Tag: carb nite

Do You Qualify for Maximum Fat Loss?

Posted by on February 21, 2013 | 3 comments

Or: “How much fat and protein should you eat on The Carb Nite Solution?”

Because of my history with Dangerously Hardcore 1, people often track me down to ask questions about Carb Nite and Carb Back-Loading. I’m happy to answer them, so it’s all good, but some questions trouble me.

One that comes up time and again, probably because of Kiefer’s video talking about a good macronutrient ratio for Carb Nite, is the question of how much protein and fat should a person be eating to lose fat during the ultra-low-carb portion of Carb Nite?

The answer in the video is classic Kiefer: technically correct.

To maximize fat loss, Kiefer says in the video, people can eat as little as .5g of fat per pound of bodyweight, and keep protein at 1g per pound of bodyweight.

That’s all well and good, except that what people actually do with this information is that they think they are failures if they’re not able to achieve the “maximimum” fat loss possible.

Well, news flash: real people have lives, and kids, and jobs, and stress, and differing activity levels, and they sometimes don’t sleep well. All of these factors influence the amount of satiety one experiences from food and how sustaining that food is, not to mention proximal effects on job performance and social life.

Kiefer works with athletes, fitness models, and so on, so it’s good for him to know how to maximize fat loss in an absolute sense. These types of people have make-or-break relationships with their bodies. I’ve worked with a few amateur powerlifters who, despite their everyday job stress (one was an ER nurse for example), still managed to follow rather aggressive protocols to make weight for a meet.

But most people are not powerlifters dieting down for a meet. Most people, especially on Carb Nite, are trying to fit a body transformation into their lifestyle, so they can lose baby fat from pregnancy or heal themselves from chronic obesity.

Most people will lose weight if they simply eliminate carbohydrates and compose their meals out of ANY combination of protein, fat, and vegetables. Most people also tend to underestimate the amount of fat they should use in their meals, so there is value in providing an absolute lower end consumption for fat — the .5g / lb bodyweight Kiefer talks about.

But let’s say you stop losing fat.

If you go (say) two weeks without any fat loss (not weight, but fat), then certainly it’s time to look at reducing the amount of fat you consume. This strategy of course assumes that you know what your current level of fat intake is, and that’s why I have everyone track what they eat regardless of whether they’re trying to hit specific macronutrient targets or not. It’s much easier to know where you’re going when you know exactly where you’ve been.

If you don’t know where you’ve been, then sure: give .5g fat / 1g protein per pound of bodyweight a try.

Actually, I advise a more conservative .75g / 1g ratio, which works perfectly well for many, many people. Keep in mind that hundreds of people have used The Carb Nite Solution successfully eating a ratio of 1:1 of fat and protein. 2

If you do try to go the “optimal” route, be aware that many people don’t feel sated on that little fat, and that this approach effectively constitutes a major calorie reduction for most people. Calorie reductions of any description all come with the same risks:

  • lower energy
  • lower willpower
  • increased thoughts about food
  • decreased brain power
  • decreased motivation for exercise
  • mood dysregulation

Not saying this happens to everyone, that’s why I use the word “risks”. If you don’t have any of these problems, then congratulations, you qualify for Maximum Fat Loss. The rest of us will take a more moderate approach, because if we don’t, we won’t stick with the diet long enough to see much progress whatsoever.

If you as an individual find it impossible to stay sated on a restricted-carbohydrate diet that is also very calorie-restricted, and wind up spending the rest of your day obsessing over food or taking little nibbles of things (which is counterproductive to fat loss) — or worse, winding up at the end of the day with depleted willpower, unable to resist the cookies you set aside for Carb Nite — then who cares what the “optimal” ratio is?

So consider: when you’re on Carb Nite or Carb Back-Loading, you’re already having to think about counting one macronutrient (carbohydrates); take a critical look at how well you are handling that little daily stress before you introduce yet more challenges to your lifestyle.

