Calories in, calories . . . ooops! Where’d they go?

Michael left this interesting personal experience as a comment on the Wheat Belly Blog. It is a tale of weight gained with wheat and carbohydrate intake, weight lost with elimination . . . far out of proportion to calories.

After reading Good Calories Bad Calories and learning about Alfred Pennington and his patients losing weight on his diet at 3000 calories per day I tried losing weight while eating a clear caloric surplus. I had been on a primal diet à la Mark Sisson for a while so I was already lean (effortlessly, I don’t even do low carb anymore) so for those who want to try this keep in mind that your mileage may vary but here’s what I did:

I used the Harris-Benedict formula to calculate how many calories my body needs + the activity multiplier, it gave me 2500 calories. I’ve got some muscles but I’m not very active. 155 pounds.

I completely stopped working out (my average is one and a half 30 minutes session a week) and started eating a lot of little debbie cakes. From Monday to Friday I gained 6 pounds. Saturday I cut sugar to zero, reduced my physical activity to a minimum and ate as much as I could of chicken and coconut milk. I sat on the couch and watched movies all day long and overate protein & fat up to 3300 calories. Next morning I had lost 2 pounds. Next day, same thing; next morning, same result. I lost 4 pounds in a weekend even though I overate 1600 calories and didn’t do much physical activity.

800 calories surplus per day, maybe that’s too close. So I tried it again later with a 2000 calorie surplus in one day.

Day 1 I ate 5000 calories of mostly cakes and I gained 1 pound, the 2nd day 4500 calories of a similar menu and I gained almost 2 pounds, 3rd day I cut sugar to zero but I kept my calorie intake at 4500, I overate chicken, coconut & omelettes all day long and I reduced my activities to watching movies and playing video games. I had lost 2 pounds the next day at noon.

So either:

A) it was just water anyway

B) I’m a mutant who can violate the laws of physics when I don’t eat sugar

C) calories don’t matter as much as we believe and trying to willfully create a energy deficit may not be necessary to lose fat (unless you’re aiming for a single digit bodyfat %)

(And BTW I do lose weight when I try the calorie deficit method.)

I laughed when I read a comment from a blogger who wrote that losing 1 pound per day is “calorically impossible.” Some people have their heads stuck inside their theories’ butts.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Thanks for sharing this Michael–you seem to be doing awesome!
    I would add for the benefit of others that moving as little as possible probably isn’t the best strategy for optimum use of your body–with or without wheat!
    Now I personally don’t believe in “exercise” or “working out”, but I DO believe in Play. Walking around, skipping, swimming, biking and–my personal favorite–Dancing are all forms of play that your body really enjoys doing and should be a regular part of your life.
    Besides, one of the great benefits of having a sleeker, leaner, wheat-free Body is getting to show it off to others, right?!

    • Well put, John.

      Regaining the sense of play that we lost as kids can be a really great way to re-engage in physical activity. Not jogging, but running like kids do. Not biking for distance, but biking to explore and run away from dogs. Throw a ball, chase the dog around the backyard.

  2. Cindi

    I totally lost about a pound a day or something close to it in the very beginning of my weight loss journey back in 2002. I think the first month I lost about 20 pounds. I did NO exercise for about 6 months and then began an exercise program. Then as I was gradually adding back in carbs from fruit and whole wheat products the weight loss slowed then crawled and then gradually I gained! I’m glad I heard about wheat belly. It makes sense to me. I haven’t really lost too much in a month but I did lose some. And the best part is that I’m more in control now and I’m not gaining anymore. THANK YOU!

    • Excellent, Cindi!

      Yes, wheat removal is the crucial first step. After that, exercise is helpful, but not the pivotal issue, a lesson many of us have to learn the hard way!

  3. AllisonK

    So, can I take a guess and tell me if I’m right. It was a lot easier to eat lots of cakes, and really hard to stuff yourself that full of fat and protein?

  4. greensleeves

    Well this is so easy to explain. That week of wheat and sugar (high carbs) caused him to pack on 6 lbs. water weight. Then when he went low-carb, he lost the water due to low-carb’s well known diuretic effects. Nothing mutant about it. :)

    So then he went back to eating carbs, retained more water, and lost that all again. I’m unclear what he’s proving here, forgive me, except the well-known fact that high-carb wheat-based diets encourage you to hold excess water, while low-carb diets jettison it. Am I missing something?

    He didn’t continue the experiment long enough to demonstrate anything about calories, if his account above is accurate. His statement “I lost 4 pounds in a weekend even though I overate 1600 calories” only shows how quickly low-carb sheds water; and that water clearly outweighs the mere 1/2 pound he would have put on from the 1600 calories of overeating, since it take 3500 storied calories to put on a pound.

    • AllisonK

      Unfortunately, I have to agree here. Unless I’m missing something too, or some info wasn’t provided. Calculating 33100 calories consumed over the entire experiment, and a total of 2500 calories expended per day is 25000 for the experiment, leaves us with 2.31 excess pounds.
      1st experiment you gained 6, lost 4, 2nd experiment, gained 2, lost 2. Leaves us with 2 pounds.

