What Happens If You Eat 5,800 Calories Daily on an LCHF Diet?

feltham

What happens if you “overeat” on an LCHF diet? It’s a common question and here’s one possible answer.

The young man Sam Feltham has done a three-week experiment, where he’s been eating enormous amounts of LCHF-food. On average 5794 calories daily of which “only” 10% as carbohydrates (menu).

According to over-simplified calorie counting, energy expenditure isn’t affected by what you eat. All excess calories you eat will then lead to weight gain. If this were true Feltham would have gained 16.5 lbs (7.5 kg) during the three weeks, but in reality he only gained 3.5 lbs (1.7 kg).

Here’s the explanation:

Theory and Reality

There’s a difference between calculated energy surplus and real energy surplus. Apparently Feltham didn’t have a large real energy surplus, as he didn’t gain more weight.

The most likely explanation to me is that his energy expenditure increased substantially during the experiment. Maybe there are other explanations? Perhaps his body also adapted by not taking up all the nutrients he ate?

I’m not surprised by the results. If you starve long term you don’t lose as much weight as simple calorie counting predicts. The body will decrease the metabolic rate. If you overeat you don’t gain that much weight. The body adapts and tries to maintain an appropriate fat mass.

Some find it hard to believe in Felthams results and suggest that he’s lying. I don’t think so. There are several previous reports from people who have done similar experiments – stuffed themselves with copious amounts of LCHF-food. Weight gain tends to be small or non-existent, so Feltham’s results seem to be typical.

Hormones

The above applies as long as the body’s hormonal regulation is balanced. Eating large amounts of bad carbohydrates may interfere with hormonal balance. Large amounts of the fat-storing hormone insulin are then produced.

So what happens when you overeat bad carbohydrates to the extreme? A good example is the movie “Supersize Me”.

Morgan Spurlock did a similar experiment: he ate 5,000 calories daily for 30 days – at McDonalds. The difference was that this was not an LCHF diet, but HCHF (high carb high fat). There were about as many “excessive” calories, but Spurlock did not only gain 3.5 lbs (1.7 kg). He gained a whopping 24.5 lbs (11.1 kg).

spurlock

Professor Fredrik Nyström did a study where twelve students overate, but to a less extreme degree, “only” a few thousand extra calories daily in the form of carbohydrate-rich fast food, for four weeks. Just adding these extra calories made them gain on average 14 lbs (6.4 kg).

Paulo Roberto, Sweden, made a similar TV documentary the other year. He ate large amounts of carbohydrate-rich junk food and gained 33 lbs (15 kg) in two weeks!

Summary

There is a difference between overeating and overeating.

When eating bad carbohydrates it’s easy to gain weight quickly. You’ll get plenty of the fat-storing hormone insulin in your blood.

It’s generally hard to gain weight on an LCHF diet. It’s even difficult to eat too much food, as you then usually have to eat more than you want. Even if you force down large amounts of LCHF-food, against your will, the result is usually as it was for Feltham. It’s a constant struggle and weight gain will likely be modest.

Overweight people eating as much as they want on an LCHF diet will typically lose weight.

What do you think about the experiments?

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179 Comments

Top Comments

  1. Suzanne
    I have been on the LCHF diet for about 10 months and I have lost approximately 70 lbs. It was not easy getting started but it has became a way of life. Never did I realize how bad choices eating out could cause so much weight gain. When I splurge for the weekend it kills all the hard work from the past couple weeks. It took some time changing my mind set that I can't eat "bad" anymore. I have found that a "cheat" meal every couple weeks keeps me focused and reboots my metabolism. However, I am now wanting to do this less and less. Good luck to anyone trying the LCHF diet. It does pay off in the end!
    Read more →
  2. FrankG
    Not only did he not gain the "weight" as predicted by CICO but his waist measurement decreased by 3cm during these 21 days!

    An interesting and enlightening experiment but none of which is to say LCHF is a free-for-all where we can forcibly/consciously overfeed ourselves and expect to be healthy in the long-term... any more than forcibly UNDER-feeding (aka ELMM) leads to health and happiness :-)

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All Comments

  1. FrankG
    "...Why I Don't Give a Crap What the Kitavans Eat"

    http://sparkofreason.blogspot.ca/2011/08/comment-on-guyenet-vs-taubes...

