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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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July 04, 2012

What Does It Mean to Be Fat-Adapted?

By Mark Sisson
523 Comments

When describing someone that has successfully made the transition to the Primal way of eating I often refer to them as “fat-adapted” or as “fat-burning beasts”. But what exactly does it mean to be “fat-adapted”? How can you tell if you’re fat-adapted or still a “sugar-burner”? I get these and related questions fairly often, so I thought I’d take the time today to attempt to provide some definitions and bring some clarification to all of this. I’ll try to keep today’s post short and sweet, and not too complicated. Hopefully, med students and well-meaning but inquisitive lay family members alike will be able to take something from it.

As I’ve mentioned before, fat-adaptation is the normal, preferred metabolic state of the human animal. It’s nothing special; it’s just how we’re meant to be. That’s actually why we have all this fat on our bodies – turns out it’s a pretty reliable source of energy! To understand what it means to be normal, it’s useful examine what it means to be abnormal. And by that I mean, to understand what being a sugar-dependent person feels like.

A sugar-burner can’t effectively access stored fat for energy. What that means is an inability for skeletal muscle to oxidize fat. Ha, not so bad, right? I mean, you could always just burn glucose for energy. Yeah, as long as you’re walking around with an IV-glucose drip hooked up to your veins. What happens when a sugar-burner goes two, three, four hours without food, or – dare I say it – skips a whole entire meal (without that mythical IV sugar drip)? They get ravenously hungry. Heck, a sugar-burner’s adipose tissue even releases a bunch of fatty acids 4-6 hours after eating and during fasting, because as far as it’s concerned, your muscles should be able to oxidize them (PDF). After all, we evolved to rely on beta oxidation of fat for the bulk of our energy needs. But they can’t, so they don’t, and once the blood sugar is all used up (which happens really quickly), hunger sets in, and the hand reaches for yet another bag of chips.

A sugar-burner can’t even effectively access dietary fat for energy. As a result, more dietary fat is stored than burned. Unfortunately for them, they’re likely to end up gaining lots of body fat. As we know, a low ratio of fat to carbohydrate oxidation is a strong predictor of future weight gain.

A sugar-burner depends on a perpetually-fleeting source of energy. Glucose is nice to burn when you need it, but you can’t really store very much of it on your person (unless you count snacks in pockets, or chipmunkesque cheek-stuffing). Even a 160 pound person who’s visibly lean at 12% body fat still has 19.2 pounds of animal fat on hand for oxidation, while our ability to store glucose as muscle and liver glycogen are limited to about 500 grams (depending on the size of the liver and amount of muscle you’re sporting). You require an exogenous source, and, if you’re unable to effectively beta oxidize fat (as sugar-burners often are), you’d better have some candy on hand.

A sugar-burner will burn through glycogen fairly quickly during exercise. Depending on the nature of the physical activity, glycogen burning could be perfectly desirable and expected, but it’s precious, valuable stuff. If you’re able to power your efforts with fat for as long as possible, that gives you more glycogen – more rocket fuel for later, intenser efforts (like climbing a hill or grabbing that fourth quarter offensive rebound or running from a predator). Sugar-burners waste their glycogen on efforts that fat should be able to power.

Being fat-adapted, then, looks and feels a little bit like the opposite of all that:

A fat-burning beast can effectively burn stored fat for energy throughout the day. If you can handle missing meals and are able to go hours without getting ravenous and cranky (or craving carbs), you’re likely fat-adapted.

A fat-burning beast is able to effectively oxidize dietary fat for energy. If you’re adapted, your post-prandial fat oxidation will be increased, and less dietary fat will be stored in adipose tissue.

A fat-burning beast has plenty of accessible energy on hand, even if he or she is lean. If you’re adapted, the genes associated with lipid metabolism will be upregulated in your skeletal muscles. You will essentially reprogram your body.

A fat-burning beast can rely more on fat for energy during exercise, sparing glycogen for when he or she really needs it. As I’ve discussed before, being able to mobilize and oxidize stored fat during exercise can reduce an athlete’s reliance on glycogen. This is the classic “train low, race high” phenomenon, and it can improve performance, save the glycogen for the truly intense segments of a session, and burn more body fat. If you can handle exercising without having to carb-load, you’re probably fat-adapted. If you can workout effectively in a fasted state, you’re definitely fat-adapted.

Furthermore, a fat-burning beast will be able to burn glucose when necessary and/or available, whereas the opposite cannot be said for a sugar-burner. Ultimately, fat-adaption means metabolic flexibility. It means that a fat-burning beast will be able to handle some carbs along with some fat. A fat-burning beast will be able to empty glycogen stores through intense exercise, refill those stores, burn whatever dietary fat isn’t stored, and then easily access and oxidize the fat that is stored when it’s needed. It’s not that the fat-burning beast can’t burn glucose – because glucose is toxic in the blood, we’ll always preferentially burn it, store it, or otherwise “handle” it – it’s that he doesn’t depend on it. I’d even suggest that true fat-adaptation will allow someone to eat a higher carb meal or day without derailing the train. Once the fat-burning machinery has been established and programmed, you should be able to effortlessly switch between fuel sources as needed.

There’s really no “fat-adaptation home test kit.” I suppose you could test your respiratory quotient, which is the ratio of carbon dioxide you produce to oxygen you consume. An RQ of 1+ indicates full glucose-burning; an RQ of 0.7 indicates full fat-burning. Somewhere around 0.8 would probably mean you’re fairly well fat-adapted, while something closer to 1 probably means you’re closer to a sugar-burner. The obese have higher RQs. Diabetics have higher RQs. Nighttime eaters have higher RQs (and lower lipid oxidation). What do these groups all have in common? Lower satiety, insistent hunger, impaired beta-oxidation of fat, increased carb cravings and intake – all hallmarks of the sugar-burner.

It’d be great if you could monitor the efficiency of your mitochondria, including the waste products produced by their ATP manufacturing, perhaps with a really, really powerful microscope, but you’d have to know what you were looking for. And besides, although I like to think our “cellular power plants” resemble the power plant from the Simpsons, I’m pretty sure I’d be disappointed by reality.

No, there’s no test to take, no simple thing to measure, no one number to track, no lab to order from your doctor. To find out if you’re fat-adapted, the most effective way is to ask yourself a few basic questions:

  • Can you go three hours without eating? Is skipping a meal an exercise in futility and misery?
  • Do you enjoy steady, even energy throughout the day? Are midday naps pleasurable indulgences, rather than necessary staples?
  • Can you exercise without carb-loading?
  • Have the headaches and brain fuzziness passed?

Yes? Then you’re probably fat-adapted. Welcome to normal human metabolism!

A quick note about ketosis:

Fat-adaption does not necessarily mean ketosis. Ketosis is ketosis. Fat-adaption describes the ability to burn both fat directly via beta-oxidation and glucose via glycolysis, while ketosis describes the use of fat-derived ketone bodies by tissues (like parts of the brain) that normally use glucose. A ketogenic diet “tells” your body that no or very little glucose is available in the environment. The result? “Impaired” glucose tolerance and “physiological” insulin resistance, which sound like negatives but are actually necessary to spare what little glucose exists for use in the brain. On the other hand, a well-constructed, lower-carb (but not full-blown ketogenic) Primal way of eating that leads to weight loss generally improves insulin sensitivity.

That’s it for today, folks. Send along any questions or comments that you have. I’d love to hear from you guys.

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523 Comments on "What Does It Mean to Be Fat-Adapted?"

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drea
drea
4 years 2 months ago

You should do a follow-up entitled ‘you might be fat-adapted if…’ à la Jeff Foxworthy. I see a night job in standup ancestral health comedy in your future!

Josh
4 years 2 months ago

Mark does well in front of the camera already! If you’ve seen him on news programs and what not. Great idea haha

Cole
Cole
4 years 2 months ago

Aren’t ketones produced as a by product of fat oxidation? So if you are a fat burner, you will produce ketones. The better you are at burning fat, the more ketones you produce and, conversely, the less stored fat you burn, the fewer ketones you produce. It would seem, therefore, that if you want to lose weight, you should lower insulin levels to release TG from adipose tissue. Blood ketone levels are the best way of measuring good how good you are at burning fati.

Slugirl
Slugirl
3 years 6 months ago

That is a complicated answer because a good fat burning body will utilize more ketones without dumping them in to urine. personally I don’t focus on how dark my Ketosticks get. As long as you are registering ketones at all is all you need to know.

I eat -80% fat 15% protien and 5% carbs while in weightloss mode. Once I hit my goal weight I will change this ratio to roughly 65%fat 30%protien and 5%carbs

Graham
4 years 2 months ago

Haha! Dr. Davis has a You Might Be A Wheat Belly when post that’s pretty good.