      • Brian

        Both of you are missing the point. The laws of thermodynamics do not apply to the human body. Taubes is correct on this point. Whether your body stores or utilizes calories depends entirely on hormonal signaling controlled by insulin levels. Blood sugar high = insulin levels high = energy dependency on glucose/glycogen/carbohydrate. Your fat stores cannot be accessed for fuel and thus the “bonk” ensues if you deplete your liver reserves of glycogen, despite having ample bodyfat to draw upon. This is the standard “Runner’s World” mantra for how exercise works, and it’s completely false, misleading, and dishonest, just as giving 4-5 star reviews to every running shoe they review despite the fact that modern running shoes are what is causing the catostrophic injury rate among casual runners. Got hurt? (from too much shoe “support”) Answer: You need even more shoe support!
        Hmm… What does that remind you of? Upside Down Food Pyramid, anyone?
        I realize this isn’t a sports nutrition blog, but my findings in regard to the junk science being spread in my field I believe are instructive across the board to just how much misinformation has been peddled for 30+ years. (Ironically, we seemed to have nailed both running and nutrition science prior to the seventies, and then everything inexplicably ran the tracks.)
        I recently ran a 3:30 marathon on near zero carb training, zero pre-race “carb loading”, and on an empty stomach with the lone exception of my morning coffee (no sugar, full fat cream). I also performed this feat wearing Vibram Five Fingers, which are as close to barefoot running as the soles of my feet will currently permit (but I’m working on it!) I finished the race without any need for energy gels or sports drinks (or even what I last had for dinner; my body can now function entirely on my fat stores 24/7), and was barely even sore afterward, when typically I can barely hobble around for weeks. And 3:30 is a personal record time for me, to the tune of about a net 18 minute gain!
        Anyone who keeps repeating the “calories in/out” nonsense is like the drunk looking for his keys beneath the streetlight. He’s not even sure that’s where he dropped them, but that’s where the light is!
        People need a radical paradigm shift before any of this can start to make sense. Until then, it’s like trying to put a man on the moon while still believing the sun revolves the earth. Cognitive dissonance is not a good look for dieticians, registered or otherwise. I see Bachelor’s of Nutrition on someone’s resume and I already know precisely what they’re going to advocate. Nothing less than the standard Party Line.

        • AllisonK

          I don’t believe in calories in/calories out either. Just saying we need more information because this seems to support their theory. My original comment was going to say “where did those calories magically go” but then I looked at the numbers.

          • Brian

            Scale-weight is too imprecise of a metric in order to be useful in the above experiment. If he could precisely measure his bodyfat % changes across longer periods, it would have more utility in drawing conclusions. I can drop five + pounds in the course of a single run. Is it because I’m burning fat like gangbusters, dehydrating the fluids in my body without immediately replacing them, a combination of both? Who knows? Really can’t draw any conclusions except over a longer period to observe trends.
            But as far as calorie counts go, just think about the big picture math for a second. Take someone who is overweight by 100 pounds or more. By the Calorie Doctrine, that means they “over-ate” by a minimum of 350,000 calories over a specific amount of time (most likely, several years). Let’s also assume that their Calorie Doctrine basic metabolic rate is around 2000 cal/day. That means, according to CD, they had to consume that amount in addition to the 730,000+ per annum calories they would need just to maintain their “ideal” weight. I’m not even sure how to calculate via CD what you would need to consume daily just to maintain a bodyweight of 100 pounds over ideal. I’m going to assume it’s a monumental effort to eat enough calories/day just to hold onto an excess 100 pounds, even just couch surfing all day.
            I think we accept this ludicrous math as logical only because it confirms our biases that the obese are undisciplined and lazy and no wonder they’re so large. I used to believe this myself, despite all evidence to the contrary, because I never thought to question the almighty Calorie Doctrine. I just assumed that people were lying when they said they were eating right, watching calories (many practically on starvation rations!), were exercising like mad, yet were still massively heavy. I seriously just assumed that they were gorging themselves at night once no one was looking. But the math involved in that scenario is even more ridiculously impossible.
            The answer is that their body is being told to store as fat nearly every calorie that comes its way, without the ability to access and utilize for fuel those same fat stores, and can only fuel itself from meal to meal via glucose, i.e. carbohydrate, i.e. the very substance causing this vicious cycle in the first place via hyperglycation (forgive me if I just invented a word). Thus, you’re fat and yet still you’re always “starving.” It’s almost a cultural cliche or punchline, the fat guy who’s always hungry. But it’s hugely instructive once you stop chuckling and start questioning “WHY is he always hungry?” This is the first step in the paradigm shift. The second step sends you off the edge down into the rabbit hole that the major theme of Dr. Davis’s book is but only a small part of.

        • Dannyb

          Sorry to high-jack this thread, but just have a question about your running. I’ve been eating wheat free for about 2 weeks. I’ve dropped about 10 pounds since I started, but on long runs over about 90 minutes or longer, I feel like I don’t have as much energy. I sort of expect this since my body has been trained to burn glycogen for the last 10 years. I’ve read theories about how your body can burn fat much more efficiently than glycogen, but I’m just curious how long it took you to start feeling this effect. My energy during the day is much higher and shorter runs seem to be going well – just wondering how long until my body adjusts to the low carb fuel for distance.

