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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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August 01 2012

When Listening to Your Body Doesn’t Work

By Mark Sisson
267 Comments

Hunger largely comes down to perceived energy and/or nutrient insufficiency. Your body thinks that it needs more calories and more energy, and hunger sets in to get you to eat the food that contains those nutrients. Now, if perception matches up well with reality – if you truly do need more nutrients – things are good. You need some food, you eat some food, and you stop when you’ve had enough. In this situation, listening to your body is a good idea. That’s what all those Primal people (including me) are talking about when they tell you to “just listen to your body, maaaaaaan,” because for those people, it truly is that simple. Eliminating the excess carbs, the refined sugar, the grains, and the processed seed oils while adhering to the other Primal laws regarding exercise, sleep, stress, sun, and all the rest was enough to right the ship.

But that’s not everyone. Sometimes perception does not match up with reality. Sometimes your body thinks it needs more nutrients when it really doesn’t, for a variety of reasons. This isn’t actually an example of your body lying to you, since your body “believes” what it’s saying, but the end result is the same: you eat something that you really don’t need. It’s a bit like how your friends and family who worry about you eating all that fat and protein try to push bran muffins and whole wheat pasta on you. They’re operating under a fundamentally broken set of assumptions, but they mean well.

So, why does this happen? What’s going on when someone’s sense of hunger is broken? When doesn’t listening to your body work?

When you can’t access your stored body fat.

Body fat is stored energy; it’s long-term, slow-burning fuel that our bodies love to use, and should be able to use very well. But what happens when you can’t burn it very well?

You burn sugar instead. After all, you need energy from somewhere, and research shows that those who have the most problem with hunger – the obese and the formerly obese – burn more carbohydrate than fat, whereas those who generally don’t have much of an issue with hunger – the lean – burn more fat than carbohydrate. Problem is, our ability to store glucose as energy is inherently limited and dwarfed by our ability to store fat as energy. We can store pounds and pounds of the latter, while the former is perpetually scarce. We can keep only around 100 grams of glucose on hand in the liver and 400 grams in the muscles, depending on their size. That won’t last very long, and once it’s used up, you need more food – especially if your ability to burn body fat is impaired. When you need more food, you get hungry. If your body is used to burning sugar, you’re going to crave sugar. The resultant sugar craving is very real, because sugar is what you “need,” but it’s not what you need.

So, if you’ve had success losing weight with Primal eating, but still have trouble curbing your appetite, this could explain why –  you may not be totally fat-adapted. You can, and likely will, but it will take time.

When you’re insulin resistant.

Remember how I said insulin is an indicator of nutrient availability in Monday’s post on carb feeds? Heck, some have even gone so far as to call insulin a “satiety hormone.” After all, it can cross the blood-brain barrier into the brain, where it interacts with various systems to tell the body that food has been ingested and is currently digesting, and that maybe you don’t have to eat for a bit. Of course, that’s only the case if you’re insulin sensitive. If you’re insulin resistant, your body/brain won’t get the message that insulin is trying hard to convey.

Thus, insulin resistance promotes hunger. You eat, and insulin is released, but your body tells you to eat some more despite the much-ballyhooed ability of insulin to act as a satiety hormone.

When you’re addicted to junk.

What if you weren’t actually even phsyiologically “hungry”? What if your body didn’t think it was missing nutrients or fat or carbs – but rather it just wanted another hit of that sweet, sweet junk food? Last week, I showed how our brains and bodies respond to pleasurable, tasty foods by secreting endogenous opioids – brain morphine, really – that, together with dopamine, cause you to want more of whatever food triggered those secretions. This wasn’t a problem back when we only had access to real, whole foods like meat, plants, fruits, nuts, and roots, because those foods didn’t act as hyperstimuli of our reward systems. They caused modest, appropriate opioid and dopamine responses in the brain, promoting repeated consumption but not compulsive overconsumption. Fast forward to today and it’s a very different world full of people doing odd food-related things that make absolutely no sense:

People eat cans of Pringles and become immediately disgusted with themselves for doing it. They’re repulsed by the Twinkie even as it makes its way into their gaping maw. They throw up in their mouth at the thought of  McDonald’s “chicken” nuggets, yet find themselves in the drive-thru after work, ordering a value meal despite themselves.

It’s crazy on its face, but it actually makes perfect sense at the same time, because our natural reward systems have been hijacked by a constant barrage of delicious (but gross) food. You want the stuff even if you currently have no physiological need for calories.

When you are compelled to eat junk, don’t listen to your body. Eat something Primal, something nourishing, something that approximates what you’re craving only using real food. So, if you want some Sour Patch Kids, grab some raspberries. If you want a Big Mac, go for a grass-fed burger over salad.

When you’re experiencing reactive hypoglycemia.

Normally, you eat some food, your blood sugar goes up, insulin rises to take care of the nutrients, the nutrients are partitioned to their respective holding places, your blood sugar normalizes, and all is well. You’ll get hungry again, only when you need the food, when your body truly needs an input of energy. In some people, however, eating food (especially carbs) causes the pancreas to secrete an inordinately large amount of insulin, way more than you actually need. Your blood sugar drops from its postprandial high, but the insulin goes above and beyond, and your blood sugar continues to plummet past “normal.”

Your body implores you to “eat, eat,” even though there’s no real need for added energy; it’s just that your low blood sugar is indicating a need for caloric energy. In people with well-functioning metabolisms, lower blood sugar generally matches up with a need for calories and nutrients. In the reactive hypoglycemic state, the two do not match up. Hunger is constant, but you’re not really nourishing yourself. You’re just eating to push up that blood sugar.

In one sense, listening to your hypoglycemic body is working, because eating carbs raises your blood sugar and you feel better. But in the long run, it isn’t working, because you’re eating more than you need to eat, you’re gaining weight, and you’re not fixing the situation. Sticking with foods that don’t elevate your blood sugar to such dizzying heights (protein and fat) should give you better control over your blood sugar.

When your sleep is bad.

I harp on the importance of sleep all the time, and I’m going to do it again here. Lack of sleep isn’t just bad for alertness, circadian rhythm regulation, stress hormone secretion, bags under the eyes, exercise performance, etc., etc.; it’s also a potent appetite stimulator. Furthermore, not sleeping also worsens glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, meaning when you do (inevitably) eat, it won’t sate you and you’ll be more likely to store it as fat. You’re also more likely to eat junk when you don’t sleep, because it increases the brain’s susceptibility to food stimuli.

When you’ve had a bad night’s sleep and your body is craving food, eat. Don’t fast, because that’s just heaping one stressor on top of another. Eat something you know is good – pastured bacon and eggs, a Big Ass salad, some sweet potato. And get some sleep, so it doesn’t happen again.

In all these situations, we are faced with a decision to make: do we listen to our bodies and feel “better,” or do we ignore them and do what’s “best” for us? There are no easy answers. If you’re not yet a fat-burning beast, you’re in for a rough time. If your blood sugar gets low enough, you might faint. Ignoring your body’s cries to eat something probably isn’t a good idea in that situation. If you haven’t slept, you should probably eat, but not junk. At some point, however, saying “no” to your body’s signals or figuring out how to fix the broken machinery that’s precipitating the messages is going to be necessary. That’s where something like the 21-Day Total Body Transformation, which removes the guesswork from all this so that you follow an established framework, or the 90-Day Journal, which provides a foundation for doing your own “formal guesswork,” comes into play.

Your body may appear to be working against you, but it’s doing it’s best. It’s responding to perceived physiological needs, even if those perceptions are misguided and confused. Whatever you do, don’t despair. Don’t give up. You’ve got a great community here, folks who’ve been there and back again, folks who can help you get things moving in the right direction.

In future posts, I’ll be discussing some other instances where the body’s messaging should be viewed with suspicion, so stay tuned.

Now let’s hear how you guys have dealt with confusing hunger messages in the comment section. Until next time, take care!

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267 thoughts on “When Listening to Your Body Doesn’t Work”

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      1. I lasted when his head bobbled like a ragdoll at the 14 second mark.

    1. Thanks for the link. I am listening to it, and I find all science-based information useful. For example, the part where he says the problem with meat, if there is one, is neither the fat content nor the protein, but the bacterial toxins. Interesting. I’m not going to be going vegetarian any time soon 🙂 but I’m willing to listen to any serious point of view. You can’t stop listening after a few seconds and then say it’s nonsense.

        1. Dr Wallach explains that if you double your carbs you need to double your dose of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy.

          Besides the 8 part video linked above. Check out Dead Doctors don’t lie. Doctors follow their own advice and live to an average of 56 years of age.

          Dr Wallach eats 6 eggs a day. Dr Stephen Dr. Phinney eats less than 50 grams of carbs a day.

          The science is behind Mark Sisson and his Primal blueprint. I am also a big fan of Mark and his excellent work.

          Thanks Mark!

          Vegans, not so much. Cholesterol is needed for brain function, it is needed to make estrogen and testosterone. Lowering cholesterol makes you dumber and steals you woody.

          Can 60 minerals reprogram the genes for male pattern baldness. http://majesticearth-minerals.com/quackwatch.php

      1. I listened with interest up until he described the study looking at the damages from animal fat….and the study used sausage & egg mcmuffin??? Honestly, there is soooo little animal meat in there after processing and way too much trans fat and sugar that cause and effect (the suggestion that animal fat is the problem) cannot at all be demonstrated. It actually makes for poor science! It also totally destroys credibility.

      2. I listened with interest up until he described the study looking at the damages from animal fat….and the study used sausage & egg mcmuffin??? Honestly, there is soooo little animal meat in there after processing and way too much trans fat and sugar that cause and effect (the suggestion that animal fat is the problem) cannot at all be demonstrated. It actually makes for poor science! It also totally destroys credibility. No wonder people are confused!

    2. Yes, the doctor who is trying to help people and donates most of his earnings to charity is obviously a quack that reads 2000+ scientific articles a year. OBVIOUSLY. And the guys who run these websites begging you to buy crap and eat meat are in it for your health. Come on, I know you’re smarter than this.

      1. Chelsea, I’ll take the guy with the visible agenda over the guy with the hidden agenda any day. Furthermore, I’ve done the standard US low fat/high carb diet, the strict vegan diet and the primal diet.

        Primal diet works best for me.

        Believe no one, research everything, come to YOUR OWN conclusions.

        Matters not how much Paul Newman Foods gives away, I still won’t eat his ‘olive oil’ dressing that lists canola oil as the first ingedient.

        Besides, you can do Sisson’s program without buying anything from him. All you need to know is posted on line. Yep, it’s the soft sell that got me fascinated enough to read The Primal Blueprint and share it with my friends and family. My next buy was The Primal Cookbook.

        My overweight family was appalled with what Mark said about nutrition and claimed it couldn’t possibly work. Now that they’ve seen me go from 225 to 185 eating jalepeno’s stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon, they’re getting a little more curious. By Christmas I’ll be at 175 pounds with washboard abs, and the facts will be irrefutable.

      2. Maybe we’re not “smarter than this”, but we are “healthier than you”.

        Nobody is making you believe anything you don’t want to. Why are you so hellbent on throwing stones at our unassailable results? Results that destroy anything that doctor says, regardless of how much money he gives to charity? Results that by this doctor’s own system of measure embarrass the outcomes of his own prescribed nutritional course? What is that your measure of scientific proof? How much a doctor gives to charity? Are you sure he isn’t doing so to ease a guilty conscience?

        Come on, I know you’re smarter than this.

    3. The problem I think with this main stream thinking is that he is either a) getting a kickback from Monsanto, or b) doesn’t completely understand the science behind feedlot animals vs. grass fed animals. The two are not comparable, and therefore our bodies do not react the same to them. Most people eat your feed lot store bought processed meat. Part of the Paleo lifestyle is to promote grass fed, antibiotic/hormone free animals. Mark has posted on the VAST difference between the two as have other Paleo sites.

  1. I like the details behind why/how different bodies work differently.

    I’m in the easy fat-burning camp – lots of swim-bike-runs longer than an hour will do that to you! But this gave me a better understanding of just how hard it can be for someone who’s still in the sugar-burning phase, and what they’ll go through in their journey to being a fat-burner.

    To fight hunger when I’ve needed to, I’ve used: drinking water (or heavily diluted juice-water), eating carrot chips (carrots sliced big enough to be shaped like potato chips), and allowing myself one-two bites of something better – literally putting a snack onto a plate and walking into a different room (or office) to eat it – then being done..

    1. For me, there’s not much better than a few spoonfuls of my homemade guacamole when I get hungry at in inopportune time.

      Of course, a high fat snack will keep you from getting hungry sooner and It’s super duper delicious.

  2. The big challenge is to be able to switch back and forth from carb burning to fat burning at a moment’s notice merely with the power of your mind.

