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Carbohydrates and Weight Loss: Should You Go Low-Carb?

Carbohydrates and Weight Loss: Should You Go Low-Carb?

Do carbohydrates actually cause weight gain and prevent fat loss?


The hysterical crusade against carbohydrates has reached a frantic pitch these days.

From the scientifically bankrupt theories of guys like Gary Taubes to the trendy low-carb diets like Paleo, Zone, Dukan, and so forth, the carbohydrate is now the victim of the same level of persecution that saturated fat endured for decades.

Well, we’ve come to learn that saturated fats aren’t the evil heart killers they were made out to be (excluding the processed form known as tran fat, which is known to increase risk of heart disease, among other issues).

If we’re to believe the leaders of the Carbohydrate Inquisition, this molecule will blow up our blood sugar levels, break our metabolism, force us to be fat, give us diabetes and many other diseases, and, well, just generally turn us into hungry, horrible people.

If we just ditch the diabolic carbohydrate, “experts” claim we will melt fat away and keep it off without having to count pesky calories, build an invincible immune system, live forever, and maybe even develop superpowers. And we’ll be part of the cool crowd to boot.

So, is this culture war actually justified? Does it have a basis in science?

Carbohydrates, Insulin Levels, and Weight Gain

carbohydrates lose weight

Much of the carbohydrate controversy revolves around its relationship to the hormone insulin.

As the claims go, insulin “makes you fat,” and carbohydrate “spikes insulin,” thus, “carbohydrate makes you fat.” Sounds so simple, right? Well, yeah, the story is simple…but it’s false.

While yes, it’s true that insulin’s job is to pull glucose out of the blood and store excess as fat, it’s also responsible for driving amino acids into our muscles for protein synthesis and clearing dietary fats out of the blood as well (which are stored as body fat more efficiently than carbohydrate, I might add). On top of all that, insulin has a mild anti-catabolic effect (meaning it helps preserve your muscle).

And while it’s also true that eating carbohydrate increases insulin levels in your blood, many common sources of protein (such as eggs, cheese, beef, and fish) are comparable in their ability to do the same.

Some people claim that because your body generally produces more insulin when you eat carbohydrate, this leads to more fat storage. They’re wrong—research has shown that the amount of insulin your body produces in response to eating food (or insulin response, as it’s called) doesn’t affect the amount of fat stored.

So, in short, insulin is your friend, not a part of a conspiracy between your pancreas and fat cells to ruin your self-image.

That’s one strike against the “carbs make you fat” camp. Let’s now look directly at carbohydrate intake and fat loss.

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

Diet Composition and Real-World Weight Loss

carbohydrates and weight loss article

Many low-carb gurus will claim that you can lose weight much quicker if you consume very few carbs every day. Some people even believe they can only lose weight if they cut their carbs to nil.

The problem with these advices and beliefs is they fly in the face of both basic physiology and scientific findings, and mask the most common weight loss roadblock: eating too much, and moving too little.

A simple review of scientific literature shows that diet composition has no effect on long-term weight loss.

For example, let’s first look at a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania. Researchers assigned 63 obese adults to either a low-carbohydrate, high-protein, high fat diet (20 grams of carbohydrate per day, gradually increased until target weight was achieved), or a conventional diet of 60% of calories from carbohydrate, 25% from fat, and 15% from protein.

The result: the low-carbohydrate group lost more weight in the first 3 months, but the difference at 12 months wasn’t significant.

The 3-month result isn’t surprising, considering the fact that reducing carbohydrate intake decreases the amount of glycogen we store in our liver and muscles, which in turn decreases total body water retention. This, of course, causes a rapid drop in weight that has nothing to do with burning fat (and anyone that has reduced carbohydrate intake as a means of cutting calories for weight loss has experienced this).

Harvard University published a study in 2009 on the effects of diet composition and weight loss. They assigned 811 overweight adults to one of four diets, which were comprised of the following percentages of fat, protein, and carbs: 20, 15, and 65%; 40, 15, and 45%; and 40, 25, and 35%.

After 6 months of dieting, participants had lost and average of 6 kg. They began to regain weight after 12 months, and by 2 years, weight loss averaged out to 4 kg, with no meaningful differences between low-protein or high-protein, low-fat or high-fat, and low-carb or high-carb groups.

A study published by Arizona State University found that an 8-week high-carbohydrate, low-fat, low-protein diet was equally effective in terms of weight loss as a low-carbohydrate, low-fat, high-protein diet.

So, the conclusion we can derive is brutally simple and clear: as long as you keep yourself in a caloric deficit, you’ll lose weight regardless of the dietary protocol you follow.

The Exceptions to the Rule:
When Low-Carb—or High-Carb—Might Be Better

carbohydrates weight loss

Despite the body of evidence presented above, practical experience in coaching hundreds of people has taught me that some people tend to just do better on high-carb or low-carb diets, and some do fine with either.

For instance, some people—like myself—do very well with high-carbohydrate diets. They can lose weight very easily, feel energized all day without any crashes, and are able to maintain considerable strength in the gym. Others don’t do well with a high-carb approach. Weight loss is slower than optimal, it makes them very hungry, which leads to over-eating, and  it comes with frustrating energy highs and lows.

It goes the other way, too. Some people don’t do well with low-carb, high-fat diets (myself, again). They feel lethargic, mentally clouded, lose a ton of strength, and have trouble getting lean. Others thrive on it, having plenty of energy and a general sense of well-being.

What gives?

Well, while feeling like crap makes you more likely to over-eat or mess up your diet in other ways, and give less than 100% in your workouts, there’s more at work here.

Research has shown that some people’s bodies deal better with large amounts of dietary fat than others, responding with positive metabolic changes like an increase in resting energy expenditure and fat oxidation to maintain energy balance, and better appetite control.

Some people’s bodies respond negatively to high amounts of dietary fat, however, and are more likely to store it as body fat. Such research sheds some light on why some people respond so well or poorly to low-carb, high-fat diets. A ketogenic diet can be a disaster for some, and a godsend for others.

The above also relates to research on how insulin sensitivity and insulin response affect diet effectiveness. (Remember that insulin sensitivity refers to how responsive your cells are to insulin’s signals, and insulin response–or insulin secretion–refers to how much insulin is secreted into your blood in response to food eaten.)

Research has shown that weight loss efforts aren’t improved or impaired by insulin sensitivity or insulin resistance per se. When we move away from a balance of nutrients, however, and use high-carb, low-fat, or low-carb, high-fat diets in conjunction with different levels of insulin sensitivity and insulin response, things change.

For instance, a study conducted by the Tufts-New England Medical Center found that a low-glycemic load diet helped overweight adults with high insulin secretion lose more weight, but not overweight adults with low insulin secretion.

A study conducted by the University of Colorado demonstrated that obese women that were insulin sensitive lost significantly more weight on a high-carb, low-fat diet than a low-carb, high-fat diet (average weight loss of 13.5% vs. 6.8% of body weight, respectively); and those that were insulin resistant lost significantly more weight on a low-carb, high-fat diet than a high-carb, low-fat diet (average weight loss of 13.4% vs. 8.5% of body weight, respectively).

What we can take away from my anecdotal observations and these studies is if you have good insulin sensitivity and low insulin secretion (good insulin response), you’ll probably do better on a high-carb, low-fat diet.

On the other hand, if you have poor insulin sensitivity (insulin resistance) and high secretion (poor insulin response), you’ll probably do better on a low-carb, high-fat diet.

So, Which Approach, Then? High-Carb or Low-Carb?

carbohydrates diets

Unfortunately it’s not easy to tell if you’re a “high-fat” or “low-fat” body type, but it’s fairly easy to take an educated guess regarding insulin resistance and sensitivity, and insulin response.

After eating a high-carb meal, signs of good insulin sensitivity and response are pumped muscles that feel “full,” mental alertness, stable energy levels (no crash), and satiety.

Signs of insulin resistance and poor insulin response are bloat, gassiness, mental fogginess and inability to focus, sleepiness, and hunger soon after eating.

Based on the above symptoms, you can decide which approach to try. And remember these are only general guidelines—in the end, actual weight loss is what matters most.

You should be able to lose 1-2 lbs per week, and if you’re not despite being absolutely certain that you’re in a proper caloric deficit, you may benefit from altering diet composition.


What are your experiences with carbohydrates and weight loss? Does low-carb or high-carb work better for you? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Jacob

    I usually do about 50% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat. I definitely need the carbs for training harder. Currently cutting, lost 12 pounds in the last 6 weeks, no muscle loss. Couple exercises even went up for reps. I remember talking with someone saying they couldn’t complete there weight training workouts. I asked why they thought that was, they said they didn’t know. I asked about their diet, they said they were eating 30grams of carbs a day. I of course laughed, how could anyone even walk around during the day on that low of carbs, seems insanely low to me, plus this person wasn’t that overweight, maybe 20 pounds to loose, probably less.

    • I like high-carb compositions as well. Carbs fuel workouts and help you lift heavy ass weight. 🙂

      Awesome on your progress. That’s great.

      Lifting on sub-100 grams of carbs per day sucks. They’re suffering for no reason…

      • Lulu

        I would like to know how many grams of fat a day is considered a low fat diet.

        • Michael Matthews

          Medically speaking, less than 20% of daily calories from fat is low-fat.

    • SunniRed

      I have read that women seem to have a easier time working out low carb than men as they recruit more fat for energy during exercise than men do. I never had any issues working out low carb after the first couple of weeks. Those sucked.

    • Brock Leham


      Giving it 110% I see? LOL.

  • Juanda

    Great and balanced article.

  • Stuart

    Terrific post, Mike. There seems to so much misunderstanding and discussion over this topic.

    Over the past few months, I have experimented with varying levels of calories and various macro compositions and have found what works for me. I don’t think there is anything magical about manipulating carbs, but it seems to be the easiest way to adjust macros to meet my calorie goals.

    I think most experts agree that protein levels shouldn’t fall below 1g/lb of bodyweight for those of us interested in muscle preservation or gain. I have found eating more than that to be a challenge with drinking protein all day. That might be ok, but I try to eat as many of my calories that I can.

    I have found fat somewhat difficult to vary outside of a particular range. If I am eating close to 200g of protein, I am getting a certain amount of dietary fat with that, so going lower is difficult. On the higher side, it is hard to get over a certain point without adding junk fat and who wants to eat spoonfuls of coconut oil each day. (Ok, I admit I do that sometimes.)

    So that leaves carbs as the easiest variable to manipulate. Add an extra serving of rice to a meal or leave it out. Have some fruit with a snack or dessert or leave it out. For me, that has been the simplest way to manipulate my diet between bulking and cutting.

    Now, about that question of how low is too low. I have tried to sustain a cutting diet at 50g of carbs per day. (Lower seems to be virtually impossible in the real world). At that level, I struggle to get through workouts and complete reps, and I can’t go long before my willpower completely breaks down and I start eating any junk I can find. Just not worth it.

    I have found I do fine averaging 150g/ day on a cut. I am getting leaner, and I don’t feel hungry or having crazy carb cravings.

    • Awesome comment Stuart. Thanks for sharing, and I agree on all points.

      High-protein is always the way to go, and fats probably shouldn’t drop below 15-20% of daily calories. Carbs are definitely the easiest macro to manipulate.

      I’ve gone as low as 30-50g carbs per day as well and hated it. Workouts sucked. Just wanted to sleep. Did it in conjunction with sodium and water manipulation though, so I looked pretty good. 😛

      I never drop below .75g/lb carbs when cutting. Seems to work well for me.

      Oh and big bonus of high-fat diet: you can eat a lot of almond butter. 😛 And get all carbs from bananas with the almond butter. Mmmm.

      • Jonas

        I posted a question on “Hi im mike matthews” regarding this exact topic, now because of this wonderful post of stuart and your sensible answer, theres no need to aswer my quewtion anymore.
        Simpl and easy. Thats the way i likemto have i. Have ( a considerable amount of) carbs with your meal when trying to gain weight, dont have it when trying to cut. Can you support this simple advice, Mike?

        • Michael Matthews

          Kind of. Total daily intake is the key…

      • Paul Fisher

        Mike can you please elaborate on the sodium and water manipulation you speak of? or point me to the right direction?

        • Michael Matthews

          Honestly I don’t think it’s necessary. Just get really lean and keep K and Na balanced.

  • Sebastian

    Great article like always, I do have a question though. Your book recommends 1 gram per pound of bodyweight so in my case 220 grams of carbs. So how do I need to adjust that if I show symtoms of insulin resistence and/or poor insulin response?

    • Thanks Sebastian! Glad you liked the article.

      Drop your carbs to .75g/lb and load 40% of them in your post-workout meal. If you still have issues at this amount, go down to .5g/lb and try again. Just takes some tinkering to find what works best.

      • Sebastian

        Okay I will try that! Should I up the proteins though? Kind of afraid of getting hungry at such low carbs per pound.

        • Keep your protein between 1.2-1.5g/lb and up your fats to fill the hole left by the carb reduction.

          Low-carb is interesting in that you won’t necessarily feel HUNGRY, but you’ll crave carbs, heh. But you may not if you don’t have to go below .75g/lb…

  • Mike, your books and articles are very informative-to the point and actionable. Putting them to use tracking with Jefit and Lose it. Great new website. I would highly recommend your material to others. Keep up the great work.

    • Thanks Joe! I’m really glad you like my work. That’s great you’re starting the program as well. BLS I assume?

      And thanks for spreading the word! I appreciate your support.

      Let me know if you have any questions I can answer!

  • I cycle my carbs 2 days high 3 days med 2 days low. This has worked for me I have a physical job and train 4/5 days at the gym and have been able to lose weight and build strength and size

    • That’s a good way of doing it. I assume you use your off days for low carb?

    • Cristina

      i may try this…

    • Michael Matthews

      Great! I’m not really into carb cycling but I’m glad you’re liking it.

  • Vicky D

    I am hypoglycemic and I am having a hard time dropping the last 8 pounds to my goal. My insulin level spikes 3 hours after I eat and brings down my insulin which makes me hungry again. I do eat every 3 hours to control this. I have talked to trainers at the gym and a dietician and everyone has a different idea which is confusing. I’ve tried to drink a protein shake in the morning with almonds which was not enough and made me hungry and shaky after a short time. The thought was that I wasn’t getting enough protein. I also do a different shake after weight lifting which contains carbs also and is specifically for muscle repair. When I replace the almonds with an apple and used milk instead of water in the morning shake I felt much better. I do weights 3-4 days a week and cardio 3-4 days a week. I am female and naturally muscular for a girl. I am only 5ft 2 in and 42 years old. Of course the old tricks aren’t working anymore. I definitely need carbs to control the insulin. Please do you have any ideas of a diet that would work. The dietician just gave me the textbook diet for everyone and the trainer was into the high protein low carb which wasn’t enough carbs to keep me going.

    • Hey Vicky,

      Thanks for the comment!

      Losing the last bit of fat will just be an issue of working out a proper amount of food to eat each day (total calories). The schedule that you eat on and the amount of carbs you eat won’t make a difference, really. If you need to eat carbs every 3 hours, that’s totally fine.

      Are you familiar with how to work out a proper meal plan for weight loss?


      • Vicky D

        No I’m not. If you could tell me how that would be great. The dietician just gave me the usual food pyramid sheet and a book she gives to hospital patients she puts on diets. I already am a healthy eater and I got no new information. I had a metabolic assessment which said i needed 1750 calories to maintain and should cut it by500 calories to lose. That is where I got the dieticians name from but she didnt even look at the metabolic assessment. I just need something that will work for someone thats told their doing all the right things but knows there is something I am missing. Thanks for any help you can give me.

        • Oh okay, no problem. I can help out.

          Something around 1200 calories for weight loss sounds right, but to be sure, I’ll need to know your weight.

          • Vicky D

            5’2″ 137lbs A couple of weeks ago my body fat was 33%

          • Okay cool want to shoot me an email? I have some more questions about your previous diets and such. Want to make sure we can figure it out properly.

        • Michael Matthews

          Ah okay. Yeah scrap the dietician’s advice.

          The place to start with weight loss is as follows:

          1.2 grams protein per pound per day
          1 gram carb per per pound per day
          .2 grams fat per pound per day

          That will put you in about a 20% caloric deficit every day (give or take, depending on metabolism, genetics, etc.), which is perfect for weight loss.

          You adjust this up or down based on how your body responds to it.

          I would actually highly recommend that you read my book, Thinner Leaner Stronger, as it lays out really everything you need to know in terms of training and diet to reach your goals…

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  • Ray

    I am 35 yrs old and fairly new to the fitness realm. Just last year I started the Paleo diet and weightlifting. I lost tremendous amount of weight. I met a girl whos a trainer and she started nagging about my carb intake. I told her I was doing fine with no carbs. But I decided to add them. I felt a difference right away in my workouts. But I do get a little gassy and now have a twitch in my eye (which probably isn’t related to that). Lol! But I started reading your articles and im learning so much! I still have TONS to learn! Carbs, fats, proteins and so many other things. Keep up the great work! Any advice u can give to this rookie would be greatly appreciated!