          • Brian

            Took a few weeks, personally. I suspect it was more psychosomatic than anything. You expect to feel weak, therefore you do. Honestly, if Men’s Health and Runner’s World et al hadn’t been preaching about “glycogen stores” for the past 25 years, would you even know or care what the heck glycogen was? They’ve been completely wrong on footwear, I think they’re wrong on this too. Stick with it, and try not to push ahead of your lactate threashold too far too fast. Just use training to push your threashold further forward so you can be faster yet still not cross over from aerobic to anaerobic. It’s a fine line.

      • Michael

        BTW I didn’t do the two experiments one right after the other, the 2nd was a month and a half later. A guy I met who was counting calories to lose weight didn’t believe my story and I told him I’d try it it again with a bigger caloric surplus.

    • Obviously, this is just a casual observation. Michael cannot provide detailed tissue analyses, such as percent or pounds water vs. fat vs. muscle.

      However, I would wager that, had he measured waist circumference, waist size–more a reflection of abdominal/visceral fat stores–would go up and down in lockstep with weight. Water is only part of the equation.

      • Tim Keenan

        While I totally concur that there is no linear relationship between caloric intake and fat metabolism, there are too many uncontrolled variables in such an experiment for it to show anything at all. If I take a single 400 mg dose of ibuprofen, for example, I will reliably gain at least 2 lb in 12 hours.

        I am with Brian in the sports-medicine-nutrition-dogma camp. I live my life near the edge of ketosis, and I can ride a 160-km (100-mile) road bike race in under 5 hours with no carbohydrate intake whatsoever, which any sports nutrition “expert” will tell you is impossible. I am 56, and have a body-fat percentage of approximately 17. My BMI is about 27.7, which reads as “overweight” to people who believe in that useless statistic.

        • I still can’t get answers from glycogen gurus who claim such feats are impossible. Deafening silence. Sort of like Tom Naughton’s doctor in the Fathead movie after Tom tells him what he’s been eating for a month that caused him to drop 12 pounds.
          I’m predicting an Orwellian sea change coming soon from the CW types. “Carbohydrates are bad for you. Carbohydrates have always been bad for you.” Flushed right down the memory hole.

    • Michael

      I understand the water loss caused by low carb diets, the initial weight loss is usually water but what’s fascinating is that I lost 2 pounds after only one day of very low carb (basically zero sugar) immediately after eating a lot of sugar. Since I did no physical exercise during my zero-sugar overeating phases I seriously doubt that I depleted my glycogen reserves and therefore only lost water weight.

      “He didn’t continue the experiment long enough to demonstrate anything about calories”

      Let’s take the 2nd experiment: I overeat sugar for 2 days then I immediately cut sugar to zero on the 3rd day, I do my best to be as inactive as I can to minimize glycogen depletion and I eat 2000 calories more than the amount I’m supposed to eat to maintain my weight. I still lost 2 pounds. That doesn’t make sense, unless the importance of calories has been exagerrated.

      Calories matter if your bodyfat % is somewhat low or if you want to reach that low bodyfat %. There’s no doubt in my mind that if I was say a 6 % bodyfat bodybuilder eating too many calories would make me gain fat.

      Creating a calorie deficit can also accelerate fat loss if it’s not too big of a deficit but one thing I know for sure is that I can’t get fat unless I eat too much sugar. Eating a surplus of calories from fat or protein doesn’t make me fat. Maybe for some people it does but if that’s the case it probably isn’t because of the extra calories per se.

      I could try to eat 4500 calories of protein and fat every day for a month but someone already did something similar, I’m trying to find his website, I forgot the URL. geek beast or something. He ate a low carb diet at 5000 calories/day for a month and he lost 20 pounds.

      I wrote that initial comment because I was reading negative comments on Wheat Belly, some saying losing a pound a day was impossible because of the laws of physics or something. If I can lose 2 pounds per day overeating then losing a pound a day by cutting wheat is more than possible (even if the initial weight loss for most people is indeed water).

      • Rest assured, Michael, that I’ve observed your experience in many other people.

        The whole “calories in, calories out” notion is deeply flawed and plain wrong.

  5. ed

    Even if it is water – why does wheat/carbs cause a person to hold so much water? Is it from inflammation?

  6. Helen

    Wow, I wish I were a mutant who could violate the laws of physics, LOL!
    Michael, if you are reading… What is your age range?
    I ask because I could eat anything without gaining an ounce before I was 30. Now 45, I can only dream of mutant status. : )

