How to Lose Weight, Part 1 of 17

Do you have trouble losing weight? Here’s the first of a 17-part series of blog posts, giving you the very best help.

We’re going to start with the most important fundamentals and keep going from there. Here’s number one:

1. Choose a Low Carb Diet

If you want to lose weight you should start by avoiding sugar and starch (like bread). This is an old idea: For 150 years or more there have been an infinite number of weight loss diets based on eating less carbs. What’s new is that at least 17 modern scientific studies have proven that, yes, low carb is the most effective way to lose weight.

Obviously it’s still possible to lose weight on any diet – just eat less calories than you burn, right? The problem with this simplistic advice is that it ignores the elephant in the room: Hunger. Most people don’t like to “just eat less”, i.e. being hungry forever. That’s dieting for masochists. Sooner or later a normal person gives up and eats, hence the prevalence of “yo-yo dieting”.

The main advantage of low carb diets is that they cause you to want to eat less. Even without counting calories most overweight people eat far fewer calories on low carb. Sugar and starch may increase your hunger, avoiding it may decrease your appetite to an adequate level. If your body wants to eat a suitable number of calories you don’t need to bother counting them. Thus: Calories count, but you don’t need to count them.

A 2012 study also showed that people on a low carb diet burned 300 more calories a day – while resting! According to one of the Harvard professors behind the study this advantage “would equal the number of calories typically burned in an hour of moderate-intensity physical activity”. Imagine that: an entire bonus hour of exercise every day, without actually doing it.

Bottom line: A low carb diet reduces your hunger and makes it easier to eat less. And it might even increase your fat burning at rest. Study after study show that low carb is the smart way to lose weight and that it improves important health markers.

How to do it: LCHF for beginners

Inspiration: Weight loss stories on low carb

PS: This series of blog posts will be summarized on the How to Lose Weight page. Feel free to bookmark it.

Part 2 will be posted very soon.

More about the free updates that people get.

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What Happens If You Eat 5,800 Calories Daily on an LCHF Diet? 179
“LCHF Saved Me!” 27
LCHF Made Lindha Half the Woman She Used to Be 21
“Why Was I Still Fat?” 28
Before and After a Year with LCHF 25
LCHF-Success Greetings from India 47
Guyenet, Taubes and why low carb works 78
LCHF on the Front Cover of US Magazine 93
The Dreamfields Pasta Fraud 261
Discovering Airline Diabetic Meal 109
Low Carb Explained 79
All Diets are Equally Good … Or Are They? 78
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34 Comments

Top Comments

  1. GrannyM
    Love your articles, interviews & videos. This is a great source for beginners. I would like to see it called How To Improve Your Health AND Lose Weight Part 1 of 17! People need to stop thinking of low carb or HFLC as a "diet" because it should become a change of eating for life to maintain optimum health. I've been doing LC for a dozen years. I was told in 2000 that withing a year I'd be on insulin because I was pre-diabetic. I did the research, started my low carb lifestyle and except for 1 year when I fell off the wagon I've stayed the course. I never became diabetic and all my blood markers improved and are still great. I'm 65 and disgustingly healthy while all my friends have all kinds of sickness and poor health and take tones of medications.

    For the person who wonders about long term studies...how about the human race before agriculture! For 10s of thousands of years we thrived without grains, sugar & processed foods. I'd say that's the best long term study that's ever been done!

