. Basically my insulin does not work correctly, kind of like a diabetic. So i’ve been instruction to go on a special meal plan consisted of low glycemic foods. I immediately went home and cleaned out the cupboards and four grocery bags later I realized how carbogydrate-layden my cupboards were!! Along with my diet and medication hopefully i can get back to normal, but I am not understanding that even things that you think might be ok to eat aren’t really. Whole wheat is always better and as my doctor says, you can’t go wrong with food that spoils!

    Brandy wrote on January 17th, 2009
  37. Brandy,
    if you removed all grain for a while that will definitely help with your PCOS. I feel low glycemic doesn’t go far enough. What meds are you on – metformin?

    Sue wrote on January 17th, 2009
  38. Hi Mark and thanks for a good site!

    On the “how many carbs do you need”, I see no real problem in staying at 30-50 carbs even while eating a fair amount of veggies. (Provided you avoid the carb-heavy stuff) Assuming an average of 5g / 100g of carb content, there is no problem squeezing in 500 grammes or so of veggies into your diet without leaving ketosis, a sizeable amount.

    As for fruits, what micronutrients are we really talking here? They are rich in vitamin C, but apart from that their energy/weight composition is about the same as Coke (of course, it’s harder to ingest the same amount of fruit, but still…).

    Fasching wrote on January 19th, 2009
  39. Oh, I should add that sadly our veggies have also been “industrialized”. That’s why I pop a multivitamin/micronutrient pill each day together with the Omega-3 supplements. Sad, but true.

    Fasching wrote on January 19th, 2009
  40. I have been keeping my carbs just under 150 grams per day, and calories at close to 2500 or less per day, since Jan 1st 2009 and I have lost 10lbs in the last 3 weeks, so you can lose weight, especially if you are as overweight as me, (6’5, 499 lbs). As I progress I will adjust it accordingly.

    Steve B wrote on January 25th, 2009

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