  7. Brian

    The easiest way to let go of the Calorie Doctrine mindset is to recognize that the body never completely shuts down, therefore a “daily calorie expenditure” is an arbitrary human constraint based on our calendar that the body does not recognize nor care about. While there are clearly highs and lows, metabolic activity is a 24/7/365 certainty until one ultimately reaches room temperature. Food as fuel ideally happens AFTER the fact, not prior to. Need to run a marathon? You don’t fuel up for it ahead of time and THEN run it, you run it and then refuel the massive physical effort. Sounds counterintuitive precisely because it is, especially if you’ve been told all your life to eat a giant plate of pasta the night before your race.
    Evolutionary, that practice would be absurd and our species would be long gone if it were not. What is the ancestral activity analagous to modern group distance running? Hunting parties. We chased down animals over long stretches in the savanna and outlasted them because we could sweat and they couldn’t. Take your dog on a long run sometime and see how long she lasts. Mine kicks my butt until around mile 12 or so when she abruptly lays down and refuses to move another inch. (Don’t be too far from your car at that point).
    Now contrast the silliness of being told you must eat six small meals a day in order to best fuel your activity with two MILLION years of humans gorging themselves on fatty animal protein every so often and getting by on whatever they could forage until the next successful hunt (that required marathon-level running ability; weapons and tools date back only around 200,000 years according to current findings).
    If carbohydrate consumption (and the frequent eating it requires) had been necessary to our survival as a species prior to the cultivation of agriculture, we never would have made it that far. I dare anyone (or even any runner) who follows the conventional carb-laden diet to fast for several days or more and then go on a medium pace run and see how far you get. No dinner for your tribe that night either. No Clif bars. No post-hunt recovery smoothies. Sayonara, human race.

  8. Jennifer

    Well, I wish I was a mutant like that.

    I think I’m permanently broken. I grew up in extreme poverty, sometimes only having 1 meal a day, which usually consisted of pasta or bread.

    I’m gluten free now, off the wheat for the last 2 months, and am cutting out corn and rice. But I still am 80lbs overweight. I’ve been doing a weight routine for the last year, and while I notice that I am soooo strong now (almost as strong as my personal trainer, my weight has actually climbed up 5lbs). I’m not killing myself with cardio, but just staying active, and focusing more on core and muscle training.

    I noticed that once I gave up wheat and gluten my cravings for sugar increased, but I have since backed that off, I know that I need to cut out sugar at some point. But, I worry I won’t be able to have the energy to work out.

    This is so frustrating. I’ve done everything that CW says, I tried Mark Sissons program, but the low carb restrictions were making it impossible for me to function (I could manage under 100, but under 50 was impossible). And after a year, got discouraged to see myself doing what others were doing and not have any results. My body seems to like the number it is, and is resisting change. Also, with his program I found it hard to eat the required calories to begin with. Which is I think part of the problem. My metabolism broke when I was a child. I’ve tried to force myself to eat more, but I can’t, I get physically ill.

    BTW, my weight piled on when I went on the pill, and stopped when I went off. Otherwise with the exception of being pregnant and loosing 40lbs while eating like a horse, my weight has been constant, no matter what I do.

    • Brian

      All carbs are sugar in the end. It matters little how they look going down. Yes, it’s disorienting at first to convert your body away from carbohydrate dependence and back to fat as fuel, but it csn be done privided you aren’t sabotaging your efforts via “everything in moderation.” (Which is a crap philosophy; how much poison is in a “moderate” amount?)
      Anything that raises your blood sugar more than a blip is a no-go, even if you’re eating 85% clean. You’ll still be signaling to your body to store every calorie that comes its way, but now you’re sending it bacon, olive oil, and full fat cream cheese. Sans the high blood sugar and resultant high insulin levels produced as a response, those foods would not be a problem. Fat is good for you; fat does nit make you fat. High blood sugar/high insulin response makes you store any/everything as bodily fat. Only one type of food provokes such a response: carbohydrate.
      Stop counting calories, stop counting grams of anything. Just stop eating carbs. Period. You will eventually function just fine and ultimately better than ever. Your body did not evolve to eat something that requires processing of several orders of magnitude, from the planting if seeds to the packaging of cookie crisp. (Every cereal is a sugary cereal, btw. Carbs=sugar). We would not be here as a species otherwise.
      There is also nothing unhealthy about eating once a day, or even every other day, provided you’re not strung out on crackers. Try it. You’ll be surprised.

    • Shannon

      Cut out sugar. All of it. And all grains. Read Good Calories Bad Calories to figure out why. Your body is broken, so is mine, and this is how you fix it. No grains, no dairy, no soy, no added sugar and very little fruit. If your trainers fight you on it, quit and go to a Crossfit affiliate. I have lost nearly 40 lbs., 25 of it in the last 6 mo. I pushed past a weight plateu I couldn’t get past for nearly 15 years. Getting rid of wheat can make a huge difference, but if you’re really broken, I don’t think it’s enough. I need to do more. Check out folks like Everyday Paleo and Paleo Comfort Foods for what to eat. It’s hard, I won’t lie, but it will work. I’d also get your thyroid and blood sugar checked. Good luck, you can do it!!!!

  9. Brian

    Not to compare animals to humans, but hibernation is also instructive to demonstrate that the laws of thermodynamics need not apply in regards to nutrition. We are not steam engines.
    Animals that hibernate store massive amounts of bodyfat ahead of time in order to survive such a long stretch without eating. They gain this bodyfat (in some cases DOUBLING their weight in a matter of weeks) like clockwork without regard to total calories consumed. This has been proved in lab studies. Feed them normal amounts: gained massive weight. Overfeed them: gained massive weight. Starved them: GAINED MASSIVE WEIGHT. It made no difference. Their genetically programmed hormones told their bodies to pack on weight and they could figure out how to fuel it later.
    Taubes compares this to bodily growth. Your kids aren’t growing because they’re overeating, it’s vice versa. And why are they growing? Genetically programmed hormones tell them to. And then they empty your fridge of everything but the condiments in order to (re)fuel the growth that is already taking place.