What you need to look to do is find the diet — any diet, not just Carb Nite — that allows you to lose fat, gain muscle, or whatever, while not screwing with your life too much. The moment your diet starts to overtake your enjoyment and engagement in life, it’s time to find another plan.

You have to know yourself and know your own body. The information on how to maximize fat loss is just that: information. How you make use of it depends on YOU.


  1. and despite the fact that I no longer work with Kiefer
  2. by grams, not calories. Important distinction.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Happy (carb nite) Birthday to Me

Posted by on September 27, 2012 | 4 comments

Had myself a nifty keen birthday party for the first time in, oh, 3 years! (Key fact: my son is turning 2 in about a week.)

red velvet layer cake (cut)

why yes, I WILL eat a whole bunch of this.

Baked myself this mad, multi-layer red velvet cake with sweet vanilla icing. It was bigger than my dad’s head.

And you better believe I ate a LOT of it. It was my carb nite, after all, and I’d been eating under 30g of carbs for the previous 6 days, not to mention doing a LOT of rock climbing (yay!).

mad tea party 2012

oh and also a whole bunch of these.

I probably ate like 3000 calories just from carbs that day. But when you’re able to make stupidly-high carb meals work FOR you, there’s no reason to use words like “guilty pleasure”.

There’s nothing to make up for the next day. The carbs are part of the plan!

Wanna binge on birthday cake and lose fat anyway?

You can get the electronic version of the Carb Nite Solution here, and you can get a hard copy of the book from Amazon.com.

(Breastfeeding? Carb Nite is totally safe, keeps your energy levels high, and may actually increase the fat content of your milk. Read about my experience on Carb Nite while breastfeeding.)

Tags: , ,

How Not to Suck

Posted by on June 12, 2012 | No comments

Warrior Woman backIt’s funny the ways life teaches you how not to suck.

For years before I got pregnant, every time I got a hair up my ass, I’d go spend HOURS in a gym doing all the wrong stuff, getting nowhere, and burning that hair up like the wick on a tea light. But I guess I was more interested in raw food dogma than in looking like the superhero I wanted to be.

Then I got pregnant, and spent my whole pregnancy doing yoga. And then came the baby.

I had NO IDEA how much time I’d have to devote to that little larva. But I knew that somehow, I had to get fit. I would not let myself be the floppy, flabby mama who gives herself over to flowy oversized blouses, or tracksuits, or whatever. Not gonna happen.

I was going to be the best mommy evar… who didn’t look like a mommy when she went out without the baby.
» Read the full post

Tags: ,

I Keep Trying to Get Fat and It Doesn’t Work!

Posted by on December 19, 2011 | One comment

Man, I am doing everything I can to get fat — I skip breakfast, I don’t do “cardio”, my primary calorie source tends to be butter (I even put it in my coffee), and I eat the most un-fitness-oriented foods I can find at least 2 days a week. It’s just not working, guys, I’m not getting fat!

Tongue-in-cheek, obviously. Tongue firmly planted in cheek, where it has been enjoying items such as this amazing “apple pie sundae” from Humphrey Slocombe here in SF, accompanied by the absolutely ridiculous topping of a cookie sandwich from nearby Victoria Bakery.

Apple Cinnamon-Brittle Sundae with Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwich

calories? what are those? all I see is insulin and glucose...

The best part about yesterday wasn’t consuming this amazing concoction. Nor was it the fact that I’d just pulled a 175lb deadlift (for two! twice!), even though I’d sprained my ankle last week and hadn’t been to the gym since the previous Saturday.

No, the best part about yesterday was sauntering through the gym after my workout, answering the question of a 24 Hr Fitness trainer: what do you eat BEFORE you work out?
» Read the full post

Tags: , ,

How to Go Low Carb

Posted by on October 12, 2011 | No comments

This morning I had a very brief conversation with my partner, initiated by my checking myself out in the mirror and noticing — really noticing — all of the fat that I wasn’t wearing around my abdomen anymore. (“Could those be my ABS!??!”)

