Why One Calorie For Her Is Half a Calorie For Him

by Konstantin Monastyrsky weight lossComments: 113

slim man and overweight womanBy Konstantin Monastyrsky, the author of Fiber Menace

One gram of fat is indisputably one gram of fat, but analyzing nine calories in the same gram – not so simple. Ditto for proteins and carbohydrates. This ambiguity in the relative role of calories in weight loss (or weight gain) explains why even siblings consuming similar diets may respond to them differently, let alone people of different age, shape, gender, and lifestyle.

Total ignorance of this indelible fact of nature – that one calorie for you may mean more or less than one calorie for someone else – is a primary reason why past and present one-diet-fits-all fads may have failed you before and will fail again (and again, and again).

So don’t look with envy at your sibling, spouse, or friend who is losing weight faster than you on the exact same diet. When it comes to safe, effective, and permanent weight loss, YOU are the only ONE who matters, and even more so if you are a woman.

Sadly, you’ll find little to no discussion of gender-specific influences on weight loss rates in popular diet books and programs. This is an embarrassing oversight because gender impacts weight loss (and weight gain) in countless ways, so much so that I believe diet books should have be written separately for men and women.

So here we go:

AGE DIFFERENCE. You are not your 20-something daughter. She is at the peak of her procreation mission with a metabolism to match. She is still learning about the world around her and has an incredibly busy brain, the largest consumer of glucose. Her body may still be growing. She is definitely healthier. She may be taller. Her body has more muscle, even if she is the exact same size and shape as you are. She has only half of your genes; the other half is from her father. She is more active simply because she can be. She doesn’t need the gym (yet). She sleeps better than you, even if she sleeps less. She is luckier simply because she is younger.

THE TAKEAWAY: Younger women of the exact same shape, weight, height, and even genetic background will always lose weight faster on the exact same diet as older women. So if you are still eating just like your adult daughter, don’t be surprised that you are getting fatter than her or not losing weight just as fast. If you still would like to trade clothes with her, join the gym, eat less, or, even better, do both.

SMALLER MUSCLE MASS. The female body contains significantly less muscle than males of similar shape and weight. Women experience faster loss of muscle throughout pregnancy, breastfeeding, and natural aging. Since muscles are one of the most demanding users of energy, their age-related loss reduces the rate of energy uptake, and, correspondingly, increases the gain of body fat.

THE TAKEAWAY: Accept your innate difference with men and younger women, and eat less than your husband, boyfriend, or muscular girlfriend. Even better, join the gym and build your muscles from the ground up so you can enjoy heartier meals and the occasional glass of wine with impunity.

GLUCOSE UPTAKE BY MUSCLES. Along with the brain, central nervous system, and blood, muscles are the most prolific consumers of glucose. That is why most men on a low-carb diet lose weight faster than women and don’t gain it as quickly with a larger intake of carbohydrates.

THE TAKEAWAY: Women require fewer carbohydrates than men, yet at the same time improperly structured ultra-low-carbohydrate (a.k.a. ketogenic) diets (with not enough high-quality protein and too many fats) may not be appropriate for older women because the diets may accelerate muscle wasting. Fool me once, Dr. Atkins, shame on you. Fool me twice – fat on me. (I will discuss a muscle-sparing low-calorie diet in future posts.)

GREATER FAT MASS. Women have a higher ratio of body fat to total body weight than men. Body fat is essential for reproductive functions, healthy pregnancy, and nursing. As body fat falls below a certain level – around 10% to 15% – infertility and amenorrhea (the absence of a period) set in.

THE TAKEAWAY: Because body fat plays such an essential role in female reproductive and overall health, women gain fat faster than men on similar or smaller amounts of foods. Don’t eat as much as your male partner of similar proportions, unless you don’t mind gaining weight.

THERMOS EFFECT. As you gain fat, your body lowers the internal rate of energy metabolism (i.e., produces less heat) because your internal organs are cuddled in the warm blanket of your own fat, or, as doctors would say, adipose tissue. That is why overweight people are far less sensitive to cold than skinny ones. Inversely, the thermos effect may cause a rapid overheating of internal organs in a hot environment. For this reason heat strokes represent a significant hazard for obese individuals.

Unfortunately, this thermos effect (my term) has a profoundly negative impact on your ability to lose weight because your rate of metabolism is so much lower, and this has little or nothing to do with your thyroid or adrenal glands that you may think are “underactive.”

THE TAKEAWAY: If it is too late for you, do everything you can to prevent your daughters and younger sisters from gaining weight. Expect a longer journey toward your own normal weight. Increase your level of physical exercise to increase your metabolic rate. Keep the thermostat up so your body isn’t spooked into hibernation mode (more on this later) when it is cold inside (from central air) and out.

HEIGHT. A person’s height is an important factor in energy metabolism and, correspondingly, in obesity and weight loss. All other things being equal, taller people lose weight faster because their “lengthier” bodies expend more energy to support cardiovascular, respiratory, and thermogenic (keeping itself warm) functions.

This doesn’t mean that tall people don’t become overweight or obese – of course they do. Still, on the exact same diet they will be losing weight faster and gaining it slower. This observation may not seem particularly earth-shattering in itself, but it becomes important when determining portion sizes.

When foods are plentiful, satiety is portion-oriented, not need-oriented. In other words, we don’t eat as much as we need, but we eat as much as we want.

Moreover, portions nowadays are designed to accommodate an “average” person’s capacity to ingest foods until his or her stomach is loaded to the gills. Thus, when there are more tall/large/overweight people in society with larger stomachs, short/small/skinny people inevitably overeat. Adding insult to injury, their smaller stomachs stretch out gradually to accommodate the corresponding amount of food on their plates. Guess what happens next…

THE TAKEAWAY: The shorter you are, regardless of gender, the more attention you must pay to portion sizes. You will also face the greatest difficulty during weight loss because your stretched out stomach and mental perception of satiety are preconditioned to eating larger portions of foods for longer. It is quite hard to eat little and leave the dinner table earlier when you are accustomed to huge portions and long, leisurely dinners. Fortunately, stomachs do shrink back to their original capacities. After successfully completing a properly structured weight loss diet, overeating again will be just as uncomfortable as when you were young and normal weight.

INNATE RESPONSE TO REDUCED CALORIE INTAKE. Your body doesn’t really know the difference between weight loss and starvation. All it knows is that it is under duress from undernutrition and facing extinction. That is why a scarcity of nutrients during weight loss diets, or even from poor nutrition, instantly lowers your energy and structural metabolism, throttles down weight loss, and speeds up the accumulation of body fat, all to protect your reproductive health and milk supply for potential offspring from the possibility of starvation-related death.

THE TAKEAWAY: Ultra-low-carbohydrate (a.k.a. ketogenic) diets (espoused by the bodybuilders whose ultimate goal is to lose every iota of body fat, literal paleo-freaks [i.e. nothing but unrestricted lean protein], and the aficionados of original Atkins diet with unlimited fats) are not only counterproductive for women but also the primary reason for near-instant weight rebound and ensuing obesity.

That doesn’t mean that ketogenics diets are unnatural,  harmful, or ineffective  not at all. I just wish to convey that this particular weight loss technique must be applied along with a properly balanced low-calorie diet; with a good deal of attention to one’s ability to digest and assimilate natural proteins in order to spare muscles from wasting and prevent gastric disorders; and with equal respect to one’s age, health, and a number of others factors that I’ll be addressing in future posts.

ENERGY REQUIREMENTS. With all other things being equal ­– ambient temperature, level of activity, age, height, and weight – the female body has a lower demand for energy from proteins, fats, and carbohydrates than the male’s, due to not only substantially less muscle but also smaller lungs and a smaller heart, less blood volume, and an inherently less physically demanding response – flight instead of fight – to external stress. This difference is particularly significant in the reduced uptake of energy from glucose by the blood, muscles, and central nervous system.

THE TAKEAWAY: It is worthwhile to repeat that an identical piece of cake for one person may represent twice as many relative calories to another, similarly shaped person. In other words, when my wife eats cake, her body uses a portion of its calories for energy, and the balance goes right into making body fat, while my body uses the entire allotment of calories from the exact same cake exclusively for making energy, with nothing left for fat.

The same can be said about fats and proteins, though the difference may be not as drastic as with carbohydrates because a larger portion of these nutrients is used for structural metabolism. The demands of structural metabolism in women may be greater than in men (with all other things being equal) because female reproductive functions demand a greater deal of nutrients.

To summarize, if you are a woman, your dietary requirements for energy, particularly from carbohydrates, are substantially less than a man’s. As trivial as this statement is, girls and women rarely consume portions adjusted to their particular needs and end up paying a price for it later in life with (a) earlier obesity, (b) higher rates of obesity, (c) and greater morbidity (the rate of incidence of a disease) related to obesity.

When it comes to losing weight, the situation is also stacked against women, who need to decrease their caloric intake considerably more than men to accomplish the same amount of weight loss in the same span of time.

REPRODUCTIVE HORMONES. In middle-aged women, the reduction of estrogen related to age, pregnancy, lactation, stress, undernutrition, and contraceptives may lead to gradual weight gain and a diminished rate of weight loss. Since adipose tissue (i.e., body fat) produces estrogen in parallel with the ovaries, I believe the female body compensates for the age-related decrease of ovarian estrogen by lowering the rate of energy metabolism in order to accumulate more fat, thereby allowing it to produce more estrogen.

THE TAKEAWAY: Real foods in a traditional diet will help you maintain a high level of sex hormones all the way into menopause. Post-menopausal weight gain is a natural process. Closer to menopause, adjust your diet and exercise accordingly to prevent fat gain. By maintaining strong, supple, and busy muscles, you’ll be able to eat more without gaining weight. Age-appropriate diet and exercise are far better options than cancer-prone hormone replacement therapies, unless absolutely medically indicated.

OVULATION. Ovulation raises body temperature, a well-known fact that has been used for millennia to determine a natural algorithm for birth control, also known as the “natural family planning” or “periodic abstinence” technique. The hormonal activity and physiological metamorphosis during ovulation stimulates energy metabolism, hence the rise in temperature and appetite to keep the “burner” going.

THE TAKEAWAY: Use this natural phenomenon to burn fat by reducing carbohydrates rather than feeding the “burner” with loads of them. If you are prone to weight gain, avoid hormonal contraceptives that interfere with ovulation because they will inevitably slow down your metabolic rate.

MENSTRUATION. The period represents a particular challenge for weight loss because, as during ovulation, the body goes into overdrive and requires more energy and nutrients for rebuilding and restoration (plastic needs), including micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and microelements. During  ovulation and period, the body specifically demands extra proteins and essential fatty acids to synthesize hormones and other fertility-specific substances. All of these factors and corresponding mood swings may stimulate a voracious appetite that’s often satisfied with useless (nutritionally speaking) carbohydrates rather than essential fats and proteins. This unbalanced consumption of nutrients during periods leads to the gradual loss of muscle mass and the accumulation of fat.