  3. Awesome info! I am a self-diagnosed hypoglycemic. However, when Atkins came out I ‘discovered’ that if I eat fat and protein for breakfast instead of a bagel and sugar-laden coffee, that my symptoms abated. Question: am I really hypoglycemic or is the body simply not conditioned to consume so many simple carbs? I notice that my husband who can eat bagesl, cookies, and donuts for breakfast, lunch, and dinner never suffers the low-blood sugar attacks that I experience when I eat a high-carb meal (which I never do anymore since learning of this condition). So, there must be something to this, right? Thanks!

    1. There is such a thing as nutritional food types. Your husband may be more of a carbohydrate type and is therefore more able to cope with a junkfood diet without immediate ill effects.

      I tried going vegetarian a few years ago, having mistakenly thought it would be a healthier way to eat. It didn’t work for me AT ALL. I felt weak, tired, and just plain crappy. I was hungry constantly and literally craved red meat. I subsequently found out that I’m a strong protein nutritional type. After incorporating more protein into every meal, as well as cutting out sweets and most grain products, I stopped craving carbs and started feeling much better. I have eaten this way ever since. It isn’t really a diet for me; it’s just the way I prefer to eat.

      1. Shary,

        I had the same experience when I went raw vegan back in 2007 for 9 months. I felt OK at first and quickly slipped into feeling weak, tired, horrible periods (heavy and painful), hair loss, etc.

        I thought I was doing OK eating a lot of plant based proteins, but that wasn’t enough. Though I’m not a fan of red meat, I craved grass fed steak and oysters the entire time and I don’t even LIKE oysters!

        1. Oysters(and other “shell” fish) are a very good source for zinc. It is also found in red meats. Zinc deficiency leads to fatigue, hair loss, slower healing etc. You were probably deficient in zinc.

    2. Rare Earths Forbidden cures Drs. Joel Wallach and Ma Lan

      Chromium deficiency associated with low blood sugar pg 307

      Vanadium deficiency associated with hypoglycemia. pg 412

      My graying hair and varicose veins are the idiot light for my copper deficiency.

      There are 17 other minerals proven essential to live long and prosper. Our soils were declared deficient in 1936 and its gotten worse.

  4. I hate how much low blood-sugar (40 – 70) makes me want to eat. I’m getting better at ignoring the mad cravings and adjusting my insulin dosages, but still, it’s more art than science. I keep fruit around the house now (apples, canned pears, strawberries) to help.

    1. I am finding this too Rachel with type 1 diabetes. The trick is to slowly adjust the insulin. Having very minimal carbs during the day, makes me require drastically less long-acting insulin both night and day. It’s an accummulative effect that requires constant monitoring.

      I find the longer I do without carbs though, the less and less insulin I require. I know as type 1 diabetes I will always require insulin injections, but it’s amazing how eliminating carbs has been the only thing to drastically reduce the amounts.

      Following the recommended dietry guidelines for diabetes management was constantly putting up my insulin every year – even when I was madly exercising to try to bring it down.

      The lynch pin was the carbs.

      1. I 2nd that Chris. I’ve been type 1 for 23 years and do the following to figure our where my fasting blood sugar is.
        I’m personally on a long acting (Lantus, 2 injections daily, 11am and 11pm ) and a short acting (Humalog). I find that to judge what amount of long acting I try to get my blood glucose down to ‘normal’ level before I take my morning lantus injection, making sure my short acting is near it’s peak it so shouldn’t interfere/reduce your blood glusoce after you start your fast. I then fast at least til 6pm and see what my blood glucose does in that time. I’m in the UK so I work on mmols, so if I start at 11am with a 5.0mmol glucose and my blood sugar rises to 11mmol I know that I need to raise my lantus by 2 units (1 unit for me drops the glucose by 3mmol ish). At night I’ll do the same and see where my BG is at in the morning.
        I will usually do this 2 days in row to get a more accurate idea.
        Periodically my body auto adjusts what amount of insulin is required so then your BG goes out of whack. I then use this method again and adjust or reduce insulin as required.
        For me these small changes to long acting insulin take 2 -3 days to register with my body so you should be patient. That’s how my bosy works but others may react slower/faster. I’d also recommend intermittent fasting. For me i find an 8 hour eating window works. This then combined with a steady in range BG means your BG can stay level for 2 thirds of the day.

        BG mmol to mgdl converster here: w w w .diabetes.co.uk/blood-sugar-converter.html

  5. Very interesting indeed. I’m a skinny guy with a pot belly and my insulin is insanely powerful. As long as I eat strict primal everything is hunky dory, but if I fall of the wagon you have to tie me down and lock me in a padded room when my blood sugar/insulin craze starts.

    1. Jonas, being skinny with a pot belly is often a sign of compromised liver function, as is poor blood sugar control. Supporting your liver health might be really helpful for you.
      A lipotropic liver supporting formula along with good liver detoxifying herbs would be some things to consider.

    2. There are 60 minerals needed to keep our systems in tune. We pee and sweat them out every day.

      Our soils are depleted so we can’t get them from our foods. I buy mine and it helps control cravings.

  6. This post needs to go in the “Get Started” section for people struggling in the early days. I have personal experience with this kind of ravenous, unstoppable hunger and it’s a bear to fight. Looking back, I think most of mine was firmly rooted in the “sugar burning only” mode my body was in. I would literally crave bags of candy, and sometimes gave in because it was “fat free”–thanks but no thanks CW!

    I am part of an entire generation of women who are dying too young because of that whole low-fat, high-carb craze that made us hungry, fat, unhealthy, susceptible to inflammation and disease, and now at risk of early death. I am so grateful that my 18 year old daughter is learning better–she’s a primal crossfitter and won’t touch a low-fat pizza.

  7. Your body giving a false message can also work the other way. I went on a one week, no carb, meat only diet (Dukan) and had absolutely no appetite during it, even though I was in serious calorie deficit. What’s the biochemistry behind that?

    1. Mark,
      Can you do another post on this? I too find that I have the same problem. Sometimes going low carb, I am just not hungry at all. And yes, the don’t eat method can work, but for how long? I could go literally days of not feeling hunger.

      1. i have the same problem…eat a meal of eggs and sausage and i could go all day and not get a hunger response.

        i know i need more calories but i don’t get hungry. i’m not over weight and don’t need to lose any…why don’t some of us have an appetite? are we getting anywhere near enough nutrients when we don’t get enough calories?

        1. +1 to this comment. I work 12 hour shifts as an RN; I try to eat protein/fat/berries or sauerkraut or something vegetal before work. I often won’t get a break until very late-like 4/5 pm. I have noticed that I can go all day and not feel hungry. I have also done weight lifting sessions fasting, so I think (after about 10 weeks primal) that I am fat adapted. Yet I still have questions about whether it not I should eat. One, if I don’t get a break at all, I’m eating at like 8 pm and going to bed an hour later. So I have questions about eating right before bed vs IF-would the latter signal my body that we’re in famine mode and stop burning fat? I’m really confused about my choices at this stage in my paleo journey. To clarify, I’m about 10 weeks in, have lost about 30 lbs, have seen a significant drop in my triglycerides (127 down to 74) and am feeling a lot of the other benefits-better energy, better skin etc. does anyone have any insights as to what point you can start listening to your body for hunger cues? I would welcome any comments. (And yes, I am seriously looking for a different, less abusive job.) Thanks.

    2. I am having the same issue. I am never hungry, eat only out of habit.only egg breakfast.?? still gettign fatter by the day?

      1. I have the same issue. In fact, after breakfast (2 eggs, veggies, meat) I am sick for hours. Not eating junk – only eating primal. Seldom hungry, not losing weight. I am forcing myself to eat and tend to get about 1500 or so cal per day.

      2. I did a weight training diet that was very low card, protein high supposed low fat but it did include a little animal fats. It was a weight & measure thing to build muscle & lose body fat. I also had to eat the set amounts 5-6 times a day and it nearly killed me to eat the volume of food required (and i hate salad so picked the cooked veggie options instead) I lost too much weight and did not build as well as I had hoped as I just could not train enough. Prior to that I ate not much junk anyway but enough that I added a few extra kilos over time. I dropped 6kg in 3 months ( I was 46, 57kg at start, 163cm). I am not or ever have been a ‘foodie’, and not motivated by food, have over the years gone days without eating, and I have found not eating can be as much bad habit as overheating. I have never had a food issue but don’t eat when I am stressed.
        Anyway – sometimes we have to set a new food pattern to break an old one, and that’s not easy! CW verses PW (primal wisdom) still means be flexible, keep trying something different if something does not work. I would make myself eat 3 times a day to get away from not eating at all or eating once a day (did that for years and it was not healthy at all!).

    3. I have the same concern. Actually this is the reason I don’t do primal anymore – it totally and completely shut down my hunger and I became concerned that I was malnourished because my food intake was so low. With no appetite, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat that much. This went on for months (I thought if I kept with it long enough it would stop). I ended up about 10lbs underweight. It caused me to experience insomnia for the first time in my life (the insomnia hasn’t stopped even though I gave up being strictly primal nearly a year ago).

      Would love to hear your thoughts on this, Mark. It’s a topic I have never seen addressed. It prevents me from unequivocally recommending paleo/primal to my friends.

      1. For the people who are experiencing no appetite from primal/paleo.. are you all working out regularly? Just curious.. I always work out in a fasted state (early morning) and am quite hungry afterwards.

        1. I never have no appetite which is probaly why I’m skinny. I never get sick so never even lose it that way. I was even hungry giving birth. This is so whether I eat “clean”, whether I give up brown carb and eat primal or whatever. Even when I have very stressful days abroad giving 7 hour talks to stranges in obscure countries when you’d think nerves might play apart… I still want food. I look on with jealousy at the people who lose appetite but perhaps I just have an efficient body and should be grateful for it.

          What is clear is if I’m careful I do lose weight and much more importantly feel happier and healthier when I eat good foods and my lapse for the last year led to weight going on and am a sugar addicit so no trouble over eating on that and even now sometimes on fruit.

          It is not problem for me to eat 1000 calories of pecan nuts or 350 grams of blueberries. It all gets rammed in. Chicken? Great, let’s have a leg, then breast, let’s have some more.

          Not snacking which is a key thing to avoid for sugar addicts always helps but is hard for me.

          I do want more research into women and food, women who have PMT as I do, women who aer having babies, b reastfeeding. Women in menopause but not taking HRT or other drugs. Women post menopause.

          I have a feeling our male ancestors were out hunting and often finding nothing and often not eating, whereas women were digging for roots and fruits and insects and eating a lot more often (and probably doing most of the work and providing most of the basic food as hunters often come back with nothing)

      2. I never had a real issue with hunger, but I found that increasing my fruit intake increased my appetite. I could eat a lot more meat in one sitting when I had fruit in my diet, then when I took it out.

        Food for thought.

      3. What exactly have you been eating? Are you confusing primal with low carb? Because you can eat carbs and still be primal (sweet potato for example).

    4. I just finished a Whole 30 and this was my experience throughout. No appetite or, worse, nausea but never real hunger.

    5. I would also love a response to this. I have the opposite issue. I have never been a high-carb-er, have difficulty eating enough, not too much. I just started eating a potato in the evenings because I have been very-low-carb-ing for a long time but not deliberately.

      If I don’t pay attention, I will eat between 15 and 35g of carbs a day. It takes effort to add in enough carbs to keep me from starvation-mode symptoms like hair-loss, low thyroid and adrenal exhaustion and the ridiculously long list of symptoms that go with that.

      I breastfeed as well, and this doesn’t seem to increase me appetite or cause carb craving at all except for the first few months, but then, I’m back to not feeling like eating any.

      My caloric intake is not low, to be clear. My body’s signalling has kept me on too-low carb-intake. After reading at Stefani’s blog ( http://www.paleoforwomen.com/shattering-the-myth-of-fasting-for-women-a-review-of-female-specific-responses-to-fasting-in-the-literature/ ) about fasting and low-carb-eating and their effects on the female body, I am overriding those signals with my intellect to ADD carbs. :/

      After two days of scarcely getting 112g of carbs in, I am sleeping better and feeling better overall, regaining ground I lost in my adrenal/thyroid recovery from a week of extra stress and sleep-deprivation.

      I wish there were more info for women specifically, because somehow I’ve been eating in a way that is ideal for most men, but really detrimental for most women, and apparently me. 🙁

      1. imogen – thank you for linking and sharing. I’ve been avoiding the MDA for a few months because the seesaw of my experience was on one hand, great (lost weight, gained energy) but some other effects I was stumped by. Distressed by actually.

        But Stefani’s blog looks fascinating. Thanks!

        1. Hi there! Please come by our community if you think it would help! We’ve got lots of self-love and health and nourishment on our minds, and would be happy to welcome you. 🙂

  8. As someone who’s struggled with hypoglycemia, I appreciate these points. And thanks so much for pointing out that sleep deprivation screws with your body’s signals. I have a hard time remembering that when my cravings get out-of-whack.

  9. Wonderful article!! I read it a few times to let it all soak in…Can’t wait to share this information!!

  10. Ok, the Sour Patch Kids reference made me laugh. Wasn’t I just thinking about eating something sweet like that?

    I ended up making a Blue Mango green tea instead.

