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.

Support PāNu

PāNu is ad-free, completely independent and has no outside sponsorship. If you value PāNu, now you can support it. Read this for more information.

In addition to buying from the book list, you can also support PāNu by making all of your Amazon purchases for any item through the Amazon Portal below

Amazon Portal

« Exercise in the PaNu scheme | Main | Health and Evolutionary Reasoning – The PaNu Method »

PaNu Eating and High Intensity Training

My brother-in law by marriage, Jason, is a Master Chief in the United States Navy and has been a SEAL for the last 19 years. He is 39 years old, has been with the teams for about 20 years now, and is currently deployed to Iraq on his second tour in that theater.

Jason has been an avid cross-fitter for about 3 years and eats a PaNu style lacto-paleo diet with about 10% of calories form carbohydrate.

In his own words:


Here is a synopsis of my evolution with diet and CrossFit.  My athletic background since childhood was swimming.  I swam competitively for 12 years.  Throughout that time, I also played numerous other sports.  In addition, I became very interested in nutrition.  This was in part due to my mother taking a nutrition class in college when I was young and also because it seemed to go hand-in-hand with athletic performance.  Finally, about 19 years ago, I started a successful shot at SEAL Training.

For most of the last 19 years, I have been very physically active.  It is part of the job.  The workouts have changed over time.  When I was a new guy it was a combo of running, swimming, and chest / triceps on Mon / Wed, back and biceps on Tues / Thurs (or whatever routine Muscle and Fitness suggested).  As time went on, that changed to more lifting and surfing, and less running. I was eating what most doctors would consider a healthy diet:  Lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat everything.  I would supplement with some sort of protein shake and soy milk.  My weight remained steady at 185 for about a decade.

Late in 2001, I had a cholesterol test.  Total cholesterol was 197.  My triglycerides were 148 and my HDL was 30.  I can’t remember what my LDL was, but it was low as well.  The docs were happy with the under 200 number, but concerned with my low HDL.  They asked how my diet was, and after I explained it, they said it “couldn’t be due to diet”. I remember asking how to raise my HDL.  The response was that I was eating healthy, so the “low HDL was genetic and would require a supplement of Niacin”.  I took Niacin for about 2 weeks then threw the bottle away.  It made me flushed and generally was annoying.  I’d take my chances with the low HDL.

In  2005, I was introduced to CrossFit by some colleagues.  When I saw them knocking out muscle-ups, cleans, or whatever, followed by the writhing-on-the-ground post workout ritual, I was sold.  I slowly, but surely, started hitting either Crossfit or the Gym Jones workouts, although initially, I still held on to abs, chest, triceps, etc…  The results with the CF spoke for themselves, and by the end of 2006, that was all I was doing.

The good thing about CrossFit-style training is that it is truly measurable.  For example, my first Fran time was 10:23.  The next time it was in the seven-minute range.  Then by the summer of 2007, I got stuck at 4:15 on Fran.  Every other benchmark:  From 400M to 5K, and 1 rep max lifts to the various met-con workouts, I had plateaued.  It was incredibly frustrating.

About that same time, I had the good fortune of attending some CF Level 1 certs we held at work.  The second one I attended had my full attention.  The biggest take away for me was on the topic of nutrition.  Greg Glassman gave an incredible lecture on the importance of nutrition to health and performance.  He gave examples of the top athletes’ dedication to their diets.  He recommended a paleo-centric version of the Zone Diet.  The Zone was something I was familiar with.  I remember Vicki (Kurt’s  wife, the dentist) dabbling in the zone some years back. In fact, I had half-heartedly tried to make my meals zone-ish since that time.  I decided to follow the Zone strictly for a while and see where that led me.

Shortly after starting the Zone, I noticed an improvement in all my CF Benchmarks.  I was strictly following 20 blocks a day.  I had to increase my fat more and more as I went on due to ravenous hunger.  Eventually I was at 20 blocks with 3-4 x the fat recommended by Zone.  I was still eating grains.  That was when you sent me the copy of Good Calories, Bad Calories.  The timing could not have been more perfect.  I was already experiencing better health and athletic performance on a lower carb diet (Zone).  I read the book twice, picked your brain a bit, and started on a true low-carb diet. 

My diet most resembled Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint.  I only ate veggies and some fruit to the tune of 70-90 grams of Carbs a day, lots of saturated and monounsaturated fat, and clean meat sources.  On that regimen, performance skyrocketed.  All my CF benchmarks improved dramatically: 

Fran under 3:00 (From 4:15 on standard Zone!)

Deadlift at 2.5 times bodyweight, etc…

There is an athletic standard floating around the CF community that contains a myriad of skill sets.  The skills include one-rep max on different lifts, max pull-ups, 5k run, 400m run, 6k row.  It is a full spectrum of athletic endeavors.  Since switching my diet (to VLC PaNu), I have achieved advanced or elite on all the various skills.

There are lots of athletes out there who are at or way beyond that level.  What is impressive is that I am 39 years old, beaten up from 19 years in the Teams, and have only been seriously Cross-Fitting for three years.  That degree of improvement at my age could only be due to diet.

Since then, I have been continually adjusting and monitoring carb levels and type, as well as doing intermittent fasting.  I have meticulously documented my diet and workouts for the past year.  Here are my conclusions:

1.     Carbs are way overrated for performance.  I have the same results at 40g per day as 100g per day.

2.     My absolute peak performance occurs about 12 hours after my last meal.  That continues until 17 hours.  After a 17+ hour fast, longer duration, high intensity workouts suffer.  Suffer is a relative term however.  Compared to 95% of the population, it is more than adequate.

3.     On the 50-70 grams of carbs a day, with a daily 13-15 hour fast broken post workout with all of my daily intake of carbs, I have noticed the following:  Body fat dropped like a rock, muscle mass grew, performance improved.  To top that off, my hair, which was receding rapidly, has stopped falling out

4.     Allergies have dramatically improved.

5.     I couldn’t tell you the last time I was sick and I have kids in public school.

6.     My recommendation for a housewife, kid, SEAL, or anyone is as follows:

a.    Keep carbohydrate intake under 90 grams per day, striving for 50 grams.

b.    Carbs should be berries, sweet potato, green leafy veg  / broccoli-cabbage.

c.     Eat clean meats:  Grass fed beef / lamb, eggs, wild caught fish, sardines, and wild game.

d.    Fats:  I eat a ton of grass-fed tallow (beef fat) and coconut oil / milk.  I recently, after a visit to PaNu Headquarters (Dr. Harris’ home), have begun using grass-fed butter and cream for the family and me.

e.    Intermittent Fasting daily (I call this a narrow eating window and I usually do the same).  I try to do a daily fast of 12-15 hours on days I work out.  On non-workout days, I will fast 15-24 hours.


Thanks, Jason!

Your elite level training experience totally supports my own experience with training at more of a middle-aged maintenance level - 5 k runs and Doug McGuff-biased lifting workouts.