    Read more →
  2. Galina L.
    Ondej,
    My journey was similar, but not the same. First of all I tried to do IF before a LC diet and failed miserably because I could not tolerate intense hunger. So I went on a LC diet ,lost 20 lb during a year, then spent 2 years on a weight-loss-plateau, then tried IF again without any problem and lost more weight. In my case LC was a necessary step to IF. I try not to be in a deep ketosis all the time in order not to loose any tolerance to carb foods because it is more convenient to have at least some metabolic flexibility, and I don't want too much of a physiological IR. I have a health reason to be in ketosis (migraine control), but overall I feel better without eating carbs - more energy , more mental clarity. Since I went LC I stopped having flues and asthma. It helped my adherence during 2 years of a weight-loss plateau. I lost more weigh on couple occasions by eating less, but never before did I notice so remarkable health improvement.
    Read more →

All Comments

  1. Tabetha
    Excellent start! Looking forward to the rest of the series.
  2. Morganier
    Great initiative. Nice that you put the links in the text.
  3. Ondrej
    Are there any studies on long-term adherence to LCHF? Not just "it's 20 percent better than low-fat" but rather "90 percent people followed it successfully after 2 years of the study and didn't report disrupted food relationship" This could be the big elefant in the room for all diets based on food labelling or macronutrient percentage. My hypothesis is that it's much easier to eat less by doing intermittent fasting, learing to appreciate food...this leads to reduced appetite and many small victories-completed fasts. And you don't have to stress that you run out of butter or olive oil:-) You lower calorie intake and even spend quite some time in "ketosis". Our leaner ancestors didn't measure ketones and didn't eat LCHF. They ate what was available, they just didn' eat all the time...obviously it's hard to run a blog on "just take a break from eating" topic..:D
    Reply: #5
  4. 1 comment removed
  5. Long-term compliance basically sucks in all weight-loss trials regardless of diet. But low carb on average has somewhat better compliance (fewer dropouts) than other diets.

    Speaking of long term, do you know of any such trials of intermittent fasting?

  6. Ondrej
    No:-) I still think LowCarb works, but prefer the "take it easy approach". My journey was paleo/LC...ketosis...intermittent fasting. LC wasn't enough to get very lean, ketosis was, but it was too restrictive...and while doing IF I really started to take it easy again, so LC evolved to real food diet with indulgences that are compensated by IF. But I lost fastest with ketosis...
  7. Ondrej
    I'd probably recommend LCHF for someone who doesn't want to do IF..and it's true that with junk food even IF is hard...so it's best to combine. For normal BF levels, not bodybuilders, LCHF is enough. And health is more important than single digits bodyfat...
  8. GrannyM
    Love your articles, interviews & videos. This is a great source for beginners. I would like to see it called How To Improve Your Health AND Lose Weight Part 1 of 17! People need to stop thinking of low carb or HFLC as a "diet" because it should become a change of eating for life to maintain optimum health. I've been doing LC for a dozen years. I was told in 2000 that withing a year I'd be on insulin because I was pre-diabetic. I did the research, started my low carb lifestyle and except for 1 year when I fell off the wagon I've stayed the course. I never became diabetic and all my blood markers improved and are still great. I'm 65 and disgustingly healthy while all my friends have all kinds of sickness and poor health and take tones of medications.

    For the person who wonders about long term studies...how about the human race before agriculture! For 10s of thousands of years we thrived without grains, sugar & processed foods. I'd say that's the best long term study that's ever been done!

  9. Doc this is another great series of useful info to help people be healthy and reverse almost all degenerative diseases.Love your site!!!
  10. Wade Henderson
    GrannyM, How about the years from 5,000 BC through 1,500 AD
    What was the human condition in those years? Significant obesity?
    And their diet? Those 6,500 years seems a significant trial, just as valid as the years much further back in pre-history.

    Why choose the much older and less known over the more recent (prior ot 1,500 AD) where we have more solid history? Perhaps versions of both are valid times from which to pass judgement on dietary intake. We needn't compare the last 100 years, only with pre-historic times.
    Just thinking about it.