Jillybean
Jillybean
4 years 2 months ago

LOL.. that was so funny^

Rachel
Rachel
4 years 2 months ago
I don’t think I’m fully fat adapted yet. I start to feel hungry about four – five hours after a meal, although not ravenous ever. I’ve managed to skip the carb cravings (unless you count aged cheese cravings). I have a lot more energy than previously, but in my cool, quiet, dimly lit office, I start to feel sleepy around 3 – 4 in afternoon. If I’m actually busy or somewhere else, I don’t feel tired. Even at my worst, I never carb loaded to exercise, although I still dehydrate faster than ideal. Brain fuzziness is gone! Headaches are all… Read more »
Max Ungar
4 years 2 months ago

Rachel, if you keep getting sleepy in the afternoon, I would try moving outside for a little bit and experimenting with that. Sometimes just standing up and walking outside for awhile can really give you a great pick-me-up

Rachel
Rachel
4 years 2 months ago

Sounds like a good idea, but my office set up doesn’t allow for going outside very often. I’ll sometimes do a circuit of the building interior. That helps.

Kelekona
Kelekona
4 years 2 months ago

Start taking smoke breaks without cigarettes. The smokers shouldn’t have perks that you miss just because you are health-conscious.

Lynna
Lynna
4 years 2 months ago

Haha. Smokers don’t get breaks where I work. Our grounds went totally smoker free in January.

Slugirl
Slugirl
3 years 6 months ago

Try drinking water with squeezed lemon. It is a very effective perk me up!

Michele Martin
Michele Martin
4 years 2 months ago

for the afternoon slump, consider drinking a glass of H2O. In many cases it is because you are dehydrated that you lose energy in the afternoon. There is also an idea of having a good healthy snack in the PM. I eat 4-5 times a day – smaller meals. That keeps energy consistent through the day.

Mr. O
Mr. O
4 years 2 months ago

The idea of energy being consistent is conventional wisdom/sugar burner mentality. If you are truly fat adapted, you shouldn’t feel the need for a snack. Up your protein and fat content during the 1-3 meals you eat each day and those cravings for a snack will go away.

Peter
Peter
4 years 2 months ago

Whatever works each of us, but the 5 small meal a day thing is part of the old CW for people who eat “low fat” and have ‘good carbs’ in each meal. As Mark says in this post, being fat-adapted means having consistent energy without having to be eating all day.

AndreaLynnette
AndreaLynnette
4 years 2 months ago

My totally non-expert opinion on this is that it has more to do with the conditions in the office. Cool, quiet, and dim sounds like twilight, and it may be fooling your body into thinking it’s getting towards bedtime.

I’m in a similar situation, and was definitely feeling the afternoon slump. So, I got a desk lamp and put a strong “natural light” bulb in it. The addition of the bright, warm light seems to help.

Emily
Emily
4 years 2 months ago

Maybe also this is your dinner time. Four or five hours might just be your body saying time to eat again. I sometimes eat dinner at around three or four and that’s it for the day as far as food. I live in Germany so we eat the American ‘dinner’ at lunch. Dinner tends to be something simple like salad, crackers and deli meat and cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, soup warm or cold depending on the weather.

Emily

Edith
Edith
3 years 3 months ago

Rachel, Have you ever had your vit D3 tested? If you are indoors a lot, and especially if you live in North East, you could be deficient. (I take a supp and it helps me)

Kayu
Kayu
3 years 2 months ago

Why assume there is something wrong with getting sleepy in the afternoon. Maybe you just need a nap …

Adrian Keane
Adrian Keane
4 years 2 months ago
After 12 months being Primal and having shed 18 lbs, now down to 149lbs I think I pass the fat-adapted test, but there are two things that worry me: 1. A year in and the smell of fresh baked bread leaves me like a shark in blood infested water – why is this still happening? It’s almost like fighting an addiction! I “got over” everything else I kicked out of my diet in a week 2. I can go for hours without eating but have noticed that when I do get hungry there is something in me that wants to… Read more »
Tiffany
Tiffany
4 years 2 months ago
I think fresh baked bread is just one of those smells that is soooooo heavenly that you never get over it! But I’ll be honest – About 2 weeks ago (I’m 10 months into primal) I gave into that craving after smelling some rolls at a local shop that I used to eat at all the time. I was so excited, and willing to just splurge that one time – and it wasn’t worth it. The taste wasn’t as good as I remembered. I think my taste buds have actually changed. I used to LOVE them..and it was utter disappointment.… Read more »
Christine
4 years 2 months ago

When I get bread cravings, I will indulge in a slice or two of a fresh loaf of italian bread, sliced at home and dipped in some great olive or avocado oil and balsamic, and make a little snack (maybe with some green olives or cheese), and I enjoy the hell out of it! Keeps me off bread with zero cravings for weeks at a time.

Michelle
Michelle
4 years 2 months ago

My friend was told when selling her country styled cottage to borrow a bread maker and time it to finish right over the open inspection. Worked too! Very psychological, smells are one of the biggest triggers. I don’t buy it or keep it at home, never was a huge bread eater anyway (phew!)

smorgan
smorgan
4 years 2 months ago

When great-smelling bread is in front of me, I just take about a quarter sized piece (usually from the crust) and eat it with equal parts or more of butter. I might do that twice at most. Gets rid of the urge and does no real harm.

Caroline Spear
Caroline Spear
4 years 2 months ago

Great article, am definitely a fat burner. However, I still have a bit of a tummy flab after almost 3 years of being almost carb free. I am concerned about what seems to be a negative stance on ketogenic diets. To stay off insulin, type 1 diabetics need to be in ketosis. How does it cause insulin resistance? Thanks!

JMH
JMH
4 years 2 months ago

Ketosis can be useful in a therapeutic sense for a few different physical dysfunctions. Therapeutic diets aren’t the same as normal diets, so don’t worry about it.
Ketosis puts the body in a situation where it gets lazy about sugar regulation, not having to deal with it. Bodies are like that, like therapeutic doses of cortisone cause the body to stop bothering to produce it itself. You know?

Jen
Jen
4 years 2 months ago

Are there type 1 diabetics living for a long time off insulin? I never heard of that.

Bushrat
Bushrat
4 years 2 months ago

It takes a long time to get over bread because grains are addictive. When the smell of baking bread makes you look for rotting meat then you known you’re there.

HeatherT
4 years 1 month ago

Wheat is a drug. Like ethanol and opium. Just more socially acceptable.

Sue
Sue
4 years 2 months ago

I think with the fresh-baked bread, there’s a strong psychological draw. For a lot of people, there’s a definite comfort factor there. Fresh-baked bread, mom, apple pie…. *sigh* Smells are such strong triggers.

Max Ungar
4 years 2 months ago

This is the one part of paleo that really requires some effort. Those fresh baked pastries and breads always make your mouth water, and it requires some self-control not to walk in to the shop and buy some. I like to just start thinking about anti-nutrients, or a nice big juicy steak as soon as i smell the baked goods

Josh Singer
4 years 2 months ago

honestly, I don’t really feel that urge when i walk by a bakery or bread in the window. I don’t think i really ever had that much affection toward bread, but what is hard sometimes is the ice cream! loved eating the ice cream when i was a chubby kid!

Gabby
Gabby
4 years 2 months ago

I agree. Ice cream is killing me at the moment. I can’t fight this craving in the summer 🙁

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
4 years 2 months ago

@gabby: gelato

Ali
Ali
4 years 2 months ago

Make your own ice cream to ensure it’s more primal! Heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract, just a touch of honey. I made it this way and it’s sooo good, and without all the processed sugar/crap they put in commercial ice creams.

Cristina
Cristina
4 years 2 months ago

I used to love ice cream too. Have you tried coconut milk ice cream? It’s dairy free, gluten free, and soy free. Pretty yummy if you’re looking for that ice cream taste in the summer!

voingiappone
4 years 2 months ago

Yes, Gelato is your best choice!! As an Italian I can tell you that well done Gelato, does contain almost no sugar, a lot of cream and milk. If you use dairy it is a “good compromise”. On the contrary, here in Japan I ate an american ice cream (Baskin Robbins) and it was awful! You should try the real thing, bro…

Bec
Bec
4 years 2 months ago

I so agree!! The smell! The memories!!
But I also have to agree with Tiffany, it’s just not the same.
I have come to the conclusion that’s it’s not the bread I am craving so much as the butter ON the bread. I miss the bread as the vehicle for my butter!!
So if someone could suggest another way to have the butter, I would be a happy girl!