    Not quite the same, but certainly loads better for me than candy.

  11. For myself, whenever I feel an intense craving strike, the first thing I do is think about what I have eaten in the last couple of days. More often than not, I’ve left something vital out. I only stock my refrigerator and cupboards with Primal foods, so lucky, the worst I can do is go on a black berry or almond butter bender for a few minutes. 😉

    1. ^ So true. If you think ahead even when the worst happens its not all that bad. I mean berries and almond butter are fairly self limiting in their own right.

    2. Be careful with the almond butter. Like most nuts, almonds are high in inflammatory O-6 fats. Just 1 T of the almond butter has 1.9g of O-6 fats. No one knows exactly what a healthy amount of O-6 is to eat, but it’s a fact that in the 1930’s, Americans ate about 15g of O-6 fats daily, and there wasn’t yet an epidemic of inflammation-based diseases (arthritis, heart attacks, certain cancers).

      The O6:O3 ratio in the 1930’s was already 8.4:1, while our Neolithic ancestors ate a 1:1 ratio, as far as we can tell. Given that we were probably born with damaged systems after 3-4 generations of poorly-advised eating, we probably don’t have the metabolic slack to indulge in a high O6:O3 ratio for very long.

  12. It is amazingly powerful to know how to listen to your body! I’ve experienced the hypoglycemia and cravings since I have PCOS. Going primal has allowed me to listen to my body and begin healing myself. This has been one of the most important changes I have made in my life and cannot imagine gong back to a SAD diet or lifestyle.

  13. Lots and lots of protein. Fat does not satiate me at all. Also, avoiding at all costs combining carb and fat. That’s a recipe for eating twice as much as lean protein and carb. I really, really tried with fat, but just like sugar, it is a caloric no return nutrient for me. I feel the best on meats without added fat, skim dairy and no sugars (no fruit as well), but eventually I get depressed.

    1. I won’t go as far as what you say, but I found when I upped my protein intake, it seemed to get me to satiety more decisively. My protein intake actually was a bit below what PB recommends and I didn’t realize until I tracked for a while.

      The other thing along with lack of sleep is too much stress. I got some bad news today and found myself reaching for chocolate and more chocolate…

  14. So important…sometimes I slip up and my body DEFINITELY lets me know it isn’t ok…I get really grumpy with gluten, my gut nearly blew up after snacking on some quesedilla’s the other day and other lovely side effects…oh and my 3yo goes CRAZY with gluten.

    My biggest challenge, is definitely the sleep…which is an issue that is caused at least in part by too much coffee in the morning … but my competing commitment is to be awake and present for my three kids and it just feels like a need so much of the time.

    Working on making enough meatballs that I have a supply on hand for these moments for a healthy snack…hard to do the bacon with my wiggly 1yo in my arms.

    1. Cook bacon in the oven (400 about 10-15 minutes) comes out perfect and no flipping required. Much easier when dealing with young wigglers. 🙂

      1. Oh I love cooking bacon in the oven. We actually cook a whole pound or two that way (organic and no nitrates), store it in the fridge, and then heat it up as needed in a small convection oven (with a heater/fan in the lid). The Pyrex baking pan has to be soaked which is why I like to cook a big batch. We got rid of the microwave years ago.

    2. Oh, I am so with you with having little ones and truly needing coffee. I’m drinking it right now, and it’s four in the afternoon here. I figure, I do what I can. I’ve got the food down, I’m getting there with the exercise and stress reduction. I’ll get there with the caffeine someday.

    3. I sympathize on the sleep issue. I have the stress of long-term unemployment (10 mo.s and counting), and getting a full night of sleep has eluded me for months. My food is OK during the day, but come the evening, I’m prone to grazing. It’s been mostly paleo foods, and I’m grateful I haven’t packed on the pounds.

  15. If I listened to my body I would lie in bed and eat bonbons all day.

    1. Absolutely! Except for me I’d be in the contradictory situation of lying in bed, trying to sleep while guzzling yummy hot coffee!

  16. There are other hormones in play re: appetite, at least for us ladies.

    I have at least one PMS day a month where I have to just ignore my body, because I get no satiety signals at ALL.

    1. I’m the same. Between one and four days each month, and it’s torture. Absolutely miserable unending hunger.

    2. My wife gets that day, too. We call it ‘steak day’. I use it as an excuse to go wild (paleo wild!) in the kitchen, making comfort foods, as well as trying out new creations. I basically don’t stop feeding her until she tells me to stop, or until I pass out.

      1. Erok, How do you feel about renting yourself out as a chef for paleo women, one or two days a month? Think we are all jealous of your wife!

    3. Me too! For a solid week before the day, ALL I want to do is eat. And eat. All Primal stuff, because I am now happily creeping up on 4 months Primal, but STILL. I listen to the hunger to a point, but if I didn’t put on the brakes, I’d eat instead of sleep.

  17. Wow! Great article there today .. I learned a lot and there is much about this that I need to get in my Primal Game. Thanks Mark!

  18. I really appreciate how the last two MDA posts are about how paleo eating in itself is not always the perfect or final answer.
    Health benefits ensue even if weight loss does not, but for many insulin resistant people (including me) paleo is not panacea for weight loss.
    Understanding that carb cycling may be required, that estrogen loss along with fat loss can upset the hormonal balance for some time, and that cravings can still crop up even when a person is 100% compliant over a significant period of time (among other things), is necessary to get past the plateaus and perceived sense of failure. Mostly, that ‘faileo’ can still be physiologically driven, and thus an integral part of the process, and tweaking is required.
    It is not a personal failure of the person to adhere strictly to the paleo way of eating and living. It is still the body’s way of speaking to us. We just have to figure out how to respond, and I think we’re still learning (with Mark’s help) about the various mechanisms at play and how to respond.
    Anyway, it is the encouragement I need to keep at it.

    1. Most of us didn’t start our life eating this way, otherwise things such as sugar or grain cravings may not be an issue at all. We all bring a varied history into this life change and sometimes this history comes back to haunt us, in the way of cravings and temptations. If you never ate chocolate in your life, why would you be tempted to eat it, or crave it? Paleo/Primal is not supposed to be the “answer” to or for everything. But I can’t help noticing in my life, and others who comment here, the more they follow it, the better the results.

      1. Two generations here to speak to this, Anthony! I raised my daughters with no sugar (besides the stuff in foods, because we didn’t know better in the 80’s), and only when they got into school were they introduced to it. And not by me! I wasn’t aware of grain issues and the rest until about five years ago.

        Point is: my girls never asked for cakes, donuts, etc. because they never had them. When I baked, I used honey, and it tended to be veggie breads and cookies with (shudder) unbleached, whole wheat flour. After they were exposed to the other kids’ treats, I had to be like a jailer to keep them out, so I just tried to limit them.

        But me? I was raised during the height of changing from real, whole foods to processed non-foods. I remember the first TV dinners… etc. I have been a sugar-burner my whole life, without realizing it.

        Fast forward to now: I’ve been Primal for three years. My daughters saw my health gains, but continued to chant the CW Mantra. My son-in-law is now a convert, and I have high hopes for my grandchildren being raised with healthy lifestyles!

  19. I tend not to eat enough and have to constantly make sure I keep my intake up, especially greens so many of these points resonated with me.

    I got so sick of hearing the ‘listen to your body’ mantra that so many people spout as justification for eating a brownie that once I told someone ‘yeah, like a addict’s body tells her to crave heroin. I don’t think so.’ We have to be informed and so conscious of what we eat if we are to remain healthy in this non-primal world.

    1. ‘yeah, like a addict’s body tells her to crave heroin. I don’t think so.’

      perfect! I always want to say just because you want it, doesn’t mean your body is needing it!

  20. Ok, I get what’s being said. I’m insulin resistant and I’ve been eating primal for 18 months and seeing a looooong, sloooowww improvement in my insulin and blood sugar levels. Cravings have gone way down. The problem I now have is craving fat. Just gave up dairy 3 days ago because I was abusing butter (grass-fed) and cream because I craved it all the time. What does this mean because I have no idea!

    1. Love how you admit “abusing” butter and cream. I was there too. Finally cut it out a couple weeks ago. My skin had gotten better without it and worse with it. Now it’s better again. Can’t help you with your cravings but I do sympathize. I simply feel like eating most of the time. That’s how i got fat in the first place. Don’t know where I fit as far as insulin sensitivity goes, but I do know I have to count calories to not gain weight. Blasphemy, I know. Paleo 1 year. Good luck.

      1. Counting calories is NOT blasphemy! I track EVERYTHING I eat on my phone with an app. Not only to keep calories in check, but also fat/protein/carb grams and fiber, sugars, sodium and vitamins. Just because we’re primal/paleo doesn’t mean we can’t overeat. I’m only 5’2″ so I don’t have a lot of “room” to overeat! Also, there is such a thing as too much fat and protein…

        1. I track, as well! I like to make sure I am getting enough protein, and I’ve learned that my calorie count matters, too.

          I abuse berries in heavy cream. Put on 3 lbs last week. I realized where my error was (sadly, but thanks to my app) and I have 2 down, and one to go.

        2. I totally agree. Eating too much “good” food does not help a bit. Eating the right amount, having discipline, and giving yourself a break from food is good. My doctor had me stop eating processed sugar years ago because of adrenal fatigue and insulin resistance and I’ve felt great ever since. I’ve never been a fast food or snack eater so I’m not even tempted by that stuff. I LOVE simple home prepared food. I grew up on it and it’s stuck with me for 51 years 🙂

      2. Agree -counting calories is not bad -unless that’s a real chore for you. I’m a total data hound… it makes me happy to enter what I ate, the exercise I’ve performed… my weight, in CRONoMETER (great web-based program)… and look at several weeks’ worth of data. You can extrapolate so much! What’s missing? Where did I go overboard? I was really crabby that day -what did I eat? What nutrient is missing? Fascinating. But my wife, for example, could’t be bothered, so I get it.

    2. Maybe it is not fat, but dairy. I went through a period of serious cream and butter cravings. I could easily drink 2 cups of cream at a sitting and want more. I cut out dairy and switched to coconut oil and grass-fed tallow. Delicious, but I don’t CRAVE it like I do the dairy. There’s something special about dairy!

      1. Like you I just love double (heavy) cream. I can drink it from the carton and butter is delicious with lots of things. Unfortunately I have come to the conclusion that I will have to give them up.

  21. While driving cross country I had time to observe what happens after I eat something. I ate only food I brought myself, and it was all low carbohydrate fare like pemmican or lettuce wraps. I kept the food in the back of my truck so I could only eat when I stopped for gas. Usually an hour or so after eating I would get really hungry for a while. Then it would subside. I wonder if that is reactive hypoglycemia? I’m finding that I’m fighting hunger right this minute and it’s about two hours after breakfast. Breakfast was meat and vegetables. So, if I can just not give in, I ought to feel okay in a half hour or so. Is there some way to cure this kind of hypoglycemia? It is really annoying to be so hungry so often. I’ve been on this diet for a year now and have lost plenty of weight, but hunger still dogs me.

    1. I find that, if I am eating enough fat with every meal, drinking a glass of water afterward staves off hunger. I feel like my body is telling me it needs water to process everything. That’s just me though!

    2. the same thing is happening to me where I get oddly hungry about 2 hours after a meal. At first I thought it was because my meal was too small but even with a BIG meal it still happened and I’d be spooning almond butter into my mouth. Not a good way to loose weight, perhaps I’ll try and tough it out, and then feel satisfied once I start to digest. I think this may be the case since the hunger wanes off later for me as well.

    3. I second the extra water protocol. My foods have a lot of water naturally (except the meats), so it’s easy to not drink enough with a meal. I make sure to get 1C of water down in the hour after the meal, and it’s helped with the post-meal hunger, both immediate and at the 1-2-hour mark. But like Diane, I have reactive hypoglycemia, and sometimes, chewing on two sticks of SF gum is the only way to cope.

  22. Another time I’ve noticed ‘fake’ hunger is when quitting smoking. I’ve heard many stories of withdrawal symptoms being mistaken for hunger.

  23. Help – hey guys, does anyone ever have the feeling after they eat that they’re never truly full? I’ve been eating Paleo for a while but occasionally (weekends) binge to get that feeling of satisfaction. It’s usually high carb crap and sweets. I can’t seem to kick it…which just isn’t me. Anyone else go through anything similar? I’d love to get over the hump!

    1. I understand to a point. I find that (family) BBQs are the place where my satiated button gets lost. I’ll eat until I think I look like a glutton getting up to get more. Sometimes that’s on my 4th trip to the grill. I am not proud, but I’ve accepted this flaw, and my only solace is that everything I eat is still Primal. It must be due to my years-long habit of being very good during the week and being an animal on the weekends.

      Perhaps if you tried filling up (I cannot in good conscience suggest binging) on more Primal foods? Dark chocolate and fruit if you really need the sweets?