THE TAKEAWAY: Pay particular attention to your nutrition before and during your period. Overeating is a habit, not a necessity. If you overeat junk food, your body still isn’t getting what it wants and will stimulate hanger, appetite, and cravings even more. A traditional diet with real foods is the best way to preempt period-related binges. Intense, overpowering food cravings during periods and ovulation may be the symptoms of borderline undernutrition. In this case, use professional-grade supplements for a short while to boost up your body’s stores until real foods will be able to satisfy all of your requirements on their own.

PREGNANCY. Women are programmed by nature to accumulate body fat during pregnancy. These extra stores are essential for the substantial energy and structural needs related to pregnancy and not-so-distant breastfeeding, and provide as well an extra blanket of warmth for the fetus.

THE TAKEAWAY: Bring the thermostat up – way up. 76º to 78º F (24º to 26º C) is the optimal temperature for preventing the slowdown of your metabolic rate in order to conserve energy. High temperatures also prevent fat accumulation, your body’s method of protecting your internal organs (particularly the uterus and ovaries) from the cold. If your workplace is a freezer and you can’t change it, file a complaint with a labor board, union, health department, or whoever else will listen and has a leverage to change it. As far as I am concerned, cold offices are a form of discrimination against women.

BREASTFEEDING. Failure to breastfeed is a primary cause behind postpartum weight retention (i.e., getting fatter and fatter after each baby). Long-term milk production burns fat deposits far more efficiently than any form of non-extreme exercise. Besides, breast milk fertilizes the healthiest, happiest, and chubbiest babies. Intentionally using formula – the very first processed (i.e. factory-made) product in your baby’s life – instead of breastfeeding is a major contributor to obesity among American women with children, and, of course, their children in the not-so-distant future.

THE TAKEAWAY: Breastfeeding facilitates weight loss for you and healthy development for your baby like no other diet. To produce an average of 700 ml of breast milk daily, healthy women expend approximately 490 calories that are derived from 7 grams of protein, 31 grams of fat, and 48 grams of milk sugars, primarily lactose. Thus, on a weight-neutral diet, the extra fat in milk comes right from body fat. At 31 grams per day you may lose at least 11.3 kg (25 lbs.) of fat simply by breastfeeding while still enjoying a normal diet. This example, of course, is a gross oversimplification, but it is still pretty close to reality.

So plan to breastfeed for as long as you can, or at the very least until your baby grows teeth and can chew solid food. Giving a toothless child solid food is a health and development hazard because her body won’t make gastric acid and enzymes until she can thoroughly chew and masticate (mix with saliva) the chunks of solid foods.

Finally, extended breastfeeding suppresses menstruation in many women all the way until weaning. This pause defrays the onset of menopause by a similar length because the natural absence of a period preserves ovarian follicles and defers menopause until well into one’s fifties.

ANTHROPOLOGY. Ancestry plays a significant role in weight gain and resistance to weight loss, particularly for women whose roots are in regions with cyclical climates. Because of climate-dependent food supply patterns, such women are genetically predisposed to rapid weight gain during the summer and autumn in order to survive less plentiful seasons or outright starvation, as well as to continue breastfeeding their offspring without interruption. This phenomenon is apparent from exceptionally high rates of obesity among African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and persons of South-Pacific ancestry. Omnipresent air conditioning tricks their bodies into hibernation-like state in anticipation of the colder season, while a limitless availability of carbohydrate-rich food facilitates rapid weight gain.

THE TAKEAWAY: If you or your children have a genetic predisposition to gaining weight, watch out for ambient temperature at home and in the office, and adjust your year-round diet to levels that allow you to maintain steady weight.

EATING OUT. Short of Nieman Marcus’s café-cum-bistro spa menu intended for predominantly slim, well-heeled patronesses, I’ve yet to see a restaurant that provides a gender-specific menu. Hence, identical steaks are smacked in front of a petite woman and an oversized, bodybuilding man as a matter of course. Women, who dine out often, must be mindful of this aberration and demand half portions or split main courses with their companions.

THE TAKEAWAY: Insist that restaurants serve you half portions “due to dietary restrictions.” Don’t be shy to request it. It isn’t embarrassing, but rather a sign of class and wealth. Call the restaurant in advance to find out if half portions (or “spa-size”) are available upon request. If they refuse to accommodate you, just don’t go there and post a negative review on Yelp, Zagat, OpenTable, Fodor’s, or any other online restaurant guide. Punish them with your dollars and reviews. Complain to your local department of health. This is the only way change will come to this male-dominated industry, which is extremely hostile to women and weight-conscious men alike because they aren’t as profitable to serve.

CHRONIC DIETER SYNDROME. Women have a propensity for recurrent dieting. Each consecutive diet cycle, especially one low in fat and protein, compromises the body’s essential endocrine functions, slows the rates of metabolism, and stimulates the over-consumption of carbohydrates, which leads to the accumulation of more fat and reductions of muscle and bone mass (the key factor behind osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, periodontal disease, and eventual tooth loss). Each consecutive weight loss cycle results in more and more fat stores and a corresponding decline in overall health. This results in even more weight gain.

THE TAKEAWAY: A weight loss diet is like an antibiotic. If you start taking one, you need to finish the full course; otherwise, you create antibiotic-resistant bacteria that may harm you later. The more you diet halfway, the more resistant your body becomes to weight loss and more accommodating to weight gain. So if you start a diet, do it right, do it for as long as it takes, and once you’re there, don’t return to the diet that made you overweight in the first place. That – helping you reach the finish line with your health and sanity intact – is the goal of this project.

FOOD PREPARATION. Fair or not, women spend more time in the kitchen while cooking for their families. Unfortunately, the continuous exposure to food comes with an increase in appetite, hunger, cravings, and, in many cases, inevitable overeating.

THE TAKEAWAY: Food preparation is a definite obesity hazard. Structuring low-calorie diets while still having to cook for family (or professionally) is hard, but not impossible. I will address this particular challenge in later posts.

As you can see from all of the above, if you happen to be a man, praise the Lord for your innate ability to eat more without gaining weight or lose more weight on the exact same diet as your wife or girlfriend.

Sure, there are black swans in our midst, just like my lucky wife who can eat most anything she likes with impunity, but if you aren’t one of them, accept your differences and eat accordingly.

That’s why when it comes to the particulars of my weight loss program, “one diet fits all” approach does not apply. More on this in the next and future posts.

Next post >>


Previous posts from  the “Why Diets Fail?” series:

1. The Real Reason Diets Fail and What You Can Do About It

2. How Long Will It Take Me to Lose the Weight?

Please subscribe to FREE UPDATES at the top of the page, so you won’t miss the next post.


About the Author

konstantinKonstantin Monastyrsky graduated from medical university in 1977 with a degree in pharmacy. He is an expert in forensic nutrition, a new field of science that investigates the connection between supposedly healthy foods and nutrition-related disorders, such as diabetes and obesity.

In 1978 Konstantin’s family emigrated from the former Soviet Union to the United States, where he decided to pursue a career in the high-technology field, taught himself advanced programming languages, and his eventual work has had a major influence on the development of the modern user interface that has become ubiquitous with the introduction of iPhone- and iPad-like devices.

In 1996, Konstantin began to suffer from type 2 diabetes and a host of related ailments, including the debilitating carpal tunnel syndrome. Unable to use the keyboard, he turned his attention back to his roots in medicine and nutrition to find solutions for his rapidly deteriorating health.

Since then, he has written four books about health and nutrition, including the acclaimed Fiber Menace, and is a past speaker at the Weston A. Price Foundation’s Wise Traditions Conference.  He is the principal writer of GutSense – the web’s leading resource for people affected by colorectal disorders, such as constipation, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticular disease, and colorectal cancers.

For your health and safety, please read these important Weight Loss Common Sense Warnings and Disclaimers before commencing a reduced calorie diet.

Picture credit: © 2013 iStockPhoto LLP

Comments (113)

  • Pingback: Why One Calorie For Her Is Half a Calorie For Him | Advice for Life Naturopathic

  • Kristin

    Thanks again for the awesome posts! I am truly enjoying reading these every week. What an eye opener. I have one question though, and I apologize if you’ve answered it already. How does someone figure out how to calculate their daily calorie intake. I have read SO much conflicting advice. Could you give me a good rule to go by? For example, what would a nursing mother in her late 20’s with about 40lbs to lose need to consume to lose that weight? I eat a tradional diet and that seems to make it hard to stay within the 1800-2000 calorie mark that some websites reccommend. I know that you future posts will make this info more clear, but if I wanted to get started right away, what is the way to do that? Thanks!

    April 3rd, 2013 5:35 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky

      Kristin, you are very welcome, and thank you back for your kind feedback. You are correct, I actually did cover this question extensively on this very page. Please just press Ctrl-F in your browser, and search for all of the instances of “breastfeeding.” You will get a lot more information this way!

      April 3rd, 2013 11:33 pm
  • Tim

    Looks like I’m in the minority here, but I have a ‘guy’ question for you:

    I’m 48, 5’10, 170lbs. 3 years ago, I was 250lbs. I lost it all through low carb, whole foods. I’ve added in quite a few carbs lately from potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes, etc…. and have been keeping my macros around 30% carb, 30% protein, and 60% fat. I have maintained my weight around 170 for over a year now.

    I would like to lose another 10 pounds and maintain closer to 160. I have the flab to spare, I’m currently at about 18% body fat, I think 12% would be best. I can get down to 160 with some serious calorie restriction, but it never ‘sticks’. The trouble is, my maintenance level of calories is about 1500kcal/day. I exercise regularly, lifting several times a week, sprint weekly, and walk 3-5mi/day. I have an active job, not sedentary by any means.

    If I overeat for several weeks, I regain weight easily–and on all good WAPF foods–no sugar, flour, or veg oil. 2000kcal/day will lead to several pounds added per month.

    It is very depressing for me to think I will always be required to eat so little to maintain my weight. The advice to eat more, or eat more fat/less carbs etc… hasn’t worked. Adding in more carbs has made it easier to maintain my weight without wild fluctuations, but in order to get leaner, I will have to cut to 1000-1200/day and probably stay around 1200-1300 to maintain it. Does that seem reasonable to you or am I doing something wrong?

    April 1st, 2013 3:47 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky


      I am in a similar situation, although not as active as you are. To stick to my normal weight of 68 kg (150 lbs.), I am on a steady diet if 1400-1500 kk per day. To still enjoy life, I don’t eat breakfast, have a tiny lunch as late as possible, usually around 1 pm (@ 300 k), and enjoy a moderately “rich” dinner (@ 1100-1300 k). In your particular case I would also decrease fat to 40%, and increase carbs and proteins respectively. Fat is by far the most dense product, calorie-wise, so you’ll still be well lubed with 40%, while a great deal of satiety and satisfaction comes from chewing. Proteins are best for that.

      Also, I usually let myself go a bit on the weekend, and enjoy a bit more variety. But I still stick to the rule of 2 meals a day with late lunch, 6-7 pm dinner, and no snacks. Hope you’ll find this information helpful.