Josh Singer
4 years 2 months ago

use butter to cook the veggies you have with your dinner! some nice kerrygold butter from awesome cows!!

Ma Flintstone
Ma Flintstone
4 years 2 months ago

Fresh baked crackers! Mm..

Mikey UK
Mikey UK
4 years 2 months ago

Almonds!

JMH
JMH
4 years 2 months ago

Oh… also cheese. I miss mac’n’cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches, so badly. I can do a fair job of mac’n’cheese with veggies, but I still haven’t found a good outside for a paleo grilled cheese.

Connie
Connie
4 years 2 months ago

Just visited my daughter in Wisconsin and they have this awesome product called “bread cheese.” It’s like the best grilled cheese without the bread. It has an outside crust; you toast it up in a skillet and it gets that terrific cheese crust on the outside and warm and ooey-gooey on the inside. It even comes in bacon flavor. I’m sure someone up there would ship it!

Joshua
Joshua
4 years 2 months ago

Connie just reminded me. I have seen on television that if you put parchment paper where the bread would go and then cook your cheese in a panini press or between two hot cast iron skillets, it will grill the cheese. I have no idea what the outcome is like or the tricks of the trade, but people were buying them so there must be some type of benefit.

Sharon
Sharon
4 years 2 months ago

Somewhere, here?, someone had the idea to use one of those giant red bell peppers cut in half and flattened to make the “bread” part of a sandwich. Should work for a grilled cheese if you like red peppers.

Lin
Lin
4 years 2 months ago

Just buy a greek cheese called Haloumi cheese, it can be grilled or pan fried… delicious and no bread..

vacexempt
vacexempt
4 years 2 months ago
GoRaw Chocolate Super Cookies make a nice holder for a slab of pasture butter, you just have to limit them because of the sugar from the dates and the PUFAs. I eat twelve or fifteen a day at different times of the day. Butter on your soup after it’s warmed up. Even butter in your coffee or hot tea. I’ve been mostly grain free (except for about a cup or two of rice a month) for eleven months, and I don’t miss the bread, oddly, because I used to LOVE it. I think the stuff is so toxic, even the… Read more »
Joshua
Joshua
4 years 2 months ago

Not interested in just eating a piece of butter? I like it when it is still waxy so I can taste the fat without it being greasy.
I also like to mash in xylitol and cinnamon or cocoa powder and go to town.
Is that wrong?

Joshua
Joshua
4 years 2 months ago

That factor is why I quit bothering with cheat days. I would get excited about eating a piece of something toxic and then the day would come and I would poison myself liberally and wonder why on earth I was inviting metabolic dysfunction for that really marginal “food” I was eating.

Sandra
Sandra
4 years 2 months ago

That turned out to be my issue. I grew up on homemade bread and butter made from our fresh cow’s cream. Now I just have some straight up cultured pastured butter and that does the trick. The butter tastes so great that a Tbsp does the trick. Not often, just once in a while.

Bec
Bec
4 years 2 months ago

Mmmm. May have to try the ‘straight-up’ butter!

fritzy
fritzy
4 years 2 months ago

If it’s really good butter, like Kerrygold, I don’t need a vehicle of any kind–just put a pat of that buttery goodness in your mouth and welcome to zen!

Amy J
Amy J
4 years 2 months ago

Artichoke dipped in garlic butter!

Joy Termorshuizen
Joy Termorshuizen
3 years 7 months ago

Bake some Paleo friendly bread…..made with almond and coconut flour….its a good substite

Mantonat
Mantonat
3 years 2 months ago

Have you ever had buttered radishes? A very English snack – just salt the radish slices, let them sit for a few minutes, then butter away.

Or, I like to peel a couple of boiled eggs while they are still warm and put them in a tupperware container with butter, salt, and pepper. Shake them around a bit until the butter melts and you have a nice sauce for your eggs. Boil the eggs for a little less than 6 minutes and the yolks will still be a little runny. 🙂

Jo Crescent
3 years 2 months ago

I eat butter on a spoon. Works for me.

GeekyDragonfly
GeekyDragonfly
4 months 22 days ago

Just eat some Kerrygold butter straight. I know that sounds crazy, but when I get hungry and don’t want to eat a whole meal, I just eat a pat of Kerrygold (by itself) and I’m good. And it tastes SOOO good (even by itself). 😉

India
India
4 years 2 months ago

I don’t know much about it yet but there is such a thing as having a yeast addiction. Bread contains yeast. So, it could be the yeast in the bread that you are craving. Also, yeast thrives on sugar, so carbs would satisfy those cravings.
I am wanting to test myself to see if I have a yeast or candida addiction/allergy.

BJML
BJML
4 years 2 months ago

Adrian-You may be closer than you think when you say “addiction”. If you haven’t already done so, check out “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis. Some of the wheat proteins bind to the same opioid receptors in your brain,( meant to be filled by endorphins,) that morphine and heroin bind to.
Scary, huh?

Ma Flintstone
Ma Flintstone
4 years 2 months ago

You *are* fighting an addiction.

Julian
Julian
4 years 2 months ago

the fructose in those raisins may be helping keep your addiction going.

Brad
Brad
4 years 2 months ago

Wheat contains proteins with opioid receptor ligand activity so the idea of ‘addiction’ to wheat is not such a foreign one.

But then also milk proteins and meat proteins have been associated with opioid receptor activity also.

http://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/18630837/685088275/name/Exorphins.pdf

Liz
Liz
4 years 2 months ago
Adrian, I have a similar experience. (I’m about 4 months into paleo) I gave up 80% of things I’d eaten before without problem from the get go. Then for a few months I was very strict, and now I allow myself to give into some cravings, which are usually a slice of pizza or bread. As someone said above, if I give into some things – i.e. some fast food or cafeteria “burgers”, a small slice of cake, I find the taste just isn’t as fulfilling as I remember so it’s easy to say no almost all of the time… Read more »
einstein
einstein
4 years 2 months ago

i never give in to cravings anymore. when i see a slice of pizza, what i see is adulterated omega 6 fats building themselves into my cell membranes and paving the way to cancer and heart disease. and I see HFCS ruining my liver. junk is junk and i won’t put it in my mouth ever, no matter the taste. anyone can learn to visualise the negative effects of junk food on his body. very helpful to help resist eating crap.

Al
Al
4 years 2 months ago

Liz
Have you tried making paleo pizza?
the base is 2 cups almond flour
2 eggs
2 cups grated cheese
bake in oven on baking parchment for 10 mins @180 C then turn over and top as normal then cook until topping is done.

Mantonat
Mantonat
3 years 2 months ago

I made paleo pizza by pressing seasoned ground beef into a pan and letting it brown for a few minutes, drain of some of the liquid, then topping it with homemade tomato sauce (no sugar), fresh mozarella and a little good quality pepperoni. Throw that under broiler until the cheese bubbles. It’s a little messy (have to use a knife and fork), but it’s like having pizza and Bolognese sauce all in one meal without the wheat from pizza dough or pasta. Sprinkle with some minced fresh basil.

Gayle
Gayle
4 years 2 months ago

Thankfully I don’t get that kind of craving for bread anymore. Have you tried maybe a baked sweet potato to try and squelch it?

TokyoJarrett
4 years 2 months ago

I know it’s hard to turn your senses off, but I think it helps to view things as food/non-food. I’ve been paleo/primal for about a year and a half and I now look at bread as a non-food item that smells nice, like a fragrant soap or something like that. Soap smells good, too, but you wouldn’t eat that, would you? 😉

Kelly
Kelly
3 years 2 months ago

Brilliant! Thanks for that tip!!

Paleo student
Paleo student
1 year 3 months ago

Génial! This is so helpful! Thanks for the amazing tip!

Joey
Joey
4 years 2 months ago

Google GRAIN OPIOIDS and MILK OPIOIDS. That should clarify for everyone why they still crave these things. The addiction will probably never go away completely.

Daniel
4 years 2 months ago

Dear Adrian,
it might be a good idea to check your Alkaline levels(blood acidity)..there may be some other foods in your diet that are high acid base and creating the craving.. check out http://biomedx.com/microscopes/rrintro/rrintro.html

good luck, discipline is important and it appears that you have that under control at the moment. you’ll be amazed at how our blood acidity affects our overall health…the science is over 200 years old…interesting read.

Elizabeth
4 years 2 months ago

Adrian,
That sounds like a very likely case of candida or yeast-related syndrome of some sort. Paleo certainly helps to avoid the triggering foods, but you may need to do a supplement protocol for a while, and be certain to avoid all yeasts and sweet things too. Many resources out there abound on protocols. It’s probably not just psychological or aroma therapy issues! 😉 The smell of yeast is insanely provocative if you have overactive yeasts in your system.