    • Brian

      Thus, if hibernating animals sufferered through even a single meager season in terms of sustenance, how could they pack on the pounds necessary (via Calorie Doctrine) in order to survive an entire winter without food? Extinction would be a near certainty.
      For humans, living primarily on carbohydrate is like a car with a lawnmower size gas tank. You’re not getting far between fillups. (See, we’re not steam engines. We’re Chevy Volts!)

  10. Steve


    I have to agree with the others who have questioned this guys point. A person who flip flops back and forth between a HCLF and LCHF diet will see a big swing in “scale weight” during each transition. Especially if done in rapid succession like the person you have quoted here.

    As a person who is and has been a LCHF’er for some time now and an owner of your excellent book I can tell that I can reproduce these results in my sleep. I have often had an evening/day where the wife and I will eat those evil foods and I will without fail see a “scale weight” gain of anywhere from 3-9 pounds the next day or two. There is no possible way I ate enough to gain 1 pound, and certainly not 9! This gain is simply the result of my body refilling my previously empty glycogen stores. With every gram of glycogen(CHO) stored you will also store a few grams of water with it. The next day I go back on my lifestyle, LCHF diet and as that glycogen is used up the water weight drops. This is in NO WAY a refutation of calories in vs. out.

    Now please understand, I am a believer in LCHF diets/lifestyle and am not hear trolling your excellent blog. I am not here to scream about the any of the thermodynamics laws! LOL But I do think providing this article to be counterproductive to the goal of providing fact/science based resources to the LCHF community. It tells us NOTHING and will only serve to confuse those who do not yet have a good understanding of the science behind the movement. This article will only provide fodder for those who still think WE are full of it! :)

    Again, thanks for the great book, and blog!!


    • Understood, Steve.

      I think that Brian (I don’t know Brian personally) and I would offer this only as a personal experience, nothing more. It was not meant as proof of anything, just an interesting experience that is likely consistent with much of what we all observe.

      • Brian

        Agreed. I’ve come to realize that nutrition science is not science at all. It’s religion. You can debate it all day long and still not get anywhere. Heck, you spend half the time questioning your own beliefs, which is healthy in both religion and science. But if anyone thinks that all the “smart people” are on their side, with all the latest lab studies, I’ve got news for you. It’s all going to reverse course by any given Thursday.
        All one can do is seek out as much knowledge as possible and make one’s own personal decisions on what to believe. Cause the “experts” aren’t exactly riding a great track record right now. I apologize if I’ve been proselytizing too much; as Dr. Davis implied, it is just my personal experience and my personal observations. I could be (and often am!) wrong.

        • Well said, Brian.

          I applaud you for trying to find your own answers. Applying the scientific method to understanding your own responses is an excellent way to discover the truth.

  11. Steve


    When Taubes wrote about the mice who were genetically programmed to be/store excess fat they in fact cannibalized lean tissue in order to hold onto their fat levels when starved. They did to such an extreme that they would in fact consume brain tissue before letting go of their fat! They did NOT however gain fat from thin air, they simply converted stored lean tissue into fat to fullfil their preprogrammed destiny.

    Again this does NOT refute calories in vs. out.

    Taubes in fact doesn’t even go there, he doesn’t argue in favor of it being false. Only that it is a symptom of the overweight, not the actual cause. Many, myself included, do believe there is a metabolic advantage to LCHF, but I have yet to see anyone scientifically prove it.


    • Steve

      Edit: They didn’t convert lean tissue to fat, they consumed lean tissue instead of fat in order to maintain their fat levels.

    • Brian

      I wasn’t implying that they used magic, only that it was unrelated to diet. Applied to humans, even precisely weighing your food intake to the exact calorie won’t produce the results you expect unless what you’re actually eating is factored in. It’s not that calories are irrelevant, it’s that all calories are not created equal. If they were, it would matter not what we ate, only the precise caloric amount. This is the CW on the subject and it is verifiably false by anyone who tries it.
      Steve, I agree with you on the prior point. Bodybuilders use intentional carb loading followed by depletion leading up to competitions in order to squeeze out every last drop of water weight from their system to be as visibly “cut” as possible. Not exactly paragons of health, but they do know all the short term metabolic tricks.
      Back to fat as fuel: I have yet to figure out what the “optimum” number of daily calories a fat burner such as myself should be consuming to remain as lean as possible when my exercise output is not precisely predictable and my fat stores can be accessed anytime without regard to when I last ate. I’ve taken to only eating when hungry, which typically is at the end of the day or following a particularly intense training session. The foods I consume are strictly controlled but the amounts are not. This “hands off” approach is working for me, though it would be nice to have a somewhat more concrete approach to really squeeze out every last %. I welcome any thoughts you may have on this.