      April 1st, 2013 3:58 pm
      • Tim

        Nature is indeed cruel!

        Sounds like we are eating similarly. I normally have no breakfast or snacks, lunch at 11 of 1 can of sardines and 1/2 to 1 pound of a variety of raw veggies, then dinner at 6 of 1/2 to 1 pound of meat, cheese, almonds, fruit, dark chocolate, and a starch to equal about 1200kcal.

        3 years ago, i was very obese and couldn’t do a single chinup or pushup, now regularly doing 20+ chinups and 30+ pushups in a set plus weighted squats. I would have thought with all these strength gains, my capacity to eat would have went up to close to where I was eating prior. Adding starch to my diet allowed me to increase my workouts and build some new muscle, but also led to a few extra pounds of padding around the middle.

        My motivation to be at low body fat it not vanity, but rather I have obstructive sleep apnea which appeared 12 years ago when I started gaining weight and all but disappears when my weight is below 170.

        Thanks for this series, hopefully more men will catch on and follow.

        April 1st, 2013 4:46 pm
        • Konstantin Monastyrsky


          I am not sure if nature is cruel — it is what it is. If not for your ancestors’ amazing ability to rapidly gain weight, you would probably not be around today. I’ll talk about it more in the next post. (I was planning to discuss ketosis, but this subject is by far more important, so ketosis can wait.)

          As far as your diets go, just reduce non-essentials: almonds and dark chocolate. The latter may contribute to sleep apnea and will ALWAYS compromise the quality of you sleep, and the fats in almonds are abundant, and most likely rancid. And consume cheese in moderation.

          Congratulations on your tremendous weight loss! Keep it up!

          April 1st, 2013 5:07 pm
  • Al

    So true on gender specific eating. Thank you for reenforcing my thinking on this. Now I don’t feel bad at all telling trainers not to give the same diet plans to their male and female clients.

    March 30th, 2013 9:53 pm
  • aimee

    Again, another great post, and I apologize if you already answered this in a previous post that I may have missed. I would like to lose 10 pounds and after reading and agreeing with the phantom wieght that could be up to 15 pounds, how would I go about losing the 10 pounds of body fat even with the first 10 I am losing being just the phantom weight? Do I aim for 25 pounds?? Sorry, still a bit confused.

    March 30th, 2013 7:54 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky


      Thank you for your feedback. No, that question hasn’t been asked before.

      The honest answer — I don’t know! So far, all that we know is that you are 10 lbs. overweight. If those 10 lbs. are all fat, I also know that 20% of this mass is represented by water, so you actually need to lose only 8 lbs. (I just realized that I need to update my first post to indicate this fortunate detail. It just slipped out of my mind when I was writing it.)

      There is a very simple way to determine your phantom weight:

      (1) Measure your weight first thing in the morning, right after urination and with no clothes on.

      (2) Stay on liquid diet for 48 hours. This will clear out 100% your stomach and small intestine.

      (3) Purchase a potent saline laxative, such as Milk of Magnesia, and take a regular dose. When doing so on an empty stomach, you should have a rather profuse bowel movement, with water and all. This will clear out your large intestine of its content. Don’t leave home after ingesting your laxative to avoid a hugely embarrassing disaster.

      (4) Measure your weight after the toilet event. The difference is your phantom weight.

      In general, women have less phantom weight than men because they have much smaller stomachs and intestines, and eat less.

      That’s all there is to it.

      March 30th, 2013 9:52 pm
  • Ruth

    Hi Konstantin,
    Thanks for your informative post. I’ll be following the series.
    I used to be one of those black swans. Around age 40, I started creeping up a few kilos in weight every few months, and I’d diet and go down again. This up-a-few-kilos, down-a-few-klio continued until I switched to a whole foods/paleo diet. Then I ate until I was full with no weight gain. Problem solved.

    Now at 52, I’ve suddenly gained 3 kilos. It is all in my belly, and it feels like it isn’t going anywhere. I wasn’t expecting this jump in weigh and body shape on a whole food diet. incidentally, but I’ve been more active than usual lately, including lifting weights for the first time. I’m quite sure this is linked to menopause. My periods are irregular, and haven’t had one for a few months.
    Is this gain inevitable? Fixable? Could something like maca which regulates hormanal levels help?
    Thanks for any suggestions you may have.

    March 30th, 2013 5:55 am
    • Ruth

      P.S. I tend to think this weight gain about menopause isn’t inevitable. Certainly doesn’t happen to every menopausal or post-menopausal woman.

      March 30th, 2013 6:13 am
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky

      Ruth, your are very welcome, and thank you for reading!

      Menopause marks a new stage of life, one that requires less energy and nutrients to support fertility-related functions of the female body.

      Just like with everything else in life, menopause-related weight gain is inevitable if you ignore it, and totally preventable if you chose to implement any one of the following three options:

      Option #1. Decrease the amount of nutrients in your diet across the board, but particularly carbohydrates. This decrease can be as low as 5%-10%, nothing drastic. This way your body will stop hoarding the excess energy as fat.

      Option #2. Increase your level of physical and intellectual workloads, so your body will use excess energy to fuel your new activities instead of the now idle fertility engine;

      Option #3 Combine option #1 and option #2. This way you not only will stop gaining weight, but also will protect your bones and muscles from gradual age-related wasting.

      Weight creep doesn’t happen to every post-menopausal women because (a) about 20% of women aren’t genetically predisposed to gaining weight in the first place, while some others remain busy and energetic without looking back.

      Still, keep in mind, that at your age, lost muscles and bone mass are getting replaced by body fat, so you may look almost the same, and weigh almost the same while still “gaining” fat. Also, as you age, rebuilding bones and muscles will be getting harder and harder (or outright impossible after a certain threshold, particularly in the case of bone tissue). You can see this “body wasting” in so so many men and women who are losing height (due to age-related spine compression) as they are getting older.

      To summarize: post-menopausal weight gain isn’t inevitable, but keeping your weight in check certainly requires work and attention. And the sooner you start, the better, particularly with exercise to maintain your heart, vascular, and respiratory capacities at peak levels.

      In future posts I will discuss techniques that will help you to reduce hunger, appetite, and cravings, and improve your themorgenesis (energy use). Although the focus of these techniques is to improve the rate of fat loss while dieting, identical principles apply to maintaining steady weight after the menopause.

      Please, keep reading and adjusting your diet to your body’s actual needs, and you’ll be fine.

      March 30th, 2013 3:24 pm
  • Lydia Giza via Facebook

    Interesting information, but I am very disappointed in this series. I always thought your site was about health, and whether or not I agreed with everything I appreciated the information. It is very clear by certain comments made by the author (such as those mentioned above by Kim) that he participates in the last acceptable prejudice in our society, prejudice against fat people. All articles like this do is further shame overweight people into believing that they are not worthy of the same respect and treatment as thinner people. Thinner people who are just as likely (if not more likely) to be unhealthier than those who weight more. If you are eating healthily and getting regular exercise weight means almost NOTHING.

    March 29th, 2013 10:19 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky


      Please, be a “man,” and point out a single statement in all of my three posts and close to two hundred responses to questions where I am somehow disrespectful or prejudiced against overweight people.

      March 29th, 2013 11:16 pm
  • Vikki K

    So much information in this article! I can relate to a lot of it. As soon as I started the contraceptive pill when I got married, I put on weight – at times I felt like I was going crazy because that was the only thing that had changed; not my diet or exercise – but no-one took my observations seriously. After the birth of each of my two children I did not lose weight in spite of breast-feeding for nearly a year each. I was encouraged to improve my diet by eliminating grains (I was already sugar and yeast free). That made me feel better/healthier, but I didn’t get rid of the weight until I restricted portion sizes. Of course, 5 years later I am a good example of different points above: we moved to a country with a cold winter (and I was well aware of the cravings I felt for food that I was NOT hungry for), several weeks without my normal exercise while moving house, and a further 8 weeks without exercise while I heal my diastasis recti – and all this while I am preparing food for my husband, and two rapidly growing sons!! I need all the bad news you can give me Konstantin! It will keep me on track.

    March 29th, 2013 9:54 pm
    • Chrissy

      I have been thinking the same thing. They are taking this series so personally. I, for one, appreciate the tone of it…very direct and plain-spoken. I look forward to having the parts I don’t yet understand explained to me. Another interesting thing is that so many are indignant that the information here contradicts what they believe about losing weight. Haha!! If any of us actually KNEW how to lose weight, wouldn’t almost all of us have managed it by now? I know I would have. Ten years and three babies later I am fifty pounds overweight and miserable about it…I want to know what to do. Being prideful about things isn’t going to help me. Obviously I don’t know what to do and my very healthy diet is not enough.

      March 29th, 2013 10:36 pm
      • Trudy


        Well put!

        March 30th, 2013 2:29 pm
        • Konstantin Monastyrsky

          Chrissy, I couldn’t say it better myself! Thank you!

          March 30th, 2013 3:35 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky


      Thank you for sharing your story. Managing lifestyle situations like yours is a huge challenge. I can help with technical points on dieting, but implementing them in your circumstances will require a lot of will and determination. Good luck to your and your family, and stay warm!

      March 29th, 2013 11:21 pm
  • Paleobird

    I’m a 51 year old post menopausal woman who does brilliantly in ketosis on a more or less permanent basis.
    Just sayin’…..

    March 29th, 2013 9:08 pm
  • Fiona

    I remember when I was 17 or 18 eating a meal at a friend’s grandmother’s home with that friend and two others. I mentioned that as I’m small, I can’t eat as much as everyone else. Everyone there told me how silly that was and that it couldn’t be true! It was only common sense to me.

    Bear in mind I am VERY small and all my friends were substantially taller than me (one was 5’7″, another 5’8″ and the other 5’9″… while I am only 4’11”!!).

    I initially started putting on weight when I started dating my husband. We’d cook a meal and serve it pretty much 50/50… ridiculous considering he’s 6’0″!! It’s no wonder I put on so much weight so fast!

    I also had arguments with my husband over the role of exercise in weight loss. He would tell me “you just need to exercise more to lose weight”, but that had NEVER helped me. I knew that the ONLY way I could lose weight was from exercising more AND eating less!! Just because he was able to be thin simply through exercise, didn’t mean the same was true for me. It used to frustrate me so much!!

    It’s also so true that members of the same family can be different. I know one guy who is very skinny and can’t put on weight no matter how hard he tries… and yet his half brother is several years younger and morbidly obese (weighs more than twice what he does). My sister is also more prone to weight gain than I am, and my oldest son is the same way compared to his siblings and parents. While I do struggle with my weight, and am somewhat overweight, my sister is morbidly obese (and I’m really struggling to help my son who is also obese as a teen, despite always trying to be aware of what he’s doing and how much he eats). We don’t have much junk in the house (if the kids want treats they bake them themselves!) and rarely eat out.