    IIRC they are also known as heavy smokers... so I guess that also "proves" smoking doesn't cause lung-cancer??? :-P

    Reply: #154
  2. Zepp
    Well Ondrej, I am swedish, and I know what Ferry says he has eaten and why!

    First the why.. he eat a diet to aim att the concept of "train low, race high", for maximum endurance at fatoxidation!

    And he was not that dumb that he thougt that low glycogen depoes is a wining concept!

    And the major consern I think he got from Colting.. how is another low carb, "train low, race high", promoter, and what says Colting then.. well he say that one should eat for best healt.. and this means cuting out a lot of food mostly fast carbs from refined carbs and take the carbs from the most nutrient dens whole foods that one can find!

    And then.. what did he eat then.. he did eat about 5000 Kcal a day on competiton and high intensity training days!

    And about 10 E% as carbs!

    And at top of this.. he comes frome the countryside.. lives almoste in forrest dens north countryside, with hunting domains, and is married to a world champion femal arm wrestler.. how is know beside of her championship as a promoter of organic and game food!

    Reply: #153
  3. Ondrej
    Zepp, 0.59% of all gold medals. Don't you think that's pathetic?
    Reply: #155
  4. Ondrej
    The more I read your posts, the more you look like an angry, bitter old man with musical problems.
  5. Zepp
    Its a strange coment.. or even odd, he is a biathlet, do you think he should compete for all the medals on a olympic game?

    If you Google about it, we had other competers on other competitions, some even got medals too!

    And I can asure you and Colpo that he got full glycogen depoes.. as you know, one dont need to eat that much carbs for this!

    I realy dont know why this question did came up at all?

    He eat a healty diet.. that are lower in carbs then others, becuse he didnt need more.. nothing strange about it, no magic thing, no benefits, beside he eat what he thougt was the best and healtyest food for his purpose!

    Reply: #156
  6. Ondrej
    Let me make it clear for you Zepp. being 1 of 169 gold medals it's clear that Ferry is an anomaly among 2010 Winter Olympics gold medal winners.

    Please display all your low carb Olympic medalists and compare them percentage wise to the high carbers Olympic medal winners. Based on their "superb' diet they should dominate, right?

    Reply: #157
  7. Zepp
    Noe.. you miss the whole thing totaly, there are no perticaly benefits of a low carb diet.. exactly as a high carb diet.. as long as they got all there nutrients and enough of energy!

    Some can have benefits of a higher fat oxidation uppregulation by "train low, race high".. perticuly on endurance sports, and some others make it best on a high carb diet.

    The thing is that its this dogma that one need to bulk on higly digestebled carbs a mass that is totaly wrong.. one dont need to eat more then one can store!