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job on your weight loss!

      Haha regarding the gassiness, it might be related to the carbs. Maybe you could try a few different sources?

      Not sure about the eye twitch. 🙂

      Thanks regarding my work! I’m really glad you’re liking it.

      Honestly my best advices for a newbie are in my book Bigger Leaner Stronger. It lays out everything you need to know about training and diet to build muscle and lose fat effectively, and makes it VERY simple. Flexible training and flexible dieting.

      • Aidan Cook

        Twitch in the eye can be coffee, stress or lack of sleep. I get it too 😉

  • Steve

    Hi Mike
    I was actually going to email you about this subject to see what your opinion was on it. Ive got all your books and thoroughly enjoy them. I done the BLS program for a while and loved it. I read gary taubes book and im trying a low carb diet at the minute the fat seems to have melted off me but my strength has dropped considerably. Its starting to pick up a bit now after 2 months of doing hiit and crossfit but I no longer get any crashes or slumps and im never hungry once im down to my goal body fat level im going to slowly increase my carbs and start BLS again to build strength and muscle. My rule of thumb with carbs is I use them as fuel depending on what my particular goal is that day.
    Loved this article by the way it was exactly what I was waiting for.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Steve!

      Great job on your weight loss. I’m positive you can lose weight easily without going low-carb, but it’s up to you.

      Yeah strength goes to shit because your glycogen levels become chronically low.

      I like your goal of adding carbs back in once you hit your goal, and to get rolling again on BLS at that time.

      Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • Dauri Pallas Kowitz

    You are brilliant! What you post makes so much sense and is in keeping with what seems to work for me.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Dauri! 🙂

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  • Josey

    Hey Mike!

    I’m loving all the articles you’ve been posting. They’re so informative! I’ve been working out consistently and eating healthier for almost two years now. I went through 3 cycles of P90X and about 4 or 5 cycles of Insanity and I’m currently doing my first cycle of Insanity: The Asylum. I noticed throughout Insanity that I gained definition and strength but not at the rate I would’ve liked. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t eat anywhere near the amount of calories I should especially with what those workouts demand.

    Since I started reading your articles I’ve started eating a lot more these past few days and holy cow! What a difference! I wake up in the morning not feeling bloated and heavy but lean and light! I couldn’t believe that eating more actually gave me faster results and that’s just within a few days! I can’t wait for Thinner, Leaner, and Stronger and The Shredded Chef to arrive. I’m so excited to learn more about eating the RIGHT WAY.

    Also, I have a friend who is currently on a low carb diet. I informed her that the “better” carbs to have are fruit and veggie ones rather than starches. I think most people immediately think of bread when they hear the word “carbs” or “carbohydrates” and she’s one of them. Is there any truth to the veggie/fruit carbs vs starchy ones? She was born without a thyroid, do you think this article still applies?

    • Michael Matthews

      Hi! Thanks on the articles!

      Yup diet can be really counter-intuitive like that. I’ve worked with MANY women that couldn’t lose weight until they started eating more. It’s pretty fascinating. Would make a good blog post actually *makes note*.

      Thanks for picking up my books. Lemme know what you think!

      Regarding the carbs, there’s nothing wrong with starchy carbs. The only types of carbs you want to generally avoid are the high-GI processed junk that has no nutrition.

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  • dlinker

    So you´re saying Dr. Lustig´s research (http://youtu.be/h0zD1gj0pXk) is false? He basically says a calorie is NOT a calorie and hormonal response makes the difference.
    As for the mentioned different responses to low carb diet. Couldn´t it be explained by blood groups and their preference to carbs/proteins? Or is the bood group diet another myth?

    • Michael Matthews

      No I’m not saying all of Lustig’s research is false, but some of it is wrong, yes. What he’s correct about is too much fructose=problems in the body.

      A calorie IS a calorie when we’re talking about weight loss and gain. You can predispose yourself to storing more fat by eating, let’s say, a ton of carbs and fat and no protein, BUT ONLY if you put your body into a positive energy balance.

      Unfortunately the blood type diet is without good scientific evidence.


      It’s backed by a bunch of anecdotal and “private” scientific research that has not gone through the peer review and publication process. I would ignore it.

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  • Osher Barda

    The 3-month result isn’t surprising, considering the fact that reducing carbohydrate intake decreases the amount of glycogen we store in our liver and muscles, which in turn decreases total body water retention. This, of course, causes a rapid drop in weight that has nothing to do with burning fat (and anyone that has reduced carbohydrate intake as a means of cutting calories for weight loss has experienced this).——– I don’t understand this part of the article. I mean I understand what you said but why would lo

    • Michael Matthews

      No, fat loss requires a caloric deficit. You can read about it here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-quickest-way-to-lose-weight/

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  • jenn75

    Mike! Thank you so much for this. The past three years I have gained around 35lbs. Prior I ate a low fat high carb diet and was the fittest I have been ( curvy by nature) I began working with people who owned a fitness center and condemed me for my eating habits. I slowly began a low carb lifestyle. Over time I began gaining and in a last ditch effort to regain my self esteem and prior healthy wait, I gave Atkins a try. 6weeks in induction accompanied by headaches depression and a even more bothersome feeling of disappointment! ( not 1lb lost) about 1400-1600 cal a day , I’ve had my thyroid checked 2 times in the past 2 years ( both negative) and will attempt again do so again on tues. This article has really given me some hope! Maybe Ill give my old eating habits another go and see how my body responds. I’d love more info if available. Thanks so much.

  • Heather

    Hi mike. I have been eating paleo for about 4 years and while its helped me reach some fitness goals, its literally made me scared of carbs. I feel the only time i ‘deserve’ carbs is after a very intense workout. I dont eat them in fear they will make me store fat. You make really good points about why carbs wont make you store fat, so my question to you is this. I workout 3 times a week, two weightlifting days and one sprinting day. Should i only increase my carbs on those days i’m working out or is it okay to have higher carbs on my rest days? I dont ever count my macroa because with a paleo diet they tell you you dont need to as long as their paleo approved, but i probably never do more than 75 carbs a day, and lower on rest days. Sometimes i have more energy than others so i cant help but wonder if my low carb consumption is the issue.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for commenting Heather!

      Carbs are definitely not your enemy, but yes going higher carb on training days and lower carb on off days is totally fine.

      Remember though that total caloric intake matters, regardless of what the Paleo gurus say. If you eat too many calories too regularly, you WILL gain fat, regardless of where they come from.

      Yes, carb intake dramatically affects energy levels, especially in your workouts.

      • The Swiss Miss

        I suspect that for people with incredibly low body fat percentages, carbs would be essential for energy in a workout, however, for those of us who do have a small store, when we work out, our bodies simply tap into it for more energy. Perhaps that is the diffence as to why some people do well with less carbs than others…? Especially women?

        • Michael Matthews

          From the research I’ve read, some people’s bodies just oxidize fats better than others. The better the body can do this, the better it can use fat–both body fat and dietary fat–for energy.

          Ironically research has shown that women don’t oxidize fats as well as men.

  • lubilux

    How can Gary Taubes’ theories be scientifically bankrupt? He actually does not even have any theories, he just points out the literature and let the reader decide without imposing any kind of diet or lifestyle. His research is just marvellous and deserves huge respect. It is quite impolite of you to show his picture to support your “theory” about him since there is no relation between what he says and how his body looks like. I did read 2 of your books and I am currently reading his book. Many stuff are in parallel. You sound like you have no idea about his claims. You are just losing credits by attacking him.

    • Michael Matthews

      Oh man, I’ll dig up a couple interviews of his if you’d like where he’s just going off on carbs and how insulin is the enemy and causes weight gain, etc.

      Taubes USED to do great work but sold out.

  • The Swiss Miss

    I eat a high fat low carb diet most of the time and feel absolutely fine. I go to the gym 2 – 3 times a week and work out for about 45 minutes. I rarely do cardio. I’m a 6′ tall, female and weigh 73kgs, which is about right for my height and medium build. My calories will regularly exceed 3500 in a day but I do not gain fat. However, if I were to eat the same calorific amount in carbs/glucose, I would be dragging my butt around like mud flaps… lol So for me, the low carb high fat approach works best, if I eat something sugary or a plate of pasta, it makes my stomach cramp and bloat and I see the insides of a toilet cubicle far more frequently in a day that I would really like to!

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s great! Yes, 3500 calories of carbs per day would be insane, lol.

      Regarding the pasta, it sounds like you may have a gluten intolerance.

  • Jake

    Have you reviewed Dr. Perlmutter’s finding in Grain Brain? Overall weight loss by deficit of overall caloric intake frees people up to go either way. But what about what carbs do to the brain? The fact that nearly all wheat products are vastly different than those of 100 years ago due to genetic modification. What about the FDAs reccomendation of a 60% intake of carbs in the 70s corresponding with the explosion of obesity and inset of a plethora of chronic health issues?
    I’m just trying to keep facts straight.

    • Michael Matthews

      No I haven’t but I’m familiar with the research on the general quality of wheat here in the States, and from what I can tell, it’s completely valid.

      The run-of-the-mill wheat products are completely garbage. Personally I only eat whole-wheat grain products from companies like Food for Life.

      Remember that the obesity epidemic has many variables. It’s very hard, if not impossible, to point to one dominant point of causation.

      • Jake

        Thanks for the response! Ever since I read through all your books, got on a meal plan, and started the Year One Challenge(in week 13), I’ve been hooked on learning more about nutrition and exercise. It is easy for a novice like me to get turned around. Just wanted to see if you had read his book yet. I don’t want to lead my family I’m the wrong direction when it comes to something like diet.

        Thanks as always!

        • Michael Matthews


          Awesome man I’m really glad you’re doing well. Keep up the good work and feel free to run anything else by me!

  • Jem

    Hello! I just want to comment because I’ve seen so many different articles and such regarding macronutrients and weight issues. It is true that each one of us is different. Are you familiar with Eastern medicines, especially Ayurveda? That would be interesting for you to at least look at as it is ancient and even back then there was much emphasis on different foods, in different amounts, for different people (as well as the times, location, etc…as all influences everything). With that aside, I have the opposite problem in terms of weight: I need to gain. While I have had a history with an eating disorder, I don’t exactly have it as I did years ago (restricting extremely while exercising extremely, as well as obsessing about everything all the time). Now, my issue is exercising but not consuming enough energy for it. I feel that I have become afraid of carbs, especially since I do keep them under 300 grams although I enjoy strength-training intensely. I’m a vegetarian and am almost certain I’ve been consuming too much protein (ironic for most to hear) which has also made it difficult for me to gain (body using the protein as fuel instead of rebuilding due to not enough carbs?). Well, my question is, how do I go about gaining this weight? I admit I am somewhat afraid, as I don’t want a lot of fat gain. I’m still unsure as to what a good combination of nutrients is for my body. I’ve tried being intuitive about it for months and I still am either tricked by my everyday mind or am overthinking/worrying about it. Thanks if you can respond!

    • Michael Matthews


      I’m familiar with Ayurvedic medicine but I haven’t looked into it in depth.

      It sounds like you’re eating plenty of course. If you’re having trouble gaining weight, it’s probably because your total daily calories are too low, and/or your protein intake is too low.

      Generally speaking, here’s a good macro breakdown:

      30-40% of daily calories from protein, 30-40% from carbs, 20-30% from fats.

      How you’re training also matters, of course. If you’re not training properly, you won’t build much muscle…

      I talk about all this and more in book Thinner Leaner Stronger. You might like it!

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /books/thinner-leaner-stronger/

  • Christian P

    Yet another eye opening article. thanks mike, i mix my food up as much as possible so i don’t get bored, having said that i stick to a very similar food stuffs intake at work and it works very well luckily for me i love a lot of what is considered health food like weight watchers squeeze and stir soups for lunch for a just add hot water food source i rate them very highly to anyone, also those oat so simple porridge pots inexpensive and porridge man is just all good.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Christian! Yup, I eat the same stuff every day as well but mix up my veggie and fruit intake here and there. Simple and it works. 🙂

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  • Adam Clancey

    Hi Mike,

    First let me say, I’ve recently read Bigger Leaner Stronger and it’s by far the best book I’ve ever read on fitness and nutrition (and I’ve read a lot). Finally somebody who backs up every point by citing a study. Also, I’ve dabbled in intermittent fasting and it’s good to finally find somebody that agrees that there is no link to metabolism and meal frequency!!!

    I’ve just ordered Thinner Leaner Stronger for my girlfriend. She’s in good shape but toils away with the solid state cardio every time she’s in the gym.

    This article (and similar advice in BLS) is very pleasing to read. I’ve tried to stick to paleo 3 times and every time throw in the towel after a month. Your book is giving me the confidence to say I won’t be wasting my time with that anymore.

    Quick question, I’m currently cutting based on the macro levels in the book. Obviously to maintain muscle I don’t want to drop the protein and fats, but is it okay to occasionally steal calories from my carbs to have extra protein i.e. have 20g less carbs and 20g more protein on the occasional day?

    I’m guessing after reading this article that it’s fine as far as bodyfat loss is concerned, but are there any other things to consider?

    Thanks in advance for your response.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Adam, I really appreciate it!

      I hope your GF enjoys TLS. You two could lift together! 🙂

      I totally understand on the Paleo point. It can be hard to get enough carbs, and that gets really old when you’re lifting heavy weights regularly.

      Hmm you could shift carbs for protein but I wouldn’t because the carbs will help keep you strong. You don’t need more protein…

      Let me know what you think!

      • Adam Clancey

        Thanks for your response, I’ll stick with the set macros then.

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! Cool, let me know how it goes.

  • George Edwards

    Paleo isn’t a fad diet no matter how much you attempt to label it as such. Also, paleo is macro neutral. Getting rid of gluten and other junk is fine by me. I’ve lost 90 lbs in 4 months while preserving and building muscle on a , fat-adapted approach, bit that’s just me.

    • Michael Matthews

      I think Paleo MARKETING is very faddish, but yes, it’s actually a healthy way to eat. I talk about it here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-definitive-guide-to-the-paleo-diet/

      Great job on your weight loss, that rocks. Keep it up.

  • George Edwards

    Oh, and… Thanks for the chest workout advice on other blog posts. Heard you in a podcast on golden ratios.

    • Michael Matthews

      My pleasure! Thanks for stopping by and commenting! 🙂

  • Jonny Souter

    Hey Mike, another great post. What would be your staple carb sources on either a muscle-gaining diet or shredding diet? I’ve been eating lots of sticky white rice lately, mostly post-workout, but am wondering if I should substitute it.
    Thanks a lot.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Jonny! Carbs I like most:

      Fruit (all kinds)

      Veggies (all kinds)

      Brown rice


      Sweet potato

      White potato

      Ezekiel bread

      White rice is okay, it’s just high GI which means you wouldn’t want to eat a bunch of it every day, especially if it’s not part of a mixed meal.

      • Jonas

        Is it better to have your load of carbs before training to fuel your or after training to refill your glygocenstores?
        Or doesnt it matter at all ? ( are you still fueled for your workout if you have your cabs the evening before training with the meal after training on that day?)

        • Michael Matthews

          Have about 30-50 grams before and about 30% of your daily carbs after lifting.

  • Aidan Cook

    Mike, it was said to me over dinner one evening that we should eat certain foods and avoid others based on our blood type. Do you have any theories or science on this? I wondered if this may be linked to high/low carb diets working for different people.

  • Horacio Lupi

    Hi Mike,

    Really love your articles. Valuable info and very well documented.

    In this case I find there is something missing. I’ve gone throuh Taubes books and he is far from what your idea of his work is IMHO.

    He continiously stresses the fact that the carbs you need to limit in order to stay away from obessity are the high GI industrial CH. As far as I could understand (I admit my english is not good enough tho) it’s not a point of CH yes or no. It’s more a “forget about industrial CH and starch (you know, sugar, non whole rice, cereals and so on)

    I may be wrong, but I find very similar ideas in many cases between your work and his,

    Thanks for your gret writings!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much!

      While Taubes does make valid points, they’re sprinkled among all kinds of falsehoods and oversimplifications. This is true of his books and interviews he does.

      Unless he’s changed his tune recently, he’s very anti-carb in general and will say things like “eating carbohydrates makes you fat.”

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  • Pam

    I cut out carbs now for 3 weeks, I feel fantastic, no bloating, gas and sleepiness after eating. However I have been going to the gym 4 days a week, I have only lost 0ne pound, I thought the weight loss process would be quicker, but I do feel better.

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s great! Keep it up.

  • António

    Hi Mike!

    My diet follows your plan and therefore has carbs, but when I eat them I feel like I am doing the wrong thing because mark from marksdailyapple is constantly telling us about how bad carbs are, and apparently even brown rice is bad.
    I so a video that said that it’s ok to eat something like parboiled rice instead of brown rice since both are eventually turned in to sugar. Eating white rice with perhaps occasionally brown rice would be much more convenient for me!