    2. That’s totally me! If anyone has any ideas how to get over that, I’d love to hear’em.

  24. I’ll be careful about listening to cravings when it comes to fast food/junk food.

    But I have experienced good things after eating a pizza, or getting wings laden in HFCS hot sauce when I really felt I wanted it. The cravings to eat these things again are minimal for me fortunately. The bready parts didn’t do anything for me, and I had no desire to eat any more of it, which was cool.

  25. Great read! I’ll be sharing this with everyone with whom I’ve been trying to explain the importance of understanding insulin.

  26. I used to have really bad reactive hypoglycemia and now, even if I carb binge, I don’t get that problem and here’s why: Generally each day I stay in ketosis and I also do CrossFit. Breakfast is normally eggs/meat; post workout is normally a protein shake with almond milk; lunch is cold meats, cheese, olives, nuts/coconut; dinner is something meaty or very similar to lunch. When I stay in ketosis for more than three days, I see my satiety go WAY UP (as in I can’t make myself eat sometimes) and then if I have a high carb day, I don’t have any hypoglycemia problems which I think has to do with already having such easy access to my own fat. It’s like when the carbs are all burned through (which I think CrossFit helps with)my body is like, “alright, back to fat.” and that’s the end of the story. It took a while for me to get here but I’m so glad I did. Also… fun fact: In ketosis, I notice that my stomach gets very flat – LOVE!

    1. After nearly two years of being primal and not really seeing much change in body fat (naturally skinny guy, slightly high body fat 18-19%) I have finally worked out that having a carb binge once or twice a week (after a big workout) makes all the difference. Hunger comes back, body fat goes down.

      Your comment, “Alright, back to fat” is spot on. Low carb is great, but a carb refeed every now and then seems to reset the system.

  27. Hi. Just read today’s post and the part about feeling faint because of low blood sugar jumped out at me. I’ve been pretty primal for a couple of years and have lost all the weight I gained eating low fat for years. My weight has been stable for about two years now and suddenly the scales are creeping up and I have been having moments where I get dizzy and almost pass out. Its scary. Makes me wonder if for some reason I have quit burning fat as fuel. The only changes I have made recently have been to cut back on brown rice and eat a few berries. Argh. Any ideas?

    1. Hey Lorraine, I don’t have a great answer for you except to note that if I overeat on fat, the scale starts creeping upwards. Have you tried intermittent fasting? Probably not a good idea if you’re having any dizzy spells, as Mark says, but you may want to try it. If you hate the idea of skipping a meal, you may not be fat-adapted yet. (This coming from a person who never thought skipping a meal was possible until a few months ago.)

      Maybe cutting back on the rice has stimulated some systemic changes that will hopefully be temporary. I used to get that crappy, dizzy feeling regularly when I was not eating low carb but it’s mostly gone now. However, it does happen occasionally which I figure is not a big deal as long as it’s not regularly. Hope that helps a little!

    2. Mark,long term reader, first time responder here. Long story short, we switched as a family to traditional/primal eating about two years ago (we eat a high calorie diet of 60-75% clean saturated fat, 15-20% protein, lots of veggies and few carbs) We experienced the amazing benefits of being fat burners rather than sugar burners long before we had ever heard of the concept. What you say here is true. No doubt. We quickly and easily lost a ton of fat, headaches and sickness disapeared, easily put on lean mass, felt SOOO much better, got control of our appetites and cravings and so many more benefits.

      Your posts are always excellent, this one especially so. Thank you.

    3. I have been a very serious low-carber for years now and have had the same issue with feeling dizzy and feeling like I’m going to pass out. When your body gets low on fluid (low-insulin due to low-carb intake will cause you to hold on to far less fluid), you get dehydrated and don’t even know it. When this happens your blood pressure can get low and you will have issues like you’re talking about. Check your heart rate when this happens and see if it goes up. if it does, your body may be trying to compensate for low fluid volume. You can try to remedy this situation by eating a lot more salt (2 – 5g’s more per day) and taking that salt with some carbs to ensure your body holds on to it. This will help your body rehydrate. Even though I felt great low-carb, I’ve had to up my carbs to keep these scary episodes from happening.

  28. Pardon me for bringing up a sensitive subject, ladies, but I’m genuinely curious about primal women’s experiences here (or anyone with any insight as to the biology or anthropology of it).

    Every month during my wife’s period she develops an absolutely insatiable appetite. She simply cannot get full, she says. And it’s always for carbs – pizza, french fries, chocolate, cake, etc. So she can be “good” the rest of the month, but for one week she has seemingly no control over what and how much she eats. I mean, I guess she does, technically, but she says it’s really painful to resist and she doesn’t really want to.

    She gets support from all her friends who say it’s the same for them. Anyone know why this would be? Ancestrally, if once a month women simply could not get enough food while on her period (which means there was no baby, so it can’t be that) how did that help us? Is it a “real” phenomenon for women here as well? She gets really mad at me when I tell her it’s just willpower and she doesn’t have to give in. She says it’s greater than that.

    1. I’m a primal woman for over a year now and. However, after a few years of learning how my body works and balancing out my hormones, I personally don’t food craving like your wife during my period. If your wife is eating pizza fries etc, and I say this from my heart, she is not being primal just yet. And I believe Mark talks in the most recent blog about listening to your body. Sometimes people think hunger means more carbs or more food. Not always the case. When I did more supplementation and got the proper protein / carb mix in my diet, I still eat generally the same during my period but add a little more protein during that week. That’s it! It’s all about attitude and belief. Think of it this way: It’s like people who are pregnant and gain to much weight, afterwards. As my cousin tells me (and she’s well proportioned, fit and has two kids) Prego women think that they could eat way more food or they use that as an excuse to eat whatever they want. In truth they only need to add a few hundred calories into their diet a day because your eating for an infant that will be average 5-8lbs.

      Again, I say this respectfully, your wifes friends that same it’s the same for them are making excuses to eat whatever they want. I stopped drinking pop 15 years ago and I don’t eat much sugar. I don’t miss it. Because I can tell how crappy I will feel when I eat it. The body is a barometer that will quickly tell you what it feel when eating certain things, when feeling or thinking certain thoughts. It’s about know which habits are given you a result and which need to be broken.

      During a women’s period our bodies are definitely working harder to release things in the body. That’s one way to look at it. I do know when I’ve eaten well that month my periods are light. When I’ve eaten bad my periods are unpleasant and my body is punishing me for having put junk in it. It’s directly proportional and easy to pay attention to once one has committed to the primal way of eating. It’s not just about diet it’s really about well-being (mentally and emotionally).

      Best you don’t judge or categorize your wife. Support her gently and let her figure it out. It’s the most empowering way. Each woman is different as each person that has to work diligently to determine the best diet for themselves. It takes time, patience and practice. Best of luck.

      1. Abby, this is a beautiful, thoughtful, and kind post. Thank you so much. I hope readers will take this to heart and practice the patience and practice you advise. For myself and my friend, we noticed the need for very high quality protein and alot of it; grass fed beef, pastured eggs; and tons of greens.

    2. Yep, I always know when it’s about to be my time because I have intense cravings for sweets and chips (not sure if the latter is for the salt or the carbs) whereas I can go the whole rest of the month not craving either. As far as why, perhaps it’s because your body is expending energy shedding it’s lining so it wants to replace it as quickly as possible? Or it wants a boost of energy to start production on the next nutrient-rich one? Or it wants you to “bulk up” now so you have plenty of energy to conceive when you are again able in a few weeks?

      Whatever the reason, I wish it would go away! I try to satisfy my cravings with raw veggies and dips to replace the chips, and fruits for the sweets, but it is never the same.

    3. During the luteal phase of a woman’s cycle, the body is preparing for egg implantation/pregnancy. While the body increases energy expenditure during this time, it also frequently demands more food (often carbs). There are biologial reasons for this — if there is a fertilized egg that gets implanted during this phase, the body is going to need all that extra energy to start growing that egg into a person. And you cannot assume that just because there is a period that there isn’t also a pregnancy — they are not always mutually exclusive, despite any mansplaining to the contrary. The hormonal cycles that come with menstruation are different for everyone, and it seems that your wife’s levels are highest during menstruation itself.

      As to your wife’s uncontrollable cravings, well, I can’t say that part of that isn’t just her brain’s pleasure center demanding that chocolate cake. It’s just exacerbated by the increase in hormones. See “When You’re Addicted to Junk” above.

      1. Since the topic came up, I’ve noticed that my last 2 cycles have increased from 28 days (always like clock-work) to 35 days and then 42 days. I’ve been primal for only about 10 weeks. Is it the diet or is it coincidental? I’m 44 years old and have never given birth. My sister told me that not having children can cause early menopause. Thanks!

    4. This has not really ever been my experience. Yes, there are times of the month when I’m a lot more hungry and times when I’m less hungry, but I’ve never felt driven to eat chocolate cake or other similar female binge foods. I therefore can’t advise from any real experience, but it might be worth it to NOT give in to such cravings and instead choose primal foods and see if that helps at all.

      As far as getting support from her female friends, I’ve noticed when a group of women get together they’re all really supportive toward each other regarding PMS and binging on chocolate and similar things and it’s always baffled me. It’s like being in a secret society and everybody nods about their shared experience. Only I usually feel like a total outsider having not shared that experience, but I’ll nod along with them just to be a part of the group.

    5. It’s the hormonal flux each month that increases hunger and causes cravings. One option for your wife is for her to visit a bio-available hormone center to have a complete hormone panel done. She could be deficient in one hormone or have too much of another. They can help correct the imbalance, and in turn it will help to regulate her appetite and her moods during her monthly cycle. Hormone fluxes can start in the mid-30s. It’s very common.

    6. I think mark once did a Q&A (although, my bad, it could have been Robb Wolf) in which a connection between carbs and seratonin was made, relevant to hormone balance a certain points in the cycle.

    7. Personally, I think a lot of this is psychological, but some of it is hormonal. I’ve been there, when my stomach just feels like an empty pit. I’ve been primal for the last 3 months, and the first two months followed it to a T. I didn’t experience the weird cravings and the insatiable appetite those two months. The third month I fell of the wagon so to speak, and bam, the week before Aunt Flow I had a terribly difficult time not downing a loaf of bread and an entire pizza (hyperbole, but you get the point). Now, was it because my hormones were once again out of balance because I had not been primal the previous 2 weeks? Or, since I had not been primal the previous two weeks, I thought, “Well, I ate all that crap LAST week so I want it this week too…its my damn reward for putting up with this!” Who knows…but I DO know when I stick to primal I don’t get those urges, whether they are caused by my mind or by my hormones.

    8. This used to happen to me. Not so much the overeating part, but the carbs and sugar cravings. Once I stopped eating that way and got over the hump, I don’t experience that anymore.

      I do have chocolate cravings, but I only eat dark, dark chocolate (80%+) or a certain brand of dark chocolate sweetened with stevia if I am really desperate.

      I do tend to eat more greens because I tend to have low iron so my body craves that which is a good thing.

    9. I remember Mark once posting something along these lines, I always remembered if I felt like I “needed” carbs it was just my silly body.

      I do, however, eat like an animal a week before my period. I am just HUNGRY, and always tend to eat more. I went on a dark chocolate spree once, and did not stop until I felt ill. That did it for me, and it was the last time I tried to stave of the insane hunger with chocolate.

      I just up the good stuff. I’ll up my dinner portions or eat more red meat than normal. I also load up on cheese because of all the protein. If she stays Primal, the cravings for carbs may change — mine did.

    10. Thanks everyone, for the great insights and for sharing your experiences. It sounds like we’re both kinda right – it’s a common though not universal reaction, that gets better for most women the cleaner their diet is.

      Pushing her to do stuff never works, especially with regards to diet, so as suggested I will just support her and hopefully she’ll figure it out one day. I would give her some grief before because of the unhealthy choices, but it just made her mad. A big part of it was just astonishment that she could really eat that much. I’d be throwing up long before I finished an entire cake or whatever! According to her, women don’t necessarily eat because they’re hungry, there’s like, some special reserve of space where you can continue eating just because you crave something or it’s good. She gets mad and rolls her eyes when I pass on dessert or something for being full. :p

    11. Has to do w/ progesterone levels and how they affect basal metabolism–a woman’s BMR can be as much as 400 cals/day higher at end of cycle compared to the middle at ovulation time. A PMSing body is actually demending more calories–almost NOBODY knows about this. I believe it’s a survival mechanism–high progesterone levels during pregnancy would help make sure that mom and baby got enough to eat.

  29. Everyone has an all powerful “Force” within them. For example, we have decided to forgo yohgurt before bed. So far so good, but after awhile we are in the dairy dept buying milk and the “Force” takes over, we go on autopilot, and drift toward the yoghurt…..not the nonfat stuff but the 300/cal super yummy yoplaits. Once the “Force” is with us we are next driven to the chip section….and on it goes.