  11. Ondrej
    I like this article about why Paleo is not magic...
    http://skylertanner.com/2009/03/15/it-isnt-magic-to-eat-like-a-hunter...
  12. Galina L.
    Ondej,
    My journey was similar, but not the same. First of all I tried to do IF before a LC diet and failed miserably because I could not tolerate intense hunger. So I went on a LC diet ,lost 20 lb during a year, then spent 2 years on a weight-loss-plateau, then tried IF again without any problem and lost more weight. In my case LC was a necessary step to IF. I try not to be in a deep ketosis all the time in order not to loose any tolerance to carb foods because it is more convenient to have at least some metabolic flexibility, and I don't want too much of a physiological IR. I have a health reason to be in ketosis (migraine control), but overall I feel better without eating carbs - more energy , more mental clarity. Since I went LC I stopped having flues and asthma. It helped my adherence during 2 years of a weight-loss plateau. I lost more weigh on couple occasions by eating less, but never before did I notice so remarkable health improvement.
  13. Berit
    In the beginning of my LCHF-diet , when I lost the bulk of my fat deposits......I ate way over 3500 Kcal a day...
    How do you, Doc, explain this compared to what you are saying about eating less calories when on LCHF...I come about as a liar when I'm maintaining my position that I was eating like an athlete but slept and rested most of the day and night and still lost weight at a staggering pace of 1,8 kg a week for four months.....
  14. Berit,
    You are far from the only person with similar claims. I believe it's possible.

    If you ate 3500 Kcal a day (and absorbed it) and lost weight then you burned more calories than that.

    Like the study I link to above implies, potentially low carb sometimes increases the number of calories burned.

  15. Tia
    It always irritates me that everybody talks about "burning" in the context with human metabolism and calories. I for sure am not a combustion engine and my metabolism uses the good stuff I deliver daily for repairs, communication and lots of other chores..... only my two cents.
  16. Berit
    Thanks for answering me, Doc :-)

    Yes, you are right....Alas not all of us experience this extra burning of calories, maybe a possible research line could be performed on us who have similar heavy calorie burning abilities...perhaps we have many other things in common... I am a tall, 1,80m. muscular and lean woman of 51. I am more muscular now than when I was young, but I used to be very strong back then too…... I was 49 when I started my LCHF-life..and not yet menopausal.... I'm fit as a fiddle and happy as a lark to have gotten my youthful looks and health back.... :-) I will stay on LCHF until I’m 150….. ;-)

  17. Is this something to think about or just to ignore......?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iB3KfUPcieE&feature=share

    Reply: #21
  18. Evinx
    @ Wade Henderson

    A loaf of bread from 5000 years ago is not at all like the bread we have today. Likewise with berries, fruits, etc.Hybridazation and modern farming have changed foods dramatically. Just because we called something "bread" 5000 years ago does not mean it is the same "bread" we have today -- it is not even close. Same applies to apples, oranges, etc. And just 225 years ago, the average American ate about 3 lbs of sugar per year; now, about 225 lbs.

    So, if indeed we could go back to eating the same foods as they were 5000 years ago, then our carb intakes would be far lower and we would not need to even worry much about dieting. But the reality is, that is not the case.

  19. Wade Henderson
    OK, Evinx, just go back 225 years ago. Why the need to leap over 225 years ago, when weight wasn't a problem and instead go back 5,000 or 10,000 or more years.
    How about all the billions of people who existed in those 4,775 to 9,775 years.
    Were they having such a problem with bread and such that it needs to be entirely seen as near evil?

    BTW, not to be picky but I find it very hard to document that 225 pounds of sugar figure.
    Obviously we eat 10 x more than we need to.
    However, it is amazingly easy to cut that figure down to 10% of that with simple food selection.
    Even lower if one works at it.

    I do believe that in the short run that LCHF diets are very effective. However I've yet to see good long term data going out 5 years or so with a sizeable number studied in terms of long lasting affects on both weight and cardio health.

  20. TammyM71
    I am looking forward to this blog as I have been LCHF for the past 5 months. I am thoroughly enjoying the health benefits but my only problem is is weight gain and not just a little but a lot (15kgs in 4 months) really want to find out how to turn this around and find out what I am doing wrong!
  21. nostent4me!
    My opinion: Complete Rubbish. Looks like the infamous meat study a few months ago.
    The Question that must be asked is: what was eaten with the meat?