    Will I die sooner from eating carbs ? haha 🙂 (funny, but serious question)

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the comment!

      I generally like what Sisson is doing but disagree with the Paleo dogma:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-definitive-guide-to-the-paleo-diet/

      You’ll be fine eating healthy carbs. I give ideas here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /guide-to-vitamins-and-minerals/

  • DevilDevine

    Great article Mike, I found the site recently and am learning a lot. Ordered the book as well:) one q, i am prob lactose intollerant and am having a tough time meeting my protein demands especially without cottage cheese ect, is it ok to have more carbs instead, especially fruits & veg? Thanks for sharing all this info btw.

  • DevilDevine

    Great article Mike, i found this site recently and am learning a lot! Ordered the book too:) one q, I have a suspect that I am Lactose intollerant and if so will be having trouble getting the daily protein requirments especially on the go (cottage cheese has come in handy so far), would I be able to deal more carbs and slightly less protein especially from fruits&veg? According to my bodyweight(61kgs) I have 1441 calories daily (544 from carbs,653 from proteins and 244 from fat). My goal is to loose some more bodyfat and gaining muscle since I am a beginner. Thanks for sharing tall this info with us btw!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! I really appreciate it!

      You’ll do fine we can just work around it. Shoot for at least .8 grams pro per pound but closer to 1 g/lb would be best. And for sources you can eat meat, grains, eggs, veggies, legumes, etc.

      What do you think?

      • DevilDevine

        I think that sounds cool!love my carbs especially the fruits and veg so its a relief to know that I can adjust accordingly. Will let you know as I go along:) thanks for replying. Tc

        • Michael Matthews

          Me too! Great stay in touch brother.

  • Athelred Davis

    The military never concerned itself with telling soldiers what to eat; it was up to the individual to learn what was optimal for them given operating tempo, environment, homeostasis interference, etc. Anyone that’s been through some tough courses learns quickly, total calorie deficit is why you lose weight…activity wins every time. But they do punish the fat bodies for getting cake and ice cream!

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha thanks for the comment!

  • Kathi Sersich Kernan

    My carbs only come from vegetables and some berries. I feel horrible if I ear other sources. Lost 85 pounds

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job on the weight loss and it sounds like you know what your body likes most, so keep it up!

  • Andros

    So is it possible to lose fat eating pure ice cream daily? as long as you still eat less calories than you burn per day?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup. Not healthy, but you would lose weight (you would lose muscle too as you could never get enough protein from ice cream alone).

  • KimPossible

    Kim age 42
    i have been cycling 45 mins a day and eating properly and doing the usn body make over work out for about 30 mins a day for almost two months now and yet no weight loss, i do see the muscles on my stomach, my six pack is peeking through and my upper arms look good but surely i should have some weight loss, what am doing wrong???

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm if you’re LOOKING leaner, you’re losing fat. You could be adding muscle, or your muscles could be storing more water or glycogen, which offsets the weight lost.

      Are you looking leaner?

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  • Adviya

    Have you read or know about the Blood Type diet?! I bet you are blood type ‘A’ (same as me, the + – doesn’t matter). It explains why some people do well on carb vs. protein diets and so on. The book is called Eat right 4 Your Type, and it’s written by Dr. D’adamo, a naturalpath doctor. If you have time it’s definetly worth looking into. The guy is amazing, just like you 😀 (straight forward, no bs, backed by scientific research, and it works)

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  • Buffet

    Wow. Thanks for clearin’ that up man. I’ve been training since the era of Arnold, Franco, Lou, etc. and have always had success with a low carbohydrate contest diet – just as they always did.
    At many contemporary expert’s urgings I tried the other way, more than once, to be fair. I figured if it worked for a dry, ripped monster like Branch Warren and numerous others, it’s gotta work for me, right? WRONG! Each and every time it not only failed miserably, but I thought I must be a nut.
    They all said Arnold and the gang were doin’ it all wrong. I must be a genetic anomaly??
    Now, after reading what you said above, I realize we fall into seperate categories.
    Whew. What a relief!
    Your unbiased approach to this shit is refreshing. Keep up the good work man.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks man! Enjoy the carbs! They aren’t the enemy. 🙂

  • Dave

    Thanks for the article Mike! I’m one of those who thrives on a lower carb diet. I do take a meal or two to uptake larger quantities of carbs for cycling but most of the time, I stay fairly low and use them around my workouts (pre-post). It is interesting how different people respond to different macros and this helps explain things a bit more.

    • Michael Matthews

      My pleasure! That’s great. Keep it up!

  • Joanna

    Hi Mike,
    great post.
    I was wondering though – if you had noticed higher tolerance for carbs with increasing exercise or increasing exercise intensity.
    Or if you felt that some people would have to cut carbs as well as doing intense exercise to see a difference in fat loss.

    And have you noticed that people have a higher tolerance for carbs as they get leaner or after a period of low carbing. Just wondering about whether people can change their level of carb tolerance.


    • Michael Matthews

      Exercise improves insulin sensitivity so yes, it does help with carb tolerance.

      Low-carb doesn’t really become relevant until you’re lean and wanting to get REALLY lean. Then it can matter for some people.

      Yes, being leaner also improves insulin sensitivity.

  • Cristina

    Hey, thanks for this post. I am losing weight so easily now. I eat every 2 hours or 3 and i realized I wasn’t having a enough protein. I seem to lose it completely from head to toe when I lose weight not only on one spot. So to get abs I get thin and hate it. Someone told me to get my carbs and protein intake up to gain mass back and build muscle, but i want abs! any advice what to take or eat in this situation. I don’t want to bulk and look fluffy summer is coming. I been eating more this week ,but I want to plan to maybe carb cycle …I haven’t done cardio for the same reason i was losing it compeltely….

  • marsa

    hi mike,
    I want to know about post-work out food for both women who want to lose fat and some who want to build their muscles.
    thanks and have nice day.

  • rubagreta

    Baloney. If you cut out sugar (including fruit juices and sugary yogurt) and bad carbs (bread, pasta, rice, chips, cookies), join a gym or walk 20 minutes a day, and eat eggs, low-fat cuts of beef, and fish and chicken (not fried), you will lose weight. Want to stay fat? Have a breakfast that consists of orange juice with cereal, a bagel or pancakes and you will stay fat. Eat lots of pasta with bread and you will stay fat.

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  • Dj Fabrizia

    Very interesting Mike, you put much more carbs than I used to eat in my diet and I was worried to change after a long lowcarb diet discipline. I feelso much better after reading this!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Trust me, you’ll do just fine with carbs.

  • SmoothSP

    Hey Mike quick question on certain carbs, if i eat primarily rice as my source of carbs is there a benefit to eating white rice or brown rice? I do intermintent fasting 16/8 so I only eat twice a day, pre workout and post workout. Is there any benefit or negative aspect to either as far as gaining muscle and especially losing fat or would either one affect perfomance in gym positive or negative? Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Brown rice has more nutrients and is lower on the GI (which matters more for overweight, sedentary people than lean, active people, but it’s worth mentioning). Cool on the IF and 2 meals.

      There’s new research that indicates that eating protein every few hours actually does help build more muscle in the long run, actually. I guess we’ll have to see what else comes out of it…

      • Guest

        Hi Mike, could you update us with the results of this research you mentioned?

        • Michael Matthews

          Nothing new, really. There’s a single study I know of…

  • chuck

    Interesting discussion. I think it might be useful to distinguish between complex carbs (White potato, sweet potato, whole grain brown rice) versus carbs that are composed of refined sugars and/or flour. I have been on a diet that eliminates the latter and allows the former for two meals a day, and includes intermittent fasting (no breakfast except for water, black coffee most days) and have lost weight relatively easily.

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  • Melissa

    Great post!! Low carb definitely works better for me as my body has never taken well to a lot of carbohydrates, to the point where I stopped eating big servings of carbs way before I even embarked on my weight loss and fitness journey! However.. My main struggle is finding the balance. It is a given fact your body (and my body) needs carbs but I struggle to work out the right amount in regards to weight loss. I had fantastic results after 3 months on a very low carb diet but then I filled out a little after I stopped even though my carb intake was still very low.. I’m now struggling to slim down to where I want to be without cutting out as many carbs as I did the first time!

    • Michael Matthews


      Hmm what are your current stats? Weight and body fat %?

      • Melissa

        Thanks again for the reply! I have only just seen it. I’m 5’7 and very active (a professional dancer). I dropped from 68kg to 54kg in a space of about 18 months, then gained a fair bit of muscle (as well as fat) over about a year and I’m now back to 60kg. I did not change my diet dramatically when this happened. I quite strongly believe it is more muscle weight than fat weight but I am no where near where I want my body to be. Since writing this post I have increased my HITT and have seen a bit of slow progress but I am still STRUGGLING to loose that stubborn fat! I eat very healthy as a lifestyle choice but have dropped back to eating quite low carb, which I know is bad but am struggling to find another way to see progress. Last time my body fat % was tested I think was mid 20’s (can’t remember the exact amount) and that was about 4 months ago. I would be interested to seek more advice from you!:) x

  • albundy

    You start with nothing wrong with carbs/as long as calorie deficient argument backed up by research yet at the end of your article you have a “through observation” disclaimer referring vaguely to undeniable scientific facts why carbs won’t work in some people ie insulin resistance or carb intolerance. Yes this can possibly be fixed but until then carbs will simply make things worse and is Not cool for certain people. I personally believe our ancestors around the globe adapted to various food sources and through globalisation heading into trouble, we are not all the same. But once again, an excellent article.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks, but read the “exception” section again, and go check out the papers (not the abstracts–the full papers). I’m very clear about the exceptions to the rule.

      Really poor insulin sensitivity and response = you probably will do better on low-carb. This isn’t most people though.

      • albundy

        well, if you stay in a gym all day then you won’t see all the fat poeple struggling daily with this. Going to Eastern europe you simply don’t see fat poeple yet in the west and western diet exported populations we see huge problems. Poeple eat, get insulin spike, 2hours laters suffer from low blood sugar and driven to eat again never mind leptin resitance issues and dopamine/addictive issues. We eat to train, not train to eat. If you youtube freelee the banana girl, she has insane amounts of carbs, and there is your proof, but I would say many many poeple suffer from this to varying degrees.

        • Michael Matthews

          Anecdotal observations like these are flawed, but you can believe what you want.

          The banana girl is ridiculous. What a horrible way to eat.

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  • Ketosis911

    This is a very interesting article with strong research.It is a very smart approach to weight loss and muscle gain.

    But to be honest, losing 5.25 pounds a week is better than 1-2…if you need to lose some serious chunk. 20g net carb, fiber, water, and a nice walk every now and then.

    Yes, it is possible to lose 41 pounds in 60 days on Atkins without exercise. Just don’t treat it as a diet. Treat it as a lifestyle. Educate yourself. Read labels. When you reach your goal, throw carbs back in but just watch your proportions, throw in some excercise and boom…….you just go that much more confident in the bedroom!

    Very interesting article, though!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! If all you care about is a number going down, sure, but just remember you’re not losing 5+ pounds of FAT per week. And you’re going to feel pretty shitty with no carbs if you try to exercise at all.

      Keto is hard to look at as a lifestyle IMO.

      • Ketosis911

        I do not think that Ketosis should be looked at as a lifestyle either. What I mean is that I think the monitoring of carbohydrate intake should be part of the everyday life. As I am sure everyone knows, an intense Ketosis diet that lasts for too long can and will result in a coma. Granted you would have to refrain from carbohydrates for an exceedingly long amount of time before that could happen, but still…

        In saying that, it is given that our bodies need carbohydrates to remain healthy-not to mention for the sake of energy and exercise.

        For the people who are looking to trim down and develop toned muscle, Mike, your information here is perfect. However, concerning people who need to lose about 40 lbs or more, I personally recommend starting with Ketosis. Nevertheless, Atkins should always be abandoned when you get close to your goal. Then, what you have here is a great method to adopt, mostly because Atkins does not benefit the muscular system.

        Once you reach your goal, and if you are exercising, it is really all about the proportions. Just don’t be a voracious eater, don’t oscillate between healthy weeks and unhealthy weeks, because the unhealthy weeks always win. And most importantly,exclude pizza, soda, and heavy beer from your daily diet!

        Good shit, Mike!

        • Michael Matthews

          You can definitely use keto under those circumstances but it’s not necessary if the person is willing to exercise regularly, and is really going to suck if they lift weights regularly…

          • Ketosis911

            That is where the Ketogenics go wrong. They don’t want to exercise. They don’t want to lower the fats and calories. This is usually why they shoot back up.

            When I did my 70 day Atkins diet, I lost 51 pounds. (18 years old, went from 241-190), then switched to watching calories and fats, lost 5 more pounds(I am still there two years later).

            Why did this work for me? Because unlike other Ketogenics, I did two sessions of cardio a day, (50 minutes in morning, 20 minutes at night). I lifted weights every other day, I ate only 1800-2000 calories a day. I didnt embrace the consumption of eating fats. And I fought the minute amount of fatigue.

            You do lose energy and your body does react strangely to ketosis, but that doesn’t give anyone an excuse to eat all they want and not exercise.It’s discipline. In some parts of Liberia, young children eat a half a cracker a day, on a good day. They run vigorously around their open areas, hunting for food. If they can exercise on their diet, then Ketogenics can too. A diet that says, “You don’t have to work out, eat all you want” is just a horrible idea. Yeah it may help you lose weight, but how do you keep that weight off? What did you learn? Did you gain weight from carbs or from lack of exercise and fattening foods(hint-hint, it wasn’t from the carbs)? And that is why I support your view.

            That and, well, bread tastes pretty damn good

          • Michael Matthews

            I totally agree. Great job on your weight loss BTW.

          • Ketosis911

            The weight loss would not have maintained itself if wasn’t for the abandonment of Atkins. Great article. I will read it again if I notice my cardigan buttons getting tighter

          • Michael Matthews

            Haha sounds good brother

          • Ketosis911

            Also Mike,

            I have a brother who cut down recently on ketosis. Unlike me, he didn’t watch his calories or fats, nor did he lift weights. He looks pretty good but he has some excess flab on his pecs. I usually just did push-ups. What is a real quick, simple way to tone the chest without a gym membership or any fitness equipment?


          • Michael Matthews
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  • Ashk

    Definitely a low carb guy, even with a calorie deficit , if i have high carbs i’d lose weight, but muscle not fat, its a horrible fact but thanks to tthis post, i now know that carbs are not always that good, even for iifym

    • Michael Matthews

      That might be related to how you train. Tons of reps and too much volume on the weights and too much cardio are the common mistakes.

  • Dizzy

    I started trying to lose weight around mid April. A couple weeks ago I joined a gym and I go every morning before work & exercise for a little over an hour. My hwp is way out of wack. I followed Joyce Vedral many years ago with great success (although I didn’t follow her high-carb diet).

    Then I came across your website. As far as carbs go, high carbs do not work for me. Weight gain is a problem in my family as is type-2 diabetes. Despite my weight, the doctor says my numbers are good. I just need to eat less, move more. So I am. I’m following your advice so far as the ratio of carbs/protein are concerned, but the formula to figure the daily calories is a little off for me. The calories are too high. I actually started to gain. I’m pretty sure I did the calculations correctly. I sit behind a desk all day so that doesn’t help.

    I do not think no-carb diets are good for you. We need our fiber and, I’m sorry, but fruits & veggies do not have enough fiber to replace things like bread and rice. I tried South Beach once & if you want to lose some quick weight and clean all the garbage out of your system that diet will work great. But it’s not a lifestyle I could live by and even though it allowed carbs, it didn’t allow enough.

    I believe you are spot-on when you say staying away from processed foods are key to a healthy diet. If it comes in a box, bag or can – toss it. There’s so much garbage in our foods today. It was just a couple years ago that Corn Refiners Association showed commercials advocating HFCS was the same as sugar. Now it’s in MSM how bad HFCS really is.

    Thanks for your website & I’m going to be buying some of your books soon as I figure out which ones to start with (I’m female). Any suggestions?

    • Michael Matthews

      Some people don’t do well with carbs, that’s true. But even that can be mitigated with regular exercise and especially regular weightlifting.

      Very true with the fiber.

      I agree that processed foods contain a lot of stuff that we don’t fully understand yet and it’s best to steer clear.

      Thanks a lot. I really appreciate the support. I think you should start with Thinner Leaner Stronger.

      • Dizzy

        How do you mitigate the bad effects with regular exercise? Is there anything special that should be done?

        • Michael Matthews

          Insulin sensitivity improves with exercise–both cardio and weightlifting. It happens automatically.

