Top 15 Reasons You Are Not Losing Weight on a Low-Carb Diet

Woman Who is Not Losing WeightLow-carb diets are very effective. That is a scientific fact.

However, as with any diet, people sometimes stop losing before they reach their desired weight.

Here are the top 15 reasons why you’re not losing weight on a low-carb diet.

1. You Are Losing Fat, You Just Don’t Realize it

Weight loss isn’t a linear process.

If you weigh yourself every day, then there will be days where the scale goes down, other days where it goes up.

It doesn’t mean that the diet isn’t working, as long as the general trend is going downwards.

Many people lose a lot of weight in the first week of low-carbing, but it is mostly water weight. Weight loss will slow down significantly after that initial phase.

Of course, losing weight is not the same as losing fat.

It is possible, especially if you’re new to weight lifting, that you are gaining muscle at the same time that you’re losing fat.

To make sure that you’re losing, use something other than just the scale (which is a big, fat liar). Use a measuring tape to measure your waist circumference and have your body fat percentage measured every month or so.

Also, take pictures. Take note of how your clothes fit. If you’re looking thinner and your clothes are looser, then you ARE losing fat no matter what the scale says.

Bottom Line: Weight loss isn’t linear and there’s a lot more to weight than just body fat. Be patient and use other ways of measuring than just the scale.

2. You’re Not Cutting Back on Carbohydrates Enough

Teenage Girl Eating Fruit

Some people are more carb sensitive than others.

If you’re eating low-carb and your weight starts to plateau, then you may want to cut back on carbs even further.

In that case, go under 50 grams of carbs per day.

When you go under 50 grams per day then you’re going to have to eliminate most fruits from your diet, although you can have berries in small amounts.

If that doesn’t work either, going under 20 grams temporarily can work… eating just protein, healthy fats and leafy green vegetables.

To make sure that you’re really eating low-carb, create a free account on Fitday and log your food intake for a while.

Bottom Line: If you are carb sensitive, then you may want to temporarily eliminate fruits and eat less than 50 grams of carbs per day.

3. You’re Stressed All The Time

Unfortunately, it isn’t always enough to just eat healthy and exercise.

We need to make sure that our bodies are functioning optimally and that our hormonal environment is favorable.

Stressed Businesswoman

Being stressed all the time keeps the body in a constant state of “fight or flight” – with elevated levels of stress hormones like cortisol.

Having chronically elevated cortisol levels can increase your hunger and cravings for unhealthy foods (1, 2).

If you want to cut back on stress, try meditation and deep breathing exercises. Cut back on distractions like Facebook and news media, read more books instead.

Bottom Line: Chronic stress can have negative effects on your hormonal environment, making you hungrier and preventing you from losing weight.

4. You’re Not Eating Real Food

Grilled Steak

A low-carb diet is about more than just lowering your intake of carbs.

You have to replace those carbohydrates with real, nutritious foods.

Throw away all processed low-carb products like Atkins bars, they are not real food and they are NOT good for your health.

Stick to meats, fish, eggs, vegetables and healthy fats if you need to lose weight.

Also, “treats” like paleo cookies and brownies can cause problems even though they’re made with healthy ingredients. They should be considered as occasional treats, not something you eat every day.

What is also important is to eat enough FAT. If you try to cut back on carbs AND fat, you will end up ravenously hungry and feel like crap.

Eating a diet with nothing but protein is a very bad idea. Low-carb, high-fat and moderate protein is the way to go if you want to get into ketosis, which is the optimal hormonal environment to burn body fat.

Bottom Line: You need to replace the carbs with real, nutritious foods. To lose weight, stick to meats, fish, eggs, healthy fats and vegetables.

5. You’re Eating Too Many Nuts


Nuts are real foods, no doubt about that.

They are also very high in fat, almonds for example having about 70% of calories as fat.

However, nuts are very easy to overeat on.

Their crunchiness and high energy density give us the ability to eat large amounts of them without feeling full.

I personally can eat a bag of nuts and still not feel satisfied, even though that one bag contains more calories than a meal.

If you’re snacking on nuts every day (or worse, nut butters) then chances are that you’re just eating way too many calories.

Bottom Line: Nuts have a very high energy density and are easy to overeat on. If you’re constantly snacking on nuts, try eliminating them.

6. You’re Not Sleeping Enough

Sleep is incredibly important for overall health and studies show that a lack of sleep correlates with weight gain and obesity (3, 4).

Tired Businessman

A lack of sleep can make us feel hungrier (5). It will also make us tired and less motivated to exercise and eat healthy.

Sleep is one of the pillars of health. If you’re doing everything right but still not getting proper sleep, then you won’t see anywhere near the results you might expect.

If you have a sleeping disorder, see a doctor. They are often easily treatable.

Some tips to improve sleep:

  • Avoid caffeine after 2pm.
  • Sleep in complete darkness.
  • Avoid alcohol and physical exercise in the last few hours before sleep.
  • Do something relaxing before sleep, like reading.
  • Try to go to bed at a similar time each night.

Bottom Line: Sleep is absolutely crucial for optimal health. Studies show that a lack of sleep can make you eat more and gain weight.

7. You’re Eating Too Much Dairy


Another low-carb food that can cause problems for some people is dairy.

Some dairy products, despite being low in carbs, are still pretty high in protein.

Protein, like carbs, can raise insulin levels, which drives energy into storage.

The amino acid composition in dairy protein makes it very potent at spiking insulin. In fact, dairy proteins can spike insulin as much as white bread (6, 7).

Even though you may seem to tolerate dairy products just fine, eating them often and spiking insulin can be detrimental to the metabolic adaptation that needs to take place in order to reap the full benefits of low-carb diets.

In this case, avoid milk, cut back on the cheese, yogurt and cream. Butter is fine as it is very low in protein and lactose and therefore won’t spike insulin.

Bottom Line: The amino acid composition in dairy proteins make them spike insulin fairly effectively. Try eliminating all dairy except butter.

8. You’re Not Exercising Right (or at all)

You should NOT exercise with the goal of burning calories.

The calories burned during exercise are usually insignificant, they can easily be negated by eating a few extra bites of food at the next meal.

Woman Running With Headphones

However, exercise is critical for both physical and mental health.

Exercise, in the long run, can help you lose weight by improving your metabolic health, increasing your muscle mass and making you feel awesome.

But it’s important to do the right kind of exercise. Nothing but cardio on the treadmill is unlikely to give you good results and doing too much may even be detrimental.

Weight lifting – this will greatly improve your hormonal environment and increase your muscle mass, which will help you lose weight over the long term.

Interval training – doing high intensity intervals is an excellent form of cardio that improves your metabolism and raises your levels of human growth hormone.

Low intensity – being active and doing some low-intensity work like walking is a great idea. The human body was designed to move around, not sit in a chair all day.

Bottom Line: The right kinds of exercise improve your hormonal environment, increase your muscle mass and make you feel awesome.

9. You’re Eating Too Many Sweeteners

Diet Soda And Apple

Despite some sweeteners having no calories, they can affect our appetite levels.

Several studies show that artificial sweeteners can affect appetite, either negatively or positively, in some cases making people eat more overall calories (8, 9).

Additionally, consumption of artificial sweeteners is associated with weight gain in the long term (10, 11).

This probably depends on the individual, but if you’re eating a lot of sweeteners and aren’t losing weight then you may want to try removing them.

Bottom Line: Despite being calorie free, artificial sweeteners can affect our appetite, in some cases leading to a net increase in overall calories.

10. You Have a Medical Condition Getting in Your Way

Doctor Holding a Box of Pills

There are certain medications that are known to stimulate weight gain.

If you look at the list of side effects for the medications you are taking and see “weight gain” on the list – then make an appointment with your doctor.

Perhaps there is another drug available that doesn’t cause weight gain.

If you’re doing everything right and still aren’t getting results, then perhaps you have some underlying medical problem.

Many hormonal disorders can cause problems losing weight, particularly hypothyroidism.

In that case, make an appointment with your doctor. Explain that you’re having problems losing weight and that you want to rule out any medical issues.

Bottom Line: Certain medical issues and medications can cause weight problems. See a doctor to discuss your options.

11. You’re Always Eating

It is a persistent myth in health and fitness circles that everyone should be eating many, small meals throughout the day.

Woman Looking Inside a Refridgerator

This has actually been studied thoroughly. No advantage has been found to eating more frequent and smaller meals (12, 13).

It is natural for humans to eat fewer meals per day and sometimes go long time periods without food.

Some people do something called intermittent fasting, eating in an 8 hour window each day or doing 24 hour fasts 1-2 times per week. This can be very useful to break through a plateau.

Bottom Line: There is no proven benefit to eating many small meals throughout the day. Try eating fewer meals and consider giving intermittent fasting a shot.

12. You’re Cheating Too Often

Junk Food

For people who are able to control themselves, having cheat meals or days every now and then may be fine.

For others, especially those who are prone to food addiction, having cheat meals is likely to do more harm than good.

If you’re cheating often… either with “small cheats” here and there or entire days where you eat nothing but junk food, then it can easily ruin your progress.

Having more than 1-2 cheat meals per week (or one cheat day) is going to be excessive.

If you just can’t seem to control yourself around unhealthy foods no matter what you try, then perhaps you have food addiction. In that case, completely removing the junk foods from your life is probably a good idea.

Bottom Line: Some people can eat junk food from time to time without ruining their progress, but that doesn’t apply to everyone. For others, cheat meals will do more harm than good.

13. You’re Eating Too Many Calories

Apple And Calculator

At the end of the day, calories do matter.

One of the main reasons low-carb diets are so effective is that they reduce appetite and make people eat less overall calories without trying.

If you’re not losing weight but are doing all the right things, then try counting calories for a while.

Again, create a free account on Fitday and track your intake for a few days.

Aim for a deficit of 500 calories per day, which theoretically should make you lose 1 pound of weight per week (doesn’t always work in practice).

Bottom Line: It is possible to eat so many calories that you stop losing weight. Try counting calories and aim for a 500 cal/day deficit for a while.

14. You Don’t Have Realistic Expectations

Woman Standing On The Scale Frustrated

At the end of the day, weight loss takes time.

It is a marathon, not a race.

Losing 1-2 pounds per week is a realistic goal.

Some people will lose weight faster than that, others slower.

But it’s also important to keep in mind that not everyone can look like a fitness model.

At some point, you will reach a healthy set point weight, which may be above what you initially hoped for.

Bottom Line: It is important to have realistic expectations. Weight loss takes a long time and not everyone can look like a fitness model.

15. You’ve Been “Cutting” For Too Long

Hungry Woman

I don’t think it’s a good idea to be in a calorie deficit for too long at a time.

The leanest people on earth (bodybuilders and fitness models) never do this. They do cycles of “bulking” and “cutting.”

If you eat at a calorie deficit for many months (or years) then eventually your metabolic rate may slow down.

If you’ve been dieting for a long time, then a two month period where you aim to “maintain” and gain a bit of muscle may be what you need to get things started again.

Of course, this doesn’t mean eating bad foods, just more of the good stuff.

After these two months are over, you can start “dieting” again.

16. Anything else…?

Have you ever managed to break through a weight loss plateau?

Feel free to leave a comment here below if you want to add to the list!


  1. Good point on the #11, from a weight perspective it’s true. But not from an energy perspective.

    I’ve found two things to be true when working with people.

    A. Having people eat more often (forced scheduled eating) prevents them from eating the wrong foods and fights off sugar cravings by keeping a more stable blood sugar and appetite.

    B. Having people eat more often improves energy levels. Tons of people complain about having low energy throughout the day, and I’ve often looked at their diet and the only thing they eat in the first 6 hours of being awake is a “bagel” or something similar.

    A nice piece of chicken for breakfast seems to help ;)

    • There’s a study were two groups of people were given the same food same calories. They were the same weight and one group ate the meals throughout the day the other 3 meals. The second group lost more weight. And when one eats every 2-3 hours you’re training your body to become a carb burner and ultimately we all want our bodies to be fat burning machines.

      • Yeah- eating every few hours actually makes people over eat as opposed to IF of 2-3 meals in a 6-8 hour window. Peer reviewed studies don’t support the eat breakfast crap- although a lot of doctors who are not up with science still pitch it…

    • Is it advisable for someone to adopt a low carb diet if they have a family history of diabetes? I do best on low carb. I’m leaner, less foggy & happier.

      • Hell yes. My mother is diabetic, I am insulin resistant. I have heard of studies that show type 1 diabetics feel better and live longer when they keep their carbs low, which in turn keeps them from having to use a ton of insuin. Apparently high insulin also ages you.