    Most "meat" in the US is eaten at fast food outlets.
    I think they could as easily have measured the chips going into each meal with the beef and getting exact the same result, for the chips! I saw nothing about chips, soda, sweet sauces, sugar loaded buns or sweet dessert, but usually there.

    They said the results were same when "controlled" for total calorie intake, which means in simple terms that those who ate 2 portions/visit at MD or KFC did not get fatter than those that just one when meat % the same. Only when meat content increased they got fatter they say. A serious credibility gap for such unbelievable statements, I think!
    Even with LCHF it is the net reduction of food intake through increased satiety from fewer carbs and more fat that causes the weight loss. All other studies have showed that calories must be reduced for weight loss. This one claims that increase caused no weight gain, only meat did!

  22. Jane
    @TammyM71 I'm looking forward to the replies you get! My weight loss has been minimal (2kgs) but very slow, I've been at it 4 months now. Like you though, the health benefits are fabulous and I a 40 so maybe it takes longer the older you get? I don't know...hang in there!
  23. Ondrej
    Tammy: Calories still matter..I guess it could be too much fat...I don't think you can eat unlimited amounts, it's harder to overeat than on sugar, but possible. As I said, people find it difficult to get lean on LC, so fat loss is not guaranteed. I'd try adding intermittent fasting to the mix, either 1-2 24h fasts/week (no calories, unsweetened tea/water/coffee, example: start monday 14:00, finish Tuesday 14:00 - you still eat every day and sleep for approx 8 hours, so it's easy..and healthy) or consistent eating window of 8 h, which means for example eating just from 10 to 18(6pm) o'clock every day. That also works well, depends on lifestyle needs. Obviously you don't have to obsess about it and be 100%...
  24. Tammy: just my two-pennyworth here. I've been low carb for four years but I lost my weight by being on the Holford diet, which is a low-GL diet. In the Holford diet you still have some very small amounts of starchy carbs (oats, new potatoes, basmati rice, and even small thin slices of wholemeal bread), calculated according to points, but you don't increase your fat. You do have good fats in the form of oily fish 2-3 times a week and you do cook with healthy fats. Also, I was mostly eating vegetarian food and fish with just occasional meat; however, I have always used olive oil liberally. I lost 1 stone (which was all I needed to lose). I've got interested in LCHF for other reasons though. I'm now eating more meat and fats, no grains or starchy carbs and my weight is going down slightly, but I don't really need to lose much anyway. I'm not suggesting you follow the Holford diet, but just using it as an example of another low-carb diet. I do agree with Ondrej in that I think you need to be a bit careful with the amount of fat you are eating. Have some, but not large amounts. And perhaps be careful that you're not eating too many nuts as snacks. Just about 5 almonds for 1 snack perhaps. I think that if you eat too much fat your body will use that as fuel instead of your own fat.
  25. What a gem :D I found this place on Ask looking for something totally unrelated-
    now I'm gonna need to go back and go through all the archives XD Good bye free time this morning, but this was a truly awesome find :)
  26. Diane
    I started LCHF about a year ago. I was able to lose about 25-30lbs without hunger. I wore a bikini this summer. On LCHF I was able to practice intermittent fasting (IF) if I wanted to. Before that, I couldn't do it because I was always hungry.

    Somewhere around the ppring this year I started eating more carbohydrate, all of it healthy, no bread, sugar or pasta. I stopped losing weight. I could no longer do IF. I would get sleepy after lunch. Recently I recommitted to LCHF and I feel awesome! I have more energy, less sleepiness, more happiness. I just want to run and exercise and hike.