  • disqus_pqWyVehpdu

    Good post. I need some help. I am 5′ 97lbs, but skinny fat with 18-20% body fat. I’ve been trying for months to decrease body fat. Cut out processed foods, bread, pasta, and within the last month, I eliminated my low fat greek yogurt, berries and grapenuts. I’m eating tuna, chicken, broccoli, green beans, and cauliflower with garlic butter, and drink flavored water and coffee with half/half and stevia. Weight lifting 3-5x/wk (9-12lbs for most exercises; 25lbs for a few; either 3 supersets of 10-12 reps per exercise or 30s “turbo training” with 10s rest per exercise) and HIIT cardio or kickboxing x30 min 3-6x/wk. Sunday is my “cheat” day, when I have 2 whole grain bagels with butter, a danish and some times a pint of ice cream. Can you please help? I would like to expand my diet and see my abs again. Bulletproof coffee and intermittent fasting sucked and did not work. Thanks.

    • Michael Matthews


      Instead of cutting out foods you should make a proper meal plan:


      Cheat DAY is bad. You want to do one cheat MEAL per week.

      Put together a proper meal plan as explained in the above article and LMK how it goes!

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  • J

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve been having some issues figuring out my insulin sensitivity over the last few years, and wondering if you (or anyone) would mind throwing in an (educated) opinion. I use intermittent fasting and my post work out, fast breaking meals are usually around 150-200g of carbs and about 60-80g of protein. Usually I feel a tiny bit sluggish for a short period, and than I start to feel energized a bit later, and a bit hungry about 2 hours after the meal. I’m a relatively large guy, about 200 pounds and relatively lean. To put it in perspective, I’m 6’3 with a 33 inch waist. I’ve noticed that I tend to store a larger proportion of fat on my lower back and top of my glutes. To me, these all suggest low insulin sensitivity/low carb tolerance. However, a few days ago my buddy came in to town, and we routinely binge eat together. After several days of binging (never really feeling sluggish unless I stuffed myself), I ate a huge pancake breakfast with potatoes and 2 small eggs benedict. I felt amazing afterwords, I wanted to lift something heavy, my muscles felt like I just completed a full body workout (super pumped up) and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel like eating more… I felt satisfied. The latter incident could just be a one-off (n of 1), do you think there is another explanation?


  • Zain

    Good article. One thing though; building straw men and using ridicule with regards to the ‘opposition’ argument really undermines the ‘from-science’ perspective you claim to write from.

    I realise its use to grab attention – as you get in to the meat of the article this dies down – but it comes across as overly dismissive (even when justified to be as such) and weakens your credibility when subsequently making your own claims, whether or not they are grounded in fact).

    Otherwise, I’m enjoying your no-nonsense approach and effort to strip away the current BS.

    Just one mans perspective.


    • Michael Matthews

      I totally understand where you’re coming from but I REALLY don’t like the current anti-carbohydrate fad that’s used to sell bullshit books, pills, and other frauducts.

      • Zain

        Fair do’s actually, maybe they do need to be exposed to ridicule – the hype they’ve generated is both commendable and disconcerting.

        On a side note, I’m developing a software-based meal plan generator. Input goals, calorie/macro’s, lifestyle and a few other parameters (maybe budget in the future). Output is a fully customisable weekly meal plan with recipes, shopping lists etc.

        You might be interested in seeing more?


        • jazeer

          Oh so you’re trying to sell something…

          • Michael Matthews

            How dare he try to make money by offering a useful service!

        • Michael Matthews

          Sounds interesting! Yeah shoot me an email on it [email protected].

  • Tom

    Great article, Mike! Really glad I stumbled across your site – you seem to give great no-bulls**t advice… hard to come by these days.

    What is your stance on carb cycling while on IF?

    I found that on carb (workout) days I tend to get really sluggish after my post workout meal, which usually contains around 100-120g protein (chicken or turkey), 200g carbs (beans, sweet potato, lentils) and whatever fat is contained in the meat part. I tend to crash about an hour after that meal, pretty hard.

    On rest days I tend to break my fast with 100-120g protein (Salmon, steaks or mince), less than 30g carbs and about 100-120g fats (fatty meats, avocado, cheese, nuts, high fat quark). While I do not have that same initial content feeling I get with a high carb meal I do tend to keep that same focus and energy I had while in a fasted state.

    Do you reckon it would be a good idea to start cutting down on carbs all together? Or is the carb refeed every other day essential to keep going in the gym in the long run?

    I mainly do heavy compound movements 3-4 days a week and usually fast 18-20h every day. Lost around 30lbs in 4 months and am now sitting at around 10% BF while strength has gone down only very slightly.

  • Betancur12

    I took a dna test and came out that i need high fat and low carb diet, since then, i cut all type of carbs and stayed with natural that come from veggies and berries, still havent lost a pound, actually i gained two pounds in a week which is very frustrating, i have 25 lbs to lose, i do crossfit and i also breastfeed a 8 month old baby, i never cheat and i also log in everything i eat on my fitness pal, but still havent lost a gram 🙁 i really dont know what else to do…

  • Betancur

    My macros are 35 protein, 40 fat and 25 carbs i weigh 176, 5’7″ and i want to be at 150, i started working out 4 months ago and i started at the same weight, i do cf 3-5 per week, and i consume the calories that the app told me to

  • Sarah

    I eat 80/10/10, 80% carbs that is. I’m in love with it. I’ve never felt so energized & I eat as much as I want. Also maintaining 125 at 5’7″ while eating 2,600+ calories & running 3 miles a day. I really encourage you to look into the High carb-Low fat-Vegan movement (:

  • Bob

    My friend sent me your article, and although I’ve never counted calories in depth, I went to a website to see what my percentages were for carbs, fats, and proteins (I am a runner [usually 70+ miles a week]). I found it to be about 60-65% carbs (mostly healthy ones, like fruits, veggies, and grains), 15- 20% fats, and the rest as protein (mostly soy/plants). I have been 135-145 pounds since high school (I’m a 5’10 male), and could not even imagine life without carbohydrates. I, too, am sick of these fad diets and high protein/fat claims– I wonder how many of these people who claim they’re “life saving diets” maintain them for the rest of their lives as “lifestyle changes”. I don’t think apples and bananas made anyone obese, lol. Good article :).

  • Amy

    Hi Mike! I am a 40 year old female, 5’7″, 154, 25% bf. I had my gallbladder removed 6 years ago and gradually gained 18 lbs and bf went from about 16% to 25%. I’ve reduced weight and bf on super low cal diets combined with training (less than 1300 calls daily). I’ve had hormone issues over the last 3 years that isn’t helping. (I have a testosterone pellet now). I typically try to stay under 100 carbs a day. Right now, I am at 1550 cals, 30ish carbs, 100 grams protein and about 100 fat. I don’t have strength issues – I’ve started lifting heavier. I would like to be sub 20% bf to see my lower abs again. With low carb, I definitely have fewer digestive issues. My plan is to gradually increase my carbs to 75-100 daily, reduce fats to maybe 80 grams and get the rest from protein. Do you find that women do better/worse on low carb diets? I read a quip stating we do better, but I’m curious as to your thoughts on women, hormones and carbs…. Also, alcohol in the diet. I probably have 2 drinks/night 3-4x per week. I will cut back for a while, but the husband will make drinks, take me out, etc. to get me to add alcohol back into the diet (oddly, he isn’t a heavy drinker, used to be a bodybuilder and personal trainer….) . Thoughts??? TIA!

  • Wilson

    Hey Mike,
    Thanks for the article. After eating processed foods for years (hamburger buns, bagels, white rice, burrtio wraps) I got to the point where I could hardly do normal walking activities. It seemed I was eating out at least one meal a day and hardly cooking any vegetables. I recommended to take a two week fast from carbohydrates and Ive been eating just steaks, fish, ,chicken, green veggies, almonds, and avocados and stuff like that. I noticed in four days Ive already lost over 5 lbs of water weight. Also, while my brain and body feels foggy, I feel better and feel more active. I was never really acheiving higher in my worksouts and it had to be because of fast food and proecessed breads/tortillas.
    I was told that after the two weeks is up, just stick carbs on training days and eat stuff like brown rice and sweet potatoes. And on days you don’t workout, don’t eat carbs (of course I might have some carbs that come from fruits veggies).
    What do you think abou this.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Great job! I definitely recommend staying away from junk processed foods and focusing on nutritious foods that you prepare yourself.

      This will help you get a better idea of how much you want to be eating:


      • Wilson

        Thanks Mike, some great stuff on this website that I am going to have to check out over the weeks.

        And what is your personal opinion on cheat days? Ive heard some people say cheat meals are ok, others say it ruins all your hard work. And what is a cheat meal in your opinion? Ive heard some people say its eating unhealthy food like pizza or cheeseburgers, and Ive heard others say its adding an extra portion of chicken to their healthy lifestyle? Will a cheat meal really throw you off?

        • Michael Matthews


          Cheat day = horrible idea. You can easily undo a week’s worth of fat loss in one day.

          Cheat MEAL is okay. One per week and keep it moderate. No 3,000+ calorie meals and don’t drink a ton of alcohol. Ideally keep it high-protein and high-carb, not high-fat.

  • mylife84

    I eat a lot of grinded beef an chicken breast for dinner with bulgur or foodweat,oats. For breakfeast i have oatmealmand dark grain bread whit turkey, and for suppliments during the day i have homemade protienbars.

    does it seem ok too you, im trying too gain muscel and loose fat.

    also have suppliments such as green tee extract fatburner, and kreatin krealcryn.

  • Joshua

    Hey mike,
    My name is Josh im 6’4 238lbs and have been doin low cal diet for 5 months and have plateaued. Now im doing low to no carbs. I work out 2x a week for only 30 mins each session. I know it will suck but im shooting for 220lbs before I take back carbs for muscle gain. Im just trying to lose fat right now. Any advice?

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  • coreyv

    Hey Mike after reading your article I get just as u describe after eating a carb meal. Only after I workout or use intra carbs I don’t get the crash. My question is should I use any carbs pre-w/o? I usually don’t workout till 730-8pm at night

    • Michael Matthews

      I would do some carbs before working out, yes.

      What’s your body fat %?

  • Ash407

    Hi Mike, yet another great article. i think im pretty insulin resistant… but i definitely have a better work out when i have carbs. what type of macro profile would you set for insulin resistant people?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Why do you think you’re insulin resistant?

      • ash407

        Hi Mike, im no expert its just i carry alot of weight around stomach and hips but decent shape everywhere else. there is diabetes in the family aswell. what are your thoughts on 50p/30c/20f or increasing carbs on training days and lower on rest days thanks in advance.

  • SunniRed

    I lost 30 pounds on a keto diet, loved it. The foods were great, never felt hungry and kept doing crossfit and weight training throughout. Now returning to a more balanced approach, with increased protein and lower fat (still @ 30%) and keeping carbs around 20% seems to be a great balance for me. Others I know tried keto and hated it. I found it easy and not impacting my energy to workout after the first couple of weeks adjustment. I ate less than 30 carbs per day. Now I vary from 50-100 per day just to help accelerate some of my weight lifting goals. Seems to be working great. I did monitor my blood ketones which many don’t do and really helps

  • weiwei

    I find myself with a more low carb approach working better. I feel foggy and gross and overeat like mad when I eat too much carb, and I naturally eat a ton of fat. Incidentally, there’s diabetes in my family, so I have to wonder if we are as a group insulin resistance. Maybe all ppl with diabetes in their family benefit from low carb approach?

    • Michael Matthews

      No worries. If it works better for you then stick with it!

  • Diane Palomba

    sounds like I’m insulin senstive and should continue to focus on low carb. I recently purchased Thinner, Leaner, Stronger and the Shredded Chef and am putting together a diet and work out plan. Nutrition is where I struggle the most, so I hope this info helps.

  • Nikki

    I prefer to cycle my carbs, with one or two high carb days depending on how i feel especially in the gym. I find if I keep carbs high every single day I have a lot of blood sugar crashes which is never fun. So far I’ve dropped 8lbs and I’m slowly getting leaner with this approach and surprisingly stronger. Leg days are always more of a high carb day, I find thats when I really need them to get through my workouts. 🙂

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome! Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • Michelle

    Thank you for this informative post!

    I would like to ask if there is any way to determine whether high fat diet suits myself. High carbs definitely don’t suit me as I get all sleepy after my meals and I need a lot of carbs to feel slightly full. I am currently on a Low carb-high protein-low fat diet but I was thinking of trying a high fat diet as I’ve noticed that I tend to visit the washroom more often when my meals contain more fats than usual. Will that be a safe try?

    Thank you!

    • Michael Matthews


      Well you always want high-protein but it sounds like a breakdown of about 40% pro, 20-30% carb, and 30-40% fat would work well for you?

  • I need carbs… otherwise I get too tired!

    • Michael Matthews

      I love carbs 🙂

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  • Renee

    Is the food program in your book Thinner Leaner Stronger, high carb, low fat;
    low carb, high fat or a balance of both? I’m asking because I am insulin resistant. Thanks Mike.

    • Michael Matthews

      It’s higher carb and lower fat but you can adjust the macros if you need to. I do have people that adjust for lower carb.

  • I feel like I may store more carbs just a bit. Maybe just paranoid though. When I go lower in carbs have no energy or strength in the gym, so that’s not a good trade-off IMO. Will continue to experiment.

  • Joy McReynolds Bradford

    I am celiac and gluten free. About a year and a half ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. After a lot of trial and error with my diet, I have cut out all grains and most carbs except for non-starchy veggies. I was already gluten free, but when I dumped the grains, all my joint pain and inflammation went away. Potatoes make my joints hurt as well (I keep all nightshades to a minimum). I try to eat a low carb, moderate protein, high fat diet in general, as my body just does so much better. Sugar just about kills me, I hurt so bad, so I use sugar-free sweeteners in moderation … erythritol, stevia, and xylitol work okay, the fake ones give me joint pain. As long as I follow this diet, my fibromyalgia symptoms are GONE! I’ve lost 30 pounds over the last year, and have recently added HIIT on the treadmill plus heavy weights. I’m planning to add yoga after I lose another 20 pounds or so, as I need to increase my flexibility. I’m enjoying your website, you were my encouragement to take the plunge on the HIIT and heavy weights. Have you read Grain Brain? It’s by a neurologist who also has a degree in nutrition, and the research shows more and more that grains are terrible for our minds and bodies.

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s great Joy. I’m really glad to hear it. Keep up the good work!

      Yes I’ve heard of Grain Brain but haven’t read it.

      • Joy McReynolds Bradford

        Just wanted to add, I’m already keto-adapted, but I’m not having any energy problems with the HIIT or the heavy weights. I refuel with a low carb protein shake afterwards (with coconut oil added). I’m going to try fasted HIIT and weights after my supplements get here (read your article on those, very helpful) that I ordered. Trying caffeine, green tea extract, yohimbine, and BCAAs.

        Is it better to start with just one supplement, and gradually add the others in? Or can I just start with all four?

        I think it’s important to remember that everyone is different, and not everyone will lose weight the same way. Maybe I’ve just destroyed my ability to handle carbs because of my previous lifestyle, whereas someone who is younger (I’m 46) and hasn’t eaten as terribly as I did might handle carbs better. Just a thought.

        • Michael Matthews

          That’s great. You can start with all 4.

          Honestly you could probably work carbs back in and be totally fine but if you like low-carb dieting, stick with it. In case you’re interested:


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  • Rayca

    I’m insulin resistant (pre-diabetic). I do better on plant based but I come from old school low fat diets. Used to female bodybuild and bonk immediately without carbs. I’m in a tough situation. I need to lose weight but I need to also workout. I can’t find the happy medium with carb intake. Only around workouts? They’re at 5 a.m. I can only think to have a carb smoothie before and small breakfast after on that schdedule. And then back to vegs./low fat rest of the day?? IDK. Not sure how to mix fat in there.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm personally I would go low-carb and just deal with it until your insulin sensitivity is improved.


      • Rayca

        Yes, definitely have to cut down carbs but I’ll have to play with exactly how much I need and when. That’s why I figure just around workouts but I lift heavy so it will need to be substantial enough carbs. I’ve always eaten balanced lower fat meals and made huge gains that way. I guess I just need to be patient until glucose numbers are solid and slowly add starch back to balanced meals. However I still am confused about fat. I don’t want back-to-back carb meals and then fat the rest of the day. I think I will try lowfat around the 2 carb meals. See how weight loss goes but I’m tempted to try carb cycling so I can have a day or two of avocados, olives, oil type stuff without carbs. Maybe weekends. Thinking out loud, now. Thanks Michael!!

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  • p c

    Mike, Ive been training and dieting for 6 months. In that time Ive lost 30 pounds. Right now Im stuck. Ive been the same weight for about 2 months now. Im at a daily 600 calorie deficit and it wont come off no matter what I do. I started to incorporate your weekly reefed +100 grams of carbs and it hasn’t worked. During the reefeds I keep protein and fat standard. Any ideas? Im a big fan of your company and products! Paul

    • Michael Matthews

      Great job! I replied to your other comment.

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  • Lauren

    I’ve found that eating low-carb has helped me lose weight more happily and more satisfactorily. I lose the weight at the same rate, but I feel fuller because my meals would be more well-rounded and more nutritious (i.e., rather than having pasta, I would have a protein with vegetables). I’ve also found that the fewer starches I eat, the less “hangry” I get because my hunger pangs aren’t as strong or as frequent.