        My type 2 mother does way better on low carb but she doesn’t see it as a lifestyle and cant keep the ‘diet’ up very long, as she cheats, without stopping and feeling like crap again. I myself feel fantastic with low carb high fat, but I am very sensitive, a handful of berries makes me want a nap.

        • Any way(s) to make the insulin more sensitive? Or will lchf automatically improve it?

          • I am insulin resistant and have done low carb to lose weight, and my doctor also put me on Metformin, an insulin sensitizing drug. My insulin levels dropped by around 200%, to a healthy level, once I started taking it.

      • Mary Titus says:

        I have been low carb for nearly 14 years. I love it. I realized how much I love it when I went to a music camp this week and had a healthy diet of bacon, eggs, salads, beef and chicken. What was missing was the fat. Oh yeah, I had a little fat but I consume a lot more fat, in real life, than what they offered.

        There were hidden sugars in most of the food and meals were served 3 times a day. So, I ate 3 times a day, I had some cheats ( grits, a cookie ). I gained over 4 lbs in 5 days. I know that a lot of the gain was water because my ankles were so swollen.

        Now what I do differently is I eat one nutrient dense large meal a day and it keeps me going for 24 hours. That meal is extremely low in carbs, high in fat. It is satiating and it propels me into the next day. I am now down a lbs and my ankles have also gone down. I am out of test strips so I have not checked my sugar… I am pre-diabetic and like to know how my glucose is balancing out.

        One thing I can say for sure is that I feel so much better eating this way. I eat more food and I eat better food. I prefer to do my own cooking.

        Yes, you can do this as a lifestyle. I know this because I do it as a lifestyle. I lose slowly and gain slowly on this diet. But any other way I would lose nothing and gain incessantly and feel just awful. I know that I can make adjustments to lose more and that is what I will be doing soon.

        • Mary Titus says:

          Another thing, everyone in my family is diabetic. My mom developed kidney failure which is what took her life.

        • Wow! I agree with you 100 percent. Two years ago I ate your way and was slim and healthy. Everyone in my family would yell at me about how I ate. My husband felt that I was going to die of a heart attack by eating so much fat. He believes in a low fat/low carb diet. I do not know how he is able to eat this way because when I eat like him I am starving.

          When I ate high fat-some protein/low carb diet, I did not have the bloating, brain fog, sleep deprivation, pains and aches, and starvation. When I stopped eating this way, I gained weight very rapidly and couldn’t stop it. I felt tired and couldn’t reduce the carbs. I had pain and aches all over my body and couldn’t exercise. My feet and back were the first thing on my body to go.

          I now am back on my high fat/low carb diet and I have more energy and less pain. The way I was able to reduce the carb crave was to eat fat instead of carbs. This was the first time I went into ketosis in a long time and my hunger was reduced.

          I thank you for writing because I can show my family that I am not crazy and that my eating habits are right for me. I have been back on this diet for 4 days and I have lost 4 pounds–I am 55 years old and menopausal–my point is–listen to your body and it will tell you what foods are right for you by how you feel. Good luck and health.

          • Dee,

            Wow, your description sounds a lot like me. Stress and illness (inability to eat with bowel obstruction,) must have been my induction phase.

            Next, heavy emotional issues rejection of various sorts…) I ate when I was hungry and did not realize I was eating low-carb.

            I lost (a little) too much but a few pounds heavier I felt better than I ever remember. Physically, but a few people were worried for me and I began eating carbs and gained more back than I wish I had. I want to go back to somewhere in between. I am also 55 and your post encourages me.

            Can you recommend one resource to help me follow this accurately. I think maybe I take longer to “start up” because I only have 10-15 to lose, can you speak to that?

      • My endocrinologist is all for low carb.

    • If someone is having trouble losing and all they eat is a bagel in the morning, that bagel is the problem, not how often they are eating. Chances are excellent that the bagel is not gluten-free, and all it is is grain with maybe a tiny bit of fat added. And wheat is notorious for messing with your hunger signals AND your blood sugar response. Tell them to get the hell off the grains, get off anything else starchy and rely on meats, vegetables, and good fats (saturated, monounsaturated, and omega-3 polyunsaturated–yes, I need to spell this out) for a while, but eat three meals a day, and see how they feel. They can up their fat intake if they’re still hungry, since fat is the true satiety macronutrient, not just making you feel mechanically “full.”

      Bagels. Feh. Anyone thinking their diet is not working for them, who is still eating that crap, has not gone far enough in changing the diet. It is a MYTH that grain foods are ever good for you. At best, they are NEUTRAL… but if you eat more grains than anything else, as called for in the old Food Pyramid, even if you completely skip gluten grains, you’re going to deprive yourself of important nutrition and mess with your blood sugar and hormones and still cause yourself health problems.

      Seed foods are for birds and mice. We are neither. We can tolerate a certain amount of seeds, especially nuts, but even with nuts there is an upper threshold of tolerance before they start causing us problems.

      • Dana,
        I’ve read your comments and it seems you have a lot of knowledge. I am 32 and 160 lbs. I’ve definitely got fat to lose but for some reason my body is holding on to it. I’ve been eating a low carb high protein diet for 6 weeks and haven’t lost anything. I’m doing 30-40 min of cardio and an ab challenge and some core strengthening exercises every day.

        The past days I missed cardio twice. My fat is on my stomach and thighs. I eat within 30 min of waking up and go no more than 2.5 hrs a day wo eating. When I track (which I don’t always) my protein carbs fat intake, its 1000 calories, under 100g of carbs (mostly from fruit and carrots) and fat is 50-60g. I follow paleo except a few sauces I add on rare occasions. I know I’ve gained muscle but why wont my body let go of the fat? Should I cut back on eggs, avocado, etc to cut my fat intake?

        • Try eating less and gradually earlier for your last meal.

          • You said it; “I’ve been eating a low carb high protein diet” and that is why… low carb, high fat, moderate protein. You’re doing high protein and eating fruits and carrots.

            To lose effectively you need to go down to 20-50 carbs (ketosis), increase to high fat and eat 5-6 oz of protein. Anywhere from 100-150 gram is maintenance mode and where you should be at to not gain or lose. 50-100 carbs would be slow average weight loss and the 20-50 carbs I suggest are for faster (higher) weight loss.

            50-100 nets 1-2 pounds a week and 20-50 can net 3-5 pounds a week. But increase the fat and decrease the protein while doing this. If you go down to 20-50, watch fruit because all sugar is carbs and they aren’t separate. It’s not lowering sugar and carbs, it’s lowering carbs whether sugar/starch.

        • 6 weeks is a long time not to see results, I think you may have put your body into starvation mode (works to save cal)… try having a cheat day once per week to change the hormone regulation.

          Look up:
          Carb backloading (requires weight training).
          Engineering the alpha.

          Also there are some interesting studies regarding fasting, a lot of programs I come across these days suggest skipping breakfasts and eating most of your cals in the evening.

          Read these:

          A lot of people may scoff at these concepts but I find the research pretty convincing considering if you think that in ancient times we were unlikely to sit down for three squares a day… more than likely people went through stages of hunger and feast due to inability to both find and store meals as easily as today.

          Food for thought?


        • My guess is it’s the “grazing” style eating. We are really not natural “grazers.” That’s a myth from the 80s. ;) Try not snacking.

        • Becca,
          I would say your problem is that you have put your body into starvation mode by under-eating to an extreme plus overdoing exercise. 1000 calories is less than half the number of calories needed for maintenance at 160 lbs.

          Secondly, daily cardio is not gonna cut it… you are depressing your metabolism with the caloric deprivation & excessive cardio.

          Thirdly, 100g of carbs is not low carb. Instead aim for the following: .75-1 g per lb of protein, less than 50g of carbs, and the remainder is fat. I would suggest you start eating a lot more to see some progress with at least one day per week where you eat over maintenance calories albeit still low carb.

          I would suggest a daily caloric intake of around 1800 cals and at least once per week you should eat above your maintenance which is probably around 2200-2500 cals. Also, decrease your exercise to heavy weight lifting three days per week for approximately 40 minutes and if you want to do yoga or walking on “rest days” feel free.

          Best wishes!

        • Hello. You say Becca that you eat “under 100 grams” of carbs … this seems like an awful lot to me. If it’s between 90 and 100 it’s too much.

          Wherever you derive those carbs from it will affect your weight loss dramatically. 40 grams of carbs per day is the maximum recommended for this kind of diet. Lower than that if you can… and you should see it work like magic!

        • Out of curiosity, have you tried cutting out all carbs for a month just to see what happens?

          Second, there is a natural plateau where the body is at its genetically-desired fat level, or at least I’m guessing there’s such a point.

          I mean when you look at all animals across the world, they all fit a certain size range so long as they aren’t starving or something. Of course, they all have variances though. Not all wolves are going to have the same girth and muscle-tone. Not all seals are going to have the same thickness of body-fat.

          So, I imagine, just like animals, humans have predefined genetic parameters and some people will be naturally more and less fat than others are. 160 pounds is within a normal body weight for some, if not most common heights, and it’s possible that the belly fat you have is something that simply isn’t supposed to go away, that perhaps genetically you’re body will fight even through severe starvation to maintain that pudginess on your belly.

          If you’re short, probably it’s too much, but if you’re even just avg height, you’re within avg body weight range.

          If it is actually genetic, the only thing I can think of that might naturally take that bit of pudginess off would be to work out for muscle-gain. If your body is most comfortable at a particular weight that it becomes nearly impossible to lose anymore no matter what you do, then I have to imagine that the only way to get rid of whatever fat is left is to increase muscle mass in the hopes that you’re body will naturally remove that fat weight in order to maintain the natural weight your body should be at, you know, so long as you don’t give up on your proper diet and exercise that you’re already doing.

        • Lisa Lauenberg says:

          If you “know you have gained muscle” and you haven’t lost *weight*, then you MUST be losing fat. The first 3 months of weight training is a balancing act. The only way you could be gaining muscle and NOT losing fat is if your weight is going UP.

          Take measurements – the scale is NOT an accurate guide of body fat. I take them in 24 places so that I have an accurate record of my shape.

        • For weight loss you need .8g of protein for every lean pound on you. For me, 144 lbs x .8g gives me 115g of protein per day. I eat below, that more like 80g. Your calorie intake should be what your BMR is. Mine is 1453 kcal. So my daily calorie in take is 1500. I try not to go over 1800 calories a day.

          So 1500-1800 calories, staying closer to 1500 and on occasion go up to 1800. I should exercise, but I don’t. I lose an average of .5 lbs to 1 lb a week. My fat intake is 125g-150g per day. It is low carb, high fat, moderate protein.

          I follow the Atkins diet and LCHF. I’ve lost ten lbs in ten weeks. I have 90 lbs to go.

        • I actually only eat 10 grams of carbs a day.

        • I see several problems with what you have said you are eating:

          1. Your calories are not high enough, your body thinks it is starving and won’t burn the fat as long as you are too low.

          2. You said “high protein” in the absence of carbs your body will turn protein into glucose, you probably need to watch your protein levels.

          3. Cutting fat is absolutely the WRONG thing to do, if anything you need MORE fat… eating fat teaches your body to burn fat for fuel, satisfies better, therefore you feel less hungry and it will naturally suppress your appetite, fat is also the only food substance that does not affect your blood sugar at all… if you decrease your blood sugar spikes, you will decrease insulin and insulin resistance which will help your body release its fat for burning.

          4. Cardio actually teaches your body to STORE fat, NOT burn fat (contrary to traditional teaching) Try interval training instead… google the PACE exercise plan and read how it tells your body to burn fat.

          5. 100g carbs is not really that low… it is a good start, I actually lost weight initially going this low, BUT to really kick your fat burning into gear, you need under 50, preferably 20g or less in a day.

          A good resource is “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance” by Phinney and Volek, it explains in detail how LC helps your body burn fat and improve exercise performance as well. Hope this helps and good luck!

        • I think you should cut down on your carbs and up your intake of fat (good fat). Although carrots are delicious, they are also high in sugar–eat them when you have reached your goal weight.

        • That’s the problem, you are still taking in way too many carbs each day. I would highly recommend sticking with the atkins diet lifestyle. It’s 20 carbs or less a day. I have done it many times and it’s very successful. I lost 80 lbs in 4 1/2 months, never exercised once.

      • The standard low-carb response is to cut your carbs.

        The other possibility, if you’re working out more than in the past, your muscle weight has gone up. Don’t change a thing, it will all work out.