“Man I am becoming a fan of this not-eating-breakfast thing,” I announced to the mirror.

My partner agreed that I had definitely lost some fat. But then, considering himself, he said, “if I don’t eat breakfast, I get fatter.”

I thought on this for a moment, reflecting on the differences between him and me…
» Read the full post

Tags: , ,

Experiences on the Carb Nite Program

Posted by on June 30, 2011 | 9 comments

I’ve talked before about doing the Carb Nite program (I won’t call it a “diet”, because you’re only meant to do Carb Nite for a limited amount of time and then switch to a more sustainable long-term diet), and, at the prodding of a commenter on an earlier blog post, decided to follow up about it.

The short and sweet: I dropped to 22% bodyfat from about 24% in 5 weeks. Although the scale shows I lost only 5 pounds (coming to about 133 lbs), I must have gained about a pound of muscle to end up as I did.

I also reduced my waist from 29.5″ to 28″, and my “mommy tummy” to about 33″. I still feel I have a few inches to lose in that area, but I’m very happy with my progress.

I’m not still doing Carb Nite. In fact, while I was thinking about this post, I ended up finding someone else’s experience with the Carb Nite diet which was quite similar to mine.

“Polymath Scanner” — I love that name! — wrote a post entitled “Why I Dropped the Carb Nite Solution Diet”, and said:

On Thursday, I woke up and tried to go about my regular day after carb night. I didn’t really eat much, as I didn’t feel hungry at all. In the early afternoon I had an egg omelet as I knew I had to eat something, but it really didn’t taste good to me at all. For dinner I made steak and salad, and even though the salad tasted good I really did not enjoy the steak at all. The whole time I was eating it, my body was saying “Don’t eat this.”

On Friday morning, I once again did not feel like eating so I just had a protein shake but by the time mid-afternoon rolled around I knew I had to eat something.

That’s when it happened.

I went upstairs, opened up the fridge and saw all the different foods I had there which were Carb Nite® Solution friendly and I had everything in there to make a few dozen different types of meals.

I stood there for about 2 minutes, stared at the food in the fridge, and then closed the fridge door with the intuitive thought “I am no longer on this diet.”

And that’s pretty much how it went for me, too — on both month-long rounds of Carb Nite. I lost a bunch of fat up front, then hardly any fat (comparatively) the following weeks, just like Mr. Polymath describes in his post.

Around the fourth or fifth week on this diet, it really did just feel wrong to keep eating the high protein, high fat things all day. I quit the diet both times without having planned to, simply because at a certain point, it felt more right to eat a banana than an omelet for breakfast… and then it felt better to eat some baked yam with butter instead a turkey salad for lunch… and so on.

Interestingly — and I think quite positively — the end result of these two Carb Nite cycles was that it put me at a place where I am intuitively eating around 100 grams of carbs per day without even noticing it. I still have “sugar cravings” that I instantly recognize as a need for minerals (e.g. greens) or potassium. And the small amounts of high-carb foods that I do eat, I find so incredibly sugary that it’s actually hard for me stomach what would be considered a full serving of it.

So that’s it. I would definitely, definitely recommend giving this program a try. You will lose fat and you will gain untold insights about your body that will help you interpret your needs and cravings, no matter what program you’re on.

Oh, and as I wrote in another blog post, I found that being on the Carb Nite program, which is a cyclic ketogenic diet, was not only preservative of breastfeeding, it actually seemed to make my breastmilk fattier (which is good).

Have you tried Carb Nite or another ketogenic diet? Let me know!

Tags: , , ,

Finished My First CKD Cycle

Posted by on March 26, 2011 | One comment

Yesterday I completed my first cycle in the Carb Nite system: 9 days of eating 30 grams of carbs or less per day, and then a 10th day consisting of a 6- to 8-hour stretch of total carbohydrate binge armageddon.