  30. I had amazing success with Paleo for several months, until my period stopped and I went into a downward spiral of ice cream, cookies and whole baguettes drenched in olive oil. With a lot of the weight back, impossible cravings and a gluten belly, I am less and less a believer of the “all in moderation” statement. If some people can do it, great for them, but it is scary when I can go through a pound of cake with 80g of butter after dinner and ice cream. I am sure now that whole foods are the best I can give my body and I am ready to start it aaall over again. It will be worth it! 🙂

  31. I gave up dairy a month ago as I wasn’t getting the raw good stuff (just regular organic) and I was concerned about the eostrogen content.
    I get bad PMS and thought it might help.
    Maybe I’m being impatient but after a month without dairy I now have PMS WORSE THAN EVER! Cravings galore that I just can’t ignore! And I’ve been doing so well eating clean and primal for well over a coule of months most of the time.
    I despair with this curse! I really thought cleaning up my diet would help but it just hasn’t at all : (

    1. Hi Sally, if you have given up dairy have you replaced the fat you were usually getting when consuming dairy? I find that a few days before & during I need to up my fat quite considerably otherwise I suffer terribly too. I am dairy intolerant so I rely on coconut oil & avocados to reduce PMS. Just a thought.

  32. “When you are compelled to eat junk, don’t listen to your body. Eat something Primal, something nourishing, something that approximates what you’re craving only using real food.”

    This is exactly what I do, and it feels SO much better than stuffing my face with oreos or ice cream.

  33. Finally someone has put this important way the body functions (or malfunctions) into a logical, concise read. Great job, Mark and thanks so much!

    Chet in Buffalo

  34. The other night with Diners, Drive-ins & Dives on, the dude was eating a bacon chili burger. A big ass one. My wife looked at me and said, I want that burger.

    We have both been primal for a solid 7 months or so and I said I will think of something.

    She went out for a bit and when she came home I had prepared a big ass salad with a big ass Bison burger, topped with uncured bacon, avocado slices and a fried over-easy egg. Drizzle some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on it all and it hit the spot. Craving satisfied.

  35. Definitely still a “sugar-burner,” and my lack of total adherence to the paleolithic diet is to blame. Even after I’ve eaten, I still have this underlying hunger that seems to only be satisfied by grains/carbs. I am athletic and slim, but I sputter out quickly after ~30min of endurance exercise and my sleep hasn’t been good.

    Long story short… I need to kick it into gear and follow the paleo guidelines, ie – stop making excuses.

    Best,
    Ryan

    1. I had this problem at first an I got over it and went totally primal (about 2 months now lost almost 15lbs!) by babying myself with foods that I never used to allow myself to eat because I thought they were bad for me. Example: a whole pound of Applegate farms bacon with guacamole to dip it in. massive omelets with tomatoes and onions. And steak, ribs, even Mongolian BBQ if you bring your own oil. I love eating like this but in hte past I though fat was so bad for me that I never ate more than maybe 2 slices of bacon at a time and only lie once a month. Now its practically a staple. That’s a good way to start. you may need to make slightly wiser choices to continue to loose weight, but it’ll help you kick the carb cravings.

  36. I find that I usually feel hungry when my energy is low. I try and eat high protein at that time and it does seem to help. For the guy that never seems full, I’d recommend that you try baking with almond flour. I’ve found almond flour products to be very filling. I use the Paleo Breakfast Bread recipe for our treat on the weekends. And, I have made an almond flour birthday cake. It was the first cake I’ve made where you could not eat more than one slice. You were just too full to have more.

  37. This was me 50lbs ago. Listening to a body that was lying to itself. I feel certain that I have become fat-adapted as a result of going Primal. It has made such a difference in my life. I’m no longer a slave to constant hunger! A benefit I did not know I would receive when changing to what just seemed like a healthier, more logical lifestyle. How about the role of leptin in all this?

    Thanks for this post. I will be sending it to friends who are in the miserable insulin-resistant boat.

  38. Ok, this is a burning question of mine I haven’t been able to find the answer to. I know there’s a big, “it depends”. What I’m curious about is: does anyone have any numbers for the amount of glucose burned during different types of exercise? How about glycogen?

    Thanks!

  39. I wonder if nursing is another reason why the body is holding onto excess fat? I’m about 70 lbs overweight and we started eating primal last summer, I got pregnant shortly thereafter and we continued eating primally through the pregnancy. I only gained 12 lbs and after the baby was born, I had lost 12 so back to my pre-pregnancy weight. We are back on track now, after the recovery of a difficult birth (baby is almost 2 months). But the scale stays the same. I’m not gaining, but I’m also not losing, and I’ve been really hungry even though I’ve eaten and should be satisfied. I’m just wondering, what should I do between meals when I’m feeling really hungry? I want to eat peanutbutter, or chocolate, or even a couple more eggs? It’s hard for me to tell if I’m really hungry or if it’s its the spoiled child in my gut crying out 🙂 Would love to hear some tips on eating primal while nursing an infant.

    1. You do need a lot more calories while nursing an infant. If you are hungry – EAT. Just make sure it is healthy, primal food.

    2. Check out Primal Parents. They also have a recipe for grain-free nursing cookies. You need about 700 extra calories a day when nursing (not that it does me any good to know that, since I have no idea how many calories I’m eating, ever), especially fats, so there is some reason to be hungry while nursing. And it is widely reported that the body does not let go of the last few pounds (particularly hip and thigh fat, high in “brain fats”) as long as you’ve got a nurseling.

    3. congrats on your new baby & good for you for breastfeeding! Babies need lots of calories/protein/fats from breastmilk & your body works very hard to keep up a good supply. Eat healthy food whenever you truly feel hungery during this time in your life- your baby’s brain & immune system are still developing & you want to be sure that you are providing the best. I’m still bf my 2.5 yr old & even though we’re down to only 3 feedings (before bed, 1x in night, & upon waking)I have found my weight loss to totally stall about 10lbs over, though I’ve eaten primally for 2 yrs & have been whole/organic for 10 yrs. Some women lose fast while bf, some do not. I do not & you may not either. It was irritating to me for a while, but accepting it allowed me to release the burden of frustration & just enjoy this special time in my life. good luck to you & love that baby!

  40. I stopped eating the sugar/carbs and the hunger subsided. But if I eat a little bit of sugar, it’s like I have to start all over again. That’s frustrating! But when not eating sugar or carbs, I don’t get any cravings at all and that’s cool!

  41. I don’t think I’ve seen the answers to these questions yet, and this post seems appropriately relevant:
    How would you know if your muscles were fat or sugar burning? There is enough glycogen stored to get a marathon runner to the 20 mile mark of the 26 mile run, at which point they would bonk/ crash if they couldn’t draw on fat stores. However, running a marathon to test the fat/sugar burning of ones muscles seems to be a rather crude test. Especially for those of us who can’t run.

    Certainly if I eat only steamed potatoes, with no added fats, and only when hungry I am supplying my brain with glucose, my muscles with glucose, my body with amino acids, and my body has to draw from its fat stores for the remaining energy. But since potatoes are only one calorie per gram I would have to be burning some fat stores to stay alive.

    Is this then putting my muscles into “fat burning” but my digestion into “carbohydrate burning”?

    And how would I know?

  42. I have had a very good start this time round with eating this way and felt so so much better until yesterday. Then ate 1000 calories of almonds and then today tonight had to buy some 70% chocolate 100g just to keep going.

    I was never ever going to get above 126 pounds again and it’s crept up to 148. I don’t feel right, clothes look awful, don’t feel sexy. I felt wonderful when I changed how I ate and I must make it last but it’s hard. My two new (large size) dresses arrived yesterday and they just look awful because I’m 30 pounds too heavy.

    May be I feel bad because the high from being on holiday is over and working hard and the sun went in. I won’t sleep well tonight either as I react badly to cacao in chocolate like a drug which makes me hyper.

  43. I am an insulin dependent diabetic and struggled with maintaining level blood sugars. I was on a blood sugar roller coaster!! This was before going primal!!! I am starting my 9th week of my new lifestyle and have “normalized” my blood sugars!! I have not had to take my fast acting insulin since beginning and cut my long acting insulin in more than half!!! My average glucose since starting is 107!! I feel soo much better and can’t imagine going back to eating SAD!! My body is functioning how it was created to function!! I do listen to my body and eat when hungry but can fast without low blood sugars!! I am soo happy to finally feel in control rather than my diabetes controlling me!! Thank you primal!! 😉

  44. Great post. I’d love to see more along these lines.

    I have Addison’s disease and as a result, very messed up hormones. I’ve read lately that cortisol is necessary for converting stored fat into energy – and with my impaired production of cortisol I’m wondering if that contributes to my near constant hunger – I can eat and eat and eat and rarely feel full. I find that I need more carbs to just keep up my energy some days

  45. Love primal, still pretty much a newbie (6 months). Been able to Intermittent Fast quite well and hunger is not much of a problem so I hope that I am burning fat, although the scales are not showing it. I do not lose weight easily at all. Interesting thing is that even when I try very hard to get into ketosis, I can’t seem to make to happen. What does that mean?

  46. Man… I am struggling big time with the sleep thing. Sometimes I have to be to work at 6 a.m. sometimes 6 p.m. and anywhere in between is fair game too. Some days I work 5 or 6 hours, some 10… Any suggestions on how to somewhat regulate my sleep? Anything that helps you fall asleep fast? Feel free to message me with any suggestions!

    1. If you can: Get ready for bed, and once you are all set, instead of getting into bed, lay down someplace (not the bed) and meditate a few minutes. That should settle your mind and get you relaxed and ready for real sleep. I find the body gets into routines very easily, and if/when your body begins to realize that “Hey, sleep comes after this meditating stuff,” then is should happen easier, no matter what time of day.

      Oh, and a blindfold and/or blackout curtains help with the light. It’s best to have it pitch dark. And cut out the blue light (TV, phone) an hour before you want to sleep.

    2. One of the things that worked great for me was taking a backyard heavy black trash bag and taping it over my windows. The black out curtains didn’t do it for me and every night before sleep I rub lavender oil all over my feet then my pillow. I sleep so much better than I ever did before and love the total darkness. Cover up all light sources!

  47. I read most of these post and the simple answer is that most of you ARE NOT low carb and that is why you are having these problems. Carrot chips? really? might as well just just a tablespoon of sugar in your mouth. And as for those of you who are eating rice and these so called “paleo breads” you people ARE NOT paleo so dont call yourselfs paleo. Paleolithic man would have NEVER eat rice, most of them ate all meat or mostly meat. Berries were available a couple weeks of the year and the only people who wouldve eaten larger amounts of fruit and coconuts and yam were the people in tropical climates and they didnt eat these things when flesh was available. You people are just simply addicted to carbs, next time you get sugar craving eat butter untill your satisfied. Thats what will help, not carb loading. Gylcogen loading a major dietary blunder and most people that do it feel like shit after. check out this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KU4C5O5anL4

  48. I’ve been VLC for a few years and have good labs and maintain normal blood sugars (diabetic, no meds), but seem to be tired and haven’t lost an ounce since menopause. I thought it might be adrenal fatigue and added some starch to my diet. Now I am having mood swings! Shades of my PMS days! Could they be related to the sweet potatoes? Women are definitely more complicated than men.

    1. How much sweet potatoes are you eating? I power lift and only eat maybe 1/4 of a medium sized potato once a week.

  49. Hi Mark; What’s about long distance marathon runners, africaans the most gettin first places?, Do they store also lots of “muscle fat” energy?, they look pretty slim to me?, or what kind of shift in metabolism is requierd to get there?, thanks. Luis Mtz. (Mexico)

  50. I always feel like I’m starving to death when I don’t get my sleep. I feel like that now.

  51. I just can’t seem to make the cross over to burning fat. It’s because I’m a vegetarian, and nothing I eat really satisfies me. I’ll have some fruit for snacks, but I really get disgusted with the sweet taste sometimes; I just don’t know what to curb my hunger with anymore. How much eggs can I eat? Nuts? Dairy? I just had some dried fruit and I feel gross. But I know it’s a good sign that I’m not used to sugar anymore. But I crave it still! Especially an hour after eating. I feel like I am in limbo. How can I cross over as a vegetarian? I am sick of being hungry and having my brain all fuzzy and getting exhausted FOR DAYS after the lightest physical effort. I can’t do meat. I’m traumatized.
    PS:I love this website Mark, it has been life changing, and this is truly a very supportive community.

    1. Having never been a vegetarian I’m not in an informed position to help you out with incorporating meat into your diet. I’m sure there are some lovely people here that will be able to give you some great ideas. In the interim perhaps increasing your intake of good fats like avocado and nuts would help. I believe Mark recommends a diet of 60% fat so you could eat quite a lot of avocado, nuts and other fats. I find for myself that these foods stave off hunger and give me energy so perhaps they would help you too?