Victoria
3 years 10 months ago

Although much healthier than a twinkie, almonds and raisins are carbs, too.

Slugirl
Slugirl
3 years 6 months ago

You are simply and ex carb addict. Just like an ex drug addict or ex alcoholic. The urge will always be there but you just take it one day at the time.

George Collins
George Collins
1 year 1 month ago

Sounds like you could potentially benefit from going zero carb, at least for a time.

Worked for me.

Gift Clumsywarrior
4 years 2 months ago

I am fat adapted and never wanna look back to those sugar-burning day!!!

Thank you Mark for the inspiration. I love all your posts, so informative and logical. 🙂

Annika (@NEKLocalvore)
Annika (@NEKLocalvore)
4 years 2 months ago

Once you are fat-adapted, how long does it take to become un-fat-adapted? If you go on vacation for a week and have a carbfest, do you have to start from square one?

Tiffany
Tiffany
4 years 2 months ago

Good question – I’d like to know that too! My guess is that it wouldn’t be “square one” since you’ve already laid down the ground work…but it might take a couple weeks….? Just guessing…no scientific data to back me up. 🙂

Steve
Steve
4 years 2 months ago

I thought that I read a previous post my Mark that said it would take a couple weeks to undo all of the ground work of being fat adapted.

Max Ungar
4 years 2 months ago

My geuss is, it depends on the person, and how long the “carb-fest” is.

Gift Clumsywarrior
4 years 2 months ago
I have been on carb-fests definitely! But usually it is like a meal or two not the whole week. But there are times that I started eating carbs, from stress. I would start eating more rice, crave dessert. It was on going for a while. But once I start to cut most carbs out, it takes about a week and I don’t miss carbs again! Another thing for me, i found it hard to be on ‘carbfest’ once you are fat-adapted. Because whenever i eat too much sugar, only take about a half a cup cake or 1 piece of… Read more »
Sam
Sam
4 years 2 months ago

According to phinney and volek’s new book (art and science of LC performance, you can experience a set back in fat oxidation of a couple of weeks. It certainly isn’t just a few hours. This certainly argues one away from “holidays.”

Matt Oldroyd
Matt Oldroyd
4 years 2 months ago

Take a look at what Martin Berkhan has to say about big indulgences, such as a week off or eating pounds of cheescake. I think for me, jumping into a couple of days of long IFing can help to quickly reverse the bad stuff. I do this when it’s a weekend like Thanksgiving. You feel a bit off for that first day after the weekend but then after consuming very low carb and fasting you quickly get back to good status within a few days.

Josh
4 years 2 months ago

I’m gonna say if you have enough self control to be primal in the first place and can usually go out and eat well despite conventional wisdom pressures all around you, then you should probably do just fine. I had a few friends go to Italy for a week and of course they are going to indulge in the pasta and other italian staples (because you HAVE to in that situation), but they came back and got right back on the healthy train no problem

Shelly
4 years 2 months ago

I’m confused…if you are a sugar burning type, does that mean you won’t lose the weight until you become a fat adapted type?

Anders Emil
Anders Emil
4 years 2 months ago

Shelly, so long as your insulin level is above a certain threshold your body will not burn fat. You will have to eat low-carb and empty your glucose reservoirs before your body will start burning fat. Once you are fat-adapted, this will be the preferred mode of energy conversion

Clippies
Clippies
4 years 2 months ago
jen
jen
4 years 2 months ago

I eat primal / paleo 80% of the time but when I go to the south of France I eat croissant, baguette with cheese and jam, an egg and coffee for breakfast every morning. Then fish and salad for lunches, then a salad or plain Greek yogurt for dinner. I kind of freak about my breakfast carbs those two weeks but when I get home I usually weigh about 5-10 pounds less than when I got there… If I ate like this at home I’d blow up like a balloon. It’s weird.

Randy
Randy
4 years 2 months ago
I just did a 4 day trip to my hometown of NYC from my current digs in Miami. Since we can’t get good bread down here I went a little nuts in New York. I had a butter roll (kaiser roll with butter) and coffee upon waking for four days in a row. I had Indian food with basmati rice twice. I had a hamburger with bun once and I had tacos one night. Plus several beers. After 4 days of this I gained 5 pounds. Upon returning home I went back to my primal diet and lost the 5… Read more »
Gem
Gem
4 years 2 months ago

Jen, I had a similar experience after spending two weeks in Spain. Some kind of bread every morning, came home 3 pounds lighter. I am wondering if European countries use non-GMO wheat and if that has anything to do with it.

Bear
Bear
4 years 2 months ago

GMOs are banned in Europe. It really is easier to gain weight with American foods than European, even if you’re having the same meals as you would in the US.

jen
jen
4 years 2 months ago

yes, Bear is right, GMOs are banned in the EU. I live in the Netherlands and bread is everywhere, but they mostly eat multi-grain. My husband said France is the ONLY place where he will eat the white bread. I have to say, my biggest craving on Paleo/ Primal is… toast. (I eat it once or twice a month). I have got to find some kind of way to get around this.. especially during pms. Perhaps sweet potato or something..

Tina
Tina
4 years 2 months ago
I just tried this experiment while vacationing in California, land of burritos, banh mi vietnamese sandwiches, dim sum, pasta, and fabulous sourdough bread, all of which I ate. I found that my appetite was pretty well suppressed between meals and, after one particularly heavy day of eating, I had a stomachache and a clear message from my body saying,”Do NOT feed me today!” I ate a small meal in the evening because someone else cooked it or I would have skipped. (This, incidentally, would not have been normal in my old sugar-burner days. I could eat heavily one day and… Read more »
Geo
Geo
4 years 2 months ago

It’s all about quantities IMO. I eat bread everyday with my lunch sandwich at work and make it myself from fermented whole wheat flour poolish. Just a thin slice of it and I feel good. On the other hand, if I eat a lot of it or worst, crackers, chips, cookies, croissants, cake; I then get stomach pain, heatburns and low energy.

Starlene
4 years 2 months ago

Awesome. According to my answers to your questions, I’m fat adapted. I remember having to eat every 2-3 hours. What a difference to not have to bring a food bag everywhere I go. Nowadays I eat a big protein breakfast and bring one tin of sardines with me for lunch and that holds me until I get home around dark. Great article, I’m going to share on FB.

Max Ungar
4 years 2 months ago

Just as long as your co-workers dont mind the stinky fish

Starlene
4 years 2 months ago

I’m lucky – I haven’t had one complaint, except for the fact that I didn’t bring them a tin. 😉

Anders Emil
Anders Emil
4 years 2 months ago

Starlene, this is definitely the biggest advantage I have since I switched my diet two months ago. I am now at a point where I feel as if I am always choosing to eat rather than having to eat. It really does change my everyday life, I used to run home from work open the fridge and throw food in my face not caring much what was in it. It really was like a “carb addiction”

Starlene
4 years 2 months ago
Anders, I do remember that. I have an hour commute and boy if I got caught in traffic on the way home and hadn’t had my mid-afternoon “snack” I was like a starving dog when I got home. I’d eat ravenously and couldn’t seem to stop myself until I was so stuffed and then I was so uncomfortable and wonder why I’d done it AGAIN. It was awful. This is so much nicer and I just wish I could get people in my life to understand it doesn’t take willpower. I have NO willpower. When I started to eat this… Read more »
idamonster
idamonster
4 years 2 months ago

What would you normally have for breakfast? I’m trying to get ideas for better protein-high breakfasts that are easy/quick to make or transportable.

Tony Pearsall
Tony Pearsall
4 years 2 months ago
I have the same thing for breakfast every morning at about 7 AM. It’s a shake made of 2 raw cage free eggs, two Scoops pure power whey protein made from grass fed cows, 2 scoops of shredded organic coconut, a cup of blueberries (sometimes other berries)and a cup of almond milk, coconut milk, or raw whole mile if I can get it. I also have a small handful of macadamia nuts or almonds. I work out about 12 or 1 and then have lunch (sometimes I skip it). I can tell you that I don’t get hungry AT ALL… Read more »
Lillian
Lillian
4 years 2 months ago

ooo – Please, do tell: which protein powder have you found made from grass fed cows?? No artificial sweeteners or anything?

