Does the Low Carb Approach Lose Its Effect Over Time?

I was asked this by Dr Dan over at Darwin’s Table as a comment on one of my posts – here’s my response.

I think that low carb effectiveness will decrease over time because the body builds a tolerance to the approach. Heck, if you’ve been doing low carb for five years then try to go even lower carb, you are not going to get the same effect that you would if you went low carb coming from a diet of cookies, coke and pizza.

I am also beginning to think that hormonal balance has something to do with it, and as we age, some of these hormones decrease (thyroid and testosterone are 2 I’m considering more research on) and this will make low carb less effective over the long run.

I’ve learned a lot from the people posting on the Irvingia Field Reports – even if you are not interested in the supplement, there’s plenty of other interesting stuff surrounding the challenge of weight loss that might be of help.

Younger folks just starting out on low carb have the best chance of dramatic weight loss. This happened to me in my early 40s – it’s my mid-40s where I’m not seeing the same result. I think this means that – if you succeed in losing weight low carb, NEVER LET IT COME BACK! Don’t think that if you let your weight creep up, you’ll be able to lose it as easily next time – it will be incrementally harder the next time.

And you will probably find that as time goes on, even if you don’t let it creep back, and keep the same habits, the weight will begin to increase anyway as you age and your body becomes more finely tuned to low carb. Let’s face it – all of us here are swimming upstream – we’re meant to be fat – it is the state our bodies want to be in. When you disagree with your body, expect it to fight you all the way.

My hypothesis is that, once we’ve trashed our bodies on high-carb crap for 20 years, it is impossible to totally recover from this. Like smokers who quit, you can reverse a lot of the damage, but not all. So you can never be totally like a true paleo – he never ate a bag of Cheeze Doodles while watching Australian Rules Football.

(By the way – I don’t like sports – but I LOVE Australian Rules Football. They used to show it in the US years ago – I was addicted. American football players are wimps compared to these guys.)

So – is it hopeless? Of course not. What it might mean is that you have to change your tactics as time goes on, while you stick to the same strategy.

3 thoughts on “Does the Low Carb Approach Lose Its Effect Over Time?

  1. I’m new to your blog (haven’t read too much yet) and thought I’d say Hi. You made a great comment over on Dr. Dan’s site. A similar debate was going on site (re a recent conversion from veganism to omnivorism- she’s an elite runner). I’d like to copy parts of your comment over there (with attribution).

    I know the hormone thing is critical, but I don’t think you have to believe in permanent damage. I’ve gotten down to a BMI of 23 now, but still have plenty of fat to go to get to my goal. I might be satisfied with my current weight and appearance except that my blood pressure has still not normalized, and I take this as a sign that my adipose tissue is still contributing hormones, or fat soluble substances with hormonal affects are still leaking out perhaps? Could be as simple as getting all the fat out of the liver. So I am still not back to the primal condition even though no longer “overweight.” There may also be DNA methylation or other regulation that affects metabolism and weight loss, and might be reversible with time, once the signals that put it there are gone.

    Also, Michael Eades recently had a couple of postings on the issue of why low carb seems harder the second (and third) time around.

    Good luck and keep up the good fight!

  2. Hmm you sure do keep it real. You know that dairy and saturated fats have been shown to increase insulin resistance. If your not balancing this with monounsaturated fats then you may be becoming more insulin resistant and over time this means you have to go even lower carb to get the same results. Do you tend to eat mostly saturated fats?

    Cynthia – sorry I know this is not my blog but I don’t think blood pressure is all its cracked up to be. I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

  3. Dr Dan,

    You say I’m ‘keeping it real’ because I dis American Football on Superbowl Sunday or for some other reason?

    Also – THANKS for RUINING my day by telling me that dairy and sat fats have been shown to increase insulin resistance. Where’s the studies on that one, DD?

    Maybe I’ll change my diet and just eat beef and water…



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