      1. Thank you for your reply Kitty. I’ve been eating at least an avocado a day and lots of nuts for the past month, and upped my olive oil and dairy intake to replace the carbs I usually consume from fruit; but it seems I have only been ADDING the fats, not replacing the carbs! I know, I know: I should quit fruit- but they’re such a refreshing light snack! As opposed to say avocados or butter, too much of which will give me reflux, so I can’t really work up an appetite for them sometimes. Anyone else has that problem? What other fats do you snack on?

        1. I love coconut oil and sometimes just get a spoonful. Try a green smoothie with and avocado, bananas, mixed frozen fruit and some almonds with stevia maybe some spinach. Blend it all up and sip throughout the day not all at once. My DH loves these and so does my 3 yr old. Cheese will help a lot too, explore with different types. Most people get stuck in cheddar. I Love imported provolone with some italian olives.
          The mental thing is a big issue also I know when I was lowfat I would talk to myself constantly about how gross fat was and could make myself sick just thinking about eating something greasy. So when you try some meat tell yourself how nourishing and healthy it is and how your body needs it.

    2. I feel like I am asking an obvious question, but do you eat fish? That may be helpful. Just a thought. I wish you luck!

      1. Leslie, thanks for the support and for the smoothie recipe, I will try it soon! I do venture into a lot of of different kinds of cheeses, my favorites being halloumi, goat cheese and emmental (which I basically eat with everything: it is especially good with apple slices). I don’t think fat is gross at all, just that sometimes too much of it will make me feel sick. I have yet to try coconut oil on its own! Dark chocolate is one of the few things that I feel gives me a good boost of energy, without weighing me down.

        Nicole, thank you for your reply, and no I have yet to work up the courage to eat fish! I know all my problems will be over when I can get myself a date with a can of tuna, or a grilled salmon. Some day. *sigh*
        In the mean time it’s eggs, cheese, yogurt, nuts, avocados, salads, veggies and fruit for me, occasional lentils, and occasional (u’h’um, everyday) dark chocolate.
        Thanks for the support!

  52. This is an excellent post, and very helpful/hopeful for those of us who have been struggling with food and weight issues for most of our lives. Although it has good intentions, our bodies simply have NO practice in being healthy and therefore cannot be trusted. I’m hopeful that I’ll make it to the point where I CAN listen to my body, but this post makes me see that I’m not alone, and that makes the struggle more bearable. Thanks Mark!

  53. I am not having any problem fighting the carb cravings. My issues relate to the habit of “gnoshing”. Idle hands make for too many snacks. I used to munch on peanuts, cookies, crackers, candy, etc. Now when I get those urges I reach for the macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts or a little Trader Joe’s 85% dark chocolate and at least I’m eating things that shouldn’t kill me! As I’ve gained more control I have reduced the quantities of those snacks and even gone to eating raw veggies. Thanks, Mark, for outlining this program. I can honestly say that I feel like I am saving my own life by being Primal. Down 35 lbs in 5 months. Strong as an ox, energetic, and consistently in a better mood than ever before. 75lbs to go!

  54. My biggest struggle continues to be breakfast. I am tired of eggs every day and I have not found the right recipe for a quick smoothie using whey protein. Anybody have any suggestions for me for primal breakfasts on the go?

    1. I used to HATE whey protein smoothies but I found ways to make them tolerable, even yummy. I make them with 1 scoop of whey, about 4 ice cubes, a cup or so of almond milk, a spoonfull of coconut oil, and about a scoopfull of either milled almonds or milled flaxseed, I also add a little Cinnamon, maybe nutmeg, and even tried sesame seeds once. I sometimes put in kale cuz I can’t stand it unless the textures hidden. The fat you add will make it more filing, and the protein will come from the whey and the milled almonds/flax. There will be very few carbs and it will have a slightly nutty taste to make it much more palatable. Sometimes I have to get up quite early for work and can’t bear to make mysel feat something so early so I’ll make a smoothie which is easier to consume and will keep me going till lunch or sometimes even till dinner.

    2. Primal Blueprint, US Wellness and Natural Factors all make excellent whey protein powders – there’s even vanilla and chocolate flavors. I drink whey smoothies several times a week. I add coconut milk, kale, spinach, frozen berries, sometimes coffee in the morning. Fabulous and easy.

      My other go-to breakfasts are raw veggies & almond butter, canned fish (sardines, salmon etc) or salad with leftover chicken.

      1. +1 for the Primal Fuel–it’s quite tasty, though if you don’t like the taste of coconut, you might not find it so.

    3. Hi Mike,
      I get sick of eggs too, so I occasionally make a Paleo Breakfast Bread. http://www.elanaspantry.com/paleo-breakfast-bread/
      I don’t add sweetner to it, and use about half the honey it calls for. I’m really not sure how primal it is, but it helps me enjoy breakfast again, and sticks with me until lunch. I have it with organic sheep’s milk yogurt (it can be dry if overcooked).
      It’s quick and easy to make and the kids love it too.

      Kate

    4. Maybe a green smoothie? Handfull of spinach, 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup milk (or coconut milk), tablespoon of coconut oil, fruit if desired. I actually crush 1 square of 83% dark chocolate in mine for an extra kick. I blend mine the night before, stick it in the fridge, shake vigorously before consuming.

  55. While I was going through recovery from anorexia athletica, under strict supervision from my “team”, I was instructed to eat A LOT of food. I was restricted from including vegetables from my caloric count and encouraged to eat complete junk; burgers, fries, burritos, pizza, chips…all of it. I LOVE vegetables; this was difficult.
    I appreciate that I’m alive. Although, my “team’s” approach caused massive swings in my blood glucose to the point that I had to by a glucometer to avoid dangerous levels of hypoglycemia. I was told to consume sugar, if this happened. Of course, by following their instruction, I was quickly making matters more chronic and of course, I got FAT. I’ve never been fat. I was devastated and FAT. Aside from this, my body was reacting by swelling up like a balloon with severe edema. They couldn’t figure this out either; REALLY?
    About halfway through the process of this so-called recovery, I buried myself in research and literature and proposed to my doctor that sugar and “starchy” carbs were clearly the culprit. I was right; they were wrong; educated/trained professionals. My dietitian, thankfully, agreed with me toward the end. I sense she knew, but was afraid to cross the line as a new consultant. My doctor said he’d consider my concerns and I never heard from him again. I like him as a person, but I believe he made big mistakes.
    I have a kicker – every day of that miserable recovery, I told my husband that I was craving protein and fats. I just started the primal way of life 2.5 weeks ago. 4 months ago, I moved home, took my diet into my own hands, lost a slow 15lbs and recovered from the edema. Since I’ve gone primal, I’ve lost ~5lbs and can go for hours and hours without eating…much like I remember pre-anorexia. Phew. Thank you, Mark. You’ve sincerely confirmed everything I’ve been saying for 2.5 years…and no, I really didn’t know much about this approach until recently ?

    1. I am completely relating to Heather’s important comment and story…for it is mine precisely. I too had anorexia athletica as well as restrictive anorexia post ill-informed, yet perhaps well-intentioned “team” advice..I too was instructed to eat anything and everything…mostly junk and sugar…and I ended up with horrific edema and fat..I was also instructed to get the minimum of physical activity in a day..and to stay in bed, take frequent naps…and it just served to make me fat with more weight than I ever carried when eating normally..I had severe joint pains in my shoulder, low energy, acne (first time in my life!), depression and disgust with the new foreign body. I suppose I followed my team’s advice to “carb load” because I knew I needed to gain weight, and I thought by doing so I would “refind” my menses and my metabolism would finally “kick in”..My “team” informed me that this would eventually “happen”…although, it never did. I went from 32 kilos to almost 60 kilos during this “recovery” period..nearly one year!.. before I decided to listen to my body’s call to rediscover physical activity (long mind-cleansing walks) cut out the grains/sugar/baked goods/starchy carbs and upped the protein/healthy fats component of my diet. I too delved into research regarding food’s effects on the body and happened onto your life-saving, informative site..and have regained energy, health whilst losing the pregnancy-mimicking edema and fat. I feel much more like my pre-anorexia “normal” self…listening to my body’s call for healthy, nourishing fare…and I want to thank you Mark…Heather…and the incredibly intelligent MDA readers/commentators and their contributions…I feel truly in recovery thanks to all of you.

      1. Donna – your response gave me chills. Albeit necessary (for me, at least), it’s such an unusual and unpredictable circumstance to encounter. Each time I feel I’ve returned to normal, another week passes and clarity returns in another dose. The entire process of an ED simply puts you to sleep. The pathway back to health is a myriad of old, yet re-learned experiences and this, as you’ve mentioned, has proven to be the final piece to a long-awaited “me again”. I offer heartfelt acknowledgment to you, for making it through.

  56. Thank you Mark. Ignoring my body and doing “what’s best” has been my battle cry for the last 2 yrs or so! Ya, not good. And my sleep – what is this “sleep” you speak of!LOL – not really a laughing matter. The ONLY time in my life (I’m 43) I’ve been able to really rest/sleep was the weeks that followed a hysterectomy (I was “made” to rest – it was hard!). Too Sad, I know.

    Anyhoo-great, great post.

  57. I had a mad craving for banana bread as I was reading this…that “replace with primal” concept was key, ate a bunch of bananas.

  58. I think it is all a matter of “retraining” our bodies. We have been hijacked by food companies, nutritionists, and leaders. I have found that over time, the body starts to wise up a bit. Once the good quality nutrition comes in on a regular basis, you stop craving the junk so much.

  59. I have insulin resistance/PCOS and tend to have low blood sugar – something my ND wants me to avoid due to also having an autoimmune disorder. Many times I don’t eat when I know I should and it catches up with me sooner than later. I guess its easy if you have a “normal” metabolism and not all of these issues.

  60. What about your gut bacteria? If advantageous bacteria are not in check you can easily be ruled by nefarious bacteria and beastly yeasts and their endless hunger for sugar.

    1. I completely agree, gut bacteria is important to address. My struggles with cravings for sugar & especially dairy are gut bacteria related. Those nefarious bacteria & beastly yeasts that you refer to thrive on the sugar in both. So when we remove sugar these nasty “creatures” starve, and the only way they can survive is by changing the way we think by making us crave the foods they need. They are parasites after all and we know parasites are able to change the hosts they live off. Whenever I get cravings I just think of all those nasty microbes I’m killing off – ha, take that suckers! 🙂

    2. absolutely! we have 10x more bacteria than cells in the human body! if our bacteria colonies are health-promoting, we’re in good shape, but if we have a lot of bad bacteria our bodies can respond in lots of negative ways. Eating/drinking lots of probiotic ferments has helped me tremendously 🙂

  61. I have a (potentially stupid) question…if you are obese or overweight and consistently eating primal, why do you get hungry at all given how much stored energy there is on your body? Is it simply that you are still not fat-adapted, or is it that your body is asking for nutrients rather than more energy?

    I have about 140lbs to lose total, and I have dropped 75 so far eating primal. I can definitely go much more extended periods of time (10-12 hours)without feeling hungry than I did when eating a carb loaded diet, and my cravings are almost non-existent, so I am just curious why I get hungry at all when I still am in the obese category of body fat/weight. Thanks!

    1. I think you are right regarding the nutrients. Plus, I think the body is hard-wired to want to survive, and I think hunger is triggered before the “lets consume myself” trigger. I could be wrong… anyone else out there have an idea?

      Oh, and Congratulations on the weight loss!

  62. great article! it is important to maintain the body.
    I used to eat lots of carbs in my teens and 20s, and then when i gained weight i decided to try atkins, yes i did lose weight…but when i stopped i gained it all back. Fast forward a few years and i realized the common sense of the paleo way of life, and it makes sense, and i don’t have cravings for carbs any longer! But i am anemic since childhood, and get dizzy spells since 06 which i believe are reactive hypoglycemia…does anyone have recommendations for tests to do? I do plan to do hormonal tests.

    1. your could have dizzy spells from hypoglycemia – easy to test for. get yourself a glucose meter at the drug store and prick your finger and see what your blood sugar actually is during an episode. it’s also very possible that you produce little insulin (because you are low-carb) and thus are sodium depleted. If you get dizzy upon rising or have episodes where you feel dizzy (like you’re going to pass out), you should dramatically up your sodium intake and add some carbs back to your diet and see if that helps. For some people, low-carb = low fluid volume, which =’s low blood volume which causes periods of low blood pressure. the trick is to increase the fluid volume in your body to maintain your blood pressure.

  63. Since i switched to paleo/primal i have found myself significantly more hungry all the time while still eating around the same amount of calories. I wonder if it is my bodies way of telling me that i should keep eating the way i am or if it is missing the grains and sugars. Whatever it is i try to deal with it by eating loads of primal foods but they are definitely not as satisfying as, or maybe just not as calorie dense, as processed foods.

    What is accepted as the time it takes for the body to completely adapt to primal living? After 18 years of a standard diet i would imagine it takes quite a while.

    1. I was absolutely starving during the first 3 weeks or so after going paleo, and I believe most people come out of the carb-coma within a month. if its been longer than a month make sure you’re eating enough fat, and search around the site for more wisdom.