    March 29th, 2013 8:18 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky


      Your account eloquently confirms the essence of my post — one calorie for you is like two or even three calories for someone else. I am guessing (since you didn’t mention it) your husband is still at his normal weight.

      Regarding exercise: It helps in more ways than one, and I highly encourage it. Unfortunately, moderate exercise alone is not sufficient for most people to attain permanent weight loss without a matching reduced calorie diet.

      Realistically, becoming a gym jockey in the style of Jane Fonda or Jack Lalanne is just too darn late for most overweight people because of age, preexisting medical conditions, time constraints, and safety reasons.

      This position is well supported by mainstream experts in this field:

      “In general, exercise by itself is pretty useless for weight loss,” says Eric Ravussin, a professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., and an expert on weight loss. “It‘s especially useless because people often end up consuming more calories when they exercise.” [New York Times, http://goo.gl/x3ioc ]

      For these reasons my program does not expect exercise to materially contribute to your weight loss, unless, of course, you can enroll yourself in the “Biggest Loser.” Life being life, weight loss made for TV and weight loss for the rest of us are two different animals.

      March 29th, 2013 9:20 pm
  • Elisabeth

    Hi Konstantin,

    I am enjoying your posts and am waiting with baited breath for the next one, I am in my mid 30’s and am overweight, I a have a 20month old who I still breast feed, I thought I would lose weight, my disappointment has been a little overwhelming at times. However I still continue on and think of all the good things my body is holding onto and giving to my little girl. There are little light bulb moments in your blogs: e.g.. I have now realised that portions are important, and how I eat as much as a tall person, and probably not what I eat (I eat a traditional diet), to a point. So keep it coming, I am excited and encouraged….thanks

    March 29th, 2013 8:16 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky


      Thank you very much. You shouldn’t consider reduced calorie diets while you are still breastfeeding. Hopefully by the time you wean off your daughter this project will be completed, and you’ll be able to do so safely.

      March 29th, 2013 9:26 pm
      • Elisabeth


        Thankfully I have never eaten a calorie reduced diet while pregnant or breastfeeding! I have a very rich traditional diet and love it! But thanks for the advice, I guess I realised about the smaller sized person and taller person physiologically having bigger organs etc. I do before pregnancy I guess I have always eaten ‘normal’ sized portions and never thought about it, I am 5ft 2″…..and probably need to eat my sized portions not anyone else’s….I am weaning little one now and I guess need to get ready for the next baby, so that I don’t start off at a larger size only to get larger! Can you hurry up the blogs….haaahhaa

        March 29th, 2013 9:55 pm
        • Konstantin Monastyrsky


          Believe it or not, I am writing each post “from scratch” and without a detailed outline. Closer to the end I will concentrate on very specific side effects of low calorie diets — about thirty of them, but at this point I am still building up the case for my program, and this build-up is based on the feedback that I am getting here.

          Please don’t read into this that I don’t know what I am doing — I do, but there is a substantial chasm between knowing what to do and distilling this rather immense knowledge into a reasonably sized book that is also easy to read and follow.

          March 29th, 2013 11:30 pm
  • Konstantin Monastyrsky


    The best way to gain weight is to follow Sarah’s recommendations to consume real foods. All along, hit the gym, so your body will start building up muscles and appetite. Also, keep in mind that your inability to gain weight isn’t a disease, but a genetic predisposition. So you need to work around it, and the combination of traditional diet with weight-bearing exercises is best. Also, you MUST read Sarah’s new book about fats, and follow its recommendations. The link is right on top of this page.

    March 29th, 2013 7:00 pm
    • Ebony

      Thank you for the response

      March 29th, 2013 7:04 pm
  • Kelly

    This post has been seriously bothering me all day. To tell an overweight woman, “So if you start a diet, do it right, do it for as long as it takes, and once you’re there, don’t return to the diet that made you overweight in the first place,” is ludicrous!! Countless women have restricted calories and over-exercised to get to their goal weight, only to run right back up the scale (and then some) … not necessarily because they return to a junk food diet, but because they’ve completely trashed their metabolism.
    Sara, I have a lot of respect for you, and gratitude for your generosity in helping so many understand and benefit from a nourishing, traditional diet, but I don’t see the value in this series. It’s a blessing that you’ve never had a weight problem, but as one who has, let me tell you that the approach and tone of this gentleman is not helpful.
    After a lifetime of fast food and junk food, and many diets, I was rescued by a simultaneous discovery of Nina Plank’s Real Food: What to Eat and Why, and Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions. But it’s not enough to know about real food, you also need to know about brain chemistry, and why an overeater is driven to eat certain foods.
    The best resource on this is Julia Ross’ The Diet Cure. You really don’t need a guest blogger trying out his schtick in this space, when you can confidently refer people to Julia’s many years of research and success in helping people overcome food addictions, and heal their bodies and minds with nutrient-dense food. Her book teaches us how to nourish our bodies according to the Weston A Price principles, and help to quickly heal our cravings and brain chemistry with amino acids. It really is the missing link.
    I wish you well, and thank you for your commitment and service to nourishing traditions.

    March 29th, 2013 6:41 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky


      First, congratulation on your rescue. I encourage everybody to read Real Food and Nourishing Traditions. Sally Fallon is my hero and mentor. She catapulted my writing career by inviting me to present my “crazy” research about fiber [being a menace] back in 2007. I know and admire Nina Plank via email exchanges, and she knows me. Unfortunately, I am not familiar with The Diet Cure, but if it cured you, I encourage everybody else to read it as well.

      Second, my forthcoming book is entitled “Why Diets Fail?” It is a technical guide for people (there are men too, you know), who were not able to lose weight on exact same diets that were so helpful for luckier people just like you.

      I realize why my somewhat “boot camp,” “down to the core,” “no nonsense” style and approach may bother you so much — it isn’t pleasant to hear or do what you may not want to hear or do. At the same time, there are people who actually want to hear and do what I have to say, and, judging by other commentaries on this forum, the ratio of “tell me more” to “go to hell” is at least 5 to 1.

      So, I hope you’ll continue reading my future posts, and will eventually come around. Please, don’t do it for me or Sarah, do it for your friends who have read “The Diet Cure,” but haven’t been cured yet. Perhaps they will find something of value in my work, and will be grateful to you for being so concerned and open minded.

      Stay slim!

      March 29th, 2013 7:51 pm
    • Trudy


      I appreciate that you found everything you were looking for in what appears to be exactly three books. I’ve read dozens, including Julia Ross’ The Diet Cure. I am not an overeater driven to eat certain foods; I gained all of my weight when I began eating a traditional diet. I appreciate this series more than I can express. For me, it holds a LOT of value. If Sarah had confidently referred me to Julia’s research, it would not have helped me, and her confidence would be very misplaced.

      If what you’ve taken from this series is that he is saying all a person wishing to lose weight should do is start a low calorie diet, stick with it as long as it takes, and not return to their weight promoting diet then you obviously have not been actively reading his posts and comments.

      “‘So if you start a diet, do it right, do it for as long as it takes, and once you’re there, don’t return to the diet that made you overweight in the first place,’ is ludicrous!!”. Really? What should he tell her instead? To cheat as long as she doesn’t get caught? To give up halfway through? To go back to doing what made her gain weight in the first place? THOSE would be ludicrous! Now if he’d said something like, “Don’t think of it as a diet, think of it as a lifestyle change”, would you have felt so “bothered”? It’s basically saying the same thing except he’s being more specific for those of us who aren’t so worried about being offended as about being overweight. I appreciate his straightforward style. I like how he’s spelling out for me EXACTLY the information I need (don’t eat the same way that made you fat) instead of some sugar coated, meaningless, feel good statement (lifestyle change).

      Not to mention the fact that this is the third post out of around 40. Three posts out of 40, and you’ve already decided that this series is not helpful! So unhelpful, that you felt it necessary to post in the comments! Oh wait, it’s just his approach and tone, not the actual information.

      Seriously, these “ludicrous” comments are starting to give me an unpleasant attitude.

      March 29th, 2013 8:11 pm
      • Konstantin Monastyrsky


        Thank you so much for highlighting the practice of sugarcoating the hardships of the real weight loss. This particular approach isn’t a part of my personality. Since it is no longer in my cards to become a Marine drill sergeant, I’ll use these character traits to write a helpful book.

        To my shame, I must admit that the “lifestyle” theme is present in my work, and it is the very last step of my program, as in this sentence:

        “Having a normal weight throughout your life isn’t a function of a one-off diet, but a life-long lifestyle. In other words, it must become a habit, not a chore. By the time you complete all of the previous steps [to attain normal weight], this habit will be well imprinted in your conscious and subconscious mind, and will, indeed, turn into a lifestyle of health and happiness.”

        March 29th, 2013 8:36 pm
        • Trudy


          Lol. Well, after an entire book of not sugarcoating the hardships of real weight loss, you are allowed to end with a feel good statement. I suppose we will need some inspiring words to help us dry our tears.

          March 29th, 2013 8:49 pm
  • Anna

    I was thin all my life until having children. Since then, it has been a struggle for me to lose weight, albeit a struggle I am willing to do in the interest of good health and longevity. That said, I have some questions. These will probably be answered in the future but I thought I’d ask. :-)

    First of all, you talk about calorie restriction leading to weight loss. This is, of course mathematically provable. However, is there a point at which women are more prone to “starvation mode”? (I think that is what it is called – where calories are stored instead of used, even when good diet and exercise are in place.)

    Second, if a woman is already following a proper diet with appropriate portion sizes and exercises frequently and still does not lose weight what would you recommend for them?

    (I should probably mention that our diet is primarily vegetarian. We eat meat two or three times a week most weeks, and the rest of our protein is from eggs, legumes, and raw dairy. Meat is too expensive where we live to eat it daily. Our fruits and veggies are organic.)

    March 29th, 2013 6:28 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky


      You just need to eat less… There is no other way around it. Unfortunately, vegetarian diets aren’t my cup of tea, so I can’t guide you on that.

      March 30th, 2013 12:28 am
  • Ebony

    But how does this work for people who want to gain weight in a healthy way? I’ve been working out to gain weight since I am one of those people who can eat anything and never gain a lb. Does this mean I should be eating more carbohydrates?

    March 29th, 2013 5:59 pm
  • Loriann Kllarson via Facebook

    thanks for your response

    March 29th, 2013 4:08 pm
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    I’ve never dieted in my life so I don’t endorse anything but nutrient dense traditional diet but for some who come to Traditional Diet with a lot of weight to lose, additional steps may be needed.

    March 29th, 2013 4:06 pm
  • Loriann Kllarson via Facebook

    just curious, do you endorse the 1400cal/day diet yourself?

    March 29th, 2013 4:03 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky


      No, I don’t endorse 1,400 calorie diet. That was a random number that I used to illustrate the point, nothing more, nothing less. As this post illustrated, the right number of calories will depend on your age, shape, height, occupation, climate, genetics, and others factors discussed there.