How did I do?

Well, I have to say, I binged quite well. I took in a whopping 534 grams of carbs to produce a nearly 4000 calorie intake.

I weighed myself at the beginning of yesterday at 132.2 lbs. (That’s an apparent loss of about 3 pounds.) At the end of the day, I weighed 135.8 lbs. Today (“the morning after”), I still weigh 135.8 lbs and the bloating is damn obvious.

So all I can say is, this leap of faith had better have been worth taking! We’ll see!

Alright, so the other days? I did PRETTY well…

Supplements taken daily:

  • 1000 IU Vitamin D (with eggs at breakfast)
  • 1250mg fish oil (450 mg EPA, 300mg DHA) (with lunch)
  • 2000mg potassium gluconate (starting Day 5) (500mg each meal)
  • 250mg magnesium (before bed)

Day 1 went alright. I didn’t feel particularly different. I got in an interval-based workout and took walks with my little boy, as usual. Unfortunately, just eating “by intuition” didn’t work too well for me, as I totally blew my carb budget but felt hungry all day anyway.

Day 2 (29g) was better. I figured out how to add more fat to things and stay sated longer.

Day 3 (35g) suddenly got a lot harder. I felt ravenous no matter how much I ate or what kinds of things I ate, I had a low buzzing headache, and my energy was a bit depressed. Despite that, I put in a 40-minute resistance workout that had me rolling on the floor.

Then the weekend rolled around, and I finally hit full ketosis. At least, I believe I did, because I was totally dragging myself through Day 4 (35g) and Day 5 (39g) with very little energy available for just about anything. A bit of digging in google produced knowledge of the “induction flu”; a bit of introspection led me to an important discovery about the need for supplementation on this diet.

I took two naps on Saturday and three naps on Sunday. Oh man! That felt great.

And somewhere in that time, my long-time-standing back pain sort just went away. Wow!

On Day 6 (37g), I was happy to find my energy had returned to some degree.

Day 7 (34g), Day 8 (45g), and Day 9 (41g) all passed pretty uneventfully. I felt normal, and the diet had become pretty easy.

Yes, I kept blowing the 30 gram carb intake limit by a handful. But YOU try staying under par when you’re trying to eat 2400 to 2600 calories per day!

Finally, carb nite rolled around. I actually started around noon with a Tim Ferriss-style grapefruit-and-coffee-and-croissants meal, except my chunk of starch was a big oat bar from Philz.

I’d had my binge foods all planned out, and I did it all very efficiently: I picked up 4 cookie sandwiches and an amazing strawberry cupcake from the Wholesome Bakery, and a big bag of unsulfured dried pineapple. These cookie sandwiches are total gut bombs, you have to understand.

Other foods that day were things like an eggplant pesto wrap, cole slaw, turkey, baked beans, and a few oranges. These were carb-laden foods in the fridge that suddenly I could eat, so I figured, why let them go bad?

It took me the full 8 hours — from noon to 8pm — to eat all of this stuff, and even halfway through I was kinda sick of cookies. At 8pm I finished myself off with a final round of dried pineapple rings (yum!) and a third of a bottle of red wine. By 9pm I was buzzed, a little dizzy, and just about ready to pass out.

So, pass out I did, at 10pm. And I slept really, really well.

Today I am bloated but energetic. I took a couple of strenuous bike rides and just hopped right back on to the ultra-low-carb diet without a hitch.

Tags: , ,

Starting Carb Nite Diet for Fat Loss

Posted by on March 21, 2011 | 5 comments

Definitely not me.

So it’s been 3 months since I set a goal of reaching 20% bodyfat by March 30th. It’s now March 21st and there’s no way I’m going to drop 5 pounds of fat and gain 1-2 pounds of lean muscle in 7 days — not at my current pace.

I have failed.

But that’s okay. I failed the same way a gazillion other people have failed: cutting calories.