    • Michael Matthews

      Interesting. Thanks for sharing! If it’s working well for you, then keep on keeping on! 🙂

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  • Dave

    Hey Mike — that “stored as body fat more efficiently than carbohydrate” study you posted was comparing a high carb diet to a high fat, moderate carb diet, which would skew the results. Do you know of any more relevant studies better suited for your argument?

    • Michael Matthews

      If you read the paper the underlying mechanisms are discussed.

      It’s quite simple, really: turning carbohydrate into a body fat (de-novo lipogenesis) costs more energy than turning dietary fat into it (as dietary fat, on a molecular level, is very close), and there are more uses for carbohydrate than dietary fat beyond storing it as fat (glycogen replenishment being the primary factor here).

      I talk more about why low-carb dieting sucks here:


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  • thanks for the post. while I don’t agree with some of the arguments presented here, I appreciate the fact that you actually acknowledge that some people’s bodies deal better with large amounts of dietary fat. this is certainly the case for me. I just feel better overall in a high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb diet. I have endless energy on a high fat diet therefore I am usually more active, more motivated to exercise, play more sports, etc. I can go through long periods between meals, etc. On a high-carb diet, I have unstable energy levels, I get hungry more often, I feel weak and just get lazy overall.

    Most trainers/nutrionists I know think I’m crazy – that I need a lot of carbs!!! Or I’m just a low-carb paleo zealot. LOL. But my body says otherwise!

    FYI. I just finished listening to the BLS audiobook and hoping to start training next week.One question though – Since I play sports like soccer and basketball several times a week, how should I adjust my training? ( intensity, macros, calories, etc. keeping in mind my preference to dietary fats )

    • Thanks Rowell!

      If you enjoy the low-carb diet stick with it. Not a problem.

      Good question. Check this out:


      And regarding how many days you can lift per week, it really depends on how much cardio you’re doing and how prone your body is to overtraining.

      If you’re doing 3-4 hours of cardio per week you shouldn’t have an issue lifting 4-5 x per week so long as you’re eating enough.

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  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

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  • M

    See my trainer is recommending 60% protein with the rest split between fat and carbs, with more emphasis in the fat unless I’m doing something that requires more energy and then up carbs, but 60% protein seems really really high and I can’t figure out how to eat that without eating mostly meat. I mean there are other sources of protein, but they tend to come with carbs (like beans). I haven’t seen anyone else recommend so much protein, what do you think?

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  • Amber

    I have been following macro recommendations in your thinner, leaner, stronger book. Every 4th or 5th day, my body is just craving carbs/fats big time (with some of the effects you mentioned here. So i frustratingly break those daily values by feeding my body a PB&J, or other excess carb & fat grams (I try to at least eat complex carbs and healthy fats). Any recommendations? I wonder/think if I fight through a few of these “bouts,” the cravings will go away, but is that a correct mindset? Or is this a sign to play with thise established numbers from your book? Any input would help!

  • Matty Good

    Hi, Maybe you can help me with a my pre ontest diet. I compete as a lightweightin natural BB. From my win at Jr. Nationals I reverse dieted for 1 year. Now my maintainence cals are 3200 I weigh 156 My macros are 195 250 80 at 2490 cals a day. I do 3 hit cardio sessions a week and burn 300 cals.what do you think of these macros? when I need fo drop cals fo keep burnin do I drop protein, fat or carbs? I do a refeed 1 time a week of 400 225 50. Not sure if those refeed numbers are good.im not zure about my carb sens. I am 6% bf and am try to get leaner for the first time. I cant seem to lose anymore fat. Do I drop carb cals? I have 7 weeks till the show. There is so much crap out there to read I am lost. Help! Thanks

    • Those are really solid considering your weight. You have a LOT of room to cut down.

      Check this out:





      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Guest

        Hey thanks! Great reads! So I restructured my refeed to yer specs.600 grams carbs is alot! I dropped my daily carbs to 160.so im at 160 250 80. My next drop will be to 225 protein and next will be to 70 grams fat. Im trying hard to get below 6% and I fear the high refeed carbs will store fat at this stage. At what point do I drop carbs again to make sure I get to 3%?

      • Matty Good

        Hey thanks! Great reads! Just to clarify my 3200 mtnc was at 184lbs. So I restructured my refeed to yer specs.600 grams carbs is alot! I dropped my daily carbs to 160.so im at 160 250 80. My next drop will be to 225 protein and next will be to 70 grams fat
        Im trying hard to get below 6% and I fear the high refeed carbs will store fat at this stage. At what point or what macros do I drop again to make sure I get to 3%? should I go to .5 gm per lb of carb to get that lean? I have 7 weeks.thanks again!

    • Matty Good

      Hey thanks! Great reads! Just to clarify my 3200 mtnc was at 184lbs. So I restructured my refeed to yer specs.600 grams carbs is alot! I dropped my daily carbs to 160.so im at 160 250 80. My next drop will be to 225 protein and next will be to 70 grams fat
      Im trying hard to get below 6% and I fear the high refeed carbs will store fat at this stage. At what point or what macros do I drop again to make sure I get to 3%? should I go to .5 gm per lb of carb to get that lean? I have 7 weeks.thanks again!

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  • Marian Boricean

    Hey Mike, yes, you have convincing evidence that carbs are not bad for you. But when you say “not bad for you”, you only refer to your body and fat loss. What about the plethora of evidence that carbs are bad for your brain in long term? Check out the “Grain Brain” Written by: David Perlmutter and Kristin Loberg, audio book and if you have time, listen to it if you haven’t yet. Maybe that will change your way of thinking about carbs. 50.000 years ago, carbs existed only in fruits and the human body didn’t have any other type of carbs to deal with. And fruits were only available a few months in a year to the early humans. 50.000 is not a long time in the evolutionary time line for us, therefore our bodies are not fully equipped to deal with too much carbohydrates Maybe in a few thousand years from now… 🙂

    Maybe I’m wrong, but check out that book if you haven’t yet and let us know what do you think about the scientific evidence documented there.

    (I have nothing to do with the author or the site :), I’m just an avid reader about nutrition and fitness)

    • SO much misinformation in this space.

      The long story short is this:

      Carbs are primarily energetic.

      If you live a sedentary life, your body doesn’t need to be fed much energy. Thus, feeding it an excessive amount of carbohydrate is a bad idea.

      If you’re physically active, however, your body has a need for the exogenous energy and can make good use of it.

      Remember that while evolution is a slow process, epigenetic research has shown us that meaningful mutations can occur in a single generation.

      • Marian Boricean

        That makes a lot of sense. Not entirely sure about those researches showing meaningful mutations in a single generation. Do you have an example?

        • Sure here’s a good write-up on it:


          • Marian Boricean

            Thanks Mike. I understand that your business is a full time job for you, but I’m still amazed how you have time to answer every single question and comment. Man… this is my favorite site now!

          • Haha I like staying in touch with everyone so it’s a win-win. 🙂 Thanks brother.

    • Stu

      Hi Marian,

      Nitpicky here but you made the following comment: “50.000 years ago, carbs existed only in fruits and the human body didn’t have any other type of carbs to deal with.”

      This is inaccurate. Roots and tubers were all in supply as well. Did you know chimps dig for and eat them?

      • Marian Boricean

        🙂 Hi Stu, yes you are partially right. But so long ago when the people did not know how to conserve food, there were not roots to dig. For instance in my country, more than 5 months of the year is winter. Or at least cold enough that you can’t find any veggies/fruites/roots outside in the frozen ground. But Mike has a good point. The body can change / adapt more quickly than we think..

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  • scott63

    European doctors before WW11 all knew that high carb diets along with to much sugar and starch made people fat. That knowledge was lost after the war when many famous German scientist and doctors faded into obscurity. At least the ones that weren’t brought to the US under operation paper clip. Later in the 60s American doctors and scientist decided that high carb low animal fat was the way. America bought into it and our waist lines exploded our health went to shit and the downward slide has continued for 50 years, with people still preaching the high carb low fat way.

  • Scott

    I eat plenty of carbs but sometimes suffer from some of the ‘carbs may not be your friend’ symptoms that you listed, but other times I don’t. I’ve not felt energetic for a long time now. I mean I can always push myself to do what I need to do in the gym (I always follow a plan, random gym effort = unsatisfying pwo feeling, giving one of your plans a try next week), but I can’t help but feel the carbs I do have should be making me feel better than I do. But I don’t want to become one of these people who views carbs as poison, because carbs are awesome.

    • What types of carbs do you generally eat?

      • Scott

        Any type of veg (love them all equally), oats, bananas, blueberries, wholemeal bread, sweet potato, white potato, pasta, basmati rice, skittles (pwo), honey, pop tarts (occasionally).

  • Janie

    So if my body reacts to high carb the negative way you describe, What ratio do you recommend for PCF? I’ve read your book, been cutting calories, (more and more each week because I’m not losing), taking Phoenix burners, and doing extra cardio while lifting 6x a week. I’d say my BF is 24-25%. I carry most of the extra weight in my mid section. My calorie intake is 1440… Thank you for any help!

    • Hey hey!

      Check this out:


      This may help you.

      And if you don’t do well with carbs, how about 30 grams before and after training and maybe 20ish more thru veggies and such?

      • Janie

        I’ll do that, thanks. I mean, I love carbs as much as the next person but I have ALOT of bloating, discomfort, and issues like that. I’m lactose intolerant and quit eating most dairy but still I have problems and get tired and hungry often. I’m thinking it might be the carbs as you described. Thanks again.

  • Courtney Graley

    I initially started my weight loss program without setting any goal. I started at 140 and have gone down to 125. I am 5’8. I aim to keep up my routine (exercising 3-4 times per week, cardio, eating healthy and 1200-1500 calories per day) and hit the 115 mark. If I stick with this routine for another 5 weeks, then I will continue to lose 1-3 pounds per week.

    • Good job on the results you’ve gotten so far! Keep that shit up. 🙂

  • Dawid Ciesielski

    For me it was pretty weird. When I’ve started my cut I was definitely insulin sensitive – I was sleepy every time I ate bigger high-carb meal. But now after cut I don’t feel this any more… Is it possible that something in my body has changed after decreasing level of bf?

    • Yeah your insulin sensitivity has improved.

      • Anthony Renzi

        So If I stuck to high carb low fat, over time my body would adjust?

        • Exactly, especially if you’re lean and exercising quite a bit. In the end though your body will “tell” you through how you feel.

  • Lauren

    Hi Mike!

    Thanks so much for the article. I was looking all over the internet for something as straight-forward as this (whether or not low-fat may be good for some and not for others).

    I have been doing a lot of cardio lately, and found that a higher carb, lower fat diet has worked really well. I can already see the lining of my abs again and it has been less than a month. I had done this about a year ago, but after always hearing how much better low carb diets were, I always reverted back to them (and not necessarily losing my tone, but not being as lean as I was on the low-fat diet).

    In your experience, does this type of diet ever plateau out? Or does it generally work for you? In other words… should I switch up my ratios every once in awhile so I do not begin to plateau or (God forbid) gain any unwanted weight? I wondered if the low-fat diet would continue to work once I start lifting more again. Thank you for this article again and I look forward to your reply!


    • YW!

      Glad you’ve gotten results on a high carb diet.

      The more time you spend in a deficit, the lower your TDEE gets. So, you will have to drop cals every few weeks or months to continue weight loss. You won’t have to change the macro breakdown though.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • bill

    I’ve tried to keep a balance of proteins, carbs, and fat, with a bit of an edge going to protein. When it comes to carbs, I’m a lot more particular about where I get them from. I’m in the process of losing a large amount of weight, so I’ve eliminated things like white bread, donuts, fruit juice and the like. I want the most nutrient dense food per calorie, so I stay away from processed food, and eat more leafy greens, real fruits, beans and nuts. This is a dramatic departure from what got me so fat, but the best news is now my eating preferences have changed considerably. I’m getting much more pleasure out of the long term benefits of eating healthy, than the momentary rush I got out of that cinnabon.

  • Good article. I do well with a 40-40-20 split. Too many carbs and I struggle to lose weight. Too little and energy levels and brain function is impaired. I eat only complex carbs unless it’s my cheat meal for the week. Since I gain weight very easily and have to work hard to lose it I have to watch my carb intake. It will make you gain weight fast if you eat loads unless you have a very fast metabolism.

  • Nia

    Hye Michael. Thank you so much for sharing the great articles and discussions. And I do feel blessed to have found you.. I am in the process of getting rid of huge amount of excess weight..

    Currently I am experimenting the low carb diet, trying to keep my carb intake as low as possible and keeping my meals on more protein, green vege and lots of water n lemon juice in the morning.

    I do squats and planks.. well, trying harder to do more.. simple dance cardio, and also yoga. Managed to shed bout 4 kilos in 8 weeks.. but still a lot more to go..

    And yeah. I found out I do have water retention probs esp during my period.. and from your article I found out that is quite normal so I was not so disappointed when the weight loss slows down during that time…

    However, I wish, I could be able to lose more.. just a bit worried if I would end up wit loose skin later..

    One question.. will weight lifting help me lose weight faster?

    By the way… I am from Malaysia…

  • Rasmus

    Hey Mike! I’ve been cutting for the past 11 weeks following your programme and managed to drop about 24 pounds, reaching 10-11 % bodyfat. Just wanted to let you to know that you’re articles and podcasts have helped me tremendously!. Now on to my question:

    At the end of my cut I reduced my intake to a few hundred calories below BMR (my BMR is quite high) by reducing carbs and I actually felt more energetic and alert, both in my workouts and in my daily life. I have an endomorphic/mesomorphic body type.

    I’ve started to work my way back to TDEE, mostly by adding carbs and I’ve experienced some fogginess and I have a hard time focusing on my studies. I suspect that my body doesn’t do well with carbs so my question is whether I can combine a low-carb diet with an efficient bulk or not?

    If the answer is no maybe carb cycling would be the right way to go?

    • Awesome! Great job! That’s exciting.

      Great call on carb cycling because that’s exactly what I would recommend in your case. Ideally we can keep the carb intake high on your training days because it will help. Eat at least 50% of your day’s carbs after your workout. Try to go for 15 to 20% before.

      LMK how it goes!

      Oh and if you’d like to be featured on the site shoot me an email!

  • Anne Murphy


    I love it how you brought up both sides of the story because I’ve seen each circumstance in action. I think there is an epigenetical factor. If you consider your Ethnicity and what your lineage ate, I think this might have a lot to do with it. I’m Polish and Irish and thrive on a high-fat mod protein mod cyclical starchy carb diet, eating lots of raw cream, butter, grass fed meat and potatoes. To cut down to 14-15% BF comfortably, I had to cycle carbs in order to avoid glycogen wonks and 3am awakenings. I also am in remission from lymes and adrenal insufficiency and my insulin gets me in trouble and this keeps me in check. Some medical conditions going to have a direct effect on what type of diet works and what doesn’t. Ketogenic diets are prescribed and hospitals to control seizures for example. Also to note, I don’t compete anymore, so my diet choice is only to maintain a certain level of vanity for my personal training business that makes rich women shell out big bucks. Haha.

    But for the most part if you’re trying to bulk up, I’ve never seen anybody following A Keto plan or Paleo that ever gets really big unless they cycle carbs and even then it’s still not outstanding if you ask me. So bravo for bringing both sides to the story!

    I also wanted to note that I’m 5 foot 8, 132 pounds and I eat around 3000 cal a day without doing any cardio. That’s the best part

    • Thanks Anne!

      Yeah genetics come into play but not as much as some “gurus” like to claim. And I’m speaking from the experience of working directly with thousands of people.

      The best way to go about it for the average person is start high pro and high carb and see how your body responds. If you have a reason to drop carb and increase fat, do it.

      And yes you’re absolutely right that keto is just shit for building size and strength.

      LOL @ your TDEE. WTF. That’s what I eat and I’m 6’2, 192 pounds, 8% body fat, ecto/meso, 4 to 6 hours exercise per week.

  • mk ultra

    Someone may have achieved more insulin sensitivity and therefore metabolize carbs efficiently but does not this , in the long run , require more work [ compared to a low carb diet ] for the pancreas and therefore a vicious cycle of insensitivity is set into motion .. ?

    • No, definitely not. If you take care of your body by eating plenty of nutritious foods and staying lean and active, you should never have insulin issues.

      • mk ultra

        Of course, but I am referring to the veritable tsunami of porkers who are overindulging in carbs and trans fats these days. Does this behaviour not lead to insulin insensitivity [ from stress on the pancreas ] and eventual type 2 diabetes , which was mostly unheard of , 50 years ago . Solution , more wholesome food and fewer empty calories [ breads, sugars , etc. ] . .