        However, the most likely possibility is that you’re in starvation mode. When you’re in starvation mode, your body clings to every bit of fat it can. 1000 calories a day is a starvation diet! The SS in Nazi Germany discovered that the lowest minimum calories to keep people in concentration camps alive and functioning was 900 calories a day. You’re not in a concentration camp. You should be eating at least 1/3 more calories, and I’d go 1500. It’s not healthy to starve yourself, and that’s what you’re doing. The health complications from that are enormous. STOP IT. EAT.

        You might consider these things as well:

        What kind of carbs are you eating? Some are better than others. Eating potatoes or white bread or other junk like that will undo all you’re working for.

        Stop eating so often. Seriously. Eat three meals a day for a month, and see if you don’t get better results.

        Try a cheat meal for one of the meals every week.

        If you’re drinking milk, STOP. Milk has sugar in it, and that’s defeating what you’re about.

        Try eating a serving of fruit with your protein at breakfast. Or have a small slice of low-carb cheese cake with your eggs and bacon. There’s a study that shows eating a sweet treat at breakfast staves off cravings for sweets for the remainder of the day. Do it, but have a low carb version of it.

        Last resorts:

        Have your thyroid checked.

        Try a 3-day diet of eating nothing but cream cheese and macadamia nuts. This is a super low-carb diet that is only for the most stubborn of cases. It’s been known to jump-start a lot of people who seem to be getting nowhere.

        Finally, low carb just might not be for you. Not everyone is the same. Try eating pesco/lacto vegetarian for a while if all else fails, and see if that doesn’t help.

        I still think your problem is putting yourself in starvation mode. Not all calories are equal–you can eat more of some, and be fine, like meat, one of the most calorie dense foods imaginable. Others are bad for you, no matter how little of it you eat, like anything with refined sugar in it.

        • Starvation mode is largely a myth, stop parroting myths! Speaking of “Nazi ss”, why do pictures of all the concentration camp inmates show them to have NO FAT! Now, their bodies obviously didn’t catabolize all the muscle and just leave fat, no, they had no fat. Your body will actually try to preserve muscle in these situations… your heart is a muscle, right? Ketosis? Hello, stop parroting myths. Starvation mode is a term used by people who think you need to eat 8 times a day, the most annoying myth of them all “small meals throughout the day.”

          • I agree with you cause when you don’t eat you lose weight period, not saying that people shouldn’t eat but what I am saying is if you have to eat a lot less in order to lose weight that’s not starvation if your body ends up responding the way you want it to.

      • Toni Hancock says:

        Well I’ve been on this diet since Thanksgiving last year and I’ve gained more weight. I wish there was a book that gave you menus and examples on the proper way of eating on this diet. Yes I’ve done the Keto calculator but to me that means nothing. I get mixed messages, i.e eat more fat you’ll lose more weight, I have read that being on this diet the fat melts off but not for me. I started at 138, now I’m 139. I have started counting calories and feel tired and hungry and I’m now 137. I’m very frustrated.

    • It’s hard for people to fathom eating a piece of chicken for breakfast, but that protein sure does keep you fuller longer!

    • I agree with frequent meals. I also would like to comment about this anxiety about the starvation mode; if we think about it, many pregnant women throw up all their food and liquids sometimes for months. Miraculously, their babies do just fine. I only ate one meal a day for over 3/4 of my pregnancy and my baby was a very gifted person.

      Thanks for the info in all the posts, they were very helpful.

    • I eat twice a day, around 1-3pm and again between 5-7 and I have fantastic energy. What you eat can be really important. I don’t eat any grains or sugar.

  2. Wow. This one article does a fantastic job of pulling together and putting all the conflicting information all in one place. Eat enough fat, but not too many nuts because they are high in fat. Don’t eat too many calories, but don’t cut them either. Exercise is necessary, even though it’s not.

    No wonder so many people like me are just Over. It. and have decided that no one has any idea why we gain or lose weight.

    FTR – I did moderate and then low carb (Atkins induction level) and lost no weight. I was treated for hypothyroidism and gained weight. Exercise makes me ravenous, then I sleep for 15 hours.

    I’m just going to go get a pizza and soda and forget all this nonsense.

    • I don’t know the reason why some people can’t lose no matter what they try. I’m sorry to hear that nothing has worked for you.

      Btw I think you may be misinterpreting the article. There is always a “but” in nutrition, because it usually depends on the individual.

      • Reginia says:

        I have only been following your advice here for about 3 days and I have noticed a difference in my hunger for sure. However, you mention “moderate” protein, what is the range for that. This is what my nutrition stats say today…

        Total calories: 842, carbs: 17, fat: 33, protein: 58, sodium: 98 sugar: 3

        I do eat cheese and that concerns me. I work out 6 days a week. M,W,F I do 40 minutes of circuit training and 20 minutes on the lean program for the Bowflex.
        On Tues, Thur, and Saturday I do the Jeanette Jenkins Bikini Bootcamp.

        Am I on the right track here? Because I feel great. I should mention that this exercise schedule has been in place since Jan 3.
        Any suggestions to ensure success? I am 41.

        • If you’re feeling good and seeing results then keep on doing what you’re doing. “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.”

          That is a pretty low calorie intake though, in the long run you’re going to want to eat more than that.

          • You are absolutely right, Kris! It’s like if our bodies had a mind for themselves. Thanks for all the information!

        • That is not enough protein! I saw one calculator where you multiply your weight times .6 and that is the number of grams of protein you need. So at 165 pounds, I need 99 grams of protein apparently. I never even get close to that, but it jives with a nutritional consult I once had where the trainer said to get at least 80 grams of protein per day.

      • Good!

    • No offense Lissa, but I think you are choosing to interpret this article as containing conflicting information because you’re looking for an excuse not to worry about your diet and lifestyle.

    • Lissa,

      I just discovered this website, and this guy is saying everything I’ve discovered for myself and have been trying to tell everyone. I have hypothyroidism due to Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, and struggled with my weight for years.

      My weight problems started when I tried to lose some beer weight by going on a low fat diet in college, eating mostly bagels. This absolutely *destroyed* my metabolism.

      I starved myself more and more and kept working out on treadmills and ellipticals, only to keep gaining weight. The first time I was able to lose weight was when I did the Atkin’s diet. That worked well, but I still had to be careful not to ever eat sugar, or I’d gain weight really quickly.

      The real breakthrough came for me when I changed my exercise routine from cardio to Crossfit, and to yet another new level when I fine-tuned my low carb lifestyle to paleo.

      Now I eat about 60% more calories than before, I’m never hungry, I’m still slowly losing fat and fitting into my old clothes from the beginning of college (now wearing size 4 pants), and I eat low-sugar desserts all the time. I drink black coffee to keep my tastebuds calibrated so that I don’t crave sugary sweet crap anymore. Ever. Donuts are now about as tempting to me as candy floss. My favorite treat is dark chocolate with 90% cacao. (I worked my way up from 65% to 72% to 78% to 85% to 90%.) I also make ice cream and souffles with coconut milk, and eat tons of macadamia nuts.

      One more thing. Gluten sensitivity is common for people with Hashimoto’s like me. Now that I’ve cut bread and flour out even more strictly, the weird aches and pains I used to get through my arms and shoulders have gone away, and my hair is growing in thicker.

      The trick to the low carb diet is that your body first has to go through a sort of withdrawal phase. You feel crappy for the first 3 days (longer than that if you cheat) while your body adjusts to burning fat instead of carbs. Then it gets easier. Many people never make it past that 3-day threshold, unfortunately.

      • I have been on a NO carb diet for 62 days now and I always feel tired. I am diabetic and have a sensitivity to carbs. My Doc requested that I cut out carbs to try to gain control of my wacky sugar levels and since doing this I have noticed a big change…. that is until I started adding sour cream to my carrot and celery stick snacks and having read the article about dairy I now see why so I have cut out sour cream as of today.. I eat lots of carrot and celery throughout the day in between regular meals and started dipping them in Philadelphia cream cheese for variety, then moved on to sour cream to break the monotony of flavours so what can I add now? Anyone?

        I have lost 11kgs and need to lose more but due to a physical impairment to my right foot find it difficult to walk etc.. I have been thinking of hydrotherapy for some time but have really been to lazy to follow it up.

        That has changed now since reading all the articles today, I feel that to kick start my weight loss again I need to start hydro this week and cut out as much dairy as I can. Maybe aged, crumbly cheddar should replace sour cream? Any suggestions?

        A typical day for me is a cup of coffee and eggs for breakfast, Salad with tinned salmon or tuna for lunch, some sort of meat protein with salad or veggies for dinner.

        In between meals I have carrot and celery sticks (about 4 of each), lots of water and the occasional piece of fruit.

        I hope I am doing the right thing? What do you think?
        I am 58 now…

        • Natalie says:

          Try dipping the veggies in hummus or even just fresh salsa!

        • Tink,
          I applaud you for taking charge of your diabetic condition rather than choosing to continue eating carbs and just medicating, which would only make your health worse. So many are not willing to take control of their diet that way. Kudos!

          Now… if you are still feeling tired, even though by eating no carbs (I’m guessing you are actually getting at least 40-50 grams/carb or so a day in veggies), but if you are still feeling tired, I would ask how much fat are you eating? To become keto-adapted, and to stick to a low-carb diet for the long haul, you need to be getting a significant portion of your caloric intake from fat.

          The temptation is to eat more protein than your body can really use, in which case your glucose-accustomed metabolism will actually convert the excess protein to sugar, and you won’t truly become a fat-burner, keto-adapted, and feeling strong and full of energy throughout the day. If you want all the nuts and bolts understandings of the whys and wherefores, I suggest a book called The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Volek and Phinney.

          If you want to gain easy-to-understand insight into healthy, low carb eating, with tips on how much fat and protein are good for you, I recommend The Rosedale Diet, by Dr. Rosedale, which includes explanations of why it works, with a detailed way of determining how much protein is right for your body, and great recipes and meal tips.

        • Donna, if you are eating tons of carrots, you are NOT on a low carb diet. I am diabetic and 2 months ago tested with a 296 fasting glucose level even though I was taking 2000 mg of metformin plus 4 mg of glimepiride every day. I was given a “Diebetic Diet” by my doctor that was put out by a well known pharmaceutical company, but it still contained so many carbs, and allowed for foods that I know I am sensitive to. A red flag went up and I have to wonder if pharmaceutical companies develop diets that make you dependent on their drugs. I was on a mission.

          I found information about the Paleo diet, and everything it said spoke to me. Paleo restricts your diet to lean proteins, healthy fats, fresh fruits (in limited amounts) , lots of fresh green veggies, and also limited amounts of root veggies. If you are trying to do low carb, eating lots of carrots is not going to work for you. They are high in carbs. Anyway, long story short, I have been doing Paleo now for exactly 2 months, and I have lost 14 lbs, but most importantly, my blood glucose levels have stabilized to more normal numbers, around 120′s- 140′s, and I have cut my metformin intake down to 500 mg per day.

          Another thing you might consider for exercise is a recumbent bike. I have plantar fasciitis and heel spurs in both feet, as well as lumbar spinal stenosis, and walking is excruciating. I’ve been doing my bike for a week now and feel so much better. I don’t know if this sort of bike is your answer Donna, but it has been a way for me to exercise without terrible pain.

          Look up the Paleo diet. It might be a good one for you. Best of luck!!!

        • Tink:

          Holly read my mind although she directed her response to Donna instead of you. Eating “NO carbs” and eating “lots of carrots” are contradictory statements. There is no doubt that carrots have vitamins and minerals and are healthy for us. However, they do contain carbs and sugar. I am not a registered dietitian or recommending you eat a certain way, simply offering insight to why your low-carb diet might not be working for you.

          Most likely your carrot snacking means you are eating more carbs than you realize. And while I don’t want to assume, one might venture to say that in addition to the carrots there may be other carb-containing foods you are consuming, unaware of the carb content.

          Just a few things to consider. Best of luck!

          • I agree with Mike. Tink: try adding your food to a food diary like Myfitnesspal or trainingpeaks. Both are free. You’d be surprised on what the makeup of foods are. I never realized that even half a banana has 13 g of carbs and you’re supposed to stay under 50 g to go into ketosis.

        • Try cottage cheese.

        • I like guacamole for a good veggie dip.

        • I agree Mike. Carrots have average 6-7 carbs. My ‘low carb’ weight loss Dr says not to eat any vegetable that grows underground.

        • Mrs Skittles says:

          So there is a noodle substitute called Konnayaku, eaten by the Japanese for thousands of years. It’s pure, carb-free fiber. It fills you up and is being proven to help regulate blood sugar. You can also buy the powder form called Glucomannan powder. It’s literally a ground up form of the Devil’s Yam, no chemicals or crazy additives. It works by absorbing water many times its weight. Then acts as a broom and sweeps the intestines on it’s way out.