August 2009 labs for Jason on a high sat-fat VLC diet show his HDL-C (sans Niacin) has more than doubled from 30 to 75, and triglycerides have fallen from 148 to 80. Of course, LDL-C has risen to 226 Friedewald (probably lower if direct) and Total-C is now 317. Jason is able to resist harassment to take statins as he knows that his LDL is all “big and fluffy” and not atherogenic. I would estimate his LDL-P (particle number) or ApoB is around 120 based on my own labs and those of others. His fasting insulin is a superb 3.65 microunits/ml.

Jason is approached by younger Seals all the time about the secret to his physique and performance. He tells them it is 80% diet – the rest is sleep and physical training. My own experience supports Jason’s impression.

Feel free to post comments and questions. Jason reads the blog but is “in country” so may take a while to respond. You can ask me questions as well, of course.



I also have two more acquaintances who are serious endurance athletes while following a completely PaNu-compliant dietary regime. 

My friend Marco from Holland is a Tour de France veteran (1994) and now races bicycles at the Master’s level in Europe. He has reported good results training for and competing in cycling events on a high animal fat/ low carb diet.

My radiologist partner, Dr. Erik Borgnes, is also an endurance athlete. At age 44 he is a world-class open water kayaker. He trains year round, eating a PaNu style diet free of gluten grains, excess fructose, and industrial vegetable oils. He reports good performance on a diet that is about 25% carbohydrate. Not exactly VLC, of course, but less than half the carbohydrate conventional wisdom says you need to do endurance sports.

Reader Comments (53)

I've been following a primal type of diet since the beginning of the year. I can tell you that I feel it's the true way to live. Eating like this is not so much a diet but a lifestyle. Less sugar and starches in the diet is always a good thing, especially in these days. I did a couple of experiments on myself just to test the theory. September last year, I challenged myself to give up juices and just drink water or milk during meals and such. I weighed 180 lbs at the time. Well 2 months later I was down to 170. I wasn't really doing any exercise either, just moderate stretching every now and then. Then also last year in December, I found Mark Sisson's blog: www.marksdailyapple.com and absorbed everything written. I tried out the high-fat, low carb lifestyle and lost 12 lbs and 12% body fat in about 3 months. I also gained 8% skeletal muscle.

Instead of CrossFit, I've been pretty active in doing P90X off and on for the past couple of years. However, this year in particular I started doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It's a great full body workout that will push you both aerobic and anaerobically. Ironically, the mental aspect is the biggest hurdle in that you don't need to be in a rush to submit or escape. Relaxing is key. It lets you feel slight shifts in your opponents weight and balance so you can capitalize on them in the right moment.

I recently had my annual physical and bloodwork done. Here were the results with their percent differences from last year:

235 Total +25%
63 Trig -22%
73 HDL +40%
152 LDL +36%
11 VLDL -21%
3.2 Total Cholesterol / HDL
0.86 Trig / HDL radio
0.8 CRP

My doctor also ordered up a CRP (C-reative proteins) test. This test measures the amount of inflammation in the arteries. It is the swelling of the arteries and their eventual bursting that causes clots and heart attacks. Any number below 1.0 is fine.

I too also learned how LDL is a calculated number and very inaccurate when triglycerides are below 150.

From what I understand, most labs just use the Friedewald method; which if your trigs are greater than 150 is usually accurate. However, the more that trig number is below 150, that method it can become very skewed. Using the Iranian method to calculate LDL my result was 126. I hear that to accurately test for the different kinds of LDL (small dense vs large puffy) is more expensive so almost all labs just go with the calculated Friedewald method.

Also with my trig/HDL ratio way below 2.0 and Chol/HDL ratio below 5.0, I'm doing pretty good. My doctor is onboard with all this actually said that some of her cardiologist and doctor friends might want to prescribe me a statin to lower the LDL and total cholesterol. Thank goodness that we have other ways (CRP, etc) to determine if that number really means anything.

Take care and thanks for a great blog.


Excellent labs. The CRP is not at all a direct measure of plaque, however, it is very nonspecific. You could have significant plaque and low CRP or a CRP of 1.3 and a CAC of zero (like me).

December 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMike in AZ

Hi Dr. Harris,

Excellent n=1 journey that produced conclusions born out of experience that resonate well with me.

Happy Holidays!


December 26, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterepistemocrat

Dr. Harris,

Excellent. I've been waiting for this post on exercise. While it does seem to confirm very well that VLC PaNu paleo-type eating is beneficial to CrossFit performance (as also already pointed out by the now CrossFit-ostracized Robb Wolf - HQ, are you listening?) it doesn't reveal directly as to what you consider the best mode of high-intensity exercise. The end of the post hints at Body-by-Science workouts a la Dr. Doug McGuff for yourself but perhaps with some modification (you wrote "Doug McGuff biased workouts"). I hope you will elaborate on the specifics of your exercise regimen further at some point. I suspect that there is nearly as much unnecessary and untrue cruft in conventional exercise philosophy as there is conventional nutritional wisdom. I also suspect that your opinion is more nuanced than just a blanket endorsement for CrossFit, Gym Jones or Body by Science and that's what I'd like to read. Hopefully it's in the works as a future post.

Thanks and best regards,


I am not shy about endorsing what I like or criticizing what I don't. You have been reading the blog long enough to know I try not to make pronouncements about anything without a lot of thought first. In medicine we often say that we know about 50% of what we do is useless, we just are not sure which 50%! That's how I feel about my state of knowledge and level of certainty on workouts and fitness.

I am not really a fitness blogger, but I'll give you some of my gestalt on physical training that goes against the "normal science" of physical conditioning and health.

1) Eliminating any one of the Neolithic Agents will do you more good than any training regime at all, even if you are completely sedentary.

2) As Jason and I have suggested and Barry Groves also says, 80% of health and longevity is diet.

3) As alluded to by the "cardio causes heart disease" post, extensive endurance athletics is not only not going to make you healthier, it is at best neutral and maybe even harmful to overall health.

4) Despite #3, minimal amounts of repetitive endurance activity may have positive health benefits via effects on mood and cognition.

4) Fitness is not Health. Fitness is a functional definition of physical performance. Some aspects of fitness contribute to health and maybe longevity, others do not.

5) I like Dr. Doug McGuff's book. I think strength training more than twice a week is unnecessary or even counterproductive. I agree with his debunking of the idea that there is such a thing as "cardio" training - that you need to specifically train your cardiovascular system, as if your heart and lungs get no training with your pulse at 180 doing Olympic snatches!

6) Walking is an excellent evolutionary activity that we are, simply, evolved to do and doing it is nothing but good. I agree with Sisson on this - lots of low intensity rythmic activity can be good.

7) HIT in general has some elements of a fad right now. I am sure it has benefits and is superior to chronic cardio, but for non-athletes the pendulum may have swing more than it needs to away from Jim Fixx. I'll comment on Crossfit specifically in the next post.

December 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKetoWarrior

This a great post. Very informative, as usual. I would like to know Jason's vitamin D status. Even after being very low-carb for quite a while, and having much better strength and health because of it, I got even more improvement after I started taking 7000 iu's a day. If Jason is not now supplementing, I would be very keen to hear his impressions if he does start taking D3.

Kurt, thanks again for the time you give to this blog. It's a tremendous resource.