    2. Carin is right, you are hungry because (according to what I have read around the site, too), you need more fat (energy). Make sure you are eating enough protein, too — about 1 gram for your desired body weight. I have found that if I am hungry and know I shouldn’t be, it’s because I didn’t get enough protein that day.

      …and all this I learned from MDA and TPB. Mark is the best!

  64. I can attest to the lack of sleep, I’ve been having sleep difficulties for the past 2 weeks roughly and I’ve noticed that when I eat now, I don’t get satiated as quickly and instead of my body telling me that I’m full, it’s more so me telling my body that it’s time to stop eating.

    Also, I’ve been eating some junk whereas I usually never touch the stuff as I normally have zero desire to, and I find myself getting hungry sooner than normal as well as for longer.

    I’ve also noticed that I’m looking a little softer in the mirror, not to mention that I haven’t been feeling as full of energy either.

    Definitely a little frustrating and annoying plus I’ve got a final exam in a week from now that I’m trying to prepare for but the lack of sleep is no help as it zaps my concentration and motivation. Gonna have to dig deep to beat this.

  65. Stress throws off my eating signals. All I want is sugar. I started a new job a month ago, and I’m not happy, and it’s a struggle just to maintain my weight. I really am not hungry, but I want sugar.

  66. I am 5’11” and was 220 when eating the standard American diet. My wife is 5’4 and was 160. In January of 2011 we switched to a very high fat diet, basically primal plus liberal amount of raw grassfed dairy. . When I say high fat, I mean high fat: 75% of calories. I averaged 4500 calories AND lost 55 lbs in 3 months. My wife lost 45lbs. I still eat 4500 calories a day but have maintained an ideal body weight for over a year. I really think saturated fat is the answer. It is the ideal fuel of the human body.

    1. I was curious, what kinds of fat to you eat to get 75% of your calories. Congrats on the weight loss! That is awesome! (and something I really hope to have one day)

  67. Would love more on this topic, particularly on low metabolism. I’m hypothyroid and constantly fight the weight battle in spite of being primal. I typically workout with kettlebells about 5 days a week (been doing it for 6 years now) and run 2.5 to 3 miles the other two days, sometimes do both, i.e. run then workout. I also sleep 8-9 hours a night. Still fight the weight battle!

  68. My exercise instructor just told me that because I have type A blood type that I need to go on a vegetarian only diet with no red meat with only white fish and vegetables. This seems contradictory to what I’ve been reading to lose weight. I am currently on a hight protein no carb diet.

    She also said that I need to limit my exercise to a lower stress level – minimal weight lifting and cardiovascular exercise and concentrate on yoga. Pleae advise.

    Please advise

    1. From what I have read, the blood-typing method is only one method/theory. According to my blood typing, I am a “mixed type” who should eat equal parts carbs and protein. Yeah, no. I don’t think Grok examined his blood type, he just ate what he could get his hands on.

      Regarding working out, barring injury, I say do what you feel like you can do. I run a mile, then Lift Heavy Things (my own body weight). Or jog a warmup and sprint. It depends on what I feel like doing that day. Most trainers’ learning is based on CW and the SAD, so I have not bothered with one in quite some time, though I am sure there are quality trainers running around.

  69. great discussion. i am having some trouble now. I had lost 14 lbs. two years ago and achieved a wonderful leanness and clarity and strength never experienced before eating and living primally. Now at 5’3 i am up 7 lbs. from ideal weight since january (a 7 month roller coaster ride). i had achieved a wonderful satiety and leanness and maintained for 1 1/2 yrs. eating primal. 7.7% body fat and very athletic. Used to sleep well and eat 80 / 20 primal. But now, now i am turning 50 and have been struggling with midnight “crazies” since January / Feb of this year…every 5 nights I snap, get haunted by the decadent foods my college age kids make / buy and zombie down stairs and i give in…this erratic behavior has made my weight creep up, well, let’s say SPike, and then i restrict (IF) for the next so many days to try to return to homeostasis. i feel dysregulated with hunger, satiety…IS this peri menopause? i am still fairly lean 10% bodyfat on my small frame, but i don’t feel “right”. anybody else (females) going thru similar midnight cravings and battles…?

  70. I went about 3 weeks with pure primal food. Chicken, vegetables, nuts, etc… I got to the point where I felt faint from lack of energy. I had to actually go eat at Yogurtland, and I piled on the sugar!

    I’m trying to find a balance. I’m getting my sugar from Trioplex bars now, and everything else is primal. Any advice on WHERE I can get carbs for energy?

    1. I think you almost made it but not quite. I didn’t feel great until after a month of complete paleo eating. It takes some bodies longer than others to make the switch, during that time I, like you, felt faint. Now I never feel like that, even when going longer stretches without food.

  71. I do not crave junk food and I literally wanna throw up when I do indulge (which only happens when I did not prepare my meals ahead) I am a sucker for healthy foods and I am down to only eating when I feel the hunger pangs- but many a time I needed a drink of water and not so much food. Excercise keep me diciplined when it comes to choices re what to eat and what not to. I love being health concious and sticking to “primal” foods!
    All I know is that I do not crave junk foods at all-quite strange!

  72. Thanks for all these great comments and advice. It’s good to know I’m not alone (struggling with PMS / cravings), and there are some useful strategies here.
    The main point I am taking from all this is that a few weeks or even a few months of a Primal / paleo diet / lifestyle is not always long enough to achieve rebalance. It may take longer before the body starts to give more sensible signals that we can trust.
    The important thing seems to be that the longer you resist those crazy cravings, the more diminished they are likely to become. That fact alone should help strengthen resistance.
    I feel stronger facing today having just read all of these comments. Thanks Mark and everyone who contributes.

  73. Thanks for the great post! I’ve been reading over a bit of the 90 day journal and I’m getting pretty excited about holding myself accountable for some much needed self-care.

  74. If I get hungry when I obviously shouldn’t be I smash down a big glass of water…if that doesn’t work, a ‘man up’ pill usually does the trick (Note: ‘Man Up’ pills are not available over the counter 🙂

  75. I guess I’ve been lucky so far with primal. Before going primal, I had severe reactive hypoglycemia, which I “controlled” by simply eating every couple of hours. This started in 1996, and I’ve gradually gained weight (with a few episodes of weight loss but the overall trend was up and up).

    I’ve been Primal for a little over 2 months now (total weight loss is 41 pounds including 6 weeks efforts before primal), and it only took me maybe 5 days to get over the carb flu. A few weeks into it, I started IF’ing, something I never could have imagined doing pre-primal. My body quickly became fat-adapted, and I feel so great now. I do feel light-headed once in a while sorta like the hypoglycemic feeling I used to get. It was confusing until I realized that I was actually dehydrated. I think as a fat-burner, you need more water, more frequently than a carb burner does. But I am also very strict. I am usually in ketosis. I don’t follow the 80/20 rule. I’m more like 95/5. I have a couple of squares of dark chocolate daily and some wine on the weekend (sometimes too much … my one naughty indulgence). Otherwise, I am very strict (probably more paleo than primal).

    I also don’t have any dairy. I used to LOVE cheese, but I found that I don’t miss it at all. I thought I’d cut it out for a month and add it back in, but I haven’t bothered.

    I also don’t have carb cravings even though I used to love bread and pizza. I went 18 days straight in college having pizza at least one meal a day. Now I don’t think about it.

    I think that if you are having trouble with cravings and with losing weight on primal, take a hard look at what you are really eating. Are you baking SAD style desserts made from “primal” ingredients? Those are fine once in a while as an alternative to eating something worse, but they can become addictive too. They aren’t as bad as the alternative, but they aren’t good either.

    Are you really eating enough good fat? Enough protein? Eating right is a big part, but not the only part, of the primal lifestyle. Are you lifting heavy things, having lots of slow movement, and intense sprints/intervals once a week? If you aren’t doing these things, then you aren’t really primal. Everyone is different, and maybe some people have certain issues that genuinely make primal more difficult for them, but I suspect that most people respond well if they follow all of Mark’s primal laws (and back off the 20 of the 80/20 if you aren’t responding so well).

  76. I’m borderline diabetic, heavily overweight, nowadays maybe fat-adapted since I can go the whole day without eating before I start to get hungry, but I haven’t been losing any weight even though with the amounts I do eat I should. But I do work nights, between 2 and 6 in the morning, I sleep, most times, in two shifts, some hours before going to work and a bit more after work.

    So I’m guessing the problem might be with my sleeping schedule. I usually also do eat after work and right before going to bed, that’s one of the times during the day when I am hungry. Should probably do something there, I just haven’t been able to figure out what.

  77. Regarding sleep, I don’t sleep well at all on weeknights. No matter what I do to wind down before bed, my brain won’t stop working when I hit the pillow. I generally sleep fine on the weekends. What else can I do? I really don’t want to take a sleeping aid, but I feel like it’s my only option right now. Thanks!

  78. “When you are compelled to eat junk, don’t listen to your body. Eat something Primal, something nourishing, something that approximates what you’re craving only using real food.”

    So are you saying I’m actually doing the right thing when I grab a spoon full of Coconut Manna instead of a spoon full of peanut butter?

  79. Hi
    Same problem with appetite. I lost 20 pounds going primal. But the last 7-10lbs won’t move. started keeping a food diary. I found myself at 1200 calories a day and no appetite. Also I started taking antihistamines to get me to sleep deep all night. My appetite went through the roof! I’ve gained 5 pounds. It wasn’t just fake hunger my stomach growled 2 hrs after a big meal.

    Again it just proves how everything is balanced. Fix the sleep and it sets off an appetite chain reaction that has taken me 2 months to try and control. I think that until things settle out you just try to minimize the damage. I think my uncontrollable hunger is under control so I’m ready to fight the fat again.

    I also think that in women when you get rid of long stored fat you release long stored hormones in the fat and my body goes haywire. Everytime I loose old fat i’m a mess for 2 days. Then things normalize.

    It’s hard and discouraging but makes you realize how important it is to get rid of old fat!!

  80. Ok here is my problem…..pastries…I do not miss pasta, rice, bread etc….but a sticky bun or a danish just about caves me every time…so what is my body craving and what can i substitute that will silence that craving? This is honestly my last hurtle in going 100% primal and i think it is what is holding me back from turning from a sugar burner and being overweight to a fat burner and starting to drop some real pounds. Anyone have any suggestions or suffer from the same craving/addiction? Thanks

  81. Can anybody help me with the challenge of breakfasts on the go? I am a principal with small children at ho,me and I seem to always be in a hurry and I am tired of eating eggs all the time. I also have not found the perfect combination of Almond milk and Whey protein as of yet either? Can anybody help me out here?

    1. “Can anybody help me with the challenge of breakfasts on the go? I am a principal with small children at ho,me and I seem to always be in a hurry and I am tired of eating eggs all the time. I also have not found the perfect combination of Almond milk and Whey protein as of yet either? Can anybody help me out here?”

      Mike, I feel you. I’m a full-time working mom with a 4-year old + 3 other little ones we help care for. My mornings are crazy sometimes. I love my veggie omlettes & bacon but yeah, you get sick of eggs sometimes. I rely on leftover salad with a protein (fish, chicken etc – I ALWAYS make enough food at dinner for leftovers), or canned fish like sardines, salmon or tuna. I also make whey protein smoothies – I don’t care for almond milk but I add thick coconut milk, frozen berries, spinach & kale, and sometimes cold coffee in the mornings (I make extra coffee and store in the frig) – I often add a TBS of almond butter to thicken up. Sometimes for breakfast I will chop up raw veggies (carrots, celery, cauliflower + apple) and stir some almond butter and/or coconut butter in with them. This is one of my fave snacks too.

      Good luck to you!

  82. BJML,

    Sounds like your doing great! You experience (rapid weight loss, plummeting triglycerides, etc) closely mirrors my experience and many others that followed me into primal eating.

    When can you listen to your body to tell you what and when to eat? Based on research, what Mark has said, and my and other’s experience, here are my thoughts: 1. If you “need” to eat to “feel good” or avoid an energy crash or killer headache, DON’T listen to your body. These are all classic symptoms of being a “sugar burner.” Eat more clean saturated fat, a lot more. 2. At least for men (women’s hormones are so much more complex), craving carbs is a major sign of trouble. Eat more fat and get “fat adapted” as Mark would say. A high carb diet literally shuts down the genes responsible for telling your muscles to burn fat. A high fat/low carb diet will deactivate those genes quickly (Mark has previously referenced this study). 3. Can you easily fast a meal or two and excercise hard while fasting? If so you are absolutley “fat adapted” and those are very, very good signs you can listen to your body.

    1. Gene-thanks for the feedback. Sometimes it seems like there’s so much to change, it gets overwhelming. I have sometimes decided just to fast when it’s really late, then I get hungry right when I’m trying to go to sleep. My go to snack in those times is a square of 85+% chocolate with a tablespoon of coconut manna-it seems to calm the hunger pangs and let me sleep. I will try listening to my body and just continue to play things by ear. BJML.