          Very good to help with those early hunger pangs while your body transitions to burning ketones. I still use it every few days to “get things moving.” Especially helpful if you are eating lots of protein and fat with little fiber. Will work much better than carrots at filling you up, and cleaning you out. :)

        • Lisa Lauenberg says:

          If you have ‘wacky sugar levels’, then you shouldn’t be eating carrots. Carrots are one of the highest “High Glycemic Index” foods because they are ALL sugar. You have to cut out simple carbs – not just those that LOOK like carbs.

          Use to track your food – you’ll discover what really has carbs in it, and if you use the mobile app – put your meal in BEFORE you eat it. Then if you don’t like the numbers, you can make a better decision.

          • Have to disagree about the carrots. They’re also high in fiber, water and have chewing resistance. It is almost impossible to overeat sugar or carbs by eating carrots.

      • Cherie:
        THANK YOU!! I have hypothyroidism as well and it has been a struggle losing anything. It is refreshing to know I’m not alone in this. and your experience has helped me alot. I’m doing the only diet that works for me and make me feel good, low carb. Just knowing that someone else has MADE it and lost, gives me the will to keep going, and that is what I needed today.

    • I was like you, got super frustrated (except for the treatment thingy) lived at my mom’s place after college, since she is a vegetarian there was no meat served at the house and all my friends were gone so I wasn’t going out to eat either. In three months I lost 12 KG. I am 1m70. I was 83KG now (2 years later) I am 60KG.

      Try cutting out meat. There are a lot of weight gain hormones in them designed to make the animal bulk up!

    • You gotta be having a laugh right? You are one of those people who eats all the wrong foods, probably have 3 sugars in your hot chocolates every day and can’t work out why you’re not losing weight. This article is easy to understand if you have a general knowledge of health.

    • I have hypothyroidism and I am having trouble with my weight. Thought about Atkins but Weight Watchers did not work for me. I do work out. Not sure what to do at this point.

      • Anoushae Eirabie says:

        You need to see your doctor. It is important to determine if you have a serious “permanent condition” or just a temporary phase of it. If you have hypothyroidism (HT) then your weight will not decrease at all. If you find your weight fluctuating even slightly because of exercise, etc. then re-assess your habits and routines. Maybe you need to work out more, figure out what sort of diet plan to follow, etc. You should probably see a nutritionist to help you deduce what diet plan is best for you and your medical condition. If you’re not taking any medication for your HT then eating the right foods is imperative.

        Hope that helps!

      • Hi Sunny,

        I have hypothyroidism too & managing one’s weight is an issue. One thing you may want to look into is which thyroid med you’re being given. Synthroid is T4 only while others like Armour are T3 & T4. The reason for the difference is that T4 is inactive. The purpose of T4 is that is raw material that gets converted to T3. T3 is active. Some ppl are no longer able to convert T4 to T3 automatically due to an enzyme deficiency & this is when T3 supplementation becomes critical. Not all doctors know about this so you have to find a good doctor. Some doctors don’t even know about subclinical hypothyroidism which means you have all the symptoms of hypothyroidism, but your labs are within the “normal” range & then your doc says it’s all in your head. Good Luck!

    • Matthew Quinn says:

      You madam are what is known in the trade as…

      A quitter!


      • And you, are one of those negative people everyone needs a break from in their lives, if you haven’t got anything constructive to say then don’t speak.

        This article is a jumble. A mix of good and bad information, if you study health and nutrition enough, you would know what information to follow. More small meals per day is better than 3 large meals. Again though, different bodies, different rules.

        • I was actually wondering if you have some advice for me. I have always done great on Atkins. If I gained a little weight I could back the carbs and the lbs would fall off. In 2009 I was put on Lyrica for fibromyalgia. This was a severe case, I was in so much pain my cortisol levels were at .2, I was sick constantly from no sleep. The Lyrica fixed that but within three months the weight starting packing on.

          After gaining 30 lbs I started Atkins again and doing a workout program. I couldn’t go into ketosis. I checked daily. I even cut my carbs less than 20 a day. Nothing was working. I gained almost 90 lbs before I got off Lyrica and started taking sermorelin injections. In the first sixty days of being off Lyrica I lost 45 lbs. For some reason I still can’t get the body into ketosis. I still have weight to lose but I do well on a low carb diet, my cortisol has never gone back in range.

          My last check up in April was the highest it has ever been. Which of course makes my doctors want to put me on another drug which I am refusing to do. The question is: is weight loss just not going to happen for me because of the cortisol? My nighttime reading was 11.6 when 2.8 would be considered high. By the way I can’t say enough about sermorelin! It’s hard to believe by taking an injection of certain amino acids my body doesn’t have the fibromyalgia pain.

          • I think you really should ask your doctor about this, I honestly have no idea how these hormonal issues could affect your weight.

            Are you using the urine strips to measure ketosis? They’re not very reliable, if you can get your hands on a blood ketone meter then it should give you more accurate results.

          • Hi Willow,

            I’m on hormones due to a car accident & can tell you that if your hormones are not balanced you will have weight issues. If you are receiving this you should know that it’s used to increase growth hormone production. If you have one hormone deficiency you may have more as they’re all regulated by the same organ… the pituatary/hypathalamus stalk so find a doc that has experience dealing w/ this issues.

            Not all endocrinologists understand enough about these issues because some specialize in diabetes & not so much so on other endo issues. Also, the other possible cause for low hormones is Gastro-Intestinal. Either your diet doesn’t provide enough nutrients to make HGH or your diet does provide these nutrients, but your body is failing to digest them properly.

            Just recently I boosted my testosterone & B12 by merely increasing my protein intake (baked chicken) and verified this by using blood labs.

        • Actually I think this depends on the type of diet. On a traditional low calorie diet, “snacking” works well as it stops you becoming ravenous from falling blood sugars and overeating at meal times.

          However, on a low carb diet your appetite is severely curbed and due to a constant supply of ketones you do not suffer hypo blood sugar symptoms when you don’t eat, so 3 meals is easily manageable (in fact I do well on 2 and can replace one with a cup of coffee with heavy cream). Fasting is actually beneficial for weight loss on low carb as it forces the body to break down your own fat stores which are readily used whilst in a keto adapted state. It also speeds up the conversion of ones body to a keto adapted state and is used to get people into a state of ketosis when using this diet to treat epilepsy.

          So yes, snacking is good advice for a low calorie diet but NOT a ketogenic one (under 50g carbs per day).

    • You misunderstood the bit about nuts. She was acknowledging they have fat, as in “this is a good thing,” and the “however” part came after that.

      (It’s OK. I had a similar reaction to yours on my first reading of that item. Then I read it again.)

      I disagree with her about the calories item. You need to pay far more attention to what you’re eating than how much of it you’re eating because at the end of the day fat storage is hormonally driven.

      And you shouldn’t be relying on just one source for your dietary advice anyway.

    • I was thinking the same thing. Increase your fat but lower your calories? I love very low carb and do well on it, but I don’t think about calories. If anything I worry about too much protein being in the way.

    • All right, this might sound very simplistic, but… remember in the old days, when we had “three balanced meals” and NO snacks? And people weren’t fat (at least to the extent they are today)?

      Of course it’s not that simple — a generation and a half ago, for instance, wheat was nowhere near as genetically modified as it is now — but when that damned food pyramid, super-heavy on grains, came in, and then especially when the whole “eat low fat and eat every 2-3 hours” thing started in the late 80s or so, we all started getting FAT. Yes, in all caps, just like that.

      “Meat” used to be the larger portion of a meal (“eat all your meat or you don’t get dessert!”), plus a veggie, and a LITTLE bit of carbs… a scoop of mashed potatoes or rice or whatever. Three meals a day. Sometimes, dessert. Somehow, people lived through that… (rolleyes) Then we changed it all up and we have gotten enormous and very, very sick.

    • Pay attention to how you were treated for hypothyroidism. If you were just given thyroxine (t4) it may have done more harm than good. Some people cannot process t4 into t3 which is needed to burn fat. Such people need desiccated thyroid.

    • You sound like me. I was treated for hypothyroidism. Turned out it was adrenal insufficiency. Test levels of testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, dhea, cortisol etc. (24h test of cortisol is important to see how your levels are through the day. You collect a saliva sample 4 times through out the day of testing.)

      If your doctor does not offer these kinds of tests, there are tests you can order online. I used zrt labs, but I know there are several other providers) It’s also important to find a doctor who has experience in treating adrenal insufficiency. Good luck :)

    • Remember, everyone has to listen to their own bodies. The reason why some people can not eat too many nuts is because of the size/calorie ratio. Most people have a tendency to eat too many nuts and can’t burn the large amount of calories. For myself, when I eat nuts I get hungry and my sugar level does go up. Do not give up. Keep researching for the right diet for you because you deserve to feel and be the best you can be.

  3. Lissa, sleeping 15 hours after binging sounds like a sugar issue maybe. I am diabetic, Type 2, and have an awful time losing weight. I am on a variety of medicines for a variety of disorders that all seem to cause weight gain. It’s ridiculous. On the other hand, since being diagnosed with diabetes, I am learning what MY body needs. One thing I’ve learned is that too many carbs at one time puts me to sleep. I have adjusted my breakfast to be low or no carbs and the 10.30am slump is avoided. I think we all just have to learn about how our individual bodies react to certain foods and diets etc and make common sense decisions: some varied and regular exercise, moderation in eating, and find a way to deal with stress. Good luck!

  4. SweetsofOSweets says:

    I don’t mean to chuckle but Lissa speaks for a vast majority of us “low carbers”. Low carb life takes a lot of time, effort and sheer discipline. Though my insides are MUCH healthier…my outside looks the same and I am not happy about it.

    As for the comment about calories…didn’t Gary Taubes dispel the whole “calories in – calories out”? Isn’t Wheat Belly and Why We Get Fat all about carbs and glycemic index verses calories? If people have to worry about carbs, fats, calories and glycemic index, do you think that that alone is stressful?

    I’m on Wheat Belly’s FB page and I asked a question about “cheat” foods and the response I got back from some women were “what could you possibly cheat on when you can make anything from the Wheat Belly cookbook?” I was veered as some crazy lady. My response to their question was fruit. Imagine that…eating fruit?? Lord have mercy on my soul right? I haven’t eaten a grape or banana or mango since July of 2012!

    A lot of info to digest and a major dichotomy to change. This is an uphill battle…I just hope I don’t get hit by a bus instead of natural causes.

    • You should be able to enjoy berries or citrus everyday and stay below 100 carbs, even 50 if that is what you crave. I would rather have them than just about anything. Just watch the serving size. I love cuties… 8grams carbs, I savor every little segment… lol.

    • What do you eat to get potassium then Sweets?

      • Meat. Vegetables. You would be surprised just how many whole foods have potassium in them (meat is a whole food too). Use the USDA nutrition database (find it on Google) and look these foods up and you’ll see what I mean.

  5. Cortney says:

    Kris, thanks for this! I’ve been low/no-carbing since January, and started gaining after my first swerve off-course (went home to visit family for five days… oof). I got back on track, but have steadily gained 8 pounds since the beginning of the year.

    I’ve seen many other GREAT changes in my health, and I’m determined to stick with it and just keep tweaking. This article gave me some really helpful ideas in that regard.

  6. This is a great list. One additional thing to add to it is a person’s level of toxicity. Weight gain that does not respond to exercise or diet is usually due to toxicity and this can be the greatest challenge to losing weight (especially for women). Today we are overwhelmed with toxins on a daily basis through the environment, food, water, cleaning and personal care products, medication and a host of other things.

    “When toxins enter your body they have an affinity for fat cells, due to the fact that they are fat soluble. When the toxins attach to the outer cell membrane which is made of a lipid bi-layer (two layers of fat), it causes the cells to continually release Leptin. And when Leptin is elevated too often, just like Insulin in Type II Diabetes, the receptors burn out and the message is not heard. Leptin is the hormone that tells the brain to burn fat for energy, therefore, weight gain that does not respond to exercise or diet is inevitably due to Leptin resistance.”

  7. The evidence is our children and their obesity and diabetes. Our Western diet as we know it now, makes us want more, more, more… So getting rid of processed, sugary foods, and white stuff is the only answer. We all have our little rubs that we have to accommodate… mine is cheese. But watching the video with the Dr. with MS, curing herself with real food and vitamins and minerals tells me… this works. The Western diet is actually starving us.