I believe he supplements at 4000 iu/day and last tested at 65 ng/dl -Jason can correct if this is inaccurate.

You are welcome.

December 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMartin

Thanks for this interesting account. For another endurance coach and athlete recommending a paleo approach, see Gordo Byrn's post about his nutrition plan for the coming Tour of New Zealand. http://www.endurancecorner.com/g_blog/preparing_to_race_new_zealand It's hard to tell how much carbs are recommended, but you can be sure it's a whole lot less than the usual recommendations. And of course there is Joel Friel too.

It will be interesting to see how Crossfit evolves their nutrition strategy. If you've been following Robb Wolf's travails with them, they are apparently going with the Zone and trying to back off from Paleo. Seems like a good opportunity for a performance show down between the nutrition (and health) strategies.


Regarding Robb and Crossfit, look for my next opinion post.

December 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia

Thank you very much, this is the post I waited all the time!

A few questions:

1. How tall and what weight does your brother have?

2. What bodyfat percentage does he have?

3. Macro ratio? Important: On training days and non-training days?

4. How often you train per week?

And the important of all questions for me, what blood type does he have, I assume 0?!

Thank you!


I would be happy to have Jason as a second brother, but he is actually my brother-in-law. I'll let him answer when he sees this.

December 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSylwester


There is a forum for aspiring SEALs (http://navyseals.com/forums/), where I'm a member. Names are not given, for OpSec reasons. May I link to your post, despite the fact that your brother-in-law's name is present?

These young guys (and, unfortunately, occasionally those advising them) are not cognizant of the benefits of LC. In fact, they spend a lot of time discussing the exact timing and composition of pre-/post-workout shakes to build muscle. There's some emphasis on Zone proportions, and I have seen some young men writing about trouble with their HbA1c - at 19!!

BUD/s is rough, and for good reason. Getting them truly fit and well-nourished could only help. And, from my own experience, the VLC diet might help their mental endurance, too. I find I have a much more even emotional keel when I keep my carb intake down to where I'm barely ketogenic (for me, at 155cm, ~40g/day).

Thanks so much for this info. Reminders of real changes in people's lives always help me. To go along with the science behind the changes, of course!

Happy - and Healthy! - New Year.


A Link to the modified post is fine (altered for OpSec reasons).

December 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnnlee

thats an awesome story!!!!! glad to see he found his way to a good diet and he is satisfied and happy with it. that workout sounds quite intense. ill leave it for the SEAL to perform. thank him for his service please

December 26, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermallory

I wanted to add further a question of how many kcal/day he consumes on non and training days, thanks.

December 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSylwester

Thanks for the post Kurt. I've been waiting for this subject to come up for a while. I participate in endurance sports. Specifically bike racing and triathlon. Everything from sprint distance ( 1hr+) all the way to Ironman level. Last year I changed my trainnig drastically- from traditional LSD training to Crossfit Endurance HIT training. I also changed to a complete paleo diet except for a couple dark beers a week. Needless to say I've seen a huge improvement in body compisition and endurance. I get sick less and I find that I am training about half the time. My wife loves this part. So the combo of HIT ( way less hours training ) and low carbs has been a huge boost to my performance. The struggle I have is what to eat when my racing and training takes me over 2hrs? Up till now, I've been eating energy gels, and power bars- all bad things to put in my body but I find I get the bonk pretty bad if I'm going hard and over 2hrs. I am wondering if you or any of your readers have any suggestions/thoughts on what to eat during my longer events? Are the gels ok? Or should I be eating nuts and Jerky or Coconut butter?

December 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMike Barrier

Awesome, Kurt. Congrats to Jason. It's funny how even people already relatively lean and in good shape can attain even higher levels of fitness even at older ages.

December 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRichard Nikoley

I've been doing strength training à la Doug McGuff and Frederick Hahn for just over two and a half years now. I started to do it to help increase my bone density as I have osteoporosis and I absolutely love it. I do my work outs for roughly 30 minutes twice a week. I've also been following a low carb (under 50g carbs) Paleo diet for the past three years. I'm 56 years old. My latest lab results were:

Total cholesterol 259 - I do not take a statin - am happy with my cholesterol
HDL 108
LDL 143
Triglycerides 35
HbA1c 5.3 (I'm diabetic too)
25(OH)D 100 ng/ml


December 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

Great Post as always Dr. Harris, please keep on writing in the future.

I just wanted to bring this link to your attention:


I am aware you have covered this topic in your post about calorie restricted monkeys, but before you might miss it I thought I'll post it.

Thank you,
F. Zimmermann

December 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFZ

1. How tall and what weight does your brother have? 70' and 178# for the past 2 years

2. What bodyfat percentage does he have? Last tested 11/2 years ago w/ calipers put me at 7%, however I would say it is 10%.

3. Macro ratio? Important: On training days and non-training days? Same for both days: 10-15% Carb, 20-30% Protein, and 55-70% Fat.

4. How often you train per week? 3 days on, 1 off, 2 days on, 1 off. No more than 5 days per week and I try to force myself to take a light week once every four weeks or so.

December 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Great post. I am intrigued by the note that Jason's hairline stopped receding.

I am 26, and already on finasteride(DHT testosterone suppressing, prescription medication). I hate the thought of tinkering with my hormones, especially the most - is the word androgenic? - androgenic hormones. Furthermore, finasteride, like statins, is something that is supposedly a life long thing. It is merely a maintenance medication.

The thought of eliminating finasteride in favor of a low carb paleo diet is very appealing. Currently, I eat a higher carb paleo diet that includes potatoes and raw honey.

Cordain has deemed male balding a disease of civilization, viewing it as an issue of hyperinsulmia. Although this is a cosmetic issue, it intrigues me. I would be interested to see any further thoughts from your blog on this topic, or if you are aware of additional authority on the interaction of diet with male pattern baldness.


Hair loss can be a function of androgen levels, and hair follicle sensitivity to androgens, which is in turn dependent on thyroid hormone status (definitely check that before anything else) and genetic susceptibility to same.

Not sure I agree with Cordain that all male pattern baldness is a disease of civilization.

Taking a pill to stop hair loss is a pretty blunt instrument to deal with hair loss. I would be very wary of unintended consequences.

December 26, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermike

Thank you very much Jason,...

to understand it right (I'm from overseas)

your height is 7'0 feet that's 2 meters and 13 cenitmeters???
and weigh 178lbs = 80,7kilograms?

A few more questions:

1. How much kcal/per day do you consume on workout days and non-workout days?
(if you don't know exactly then a round amount would be sufficient)

2. What blood type do you have?

That's it thanks!


70 inches is six feet 10 inches or 178 cm.

Sylwester - blood type is totally irrelevant - don't fall for that superstition.

December 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSylwester

Kurt, Sylwester,

Still too tall; for the overseas friend that is 5 feet 10 inches. I'm sure Jason is tough enough without having to be 7 feet tall.


That is what I added to his post already.