      You can easily find out what is the right caloric threshold for you by gradually reducing the amount of calories in your diet. The composition of your diet is also important, not just its “net” caloric value. I will discuss all of these considerations in future posts.

      March 29th, 2013 6:55 pm
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    Getting defensive inhibits progress unfortunately. Best to examine new info with an open mind .. it might actually be a game changer for the positive!

    March 29th, 2013 4:01 pm
  • Helen

    Sir, you are clearly a very erudite and scholarly man and have a great deal of knowledge to your credit. However, what you and Sara have going on here is just another tired marketing scheme for desperate women like myself who are looking for an answer. Instead, your generalizations (and common knowledge truths) keep dangling the carrot in front of our faces. Sara probably doesn’t have much to comment because she’s enjoying all the traffic to her blog and your ascerbic temperament enjoys having so many women hanging off your every word. Part of the reason why we are so overweight in this country is that we are all suckers to very effective marketing tactics and strategies that convince us that we “need” this product and as we have been working so hard trying to be supermoms and career women, we neglect ourselves and essentially need “quick fixes.” But you sir, are not offering either of those. Instead, you are just as culpable as the mas marketing and advertising industry trying to make a buck and control people. It’s pathetic and demoralizing. The more comments I read from women clamoring for answers, and your sarcastic and boorish remarks, the more I am turned off. This is not positive, uplifting, or honest. It’s just bait, week after week. Women, you’re better than this. Don’t fall for another weight loss scheme. I am sure you don’t care either way, which is quite alright, but I will no longer subscribe to this blog. People deserve to be treated with dignity and honesty. Besides, just as you stated in your vague and caustic posts to date, every body is different. Thus, you can’t help us anyway. Thanks anyway…

    March 29th, 2013 2:47 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky


      Thank you for your compliments — I happily takes those. As far as the rest of your assertions, perhaps you are “jumping the ship” on me way too soon.

      Here is what I wrote at the end of this post, right after my bio:

      “About This Project: Sarah has kindly offered me a guest column on her amazing blog. I’ve jumped at this unique opportunity with the intention of serializing “Why Diets Fail?”, my next book, as it is being written.”

      As you can see, this isn’t a scheme. I have nothing to sell until my book will be completed, hopefully by this time next year. If you don’t like reading this material piece-meal, you are welcome to wait until all of it is under one cover.

      Meanwhile, Sarah will enjoy great traffic regardless of my posts, and the reason for this is because her site is providing consistent, actionable, and credible information to people who care for their health and wealth.

      I am absolutely thrilled to contribute to Sarah’s site, and I am sure in a short while my posts will meet and exceed your expectations.

      March 29th, 2013 6:30 pm
  • Lacie Parker via Facebook

    People sure are defensive when it comes to anything weight-gaining related.

    March 29th, 2013 1:38 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky

      Lacie, yes, that’s unfortunate, but not surprising, considering the outcome of so many prior diets. So anyone who is brave enough to get involved in this “dirty” field is “dirtied” by default.

      Well, thank God, I am rather thick-skinned, and can take abuse in stride. My aspiration isn’t to be likable, but to complete high quality book that will help people who are less concerned about me, and more concerned about their own weight and health.

      March 29th, 2013 6:24 pm
  • Kat

    Konstantin, I have been keeping track with my Omron Full Body Sensor Body Composition Monitor and Scale Model HBF-516 since January 2011 to present:
    2011: high weight: 122.2 Skeletal Muscle Percentage: 27.4
    low weight: 113.4 Skeletal Muscle Percentage: 27.3

    2012: high weight: 122.6 SMP: 27.0
    low weight: 109.4 SMP: 27.1

    2013: high weight: 117.6 SMP: 27.7
    low weight: 112.2 SMP: 26.5
    Today’s weight: 113.2 SMP: 27.3

    “Kat March 15, 2013 at 5:40 pm
    So far, this all sounds so complicated when it seems so simple to me: if I am in ketotis, I must be burning FAT… Please correct me if I am misunderstanding…
    Konstantin Monastyrsky March 15, 2013 at 6:26 pm
    You are the lucky one enjoying another stage of weight loss. The article above is addressed to people who are in the first phase of their weight reduction diet, and it explains why it is so easy to lose weight in the first few weeks but often becomes an insurmountable challenge later. You’ll see that this is a serious issue for many people by perusing other comments.
    Kat March 15, 2013 at 7:52 pm
    Thank you so much for your quick response; however, it was only two days of my not eating any carbs and testing went from “negative” to “trace” the day after and this morning, to “small,” but my understanding is that one is either in ketosis or not, so I am where I need to be to burn fat. Of course, the process will get even better and the ketones increase. I find it extremely easy to get into ketosis, the challenge is to just stay there and keep on losing weight. But once I indulge in any carbs, I am immediately out of ketosis and can’t resist when carb cravings immediately return with a vengeance. It is far easier for me to resist the temptations without having to regain a state of ketosis over and over. About a decade ago, I lost over 40 pounds without the temptations because I was not hungry and this assisted my determination to stay in ketosis. I only need to lose 20 pounds now so this will happen easier/faster since I have decided to just maintain a ketogenic diet: no carbs except for few low-carb veggies daily and no fruit. I don’t understand why I would be considered lucky and why anyone could not just do the same… It only takes a few days of concentrated effort and the willingness to hang in there while suffering the discomfort experienced during the initial carb withdrawal phase… It will pass soon enough… thankfully!
    Konstantin Monastyrsky March 15, 2013 at 8:22 pm
    Natural appetite suppression and sustained ketosis are key to successful and permanent weight loss. I’ll address both of these objectives in future posts.
    Meanwhile, keep in mind that it takes time to reach and go beyond the “carb withdrawal phase” because your body stores a considerable amount of carbs in the form of glycogen. Until these stores inside the liver and muscle tissues are completely utilized, ketosis (actually, lypolisis is the proper term) does not start.”

    “Why One Calorie For Her Is Half a Calorie For Him
    by Konstantin Monastyrsky on March 28, 2013….
    THE TAKEAWAY: Women require fewer carbohydrates than men, yet at the same time ultra-low-carbohydrate (a.k.a. ketogenic) diets aren’t appropriate for women because they cause accelerated muscle wasting. Fool me once, Dr. Atkins, shame on you. Fool me twice – fat on me.”

    Konstantin, and, since I always attempt to lose excess weight gained through ketogenic eating, am I correct in assuming that I am not losing muscle as you predict? Also, please note that I am under 5’ tall, 76 years old and a woman?

    March 29th, 2013 1:29 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky


      This statement “Natural appetite suppression and sustained ketosis are key to successful and permanent weight loss” is correct. It works well in properly structured diets because these diets contain a sufficient amount of quality protein to prevent muscle wasting.

      The Atkins Diet wasn’t a properly structured diet because Dr. Atkins recommended consuming unrestricted amounts of fat. Correspondingly, all of the “ketosis” that was taking place, wasn’t “burning” body fat, but food fat.

      You see, our bodies are exceptionally efficient. They will not utilize their own fat stores until already-assimilated fats (triglycerides) are still present in the blood.

      Thank you for seeking this clarification. The way I expressed myself was, indeed, confusing. Sorry about it.

      March 29th, 2013 6:20 pm
      • Trudy

        So those ketosis sticks don’t really tell you if you’re burning your own body fat, just that your are burning fat in general? In theory, I could be in ketosis according to those sticks, yet still be gaining weight simply by consuming too much fat? Additionally, I will lose/gain body fat regardless of my macronutrient ratio as long as I am consuming less/more calories than needed?

        One more question, people keep making reference to the idea that a traditional diet frees you up to eat as much as you want, but wouldn’t the superior quality of a traditional diet actually free you up to eat less than you would compared to a diet of poorer quality simply because you are satisfying your body’s nutrient requirements with less food? As in, does the human body run more efficiently on a optimum diet and therefore need less calories to maintain itself? (That’s really two more questions)

        March 29th, 2013 7:35 pm
        • Konstantin Monastyrsky

          Trudy, see my responses in line:

          So those ketosis sticks don’t really tell you if you’re burning your own body fat, just that your are burning fat in general?

          — That is correct. You may be burning fat, but it may be the fat you ate couple of hours ago, not necessarily the fat under your skin.

          In theory, I could be in ketosis according to those sticks, yet still be gaining weight simply by consuming too much fat?

          — That is correct. It is simple arithmetic and medical biochemistry 101: until exogenous (form foods) fat is burned, your endogenous (from body) fat is spared.

          Additionally, I will lose/gain body fat regardless of my macronutrient ratio as long as I am consuming less/more calories than needed?

          — That is correct, assuming you consume less fat than your body needs for structural metabolism (not energy). That’s the essence of my program. It accounts not just for energy metabolism, but also structural metabolism.

          One more question, people keep making reference to the idea that a traditional diet frees you up to eat as much as you want

          — People are misinterpreting what they are hearing from the advocates of traditional diets, who recommend a traditional diet with real food, not “pigging out” on real food.

          but wouldn’t the superior quality of a traditional diet actually free you up to eat less than you would compared to a diet of poorer quality simply because you are satisfying your body’s nutrient requirements with less food?

          — Absolutely, that’s the whole point. Sarah’s book about fats makes exact same point, and she warns repeatedly: “don’t overeat healthy fats, you may be having enough already.”

          As in, does the human body run more efficiently on a optimum diet and therefore need less calories to maintain itself? (That’s really two more questions)

          — Technically, yes, because the ratio of components required for structural metabolism in real food is much higher than in junk food, so you don’t need to overeat [real food] to obtain nutrients required for your body. Energy, on the other hand, can be obtained from any food, junk or not. Obtaining energy from poor quality nutrients works great for survival situations, but not for health, longevity and normal weight.

          Trudy, you are a genius!

          March 29th, 2013 9:33 pm
        • Kat

          “In theory, I could be in ketosis according to those sticks, yet still be gaining weight simply by consuming too much fat?”

          My understanding is that it is impossible to “store” fat without insulin; insulin is the hormone that instructs the body to store fat. So, when in ketosis: even though you might not be burning your already stored fat, but just knowing that you are not accumulating more fat while your body has food fat being eaten to burn first is not disappointing either. “Enjoy your saturated, they are good for you.”

          This is the reason you have probably heard that your waistline is a better measure of
          how well you are doing than the number on the scale. Keep up the good work!

          March 29th, 2013 11:38 pm
          • Kat

            Correction: “Enjoy your saturated fats, they are good for you.” Donald Miller, M.D. youtube video

            March 30th, 2013 6:14 pm
      • Paleobird

        In this quote:
        “Women require fewer carbohydrates than men, yet at the same time ultra-low-carbohydrate (a.k.a. ketogenic) diets aren’t appropriate for women because they cause accelerated muscle wasting. Fool me once, Dr. Atkins, shame on you. Fool me twice – fat on me.”

        You seem to be equating all ketogenic diets with Atkins. That simply is not the case.

        It is also not the case that ketogenic diets cause muscle wasting. If you are basing your science there on “the body building community” wisdom, it is mistaken for most non body building people.