  8. Glen0
    Looks to me from those photos that he has gained some muscle mass by eating enough fat to cause his body to uptake more protein and store it as muscle. I have found that I need loads of fat after any short, intense to the point of muscle fatigue exercise. Tubs of double cream or pressure cooked bone broth with heaps of grass fed fat or good butter hit the spot for any muscle gains I want.
  9. Annette
    I am a 57 year old woman who has 5 diseases in my face called dystonia (2010)...I recieve up to 50 botox shots in my face, neck and larynx every 3 months for the rest of my life...When I got the disease I weighed 242 lbs. When I had to get the shot in the larynx the Dr had to put a camera down my nose to see where he was putting the shots., all because of a huge double chin which made it so he could not feel the larynx from the outside, like he can patients who have normal necks with the indent between the collar bones...You may wonder what this has to do with the LCHF diet? I fould a great example of this diet on the internet and bought the instructions for a whole $27.00...This diet changed my life...I started in August of 2012 and by January of 2013, My Dr. Could actually see the Larynx from the outside...The shots using the camera terrified me sooo bad that they had to give me xanax to calm me...(I hate the out of control feeling but preferred it to thinking about what was going on...)What made me want to lose weight? I dont know...I love to eat cakes cookies, candy and at one point could live off of them and nothing else (depression?)...When I read in the diet book to actully add a spoonful of coconut oil to my homemade milkshake, i couldnt believe it, but did it any way. Now the only oils in my home are coconut, extra virgin Olive Oil and real butter...I eat any kind of meat I want for my protein, Replaced milk with coconut and almond milks, eat a portion of old fashioned oats everyday (either in my smoothies or mixed with greek yogurt) What I am getting at is this...In 6 months on the LCHF diet, I am down to 210 lbs and have stayed at that weight for months...I still eat mostly decent but have a few more carbs than I should sometimes...Went to get shots last week and was the same weight as 3 months ago...The best and most unbelievable part (besides getting my shots from the outside of my throat) was that I never counted calories, never exercised (if I exercise I get Vertigo), and counted no points...The only downside is I had to give up bread, which I never really ate a lot anyway...Still at 210 lbs (because thats where I choose to be) I feel better, I look 100 times better...When I am ready to lose more I will go right back and start again (after christmas probably) Oh I forgot about the inches lost...25 inches total, with 10 inches off of my belly alone...I have NEVER had a diet that I lost even an inch off my belly...It was always the last to go...Eating this way my tummy was the first to go...Thrilled to say the least, as the Drs say that belly fat is what is most dangerous to have...Also I have went from size 24 to size 16 and from 2XL to Large...All the arguing about this is rediculous...Has Grinch tried this diet? If not he should, before he opens his mouth...THIS TRULY WORKS for a woman with a disease who cant get any exercise, but a little walking around a grocery store or doing laundry or dishes...That is all I do... Because of my muscle relaxers, I sleep 16 hours a day... I, like the young man in the pictures am living proof that this works, and keeps the weight off after losing it...There are tons of good recipes on the net, but I got most of mine with my diet... Again I tell you this really works...And to think I spent half of my life avoiding fats and loading up on fat free carbs, what a waste...
    By the way if you are interested and have time, please look up DYSTONIA on Google and see what I have and go through...My Dr wants as many people to know about this disease as possible so if they get symptoms they go to a neurologist first...Most Dr's do not know they exist. I have all the diseases in the face, neck and larynx...So my eyes are bad, I cant speak above a whisper,my head is tilted to the right, and my chin makes me pull, what my Doc and I call the Joker face... So I look different from others, but right now everyone is noticing my weight loss...Lovin it...
  10. jon woodall
    This is for grinch and frank, I am a bodybuilder and I eat lots of protein, fat and carbohydrates of all different GI levels and I eat the same foods if I'm bulking off season or dieting for a show. In the off season I'm usually around 16 stone and on stage I'm around 13 stone and the way I lose the weight is by dramatically cutting my calorie intake! Everything else stays the same. I will say though that my opinion on the diet that humans should follow which is backed up by numerous studies (although whatever your argument may be you can always find an equal argument to the contrary on the net) is to simply intake fat, (not from animals) protein, (not from animals) fruit and many vegetables. the human body has zero requirement for carbohydrate and all of your vital organs have been proven to work at their best when fuled by fat not carbs. You should be thinking more about health and not what works best for loseing weight. If you constantly eat healthily then your body will find it's healthy weight on it's own.
  11. jon woodall
    This is for grinch and frank, I am a bodybuilder and I eat lots of protein, fat and carbohydrates of all different GI levels and I eat the same foods if I'm bulking off season or dieting for a show. In the off season I'm usually around 16 stone and on stage I'm around 13 stone and the I lose the weight is by dramatically cutting my calorie intake! Everything else stays the same. I will say though that my opinion on the diet that humans should follow which is backed up by numerous studies (although whatever your argument may be you can always find an equal argument to the contrary on the net) is to simply intake fat, (not from animals) protein, (not from animals) fruit and many vegetables. the human body has zero requirement for carbohydrate and all of your vital organs have been proven to work at their best when fuled by fat not carbs. You should be thinking more about health and not what works best for loseing weight. If you constantly eat healthily then your body will find it's healthy weight on it's own.
  12. atanas
    Jon woodal what is your program as a bodybuilder? Can you share? Thank you.
  13. jon woodall
    My program in regards to what mate, training or diet?
  14. atanas
    Both my friend.
  15. jon woodall
    First I should probably say that I haven't competed since 2011 and I have no intention of competing again (at the moment anyway) but my training still remains the same. I Split my bodyparts over 4 days starting monday with chest and triceps, tuesday back and biceps, thurday shoulders and traps and legs on friday. My diet is pretty much eat every 3 hours be it whole food or protein shake but each meal will have at least 30 grams protein and the rest of the meal will simply be for filling up on calories regardless of what it is. I basicly try to get in as many calories as I can as long as I get enough protein in and I don't make myself feel ill. Nothing scientific really. When I diet for a show I pretty much just cut my meal sizes in half and do an extra hour of walking cardio every time I train. Be aware that my job as a carpet fitter is extremely high energy so I don't have to watch what I eat. The methods that I adhere to as a bodybuilder is no reflection on my beliefs on adequate human nutrition and my knowledge on the subject is built over eight years of avid reading. When it comes to information on the subject I love I'm like a sponge and can't get enough.
  16. Diane S
    What is the LCHF diet???
    Reply: #167
  17. Zepp
    Its a low carb, high fat, normal protein diet.. a ketogenic diet!

    http://www.dietdoctor.com/lchf

    http://authoritynutrition.com/low-carb-diet-meal-plan-and-menu/

    http://www.fitintegrity.com/uploads/9/5/1/6/9516119/no_sugar_no_starc...