Back in 2008, a friend of mine gave me a copy of his book, Carb Nite, which details a system of muscle-sparing fat loss that is something akin to a cyclic ketogenic diet. The system purports to manipulate hormone levels in order to make the body run on fat — and therefore never store fat — and then to keep the metabolism on an upward trend.

Keeping the metabolism on an upward trend is apparently something the traditional “just stay the course” low-carb diets like Atkins fail at. Many people reach a plateau where they should still be dropping fat, but their bodies have adjusted somehow; these people often resort to calorie-cutting, which tells the body to down-shift the metabolism even more. Kiefer explains this in his book, both scientifically and from his own personal experience doing a low carb slow-and-steady diet with disappointing results.

Anyway, here’s the short and “sweet” on how this diet works. You eat 30 grams of carbohydrates every day for 9 days. Then on the 10th day, starting at about 4pm, you eat all kinds of high-carb foods that would be off-limits on just about any other long-term lifestyle diet (which this diet is not) — pizza, doughnuts, bagels, even your favorite gluten-free baked treats made with all-organic ingredients (yes, the Wholesome Bakery tops my list for “carb night”).

How does this work?

Well, Tim Ferriss uses this same hormone manipulation technique in his Four Hour Body diet, although he doesn’t explain it to nearly the degree that Kiefer does in Carb Nite. And William Banting is usually credited as the first “dietitian” (he was a coroner who experimented on himself, to good effect) on record to figure out that it’s the QUALITY of a diet, not the QUANTITY consumed, that makes the difference in one’s constitution — and that eating very few carbohydrates but lots of fat was the key to fat loss.

You may notice I never say “weight loss”. I’m only interested in losing fat, obviously! If I dropped 5 pounds of fat but gained the equivalent poundage in muscle, I’d be a happy camper.

That’s why I have a bodyfat analyzer. Mine is on the cheap end of the spectrum, but it seems to be measuring consistently. It’s the fact that the numbers on this little machine haven’t budged much at all in 3 months that I’m switching to a plan that promises actual results and has the science to back it up.

I’ve spent a decade variously experimenting with calorie cutting, cardiovascular exercise, a raw vegan diet, and many other faddish approaches that ultimately have their roots in a carbohydrate-loving view of the human diet that may be completely unfounded — or at least, so says the primal diet world.

I think I can honestly say that there was one time in my life that calorie-cutting worked for me, but it was during a period of time where I just didn’t have time to deal with food, so I didn’t even notice! It was the slow-and-steady effect that probably only happens when you’re not stressing over it.

Anyway, let’s face it: many people probably do succeed on the calories-in/calories-out model, including the fitness experts who do slow cardio every morning. But there’s actually not much evidence showing that this approach works for too many people. And I know it doesn’t work too well for me — particularly because I’m breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding, in fact, is one of the reasons I’m doing this diet. I’ve struggled to determine how many calories breastfeeding burns and come up short. So, while keeping a food diary did help me see how many calories I was eating per day, it’s hard to tell how many fewer I could eat and still produce milk enough to feed a growing baby who exists entirely on it alone.

Thus it gives me great peace of mind to be on a diet geared toward fat loss and muscle preservation that doesn’t force me to cut calories at all.

I am actually now halfway through the first 10 days of this system, having started this past Wednesday, and if this past week had a theme song, it would be called “And I’m Still Hungry!?” I have slabbed tons of butter on things, including steak, and still wound up with an appetite for more. So I eat. And I record what I eat — and in the final tally, I’m eating almost EXACTLY the same number of calories as in my “balanced” diet.

So if this diet works, it will be because of its stated pathway of hormone manipulation, not because of calorie cutting!

Many more thoughts have come to mind — like whether ketosis would be a problem for breastfeeding — so stay tuned for more blog posts where hopefully I ramble a little less and stay on a focused topic a little more.

Tags: , , , , ,

Powered by Wordpress and Stripes Theme Entries (RSS) | Comments (RSS)