Starlene
4 years 2 months ago
Idamonster, were you asking me what I normally have for breakfast? If yes, I usually just shoot for 50 grams protein, so about 8 ounces of some kind of meat. I dislike reheated meat so it does add some time to my morning routine. I used to be able to get up and leave 30 minutes after my feet hit the floor. Now it’s a solid hour due to cooking *and* eating. I don’t mind eating reheated or cold bacon. Some days I will cook a mess of bacon and take 8-9 slices cold to eat on my drive to… Read more »
Anders Emil
Anders Emil
4 years 2 months ago

When I do have breakfast, I almost always have leftovers from last night’s dinner. Either that or I have one or two eggs, some macadamia nuts and possibly some organic high-quality sausage. But since I’ve gone low-carb I’m actually rarely hungry in the morning, most days I just eat lunch around 12 and dinner around 6.30.

Martin
Martin
4 years 2 months ago

Phinney and Volek discuss in detail keto adaptation and esp. in their latest book its performance implications. They seem to be suggesting that there is a huge gap in how efficiently fat can be oxidized in keto-adapted (i.e. very efficiently) and non-keto adapted individuals.

Mark, what you are now suggesting is that the gap is not that large, i.e. you don’t have to be fully keto-adapted to be able to use fat effciently.

Now, how do you know that it is true for all/most people?

Sam
Sam
4 years 2 months ago

I am also interested in hearing a reply to this. Volek is conducting research in this area and is suggesting that optimal fuel flow occurs when one is keto-adapted (a term coined by Phinney). This article borrows his terminology and makes some claims. It would be great to see the science or at least the thinking behind those claims.

Patrice
4 years 2 months ago

Agree with others that fresh bread is an amazing smell, especially for a frenchman. Thankfully I have a saving grace on that front: being wheat intolerant means the pain/ discomfort post eating bread is really not worth it!

Evil tempter that is bread…

Anders Emil
Anders Emil
4 years 2 months ago

I always loved the smell of gasoline, but I wouldn’t drink it 😀 Some things appear very attractive, but the knowledge that your body either treats it as a toxin or just doesn’t have a need for it usually puts me off enough that I won’t touch it; and just the memory of how bloated and irritated I would feel after a lot of bread puts the nail in the grain coffin for me.

john
john
4 years 2 months ago

I think i’m a fat burner but then…why am i still fat?

Corey
Corey
4 years 2 months ago

A match won’t melt an igloo.

Txomin
Txomin
4 years 2 months ago

Calorie imbalance always applies, funny man.

Heather
Heather
4 years 2 months ago
Me too, A year into Primal, I have lost 13 kilos, and have no intention of finding them, but I have at leat 10 kilos to go. I rarely eat breakfast, just have a coffee and cream (yum), may have lunch, and then have dinner around 7pm. Not hungry! Seriously, I justdont get hungry, very rarely have that knawing, shakey, crabby hunger I used to get especially in the afternoon. I think it’s about healing. I feel my liver still has healing to do as well as my thyroid, which has been sluggish for years. This is the first winter… Read more »
Janet
Janet
4 years 2 months ago

Most of us are deficient in vitamin D and magnesium (and other minerals). You can supplement with 10K of vitamin D and 400 to 600 mg of magnesium and that could help a lot. Read The Magnesium Miracle by Dr. Carolyn Dean. You might want to get your estrogen/progesterone levels tested, too, and supplement with wild yam-based products.

Brad
Brad
4 years 2 months ago
Heather, I don’t know what your diet was like before going Primal but if it contained a lot of trans fats then that may be the reason. I can’t provide good evidence for it but I have read in other places that trans fats can cause weight gain that is really difficult to get rid of. The best link I can provide at the moment is this Wikipedia article which discusses briefly the body’s ability to burn cis fats but not trans fats. http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Structural_Biochemistry/Lipids/Fatty_Acids Unfortunately I can’t provide an immediate solution for you except to say that getting rid of… Read more »
JPizzay
JPizzay
4 years 2 months ago

Do you IF? If you’re trying to lose weight and have an issue with creating a calorie deficit, 1-2 24hr fasts a week will definitely get you in a deficit. And if you truly are fat adapted, then a 24 fast shouldn’t scare you.

Anders Emil
Anders Emil
4 years 2 months ago

Thyroid issue? Maybe you need iodine (try kelp, lobster, something high in iodine) Also, read Mark’s article about ‘stubborn fat’. Usually this is the ‘beer belly’ on men 🙂

TJ
4 years 2 months ago

You mentioned in your article that Nighttime eaters have higher RQs.

I have been Paleo/Primal for 14 months now and have lost 90 lbs. I only eat when hungry and that typically means one meal around 7 – 8 PM and then some Paleo Snacks if still hungry and usually bedtime at Midnight to 1 AM. I am not hungry the rest of the day.

Seems to work for me …

JPizzay
JPizzay
4 years 2 months ago

Everyone is different. I’m sure Mark meant to say that nighttime eaters USUALLY have higher RQs because most of those ppl tend to be sugar adapted. You’re probably doing so much right that eating a lot at night has very little negative effect. I eat 2 large (primal) meals a day lunch and dinner. It works for me…and my schedule.

Scott UK
Scott UK
4 years 2 months ago

So, I can go hours without a meal no problem. But I still have long periods of brain fogginess, despite being primal for over a year. What am I doing wrong?

Roanne
Roanne
4 years 2 months ago

I’m a bit like you, Scott – although not primal for quite so long. Due to my work hours I’m pretty sure I’m not getting enough sleep plus, I’ve also got very little to do at work during the day (apart from reading the back blogposts on MDA) and this leaves me tired and, along with the freezing cold, craving carbs/calories.

BJML
BJML
4 years 2 months ago
Have you guys had your hormone levels checked? The tired and cold and foggy part sounds like it might be thyroid and/or adrenal related. I’ve been primal less than two months, lost a ton of weight up front (20 lbs), then stalled. I happen to have a really great doc, who got a bunch of lab tests and it turns out my ACTH and cortisol are both extremely low. So is my thyroid (T3) but I understand from Internet research that trying to adjust T3 in the absence of adequate cortisol is futile. So, cortisol first and thyroid later this… Read more »
Kenny
Kenny
4 years 2 months ago

Most people are iodine deficient. Read Dr Donald Miller on iodine supplementation.

Next, learn how to make your own Lugol’s solution.

Scott UK
Scott UK
4 years 2 months ago

Thanks — that’s certainly a possibility. If I get them checked, and they are low, then what do you do?

Ma Flintstone
Ma Flintstone
4 years 2 months ago

Scott UK, I don’t do caffeine these days so I no real ‘focus-puller’ for brain fog. Used to be hell on earth for me.
But zinc, oh my.
If I’m slow/stupid for a while and red meat/egg yolks aren’t cutting it I squirt some nano-ionic (liquid) zinc in a mug of some fine brew and *bam* -I do me some fine sharp thinkin’.

JPizzay
JPizzay
4 years 2 months ago

Not sure what could be causing the brain fogginess. But as for the freezing cold, Martin Berkhan has addressed “cold hands, and feet” during long fasts as blood being diverted from your extremeties to your “fat areas” to be metabolised into energy (or something like that, i hope i didn’t butcher the explanation)

Roanne
Roanne
4 years 2 months ago

Thanks JPizzey but it’s winter for me so the cold is due to the subzero (celsius) overnight lows and being stuck in a workplace for 13-hours a day that I can’t heat effectively – there’s only so many hours I can spend on the treadmill or elliptical to try and get warm!

TimA
TimA
4 years 2 months ago
Scott, have you tried drinking broth? I had a significant problem with brain fog that just wouldn’t go away. After reading various sources I discovered it was a sodium deficiency. Low carb eating can be a significant diuretic and can wash away a lot of sodium. I also believe I produce insufficient amounts of aldosterone. Fortunately, a couple cups of broth a day fixes me right up. Try it. It’s harmless and the effect will be almost immediate if that’s your problem. Plain old bouillon cubes or granules is what I use. Works like a champ.
mamascriv
mamascriv
4 years 2 months ago

Bouillon is rampant with monosodium glutamate(MSG), which, in the long run, will have worse effects on your brain. Making your own broth with free range, organic chicken seems a better choice, I would think.

Scott UK
Scott UK
4 years 2 months ago
Thanks for all the comments. I think my diet is ok, but will take another look through fitday (including iodine). Previously, I noticed that, despite not being hungry, I just wasn’t eating enough calories (<2000). I redoubled efforts to eat even more fat, and have recently added more acceptable carbs back in, but it doesn't seem to help. Hormones are a possibility. I have a health check coming up and so will investigate. But what do you do if they are low? I do make broth, but tend to keep it for sauces etc. But I will try downing pints… Read more »
CrazeeCatLady
CrazeeCatLady
4 years 2 months ago

Yay! I’m a fat-burning beast!

