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Kurt G. Harris MD

PāNu means paleonutrition. The "paleo" here signifies "old" and not necessarily paleolithic. The PāNu approach to nutrition is grounded on clinical medicine and basic sciences disciplined by knowledge of evolutionary biology and paleoanthropology. The best evidence from multiple disciplines supports eating a pastoral (animal-based) diet rather than a grain-based agricultural one, while avoiding what I call the neolithic agents of disease - wheat, excess fructose and excess linoleic acid.

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PāNu Forum > Starch for weight loss

Sorry for starting a new thread...

I understand the reasoning behind consuming safe starches to avoid constant ketosis and the need for the body to convert protein to meet minimum glucose requirements.

However, for someone looking to lose some weight (10-20 lbs for me personally), is it still recommended to get into a state of ketosis and keep carbohydrates at around 5% as per the, 'How to lose weight' post?

I know Panu is not a weight loss programme, but am wondering if views on weight loss have evolved since the post was made?

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJonny Chee

I don't know what Dr. Harris will say, but I just thought I'd throw in my 2 cents.

I've also been struggling to lose about 25 pounds of excess fat. For some reason, I got convinced that I NEEDED a very low carb diet to do so. But, even though the weight would slowly come off, I'd feel extremely depressed on a very low carb diet and eventually I would break down and eat junk food.

So, for the last couple days, I've been eating starches to the tune of about 15%. I feel much, much better. It seems like it would be easy (actually, enjoyable) to eat this way, even though I'm cutting my calories (not drastically, mind you. It happens fairly naturally.) So, I'll stick with this for a couple months and see where I'm at. At that time, I'll post again with my progress.

Here's my suspicion, though. A very low carb diet might be the best way (perhaps the necessary way) for people with really "broken metabolisms" to lose fat. But, even though I'm 25 pounds over weight, I don't think I have a broken metabolism. I can go 8 - 12 hours without eating pretty easily; I don't get really lightheaded or anything. It's not a broken metabolism; I'm fat because I eat TERRIBLY, drink lots of alcohol, don't sleep well, and don't exercise. If I can just stop doing those harmful things for awhile, I suspect the weight will come off pretty easily. Eating more starchy carbs seems to help me stop doing those things. We'll see what happens.

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEsoteric Fish

It might be worth noting that Harris added the starch back in to his diet because he was losing weight he didn't need or want to lose.

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

Great question - I have been wondering the same thing.

I too would love to see a revised post about weight loss from the good doctor.

I think the confusion arises because most people evolve toward 'paleo' life from a low carb diet with the primary goal of losing weight and the concepts of ketosis are firmly rooted in the low carb lifestyle.

From my reading, I don't think Dr. Harris' opinions have changed about ketosis for weight loss (Of course only he can answer that though)

The most recent posts about starches assume, I believe, someone with a healthy metabolism and someone not looking to lose weight. Given that, consuming starches is fine, normal, and fits into the evolutionary metabolic milieu -- completely understandable.

However, life is a different ballgame when you have a spare tire on your waist. From what I gather, being in ketosis is fine for those of us looking to lose some lbs. If you feel ok in ketosis and are losing weight, keep it up. Once your satisfied with your weight, introduce safe starches back into your diet to see if you can handle them.
Everyone's sensitivity to starches is different.

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEF

I have just been pondering whether I should go VLC, into ketosis, and lose the weight as quickly as possible. Or would I be better eating a small amount of starch to avoid the ketosis completely. I would probably still lose weight as I would be avoiding the neolithic agents of disease that make up so much of my diet at present...

Dr Harris, I would love to know your opinion on which would be healthier or more optimal?

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJonny Chee

Have you guys read about intermittent fasting? This is probably THE fastest way to lose bodyfat it looks like:

http://www.leangains.com/
Only problem is I don't know exactly how paleo friendly this method is. I know that many paleo advocates do IF once in a while, and that even the blooger from thefreeanimal hired the coach from leangains to help him out, and he's been on a leangains program for months now.

It pretty much goes something like fast for 16 hours (8 hours of sleep included) and eat three meals within the 8 hours remaining. Eat 20% of your total caloric intake before you work out, 50% afterwards and the remaining 30% before you sleep. It's encouraged to eat starchy foods post work out. If you're a rice eater then I don't see that being a problem.

On workout days (3x a week) you eat high carbs, moderate protein and low fat. I can see this as being problematic... On rest days you eat high protein and moderate carbs and fat. For me my paleo diet has been mainly high fat, moderate protein low carb, so I wouldn't know how to really adjust my diet and what affects it would have.
I guess the best thing to do would be to experiment and see what happens, as long as I keep my caloric intake relatvely stable.

February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonemouse

I can only suggest that readers go to one of Dr. Harris's recommended blogs - Mark's Daily Apple - to see today's post 'Meet the Unconquerable Dave' whose transition speaks for itself !

February 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDudleyP

(written quickly and heavily based on personal experience/opinions of an already lean person)

You can lose weight while eating starch, tons of people have lost weight following a "low fat high carb diet." Eating starch doesn't mean you'll not experience ketosis. Going VLC might make you less hungry and you'll eat less, and there may be some metabolic advantage, but by avoiding wheat/fructose/ linoleic acid it is completely possible to lose weight with starch in your diet. People lose weight with >50% of their diets as starch, and people gain weight on <50g of carbs a day. Avoiding the "neolithic agents," find the diet composition that best supports your compliance with eating less calories (satiety, mood, etc).

This is my opinion based on dropping from 15% to 8% body fat eating 150g digestible carbs a day (Still low carb by SAD standards), and gaining 10 lbs in 4 weeks doing intermittent fasting and eating 10g carbs a day.

I had an epiphany when I realized hunger is a natural state. I started VLC eating with the belief that it would help me avoid hunger, either by spontaneous reduction in consumption, or by spontaneous increase in energy expenditure if I ate more, so when I didn't "spontaneously reduce my consumption" I didn't feel bad about increasing my consumption. I watched as fat mass accumulated, and felt somewhat confused because I was "so low in carbs." Then I realized maybe avoiding hunger was a silly pursuit. I wasn't standing over the toilet all day trying to avoid the discomfort associated with a filling bladder, I shouldn't be eating large quantities to try and avoid hunger later hunger.

The normal person eating starch but eating when hungry, and stopping when full will lose weight faster than the person eating 20% more, but staying vlc. I know I'm leaner, eat less calories, and feel better when I've got meat and a large volume of potatoes with some butter than when I eat just meat and butter. I can drink a cup of cream with no problem, I can't eat 2 lbs of potatoes easily (which is the same calorically).

February 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

'Avoiding the "neolithic agents," find the diet composition that best supports your compliance with eating less calories (satiety, mood, etc)'

Isn't this, in a nutshell, what it's all about?

February 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDudleyP

I was trying to be helpful by explaining some of my thoughts that have helped me understand fat regulation, after becoming somewhat confused about the role of calories in weight maintenance. Obviously avoiding harmful substances and not eating more than you need while still feeling satisfied is "what it's all about."

February 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Difficult to know just when to stop.

February 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDudleyP

i have 're-introduced' a few starches to my diet after going VLC for a several month stint. i eat pealed potatoes regularly now and even some white rice. two of the things i miss most that don't qualify for nutritious eating in my opinion are pasta and pizza (oh how i love authentic italian style pizza).

but recently we bought a rice pasta. it also had 'rice bran' in the ingredients. i kinda wondered if that meant that it was essentially like eating brown rice? not sure about that one. anyway, i have been eating starches now as about 15% of my diet and not gaining a single pound over the last couple months.

February 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJack Kronk