        I do know what gluconeogenesis is and it is only called upon in a body that is exercising at a heavy lifting level more than 2-3 times a week. For all other activities, (including mountain climbing which I do), the body can run quite happily on ketones.

        I would direct anyone wanting to learn more about this topic to the work of Nora Gedgaudas author of Primal Body, Primal Mind.

        Otherwise a great post and I appreciate your contributions over at Mark’s Daily Apple.

        March 29th, 2013 7:57 pm
        • Konstantin Monastyrsky


          Thank you for your feedback. I think I already mirrored what you wrote in my other replies. My comment was related to The Atkins Diet, and in another place I wrote that “sustained ketosis” is one of the better strategies for losing fat.

          And you are correct: there is absolutely nothing wrong with ketosis when it is done right because it is a natural physiological function and a core part of catabolic metabolism (a.k.a. catabolism). My next post will address this subject at length.

          I revised my post to reflect this response. Sorry for not being clear enough the first time around, and thank you for pointing this out.

          March 29th, 2013 8:09 pm
          • Trudy

            “ultra-low-carbohydrate (a.k.a. ketogenic) diets aren’t appropriate for women because they cause accelerated muscle wasting”
            “Ultra-low-carbohydrate (a.k.a. ketogenic) diets (espoused by the body builders, literal paleo-freaks [i.e. nothing but lean protein], and the aficionados of Atkins-style diets) are not only counterproductive for women but also the primary reason for near-instant weight rebound and ensuing obesity.”

            So, should women be avoiding ketogenic diets or is it one of the “better strategies for losing fat”? If this will be covered in the next post, I can wait, but this seems to be very contradictory and confusing.

            March 29th, 2013 8:43 pm
          • Konstantin Monastyrsky


            These statements require a lot of clarification. Ketogenic diets are okay for young healthy men, and are okay for younger women. They are problematic for middle-aged people (men included), because these groups already have a significantly diminished musculature, and can’t digest and assimilate proteins from meats as efficiently as younger people. All of this will come up in future posts.

            The other reason I am making these “bold” and “brave” statements because you DON’T need to be in ketosis to lose weight. Why bold & brave? As you know, “fighting” a predominant groupthink is a fool’s paradise, and the predominant groupthink is: you can’t lose fat unless you are in permanent ketosis.

            Well, I am no fool, and this is simply not true. Vegetarians are just as capable of losing weight when they reduce their overall caloric intake as the most ardent carnivores.

            March 29th, 2013 9:03 pm
          • Paleobird

            Thank you for clarifying this. I do not want people thinking about doing a ketogenic protocol to be scared off.

            I look forward to your post on the subject.

            March 29th, 2013 8:52 pm
      • Kat

        Mahalo for your kind reply, but it probably means that your information is not appropriate for me personally because I base my eating lifestyle on youtube video “Enjoy Eating Your Saturated Fat; they are good for you” by Donald Miller, M.D., (cardiac surgeon). I am most definitely practicing LCHF (low-carb, high fat) diet. I also benefited fromNetflix instant: “Fathead” and many, many others with much, much more information. I have been researching too long to go backwards now. However, I shall continue to look forward to your offerings to glean what I can. Doing so will probably motivate me to just stay in ketosis (moderate/large) all the time now… Good luck with those your higher-protein suggestions gain benefit. Aloha!

        March 29th, 2013 9:36 pm
        • Konstantin Monastyrsky


          I don’t recall ever suggesting a high-protein diet. This is yet another extreme. I am for a balanced traditional diet that includes all foods group in approximately equal proportions, but simply less of them. Technically speaking, this is a no-brainer. The “brainer” is how to implement and “survive” a low calorie diet long enough to attain normal weight. That is what my specialty is, and that is why I am writing this book.

          March 29th, 2013 9:48 pm
          • Kat

            Konstantin, mahalo for the much needed specific clarification. However, I don’t advocate for myself “calories in–calories out” energy balanced diet because it has failed me all my life… Aloha!

            March 29th, 2013 10:15 pm
  • Sofia

    I feel like I really messed up my body with all the diets I have been on. Life seems so unfair when your working harder than the person next to you without any results.

    March 29th, 2013 1:08 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky

      Sofia, that is true about life being unfair for all of us, and not just with weight loss. So what do you do in these situations to get ahead? I know only one answer: work harder!

      March 29th, 2013 6:38 pm
  • Eva Nerling via Facebook

    It contains a lot of valuable advice and did-not-know-before content. Thank you.

    March 29th, 2013 12:53 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky

      Eva, you are very welcome, and thank you for reading!

      March 29th, 2013 6:07 pm
  • Bawdy

    I have to say, it’s still confusing. Eating too MANY calories can prevent you from losing weight. Eating too FEW calories can prevent you from losing weight.

    So, if I’m eating (say) 1500 calories all in good proteins, fats, and green veggies with no processed foods and no wheat and not losing weight … am I eating too MANY or too FEW calories?

    I know you can’t answer that. Just sayin’ it’s confusing. And frustrating.

    March 29th, 2013 12:36 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky


      Just like there is no “one-diets-fits-all,” there is also no “one-answer-fits-all.”

      If you aren’t losing weight on 1,500 calories, it means that YOU need to consume LESS calories in order to lose weight.

      That is precisely the point of this post — some people will lose weight on 1,500, some on more, some on less. How much less?

      Well, keep reducing your total calorie intake by 100 calories each week, stay consistent with your diet, and, at the end of each week, your scale will tell you when THIS IS IT.

      March 29th, 2013 6:07 pm
  • Loriann Kllarson via Facebook

    As many have posted in the comments, I am surprised at this Friday content you have added to your blog. Also, his sarcasm is not terribly professional. I know I will be skipping Friday posts for the remainder of the year.

    March 29th, 2013 12:34 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky


      I will very much appreciate if you’ll show me a professional courtesy by pointing out the sections in this week’s post that you believe are sarcastic. I don’t believe this was my intent.

      March 29th, 2013 5:59 pm
  • Karen in Texas

    What is the reference for losing muscle mass on a low carb diet? I did that 15 years ago and spent 7 happy years in a slimmer body. I fell off the food cart when I quit smoking, experienced menopause, and had a son join the Marines… all in the same four months. Then Rheumatoid Arthritis and steroids…. yuck.

    I had planned to restart my low carb lifestyle to get rid of the 50 pounds. Paleo and Atkins have been good for me in the past….

    March 29th, 2013 12:25 pm
    • Julia

      Thanks for your comment. It’s encouraging to me to know that low carb worked for you. This guy’s post about muscle mass lost is new to me.

      March 29th, 2013 12:29 pm
      • Trudy James


        I can’t specifically speak for Konstantin, and I’m sure his answer will be more helpful and precise, but it is very common knowledge in the world of body building and exercise that low carb diets will cause muscle mass loss. Supposedly, if I remember correctly, it is because carbs are your body’s main source of glycogen (the fuel needed for workouts), and if you are not supplying your body with enough, it will begin to cannibalize your muscle in order to provide it. Even in books that I’ve read that DO promote low carbs, I have found little disclaimers about the need to add carbs for workouts.

        I have heard of a lot of people who lost weight on a low carb diet. I, however, was not one of them. I gained weight when I began eating WAP style. (Anyone who thinks that simply eating healthy alone will ensure you reach or maintain your optimal weight, I believe you are misguided). I then went low carb to lose the weight, but I didn’t lose any. I suspect that perhaps the main reason people lose weight on a low carb diet is that they are actually reducing their calories without trying simply because it’s so much harder to eat large amounts of protein and fat. That’s just a theory of mine, though.

        March 29th, 2013 3:26 pm
        • Lindsay

          While I think it possible to lose muscle with a low-carb diet, I’ve read that getting plenty of fat and protein to compensate would prevent the muscle loss. I would be curious to compare the levels of protein and fat among the various studies, such as the studies cited in John Kiefer’s carb night solution.

          March 29th, 2013 5:38 pm
          • Konstantin Monastyrsky

            Yes, plenty of dietary protein may prevent muscle loss, although this isn’t the most efficient way. And if you eat plenty of fat, the body will use this fat to produce ketones instead of the fat in your body, so this defeats the purpose. I’ll explain the details in the next post.

            March 29th, 2013 5:54 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky

      Karen, there is no such as thing as a “reference” for when ketosis starts and ends. It depends on the person, diet, level of activity, body weight, the type of CNS, and a ton of other factors. I’ll discuss this subject in the next post.

      March 29th, 2013 5:51 pm
  • Kathryn

    I use an Omron Full Body Sensor Body Composition Monitor and Scale Model HBF-516. And, I have kept tract since Jan 2011 with the Master Worksheet provided by Omron:

    2011: highest weight: 122.2

    March 29th, 2013 12:24 pm
  • Lindsay

    I would love to see the research references about women losing muscle on ketogenic diets. Are those available? Thanks!

    March 29th, 2013 11:53 am
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky


      The process of “muscle wasting” isn’t a subject of academic research, but a core curriculum of medical biochemistry. It is wholly familiar to any first-year student of medicine or biology. Please google the term “gluconeogenesis,” and you will get an “ear full” of information on this subject.

      March 29th, 2013 5:49 pm
  • Sue

    Thank you for doing this series. I am waiting patiently for all your forthcoming information so that I can once and for all conquer my life-long weight issues. Like Amanda, I do have a question (I realize that you may expand on this in future posts) about ketogenic diets. Your comment: THE TAKEAWAY: Women require fewer carbohydrates than men, yet at the same time ultra-low-carbohydrate (a.k.a. ketogenic) diets aren’t appropriate for women because they cause accelerated muscle wasting. Fool me once, Dr. Atkins, shame on you. Fool me twice – fat on me.
    I lost over 85 lbs. doing a ketogenic program and I have kept off 70 lbs. for the last two years. I had remarkably little fat on my body when I got down to my goal weight. I am eating a whole foods diet and gained back those 15 lbs. as fat which I would like to lose. I thought that when you were in ketosis you burn fat, not muscle. Can you explain this further? Have I done permanent damage to my body? I am an active 50+ woman in menopause that strength trains with a personal trainer twice a week.

    March 29th, 2013 11:52 am
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky


      Unfortunately, you “burn” both — fat and muscle tissue. Considering your active lifestyle, maybe some of those 15 lbs. were muscles, not just fat. If you consumed adequate amounts of protein while on your ketogenic diet, no, you haven’t done your body any damage. Many people don’t.

      March 30th, 2013 12:17 am
  • Bawdy

    Very interesting stuff. Finally someone is saying out loud what we women have been saying for years.

    March 29th, 2013 11:50 am
  • Veronica

    No mention of issues like hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue, hypopituitarism, etc? these are very common issues in the US.

    March 29th, 2013 11:47 am
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky


      These clinical disorders are the domain of endocrinologists. They are exceptionally well studied, and you can find an abundant amount of information about these conditions in popular medical references, such as The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy or WebMD portal. I will not be writing about these disorders because I am a medical writer, not a medical doctor.