Primal for almost ten weeks, I’ve lost 22 pounds and I can easily go up to eighteen hours without eating (as long as half of those hours are spent sleeping).

This post is exactly what I wanted to know. Thanks, Mark!

Sally
Sally
4 years 2 months ago

Responding to your question I think I’m fat burner, I can do fast without being hungry, but then because I gained weight with paleo?

Sofie
Sofie
4 years 2 months ago

Muscle? That’s what happened to me 🙂

Txomin
Txomin
4 years 2 months ago

Me too.

lovin' the good life
lovin' the good life
4 years 2 months ago

I’ve actually gained a significant amount of fat since going paleo/primal. It’s very frustrating! I feel healthier, and my mental health has vastly improved, but there’s no doubt about it, I’ve put on more than 10lb of fat (from 135lb to 149lb). I wanted to lose weight, not gain it!
The mental health benefits (my depression is almost completely gone, it seems!) make it worth staying primal for me, but I sure want to be losing weight and not gaining it…

Jessica
Jessica
4 years 2 months ago

Are you SURE you gained fat? Are your clothes actually tighter? If not, you may be gaining muscle which is very worth it, even if you gain overall. 😉

Anders Emil
Anders Emil
4 years 2 months ago

Do you get regular low-cardio exercise? Do you sprint every once in a while? While diet is a big part of weight-loss, a low-carb diet can and will lower your metabolism unless you tell your body to keep burning fat by exercising frequently.

Danielle
Danielle
4 years 2 months ago

I had the same thing happen!!! I used to be 5′ 8″ 123 lbs, and now I am 130- 132. My clothes are tighter!!! I am a bit more muscular, but my belly seems to be thicker as well. My husband tells me it is because I am actually absorbing my food and nutrients now, where as before I couldn’t gain weight if I tried (I was definitely carb addicted). Thing is, I was happy with my weight, I went primal for health – which I can say is much improved 🙂

JPizzay
JPizzay
4 years 2 months ago

I know exactly how you feel, and what I did was NOT DO any high intensity workouts…or Crossfit. I walked more often, lifted heavy, and sprinted. That fixed it. Oh and I eat fruit only once in a while. Mark has addressed numerous times that fruits are something you should limit if you are trying to get rid of fat.

Carla
Carla
4 years 2 months ago

Having PCOS, I don’t think Ill ever be “fat-adapted” and I don’t think that will ever change for me no matter how well I eat. Is that a bad thing?

mouse
mouse
4 years 2 months ago

I have pcos as well and if you sick to it, you can become a fat burning machine. It’s a little slower going but it’s a world of difference when it happens. Like day and night.

Syrahna
Syrahna
4 years 2 months ago

Another PCOS gal who primal’ed herself out of the diagnosis, per my very happy endocrinologist. I’m a fatburner (now) and I’ve still got a LOT of weight to lose. It’s entirely possible.

Victoria
Victoria
4 years 2 months ago
You have to consider that there are 3 categories of women with PCOS: 1-women who have PCOS due to being overweight, 2- due to insulin not being regulated, 3- other. If you fall into the first or second category, then you can leave PCOS behind through being disciplined. However, if you are one of the 1% of women who fall into the third category like me, you will most likely always have PCOS. My endocrinologist says that it has biological factors- extremely oversized ovaries which are not organs that you cannot shrink with this or any lifestyle. With that being… Read more »
Starlene
4 years 2 months ago

To the ladies with PCOS, have you looked into your MTHFR genetic mutation status? It can be a factor in this condition. Read the 1st and 2nd comments on this post at Dr. Ben Lynch’s site: http://mthfr.net/mthfr-mutation-oral-contraceptives-not-recommended/2012/03/16/

jul
jul
2 years 5 months ago
I also have PCOS (I prefer to call it insulin resistance, that’s the root cause, excess carbohydrate comsuption). I came from your ordinary “healthy” vegan diet (which I was constant hungry, having to eat every 2 hours, it was hell, I was always anxious counting the hour for my next meal, used to eat 8 fruits, 2 bowls of oatmeal per day, etc). I was exercing a lot too, but it was only getting worse because I was gaining weight on my waist. But converting to a paleo lifestyle, and now keto, I got the low carb flu, it lasted… Read more »
Kirk
Kirk
4 years 2 months ago

Fat adapted does not necessarily mean ketosis, but how about the other way around? If you’re in ketosis, does that mean you’re fat-adapted too?

TimA
TimA
4 years 2 months ago

No. Ketosis is merely the state of producing and burning ketones rather than glucose for some biologic functions. If you stay in ketosis long enough, your body will fat adapt. Initial adaptation, which involve digestive enzimes and such adjusting themselves to the higher levels of fat usually takes a few days to two weeks. Full adaptation can take several weeks or months.

Luke M-Davies
4 years 2 months ago
Fascinating read – thanks Mark. I would be interested to know your position regarding pro endurance athletes (e.g. triathletes) who fuel themselves with gooey energy gels to get through their heavy training sessions. Perhaps some of it is just brand marketing but these guys are super lean (probably due to the vast amount of calories they burn) but surely they are sugar burners!? Or perhaps because they can never put enough calories into their bodies to make up for spent calories, they are fat adapted… Personally, I can get through fasts and am well aware of the feeling of my… Read more »
Clippies
Clippies
4 years 2 months ago

These pro athletes are definitely carb / glycose burners. However I would argue that the sport choose them and not the other way around. They are not lean because they run, they run because they are lean.

They take the energy gels during runs because they need to replace their glycogen stores. I have just finished reading ‘The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance’ by RD, Jeff S. Volek PhD and PhD, Stephen D. Phinney MD.

Interesting book if you want to know more about endurance exercising on a keto / low carb diet

Nik
Nik
4 years 2 months ago

So, you described the differences between the two, but how do you become fat-adapted?

Jura
Jura
4 years 2 months ago

Exactly what I’d like to know~

Jura
Jura
4 years 2 months ago

Exactly, please tell me how to get from a sugar burner to a fat burner!

Stacey Murphy
4 years 2 months ago

yes, I want to know. I’ve been primal since April and I’m not fat adapted yet. Doing Whole 30 now for almost 2 weeks, still not fat adapted.

Angela
Angela
4 years 2 months ago
I realized yesterday that I was fairly fat adapted. Breakfast consisted of two eggs (free range from a friend’s chickens) and a half cup cottage cheese, forced myself to eat my lunch around 1pm which was a large salad and a side of coleslaw; went to a movie with friends after work and friends said at 6pm when the movie let out “I’m starving!!!” And all I said was “well I could eat.” It was really impressing actually and I’m glad you wrote this article. I llloooovvveee that you added to RQ, I’ve never heard about that and when I… Read more »
Sandy A.
Sandy A.
4 years 2 months ago

I don’t guess I think about food that much. To me, food is something I intake to get the nutrients I need to survive and maintain good health.
I never ate much sugar (a little in my coffee, but not for months now), and when I quit bread etc. I just didn’t think about it that much afterwards. Maybe I just didn’t eat it that much to begin with? who knows…..

Michelle
Michelle
4 years 2 months ago
I am with you Sandy, food has always been like fuel in the car. Can’t go without it. Never been a social (or emotional) eater, and probably been fairly fat adapted my whole life. Always did better on eggs for breakfast, if I ate cereal I’d feel like there was an alien I ther trying to claw out. Nasty feeling! Never ate much shit food either, too many kids not enough money! Lots of veggies and chicken, meat, never was given snacks, just a piece a fruit or bread was all there was…lucky me! Honest!. I was gardening the other… Read more »
Gracie
Gracie
4 years 2 months ago
Here’s my problem…..I come from big people. Not an excuse. Just stating a fact. It doesn’t seem to matter how many meals I skip or if I cut everything with any kind of sugar and carb out. I stay the same. I lift weights in a semi-amateur body building sort of way. What is wrong with me? I am starting to lose hope that I will make it to old age and see my kids grow up and have kids of their own (obesity being the number one underlying cause of death and having diabetes on both sides of my… Read more »
Hassan
4 years 2 months ago

I have been there and at times given up. Hitting a plateau is not fun. Best thing is to be strategic and figure out what works for you in terms to nutrition and exercise. There are tons of free resources available. Don’t give up! You can do it. I found out what worked for me and documented it on my blog.
Cheers 🙂

mekaylah
mekaylah
4 years 2 months ago

but, are you borderline? sometimes that is enough to throw you out of whack. also, have you had your hormones tested? sometimes those can be “within range” but still one can be a little off from the others and that can throw you off. that being said. sometimes you can’t cheat genetics.