    Patience is a virtue and it takes time. Not having MS, I don’t go to her extreme but I am the only one of my friends who does not have a spare tire (I’m 65) and they are noticing and asking how I do it. Especially since I eat in front of them. I feel great and it’s really been rewarding and in the meantime, I’ve given up diet coke, very happy about that. So keep on, keeping on, one day at a time.

  8. Thanks for this article. I needed to read it.

    Question. This is the first I’ve heard you say something negative about dairy (other than eating it in moderation). I’m curious to learn more about how it works with insulin, and which types do the least/most damage. (I see that butter is the least.) I try to eat a lot of yogurt for the probiotics and have never thought cheese could have an effect on insulin. Could you talk about this more? Is the Greek yogurt craze actually causing higher insulin levels than regular yogurt?

    Also, regarding the proteins in dairy products… Are these proteins very different from those in meats? I’ve never heard anything negative about proteins until, so I’d love to learn more about it. I need to kick start my weight loss again.

    • I have nothing against dairy, it’s just one of those things that tend to cause weight loss plateaus for some people.

      The proteins are slightly different. They are more insulinogenic because of a different amino acid content.

      Here’s a good article on dairy and insulin:

      • Obamasgirl says:

        I often hear that eggs is not a dairy, but for me it really does not matter whether its and meat, dairy, or poultry, the problem is the hormones in the animal and that’s what I don’t want in my body. I’m diabetic and I drink almond milk for calcium, I don’t do the dairy at all and I eat only sardines and shrimp, nuts, beans and veggies for protein!

    • To be fair, protein’s effect on insulin is different than carbohydrate’s effect on it. Insulin does not stay spiked as long and you have far less tendency to hyperinsulinism. And ALL protein raises insulin, just some types raise it more than others.

      That said, some people have casein sensitivity or else, whey protein will send their insulin into the stratosphere. It depends on the individual. There is no way to test for this at home. You will just have to test your own reactions to various proteins and see what you get.

      Ghee is the absolute best dairy food for anyone who might have a dairy protein sensitivity, though you will still want to ease into it and make sure you are not reacting to it. It’s not just butter but clarified butter–just about all the protein has been removed. (It’s not perfect, but it’s much more pure than regular butter.)

      Whey protein seems to have been removed from most dairy foods because it is the protein found in the liquid portion. You have almost none in aged or hard cheese, and in yogurt it’s been broken down to some extent by the lactic acid bacteria. There’s none in butter. People are more likely to encounter casein than whey if they aren’t drinking liquid milk–especially if they get most of their dairy from cheese. So if you react badly to cheese in terms of weight stall or weight gain but you are OK with cream and butter, casein may be the culprit.

      FYI, a lot of people are walking around with gluten sensitivity, even if they don’t have obvious physical symptoms of same, and if you have that, then you are more likely to be casein-sensitive too. Gluten sensitivity seems to open the door to casein sensitivity. Unfortunate but there it is.

  9. Kris, I am very confused about Fats on low carb. What is the baseline that we should eat on fats. And please don’t give me percentages. Just tell me in measurements, 1 tablespoon per day, 2 teaspoons per day, half an avocado per day and so on. I know it will vary with each individual’s weight loss journey but I need a reference point as to where to start. I basically use olive oil, coconut oil and mayo for my fats but don’t know if I’m using too much or too little.

    My protein requirements have to stay at around 100 grams per day because of health issues. But I do notice that when I don’t have enough fats I get hungry but when I have more, then I don’t lose weight, so any suggestions would be appreciated. Your articles are most informative and very much appreciated for all the research you do and that you share that research with us. Thanks much.

    • Just eat fatty cuts of meat and cook your foods with some healthy fats. About a tablespoon of added fat with each meal, I suppose.

      If you need to eat less, a teaspoon of added fat with each meal.

    • Do you make your mayo at home? If not, it’s probably made with soybean oil, and that stuff’s terrible for you.

      Get your fats from animals and tropical oils and fruits (olive, mainly), not from seeds. Even nut oils are a problem because they go rancid quickly and 99.9 percent of stores I visit that carry them never refrigerate them.

      There are recipes for making your own mayo using olive oil or bacon fat. If you have a blender or food processor, it’s easier, but you can make it with a hand whisk too.

  10. Phil chouinard says:

    You missed two of the most important factors with nutrition:
    Circadian cycle and EMF…

    There is a lot more than the calories you put in your mouth.
    If those two factors stay in your blind spot you are doomed whatever you try.

  11. I have been in light to moderate nutritional ketosis, 0.6-3.1 mmol for two months. I have maybe lost 8 pounds total, frustrating, yes, but, at the end of the day, I’d rather be healthy on the inside than “look good” on the outside. I would like to throw my scale out the window (but I won’t because I do use it as a vague gauge that I’m heading in the right direction) because it doesn’t give me an accurate picture of my progress.

    I’m sure I’ve replaced muscle with fat–even though I’ve worked out my entire life and lifting isn’t new to me, I still think I’ve created an environment that supports muscle growth and fat burning. Even though muscle and fat weigh the same, muscle takes up less space. I like what you said about focusing on the way clothes fit.

    As for the going out and grabbing pizza girl… I completely understand your frustration, however, pizza and other junk food will continue to push you further from your health goals and ultimately cause all sorts of disease.

    That said, I really hope you continue to eat real food because eventually the weight takes care of itself. Making weight loss the focus is so disheartening! Focus on making your body the healthiest it can be… I have my blood work done regularly (2-3 months) by my naturopath and that is way more inspirational than my scale.

    • You *can* make your own pizza at home from healthier ingredients. It’s no different than making a casserole.

      The ingredients in the food are more important than what it’s called. For the same reason I don’t condemn people who make things like “paleo muffins” and “paleo bread”… if it will help you stay on the strait and narrow, go for it.

  12. Zubair Dabawala says:

    Dear Kris.

    Your information above is really good. I would like to share my experience, before a few months ago I was 265 pounds & now 200 pounds. I am doing regular exercise on a tread mill every day for 30 minutes & cycling 15 minutes then abdominal for 20 minutes. I am losing on average 2 pounds per week. For food I am eating like bread & boiled eggs in morning, vegetables & Indian bread in afternoon & in evening salad like Carrot or tomatoes.

    Would like to check with you, am I going on right track or will bounce back by gaining weight in near future. Need your advice.

  13. Your mindset is the most essential thing if you wanna do anything and that includes losing weight. If you really want to lose that weight, you will make that change. You won’t succeed no matter how much superb great advice is given to you if you yourselves don’t wanna make that change.

  14. Dr Keto says:

    I broke through a very very long plateau by limiting the amount of protein I eat since protein can spike your insulin production (for some people).

    I also stopped eating snacks in between meals except for a snack before dinner since I usually eat dinner late. And I also added MCT oil to my morning shake.

    That’s all all I did and after a while, I noticed that I was less hungry. It took some self control to not eat snacks but after not too long, I really noticed the day the “mouth hunger” went away.

    Hope this helps.

  15. Kris, I have been on a high protein, low starch, NO sugar, NO alcohol, NO Nuts nor beans, NO fruit lifestyle since October 25th, 2012. I only eat when I’m hungry — usually twice daily, sometimes 3 times, on two occasions I ate almost constantly — although all protein, and on three occasions I only ate once for the day.

    Every meal I eat a different protein so to confuse my body and stay out of eating ruts. I don’t measure or count calories nor pay ANY attention to portions. I stop eating when I feel comfortable. The program that introduced me to this food style, doesn’t allow us to weigh ourselves and I have to tell you, I believe it is a major contributor to my success.

    I started at a size 22 and am now between a 10 and 12 (just 4 months and 2 weeks later). I take a photo on every 25th of the month and can’t believe the differences! I don’t consume dairy except cheese and it is only as a condiment, never as a snack or entree. I am concerned that the calcium I get from vegetables and cheese isn’t enough. I seem to get an upset stomach when I take vitamins (except vitamin D).

    Question 1) So, please feel free to provide other caclium sources other than vitamins. I am severely allergic to fish (yes ALL fish, not just shellfish). For 3 months I was in ketosis but now, I’m barely in ketosis (I use the test strips a couple times a week). At times I was consuming too much cheese so I back off for a week and then I drop.

    My friends are concerned when they see me eating so much meat (beef, bison, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, and eggs). Although my blood chems have proven to be impeccable (ttl chol 201, LDLs 112, HDLs 45 — I think), they said the chicken skin I eat (well cooked — crispy), is bad for me and will give me heart disease especially since I eat bacon, and lamb. I only eat chicken skin twice a week in the form of my buffalo chicken wings (non-breaded/battered).

    Question 2) Do I really need to worry long-term about the chicken skin? Finally, I am exercising but have in the past had a problem gaining bulk very easily (high natural testosterone levels). I currently only do yoga, pilates, and walk on a treadmill (two times daily, 60 min each time but only 1.1mph with no incline because my calves are bulky and I am trying to lengthen them — hence no incline). I also do a ballet series of exercises to lengthen the muscles 3 times per week. Once a week I work abs (through planks). My job makes me sweat 4 days a week (sport massage therapist).

    Question 3) Do I have to do formal exercise weights/interval training? I started weight training and doing Zumba for 1 week back in January and bulked up, hating how I looked– and stopped immediately. I read that jumping around and any impact exercise can also bulk you up. Once I get to my goal (size 4 or 6 waiting to see how I feel), I can’t wait to reintroduce berries and wine periodically. Hope you find time to comment. Thanks for the article I agree with ALL of it.

    • Shannon says:

      “Question 3) Do I have to do formal exercise weights/interval training? I started weight training and doing Zumba for 1 week back in January and bulked up, hating how I looked– and stopped immediately.”

      I am dying here. You bulked up after a whole week of lifting and zumba? BS. Unless you were taking steroids, a week of lifting would do nothing other than make you sore. Women lift for years and never look bulky, men have to eat thousands of calories a day and often supplement in order to get bulk.

      Lifting would cause you to lose fat, zumba would cause you to lose fat, but neither after only a week. It takes 12-16 weeks to get results from anything. Nothing happens in a week.

    • Obamasgirl says:

      Perhaps it’s all that protein that’s making you bulk up, your body will use only the protein that is needed, after that your body will store the rest as fat, you should cut back and replace the meat with beans, nuts and veggies 3 or 4 times a week to see better results !

      • Negative. Protein is the macronutrient that causes the greatest amount of satiety and can help boost metabolism slightly.

        Generally speaking, the more protein in a diet, the easier it will be to lose weight. However, on a low-carb diet, eating too much protein can prevent someone from getting into ketosis.

        • First I’d like to say that I find this forum very informative and appreciate that the tone remains courteous and sincere.

          I need some motivation and support, hence my posting here: I went on a low carb diet about 6 weeks ago to try to lose the last 15 pounds which all sit on the stomach. I had lost 25 pounds 12 months ago on a 1200 cal/day over three months. I am 5’9, weigh 159 pounds, 57 yrs. My average intake has been 95 grams fat, 93 grams protein and 37 carbs (less than 20 net carbs), at approx. 1400 cal/day I use to log my food intake. I feel good (better actually) but have lost only 1 pound!

          Could I be eating too much protein? I did not realize that could be an issue before reading the information here. I will today begin to increase my carb intake to include berries and almonds (so approx. 25 net carbs/day) but maybe I should be decreasing protein somewhat?

          Thank you for any and all comments.

    • Great job! But Zumba probably isn’t he culprit. Don’t let your friends worry you about meats or chicken skin. Rely on your doctor’s advice. Losing all that weight saved your life in ways that chicken skin can’t even compare. Great job on the weight loss!

    • I take a mostly-chelated multi-mineral supplement and I worry about all my minerals, not just my calcium. If you want to go more the whole-food route then you can get all your minerals from homemade bone broth. It’s good just drinking it by itself, or you can make soups with it.

  16. I’ve seen a number of clients not losing weight on very low carb paleo diets. For some people INCREASING carbs works far better than trying to drop carbs lower. Some people get cravings and often keep adding fats and protein to try and get satiety on low carb diets. The calorie intake ratchets up.

    I recommend people cut down on protein to about a palm size (leanish) in a meal, add about a cup of root veg to their meals. Then fill the rest of their plate with colourful non starch veg and add just a dash of fat. In my observation satiety improves; the starch and a little insulin make some feel far more satisfied than added fat or protein.

    Plus this type of meal is limited in calories – for a female the meals adds up to 300 – 400 or so calories – yet they have a huge plateful of food that often lasts 4 – 6 hours. The large plateful makes you feel really full and satisfied as the stretch receptos in the stomach register a full tummy. I eat this way and it is by far the best way for me to feel full, and lose weight.