      March 29th, 2013 5:43 pm
      • Veronica

        Considering that these are extremely common issues in the US, particularly amongst women, that there should be some consideration of these issues when it comes to weightloss.

        and endocrinologists? haha! Most of them don’t really know a thing about these issues and simply prescribe T4 only meds such as Synthroid, which according to most hypo patients, doesn’t help much, if at all. These are things that can be aided with diets and natural methods. Worth a look into it, it could help a lot of people.

        March 29th, 2013 6:45 pm
        • Konstantin Monastyrsky


          I did’t say that I will not consider these conditions, but that I am not planning to write about them.

          March 30th, 2013 12:13 am
  • Vicki B.

    Finally a weight loss post that makes sense! I shared with several people who would benefit. Thank you for this post.

    March 29th, 2013 11:15 am
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky

      Vicki, you are very welcome, and thanks for sharing! Lots more to come, and, hopefully, it will prove equally informative.

      March 29th, 2013 5:35 pm
  • Julia

    I recently started a ketogenic diet, and now wonder if I should be concerned? I think I’ll still give it a try for a few weeks, but I have to be honest. Most of what I read in the whole foods/paleo world is that we don’t need to worry about calories, and yet I’m feeling super discouraged after these last few posts, getting the impression that basically there is no way to lose weight once you have it. I only have about 10-12 lbs to lose, but now I am wondering what we are supposed to do? Count calories? Eat lettuce with a 1/2 teaspoon of butter and call that lunch? And again, alot of what this guy is saying seems to be counter to what many paleo/whole foods people experience good results with (i.e., women on ketogenic diets that DO have success!)

    I don’t know if Sarah will read these comments, but if you are: help! Where is the hope? I am truly wondering how it’s possible to lose weight now (According to this guy).

    March 29th, 2013 10:55 am
    • Trudy James


      ” Most of what I read in the whole foods/paleo world is that we don’t need to worry about calories…”

      Just thought I’d mention that both Eat Fat Lose Fat and The Fourfold Path to Healing suggest reducing calories to lose weight.

      “Eat lettuce with a 1/2 teaspoon of butter and call that lunch?”

      Haha. I don’t think that would be the best thing to do. I think for most people it would be something more along the lines of taking a typical traditional meal and making smaller portions. I think it will also be extremely important to ensure that you are eating plenty of the superfoods like fermented cod liver oil, grassfed liver, and the other good fats (especially such as the high vitamin butter oil that is supposed to go with the cod liver oil). So, the butter part of your meal sounds like you’re on the right track. You probably should increase the amount, but I’d toss the lettuce and replace it with something more nutrient dense. Caviar, maybe? :)

      This is just something to think about, but if eating “whole foods/paleo” meant that we “don’t need to worry about calories”, then how did our ancestors ever survive seasonal food shortages since all they had available to them WERE “whole foods/paleo”? The ability to gain fat is what made them survive during those food shortages, and they were only able to gain fat from the “whole foods/paleo”. How did they do it? Increase the amount they ate during seasonal food abundance, I would imagine (also known as increasing their calories). And they lost the weight during the food shortage because they decreased the AMOUNT they ate, not by eating better quality foods or by reducing their carbs. I’m not an expert, but really this is the only scenario that makes much sense to me.

      March 29th, 2013 3:53 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky

      This guy will address this subject in the next post.

      March 29th, 2013 5:34 pm
  • Amanda

    Hi! I have a question regarding ketosis… I started a ketogenic diet about a week ago (I’m open to stopping) but my question is about my 2 1/2 year old daughter. I got those ketostix, and out of curiousity, tested her urine. To my surprise, she tested positive! Do you have any thought s on this. We do NOT intentionally feed her low-carb, though her diet is very high in fat. The bulk of her diet consists of: eggs, nuts berries, apples, bananas, raw milk, full fat cheese, sour cream and yogurt, sprouted sourdough waffles, sprouted toast, pasta, rice, popcorn (all smothered in grassfed butter), chicken, ground beef… And the occasional junkfood from her Grammy, usually organic fruit snacks granola bars, or munchkins. Any thoughts on her being in ketosis? She’s very active, and bright and rarely is sick… Should I be concerned? Greatly enjoying your posts… Thanks!

    March 29th, 2013 9:17 am
    • Amanda

      I forgot the veggies, :) she also loves broccoli, green beans, corn, carrots and sweet potatoed… All of which we also smother in butter.

      March 29th, 2013 9:22 am
      • Mariana

        Yeah I myself have had success on a pretty ketonogenic diet. He didn’t really make a clear connection for me when he said that low glucose diets accelerate muscle aging. I understand muscles use glucose, but he doesn’t talk about how they use ketones, refer to the process of muscle metabolism, or a study demonstrating this. It seemed kind of like a knee-jerk reaction when it’s not explained thoroughly.

        March 29th, 2013 3:00 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky


      Ketosis (a correct term is lipolysis) is a perfectly normal state for healthy adults and children. Children are more susceptible to this condition because they have a very small volume of blood, a small liver, and underdeveloped muscles. This means their bodies can’t supply all the glucose their incredibly energetic lifestyle requires. To compensate, their bodies turn to catabolic metabolism, and use proteins and fats to provide alternative “fuels” to keep them going.

      I will explain the ins and outs of this natural condition in the next post, including why it is not the same thing as “metabolic ketoacidosis,” and why I am so negative on extended ketogenic diets for women.

      March 29th, 2013 5:30 pm
      • Amanda

        Thanks very much for the response, I’m looking forward to the next post. I also have another question. I’m currently nursing a six and a half month old. I’ve read that it’s safe to be on a ketogenic diet while doing so, as long as I’m not severely restricting my calories, do you think it’s a bad idea to be doing so at all while nursing? I’m able to eat between 50 & 80 carbs and still remain in ketosis.

        And on the same line… How do I figure out how much to eat while nursing? Is eating to hunger sufficient – will my body let me know if I need to eat more? When I try to follow my hunger signals it feels like I’m hardly eating anything… Way less than the normal 2000+ calories I often see recommended for nursing women. But when I eat whenever I feel like it (justifying myself because “I’m nursing” and “need the calories”) I notice my weight climbing higher and higher. Any thoughts on this? I do eat a very nutrient dense diet and supplement with desiccated liver and FCLO. I just want to know how to best feed my body and baby while slowly heading back to my normal weight… Not further and further away from it.

        March 31st, 2013 12:04 am
        • Konstantin Monastyrsky


          Sorry, I can’t answer your question about ketosis and breastfeeding. I simply don’t know the answer. If your baby is doing well (not rejecting you, not crying, good sleep, etc.), you are probably okay, but I suggest finding someone with expertise in this subject. However, even if your baby is okay, you may be risking your own health because milk gets the priority where nutrients are concerned.

          If you intend to breastfeed long term, I recommend a weight-neutral diet — just enough nutrients to maintain your current weight. You really don’t want to start reducing food intake too much, otherwise you may start running out of milk, causing damage to your own body (i.e. muscle and bone tissue loss, demineralization, undernutrition).

          Breastfeeding itself requires about 500 extra calories, ideally from all three food groups — i.e. carbs, fats and proteins. I touched on the ratio of these components in the post itself.

          March 31st, 2013 12:58 am
          • Amanda

            I so appreciate your quick responses! So, just one more… If I just keep an eye on calories consumed and then try to adjust based on my weight fluctuations… Aiming for maintenance to very slight loss, that should give me an idea of my calorie needs?And then presumably I can add more carbs while staying within that range and not gain weight? I understand now is not the time to pursue great losses, but I also don’t feel comfortable gaining more. It’s looking like the only way to do that is to start counting calories… haha, I know it doesn’t seem like rocket science, but I hate counting calories :) Thanks again!

            March 31st, 2013 8:29 am
          • Konstantin Monastyrsky


            You are very welcome.

            For the lack of better one, calories offer a very general framework to measure the energy content of a diet. People in the calorie-counting camp ignore the difference between “measured calories,” the ones on the label, and “realized calories,” or what’s actually left for energy after digestion and assimilation. They also ignore the fact that the same amount of realized calories means two different things to two different people – the subject of this post.

            In other words, a theoretical calorie by itself is meaningless because its impact on weight loss or weight gain depends on the individual, the type of product, the quality of product, the level of activity at any given moment, and a ton of other factors. Besides, calories are next to impossible to count properly, unless all you’ll eat is vegetable oil (100% fat), amino acids blend (100% protein), and sugar (100% carbohydrate).

            So, your best bet is not to count calories, but to simply slightly reduce all food groups (proteins, fats, carbs) in your diet. It’s best to reduce carbs more than fats and proteins because they are the least significant in terms of health benefit and necessity. Keep reducing until you’ll stop gaining. That’s the only proper way to do accomplish your objectives.

            In tactical terms, here is the easiest way to implement all of the above: (a) drop all snacks first; (b) drop all non-essential foods (i.e. sweets, etc.) second; (c) reduce the use of condiments such as salads dressings and mayo, (d) eat your breakfast as late as possible, and dinner as earlier as possible, so you will not be as hungry between the meals, and, correspondingly, will eat less.

            If you want to take this even further, cut out anything that is sweet, including artificial sweeteners. This technique will stabilize (reduce) the secretion of insulin, so you will experience less sugar cravings and appetite-stimulating fatigue.

            These are all key aspects of my program. I will discuss all of them in future posts. Nothing, really, complex, just simple, commonsense approach based on physiology of digestion and endocrine functions.

            True, this approach will not allow me to sell a line of high-protein bars, ready-to-eat meal plans, or a ton of low-carbs cookbooks, but it’s okay, I am not greedy.

            March 31st, 2013 3:31 pm
          • Kat

            There are only three nutrient groups: carbohydrates, fat, and protein. As one consumes fewer and fewer carbs, these must then be replaced with either additional fat (low-carb/high fat) or additional protein (Atkins-style high protein diet). (I suppose experiencing some form of starvation is an option too.) It is difficult to digest the confusion I experience reading your above response, Please clarify; thank you.

            “I don’t recall ever suggesting high-protein diet. This is yet another extreme. I am for balanced traditional diet that includes all foods group in approximately equal proportions, but simply less of them. Technically speaking – this is a no-brainer. The “brainer” is – how to implement and “survive” a low calorie diet long enough to attain normal weight. That is what my specialty is, and that is why I am writing this booklance?”

            March 31st, 2013 11:17 pm
          • Konstantin Monastyrsky


            What I meant to say is the following: “I do not recommend or advocate high-protein diets.” And I said that in response to your assertion that I recommend high protein diets. I repeat again — I don’t.

            I will address actual diet composition in future posts. You may also be confused because you are trying to figure out what to eat and why, while this post isn’t about diet composition, but about relative vs. absolute values of calories.

            April 1st, 2013 12:51 am
  • Bettina Goodwin

    I’m really enjoying these posts. They are full of such interesting and useful information and I am looking forward to reading the rest of them as they are published.
    Finally, someone has dispelled the myths, explained the why’s and how’s and is sharing some real, informative facts on weight loss.
    Thank you!