      • Steve

        I completely agree with your post! I think you are correct, and I don’t believe we will ever actually have a method of determining this science down to the last calorie or macro percentages. But, agreeing with you again, removing simple carbs and allowing your body to function as it was designed/evolved to do allows to actually do something as simple as “listen to our bodies”! Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you aren’t. You body will do the rest just human bodies have for centuries!

        As for squeezing out every last %, the publics concept of a perfect body is anything but natural for most of us and requires us to go beyond just listening to our bodies. It sucks, I know all too well! LOL

        My only reason for posting here was I hate seeing posts, even if they just appear to claim miraculous benefits of low carbing, because they will ultimately be used against low carb by those who still buy into the LFHC as being healthy. I have posted on another sight, where they have a forum strictly for LCHF and the disinformation that gets spread based upon posts like the one Dr.Davis posted above is sickening and counterproductive to enlightening the LFHC heathens! :)

        Peace Brian!!


  12. Jeanine

    When I read this, I thought about an experience I had 3 years ago. My husband and I decided to have a private wedding with just the two of us. Our parents knew ahead of time, but we decided to surprise our extended family by not telling them until we visited for Christmas a few days later. My mother-in-law (whom I love and had the best intentions) surprised us with two small wedding cakes – one for each side of the family (because she didn’t want to take a half-eaten cake to the 2nd family gathering). After all was said and done, we ended up taking home the equivalent of one cake, which we ate once or twice a day until it was gone.

    I know I went up a size after that and have been that way for the last 3 years (plus or minus a few pounds). My weight isn’t entirely the cake’s fault because I was overweight before we got married. I have tried low-fat low-calorie diets several times but always gave up because I wasn’t seeing results. I was especially frustrated last year when I joined the gym and the scale wasn’t budging at all.

    Even this summer after starting the Couch 2 5k Running program along with a low-fat low-calorie diet for 9 weeks only resulted in 2lb weight loss. I got so frustrated that I started researching nutrition looking for the answer to why I wasn’t losing weight. A friend recommended reading Gary Taubes and from there I found Wheat Belly.

    After 3.5 weeks of eliminating grains (90% of the time, I still indulge once in a while), I have lost 12.5 pounds. The only “exercise” I do is walk 1-3 miles a day because I take public transportation, which I have been doing anyway for the last 4 years.

    A special thank you for your muffin recipes, which I make over the weekend, freeze and take with me to work every morning.

  13. Karen

    Dr. Davis – hoping you could help answer a question for my mother and I. We have read about L-Carnatine and Co-Q-10 supplements in aiding weightloss/ketosis. Do you have an opinion about this? You have become our go-to Doc for all things health and, by default, weight loss, so your opinion is much appreciated. I am especially impressed by this blog and how you take the time to personally respond to so many people. I am finding myself here everyday. So, anything you have to say about L-Carnatine and Co-Q-10 (before we spend any more $ on it) would be great. THANKS!

    • Hi, Karen–

      Thank you! While I like l-carnitine and CoQ10 as supplements to achieve specific effects, I have never heard of them being used specifically for weight loss or ketosis. As you can see, they are quite expensive.

      If you are looking to accelerate the weight loss achievable with wheat elimination, I would suggest first trying just wheat elimination followed by carbohydrate restriction. This is the most natural and healthy way to go. Should that fail, a second issue is thyroid and iodine supplementation.

      Of course, ketosis is achievable with severe carbohydrate restriction, a very doable thing.

  14. Michael


    I’m aware of glycogen depletion and water loss. That was the point of reducing my physical activity to a minimum after overeating sugar.

    Now if I’m somehow able to deplete my glycogen stores by sitting on the couch watching movies and playing video games all day long, after overeating sugar for a couple of days, then maybe I’m a mutant after all.

    I’m aware of the shortcomings of a homemade experiment in which the observer is also the subject but I did a decent job. Next time I’ll pay 500$ to get a DEXA scan before and after and I’ll rent an objective observer in a white lab coat to make my meals and count the calories. If someone wants to pay me to overeat thousands of calories I’ll come to your lab.

    (That kind of experiment should have been done already in a controlled environment i.e. take thin people and try to make them fat by overeating calories with different types of diet. We would observe that overeating on a high sugar diet makes you fat but overeating on a low sugar diet doesn’t.)

    Anyway my point is there’s more to fat loss than counting calories, even if counting calories usually works. So all this invoking of the laws of physics well that’s theory, in practice things are a bit different and it’s the real life experience that counts.

  15. Michael

    me: “in practice things are a bit different and it’s the real life experience that counts.”

    And I’ll add that it’s also true for the low carb method. Cutting sugar may be the most important thing to do but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to it. We don’t have a complete picture of the mechanisms of fat gain or fat loss, just a general method that usually works much better than eating less and moving more.

  16. Bonnie

    Curious to know if anyone else out there has chronic kidney disease and has become wheat free. Just beginning my journey and of course many challenges as limited in amount of protein and am not to have nuts. Would love to hear of others.