    Low carb is NOT the best way to feel sated and lose weight for all. I have had numerous peole say they FEEL so much better on this plan too. Energy and sleep improves.

    I’ve had clients completely plateued on a very low carb diet – switch to moderate carb balanced paleo diet and suddenly weight starts dropping off.

    • Aly Zhang says:

      That’s really excellent! I feel the way you described is the best way to lose weight, especially for females. It’s how I lost weight quite quickly and easily.

    • At the end of the day, if you are metabolically deranged enough to get fat, all you are going to do adding all those carbs in is damage your body more.

      Fat is the satiety macronutrient. Not carbs, not fiber, not protein. Those can make you feel mechanically full but there is no chemical satiety signal involved.

      All we have is your very vague account of what happened with these clients and I have no idea what they were eating before. For all I know they were eating a bunch of seed oils because you told them saturated fat would kill them. I would not expect omega-6 and omega-9 oils to have the same salutary effect on appetite suppression and fat loss because we already far overdose on those and they contribute significantly to inflammation. To say nothing of the trans fats they produce when you heat them.

      Did you also tell them ketosis was dangerous? That won’t help either.

      • Just because it works for you, doesn’t mean it will work for everybody, Dana. Everyone has a different body, a different hormonal profile and a different reason for their weight situation.

        Frothing at the mouth with paleo fanaticism is just the same as frothing at the mouth with calories in/calories out fanaticism, or low-fat fanaticism, or vegan fanaticism… Nobody has all the answers yet – obesity is not yet solved (no, you have not solved it). So it helps to listen and keep an open mind.

  17. Some really useful tips here. Sometimes it’s the little things that get you. I was snacking way too much on nuts without realising I was sabotaging my diet.

  18. So I lost about 20-25 lbs eating super low carb about a year ago and have been at the same weight since. I am extremely active (Competitive crossfitter) and workout 2-3 hours of heavy lifting and short intense cardio 5-6 days a week. I still have a little bit of fat to lose too and just don’t know what else to do.

    I am thinking I might not be eating enough and so my body is holding onto the fat. Am I just making this up as an excuse? I eat eggs, lean meats, lots of veggies, wasn’t eating much fruit, and avocadoes/healthy fats with limited nuts for the past year as I train.

    I just started implementing more berries, sweet potatoes, and even some oatmeal on high volume days because I was thinking maybe my metabolism has gotten too stagnant. Also, as much as I promote paleo/low carb lifestyle, I think some people just train too much that they need actual carbs other than sweet potatoes and veggies.

    Just wanted an opinion on maybe if I’m doing this wrong. Thanks!

    • Maybe you don’t actually need to lose any more fat.

    • Have you considered that you may not be eating enough calories for the amount of exercise you do and your body is holding on to it?

      I have been in a similar position. I work out 5 times a week and thought why was I not losing weight, but I was losing inches so it was ok!

      I use a food diary called myfitnesspal, there will be loads of similar online tools out there. It allows me to track my calories to make sure I have enough but also my carb intake so I don’t go overboard. Carrots can actually be quite high in carbs e.g. 200g which is a smallish tub = 18g carbs. It turns out that I am not actually eating enough calories and therefore my body is probably in starvation mode meaning not losing weight/fat/holding onto it.

      I speak to my trainer who keeps me right but I use this tool and also have a book called a carb counter so I know exactly what I am eating! There will be trainers in your gym that you can simply ask for advice. Use them, it costs nothing and can be really useful if they know their stuff!

      Hope that helps!

  19. I frequently find that Crossfitters need more carbs, and need to adjust their diet to lose that last bit of weight – and not lower carbs.

    I wrote 2 posts about this:

  20. Hi Kris – Started low-carb last month, after doing some research (which included your website). I lost 5 lbs in a month restricting carbs to 75-100g/day, but the weight loss has slowed down. Last week, when I weighed myself, I had lost 0.5 lbs when I had been losing 1-1.5lbs in the weeks before. This week, I haven’t lost any.

    To help things along, I had been considering trying to be more restrictive regarding chocolate (After 10+ years of having a dessert every night, I have downgraded to about 120 calories of a 70-80% dark chocolate bar, most nights of the week).

    After perusing this article, I’m wondering if I might be better served to cut down on the dairy. I love dairy! Milk, yogurt, cheese, mmhmm… I already have reduced my yogurt intake to an occasional on the go snack, but I find it very difficult to give up the cheese on my morning spinach and green pepper omelet, or the nice cold glass of organic whole milk that my toddler and I share. Thoughts?

    (P.S. I was also using Fitday to help keep track of my calories and carb/protein/fat intake, but you also recently recommended cronometer… Is one better than the other? I could really do without the irritating ads on Fitday.)

    • I should probably add that I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant, so I am probably more sensitive to carbs than other people.

  21. Edna Tate says:

    This is a great article. Some people get so frustrated with the low carb diet plan ( that they come to the brink of giving up. Low carb dieting is difficult but the best part about it is that you can go at your own pace. I’ve found that people who slowly eliminate high carb foods are more likely to lose weight than people who go off carbs overnight because the former group is less likely to binge eat.

  22. I have been on the Medifast diet for one year. I lost 16 lbs and went to visit family over Christmas and even though I am still on the diet I have gained it all back except for 3.5 lbs. Any suggestions?

  23. I really like this article, really useful information. I have been following a low carb plan for nearly 3 months now to help with my gym plan. A way of getting leaner rather than losing weight! I haven’t lost much weight as my training consists of 3 days weights and 2 HIIT days pw.

    But so far I have lost 1 3/4 inches from my waist and 1 inch from my hips so know it works. I would like to become much leaner though and reckon the elimination of nuts might be the way to go! Thanks for putting this out there!

  24. Great list, Kris. As someone who has been on a low carb diet several times, I can relate with many of these (especially eating too many nuts).

  25. I appreciate the things on the list. Can’t figure out which might apply to me, though. I’ve been very low carb for six months now. For the first 4 1/2 months I did really well, then hit about a 6 week (so far) plateau. But it’s not just a plateau–I’m actually gaining fat. I can see it in my more round face and feel it in my stomach.

    Ye I don’t eat nuts, eat just a smidge of cheese now, eat more fat than protein and only eat about 1600-1800 calories a day (female). I never eat anything but “real foods”- in fact living in a thirld world country I have no access to Atkins bars or “low-carb” breads and pasta and that kind of garbage. I eat fresh beef, butter, vegetables, homeade olive oil salad dressing, coconut oil and occasionally some chicken. (Our choices of clean, safe meat are very, very limited). I don’t eat all the time–usually just two meals a day, never cheat. I don’t even want carby foods anymore.

    At the beginning I was losing weight really fast (almost 100 pounds so far, which is great! However I’m still very overweight. I need to lose at least 50 more pounds to even get close to the upper end of proper weight for my height.) I also was very sedentary at the beginning. Now I have more energy and do lift weights a few times a week and do some walking (with bursts of running) every day. Yet I’m gaining fat. Not muscle (which I am gaining a bit) but also fat. Visibly.

    • That’s incredible, congrats on your awesome success. 100 pounds is a LOT.

      Losing those last pounds can often be tricky. It’s possible that you need to cut back on calories even further to continue losing.

  26. Hi Kris,
    Thanks for the article, very interesting, helpful and true.

    My story goes like this (I’ll try to keep it brief): I was 64kg and eating very ‘healthy’ for many months and consistently working out (mostly running) however wasn’t managing to lose any significant weight (goal weight: 56kg).

    So I started low carbing and (combined with 5 days/week running) lost ~5kgs in a 2-3 month period. I managed to maintain the weight loss for about 2 months after that.

    At that stage I wanted to continue losing weight until I got to my goal weight, however I probably let my diet slide somewhat because I felt I was doing so well.

    My weight started to creep back on so I returned to my very strict lchf diet (even stricter than before). 2 months on and I have practically gained all my weight back and am now 63kg again after maintaining 58/59kg for a few months – but the thing is I haven’t changed anything!

    I’m still exercising and have actually increased strength training and I’m eating a very ketogenic diet in accordance with all your points above.

    So basically I’m doing the exact same thing as when I lost 5kg but now instead of losing 5kg, I’ve gained it!

    Physiologically speaking that’s a huge difference and doesn’t make sense to me. What’s wrong with me?? Would love to hear your opinion.

    • Monique,

      There are a few things. You may be putting on muscle, the other thing is with 5 days a week workouts, you’re stressing your system to the extreme that your body thinks it’s in starvation and holding on to as much as it can. Please read ‘Good Calories, Bad Calories’ by Gary Taubes, and ‘Primal Blueprint’ by Mark Sisson for scientific answers to the possible reasons.

  27. Oops, before you say that my weight goal is unrealistic, I’m quite short (162cm) and previously tended to stabilize at around 58kg by just eating a ‘balanced’ diet.

    • “…and previously tended to stabilize at around 58kg by just eating a ‘balanced’ diet.”

      If you had better success on a typical balanced diet then perhaps that is something you should do instead of low-carb.

      Low-carb isn’t for everyone, there are many people who do better on a different type of diet.

      • Sharon says:

        Hi, I have been trying to lose 1 stone. I started low carbing on March 30th and so far have lost 8lb. My typical diet has 109g fat, 70g protein and 35g carbs which is approximately 70:20:10 % on 1400 cals/day. Female 5ft 3 and 140lb.

        I feel much much better eating this way, even though losing is slow. My query is, should I be in ketosis or not to lose weight while eating this amount of fat? Thanks.

      • “Low-carb isn’t for everyone, there are many people who do better on a different type of diet.” – Kris.

        Hi, Kris, I think this is a great article and thank you for it.

        Your above comment is something I would like to hear more about.

        I can relate to Monique’s experience. I also did not succeed on a low-carb diet. I was very strict with it for a period of months. I lost no weight, felt worse, and when I started eating carbs again my blood sugar actually improved. I get quite irritated when low-carb fanatics say, “Oh you must have cheated/not followed the diet properly etc etc”. I followed that diet to the letter. It just didn’t work for me.

        I’d love to know more about the times when low-carb diets don’t work.

        Here’s a suspicion I’ve been harbouring: how much of the science proving that low-carb works has been done on studies of healthy young men? If so, then the science proves that it works… for men. And if that’s the case, then possibly what’s “wrong” with Monique and me is that we’re women.

        This good-for-men-but-we-forgot-about-women scenario is exactly what’s happened with the intermittent fasting craze. Of the seventy-plus studies which supposedly prove it’s so effective and healthy, only thirteen included women and all of those women were menopausal, AND the studies showed it made them unhealthier! The studies do show that intermittent fasting is healthy… for men. But not for women, if anyone had bothered to look.

        Is the same problem going on with the science behind low-carb? How many other so-called “proven” facts are in reality only true for men, because the studies were only ever done on healthy young men, and have never, ever, been tested on women.

        Since we now know that weight gain/loss is driven by hormones, it would make sense that the stark hormonal differences between men and women would cause them to respond in hugely different ways to weight loss diets and exercise.

  28. Help! I am tired of working out, eating a low calorie diet and working out with no results. I eat salmon and salad every other day for dinner. Days in between I ear 8 grain toast with egg. For breakfast and lunch I drink a high protein shake. For snack I eat fruit with nonfat Greek yogurt. I drink water and coffee with In the Raw sugar and fat free cream.

    I walk an incline for 40 minutes every day except Wed and Friday when I roller skate. I also do minimal resistance (squats, leg extensions, arms). I have been doing this for at least 6 months and my clothes fit the same, no weight loss. What am I doing wrong? Dr. tested thyroid but it was fine. My Vitamin D was low but back up to normal. HELP!

  29. Marsha says:

    I hate being diabetic! Doc put me on no carb, more protein, higher fat, and greens diet (modified atkins). All the meat I want, a minimum of 6 cups green salad, green veggies (but not the starchy ones), 4 oz cheese per day, cauliflower, and all the eggs I want. It’s now going on 7 weeks and I’ve only lost 3 pounds.

    I never fry food, can’t stand fish, my dressing is usually evoo, or a sugar/carb free vinaigrette – maybe a Tablespoon on a salad, cook with olive oil, only a TBSP of heavy cream (no carbs/no sugar) in my daily 2 cups of coffee. I drink a minimum of 100 oz water/iced green tea per day – usually more.

    I have been able to get off all meds except 500 Metformin once a day, but still no weight loss. I am on a regular exercise plan, and I chase my grandchildren around on my days off from work. What am I doing wrong?