    Recently I learned that aerobic exercise at a low maximum heart rate is supportive and conducive to supporting the metabolic pathways that are turned on with a LCHF diet and that exercising at a heart rate higher than that maximum turns off those pathways and turns on the ones that favor sugar/glycogen burning instead. Basically, not only my diet but also my exercise have been sabotaging my efforts because I was exercising too hard. I'm exercising at a lower heart rate now and feeling wonderful and the weight is starting to move down again.

    I find this way of eating to be sustainable. I have actually learned how to cook. The only alternative is poor health and now that I know how it feels to be very healthy, I can't go back. I don't even like that food anymore. It doesn't taste like food. I've even managed to stay on this diet while backpacking it matters that much to me.

  27. TammyM71
    Thanks for the input guys. I am going to try fasting this week and see if it makes any difference and also cut down on the amount of fat that I am eating. I have reduce the amount of food that I have been eating to see if that will help with weight loss. Once I had done this and increased my exercise I lost 1.9kgs in one week but the next week I put on 1.5kgs. So I think it is going to be a case of trial and error to get the right combination.
  28. Sophie
    Tammy: I also did not lose much weight at all on 4-5 months of LCHF. I never ate that much carbs to begin with, and most of the carbs I ate before were from fruit (I am one of those fruit addicts). So of course when I stopped eating fruit and decreased consumption of carrots I probably increased too much my consumption of fat to compensate for the large volume of produce I love to eat.

    The dramatic results with LCHF I have seen were in people who were more overweight than I am and who ate much more carbs than I do.

    We always talk about the higher satiety of fat, but we never talk about volume. Fat packs more calories in smaller volumes, which explain why I may have eaten too much to feel fuller at the time of eating. I am a small woman and I think I ate enough fats to compensate for a quantity of carbs that much exceeded what I consumed.

    the LC part works for me, but it seems I was unable to manage the increase in dietary fats. Now I am sticking with a LC diet with only small amounts of animal fats.

  29. Jackson
    Low carb diet basically saved my life. Because of great resources via the internet we are able to obtain all the help and direction we need. The last step is just up to us.

    Although I'm a bit more lax on daily carb counts, I love places like http://www.lowcarbkitchen.net that offer ways spice up low carb routines.

  30. What's up, I desire to subscribe for this blog to get most recent updates, so where can i do it please assist.
  31. Just my 2 cents, How safe is a low-carb diet anyway. I have heard it said that you shouldn't deprive your body like that but should choose another form of dieting. However some people swear on this method but I am still on the fence...
  32. Zepp
    Its as safe as one do it.. fat or carbs are manly energy!

    And to that one have to take all other nutrichion concideratons!

    A low carb diet is best for those how have problems with glucose metabolism.. and those are many this days!

    "Fat was once the devil. Now more nutritionists are pointing accusingly at sugar and refined grains."

    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/dec/20/health/la-he-carbs-20101220

  33. Mike Graf
    Hi there.
    I cannot, for the life of me, find the recommended macronutrient percentages anywhere on this site? eg, is it something like 20/50/30 (Carb / Fat / Protein) ? I'd love to hear your thoughts or be directed to the article that explains the macronutrient breakdown..

    Thanks in advance.

    Reply: #34
  34. It's: go as low as you need/want in carbs.

    If you're really sensitive or want the maximum weight-loss effect: aim for below 20 grams of carbs, 4 percent energy or so.

    If you're young, healthy, fit you could eat around 100 grams per day, 20 percent energy high-quality high-fiber carbs or even more (especially if you exercise a lot going higher may not be a problem at all).

    Eat a normal amount of protein. Could mean one decent-sized piece of meat/chicken/fish for dinner, rarely two.

    Add fat until you're satisfied.

  35. Zepp
    In the induction you can use Atkins induction.. if you need too!

    Like 70-80E% fat, 20-25E% protein and about 5-10E% carbs.. for weightloss.

    But the protein should never go under 1 gram/kilo a day, or 0.5 grams/pound a day!

    After that.. its a trial and error.. whats best for your healt.. and mood.

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