December 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJay Cannon

"male balding a disease of civilization" - I had to laugh about this. My brother, at 55, has a full head of head, as thick as any teenager, yet he's eaten a diet of pure junk food his whole life ! He's very unhealthy, has lost nearly all his teeth through gum disease as his mouth is almost constantly bathed in sugary drinks. He smokes too. He's already had to have an operation for benign enlarged prostate which is something not many men in their 50s have to have...but then if one considers his junk diet it's not surprising at all. .It's genetics that has given him so much hair.


December 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

Thanks Kurt and Jay.

"blood type is totally irrelevant - don't fall for that superstition."

Yes you told me that a time before but...
somehow I can't switch into PaNu I mean I got friends which doing really well on this lifestyle and when I ask what bloodtype they have, all with good results are saying they have 0, and the others with nothing or bad resulsts have A,B or AB.

I think there must be something with this fuckin' bloodtype...

I don't know why it didn't work for me with my BT A rh+ or what I am doing wrong?!
I'm just frustrated I dedicated so much time with this counting all my calories macros and so on and just hoped that your brother has maybe bloodtype A too to be still motivated and go on with PaNu...


Blood type has zero to do with it, I assure you.

December 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSylwester


the above url could be useful reading for any of you all considering undertaking "crossfit."


KGH: That and a quick google of rhabdomyolysis!

December 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterH. Anthony Semone, PhD

Same question as Mike Barrier: For endurance workouts lasting more than 2 hrs, what do you recommend consuming? What do your friends Marco and Dr. Erik Borgnes eat during their endurance events?


During long competitive events (hours in length) they supplement with GU or the like - but not so much during training.

I personally don't recommend anything in particular as I don't do that kind of thing. If I were to start mountaineering again I'd probably pack sardines, hard cheeses and chocolate bars like I used to 25 years ago.

Recall that endurance events are mostly aerobic fat (not glucose) burning.

We are told that we'll croak if we lift weights with our "low glycogen stores" but both Jason and I work out anaerobically in the fasting state on a low carb regime. Jason has testified no difference between 5% carbs and 15% performance-wise and this mirrors my own experience.

December 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRichard

Awesome post Jason and Kurt.Kurt I absolutely enjoy reading all your posts and I think your dietary recommendations are an essential key to a healthy life.

I've posted a few times before on your site but I don't expect for you to remember me. I am currently a zerocarber, eating nothing but meat for the past 8 months. However, I don't consider myself close minded as I'm always willing to learn new things and try to better myself. I like to lift weights and play basketball but even though my performance seems to be about the same now than it was on my previously high carb diet, it requires me to rest longer now in order to achieve maximal performance. The thing is that I've obtained a lot of great improvements in other aspects of my life on zerocarb (no mood swings, better skin, better sleep and a few others). However, I was hoping I could get your opinion/advice on a few things since I truly do agree with your dietary approach.

Basically, it seems that the optimal amount of carbs per day would be 50 with maybe the max being 100 grams. I was just wondering would those 50 grams of carb a day really improve my performance in lifting and basketball? If so, why? Does it have to do with replenish glycogen stores and sparing protein that can be used for muscle building?

Also, would you advise the same type of carbs as your brother in law Jason did: berries, sweet potato, green leafy veggies? Or which ones would you recommend, considering however that I'm both gluten (not that it matters since the PANU approach avoids grains) and lactose intolerant.

Would it be best to take these 50 grams of carbs with my post workout meal or to spread them out throught the day to avoid big insulin spikes?

I was thinking of maybe buying a blender and making those green smoothies as my daily carb intake while just eating animal products during the rest of the day, what do you think of that idea?

This is getting really long, so I'll stop here even though I'm sure my mind could formulate a dozen more questions. Once again Dr. Harris thank you for the time and effort you put into your site!


Starting as a zero carber, add one green salad a day and a variety of veggies for your first 30 g of carbs, then add the rest as white rice, potatoes or sweet potatoes and divvy them up equally by meal.

50g or 100g - as long as no gluten or sugar makes no difference.

Give up the zero carb religion. It is just as unscientific and irrational as veganism, even if it is healthier.

December 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCMR

Hi, love the site. Been a paleo eater for three years. A true convert to the health benefits.

Quick Question - your brother-in-law says: "a daily 13-15 hour fast" and later a fast of "12 to 15 hours". Is this a "normal", "Western", fast ie. last meal at 8pm, next meal at 9am? Or is this a true IF- type "waking" fast Eg. wake up 6am, no food until 6pm?

Thanks in advance for any detail you can add.


The former.

In my case, I have a short "insulin demand window". I eat protein and carbs with the main meals at 1 pm and 8 pm, and either no breakfast or only cream before that. So there is only basal insulin demand for about 14 hours a day.

December 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJames Hardy

Hi Kurt and thanks for your informative blog. I've been lurking for some time.

With regards to James Hardy's question, I'm interested in the "insulin demand window" you describe above. I understand that it's optimal to keep the frequency of "insulin events" low in order to stay in the FFA-burning state and to reap the benefits of fasting, but I'm confused by your use of cream and/or coffee, Tibetan tea, etc. during the fasting hours.

Reason being that Art Devany, who I respect very much but who I disagree with on several points, claims that it's the actually stress of hunger during the fasting hours that is necessary for the beneficial effects (raised catecholamines, mental focus, noradrenaline, etc.). Hence if you're "taking the edge off" the hunger with some cream, even though it may not raise insulin, could it also be ruining the beneficial effects of the fast?

And if having cream throughout the day gives us all the effecs of fasting without the hunger, why don't we just drink cream all day instead? In other words, with IF are we looking for the mild stress or the lower frequency of insulin in the body? Thanks, G


I am only trying to keep a narrow insulin window to avoid excess glucose spikes and insulin secretion and the consequent degenerative diseases they cause. I am not trying to cause more hormetic stress or lose more weight. It is obviously not a true fast if I eat pure fat in the form of cream, but I can only burn fat and I am not stimulating insulin secretion to any significant degree.

Ruining the benefical effect of the fast? If you want catecholamine release, just do something stressful like exercise. If you are highly ketoadapted, there is no difference in stress between cream and no cream, in my experience. I can fast up to 18 hours easily without significant hunger. Where is the stress? I think if you are trying to achieve extra stress on purpose you will need to fast 24 hours or more if you usually eat optimal diet ratios. I never do that and I have no opinion on if it would be beneficial if you are not trying to lose weight or induce more ketosis

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergunther gatherer

This may help (note to Kurt - I don't believe in the blood type trope either).
It works for me and I am blood type A , female, 45.
I've never been overweight but I did have reactive hypoglycemia, hormonal issues, acne. Have been approximately low-carb 2003-2006, got really serious about it since 2007, now eat 65-70%% fat/15% protein/10-15% carbs, almost completely gluten-free, very low sugar (dark chocolate would be about it). Just going low-carb started to fix the health issues and since getting more serious about it over the last 2-3 years has only led to more improvement.
Since 2007, have also taken up strength training with weights (as opposed to just pilates before that) and have massive improvements in strength and muscle - especially noticeable on our annual ski-ing holidays for example.
When I participated in an offer of a free Dexa scan (it was a study collecting a database of baseline data) I was found to be 17.5% body fat and was told I had a body composition they would expect to see on a 'female athlete' (and presumably a younger one - than someone my age)!
I think the main things that have worked are 1) not to be afraid to eat lots of saturated fat (luckily I love cream and creme fraiche - I can just sit and eat about 100g in a sitting) 2) give up things made with white flour and sugar

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJacqueline

FWIW when I undertook long-distance training/running in the late 70's and early to mid-80's, I ate exclusively a biblical Pritikin diet, also did the then-prescribed carb-loading routine 2-3 days prior to the event. I've trained for and have run over 20 marathons and 8 ultra events during that time frame, set no records of any kind, weighed 142#'s w/ a water-immersion BF% of 7.6. I now exclusively do HIT x1 per week at www dot finalresultsfitness dot com w/ John Wood, average 30 to 60g of carbs per day, on my version of Eades' 6WC and, during late spring to late fall row (actually, scull) on the river here in Philly.