Dan
Dan
4 years 2 months ago

Have you tried Crossfit? If not look into it. May help different workout each day to mix it up. May hit your body differently

lynn
lynn
4 years 2 months ago
I am in the same boat you are in. On my mothers’ side everyone is fat. I mean everyone. We all live very different lives and in varying places but we all have the same body shape. I am always about 50 pounds overweight. I have a photo of my great-great-grandmother during the depression. She was basically a dirt farmer, and had very little to eat. But there she was standing next to my thin as a rail starving great-great grandfather plumb as can be! I really do believe that some people are genetically fat. We all eat very differently… Read more »
Karen
Karen
4 years 2 months ago
When I first had my thyroid tested, my GP said it was “normal” and therefore there was nothing she could do. Nevermind that I had weight I couldn’t shed, very low energy, and brain fog, among quite a few other telltale thyroid symptoms. Nevermind my prior diagnosis of Hashimoto’s and family history of the same. As long as the lab said “normal” she could/would do nothing. I found out I was at the high end of the normal range for TSH, so I started reading up on it and discovered how controversial the normal range actually is. When they established… Read more »
India
India
4 years 2 months ago
Karen, thank you for your story. I am currently waiting for my blood work results to see if I have a thyroid problem. My family has been on BP now for several months. My husband has lost 45 lbs. and is feeling great! I initially lost about 6lbs and that’s it. I was already pretty low-carb though so the change wasn’t as drastic for me, I guess. Since being wheat and grain-free I’ve had less trouble with headaches. My new doctor suggested topical progesterone cream for the headaches and fatigue during periods etc. then, I decided to quit dairy completely… Read more »
Karen
Karen
4 years 2 months ago

Boy, it sure is a journey for some of us! I resisted thinking about it that way for a while, and all that did was depress me further – clearly no results in resistance! I truly believe that if we treat our bodies well, they have amazing power to heal themselves and overcome prior damage done. Sounds like you’re off to a good start and headed down a great path. I just turned 40 a couple of months ago, and I can’t tell you how much better 40 feels physically than 39! Best of luck to you!

Anonymoose
Anonymoose
4 years 2 months ago

Karen, would you mind sharing what you did as a candida and adrenal treatment? I think I have both problems, and my symptoms are similar to yours. There are so many treatment options out there for candida in particular, I am lost. Thanks!

Karen
Karen
4 years 2 months ago
By that time I was seeing a naturopath, who was initially only treating my thyroid. I was still really struggling with fatigue and some other symptoms, and the weight wasn’t coming off (in spite of roughly 90/10 primal eating). I asked her about possible adrenal issues and she had me do a saliva test (take saliva samples 4 times over a 24 hour period and mail into the lab). I don’t remember the details of the results, but they confirmed that my cortisol levels were low at times of day when they should have been high, and high when they… Read more »
caitlin
caitlin
4 years 2 months ago

Hi Karen,

Thank you so much for sharing. It’s almost refreshing to learn that there are others for whom the weight didn’t just melt off. I’m very impressed that you stuck with it, and more motivated to learn that the weight did eventually come off.

I love your attitude of focusing primarily on health! can you shift my paradigm for me? 🙂

Karen
Karen
4 years 2 months ago
Thanks! I remember feeling very discouraged initially that my results weren’t as instant or dramatic as the wonderful, inspiring success stories I was reading. I believe that primal is the right dietary (and lifestyle) path for me, and ultimately realized that I had more work to do with my body before it was prepared to let the weight go. I don’t know if this will help shift your paradigm or not, but there are a few things that helped me get to a focus on health rather than just weight loss. 1) Knowing several “skinny fat” people, who may be… Read more »
Geo
Geo
4 years 2 months ago

Try the Navitas (or other brand) organic raw cocoa, there is no sugar in it, you can use it in shakes or yogurt for example.

Geo
Geo
4 years 2 months ago

Surprising that cutting chocolate and wine helped you, it must be specific to your condition.

Cocoa is generally very healthy, especially little processed organic raw cocoa and red wine (although not to abuse) and better organic red wine is good to prevent coronary diseases, google “The French paradox” for more info.

Karen
Karen
4 years 2 months ago
You’re right, Geo. Most versions of the candida diet have you abstain from all alcohol because the yeast will feed on the sugar. The idea behind the diet is to encourage die off by starving the yeast. Wine was really the only alcohol I was having by that point, and only in small quantities. I probably could have continued with the chocolate, since I was only eating small amounts of 72% dark, but I usually enjoyed it with my wine. No more wine meant I thought of it less often. Also, though this was probably silly, I was scared to… Read more »
Llepke
Llepke
4 years 2 months ago
 I never ever eat sugar, but occasionally if out to dinner at an upscale restaurant I’ll have artisan bread because I love it, and sometimes I’ll have potatoes, but this isn’t often, less than once a week, sometimes less than once a month.  I got really fat from four and a half years of psychmeds, along with a plethora of other adverse reactions and side affects. I’ve been off all medication since late November 2005, although the withdrawal lasted a very very long time.   I feel better, way better in fact, since I went low-carb over a year and half… Read more »
Kate
Kate
4 years 2 months ago

Wow you really need to see a doctor

Michelle
Michelle
4 years 2 months ago
Hummm….do you eat enough fat? Try an experiment and see what you sugars do at 1,2,3 etc hours after eating. Then look at what you’re actually eating and tweak it a bit. Are sugars stable? If you have been diagnosed diabetic, then know EXACTLY what your blood sugar does with food, it might help you to reduce feinting IF thats from low blood sugar. Might not be, so when you know sugars are stable but youre still feinting, then the doctor is a good plan. I am brain fogged but I know mine is all hormone related (dropping progesterone levels)… Read more »
Rana
Rana
4 years 2 months ago

Low blood pressure, perhaps?

River Song
River Song
4 years 2 months ago
Have you considered that you may have a candida overgrowth? Most likely after the medication you were on. Google “candidiasis” or “candida overgrowth” and add a yeast killer to your daily regimen, as you are already doing the diet for candida (low-carb is essential as candida lives on sugar). You also need to get kefir, much better than a probiotic pill, it’s live and much better for you than the pills. That and real sauerkraut. My husband and I have been fighting candida for 5 years now, off and on. It causes sugar or carb cravings as well, so that… Read more »
John Steakeater
John Steakeater
4 years 1 month ago

River Song, I DID just Google it: “To treat what they refer to as Candida, some alternative medicine practitioners have recommended avoiding antibiotics, birth control pills, and foods that are high in sugar or yeast, ostensibly to “eliminate excess yeast” in the body. However, there is little clinically valid evidence that these “Candida cleanse” treatments treat intestinal candidiasis effectively, or cure any of the symptoms claimed by the proponents of the hypothesis.”

Leaf Eating Carnivore
Leaf Eating Carnivore
4 years 2 months ago
There are a number of things that could be causing these sorts of symptoms, but give your history of psych meds and a suspicion(?) of diabetes, I suggest you read “Sugar Nation” (Jeff O’Connell) – it’s the story of a sportswriter’s experience of reactive hypoglycemia, and his journey to and eventually precise diagnosis. If you see yourself, which I suspect you will, then you definitely do need to see some docs ASAP. His story will give you some valuable guideposts to diagnosis and treatment – even if you have to dig up the same docs or clinics. Don’t delay –… Read more »
Leaf Eating Carnivore
Leaf Eating Carnivore
4 years 2 months ago

Sorry: “given your history…”

Geo
Geo
4 years 2 months ago
psychmeds are poisons known to wreak havoc on your body and it could take a long time for your liver, kidneys amd pancreas to recover from the devastating effects of the drugs, just thank the FDA for it. A friend who had an accidental depression ballooned quickly while on meds but she mostly recovered. For a different reason my wife had fainting events, I recommend that you eat less but more often, that will prevent your body from playing yoyo with your blood sugar level and do not eat sugar and starch at all either. I know it’s hard, I… Read more »
Dan
Dan
4 years 2 months ago

Hi I’ve been hitting primal for around 8 months now, I’m currently doing a lot of Crossfit I don’t feel I need to eat every 3 hours but I’m trying to put weight on. I’m staying away from carbs,cut hitting the meat hard. Is it such a bad thing to be eating every three hours? As long as I’m having primal meals is this still ok? It didn’t mean anything to me leaving bread behind feel so much better!! Be interested for some feedback thanks in advance

Erok
3 years 2 months ago

Cut back on the Crossfit, and lift heavy with good form for less reps. Works like a charm.

victoria
victoria
4 years 2 months ago
I think I am and I must admit I don’t feel hungry every few hours like I used to (actually I trained myself to eat every 2-3 hours coz that’s what I thought I was meant to do!). Sometimes I not even hungry really around “dinner time” but I eat coz it’s that time and it’s nice to eat with my partner. I am doing my first I.F this morning (skipping breakfast), and although I could eat it, if I really thought about it I am not that hungry, it’s more out of habit. If I eat when not hungry… Read more »
victoria
victoria
4 years 2 months ago

Oh dear just read my post, sorry about the terrible grammar. It’s early here in nz.