    • Marsha says:

      Oh yeah – 5’8″, 200 pounds, female. Need to lose 50 pounds, not just 5 or 10.

    • You should try the suggestions in this article. Many people have broken through a plateau with simple adjustments like cutting back on dairy and nuts.

      • Marsha says:

        Thanks for your reply, but I have no dairy other than the 2 T heavy cream per day in my coffee and the occasional 4 oz cheese limit per day, and I don’t eat any nuts at all. I usually only have .75oz cheese square when I have cheese.

        Seriously – I only eat green salad, green veggies like broccoli and spinach, cauliflower, eggs, and meat – a mixture of low fat and some higher fat breakfast sausage/bacon a few times a week. I only cook with olive oil or Pam, I don’t fry food and rarely use salt.

        Doc said minimum 8,000 steps per day, I counted for a few weeks and average 12,000 steps per day – some days as high as 18,000 others down to 8,000 – and I work out 4-5 days per week. 7 weeks – 3 pounds. TSH levels are normal (thyroid). Carbs are under 20 per day, sugar is held as close to 0 as possible, no processed foods other than the bacon/sausage – everything is cooked fresh. There is no reason I shouldn’t be dropping weight like crazy – any other thoughts?

        • You’re probably eating too many calories to lose weight. You should create a free account on and log your food intake for a few days.

          • Saw the doc yesterday – hmmm none of the above are answers. I keep a very detailed food diary and plugged in two weeks worth into a calorie/carb counter and am at about 700-1000 calories per day prior to exercise factored in. Should have been in starvation mode the first couple weeks then started pulling from fat cells – no luck. Blood Glucose numbers are still high in the mornings and lower to normal after eating breakfast, usually by mid morning. Issues at night – 500mg Metformin not enough to do much I guess.

            He upped the Metformin with an extended release with saxagliptin added in (kombiglyze XR). Also decreased the salad (less veggie carbs), took away my zuchinni which I love, and increased protein. So far it’s working – have lost a pound a day for three days now. Sure hope this is the magic formula for me – I have to give the kombiglyze a few weeks to notice any a.m. glucose changes. Man I have a weird body chemistry – guess I’m meant to be a hard-core carnivore.

  30. Kris,

    Great article.

    I would say for me eating smaller meals throughout the day makes it easier to keep a handle on my calorie intake and curb “big cravings”.

    I am trying to wrap my mind around your statement that some get too much protein. If you cut protein, either fat and/or carbs have to come up as you know. Good fat almost always comes with carbs or high protein (ex. Fish for protein).

    I am a fitness buff who fell off the wagon for a few years and dropped 20% body fat in 3 months (no joke). Nothing radical, just a low carb/high protein diet and exercise (A dr. recently said I have had hypothyroid for years after looking at current and old blood tests. The lowest on some Dr’s “acceptable” scale). I lost despite this.

    I helped a lot of people with low carb by looking at their diets and seeing bacon, pork skins, extremely fatty red meats etc. Basically a ton of bad fat. Can you explain how to keep protein low without bumping carbs and/or bad fats off the chart. To me the math doesn’t add up.

    You will probably say my protein was ok because I did exercise with weights, intervals and sustained fat burning walks/runs. I would agree.

    I kept my fats as low as possibly with omega-3′s as the exception. Again the lower protein ratio is hard to grasp in a low carb diet.

    Thanks Kris,


    • The thing with protein and low-carb is that if you eat too much of it, it will prevent you from getting into ketosis.

      A “well-formulated” low-carb diet (according to many doctors who use this in their practice) should be low carb, moderate protein and high fat.

      There is no reason to fear fat on a low-carb diet, it becomes your major energy source.

      • Well said Kris. There is so much ‘Fat Phobia’. Who would have thought a nut case like Ancel Keys would negatively influence the world so much.

      • Kris – if one absolutely hates fish like so many of us do, or has fish allergies, how does one increase the fat intake? Most of what I’ve seen the good fat comes from salmon and oily fish. Meat fat isn’t good fat – I can’t see increasing hamburger fat percentage. I already use evoo (extra virgin olive oil) on my salads and when needed when cooking. What do you consider good fats and where can one get them without fish? Thanks!

  31. One more thing: Those doing any nutrition or diet plan, keep track of everything with tools like Weigh everything at first until you are really skilled at eyeballing. It can be shocking how much sodium, fat, carbs or calories you consume.

    Kris makes a great point about products such as Atkins bar. JUNK, JUNK, JUNK! plus it’s candy that just makes you crave more. Dr. Atkins would roll in his grave. <– the only "bar" I recommend. Expensive and online only but amazing and worth the money.

    In general everything in the middle of the grocery store should be avoided. Sounds weird but really look. That is weird every with ingredients you can't pronounce and highly processed. There are a few exception but in general this is true.

    I am done :)

  32. Chestersmommy says:

    I am a runner – I usually log about 30-40 miles per week: usually three 5-7 mile runs during the week and a longer run of 13-20 on the weekends, depending upon what race I’m training for. I vary my runs with hill workouts, intervals, long and steady, etc. in hopes of boosting my metabolism. The problem is that my longer runs make me so hungry that I tend to overeat several hours after.

    I also have been living under the philosophy that I need more whole grain carbs for “quicker energy” when doing endurance work. This has resulted in weight gain, however. While some of this has been an increase in lean tissue, much of it has been fat. So now I’m trying a high protein, low carb diet – lots of chicken, Greek yogurt, whey protein drinks, lots of veggies, peanut butter, etc.

    Can I continue to get the energy I need on my runs without carbs, and will this help me lose weight in the process? Interestingly, those lean Kenyans eat diets that are 75% carb, although they probably control their calories a bit better than I have been.

    • To get the energy for endurance, you’ll need to get fat adapted. Even then, you may have to add carbs like sweet potatoes and potatoes in small portions, and remove grain based foods.

  33. Michael Campbell says:

    I don’t believe any of this. I am 50 years old, walk several miles, five days a week, and I eat between 1250 and 1400 calories a day, and I am still 260 pounds (I am 6 foot 1 inch tall). The doctor tells me, “You need to eat more, increase your protein, several small meals a day.” I’ll go up to 1700 or 1800 calories, sometimes more. Still, nothing changes.

    In my adult life, I have fasted for three days and then did low calorie for several additional days, with exercise, no weight loss. I have done the opposite, going as high as 2500 calories of fiber (celery, veggies, protein), nothing happens. For me, the Ornish and the MacDougall diets are very easy. But I get no results. And Weight Watchers is a breeze to follow. In short, limiting my intake is a cinch. But I still get no results.

    For the record, for the last 30 years, these are the things I have not eaten: steaks, breakfast cereals, and fried food, sausages, bacons, ice cream, pastas, etc… I don’t drink alcohol (never did), and in general rarely eat cakes or chips. I am not a big bread eater, and so limiting the carbs is easy. I allow myself one candy bar each week (I am human…). Also, I drink carbonated water (I gave up my diet soda habit last year).

    So, 1200 calories doesn’t work, nor does 1300, 1400 1500, etc. Why doesn’t the weight come off? There is no thyroid or diabetes issue. No matter what I do, the fat gut remains. I resent it when people say, “You’re cheating…or miscalculating.” No, I measure everything, and in the case of one diet I was on, everything was already prepackaged and frozen. I am not dumb.

    I no longer believe any of this from anybody.

    • I totally agree! I can’t tell you how many times doctors have accused me of cheating on their diet of the week. I just went back and filled in for two weeks on the calorie counter recommended from my logs – found I am only eating between 700-1000 calories a day on low carb high protein – before exercise is added in. Still no weight loss. I’m still searching for what will work for me as I am just like you! No fried low salt no carbs no sweets and no flavor! I am diabetic so even the one candy bar a week is not for me. A bite of a birthday cake here and there and a scoop of sugar free ice cream – pre- low carb diet. I see the doc this week for a follow up of 8 weeks low carb – will see what he says this time as its his modified Atkins diet I’ve been following.

      • Michael Campbell says:

        Thank you Marsha. I have no doubt what Mr. Gunnars says, as it works for so many people. But not a whole heck of a lot works for me. The worst was last year when my 75 year old parents and I did Weight Watchers together. They don’t exercise and each lost about 18 pounds in six months. I lost 3.

        And in this case, I know we were eating the same things because I would go to their house for meals before work (I work at night and am single again), so. well — you get the picture. This is the source of so much of my frustration. The quality of my what I eat is superb by any standard; the discipline I maintain in following a diet is great.

        Granted, it was how much I ate that got me into trouble to begin with, but for ten years now, quantity has been easy to control. You want to fast? Restrict? Cut back? No problem. But no results.

        • Michael Campbell says:

          I don’t want people to think I am a frowning sour grape with my post : ) so I have been thinking carefully about my diet, and I now see what I am doing wrong: I either have an abundance of veggies and lots of hidden carbs, or I have an abundance of veggies and very little protein.

          Twelve years ago, I actually lost 20-plus pounds in a month and a half. I was thrilled at the time, but it all came back. I just re-read my diary and I realize now that I was following the low-carb diet.

          For a late breakfast I would have a large bowl (bucket would be more like it) of frozen veggies with two scrambled eggs or a low-carb soy protein burger. Two hours later at lunch, I would have the same but usually with two chicken breasts with melted real cheese. My early dinner at two in the afternoon was usually a large salad with another protein (more often than not, chicken), and for a late dinner it was usually a can of tuna over a salad with vinegar and oil. I looked at my old diary notes, and all that food equaled between 1200 and 1400 calories per day on average. These foods, by the way were foods I really enjoy(ed).

          So, there you have it. The veggies were never an issue, but either sneaky hidden carbs or no protein at all has been an issue.

          So today, I ate plenty of protein (ground turkey meat, eggs) and lots of veggies (shredded broccoli, cabbage and carrot salads). I am stuffed. And my calorie count came in at between 1500 and 1600 calories. Very interesting that the proteins are so filling and yet relatively low in calories.

          But what had I done these past twelve years to gain it back? I think it was late-at-night carbs and calorie restriction and way too many diet sodas. So wish me luck and thank you Mr. Gunnars. I think this might work (again). One last: What about lentils or kidney beans? I like them. I know they are healthy. Can I add them back in carefully if I lose this weight again?

    • What do you eat each day now? Try eating eggs in butter for breakfast and steak or chicken for lunch. Lift weights.

  34. Sarahling says:

    Hi I would like to find out where can I get more fat and less protein into my diet.

    I am 23, trying to get my abs (pre-workout) for the very first time in my life. Have been following the all natural food, low-carb (high protein moderate fat) diet for about 2 years with cycling in between (usually 4-2 or 5-2 ratio for cycling). My body fat percentage has always been moderately low, usually 17-20, only once at 21.5. At present my fat percentage is 18% but i still have a visible layer of belly, especially lower belly and when seated.

    My diet usually consists of 20% carbohydrates (from dairy and vegetables), 60% protein, 20% fat and I am liberal with eggs (2, mostly 3 per day), full fat plain yoghurt, cheese slices, soy milk and full cream milk. The only carbohydrates that I ingest are from dairy products and vegetables (only minimal). I drink hot unsweetened green tea everyday. I have cut out nuts and fruits (except for avocado) from my diet and have recently read about the high fat, moderate protein and low/no carb diet.

    If I remove dairy products and reduce protein intake in my diet, won’t meat and egg intake be reduced as well? This is a list of foods that I have gathered are safe to eat:

    Olive oil on food, in cooking etc
    Nuts (Moderate, or eliminate?)
    Vegetables grown above ground
    Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines-the tomato canned ones have a lot of sugar, don’t they?)
    Eggs/Meat for protein (How much is too much?)

    I have read about diets that are 50-60% in fat, 40-30% in protein and maximum 10% in carbs. How to get a diet that is so high in fat? Must I drink olive oil from the bottle already?

    • Sarahling says:

      Just to add on, I have a very active lifestyle in the form of exercise and daily activities. I hold several part time jobs that requires me to travel to different places in everyday (Part-time student) and I do HIIT workouts and core and weight training with plank variations, pushups, squats, lunges, deadweight lifts and the like about 3-4 times a week.

      What is the best way to lose the fat around my belly, given my diet and exercise level?

  35. Hi Kris, this is a great, concise article! Thank you! I’ve been LCHF/Paleo/Primal for just over a year now. I can’t say I’ve made a huge dent in the scale, but then I wasn’t massively over weight to begin with, just in search of a better lifestyle. However the difference I feel personally with my energy levels, zero cravings, and no blood sugar dips have been remarkable!