  • Hey Mike, do carbs really help you build muscle other than the fact that it’s supposed to give you a boost when you lift? On that point I ate like 20g of carbs this morning, waited about six hours before I went to the gym and I destroyed the gym. So I didn’t exactly feel that I was weak. I ask because I am still cutting and I was just wondering what effect would it have on my ability to build muscle if I eat few carbs. Thanks!

  • I have another question. Maybe you answered it here but I’m not sure. Is it good to eat a mixture of simple and complex carbs? I try to eat mostly complex carbs, but I drink 5 cups of coffee a day and like to have sugar with it. Thanks again.

  • Rio

    Hello Mike: Have you heard of the APO E gene? It kind of explains the macronutrients ratio that is best for you based on your genetics. Testing is widely available now. http://www.perfectgenediet.com/

  • Austin

    I’m confused with the wording of this article. Several times you said that people in the studies lost “weight” at an equal rate whether it was high carb or low carb. Who cares about weight, what matters more is how much actual fat you lost from that weight. If I went on a low protein diet, I’m willing to bet that more of the weight lost would be muscle and fat rather than just fat. I think this article needs to use more defined terms than weight, because two people can both lose 10 pounds but it could be completely different result.

  • Hey Mike, what effect does taking carbs after HIIT have? Is it important to take carbs at this point?

  • KGP

    im not sure which I am. I feel good after eating carbs and other times I feel sleepy so I have to move around to get my body going and that usually takes lik ten mins

    • Are you a guy or a girl and what’s your approx body fat %? Do you exercise?

  • Solosater

    I am definitely better when I’m doing low carb. I’m already a diabetic and I use insulin daily. I have started doing a low carb (but reasonable, and sustainable diet). I don’t shy away from fats. They provide, for me, satiety.

    (I’ve lost 40 pounds (in 4 months), and I’m still losing. And I’ve been satisfied the whole time. I’ve also stopped or greatly reduced my dependence on several medications that I literally could not live without before. I am taking 1/8 of the insulin I was taking 4 months ago and will be off of it entirely in the next few weeks.)

    Every individual has individual dietary needs. My experience over the past 20 years has shown me that what works for one absolutely will not work for another.

    I have hereditary issues, everybody in my family is diabetic, I suffer from several chronic pain conditions (chronic daily headache, migraines, fibromyalgia, chronic pelvic pain, endometriosis, arthritis,…), I have sleep apnea, and insomnia with chronic fatigue. I don’t ever stop hurting and I am always tired.

    I have never experienced a runner’s high. Even when I was fit as a teenager, exercise made me hurt. And not in the no pain no gain sort of way, more in the sore for days and days sort of way. And this is much more pronounced now as I am… much older.

    I gained weight because it hurt to move, and I was exhausted. Caloric intake was the only thing that I received any sort of energy from. And exercise only hurt and exhausted me. Overeating is not always something that people do out of gluttony. Sometimes you’re just trying to get through the day.

    I’m not an expert at weight loss. I am an expert at me though. I know what works for me and what absolutely does not. For me, balance works.

    You have to have a calorie deficit. You create that by upping the burn or lowering intake or both. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy your food. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to enjoy a meal with friends.

    I am convinced that if you are doing a diet that makes it impossible to have a meal with friends, you are on an unsustainable diet. And it may work for a while, but it’s going to fail you in the long run. Rather than following whatever fad diet is out there, and they are never ending, know what works for you. Get to know your body.

    Your body is what you’re trying to repair, get to know it. The Internet does not know YOUR body. Infomercials do not know YOUR body. Pharmaceutical companies do not know YOUR body. It’s entirely likely that your doctor does not know YOUR body.

    Anyway, that was my rather long winded way of saying that yes, some people will do better on low carb, and some people will do better on high carb. Figuring out which one you are (or if you need a balance, or something else entirely), is what makes it happen.

    I really appreciated being able to see that, in black and white and with studies to back it up, in your post. Thanks.

  • Kiko Uehara

    Good to know that carbs are our friend. But there’s many kind of carbs.
    What is your take about types of carbohydrate, especially its glycemic index?

    Right now, the only time I care about GI is at post workout. Other than that, I eat carbs with protein and fats which I assume slower the rate of digestion.

  • Dave Sass

    I am also a type II diabetic and since going on a low carbohydrate diet my AIC has fallen from 7.4 to 6.4 in two weeks on the diet. Starting your program in the gym has my Blood glucose well within normal levels and my Doctor is about to start taking me off of the three oral medications I’m on.

    Previously I was eating a lot of carbs and was constantly hungry and felt terrible while continuing to gain weight. I have lost about 7 pounds in the past three weeks and hope to lose 1-2 pounds a week on the low carbohydrate diet and your exercise program.

  • Phil

    I workout in the mornings( spinning)I drink a low glycemic shake of 400 calories about an hour to an hour and a half before my ride. Will the amount of insulin released from this kind of pre workout meal negatively affect the fat burning ability of my body?

  • Jia Jun

    Hi Mike, I understand that being in a general caloric deficit WILL allow one to lose weight, and you recommend a 25% cut. If we were to take legion which will burn around an extra 200kcal then should we still cut the same amount of calories? Or lesser to equate the deficit to a 25%. Maybe a video about how to use Legion help us as users to better understand on how to implement the products we buy from muscles for life with our diet! Million thanks from Singapore

    • Nope. You should keep the intake the same. That’s the way Phoenix can actually accelerate fat loss. 🙂

      Not a bad idea on the video. Thanks for the tip!

      Welcome James! Talk soon.

  • Teddybear

    As usual your articles rock Mike. Some humour and clarity as opposed to the irritable scientific blather of those carb deprived paleo maniacs…ahem.

    I bought your book a couple years ago when I thought getting fit was simple – and I truly believe that for most people it is – however, unfortunately there is one situation where the normal rules don’t apply and that’s with the good ol’ thyroid disorder. Seriously, after trying both a low carb, calorie deficit diet and a high carb calorie deficit diet and also everything in between, I can certainly testify that there is no difference between them other than I feel like a dead dog on a low carb diet. And after some research and doctors visits I found out I have hypothyroidism. This makes it nigh on impossible to lose weight as well as causing many vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which in my case have actually made me intolerant to the only medication that can make me better!

    A lot of the “weight” a thyroid disorder brings is in fact a swollen membrane in the skin, which can add another 2-5 stone in water weight all over! Something of a nightmare and difficult to get treatment for as doctors tend to ignore your symptoms and tell you that your blood results are “normal”. And that maybe you should hit the gym. Which is the LAST thing a thyroid patient should be doing as exercise uses up more thyroid hormones! The only solution is to eat a lot of highly nutritious food and get properly medicated, at which point exercising is safe.

    I just wanted to put this here because there might well be others out there who have thyroid disorders or borderline thyroid disorders, and overlooking this issue can be very detrimental to health in the long term. You can’t diet off this disease – if you could I’d have done it as I am sadly obsessed with my body shape, ha ha. Maybe it’s a lesson to focus on more meaningful things in life, like helping others, actual health, or a useful career.

    Meanwhile I think this blog is great and as soon as I am in a state to start getting fit again, this will be the first port of call…thanks for the wonderful free service you provide here 🙂

    • Medfen21

      Hi Teddybear – I get it! However hypothyroidism is not merely a thyroid issue as all the hormone functions have a domino effect. I’m sure you know this, but doctors don’t treat it that way. I’ve done meds as well and still no real help. However, I suggest to you that their is wonderful hope in bio identical hormone treatment – one where all your levels are targeted and not just isolated hormones like thyroid. Listen, it’s natural and the only answer I’ve been able to discover that corrected all my issues. There are many testimonies that can identify with mine. Good luck and don’t give up!

      • Teddybear

        That sounds very interesting, I will check it out for sure. Thanks for your encouragement, it is much appreciated! I’m glad you are feeling better now.

    • Thanks so much!

      I’ve actually looked at quite a but if HT research and the largest reduction in BMR I’ve seen (that I can remember) was around 15%.

      That is, it can definitely be an obstacle but isn’t a “you’re fucked” scenario.

      And yes the water retention is a good point and you definitely can’t “diet the disease away.”

  • jaycutler

    First, sorry for bad English. I dont understand one thing. In article “how insuline actually work” you wrote that isnt important how much you eat carbs or fat if you are on deficit with calories, but here you wrote THAT IS important how much you carbs you eat becouse insulin sensitivity. Lets take example, if I am on deficit 500 calories every day, will i lose the same amount of fat if i am on HFLC or HCLF diet?

  • Claire Elena Tucker

    I agree with the weight loss from cutting carbs being mostly less water retention. But I find that eating a no carb (no white carbs or bread or grains) diet keeps my energy levels much more stable throughout the day and I don’t feel sleepy after eating or get ravenously hungry. I lost 3kg in 30days doing paleo but that strict a diet is not sustainable for me.. I’m going to try IIFYM with some carbs (still no bread!) but what ratio would you recommend? I do want to keep carbs on the lower side; during Paleo my diet was 40-45% fat(!). I lift heavy weights 2x per week I do spin 1x and yoga 2x. I am 60kg (around 135lbs) and 20-22% body fat. I want to get down to 55kg and reduce BF%, grow muscle. I’m 29. Thanks!

    • Yup that’s pretty common, which is why I definitely do recommend that people get the majority of their calories from nutrient-dense foods (which generally excludes overly processed carbs).

      Strictly speaking, you really don’t need more than 0.3 grams of fat per pound of fat-free mass for general health. Some people enjoy/feel better with more fat, but that’s rare in my experience (most people enjoy more carbs more).

      So, why not try a 40/35/25 split to start? And we can see how your body responds?

      • Claire Elena Tucker

        You mean Fat / protein / carbs? I find it so hard to get over 20% protein – even eating all the meat fish & eggs I can manage! Is it only possible with protein supplements?

        • Protein/Carbs/Fat.

          Some snacks to help with the protein intake are Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, beef jerky, etc.

          If you aren’t able to reach your protein intake target with those snacks, supplement with protein powder as necessary.

  • Nina Krosch

    what about a type 1 diabetic? Would that person be better on a high, or low-carb diet? With type 1, the pancreas secretes little to no insulin and has to take insulin injections

    • I’ve worked with quite a few people with T1D and we generally take it easy on the carbs, for obvious reasons.

      • Mario Russo

        I actually JUST adjusted my diet a little bit to try a bit of a higher fat diet as well. I cut out a serving of oatmeal, and added 2 tbsp. of walnuts and 1 tbsp. flaxseed oil which gave me a 39/33/28 split. Since I’m 52, I was going to try a ZMA supplement as well. I’m type 2 diabetic and have been feeling dreadful when I wake up and throughout the morning, so I wanted to cut some carbs. How safely can you lower carbs and raise fats? And should I maybe add more protein, or is the 40% level fine. Thanks!

        • Makes sense.

          I’m not sure how low YOU can drop carbs and have seen quite a bit of variation among people (some T2Ds I’ve worked with preferred keto), but have a talk with your doc and see what he/she thinks?

          If you could/want to do keto, for example, there is quite a bit of evidence that it can greatly help you:


      • Navin Sinha

        I am 65 years old diabetic for 12 years. For the last month and a half, I am following Dr. Neal Barnard’s Vegan diet, almost 100% Carbs, almost NIL fat. I have lost about 4.5 KG during this period and my BS is under full control now and my medication has been reduced.

  • Cathryn Anne Paras

    I’m currently reading your book for woman and I am wondering how many grams of carbs I should be eating a day? I am 151 5’8″

  • Mario Russo

    Sorry for kinda hijacking your post, Nina. Okay, so I kind of checked out the article you linked Michael, and got nauseated when I saw a billion percent fat, haha! One thing I’m going to try is replacing one type of carb with another. I know everybody’s body reacts differently to things and oatmeal sends my sugar sky-high. Oh, but it is such a GREAT fat free carb. Gotta kill it though, and I think the sweet potato is on its way out as well. The problem is getting all the carbs I need from greens because you have to eat a ton of them. I have to stay away from pasta as well (damn). When I did BLS religiously from mid 2014 until the end of the year, my sugar levels went to nearly normal. I’m doing that now, including HIIT, which is killing me, and I think a few tweaks will get me back to better glucose readings. The strength gains are there, and I’m nearly back to the weights I was using when things started to go haywire.

  • I’ve actually been experimenting with this for the last few weeks and I’m coming to the conclusion that eating too much fat and carbs together is what’s making people fat (wait that doesn’t sound like big news at all now that I type it). I’m pretty lean 6 foot and 175lbs and I find on training days when I have high carbs around 190g and low fat around 20g, I feel amazing, clear headed and focused. And on non-training days when I’ve upped fat to about 30 to 40g and dropped carbs to about 80 to 100g, I also feel good (not as good as the carb high), but more full. But I still feel like my stomach can digest it quickly and you know that “clean feeling”. However, when I have a ton of fat and carbs for say a saturday “cheat” meal say 30g of fat and 30 g carbs I feel like shit, bloated and just that feeling like way too much is going on in my stomach (I imagine this is how my fat friends feel all the time). I think people just need to experiment with their bodies and see what works and what doesn’t. Going low carb on days you don’t lift isn’t so bad, but going low carbs on days you lift isn’t a good idea cause you need that energy to build muscles. And oh yeah I don’t care if you’re a petite woman, you better be lifting as heavy as you can and going up every week!

    • Well sure total caloric intake is the bottom line when we’re talking weight gain and loss.

      That’s a bit low on the fat IMO. If you keep it to 15 to 20% of your total daily calories (around 0.3 grams per pound of FFM), that would be optimal.

      And keep up the good work!! 🙂

      • Yeah you’re right I’ve upped my fat a little to make up the calories. I have about 1700 calories a day (used to have less than 1500 per day before working out) and most calculators online say I should be having between 2400 and 2700 a day. I’m not sure if I should be increasing my calories every few weeks to get to 2700 or just stay the same. I guess I’ll see what happens at 1900 calories per day.

        • Great!

          Hmm. What are you trying to do right now? Cut, bulk or maintain?

          Try out my calculator:


          LMK how it goes.

          • Yeah your calculator is the closest to my calculations (1900) it’s showing TDEE as 2146. I’m trying to build muscle. I figure I was in a state of starvation mode for the last few years having around 1500 calories a day. So am slowly upping it every few weeks and am seeing what happens. I like how your calculator shows the macro nutrients as well. Do you think I should increase carbs/decrease fat on workout days? or just keep the macros consistent every day?

          • Nice.

            Good call on the reverse diet. For more info on how to do it, check this out:


            Nope, you can keep the macros consistent.

  • Jason Hwang

    Thanks for this article Mike, always learning something new from you. But I do want to hear your take on preparing for a photoshoot or videoshoot. I am relatively lean (i think i am around 9%@ 155lbs ) with a visible six-pack. I am planning to shoot a video in the near future (less than a month). And I want to look at my best for this shoot. Like most fitness models, I was planning on manipulating my carb and water intake for the week. Deplete carbs for the first 3 days, while upping my water followed by carb loading for the next 3 days while depleting the water. How do you prepare for your videoshoot? I would appreciate your advice. Thanks bud.

    • Glad you liked it!

      You need to get leaner. Shoot for 7%. Manipulating water/sodium/Na+K won’t do much.

      • Jason Hwang

        oh really? do you ever manipulate your carbs?

        • I have and didn’t really notice much to be honest. I guess you could go low-carb for 3 to 5 days leading up to it, then carb up the day before.

  • Linda

    I need to lose at least 20# because of arthritic joints, & every time I cut down the carbs, I get leg cramps in the middle of the night that are unbearable. I have tried everything ie.. stretching before going to bed, drinking more water, etc. I have come to the conclusion that I can’t cut the carbs. I need help with what I should eat to avoid the cramping. Thanks..

    • Cool on the weight you need to lose. Let’s make it happen.

      That’s odd on the leg cramps you get when you reduce carbs. How many carbs do you normally eat and what do you reduce them to when cutting?

      It’s probably a good idea to check with the doc on this.

      LMK! My pleasure.

    • Chris

      I’ve experienced something similar with my legs on low-carbs.

      Despite being a high-carb person myself, I’ve played plenty with Low-Carb and can relate. After a brutal leg session and going low-carb, I noticed increased pain in my legs to the point where even walking was painful, yet when I started carb-loading the pain would quickly subside over a few hours.
      From my personal experience, if you have leg pains around the joints or even just muscular soreness, having some carbs around that time helps.
      Cut the carbs when you don’t need them if you really want to go low-carb, use them when you need.

  • PapiMiAmor

    I am definitely one who could benefit from more of a low carb diet, as I have all the symptoms of insulin resistance. However, whenever I go extremely low-carb to the extent that I eliminate fresh fruits and my morning oatmeal, I invariably wind up bingeing on carbs and putting on extra pounds.

    I honestly believe that I’m constitutionally incapable of going extremely low-carb, albeit I keep trying.

    The only way I ever stay on a diet for months at a time and actually lose weight is by watching my portions and building a diet around all food groups. I NEVER eat refined carbs like sugar or white flour.