  17. Yvon

    First post here, and it will be fairly long so please bare with me.
    It all started a year ago. I saw my family doctor and was diagnosed with high blood pressure (140 over 110). This came pretty much as a surprise as I’ve battled obesity for the past 20 years or so and had never had high blood pressure.
    A little history about myself. At 16, got my first part time job while still in High School. It was at A&W, a burger and fries joint. To that day, I had never been fat, was actually on the skinny side. But working in a burger joint, eating burgers and fries for every lunch, drinking liters of root beer and coke quickly put a toll on me and got fatter and fatter. That was in 1987. 1990, year of my first diet. Slim fast and nutribars and a healthy dinner. Total calorie intake per day, roughly 1200. I had no scale back then but judging from pictures and the size of pants I was wearing, I can safely bet that I lost between 80 to 100 pounds in 5 months.

    That lasted for some time until I got fat again, dieted again and so on and so forth. Every 3 or 4 years or so I had to start all over again.

    Fast forward to a year ago and the high blood pressure thing. I had two choices. High blood pressure meds or losing weight. The choice was pretty easy and I chose to lose weight but on my own terms. No weight watchers or anything, just common sense and what I knew, or at least thought I knew.. The goal was to be very strict during the week and more permissive on the weekends. The first couple of weeks went pretty well, losing about 7 pounds. I was pumped, added some regular exercises and rolled with it. I was eating Becel Margarine deemed to be good by dietitians, some healthy whole grains etc. Fast forward to the end of August and I had lost 40 pounds or so in 10 months, so an average of 4 pounds a month. I weighed every Friday morning before breakfast and looking back at the numbers, there’s nothing very impressive. Some months I’d only lose 1 pound while others I’d lose 6, so on and so forth.

    September 1st, I became a member of, a website where you can track all the calories you eat. First two weeks, lost close to 10 pounds. I was weighing and measuring and recording every single think I ate. Then almost no loss for the next couple of weeks. Realized I had stopped weighing and measuring. So back to that and the weight started coming off again. By then I had cut down my bread quite a bit. Most days I’d only have one piece of sprouted weight toast and some fruits during the day with the occasional day where I’d have 5 slices of sprouted wheat because that day I ate sandwiches for lunch and/or dinner. Then, I started reading the livestrong forums and doing more research and read about the Paleo Diet but thought it was somewhat whacky and kind of dismissed. Talking to a friend personal trainer, he told me, if you want to lose weight, cut carbs plain and simple. No bread, potatoes, pastas or anything aside from maybe some basmatti rice every so often. So just over two weeks ago I started a wheat free diet and reduced fruit intake to just berries in the morning but still wasn’t convinced but did it anyway much to my wife’s dismay. In the back of my mind I was pretty sure this wouldn’t last too long and that I’d be back to eating wheat before long… but that was before I started feeling a difference in my body. My right middle finger has been bothering me for the longest time ever. Couldn’t even crack my knuckle. Not even a week in the wheat free diet, I was seeing some surprising results. Bloating and gas? all gone. Still, maybe just to reassure my wife, I kept telling her, I’m just trying this out and will probably get back to normal eventually. Then I found an article on the Wheat Belly and it got me intrigued so I bought the book last week and just finished reading it and I’m now convinced. The only time I’ll eat any wheat is when I’ll be invited over for dinner at in-laws or friends and they are serving lasagna. Common courtesy will pretty much force me to “sacrifice” myself for that meal.

    I also want to add to the calories in, calories out discussion. Two weeks ago, I had a party filled weekend. Had dinner at my moms and had some wheat and cake. Just couldn’t refuse I guess. Then went to my friends place and had some halloween snack size kit kats, some chips and other junk, same on Sunday with my brother-in-law coming in for dinner with some corn chips and other junk for snacks. I recorded pretty much everything I ate and only consumed about 2000 extra calories altogether, so basically about 700 calories over my daily maximum so not even enough to gain a pound. Weigh myself on Monday morning… Gained 3 pounds. How is that possible? The numbers certainly vouch against that. I was back to the wheat free diet and by Friday I had shed 2.5 pounds from the Friday before, so in reality about 5 pounds altogether in 5 days. Went on to lose another 2.5 over the weekend effortlessly by eating nuts, meat and tons of vegetables. Keep in mind that I’ve always been in a calorie deficit going by what my maxium calrie intake should be to in order to lose 2 pounds a week.

    So I really cannot say if calories in really mean anything or if it’s what type of calories you put in but I can say that a diet of 3 egg omelets topped with 2 ounces of cheddar cheese, a hand full of nuts or more a day, half chickens for lunch or dinner have worked pretty good so far as I’ve lost 10 pounds in the last two weeks for a total of 65 in one year (25 pounds in 10 weeks since I joined Livestrong). My wheat consumptions has been lower as of the first day I joined Livestrong. Coincidence?

    I love bread as much as the next guy but I love meat, eggs and cheese more than I like bread so it’s not proving to be to much of a struggle so far. My doctor’s target weight for me was of 227 (I was 327 a year ago). I’m now 261 and my doctor’s goal of 227 is within my reach and I’m now aiming to get down to 200, maybe less. I’m 6’0” tall by the way.

    All this to say that my mind was somewhat made up a couple of weeks ago. The Wheat Belly simply reassured me that I was doing the right thing, so for that, Thank you Dr. Davis!