    Even if it meant I had put weight on it would have been worth it to no longer be a slave to my sugar/carb cravings and erratic energy levels. Luckily though I not only have my energy under control and feel energized all day, every day. I also look and feel much healthier, inside and out!

    It would be nice to tell people that I’ve lost +++kg’s, but I don’t think that’s what it’s about. I understand that people are skeptical, but I urge everyone who doesn’t feel they are getting the most out of life to try it and see and feel the difference for themselves. Thank you again for such a great article!

    • I totally agree with your comments and relate to your situation well on carbs/low carbs, it’s great not to be so hungry anymore and eat good food! Society is great at telling us that fat is bad, people just need to learn a little more about it and hopefully give it a go…

  36. This article is right on target! Personally I do track calories AND carbs, mainly because when I began I wasn’t losing weight. Once I started tracking every bite/drink in FitDay, I could identify pitfalls. Heavy cream in my coffee was a culprit (and not measuring, so thinking I was using 1 Tbsp — but was pouring about 3!) I switched to unsweetened Almond Milk, and measure or weigh everything to avoid under “reporting” my intake. Another culprit was nuts. Even though I weighed out an ounce, nuts would keep me from ketosis. (I think I read somewhere that some people may have mold “allergies” to nuts which can cause that?)

    Dairy? Cheese will slow my weight loss down, so I rarely have that. But I do enjoy Chiobani Unsweetened Greek non-fat yogurt. It has only 100 calories, 7 grams carbs and 18 grams protein per individual serving. I use it as a “dessert” 2 times a week.

    33 weeks in and I’ve lost 80.6 lbs. And I’m 48 and I’ve been menopausal for years (hysterectomy at 36). I’ve never plateaued; I’ve lost weight every week. Just this week I reached “normal” BMI, but am staying on it to lose another 20 lbs (I’m small boned).

    I am amused by people who tell me I’ll gain it all back if I go off the diet. Um … if you go back to eating whatever got you fat in the first place, it doesn’t matter *which* diet you were on, you will gain it all back.

    I will never go back to eating carbs the way I did before. I’m hypoglycemic and have hereditary chronic pancreatitis. Insulin spikes were literally killing me. I haven’t had an acute attack since I started low carb, and my pain levels have dropped tremendously.

    This diet makes me want to steal the AA mantra: It works if you work it!

  37. I keep reading people’s comments stating they “haven’t reached their goals,” that “nothing works for me,” that “I’d rather just eat what I want and screw it.” (Paraphrasing). How long have you been trying what you’re doing? One week? Three months? A year?

    Changing your body is a marathon, not a sprint. It took me three months to build 6 lb of muscle and 24 lb of fat (was bulking) and now I’m cutting and have to remind myself to be patient. Rather than getting bogged down with nutritional science (which as I’m sure you can tell by the ridiculous amount of conflicting information is barely an exact science), just picture an improved version of yourself and work towards it.

    Exercise when you can (start with two days per week), get on a program which you can find anywhere online, or sign up for some classes at the gym, or get outside and hike, or fish, or find something else you enjoy. And COMMIT. After 2 weeks you’ll build up good habits and MORE IMPORTANTLY a positive attitude.

    Add to your starting regimen 7-8 hours of sleep per night and get rid of all junk food in the house. And BE. PATIENT. Love the process, and you’ll learn to love yourself. Just think: you have your ENTIRE LIFE to get where you want to be. Take it slow and steady, and enjoy the ride.

    Sorry if this was long, but I feel other people’s frustrations and it makes me frustrated. I want everyone to win! :-)

  38. Kathleen Virginia says:

    Hi, I have read so many of these lists and a lot of them say the same thing. Yours is much more based on actual science though and why certain things may effect a person. My situation is so darn frusterating, I just don’t know what to do. I am about to shell out a lot of money for a nutritionist and a personal trainer (which I don’t have-SAHM).

    I quit smoking in Jan with the patch. I didn’t gain weight and I actually lost 2-3 lbs. I decided to get back in shape and lose weight by 1. Exercising 2. Eating healthy. I did this by doing weight loss programs on my ellipitical and jogging/running. I average 2 miles a day/6 days a week. It is WORK. I joined SparksPeople and set up my goal of going from 160 to 135.

    It told me how much carb, protein, fat, sugar to eat and I tracked my calories. Basically high protein, low carb. I eat a plain egg and blueberries for breakfast w/ water and my multivitamin. For lunch I steam spinach, tomatoes w/ little garlic and a 90cal organic chicken sausage. Sometimes I add a 1/2 of avacodo. For dinner, its usually chicken and some veggie.

    For snacks, 1 or 2 hand fulls of plain peanuts or blueberries. I started this 6 weeks ago, AND HAVE GAINED 6 lbs!!! I don’t look trimmer. I don’t feel better. My face is fatter than before. No clothes fit. The past 2 weeks I added more exercise and at last I didn’t gain weight. I only weigh myself on Mondays (after bathroom, before shower or food).

    I don’t eat any fake sugar or caffeine. I have had blood tests done to check for thyroid bc my Mom has it. My calorie intake says I have a deficit of 1000 every day. WHAT AM I DOING WRONG!! PS 32 year old female eating 1250 calories a day.

    • Eat more fat. Your body can only process so much protein, over eating that will make you gain weight. It should be low carb, medium protein, high fat. Forget about the calories, you sound too anxious about the whole thing, that can’t help.

      Have another rest day in with exercising, give your body a break.

  39. Donna50 says:

    Eating within the typical suggested ratios on sparkpeople will definitely make me gain! I’m way too carb sensitive for that diet. And once, on a very low carb diet but also low fat and high protein, my fasting glucose number actually went up… showing that my body was converting protein to glucose.

    Try Kris’s suggestions, especially #2, and increase your fat intake. I was so scared to go this route. I just knew eating fat would make me gain faster. It didn’t. I keep it to veggies… no fruit for now until I get my weight under control, except for 7-10 frozen unsweetened blueberries 3-4 times a week in a green smoothie. Keeping that carb number below 50 grams was the key for me.

  40. Rene Griesel says:

    7 years ago I lost 44kg in 4 months on the Atkinson Diet and I’ve managed to keep it off up to now. I feel very good about myself as I’ve gone from a size 44 down to a size 34. I’m not as strict as I use to be back then but I’ve still managed to keep the weight off. I don’t agree about the cheese comment in the article as cheese was one of the dairy’s I ate on a daily basis and loads of it and I still do but make sure it’s the hard cheese like gouda and cheddar. I would just like to say to everyone struggling to loose weight to try the Atkinson diet especially if your blood group is O.

    O yes and I also didn’t take in any carbs in my first 4 months. I also drink a cup of boiling water first thing every morning and then after every meal. I eat very little at a time as my stomach had shrunk so much that I don’t need to eat a lot at a time. I also eat 3 times a day and I make sure to eat every day at the same time as your brain then knows when food will be coming and it won’t store it. I eat every day 10:00am, 14:00pm and 18:00pm. Good luck to you all.

  41. T-Baggins415 says:

    I was low carbing for almost 2 months and didn’t lose a pound. I did it before with great results but this time my weight just remained stagnant. Then I remembered what the good Dr. Atkins said about caffeine and to not eat anything that is not on the acceptable foods list. So I cut coffee and “low carb” protein shakes out and I lost 8 pounds in 10 days. The Doc knew his stuff.

  42. Thanks for this article.

    I have been on a low carb diet for the last four months. I have lost 25 kgs of weight. I had been steadily loosing at 1.2 kgs a week till two weeks back, since when there is hardly any weight loss. I am a vegetarian and most of my diet has been fruits and vegetables. I have around 20 grams of wheat bread each day. I cycle for about an hour a day. Why would my weight not go off any idea?

  43. I am really upset about my body. I am 56 years old, I work out 4-6 times a week. I have been a vegetarian for 40 years, I do not eat sugar, or processed foods, I have a very low fat diet (my one splurge, 1/2 & 1/2 with my coffee) I don’t smoke a I rarely drink. I do pretty much everything they tell you to do to be tone and fit but over the past year my body has turned on me!

    I have fat dimples on the backs of my thighs and around my middle, I am even getting a paunch, I’m really upset about this because if I cut back anymore I will basically be living on parsley :( My blood work is great , no thyroid issues, etc , etc. What can I do? Is this just another bummer in the getting old list of bummers? HELP!!! I work way too hard to look this bad!

    • T. Baggins415 says:

      Hello Mo. You say you’re a vegetarian. What exactly are you eating? Take me through a typical day of your meals, including beverages, supplements and shakes if you do any. Also what kind of work out you do? I believe I can help. I’ve gone from 250lbs down to 200 back up and down again. I’m 5’11 and currently 204lbs. I’m going for 190 or maybe 185 before summer hits. I’ve lost 10 lbs in less than 2 weeks.

  44. Another reason for no weight loss is in insulin resistance, where they body is not only resistant to insulin, but is producing way too much glucose from the liver. This will happen despite low carbs and despite controlled protein. As soon as your liver dumps glucose (at 3 times the rate of a ‘normal’ person)… bye bye nutritional ketosis.

  45. Great post. It is good to see others confirming that there is more to weight loss than just low carb dieting (even though I feel it is a major part of the process). Keep up the good work.

  46. I would like to say that I followed this mind set and did everything but exercise and lost 60 pounds in 6 months. Then I got a job which keeps me sitting all day and eating whatever is around and I gained it all back. Not because the diet failed, but because I changed my good habits for old habits.

    I am working on getting my mind right and starting again and we have a small gym in the building that I have joined even if it to walk 30 min a day. Yes, I could go outside, but with the gym 6 floors down I have almost no excuse to at least walk. The stairs will be a new trial for me as well. 10 flights down and 4 flights up for now.

    I will say that everything, and I mean everything that I did is listed here and it was a success. My poor food choices is what got me where I am now, which is back at the beginning. Thanks for the article, it made me happy because it shows I was doing the right thing :)

  47. After how many days you start losing weight? I’ve been doing SCD for 3 days and didn’t even lose a half pound!! This is frustrating!!!

  48. I started LC for the first time because I’ve been gaining weight since January non stop eventhough I was exercising 5/6 times a week.

    After 22 days of Low Carb, I did not loose any noticeable pounds but today I went on the scale at the gym and my body fat had dropped and I have more muscles. That made my day. I have to say that clothes still fit the same but maybe that will change soon.

    But I have one question. I thought that I did not have to count the fat intake. Just cook my meals with fat and eat it. Is that right, or do I have to pay attention? I was very hungry today and was craving sweet for the first time.

    • T-Baggins415 says:

      You don’t have to count your fat intake. You shouldn’t be experiencing any cravings at this point and you should’ve lost at least 10 pounds by now. I hope you read the Atkins NDR book. I didn’t realize I wasn’t losing because of protein shakes and coffee until I picked it up and read it again. After I cut those out 10 pounds fell off in 2 weeks. Remember, if it’s not on the acceptable foods list, don’t eat it. 20 carbs a day (mostly from veggies), no more that 4oz of dairy per day and drink lots of water.

  49. I lost 2 pounds only so far but my body fat and muscle mass went up. I did not really have cravings before so it was a surprise for me to feel so hungry and craving carbs so much. I don’t know why I’m not losing more but I’ve cut coffee, nuts and yogurt since a few days now so things should change now. And I’m going to reread the Atkins book again.
    Thank you for your input.

  50. Hi, just been reading all these posts and had to put my little story on for people who just feel confused. I knew I had put a bit of weight on but was not too fussed I had gone up 1 dress size. When I got weighed I was heartbroken to find I was 2 stone 8lb over my target weight.

    So I spent 2 weeks researching different diets, recording everything I ate everyday. 2 weeks later I had no idea which diet to try, which would work or which I could stick to. I have not eaten breakfast since being 15 (now 29) and all diets state you have to eat breakfast.

    Well this is all I did… did not make myself eat breakfast, just tried to eat something before 12. I cut down 1 sugar from my coffee and drank flavoured still water through the day. I still ate chocolate, just half a bar rather than a full one as chocolate is the only sweet I eat.

    I ate mostly the same foods, just on a slightly smaller scale and put more vegetables on my plate and ate fruit as a snack rather than waiting for my next meal. I have been doing this for 12 weeks and have lost 2 stone 2lb, only 6lb to go.

    I am now losing only 1 lb per week but I have changed my eating habits to something I can manage for my whole life. If I go out for a meal I eat a massive yummy piece of chocolate fudge cake and cream, I just don’t have anything sweet the day after.

    Life is for living so putting yourself into a stupid diet where you have count everything you eat or measure is not going to be realistic for working family people permanently, then you will just put the weight back on. Good luck, everyone :-)

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