  • mmmpork

    Thanks for the great insight, I’ve bookmarked this article so I can share it with people who might be confused on the macros. I don’t really fall into either side on the carb vs fat scale. I’ve tried low carb, very low carb, and low fat diets and have not responded well to any of the extremes. I’ve found I do best on a 40/40/20 (carbs, fat, protein) distribution. On weight lifting or lap swimming days I get extra calories from protein dense sources, usually beef jerky and chocolate milk + whey protein post workout. My main goal right now is weight loss so I’m more focused on my calorie deficit, which I determined by calculating the target I’d need to maintain my goal weight. As I get closer and my deficit gets smaller, I can increase my physical training to create a larger deficit. By then I should be more in shape and able to do that, but for now I’m just focused on core strength to avoid injury.

    • YW!

      Cool on the macro split. That’s generally about what I recommend. 🙂

      Great on the intake. The goal is to lose 1-2 pounds a week so adjust intake (or activity) accordingly.

      Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

  • Sandor Denesi

    Hey Michael,
    There are studies out there suggesting that more stable insulin levels might increase lifespan. What are your thoughts related to that?

    • Can you link me to the research?

      • Sandor Denesi
        • Thanks.

          You can’t extrapolate rat research to humans. We’re not big mice. 🙂

          That said, I’ve read up a bit on IGF-1 and longevity/cancer/etc. and the long story short there is if you’re sedentary, high IGF-1 levels = bad. If you’re physically active though and your body is constantly needing to repair itself, it’s good.

          I will have to read up more on insulin’s role in longevity but I would suspect the same.

          The bottom line is you can’t eat your way into good health. You MUST exercise regularly if you want to give yourself the best chance of a long, healthy life. And when you do exercise regularly, many things change in terms of how your body responds to food.

          • Sandor Denesi

            :)) Yep, I agree, and kind of expected this answer. Thanks for looking into it yourself. Just a short PS: I remember reading a study where rabbits were fed with cholesterol to show how saturated fats were bad 🙂

          • My pleasure. Haha yup, I’ve read the sat fat story.

  • Lorraine

    This article is a breath of fresh air, thank you Mike. For so long I have struggled to loose weight on the low carb, high protein, high fat diet. I never felt satiated, in fact felt hungry most of the time & ended up overeating on the protein & fat to compinsate & actually gained weight. I feel at my best with a balanced diet with good quality carbs. I’m going to begin including more carbs into my diet & aim for a calorie deficit, rather than just sticking to certain foods & going over my calorie allowance. It just goes to show that there is no one size fits all approach. Everyone is different & responds differently. I just wish I had listened to my body more & knew this information sooner. Thanks

  • Jay

    Greetings from England, Mike!

    I’ve got the tell-tale signs of bad insulin sensitivity but I’m only 18! Since the age of about 15, I’ve had problems with getting sleepy after a high-carb meal. I remember I used to snooze in my maths lessons after eating lunch.

    For a long time, I’ve skipped breakfast and basically done IF. Do you think that this could be responsible for me getting sleepy after breaking my fast? I mean, it makes sense that breaking a fast with a big, carb-laden meal could K.O someone regardless of how carb-tolerant they are. I’ve started doing HIIT twice a week, eating more greens and avoiding waffles/crisps/white bread now. Do you think that that will help me or is it a futile struggle against genetics?

    Apart from that, thanks a lot for the info on this site and your youtube channel. It really let me simplify my workout plan, stop killing myself by always going to failure and kickstart some gains while also spending way less time in the gym.

    • Hey hey!

      Theoretically fasting should improve insulin sensitivity.

      What’s your approximate body fat %? And what type of carbs are you generally eating?

      • Jay

        Thanks for the response 🙂

        I’d say I’m around 14% bodyfat, though it’s hard to tell since I have little muscle mass. Under the right lighting, I can get upper ab definition if I flex, although my lower abs are hidden by fat. I’m thinking I’ll cut around August but I could keep going like this since I haven’t lost any ab definition throughout my bulk.

        I’ve generally eaten all types of carbs, really. Brown rice, whole grain, white breads, white rice and so on, however I’ve recently shifted onto almost entirely complex carbs to try and deal with my problems.

        Basically, I’m just wondering if it’s actually worth doing HIIT and eating mainly complex carbs long-term and whether smaller meals might be beneficial due to smaller insulin spikes. It does get very annoying having to schedule my study/activity around my meals in case I get sleepy. It would be great if I could get to the stage where I get a huge energy boost from eating loads of carbs instead of getting K.O’d.


        • NP.

          Cool thanks for sharing.

          Sticking to low-GI carbs and eating a large amount of your daily carbs around workouts should help.

          A lower-carb diet might be a good idea as well. How many grams of carb are you eating per day?

          • Jay

            I eat about 2000kcals/day, 150g of protein (600 kcals) and then basically allow carbs and fats to fall into place for the remaining 1400 calories. I’ll usually eat the majority of that 1400 calories via carbs (~250g- 1000 calories) since I don’t really eat fatty meats. The remaining calories come from oils, peanut butter and maybe fish fats. Unfortunately, I can’t be too anal about carbs/fats since I don’t cook my meals and pretty much have to eat what I’m given at home, lol, but I do stick to a high-carb, high-protein setup.

            Honestly, I don’t feel like I’m eating a huge amount of carbs, especially compared to my mates who eat whatever they want and have none of these issues.

            I will try and see if the complex carb and meal timing approach works and, if not, I’ll try and go low-carb, as soul-crushing as that might be, haha.

          • Okay cool. That’s reasonable. Definitely not a huge amount of carbs.

            Lemme know how the food choices and timing work.

          • Jay

            I’m already feeling a lot better. I eat a banana and PB sandwich in whole grain bread prior to a workout and eat lower GI carbs for a lot of the day. I’ve cut down carb intake to more like 200g while upping my protein intake by 50 grams (aka. 1 extra chicken breast) and actually feel more energetic now.

            The other big thing for me has been abstaining from sweet food for 5 days/week (I have a major sweet tooth) and getting used to bland foods. I still get knocked out after eating apple pie and vanilla ice cream but I’m only eating that crap for 2 days a week now so it’s not such a huge issue. Simple stuff, really, but meal timing and common sense has really helped. Jury’s still out on the HIIT, though.

          • That’s great!

            Glad to hear you’ve reduced your sweets intake.

            Let’s keep everything up and see how you do. 🙂

  • john

    What is low carb?………..lower carb than what most people that are having problems are eating will pretty much help with quality of food and begin steady doable weight loss and a road to discerning what “types” they are.

    Calorie deficit stuff is impossible to do and certainly over simplistic…. and temporary….and leaves all hungry….and solves nothing….except in obvious casing of gluttony.

    Eating enough fat does wonders for satiety….and MANY who go ketogenic or simply eat more fat and less carbs will notice a “smoothing ” out with the brain and their decision making with food choices become more rational and less desperate…..

    i thought i did well on carbs until i didn’t……and at 50 years old found that all those years that i supposedly had no problems with carbs that i was setting myself up for metabolic disaster later in life.

    i recently joined this forum hoping to get a different perspective and learn something……and what i see is a want to be ……Gary Taubes may not be right about everything but you certainly seem to think you are…Mark Sisson doesn’t know everything either but seems more humble than you are Mike.

    I think you are trying too hard …..carbs ARE related to many of the problems that many people are struggling with…..they are not the enemy but if you get people to even count them and keep a food diary of only carbs ….they improve and learn about their diet…

    Perhaps you should put your shirt on and listen more to some of these “fools” out there who are going below 150 carbs…or 100…or even 20…..

    • Thanks for the comment John.

      I’m glad low-carb is working for you but realize that doesn’t mean it’s best for everyone. That’s why you need to turn to the scientific literature and public at large to get a better idea of what’s what.

      I’ve worked with thousands of people that are now in the best shape of their lives and they’re eating plenty of carbs. And science is on my side. That’s enough for me. 😉

  • paula

    Hi Mike,
    I basically carb cycle, eating higher carbs every other day. On the days that I eat higher carbs, my carb of choice (besides asparagus) is quinoa, as I find it doesn’t affect me as badly as brown rice does. What I mean by badly is when I eat carbs, I retain water and I feel bloated and sluggish. So with this said, should I just do low carb all the time? With low carb I feel air headed and hungry all the time. But do not retain water. What do you recommend? I also feel like I am not losing weight because my calorie intake is too low, I am only taking in about 1200 cals a day. I feel fine and get through workouts but weight is not dropping off for the amount of effort I am putting in. I am trying to figure out how to get more calories in, I need about 1500.

    Thank you

  • Nicolette

    I do extremely well on a high-fat, low-carb diet. If I don’t have at least an avocado per day I can tell a significant different in overall well-being.

    I follow a Paleo diet and thus have been using fruits as my “pre-workout carb” as you suggested consuming.

    I feel like one banana before my workouts definitely gives me enough energy. I am trying to follow your advice without going too crazy on the carbs (since it’s difficult for me to do anyways). I’ve upped my consumption to about 90-100g per day of carbs and I’ve decreased my fat a little bit (about 66g/day). I’m still getting used to it so we’ll see. I am glad that I upped my protein consumption though!

    Do you have any tips for others that follow a Paleo-type diet? I do it because it’s considered to be a good diet for those with MS (I have MS). I notice a decrease in symptoms when I follow it.

    • Cool!

      Keep doing what works best for you. If high-fat keeps you feeling best, stick with it.

      High-protein is a must.

  • Weight loss is not imporatant, fat loss is most imporatant issue, lot of people suffer from this, I think taking supplements is better solution.

  • John B

    I get really bloated on a high- carb diet, even if my total calories are in deficit. I think high protein, high fat, low carbs works best for me.
    Don’t knock losing water retention – who wants to carry around excess water?

    • I hear you, John. If you feel better going high-fat and going lower on the carbs, go ahead. I recommend whatever works better for you and gets results.

      Carbs will cause some water retention, but it’s nothing crazy, and carbs will also cause an increase in glycogen which makes your muscles look more full. 🙂

      • john

        The increased glycogen will also make you look fatter…and your muscles hidden away. Low carb works for me

        • Not if you’re lean. 🙂 Again, if low-carb works for you, that’s great. Stick to it.

  • Leona

    Can I ask. I have PCOS so I was told this automatically makes me insulin restant. Now I can defiantly say on a Saturday when I allow myself have a Cheat day and alot of it is bread I wake up next day with hangover and have jazzy foggy feeling. However that’s alot of carbs in one day so I don’t know if this is insulin resistant or not. If i have a high carb day a boy 130g of carbs I.e oats for breakfast. Sweetpitoate and rice cakes before gym and apple after gym some veg for dinner and then snack of protein bar and rice cakes and nut butter for more or less my desert. I don’t get this foggiNess or latargic feeling. Now aswel for some reason I actualy train better fasted than I do haven consumed my oats I feel? But I no this isn’t good when strenght training. I am 5.3 27 years old and 63kg alot of muscle. I can deadlift 110kg for 6 reps or squat 90 for 6 reps 70 for 10_12? Leg press like 150. I am on 1500 calories a day train 5 weight days spilt days and a HIIT on a sat morn f before my cheat day. Don’t count calories on the cheat day but I have noticed I am holding some more fat than I would like for bikini season. Is this down to my body holding all of Saturday I wonder? I stay low enough all week so I can have what I want on Saturday and not have to worry about gaining fat. Any thoughts on my process? Iv started putn in little. Meow cardio now hopen that shift might make little fat drop?

  • john

    It would seem I’m insulin resistant. I feel bloated and sluggish after a high carb meal.

    Don’t knock low carb too much. In the short term you can lose a lot of weight. True, most of this is water. But what’s so good about having several kilos of excess water.

  • Viktor


    great article and one that I hope could help me. As you mentioned, from all media buzz about the “danger of carbs” (prompted by Tim Ferris’s 4-hour-body), I am almost scared to eat them. Like my lunch is often beans + steamed carrots and peas + tofu = not the best taste ever… But I crave carbs – spagherri, risottos and chocolate and snacks all the time. I am 24, 5ft 7 (170cm), male, student and my life is pretty sedentary even though I walk where I can or go for a walk every day. I exercise a bit in the morning, but it is just body-weight exercises or yoga/pilates. Because of my lifestyle, naturally I am scared that:

    1. I will gain weight / fat around the belly/legs (even if inner belly fat)

    2. I will be bloated and not have regular “bowl movement” if you know what I mean. Which I don’t know – could it be caused by eating more carbs and less legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas)?

    The reason why this article might help me – the stuff with INSULINE SENSITIVITY – for a change, I ate a pizza today for lunch, yesterday I had couscous and chicken thigh, and before I had spaghetti – and I did not feel sleepy afterwards, on the contrary, I often feel sleepy after eating my “usual lunch”. Is there really no way how to know for certain whether how I am sensitive to insulin? I don’t dare base my judgement on 3 occasions when merely the pleasure of eating good stuff might have biased my judgement about sleepiness.

    I would like to eat more carbs, but I am almost scared now that nutrition-wise – legumes vs. spaghetti/rice (=just flour really, is it not?) – the nutritional value, vitiamins etc.

    And what are the right portions (for example a portion of uncooked spgahetti, rice, and couscous)? I am scared to go overboard because it is hard for me to naturally stop eating even though I am not hungry anymore, just because something tastes so good. And I can’t believe the “serving sizes” on packages are enough – I mean 15g of cereal? That seams very little. Not that I eat cereal.

    Could you please help me? I know it is a lot, but I’d be so thankful.

    • Thanks! Yep, there’s a lot of people fearing carbs these days.

      Cool on the foods you’re eating. I hear you on the foods you’re craving. They’re all great, haha. You could fit a lot of them into your meal plan, though, if you work it! You can set one up here:


      For what you can’t include, to help with the cravings, take a look at this:


      Cool on the exercises you’re doing.

      1. As long as you’re not in a calorie surplus, it won’t happen.

      2. If bloating is ever an issue, take a look at this:


      Great you were able to eat those things and not feel sleepy! You must be do better with carbs than you thought. 🙂

      Even if you start eating more carbs, I’d still recommend you get several servings of fruits and veges daily.

      Regarding portions, it varies person to person. You just need to make sure that whatever you have fits within your cals/macros.

      Welcome. Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Viktor

        Thank you so much for responding. I’d like to ask some more follow-up questions if it’s OK:

        My problem is I think too much about food, even when I don’t physically feel hungry and I don’t know how to stop. Often I think of food I want to eat (= result of too much focusing on clean eating and restricting foods), restaurants I want to try out, what I need to buy or spending too much on food.

        But I am not fighting obesity, I am on the opposite spectrum – skinny. I am 24 years old, 170 cm and 53 kg, which is not totally anorectic skinny, there are people way skinnier. However, it is not thanks to fabulous genes, more like the above mentioned – so I am kind of trying to work with that.

        My goal is to maintain my weight (I don’t actually mind weighing more, but I like looking thin) and your articles help understand a lot.

        1. Could you help me estimate the calorie amount I need to eat? I find it confusing – many different results from different sources – only around 1700 on the website you mentioned, 2400 in the general table by (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/healthy-weight-basics/balance.htm). And I like to eat (who doesn’t?) but I don’t want to restrict myself so much. I mean 1700, that’s like breakfast, lunch and light dinner, no place for “dirty food” 😀

        2. I’d like to keep maintain how I look and I am scared that by eating a lot with my lifestyle – sedentary – it wouldn’t work. I am not someone who likes working out, I like walking 😀 So how often would I need to work out? Right now, I do very light bodyweight/pilates exercises for 1,5-2hours every morning, but it takes so much time and right now, I need to study for exams and I’d really like to use some of the time.

        3. Is drinking too much water really dangerous like I read somewhere? Because I can easily drink 4-5 litres a day. I know it’s a lot (and I do need to use the toilet often). What could it cause? (Lately, I’ve been feeling very low on energy, activity and acutness and had a hard time to focus – do you know if it could be caused by that? Or is it due to lifestyle / food choices – almost no carbs like rice/pasta). Would I regain my appetite and be more hungry if I drank less?

        4. Do you know whether there is a study on how food affects bowl movements? Mine are always more “regular and easy” when eating a lot of lentils (although I do often feel bloated) and very “irregular” when eating pasta/risotto/pizza for lunch. But I’d much rather eat the latter for its taste :D. And I do eat fruits on a daily basis (bananas, apples, grapes – see, I really like sugar (in chocolate and cakes and ice-cream :D). But I feel so alert and happier afterwards :D, even though I know it’s supposed to be short-term and then drop, but I am not sure whether that is actually true at all?)… and veggies (tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, lettuce etc.)

        I’d really be so thankful for your advice. Thank you.

  • Kaprice2

    How do you feel about Keifer’s concept of carb cycling?

    For example, the 3 month study where there was an initial weight loss improvement but equaled out after 3 months, it might have been different if there had been weekly “refeed” days, where they built back up the glucogyn and kept leptin in check.

    For others, the idea is to go 6 days on ultra low carb, high protein and then on the 7th day you just sort of pig out on high carb stuff. As long as you don’t totally blow the weekly calorie deficit on the refeed day, the claim is that you get the benefit of low carb fat loss without the tapering off.