I'm 71 and I await my lipid numbers and the inevitable personal doc admonition "you really need to be on lipitor." My last read showed TC at 230,Triglycerides at 56, with blood pressure reads avg'g 117/77, resting HR of 70, max observed HR on a C2 ergometer of 172. I now weight 164 (same as when I graduated from Parris Island in 1957) w/ skinfold (5 site) measured BF of 8.9 last time I had it taken couple weeks ago. I offer these data also as an n=1.

As a side comment, my brother in law visited us over Thanksgiving. He had a heart attack two years or so ago. He also had his "heart to heart" with his Doc who said you need to be on lipitor. He hopped on it and proudly reports his TC is now 180. He is totally oblivious, as is his Doc, that his visceral adipose tissue deposits have grown by at least 4 inches over that time, with his belly now hanging over his belt. ah yes, but his lab values are normal. And he refuses to change his diet saying he doesn't need to because his data look good.



Great story and outstanding results. Thank You.

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterH. Anthony Semone, PhD

@ Jason or Kurt -

If I read the above correctly, Jason eats the entirety of his roughly 50g carbs just after workout, breaking his fast. Is there a functional reason for this (muscle recovery?), as opposed to spreading the carbs throughout the two or so daily meals?

He also cites sleep as being an essential factor in his health. As he took the time to mention it particularly, is there anything he'd like to add about it? I'm interested in this, as I'm a VLC'er that, despite my efforts, rarely achieves a quality night's sleep -- even when allowed an abundance of time time to acquire it.



I split my carbs - maybe Jason can elaborate on what he does.

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBen

Kurt, yes you clocked me for an Optimal Diet follower. Actually Optimal Diet but Hyperlipid (Peter's) style.

With IF, the final nail in the coffin of my long-time weight and health issues, I'm interested in the lowest insulin secretion frequency per day, but I'd like to also preserve its hormetic and immune-system-heightening effects.

I am probably well keto-adapted (2 yrs on optimal diet), since I only start to get hungry after about 18 hrs fasting. At that point I drink a glass of water and the hunger goes away for 2 or 3 hours. Sometimes it just doesn't come back at all and I'm left wondering whether I should eat or not at the 24hr mark. Questions come to mind like "is it going to eat my muscles away", etc. So if we're keto-adapted and not getting hungry even at 20 hrs or more, should we eat? And when I say not hungry I mean almost forcing myself to eat.

My other question is about the "insulin baseline" you describe in your post about whether protein can make you fat. Does keto-adaptation go hand in hand with reaching one's lowest insulin baseline? Is this lack of hunger proof that one's reached the lowest insulin baseline they're going to reach? I've watched several people, including myself, struggle with hunger and overeating for years even while on a VLC approach. Then, practically within the space of a week, they suddenly shed their last nagging pounds and simultaneously aren't bothered by hunger anymore. I was wondering if you know what's going on there. Cheers, G

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergunther gatherer

So my new lipid numbers are in and my doc is about to have a heart attack :) "You need to be on a statin"

Total C 262 up 10%

HDL 101 up 62%

LDL 161 up 20%

Idiot lab did not break out the LDL components, and did not report a VLDL -go figure

Idiot lab did not do Triglycerides, though 2 years ago they were 56

C- reactive protein .14

I've given my doc the rest of my #'s as I reported above, but she is apparently unimpressed; I've of course refused statins.

your thoughts, Kurt, et al?



Your labs are absolutely fine and you do not need a statin. Ask your doctor is she knows there is zero mortality benefit to statins in those without proven coronary disease. If you want, you can get NMR lipoprofile to prove small dense LDL and LDL-P are low, but most physicians have no idea how to interpret that either.

Print every article by Ronald Krauss and give them to your Doctor.

Is she seriously not impressed with an HDL of 101?

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterH. Anthony Semone, PhD


thanks for your comment. I've never been overweight too and like I think healthy.
I just started PaNu to be more healthier and more powerful at sports but just the opposite happened.
After a time I got yellow eyeballs and have to eat carbs as grain products, after a few days all went back to normal. I don't know if my liver was overstrained from all the fat and protein.
I was 99% on PaNu. Almost 3 months! At the beginning maximal 30g carbs later a little bit more about 60g but nothing changed...
At breakfast I ate 5 eggs and drank 250ml of 30% cream, that was about 75 gram pure fat plus about 35g fat from the eggs, everyday + evening meat and butter.
And I wasn't afraid of fat trust me...
My sport performance got really down, I got cramps after easy jogging at easy speed for example 4km in my forearms not in my legs!! Normally I run over 10km with moderate to fast pace with no problem...
I got fattier, weaker and I didn't know and still don't know what was wrong...

For 4 days I gave PaNu a second try (no grains and so on), from yesterday till today I've got a 19 hours fast, no hunger at all but we will see in a few days how it's gonna be.

Giving up sugar or flour never was a problem, I have a really strong mind, but if I do not see any improvements I don't know why I should follow PaNu indeed I would really do for all the benefits and my health but I see no improvements. Now I got even more spots around my mouth and nose area from this "diet"....

Any advice?


Nowhere in "get started" does it say you must eat only 30 g of carbs or only fat, or that you must drink cream if you don't tolerate it.

The only thing you have to do is elimination of gluten grains, excess linoleic acid, sugar and flour.

If you are doing something in addition to that, then it's not PaNu.

There is no way "protein and fat" can stress your liver. Alcohol and fructose and PUFAs and drugs do that.

Jaundice cannot be caused by lack of grains. If you have jaundice, see a physician.

Spots around your mouth because you are avoiding grains and corn oil and sugar? I don't know what you are doing, but these complaints of jaundice, weight gain, spots, etc. cannot be caused just by not eating garbage. That is impossible.

Stop blaming a healthy diet and see physician soon.

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSylwester


thank you, sir, I'm a stubborn old coot and also a clinical neuropsychologist and I'll be damned if I'll start a friggin' statin when there is no earthly reason for it, especially given the reports of cognitive crap associated with their use.