    Oh, and sorry for the very long, probably boring post but you were all warned ;-)

      • Yvon

        Indeed, better late than never. I have one question, I don’t recall reading anything about peanut oil. Good or bad? I’m asking because I have a big jar of Ann’s House mixed nuts and peanut oil is part of the ingredients and wanted to know your take on it. It’s really just to know if I it’s ok to keep buying them or if I should switch to buying raw nuts separately and make my own mixes.



        • There is a lingering question, Yvon, about the lectins in peanuts and the potential atherogenicity (plaque-causing) effect of peanut oil that has not been fully settled. The data are kind of slim, so I’ve elected to not pan it, but just include it as part of a broader selection of nuts. (Peanuts are legumes, of course.)

          • Yvon

            Thank you for the quick answer. Think I’ll just play it safe and finish that jar and move on to just buying raw nuts and making my own mixes.


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  19. John

    Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the weight you gained was water weight. You will gain weight on fat grams and protein grams, too; give it time.

    • Miriam

      Oh John, I’m so sorry, but I can’t just let this go. You don’t know what you’re talking about. WIthout plenty of carbs, it’s very difficult to gain weight with fat and protein.

      I and my roommate have been eating completely grain free for 4 months. When we started I was exercising 15-20 minutes a day on an elliptical and drinking plenty of water. I counted my calories and kept them to 1800-2000 per day. I weighed 285 pounds.

      I stopped exercising when we changed our diet. I stopped eating grains of all kinds, sugar of any type including fruit except for occasional berries, and any starchy vegetables (i.e., corn, potatoes, squashes, etc). I continued to drink plenty of water. I stopped counting calories, and I started eating very large quantities of steak, ground beef, bacon, chicken wings, butter, heavy cream, extra sharp cheddar, coconut oil and lamb. I save the fat from bacon to cook other things in. I shaved the entire side of sirloin I ordered, rendered the fat, and use it all the time for cooking. Once in a while I calcuate the total calorie count, just for information.

      This morning I weighed 210.7 pounds. Yesterday and the day before I weighed 212.3. The day before that it was 212.7. The day before that it was 214.9. I’ve lost 4.2 pounds in 5 days, which is pretty much on par with the weight loss rate I’ve experienced since I started out in mid-Oct at 285: 4.5 to 5 pounds a week. During these four months I have eaten everything from 800 calories a day (when I was very ill for two weeks with the flu) to 3000 calories a day when we feasted on leg of lamb. It makes NO DIFFERENCE AT ALL. No matter how much I eat of fat and protein, even way beyond what I should need according to calcuations–and for days at a time, I might add–I do not gain weight. I lose it. Except for times of monthly hormonal fluctuation, which can cause my weight to go up 2-3 pounds or down 5 for about three days, it goes steadily down. In fact, contrary to your hypothesis, when I was sedentary, sick and eating less than 1000 calories a day for nearly two weeks, I lost weight at a slower rate. When I realized how little I was eating and bumped it up to 1200 (while I was ill) I started losing faster again.

      My roommate has had exactly the same experience. She’s down 40 pounds in the same amount of time. She’s much closer to her ideal weight, so her weight loss has started to slow a bit, but she never gains. She stays steady for 3 or 4 days and then will drop a pound again, all while eating everything I’ve mentioned, plus copius amounts of eggs. The only carbs she gets are from strawberries, blueberries, some of the dairy, some leafy green vegetables, onion, garlic…stuff like that.

      Some of my family members have gotten on board and are trying this now too. They are experiencing the same thing.

      How much more time would you me to give it? When will I start seeing the weight gain from all this fat and protein?

      • Freida

        i just started eating wheat free and find this information wonderful and look forward to obtain the same results as you…i love meat…lol Oh my question was “what kind of heavy cream are you talking about?”

      • John

        It’s still calories- meats & fats just fill you and make you eat fewer than 2000 cals. When you add carbs back into your life (all Adkins people do), you’ll pile it on faster than you lost it + more. Good luck.

        • Pam

          John, why would you ever add wheat or those type of carbs back into your die?. When I eat wheat or processed type of foods my colon starts to bleed! I will never let wheat back into my body again!! BTW, endurance runners that have gone to just veggies, some fruit and meat, have found their body performs better than if they added the carbs that the FDA tells us to eat.

  20. Joe Martin

    I’ve been wheat-free for a month but my weight has gone up 8 lbs after going down about 4. I’m frustrated

    • Judy

      My daughter and I have been wheat-free for 6 weeks. We have both gained some weight (less than your 8 lbs.) We too are frustrated. We don’t feel bad, but were expecting the scales to go down, not up! We are doing it for health reasons, and not specifically for weight loss. But GAIN was not on the agenda!! Any thoughts out there?

      • Barbara in New Jersey

        You might want to found the carbs you are eating. 15 carbs per six hour period and a daily total of about 50 carbs is recommended. Drink at least half your body weight of water in ounces to help clear your system.

        Some medications interfere with weight loss. Sometimes underlying health issues surface. Mostly though it is just too many carbs. An internet search will provide the basic amount of carbs per food item. For example, an apple contains at least 25 carbs which is more than your meal allotment.