    March 29th, 2013 8:05 am
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky

      Thank you, Bettina, for your kind words.

      This project started just four weeks ago from a blank sheet, and I appreciate very much your patience.

      Not that I didn’t know this well subject before the last four weeks. Back in 2002, I wrote a book entitled “The Disorders of Carbohydrate Metabolism,” about this same subject. Unfortunately, that book was written in the Russian language, and isn’t accessible for English-speaking audiences.

      A year later I researched and wrote another book, this time in English, entitled “Fixing up The Atkinks Diet.” Unfortunately again, Dr. Atkins sudden and mysterious death killed that book — no publisher wanted to touch that subject. This was back in 2003, well before the Kindle era, and I didn’t have the resource to release and market this book on my own.

      Please, keep reading!

      March 29th, 2013 5:22 pm
  • Jeanne @soultravelers3

    I am so happy you have a whole post about the differences between women and men in losing weight! I found the studies in Gary Taubes books about that quite interesting ( how many VERY poor and malnourished mothers and women around the world were grossly over weight, yet looked on the outside very different than their malnourished, very skinny babies and children.

    He also had some very interesting stats and studies about exercise not doing anything for weight loss, that caught my attention. I’ve always exercised but I am curious now as I lost a lot of weight when I was sick for a few years and didn’t move ( I also could not eat much because even bone broths hurt me horribly, so that is quite a motivator to not eat).

    Unlike most people (who gain weight in pregnancy), I was perfect and maintained a perfect diet all through a wonderful pregnancy very easily at 47. Like my skinny baby/child, I never felt hungry ( for the first time in my life) so was easy to do.

    BUT we had a truly horrible 48 hour back labor birth without medication until the end which included forceps and emergency C-section which traumatized us both quite severely for the first year….and THAT is when I gained all my current weight.

    I did child led weaning ( she probably has a world’s record for length almost as long as Geronimo) but it didn’t seem to help my weight at all.

    GAPS, WAPF, PALEO, VT D, Epigenetic etc reading has given me more to think about in this area. I’ve been really pure for a couple of years now and have not lost any weight ( and I don’t eat much) so I am still looking for the tweaks I need to do that.

    I found out when I lost the 2nd 100lbs (and kept it off for years and ate super healthy ..which probably allowed me to get pregnant late in life) that I am sugar sensitive. Thus, I have been super careful with sugar and carbs for decades ( but not ketogenic).

    I tested as not celiac and don’t seem to have any problems with grains, but I am exploring no grains now after reading 87% of Americans have sensitivity to gluten and grains ( even with soaking) and even one bite creates problems for 6 months.

    The two books that have been most helpful to me so far is “Restoring your Digestive Health” and “We want to live” which led me to WAPF. Looking forward to what you have to say.

    We travel the world as a lifestyle ( which I love) but that also makes it quite hard to always find the right food as most of the things people mention, I can’t get here. The good news is pastured chickens, eggs, organic food, raw goat milk, wild salmon, coconut, etc is MUCH cheaper here than in California or Europe. 😉

    March 29th, 2013 5:42 am
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky


      You are very welcome. The reader “Catz” remarked after my prior post:

      “This is written from a male perspective. Women lose weight differently than men, and male experts on weight loss, trainers, etc. (in my experience) tend to be clueless about helping women lose weight.”

      To assuage her and other readers who may think the same way, I’ve decided to address this subject first.

      March 29th, 2013 5:14 pm
      • Jeanne @soultravelers3

        Thanks, I am really enjoying the posts and other comments and discussion as well.

        I am curious also about your air conditioning ideas. It seems the exact opposite of Dr. Kruse’s Thermogenesis Protocol which seems to have worked wonders for some. He and many others ( Tim Ferriss, Dr. Tim Noakes , Dave Asprey etc) seem to think cold is great for losing weight etc.

        I’ve also read that the addition of AC makes people stay out of the sun and miss out on the ultra important Vt D ( best gotten via sun suggested by many) which all over weight people are deficient in. ( Thus THAT is the problem with AC, NOT being cooler).

        I am confused about the cold and hot issue ( like soooo many things with health and diet, there is MUCH conflicting info and experience). Looking forward to your science backed data on this and perspective based on much experience.

        I’ve always had a lower temperature, blood pressure and pulse than normal ( even in childhood and no matter if I am thin or heavier) which has seemed to help my health, but now I wonder if that points to something else.

        Can you debate the science Gary Taubes pointed out about how calories and exercise makes no difference in weight loss? ( Not that he got everything right IMHO, BUT his points with science back up in this area, is quite significant).

        Will you address the leptin reset issues?

        How about information on HA2cg homeopathic weight loss ? I know many people who have done this and loss a ton of weight ( most over 40 and many over 50 and 60) who have kept it off for years.

        I hope you address issues for over 40 and post menopause women and weight loss. I am not sure if I did my body a favor or disfavor in having a very late baby and then doing long term breastfeeding for many years ( BUT I didn’t have any problems with hot flashes or menopause and I am probably the most grateful mama on the planet). 😉

        I agree so much with your ideas that what works for one will not for another. If losing weight and keeping it off forever was such an easy issue, then there wouldn’t be so very many different books on the topic and still so many overweight people.

        Having lived in and spent much time in both Europe and Asia, ( with “homes” in both places) I can tell you that there are a TON of people who eat horribly and are not well,( It’s not just Americans who eat poorly) but may or may not have a weight problem.

        March 29th, 2013 11:06 pm
        • Jeanne @soultravelers3

          Can you address this conflicting info please?

          “There is some interesting research behind cold exposure that suggests it can improve thyroid function, cause fat loss, and increase overall resilience.

          A study in rats found that cold exposure revamped thyroid function and increased BAT oxygen consumption by 450%.


          “One study in humans found that cold exposure can increase energy expenditure, and may assist in fat loss.


          Another study found that adult humans have more brown adipose tissue (BAT) than previously thought. BAT can significantly increase energy expenditure in response to cold.


          Dr. Kruse has been using cold exposure with his patients to increase leptin sensitivity, boost strength, speed wound healing, and cause fat loss.”

          ( via Dave Asprey)

          Thanks! I love to hear lots of angles, perspectives and opinions because I learn best that way.

          March 29th, 2013 11:25 pm
          • Konstantin Monastyrsky


            It is axiomatic that exposure to cold increases energy output in order to keep one’s body warm while in the cold. But none of the above research has anything to do with my point that extended exposure to relatively low temperatures and abundant foods contribute to obesity because humans are programmed by evolution to reduce metabolic rates and accumulate fat in response to seasonal climatic changes.

            The only difference between the distant past and now is that your body doesn’t know the difference between late autumn and central air conditioning, so it responds to what it knows — ambient temperature.

            March 29th, 2013 11:43 pm
        • Konstantin Monastyrsky


          See my answers in-line:

          I am curious also about your air conditioning ideas. It seems the exact opposite of Dr. Kruse’s Thermogenesis Protocol which seems to have worked wonders for some. He and many others ( Tim Ferriss, Dr. Tim Noakes , Dave Asprey etc) seem to think cold is great for losing weight etc.

          — These gentlemen are addressing the concept of manhood — cold makes you strong and thin — and I don’t argue that. Being continuously exposed to cold increases energy output profoundly to keep one’s body warm, and you can even lose weight this way. What I am describing is an evolutionary mechanism that tricks the human body into lowering its metabolic rate in response to a marginal reduction of ambient temperature similar to the transition of seasons from summer to late autumn. These are the basics of evolutionary adaptation, and not a theory.

          I’ve also read that the addition of AC makes people stay out of the sun and miss out on the ultra important Vt D ( best gotten via sun suggested by many) which all over weight people are deficient in. ( Thus THAT is the problem with AC, NOT being cooler).

          — See above, same response.

          I am confused about the cold and hot issue ( like soooo many things with health and diet, there is MUCH conflicting info and experience). Looking forward to your science backed data on this and perspective based on much experience.

          — These are basic aspects of human physiology, and they have nothing to do with “science.”

          I’ve always had a lower temperature, blood pressure and pulse than normal ( even in childhood and no matter if I am thin or heavier) which has seemed to help my health, but now I wonder if that points to something else.

          — This means you have lower thermogenesis than other people. It may be related to your body shape, genetics, underactive thyroid, sedentary lifestyle, extremely efficient heart function, CNS makeup, and/or a load of other factors. In the absence of any pathology, exercise is the best form of raising your body temperature.

          Can you debate the science Gary Taubes pointed out about how calories and exercise makes no difference in weight loss? ( Not that he got everything right IMHO, BUT his points with science back up in this area, is quite significant).

          — I don’t recall Mr. Taubes ever said that. What he meant is that moderate exercise isn’t enough for weight loss. And I already replied at greater length about this point today. I can’t comment on calories because I don’t know the context of his comments.

          Will you address the leptin reset issues?

          — No, it matters in principle, but not in actual practice. And I already responded to this question in a prior post.

          How about information on HA2cg homeopathic weight loss ? I know many people who have done this and loss a ton of weight ( most over 40 and many over 50 and 60) who have kept it off for years.

          Sorry, I don’t know anything about this subject.

          March 29th, 2013 11:53 pm
          • Kat

            For those interested in listening to what Gary Taubes actually said re exercise and calories: youtube: Gary Taubes about why we get fat Part 1 of 3 (10 min)

            April 5th, 2013 12:57 pm
  • Louise

    Thank you for another interesting post. This will help me to stay focused on my own personal weight loss goals. I will be looking forward to reading your post on the role of carbohydrates in the diet (for weight loss and beyond) because I am feeling quite confused about this topic.

    March 29th, 2013 4:20 am
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky


      You are very welcome. My next post will address this subject, as well proteins, fats, “bad metabolism,” ketogenic diets, and a ton of other truths, half-truths, myths, and outright lies.

      March 29th, 2013 5:09 pm
  • Rebecca C

    I am getting really confused on how one is supposed to lose weight while eating traditional foods. I know you haven’t spelled it all out yet, but I don’t want to read these posts for a year thinking they are contradictory. It sounds like I need to eat only salads, or a teaspoon of fat (exaggeration probably) to get a low calorie diet. Neither one sounds very good to me. What am I missing?

    March 28th, 2013 10:56 pm
    • Konstantin Monastyrsky

      Rebecca, you are missing forty more posts. They will be coming out one by one until the end of this year.

      Please don’t project what’s coming negatively (i.e. “..thinking they are contradictory.”). How about thinking along the lines of “Hey, this may help me, finally…” and just enjoy reading along. It isn’t any different from watching the first airing of “Mad Men” or what have you…

      And I can assure you that “the beef” will be “served” earlier than you may be thinking, and it will definitely not be “salads.”

      March 28th, 2013 11:49 pm
      • Rebecca C

        ok i’ll keep an open mind.

        April 1st, 2013 2:35 am

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