And yes, she was seriously unimpressed with my HDL of 101. I thought I'd fall out of my chair when I read that my goal should be an LDL of 130 even in the presence of that HDL value. I thinketh it is time to change Doc's. I will however gather up the data from the source you've recommended and also ship her off a copy of Mike Eades' 6WC and provide her with the url to your site here. She's a darn good doc, I really like her a lot, but she has clearly not gone beyond mainstream medicine. That may have something to do with her hospital affiliation here in Philly, PENN sylvania.

thanks for your feedback, and keep up the good work, Kurt



You are welcome

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterH. Anthony Semone, PhD

Hi Kurt

I am afraid of undereating, I am afraid that if I undereat I will lose lean body mass? What are your thoughts? I specifically ask because I also IF about 15-17 hours per day, and when I do eat I get full easily.

I have been eating PaNu style for the last 3 months, I have lost 7kg (i am currently 117kg) and following Dr McGuffs Body by Science protocol, doing the Big 5 once a week. I also walk often and do sprint intervals on my versaclimber once a week.

The weird thing is the weight came off very slowly for the first 2 months (probably only 2 kg) I have only started seeing decent weight lose the last month.

With reference to another post, I too am a big fan of the WAPF website, but the grain advocation has always bothered me.

I thank you again for the awesome blog and very informative posts.



Unless you have an undiagnosed cancer somewhere, if you eat real food and follow the plan your weight should settle at what is genetically determined. My own weight is invariant even with large variation in caloric intake. Eat without worrying.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

Hi Kurt

Thank you for the fast response. I am overweight and have about 20kg of fat that i want to lose. My worry is not about overeating, but undereating. Do you lose muscle when undereating or does your body adjust and use the excess fat? Should I just take some coconut oil to make up for the lack of carb calories?

Another question on IF, Is it true that you produce the most GH while your sleeping and if so is it better to skip dinner instead of breakfast. (my preference is to skip breakfast, but on my workout day I skip dinner the evening before the workout and the evening of the workout)



You are thinking about this too hard. Eat 1 -1.2 g/kg/day protein and forget about growth hormone.
Read more old posts. Skip breakfast - you are already fasting.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew


I really don't want blame this diet or anything, I believe in the good too, I just need to find a reason why nothing "seem" to work and the spots are just occuring since I started the diet, that's what I could observe.

"Nowhere in "get started" does it say you must eat only 30 g of carbs or only fat, or that you must drink cream if you don't tolerate it."

Yeah I know, but since I started the diet half year ago and leave the grains I didn't know how to get my carbs up. This was the reason I ate only THIS 30g, I wanted to eat more but didn't knew how.
Now I'm eating a few potatoes to get my carbs up to your and your brothers recommendation.
And I think I tolerate cream, drank always milk in my life and so on,
but NOW on my second PaNu approach I try a non-diary PaNu approach.

"The only thing you have to do is elimination of gluten grains, excess linoleic acid, sugar and flour."

Yeah understanding. Can we expect a post about in get started number 8? Why we have to avoid legumes?

"There is no way "protein and fat" can stress your liver. Alcohol and fructose and PUFAs and drugs do that."

Ah one question, are raw coconuts PUFAs? They consist mostly saturated fats right? But isn't it based on plant fat?! In the last 3 days I eat everyday almost a whole coconut.

"Jaundice cannot be caused by lack of grains. If you have jaundice, see a physician."

I don't have any jaundice. The yellow eyeballs suddenly occured and this is how they gone, suddenly.

"Spots around your mouth because you are avoiding grains and corn oil and sugar? I don't know what you are doing, but these complaints of jaundice, weight gain, spots, etc. cannot be caused just by not eating garbage. That is impossible."

I don't have any weight gain, I'm just eating what you recommend, except that I don't eat grass fed stuff because I can't afford it - maybe this is the problem? Too many O-6?

Thank you that you have nerves like steel I know I can be very strenuous.

PS: Andrew asked if he has to undereat - have we - or just eat until you are satiated?? Thanks.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSylwester

Hi Kurt: I may know your brother in law from College. Can you send me your email address so I can ask you a few questions without risking any confidentiality about Jason etc. ? I'm not familiar with military confidentiality, etc and am trying to be sensitive. I apoligize if it's clunky. Thank You! - Beck Anstee (nee Utley)



December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBeck

Well Dr. Harris, I took the leap. I officially broke my zerocarb way of eating today for lunch when I had ground beef and a red potato with butter on it. I'm going to try to achieve around 50 grams of carbs a day.
I've read all your blog posts with the addition of the comments section to each one and you've mentioned before that there isn't a need to add carbs that an individual was never eating before. You previously advised me to eat a salad made up of green veggies and to be honest that really doesn't sound appealing to me but I would be willing to do it if necessary for health. If I had to, would it be okay if I blended it and made it into green smothie type drink?
Basically, what I'm asking you is if it would be okay if most of my carbs came from potatoes or would I end up having some deficiency?
One vegetable that I used to eat back in my days that I liked was green beans covered in olive oil, would that work? I'm eating only twice a day at about the same times you do but I guess breaking zerocarb was a bit of a mental aspect for me since I'm afraid of the huge insulin spikes.


What was your original reason for ZC?

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCMR

Well basically taubes led me to read more about Steffanson which led me to read the bellevue trial which led me to read about the inuit and the native americans of the plains which eventually led me to discover the zerocarb forum and give it a try. After 8 months I had a lot of improvements in almost every aspect of my life except my workouts and endurance so I'm hoping this addition of carbs will help.
Is it possible to get some of your insight on the questions in my previous post? Thanks


You are asking me if some potatoes are OK - of course they are. Will you get a deficiency if you basically do zero carb plus only potatoes? If you eat nothing but muscle meat and water and potatoes, possibly. Potatoes do have vitamin C at least.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCMR

I am confused on how fasting is beneficial for insulin sensitivity. When you don't eat every few hours, I thought it stresses the adrenal glands, causing higher cortisol, which causes insulin problems and hypoglycemia? I'm 25 years old and believe I have adrenal fatigue (dizzyness after standing up, I'm thin and can't gain weight, frequent urination (2-3 times a night, rapidly thinning hair), would it be better to avoid fasting until I clear up my adrenal fatigue? Thank you


Fasting causes adrenal fatigue? Where on earth did you read that? "Adrenal fatigue" has to be the most overdiagnosed thing that people diagnose themselves with these days. There is such a thing as addison's disease - if you think you have it or even if you don't- see a physician and get a diagnosis. Some of your symptoms could be Type I diabetes. Thinning hair can be lots of things, including thyroid.

December 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

You are probably right about diabetes, i will have to get checked soon. I just can't stop eating, yet i stay very thin. I will go through 3 pounds of hamburger meet in just 2 days, and i'm still not full. Thanks

December 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

hi,i great article.
for every one who is interested in exercising and low carb style eating. gives you a decent insight in hormonal reactions of the body to physical stress.


and maybe the improves hormonal environment of jason, due to his way of eating is responsable for the massive improvements.

my personal issue is still the amount of carbs needed to sustain anaerob exrecise. and there is defenitely a need to distinguish between doing a litte here and there or push youryself to the limits, with some good amount of volume and intensity.
i'm sure jason is at least working out like me. so it seems like he has found his range of carbs in with his performance doesnt suffer.