    Or if you are american.. its like Atkins diet!

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  19. Jack Daniels
    I'm having a hard time believing his body defied the laws of thermodynamics.
    Reply: #170
  20. Zepp
    The laws of thermodynaics is one thing.. another thing is the regulation of human metabolism and homeostasis!

    I can tell one thing.. I in my 50+++ cant do this like him!

  21. Emma
    Hi,

    I wanted to ask about the new craze and one that I'm becoming addicted to....Coconut Water!

    I absolutely love this stuff and want to drink at least 2 glasses a day of it.

    My question is, is it ok to drink this quantity as it does have carbs in it.

    The brand I am drinking is Vita Coco natural.

    Thanks
    Emma

    Reply: #172
  22. Zepp
    Well it couldnt be worse the two glas of milk.. or wine?

    Its probably natural and have some nutients.. but moste water?

    Read the label and ask your self if that carbs are to much?

    And then.. if you feel healty and dont need to lose weight.. why bother.. it cant be posionus?

    Moste people drink worse bevareges!

  23. Van
    +1.7Kg due to the 10% carbs he was consuming ;-)
  24. Karen
    I have been diagnosed with severe iron deficiency anaemia and have been told to increase my intake of beef by my haematologist, I'm not a vegetarian but I didn't include meat in every meal I ate, thinking that a well balanced diet of grains, legume, meat, dairy, leafy green vegetables and fruit, nuts and seeds would give me all the nutrition I needed. Since researching diets on the internet I've come across LCHF which I started 3 weeks ago and so far I feel better and have lost a little weight. My question is: are there any studies showing an increase in iron absorption eating a LCHF diet, since grains have been eliminated, which I understand, can inhibit absorption in some people or will I still need to look for a way to increase iron in my diet as I can't take iron supplements in tablet form.
    Reply: #175
  25. Zepp
    I got no studies for you.. but hemiron is the moste easyest for humans to absorb.. its animal iron..I.E. meat and blood!!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heme

    Vegetable iron cant be absorbed.. if its not organic bounded to proteins in a form that we can absorb.

    One way to make it happen is to ad ascorbic acid to vegetables.. I.E. use lemon juice or vinegar to your iron veggies!

    It makes it easyer to absorb.. not that much but better.. if one have problems with iron defiency.

  26. will samson
    This is for grinch and frank, I am a bodybuilder and I eat lots of protein, fat and carbohydrates of all different GI levels and I eat the same foods if I'm bulking off season or dieting for a show. In the off season I'm usually around 16 stone and on stage I'm around 13 stone and the I lose the weight is by dramatically cutting my calorie intake! Everything else stays the same. I will say though that my opinion on the diet that humans should follow which is backed up by numerous studies (although whatever your argument may be you can always find an equal argument to the contrary on the net) is to simply intake fat, (not from animals) protein, (not from animals) fruit and many vegetables.
    http://gmdiethelp.com/gm-diet-7-days-diet-plan/
    Reply: #177
  27. erdoke
    "I lose the weight is by dramatically cutting my calorie intake! Everything else stays the same."
    You can cut caloric intake in different ways. Drink less alcohol, eat less protein/fat/carbs. It is not clear what you try to suggest here: Does not it matter what you cut out? Does not it matter what kind of weight you loose?
    If you are a bodybuilder, I guess muscle mass is not something desirable to loose, so it is indeed extremely important what you cut out.

    Regarding animal fat and protein vs. plant based sourcing of these macro- and the included micronutrients: Even my 10-12 year old children understand how much easier it is to get all important nutrients from animal foods. I have to admit my 7 years old daughter still has some doubts about leaving candy behind. :)

  28. Me
    So how do you gain weight while still eating LCHF? I would REALLY like to know. I have been struggling with this forever...
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