  83. I’ve actually experienced how I workout is just as important as how I eat in my efforts to become fat adapted. Constant high intensity workouts had me craving crabs like a madman. If I had an issue it’s eating too much fat, since i’m still trying to get ripped

  84. Interesting post! Finally I find answers to some questions. I’m primal for 18 months but I have not actually lost weight I gained. In June of this year, helped perhaps by the summer heat, having little hungry I started fasting from dinner to lunch. I noticed I had a little hungry for lunch and ate more by habit than genuine hunger, but for me it is already a great success having skipped a meal. Then I started to “play” with intermittent fasting and I realized that the body needs less food than what the mind thinks.
    Gone are the cravings for bread, pizza and pasta but if it is true that those who skip a meal is fat easily adapted for then still the cravings of sweet foods?

  85. JPizzay,

    All I can say is that, for me, high calorie/high fat and infrequent high intensity workouts have worked. At 38, I am 5’11 175 and ripped. I eat 350-400 grams of clean saturated fat, 175-200 grams of protein and 80-90 grams of carbs a day. I skip breakfast 1-2 times a week. I do a “sprint 8” twice a week and a weighted pushup/pullup/abdominal workout twice a week (I know, I know, I gotta get squats in there).

    What makes me laugh is that I am way stronger, muscular and ripped than when I was 18 and lifted weights for an hour a day six days a week! Back then I ate a high carb (but lower calorie diet) that squashed my body’s production of HGH and testosterone. Now I eat a high-fat primal diet that encourages the production of testosterone and HGH and practice high-intensity workouts that do the same. Now my hormones work for me rather than against me.

    I think our culture’s low-fat brainwashing is more effective than even many in the primal crowd give it credit for. It is difficult even for many primal heaters that I know to really embrace a diet that has at its foundation clean saturated fat. Likewise many people have trouble overcoming our cultures brainwashing that body mass is a function of how many calories we eat and that all calories are created equal. As Gary Taube’s research indicates, body mass is more much more a function of the type of calories we eat.

  86. This is something of a timely post for me, but sadly I cannot comply with Mark’s recommendations at this time. For the last 5 months, I’ve been battling some serious, chronic digestive problems, which I’m mostly convinced are centered on either my gallbladder or some hormonal/ auto-immune condition. My (former) gastroenterologist had ZERO answers for me after numerous tests and procedures (including 2 CAT scans, blood & stool tests, and an endoscopy), and now I’m on a self-prescribed liquid diet- again- eating mostly soup and protein shakes. My stomach just doesn’t seem to know how to digest solid foods anymore; even something as smooth as almond butter and mashed bananas causes cramping and pain. Liquids only keeps me out of the “hurt locker” (as I’ve come to call it), but I know that I can’t- and WON’T- do this forever. I’m completely demoralized; I miss my bacon, steaks, and salads, but if I’m in constant pain after eating anything “normal” what the hell am I supposed to do? =( Has anyone else here had this problem? I was Primal for 6 months before any of it started, though I had been dealing with it on & off for 6 years before it got really bad and constant. Any suggestions? Please help! (I’m posting this in the forums too, btw) Thanks for any advice you can give me…

  87. Great post! I was addicted to junk food in the teenage years of my life and guess what,I was obese. Once I finally decided to transform myself, I made one very important change. Instead of filling my kitchen cabinets with Doritos, hot dogs, jams, chocolate bars,etc (this list can go forever), I filled it with organic almonds, baby carrots, Whey Protein, kidney beans, etc. This changed the options I had available, which changed my life. It starts in kitchen!!

  88. I’ve been 90% Paleo diet and exercise for the last 4 months with outstanding results, losing over 40lbs. I found that it was very important to track net calories (calories consumed minus exercise burn off) and make sure I was below my BMR to ensure weight loss. You will lose weight initially by just reducing your carbs but it is my experience that sustained weight loss requires calorie monitoring.

  89. John,

    Another possibility is that, as long as you eat good calories (good fat, protein), your body will keep you in balance by adjusting you metabolism, body temp, activity level, appetite, etc. Conversely, This is why calorie restriction is so often counterproductive. Your body doesn’t know you are trying to lose weight; it thinks you are STARVING. It compensates by reving up appetite, dropping body temp, lethargy, etc. we don’t need to be mathematicians to be lean. Think of Grok. He was hard and lean and maybe had no language much less a concept of balancing calories vs energy expenditure. Our bodies do that naturally. That is unless we screw it up by allowing for a carb induced hormone disaster called insulin and leptin resistance.

    1. For the most part I agree with you, its just that in my particular case when my total net calories rose above my BMR fat loss stopped. I also kept my carbohydrate macros generally between 75 and 100 grams, utilized Intermittent fasting and from time to time would go VLC combined with carbohydrate refeeds.

  90. Good post with excellent points, & I began to read all the comments by all you brilliant peeps but 4 pages was just too much.
    Mark did miss a major instigator of cravings. Candida and parasites are still a big issue for many! When my system gets them (it cycles through at times due to immune and lyme issues, irrespective of diet choices), nothing seems to help the carb and sweet cravings. I just do my best to stay with low carb versions of things and double down on the candida killers. Ugh.

  91. Very interesting point about the reactive hypoglycemia. I know my hunger cues are broken….even when I stick with very low carb.

  92. Well, I’m not a scientist but i’m thinking that maybe that hunger signal isn’t caused only by a need of calories but by a need for other nutrients. Thereby your body has the energy it needs -and probably a lot more- but it still lacks basic nutrients wich carb foods don’t provide in fair quantities.

  93. Yes, listening to your body is not always the right thing to do. Certainly programmes like radiantrecovery will say the same – you heal your mind first by eating the right foods, even if you are craving sugar etc and only once that re-reducation of the brain has taken place and the brain chemicals are in place then you can know what you need but until you are off those addictive substances what you think you want isn’t it.

    I made the mistake the other night of having 70% dark chocolate. I cannot really have it. I’m a sugar addict. It was as if I’d taken a drug – I always sleep for 8 – 9 hours every night immediately, all my life but if I have a stimulant like that (and for a time I was addicted to raw cacao for the same effect which I’d heat up and dip fruit into like a cocaine or heroin addict) it is dreadful. I feel the best person on the planet. I have plans and schemes. I could not sleep for for 5 hours after I went to bed. I was still high the next day. That is cacao in the dark chocolate. The Mayans reserved it as a food for the special people in their society. So do be careful about it if you have that brain chemistry which means you are a sugar addict as it works on the same bit of the brain as other addictions, as computer games, as speed does.

    So until then I had been feeling better eating better, although over loading with fruit but that is heaps better for me than junk food. However I do need to address the fruit issue andn if I have any nuts in the house they are all eaten, 1000 calories in one go just like that, no ability to ration or stop eating when full of nuts at all, I have to eat all of them. I also think there are male and female differences in these things too although plenty of men are sugar addicts as well.

    Anyway I need to do keep up with this as this way of eating has always made me feel good. I cannot have an “off”/indulgence day though as if you are an addict you cannot say Sunday is alcohol or cocaine day. Of course you can’t. So sugar addicts cannot do that either nor can they do their addictive substances in moderation. We don’t work like that.

    Need to lose the weight I put on since I had started eating badly again.

    I need to work out what % of Fat/Protein/Carb I should have so as best to keep happy (stable brain chemistry, no blood sugar changes, adapation to PMT period each month is ahead for me of everything in terms of needs) and secondly to lose weight.

    I will start with 7 pounds to lose first although I’d love to lose 35 and my new boyfriend wants me to lose some which is fine (I agree with him).

  94. mineral deficiencies can also cause hunger when the body doesn’t need more calories. minerals are required for the body to use vitamins and for all the organs/hormones to function properly. a false hunger could indicate the body’s need for more minerals.

    1. You’re right Kristen. Low carb diets do make some people excrete important heart healthy minerals from the body – leading to not just hunger but also palpitations, heart racing or pounding, dizziness, shortness of breath, cold extremities.

      I can’t tolerate going low carb. If the Japanese (and most South East Asians), Kitavans, the French and other tropical island nations can look fit and lean while being on a high carb traditional diet, then I’m all for it. I’m tired of brain fog, low thyroid, cold limbs, dizziness, muscle cramps, high cholesterol that comes with a low carb diet.

      Paleo does not have to be low carb. You can still go paleo and eat carbs, it didn’t kill the Kitavans. And I am NOT an isolated case in terms of the above symptoms, here are some studies reporting the side effects of ketogenic / low carb diets:

      1. Bloom WL, Azar GJ. Similarities of carbohydrate deficiency and fasting. 1. Weight loss, electrolyte excretion, and fatigue. Archives of Internal Medicine, 1963; 112: 333-337.
      2. Stevens A, et al. Sudden cardiac death of an adolescent during dieting. Southern Medical Journal, Sep, 2002; 95 (9): 1047-1049.
      3. Surawicz B, Waller BF. The enigma of sudden cardiac death related to dieting. Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 1995 Mar; 11 (3): 228-231.
      4. Bank IM, et al. Sudden cardiac death in association with the ketogenic diet. Pediatric Neurology, Dec, 2008; 39 (6): 429-431.
      5. Bergqvist AG, et al. Selenium deficiency associated with cardiomyopathy: a complication of the ketogenic diet. Epilepsia, 2003; 44 (4): 618–620.
      6. Johnston S, et al. Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May, 2006; 8 (5): 1055-1061.

  95. Great post! Anybody can lose weight by not eating or eating shakes or the like. The key to PERMANENT weight loss is fat loss. If you lose fat and protein through a low calorie diet, you’ll gain it all back eventually. And the most efficient way to lose fat is a low-carb diet. That also helps to get insulin under control, which is our main storage hormone. When insulin is high, fat loss is almost impossible.

  96. Thanks ya’ll. Had a smoothie for breakfast this a.m. and it was palpable.

  97. Question: I am still breastfeeding my 8 month old… I have been trying to loose weight (and have over 40lbs!) but I still have another 10-15 to lose. Everytime I start to do well (eating and exercising) by body demands I go on a junk binge!! I have been exercising really well but find I am so hungry and crave carbs (I am still trying to avoid)… is my body pissed that I am trying to lose this extra weight while I am still feeding my baby? Will I not be able too until I wean??

  98. The second paragraph of this article reminded me of a dinner at a church last winter. I went up the salad bar and was served a bowl of great mixed greens, then asked what bun of the two kinds I wanted. I said I didn’t want one. Before I could make a move to sit down and eat the salad, the question was repeated, as was my answer. “You don’t want a bun????”
    Nope, just the salad, thank you.
    And then the well-meaning old lady put one on top of my salad anyway!
    I had to put a little frustration in my tone and say she might as well take it back because I wasn’t going to eat it anyway, so she did, and I was left thinking, what’s wrong with this world.

  99. The more time I spend eating high protein and low carb, the less hungry I get. I’m able to fast for about 16 hours now and feel great, whereas before I was eating pastries all morning just to feel alive. Thanks Mark!

  100. If you don’t work out or care, then SFU. Nothing is ever 100% for everyone, just pick up a few pieces and adapt to general knowledge. I love any tips that are not big Pharma, Move on and live long!

  101. I tried the high fat/low carb primal diet several times each time with the same result….weakness, overwhelming fatigue, severe painful abdominal bloating, the contents of my stomach not digesting and the projectile vomiting of undigested meals many hours later. I discovered that the animal fat was the problem. My system will NOT properly digest animal fat. I ended up switching to my own low fat variation of paleo/primal that emphasizes vegetables, fruits and extra LEAN cuts of meat. A high fat/low carb diet isn’t the cure all for everyone.

  102. I’m so confused with myself right now. I’ve cleaned up my diet over the past six or so months, and I feel and look so much better. However, I still get sugar cravings, not really any other kind. I find that maybe once a week (or once every two), I’ll treat myself to a “cheat meal” and go out for ice cream, make brownies, etc. Once I do that though, I want more. I know this is because I didn’t receive much nutritional value from eating that ice cream, but I’m so mentally conflicted. People say that I shouldn’t deprive myself of “bad food” because when my brain goes into deprivation mode, THAT’s the food I’m going to want. But then people are also saying that I shouldn’t give into the cravings, because it’s not what my body ACTUALLY wants. So when I’m craving ice cream once a week, do I eat it or not!? When I make a healthy dessert, I still find myself wanting the bad version, but is this just because our brains like to rebel?

  103. I find it hard to feel rested and get adequate sleep because of my work schedule. I work at a Toyota factory doing quality control and I am permanent afternoon. But the hours are not normak at all. I work from 5:45pm – 3:15 am.
    So I try to sleep from 4 till noon ish.. Then I have to be up with my son and cook and clean.. I have very little time in my days.. And on top of that Im about to start school full time as thats the only way I can get a head career wise. What would you recommend for diet and sleep with this scedule??? Im trying to eat right and get excercise but im finding my energy levels are always low and food cravings are a normal occurance.