Susan
Susan
4 years 2 months ago

After going primal how long does it take to become fat adapted?

I am still working on making my own mayo and salad dressings and still eat some grain fed beef. It’s been about 2 months though of no grains and no sugar. I am not yet fat-adapted and have not lost much weight yet.

michelle
michelle
4 years 2 months ago
i have the same question, Susan. I never seem to go into fat burning mode–paleo, primal and atkins (followed all of them for a least a month each, paleo and atkins for two months each, with strict adherence) and initially lost a pound or three and then gained that back plus more weight each time. i am starting to question whether there are some people who are slower to convert or possibly unable to convert despite what our bodies are “normally” able to do. i am a lifelong low fat, high carb eater and i wonder if i’ve just trained… Read more »
Laura
Laura
4 years 2 months ago
I was wondering this exact thing. I’ve been an athlete since middle school and I’ve had low-blood sugar problems for almost as long. Recently, I decided to take the dive and really try to go primal. The prospect of not eating every 2-3 hours is amazing to me! Unfortunately, I’ve been programmed to eat that way for so long that even though I’m no longer feeling faint and shake-y after a few hours, I still feel very hungry and tempted by eating anything and everything. I can feel that my body is already making adjustments, but I feel like I’m… Read more »
ericchastang
4 years 2 months ago

I ate dinner last night, woke up this morning, drank some coffee, went to the trailhead, and hiked Mt. Audubon. 8 miles round trip, 2750 ft of elevation gain, 3 hrs 20 min car to car. Drank a little water on the trail, and got home, walked to the grocery store, and got some salmon and greens for lunch. It is so nice to be fat-adepted—constant energy level, no need to snack.

Dave
Dave
4 years 2 months ago

Great article. Super informative. Thanks

Glenn
Glenn
4 years 2 months ago

I just stumbled on to this article, so I’m looking for a little synopsis here: What is “going primal” in its most basic sense and what is a good resource to start with to bet some more info on this topic. The comments really peaked my interest!

Roanne
Roanne
4 years 2 months ago

Glenn, go to the ‘Start Here’ tab at the top of this post then scroll down to ‘The Basics/Primal Blueprint 101’ – all the information you need to begin following The Primal Blueprint is available on the site.

Sixbears
4 years 2 months ago
I’m getting there. I did lose 30 pounds since January without trying. I used to get really cranky an hour before meal time. That’s gone away. Missing a meal doesn’t feel like a big deal. Probably still eat a bit more carbs than I should for weight loss, but not stressing too much about it has been good for me -and the pounds have slowly come off anyway. I think now that the farmers’ markets are in full swing it should be easier to buy good food, so that will help. There’s even a guy who sells grass fed beef… Read more »
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Eric
Eric
4 years 2 months ago

The smoothing out of my energy level has been the single most important and life-changing benefit of this diet. It has put my sleep cycle back into order and increased my productivity in school. 🙂

Sue
Sue
4 years 2 months ago
Great article, Mark! I have a question, though. I’m pretty sure, based on your article, that I am fat-adapted. Very rarely, I will have a “cheat day”. I pay for it the next day by feeling so lousy, that my cheat days are, maybe, only once every several months now. Hoping to make them even rarer than that! On the days I cheat (with various carbs–dessert-type foods, usually)I notice, almost like clockwork, intense cravings within a few hours after each indulgence. Does this mean I am not officially a fat burner? Or, is it normal for people with naturally low… Read more »
Red
Red
4 years 2 months ago

Am not yet totally fat-adapted, still have occasional severe cravings 5 months into this. However when the engine is running ‘fat-adapted-ly’ … Its a joy… No cravings! No afternoon naps (was calling them my ‘post-donut snooze times’!)!!!! Headaches…gone!! Skin rashes….gone!!! Problems going to b’room….gone!! Food tastes extravagant!! 30lbs ….gone!!! I’m seriously clear headed!!! I need to loose 100 more lbs… If its this easy, I don’t care if it takes me another year!!! Love it love it!!!!!

Keith
Keith
4 years 2 months ago
I had stalled with my weight loss while eating very low carb for a while. It was frustrating, and I figured it was just muscle gain, but at the same time it didn’t seem that i was losing fat. Jimmy Moore recently made a post, here (http://www.marksdailyapple.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-fat-adapted/#more-30142) about his month long experiment testing and optimizing his state of ketosis. He mentions how some people think of low carb as high protein, but how it is actually more about moderate or adequate protein. I never thought (or maybe completely understood) how protein can be converted to glucose by the liver, and… Read more »
India
India
4 years 2 months ago

Thanks for this. Will try it!

Professor
Professor
4 years 2 months ago

Just so you know, neurons (those things that make up your brain and nervous system) can’t burn fat, and are only capable of obtaining energy from glucose. Food for thought (no pun intended).

Matt Oldroyd
Matt Oldroyd
4 years 2 months ago

Not true, and that can be read about in this post and many other places on the net and in scientific journals. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-much-glucose-does-your-brain-really-need/#axzz1zhHzluhA Your brain is happy burning away on ketones with a little glucose to boot, which can be easily formed in the liver.

Keith
Keith
4 years 2 months ago

I meant to say I started eating more FAT and vegetables in my comment above. Sorry.

Kitty
Kitty
4 years 2 months ago

Hi Keith. I did the same; cut the protein after weight loss stalled. It did the trick and I’m losing weight again. Yay!

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[…] What does it mean to be fat-adapted? – from Mark’s Daily Apple. […]

Max Ungar
4 years 2 months ago

Love it Mark, you’ve created another primal term “fat-adapted”

velvetpaws135
velvetpaws135
4 years 2 months ago
Hi, I started eating primally in mid March this year – have lost 14lbs which might not seem a lot, but this is the only program that has worked for me so far. Previously a lacto-ovo vegetarian for 17 years – have also started eating fish again as I had extreme cravings for it over the last 2 years. Coincidentally,I became crippled with osteo-arthritis in my hips – had to give up dancing/performing and teaching dance (not being physically capable of dancing – for me – really sucks!). Not sure if it’s all the fish and cod liver oil and/or… Read more »
Ajay
Ajay
4 years 2 months ago

I’m in my fifties, post-menopausal & insulin resistant – genetically predisposed, I have been told. I fit the profile of a fat burner (no cravings, can go long periods without eating, can exercise on an empty stomach). But I’m still unable to shift the rolls of fat around the middle. I’ve been primal for 12 weeks and no change. What else could be wrong?

gibson girl
gibson girl
4 years 2 months ago

Ajay, I have a similar situation. I go by the book, but have been stalled for five years. I’ve been advised to cut my protein intake first, then cut calories, but not below a thousand. I shed sixty pounds and have sixty more to go.

TruckerLady
TruckerLady
4 years 2 months ago
A month ago I was injured and had to stay with my brother and his wife. Theirs is a Weight Watchers household. While I drew the line at grains, I ate basically the same food but just had my eggs cooked with butter. I lost another 9 lbs in 16 days. Now that I’m back on the road and eating primal, I’ve lost another 2 lbs. 11 lbs in June! Part of that loss might have been muscle, but It’s come off my waistline. My poor brother is 5 lbs from goal and crabby and hungry all the time. I… Read more »
Claudia
Claudia
1 year 2 months ago

TruckerLady, how old are you? I want to guess you are pretty young to lose so easily and then, be able to process carbs sometimes, also easily.

Lisa
Lisa
4 years 2 months ago

Cool post. It’s nice to have a little checklist to refer to like that. Even when I ate higher carb, I wasn’t really a beeyatch when I went long periods of time without food — can I give a shoutout to my parents for being fat adapted folks right off the bat? 😉

debbbie
debbbie
4 years 2 months ago

what a stupid article….if the writers cared about there audience at all or had half a brain, they would point out that changing from primary reliance on carbs to primary reliance of fats is one of the adaptations that the body makes when it becomes accostomed to exercise.

Joe
4 years 2 months ago

You know, if I was unable to correctly spell ‘their’ and ‘accustomed’, I wouldn’t accuse others of having less than half a brain.