KGH: Yo can do intense anaerobic exercise a couple of times a week on zero carbs consumed. Stop worrying about that.

i think it's an important fact that jason does his carbs completly after working out. so he uses the improved insulin sensitivity and things like glut4 rexeptors to get the carbs to the right place. in this way it may be a litle bit easier to replenish glycogen stores.


HE is also probably having a higher postprandial BG than if he splits his carbs - _ personally I think there is no advantage to that. It takes ridiculous amounts of frequent anaerobic activity to actually deplete your glycogen faster than it can be replenished.

nevertheless i'm still convinced that for optimal performance you need some carbs. sure much less than commonly recommended. and i'm talking about high demanding anerob work. otherwise you find yourself in a constant catabolism.
the average guy who plays around with some barbells, defenitely doesnt need any.

KGH: Optimal performance as a competitive professional or olympic athlete, maybe -but does not apply to 90% of the people who opine about this. The constant catabolism would be from constantly working out! not from not eating sugar and starch. If you are getting excess protein in your diet, where is the catabolism?

What is your paradigmatic example of high demand anaerobic activity and at what intensity, duration and frequency?

Does Jason's experience and testimony that he can work out this way and it makes no difference if he is at 5% or 15% carbs not convince you that eating more carbs is unnecessary for a high quantity of anaerobic work?

January 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersoultransfer

KGH: Yo can do intense anaerobic exercise a couple of times a week on zero carbs consumed. Stop worrying about that.

>> i cant stop worrying about that because my experience doesnt let me. once i was a lowcarb hero, totally convinced that you dont need them. worked out MO/WED/FRI as always, 1:20h. sometimes 5x5 variations, sometimes a commen 3x8 approach. but always heavy compund movements - squats, deads, bench, rows, press...

I was pretty much fat adapted since half a year, short breaks in between. but every time i cut out carbs i felt great after 2 days. so i guess my body was used to run on ketones.
one week into that i felt really great. energy levels, mood, sex drive. everything over the roof. so i went on, convinced that i have found the magic way.
but issues arised. by the second or third week the days after my workout were horrible. waked up early, blown up face, nervous (high cortisol symptoms?)
by the fourth week i was really depressive, bad mood, no sex drive, massive water retention, early waking....

so what does this sound like? overtraining?
i wouldn't say that i wasnt fat adapted.

so it's pretty impressive what jason tells. would be very interested in a detailed workout plan of him.

KGH: It takes ridiculous amounts of frequent anaerobic activity to actually deplete your glycogen faster than it can be replenished.

>> in lyle mcdonald's ultimate diet 2.0 you do two depletion workouts in a row. MO/TUE . it consists of 3 sets /15-20 reps / short rest intervals /60% of 1repmax. in combination with low carb eating he considers you to be pretty much carb depleted. so the amount is not that high in my opinion.


Overtraining can occur on a 70% carb diet without any glycogen depletion.

I am guessing depletion workouts means you are trying to run down your glycogen on purpose? Why in heck would you do that? Too much jargon and needless complexity there for me. When I say don't worry about it - I am not saying don't eat more carbs if you feel bad on VLC or ZC - eat them if you need to. I am saying why obsess or worry about it? Eat some potatoes or don't. Some people may not feel well on low carbs and it has nothing to do with glycogen depletion.

January 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersoultransfer

KGH: Optimal performance as a competitive professional or olympic athlete, maybe -but does not apply to 90% of the people who opine about this. The constant catabolism would be from constantly working out! not from not eating sugar and starch. If you are getting excess protein in your diet, where is the catabolism?

doesnt optimal performance has sth to to with optimal health? at least at biomedical level. give a tissue an optimal environment and it works best. just a thought

KGH: WHy would it? Optimal physical performance is scoring points or winning a race or lifting something, not health or longevity. Why would it be. Sprts performance ins an optimal environment for tissues generally? I guess that is the religion of physical training.

but i agree with you. i dont need optimal performance. even if i'm interested in a bit more muscle mass, i can get there without maximizing my performance. but i'm interested in health and wellbeing, ...ok, ok and look good naked. aren't these things linked in some way?
you could propose to cut back workout volume and intensity but thats just a valid argument if one is convinced that carbs are bad. because i can either adjust my carb intake to my amount of working out or i do it the other was around.

but the point is we dont have to discuss further on as long as you have the opinion that insulin and glucose spikes are always a bad thing (acute and chronically). you pointed that out a few weeks ago, correct me if i' wrong)
whereas i'm convinced that short term insulin spikes do useful things. (muscle glucose uptake, stops protein brakedown,...).
and furthermore i think sometimes it's a good idea to fill liver glycogen. (what dieters know as carbup). decreases cortisol release, normalises conversion of t4 to t3, increases nervous system output.

my way is more cyclical not so radical ;) but it developped due to my experiences.

KGH: If you think Insulin spikes are good thing I don't have much more to say. It is pretty obvious I am not a trainer or an athletic coach, but perhaps you are overthinking this stuff. Eat real food and avoid the neolithic agents. Lower carbs is better for most people, but do whatever you want.

January 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersoultransfer


I have been following this way of eating for several months, with some cheating around the holidays (desserts mostly) I am planning to get a physical in about a month as I am fully back on the wagon.

What test should I request from my doctor to get the most accurate readings (ie direct measure). Is there a specific type of panel I should request? Basically I just want to know where I stand and I want to make sure what I am being told is accurate.




NMR lipoprofile, fasting insulin and BG, HBa1c, TSH, fT3, fT4, 25 OH D3 - the PaNu panel

January 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNatasha

Dr. Harris,
I've been following your advice and I have been adding leafy greens at lunch with my fatty meat and at night I'll either have some green beans or a sweet potato with my fatty meat meal. I'm also taking a teaspoon of cod liver oil after dinner since my meat is grain fed. I think my energy is a little better but it might be too soon to tell. However, what is bothering me is that my face and back have started breaking out again (zerocarb had clear it) and I'm just wondering if this might just be because my body needs some time to adapt to ingesting carbs again, or if this is just due to the insulin spikes or is it possible that these 50 grams of carbs a day are feeding what I believe might be candida overgrowth? Any advice will be much appreciated, thanks

Carbs in general or insulin spikes causing acne or spots? Never heard of that. Can't diagnose over the internet but try a different source of CLO - some have allergy to fish

January 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCMR

Carbs in general or insulin spikes causing acne or spots? Never heard of that. Can't diagnose over the internet but try a different source of CLO - some have allergy to fish

Dr. Harris:
I'm really not sure since my knowledge about nutrition and the human body is very limited. All I know is that I had horrible acne and depression when I was eating a mixed high carb diet (with lots of grains and sugar) and from there I switched completely to zerocarb and my skin cleared up for the first time in 7 years and my mood stabilized.However, it's really impossible to tell if that was due to completely cutting out all carbs or if it was due to just reducing them or maybe it was just by completely cutting off grains, sugar and other refined carbs and maybe perhaps vegetable oils. Unfortunately my energy after 8 months of zerocarb was never "good" and my exercising ability was horrible.