    • I think it’s okay if you like eating that way but otherwise it’s nothing special.

      Check this out:



      • Kaprice2

        Thanks for the reply. I did Carb Nite a few years ago and had some success — but I bailed on it too early.

        The articles you referenced are more along the lines of Carb Backloading, which is a bit different in that in it you get to eat carbs daily or every other day. It’s all about timing the carbs around your heavy lifting workout. It’s best for those really wanting to bulk up without gaining fat.

        The Carb Nite concept is more for fat loss (and I’m in this category).

        What I liked about it is you get the benefit of low carbs but that refeed day once a week is a physiological and psychological reset. I get my carb fix and so I feel far, far less deprived over the next few days.

        It IS possible the reason it worked for me was more about net calories over the week than it was about low carb, though.

        But, that ability to pig out once a week was huge for me and helped me feel like I wasn’t actually dieting.

        I did, however, have to start scaling back the calories on that one re-feed day.

        But, I hear you — if I like it and it works, go for it.

        • Kiwi

          I did Carb Nite. I think you think you are losing weight but it’s just water weight when you cut out carbs. Not fat. That was my experience anyway.

        • YW! Yeah one was on backloading, the other was cycling. 🙂

          Yep, it does make it easier knowing you have that one day a week to go hard on the carbs, haha.

          Again, if it fits your lifestyle and gets results, go ahead!

  • GridgeB

    Hey so this is a useful article as are the others on this site so thanks! I am female, 5ft7 and between 58-60kgs. I have been lifting consistently for about 8 months now so built up some strength but struggle with the calorie restrictions. I want to loose fat which is predominantly on my core and would like to build on my arms and legs which are pretty slim. I am trying high fat at the moment but worried I won’t gain where I want nor loose the belly! Any tips would be fab!!

  • Jo Mormont

    Even if you’re physically fit on the outside, eating high carbs (especially if they are simple, refined carbs) you will have a lot of inflammation and other major problems down the road.

    • What type of simple carbs are you talking about exactly?

    • cyb pauli

      What does it mean to be “physically fit on the outside”? Your muscles, cardiovascular system, fat stores, brain/nervous system etc all signs of physical fitness are located inside your body

  • yobo yoboey

    Hi Mr. Matthews, I stumbled on your website some time ago, and it has been a God-send. I understand issues of physical health so much better now than I did before! Thank you so very much for writing such informative articles.

    My question concerns my diet plan and a change I am considering:

    For several months I have been studying very hard and couldn’t devote any time to working out or any kind of intense physical activity, so I chose to go on a low-carb diet. I lost 24lbs in about two months. (Almost every week was a loss of 2lbs, but in the beginning there was a week or two when I lost 8 lbs a week in what I assume was stuff like water weight, and of course a week here and there when I didn’t lose or gain any weight). Essentially, the only carbs I eat are “simple carbs”. And yes, this means I have to be very careful to eat fiber to avoid problems of constipation (I eat foods rich in insoluble fiber like a cup of blueberries here, a cup of kale there, a cup of beans elsewhere…it bloats me at night, but hey,problem solved).

    Thankfully, now I manage to do intense exercise every day. And progress has been GREAT: I went from a size 36 waist to a size 32, I’ve got pecs, muscled biceps and triceps, can see the outline of my abs, and grew an inch on my neck (didn’t even know you could do that from working out). So I’m somewhere between 15%-17% body fat now, and my goal is to get to 10% by September (just because I think its a good goal for the end of summer). And yes, at this point, my metabolism has slowed and I’m happy if I lose just 1 pound a week (I read your article on the subject of losing fat slows ones metabolism as well).

    So, do you think I should risk going back to eating complicated carbs (like cereals, oatmeal, cookies here or there) or just stay with what works (exclusively meat/vegetables/fruits)? I don’t want to mess up my progress especially now that my metabolism has slowed to match my calorie deficits.

    Sorry that was long, I just felt like you have been with me for a big part of my fitness journey so I wanted to be detailed. Thanks again!

    • Hey hey! My pleasure! Glad you’re enjoying everything. 🙂

      Awesome job on the weight you lost going low-carb. Yep, that’s correct on the weight loss from the first few weeks.

      Glad you were able to figure it out to exercise daily and that you’re getting awesome results! I like your goal. Let’s make it happen.

      Your goal should be to lose 1-2 lbs a week.

      As long as you stay in a caloric deficit, you’ll be able lose weight going low-carb or high-carb. If you don’t do well with carbs, there’s no need to go high-carb. However, it’s possible you just don’t do well with certain carbs. Check this out:


      Hope this helps. LMK what you think.

      No worries. Happy to help!

  • Lulu

    Hi Mike,
    Thanks so much for this article. I am only 101 lbs at 5″, but I am very short and have never weighed that much, but I’d like to lose some abdominal fat that I have, but I’m having trouble losing it. I think my stomach gets distended a lot when I eat carbs like rice, pasta, and bread. I’m not sure about fruit, but I was wondering, if I eat a ton of carbs in one sitting, is it best to do cardio, or lift some weights (Like 6 lb dumbbells) to feel like your body is digesting properly? I feel like I’m starving when I go really low on carbs, but I feel really bloated when I eat a lot of carbs, so I’m not sure which way to go. I once lost about 5lbs from going low-carb, but it really wreaked my body, and I gained it all back plus 5 more lbs when I started eating my carbs regularly again. What should be my average carb amount? It seems like my body is better at storing fat than storing muscle, and I can’t seem to lose a pound of weight in one week without going down to about 1000 calories a day. Do you have any thoughts on this? Thanks again!

  • Lulu

    I’m a female by the way.

  • Kristy

    You said: “And while it’s also true that eating carbohydrate increases insulin levels in your blood, many common sources of protein (such as eggs, cheese, beef, and fish) are comparable in their ability to do the same.”

    The study you quoted to support this fact said: “Total carbohydrate (r = 0.39, P < 0.05, n = 36) and sugar (r = 0.36, P < 0.05, n = 36) contents were positively related to the mean insulin scores, whereas fat (r = -0.27, NS, n = 36) and protein (r = -0.24, NS, n = 38) contents were negatively related."

    I read that as clearly saying that protein scores were negatively related to the mean insulin score, while carb and sugar were positively related. How did you interpret this as being comparable? Am I missing something here?


    • Hey Kristy,

      They’re referring to the relationship between blood glucose and insulin levels.

      Overall, there’s a correlation between insulin and blood glucose levels (if one goes up, the other is usually going up, too), but some foods result in disproportionately large insulin responses in relation to their glycemic responses (protein and fat).

  • I have been responding very well to a high protein moderately high fat and low carb diet (1500 cals: 67% protein, 28% fat and 5% carbs). I started a week ago, but exercise Aug 1st. As of today I am down 9.5 lbs, 7.5 of which was this week (water). I have plenty of energy, my mood is good (it does dip because I have major depressive disorder, PTSD and anxiety, but overall it is far better compared to prior Aug 1st) I also notice the extra protein has vastly reduced after workout muscle aches (DOMS I think it is called). As far as carbs are concerned I do plan to slowly being them up over time, starting in about 5 weeks. Sooner if weight loss doesn’t taper off to the 2-3lbs range. I am not interested in losing too fast for several reasons.

    However, I am diabetic and morbidly obese (5’2 267lbs). I am going high protein as I am also doing strength training (resistance bands, don’t laugh I am just starting). My main goals are to shred fat, improve cardio health, gain strength and eventually tone my body. So far so good. I am super excited about this journey and life change.

    Glad to be here!

    • Welcome, Tay! That’s great work you’ve done so far. Keep it up!

  • Erin

    I was previously Low Carb/High Fat with my carb intake at about 20% of total calories. However, I have decided to slowly up my carb intake and lower fat intake per the recommendation of TLS. However, I am feeling a bit, well, puffy. I know that the higher carb will cause my muscles to retain more water, but I was wondering how long the effects will last until my body levels out and is used to the new carb intake? Its a bit uncomfortable 😛 thanks!

  • Chantelle

    Could you suggest a starting point in macro percentage composition for those looking to switch to lower carb eating? I’m definitely the type of person who has all the signs poor insulin response and have had less than ideal results using the default 40%p, 20%f, 40%c calculation on the Macronturient Calculator. I was thinking of reversing fats and carbs but 40% fat is a scary thought.

    • Absolutely! Try this to start:

      45% of your calories from protein
      20% of your calories from carbohydrate
      35% of your calories from fat

      • Chantelle

        Thanks Mike! I’ve already re-jigged my numbers and I’ll see if that helps! I appreciate the quick response!

  • I’m The Batman

    Tenuous at best. All the research shows that low carb is better for health.

  • Rachel Newson

    Hi Mike
    I have a genetic form of diabetes which means that my pancreas can’t be bothered to produce insulin unless asked to chemically. I adapt which of my drugs I use depending on how much carb I am eating. Low carb eating is the recommendation for people with my type of diabetes,
    but any excess insulin gets stored as fat cells close to the liver (your tum) in case your liver needs to use them later. I hate my tum! So what macro balance would you suggest for me?

  • Tyler Cally

    Hi Mike, I am currently on my bulking cycle, but i have run into the same struggle that i did last season. Naturally, if i take a day doing absolutely NOTHING but getting up to pee and eat I burn upwards of 3000 calories. If its a day where I am mobile and going to work/gym I burn a minimum of 4000 calories. Some days I believe I burn around 5000 calories(these readings came from a fitbit so take with a grain of salt, but still a load of calories). I’ve been working out and learning my body for over 5 years now(i am 18) , and it is very very good at staying lean. I’m in great shape I am very fit (5’9.5″, 150lbs, 9-10%bf), but I feel “scrawny” and want to build more muscle. In order to gain mass I “have” to eat 450+g/carbs. my macros are (‘as many carbs as i can’, 180g/protein, 60g/fats). My main issue is that i find it very difficult to get that amount of carbs in a day. I stick to mostly rice and other grains for carbs ( I eat a moderate amount of sugar, usually from sauces/seasonings). I’m already force feeding myself with anything i can put in a shake at night, but how the hell am i supposed to get in 400-500 carbs in a single day? And even with that math, it puts me at just over 3000 calories. On my last bulk season i went from 150lbs to 165lbs in about 4-5 months, but i was in college at this time and was under a lot of stress and eating any crap food i could get my hands on in order to bulk. a fair majority of what I ate was fat from fried foods. although i successfully hit my goal weight i was probably about 13%bf which is the highest I had ever been. I gained a decent amount of muscle and it shows from my last cut, but it is not at the level that I am looking for. My current goal weight is 175lbs in a span of 6 months(start 150lbs) and going no higher than 12% (start 9-10%).

    • Hey Tyler! It’s totally fine to increase your calories from fats if you’re eating a ton of carbs. I usually cap carbs at 3x body weight, and then increase from fat.

      Ultimately, if you’re having trouble getting in the calories to gain weight, you’ll just have to focus on more calorie-dense foods. There’s better options than fried foods 🙂

      Check this out: https://www.muscleforlife.com/food-to-gain-weight/

    • Scott Lamb

      altho my input doesn’t count for much, i’m been 115lbs my whole life and never gained anything no matter how much I ate. What worked for me was drinking raw food shakes with a whole crapload of olive oil in it. I put like 50ml or whatever in each shake and it adds 400calories on its own and you don’t even notice it and it doesn’t take up any space. I don’t really know how healthy doing that is but I did it for about 6 months, 1 or 2 shakes a day, and I felt great and managed to gain a bunch of weight. Easiest way I could find to add calories to my day. Coconut oil would have been my go-to but it stays solid in my shakes cuz they’re cold and it doesn’t melt so I just stuck with olive oil.

  • Lj Thomas

    For someone like yourself – – young and ripped-sure you can handle carbohydrates. You need those carbs for workouts and extended energy. But for the obese sedentary older person, carbs are not generally our friend.

    In any case, it is not becoming of you to suggest that someone of Gary Taubes’ stature as a researcher and author has written a “scientifically bankrupt” book. This is a rather dismissive and arrogant attitude that only serves to make one question YOUR credibility – – especially when your own credentials pale in comparison and you did not elaborate on why you made such a statement.

  • Elaine Jones

    I’m glad I read this. I recently tried the keto thing and I was hungry ALL the time. I would eat and immediately get hungry. I eventually just scrapped it and ate my carbs and had an instant mood boost. I have already been losing body fat with my modest 40/40/20 split (carbs/fat/protein) but kept kept popping up so I thought there was something wrong with me if it didn’t work. I train 2x a day. Strength in morning and cardio at night. Having a modest amount of carbs just works better for my mind and body.

    • Makes sense. I’m glad you found something that works for you 🙂

  • JeK

    Mike, cheers for such a clear and parsimonious explanation. And for being just so level-headed in general in your work. Here it seems like even serious lifestyle medicine MDs can take opposite views, e.g. Kahn vs Malhotra debate. IIRC it was one of the pubs based off predimed that re-energised LC recently, but it was not really reported that the study subpopulation was heavily overweight and likely insulin resistant. Feels like this debate keeps getting more polarised by the day.

    Just wanted to share my own experience and ask a question.

    Went on a research bender over the last year that has overturned every aspect of my life. I’d say the driving issue was autoimmunity demonstrably associated with inflammation/compromised insulin response, with the resistance symptoms you mentioned, and possibly subclinical Nafld (as evidenced by periodically wacky enzymes, slightly enlarged liver though nothing too exceptional on US/cat). I was a long-time veggie but a cheese addict – one of the joys of having every conceivable european cheese available here in the UK. Long story short, cut out cheese and went fully WFPB, changed exercise regimens in line with your reccs, dramatically cutting gym time while making record gains in performance, did several long-ish (7 day) water fasts, dropping many kg of fat I never knew I was carrying around, liver issues and insulin resistance gone, autoimmunity mostly gone, energy levels: insane, eating very HC and feeling and especially looking better than ever. Prolonged water fasting was no doubt a drastic fix, but I guess the damage accumulated over many decades so just incremental changes weren’t making a dent. My experience suggests that LC is a bandaid compared to fixing the actual problem.

    Question: have you ever looked at Lyle McDonald’s calorie partitioning theory and cyclical dieting? Is it consistent with your practical experience at all? I stumbled across it recently and wonder if it makes sense, and if the recs are worth considering. I lost a lot of muscular bulk while fasting (strength+endurance remained unchanged, so I guess the victims were intramuscular fats/useless proteins). If partitioning is how things work, I’ll need to take measures to affect the proportion fat/muscle gain when I amp up my calorie intake in order to build bulk again.

    • Thanks for sharing. I’m so glad you liked the article and it’s great to hear you’ve made some huge improvements to your health! Keep me posted 🙂

  • Roy Walker

    If you are an older person, or a carb-o-holic, or you can’t, exercise, then yes carbs are the enemy, because carbs are very more-ish, and it is hard to stop, over eating them. When I was 30 years old, I gave up smoking, and ballooned from 75k g to 94 kg. One day about 2 to 3 years later I decided I would like to do some fun runs, so I ran at least 1 hour every day, no change of diet, I had no idea diet had anything to do with weight, any way the weight (fat) just fell off me and in about 6 weeks I was down to 73 kg and an 80 cm waist. I am now almost 70 Years of age and that does not happen now, it is a hard grind to lose fat at an older age. I am getting there now eating mostly green vegetables, a ton of protein and some fat. I find that is the only way for me to control my appetite, and cut calories without feeling hunger. I have tried low carb high fat, but I still over eat, highish carbs moderate fat and protein still hungry. High protein wins the day for me. on a 1800 calorie intake I eat 270 grams of protein, 50 g carbs and 60 g fat, I have gone from 83 kg to 75 kg in 6 weeks without hunger, I do intervals sometimes with KBells and sometimes on a body exercise circuit. I realise you guys are all young but remember it gets harder as you age. cheers

    • Thanks for sharing, Roy! It’s great to hear you’ve found something that’s working for you. 🙂

  • Hgaafar

    How about carb-cycling techniques? Is it going to be beneficial in case of uncertainty about the insulin sensitivity or resistance?

  • Max Power

    a box of krispy kremes a day will definetly screw you up… and as Academic Professor Ricky Gervais states, “if you’re fat and miserable about your body image, maybe cut out 1 of those 10 meat pies”

    • A box of donuts is definitely not the best choice for cutting haha

  • pip wood

    Oh please! I signed up to this site thinking you were well-informed! Insulin does not at all do what you or most misinfomed websites claim (I am not going to tell you where to look you should know). All carbs are not at all equal. Protein does not affect your blood sugar in the same way carbs do. I could critique the studies you cite easily. I run a global medical diabetes reversal website and Im surprised that a body builder would so misunderstand the role of insulin. However I agree with your conclusions -you gotta find what works gor you. And that changes heaps as you age and between men and women and racial background. Not in dispute is that exercise increases insulin sensitivity. But by how much is a whole other subject.

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