From my limited knowledge it just seems too many carbs or maybe just refined carbs mess with insulin hormone which in turn affects all the other hormones and processes in the body driving it away from homeostasis and that's where all the problems (diseases of civilization turn in). Obviously, I'm making it simpler than it really is but I guess I'm just thinking that maybe the carbs mess with the insulin in my body and drive it out of homeostasis and cause me to break out over my face and body (I've never been overweight so maybe different bodies react different to hyperinsulinemia or huge insulin spikes).

On the other hand, after 8 months without eating carbs it might just take my body a few weeks to adapt to eating carbs again (like secreting the proper digestive enzymes). So, I'll probably continue for a month this way and see what happens. Hopefully things will level out cause It would really be disappointing if I had to face a tradeoff between clear skin and energy/physical performance.

Of course, my other theory (which from a medical standpoint is completely bogus) is that I have a candida overgrowth due to 2 straight years of antibiotics (doxycycline and tetracycline) for my acne when I was 15. Supposedly candida feeds off of carbs/glucose so maybe that's my problem and instead of what I have being acne might actually be folliculitis.

Anyways, I understand you can't diagnose over the internet so at this point I'll stop blabbering. I appreciate your time and effort, and I'm always grateful for any advice you may have. Thank you

January 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCMR

Loren Cordain has written extensively about insulin (high levels and/or spikes) causing acne. He even wrote a book, "The Dietary Cure for Acne."

Trying to cure my acne via diet (before I ever heard of Cordain or Paleo), I used an elimination diet that showed without a doubt that I could reduce my acne by avoiding carbohydrates and milk (I could still have cream-based dairy products). I quickly eliminated grains, sugar, starchy vegetables and milk, but it took many years for me to learn I could get rid of all carbohydrates (scared I would be missing nutrients and the much-ballyhooed fiber). Reading the Fiber Menace site convinced me I didn't need to worry about fiber and sites like PaNu, Heartscan and Nephropal alerted me that fruit was more friend than foe - so more carbs eliminated and even better skin. I finally got the courage to try dumping the only carbs left in my diet at that point, leafy greens, and my skin got perfect.

I'm not a zero carb fanatic and am not the least bit bothered by or worried about carbs in animal foods. I eat plenty of eggs, heavy cream and organ meats. But veggie-carbs are the devil for me.

I wonder if some day they will find out that animal carbs are as good for us as animal fats have turned out to be? Something beyond the elemental content, like polarization, L- vs. R- form or even something like trans versions? Sort of like how vegetable trans fats are poison but animal trans fats like CLA are highly beneficial.

January 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRandy Evans

cmr, if i were you i would try every possible sort of carb, different sorts of grains(gluten-containing and not gluten-containing), fruits, beans, potatoes. so you can eliminate every other reason but insulin spikes. or have you done that before?

Unfortunately my energy after 8 months of zerocarb was never "good" and my exercising ability was horrible.
do you really mean 0g carbs?

January 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersoultransfer

Soultransfer, it was probably more like 5grams of carbs from the glycogen but I was just eating complete grain fed muscle meat with no cod liver oil or any other supplementation and my skin was really good, however my energy wasn't. When I say my energy wasn't good I don't mean that I couldnt get out of bed or perform normal daily activities however my performance in exercise and sports was never as good as it was with carbs! So maybe I'm doing a tradeoff between health and performance but I can't really say that either cause Jason as a Navy Seal most likely does an incredible amount of exercise everyday and is also healthy. I really think a lot of my problems were due to the 2 straight years of antibiotics, who knows how much that stuff really screwed up with my digestive system and intestinal flora.
Before doing any low carb type of eating, I had tried every supplement and every magical cure for acne with little to no success and I got so desperate that I went to my dermatologist and he put me on accutane. However after 10 days on accutane my knees started to hurt so I was like no thanks and just dropped it. Then I found the candida diet which from there I did more research and decided to go zerocarb by eating just meat (well mostly muscle meat cause I didn't really try to look for organ meat).
So obviously the transition from a high carb diet full of pasta and sugar and all sorts of stuff to just eating meat took out a lot of variables that is why I'm willing to try experimenting with adding back in some vegetables and a little fruit for 1 month just to see how it goes. So far for my lunch I eat a pound or more of ground beef and drink a vegetable smoothie that im making out of spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, broccoli, blueberries and coconut oil (looks really bad but it tasted pretty good maybe because it was a bit sweet from the blueberries). Then with my dinner its another pound or more of ground beef with either a sweet potato or some green beans covered in olive oil and some sea salt (butter breaks me out just like all dairy).
Anyways I'm excited to see where this experiment takes me and who knows maybe It'll lead me to what Randy said about getting the carbs from meat sources. I appreciate your experiences and suggestions Randy and soultransfer, I'm always willing to learn new things

January 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCMR

@cmr: zerocarbs is pretty hard. but i know what one is capable of if the urge is high enough.
if i do a high carb diet, i ll get some sort of skin irritations on my ass. looks like acne. but it diminished since i ve done lowcarb. it doesnt come back even if i do refeeds with 200-300g carbs a day.

another idea would be fructose. doesnt raise insulin in the first place. maybe worth a try?


A gentle suggestion - take the off-topic discussion on skin lesions and "refeeding" to the forums, perhaps?

The fructose suggestion is foolish - fructose causes liver insulin resistance which is the main cause of hyperinsulinemia.

January 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersoultransfer


Thanks so much for the blog, this last post really hit home, much appreciated.

Wanted to get a little better granularity on macro's. I know the guidance is "Just Eat!", but I think with a little metabolic derangement to overcome and a pretty good background in weighing/measuring, it would be helpful to me.

Some background:

I have been eating Paleo/Zone for about 1.5 years. During that time I've also been avidly Crossfitting and am a middling athlete:

6'1/215/31yo approx 15-17% BF
Snatch: 175
DL: 430
Fran: 4:00
Helen: 10:23
Cindy: 18

Diet-wise, I did a weighted/measured low-carb Zone per Robb Wolf from January 09-November 09, 18P/11C/42F with most carbs post-WOD in the form of sweet potatoes, the rest low GI veggies.

When I initially started I dropped weight fast, and went from 220 to 205 in 5 weeks, but then the weight began to creep up again to my "normal" 215. Mirror and pants fit point to this being mainly mid-section fat.

I did a 30 Day Paleo Challenge from Nov 23-Dec 23. Weight went from 215 to 210. Took before/after photos, some small difference in mid-section fat.

I ate about 85% Paleo between Dec 24-31 Jan. In that time I went from 210 to 219.

After reading your post on 31 Dec, I decided to give Jason's approach a try starting 1 Jan. I've been tracking my diet on FitDay. I am averaging two meals per day at 11am and 8pm. My macros are:

Protein 120g
Carbs 60g (15g Fiber, so 45g "effective"(
Fat 198g

I haven't felt very hungry at all. I came down with a little bit of a cold two days ago, so haven't been training hard. Biggest change from Paleo Challenge is the inclusion of dairy. I was completely dairy-free for that 30 days.

So if you have some guidance for me on macro's as body fat loss is the goal, then I'd much appreciate it. If not, then I'll just continue on this for the next few weeks, see what happens and post another comment with an update.

Thanks again for the great site!

January 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrian PCF

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Textile formatting is allowed.