MD and I wish all of you a most prosperous and healthful New Year!

We’ve had a great time with family and friends over the holidays, but now it’s time to get back into the swing of things.  We ended the year last night with a great dinner for friends.  MD went all out on one of her mega dinners, which, of course, included foie gras, her all-time favorite food.  (That’s my serving of foie gras pictured on the left.  The little jelly-like stuff is a pomegranate pepper jelly that was out of this world and well worth the four or five carbs.)  We had a terrific time ringing out the old year and ringing in the new. I, myself, could have done with a few fewer glasses of wine and the champagne we drank to toast in the new year.

MD’s menu for our New Year’s Eve feast:

  • Roasted red pepper soup
  • Foie gras (cooked sous vide)
  • Duck breast (cooked sous vide) with cabernet cherry reduction
  • Golden beets
  • Fresh herb salad with vinaigrette
  • Epoisses (a soft French cheese)
  • Poached pears (cooked sous vide) with pomegranate reduction and heavy cream

Various wines for the different courses and champagne at midnight.

I’ve just now barely recovered.

Everyone is busily making resolutions for the new year, and I suspect that in many cases the list includes weight loss.  In cruising through the web today while regaining my sobriety, I came across a number of posts offering to help by giving weight loss recommendations.  As a weight-loss method, it seems this year that caloric restriction is all the vogue.  Most of the articles I read had a sort of smarmy condescending nature to them, as in, hey, guys, it’s really, really simple to lost weight.  All you have to do is just cut your calories and you’ll lose.  It’s not difficult.  Just do it.

One particular article on losing weight that was representative of most was in Wired Wiki How-To.  By his tone, it’s pretty obvious that the author of this article figures he’s found the holy grail of weight loss.  It’s easy and fast and foolproof.

What does he recommend?

First, you decide how much you want to lose and how long you want to diet. You then multiply the amount (in pounds) you want to lose times 3,500 (the number of calories in a pound of fat).  Take this number and divide it by the number of days you plan on dieting, and you’ve got the number of calories you’ve got to cut back by to lose the weight you want to lose.

The article even gives an example to show how it works.  Let’s say you need to lose 10 pounds and you’re willing to spend two months dieting to lose the weight.  You multiply 10 times 3,500, which gives you 35,000 calories you need to get rid of.  Divide this 35,000 by 60, and you find you need to reduce your intake by 583 calories per day, and, Voila!, your ten extra pounds will be gone at the end of the month.  What could be easier?  Why didn’t I think of that?

The author even presents a version of the energy balance equation to show what he’s talking about.  It’s just a system, says he, and all you’ve got to do to be thin is operate the system.

If it were only that easy, no one would be overweight.

Here is the energy balance equation:

Change in weight = Calories in – Calories out

Below is another way of stating the same thing:

Change in weight = Calories from food consumed – Calories from BMR and exercise

It all sounds so easy.  If your calories coming in from food are balanced by the calories you get rid of during daily living, then your weight remains constant.  If you decrease your intake of calories and keep the calories going out the same, then you’ll decrease your weight.

Problem is, these two terms ‘calories in’ and ‘calories out’ aren’t independent of one another.  If you reduce the number of calories coming in, you’ll also reduce the number of calories you burn.  Your metabolic rate will drop, you will decrease your activity more, and your weight won’t change as much as you would expect.  If you ratchet up your exercise, then you’ll compensate by unconsciously increasing the food you eat by a bit.  The fact that these two components of the energy balance equation aren’t independent is what makes losing weight by counting calories so difficult.

In my opinion, it’s much easier to lose excess body fat by following a diet that both restricts calories without your having to think about it and that does it in a way that doesn’t really cause you to drop your metabolic rate.  Plus, a good diet followed correctly actually gives you a little boost in that it provides a small metabolic advantage.  In other words, you lose a few extra calories (maybe up to 200-300 per day) without having to do anything to lose them other than following the diet.

Take a look at this post on Is a calorie always a calorie? I wrote a couple of years ago to see what I mean.

But beware.  This post comes with a caveat.  If you are in the least bit psychologically unhinged, you might not want to read the post.  It was this very post that pushed Anthony Colpo over the edge.  It inspired him to launch a jihad against me and against anyone else who might possibly believe that a slight metabolic advantage exists.  He wrote an entire book that he made available free to anyone who wanted it showing how Gary Taubes, Richard Feinman, and MD and I were idiots.  Of course, my redneck genes, such as they are, compelled me to answer.  For those of you who weren’t readers in those days, the end result of the whole affair was that after receiving a number of pretty severe canings on this blog, our friend Anthony just sort of drifted away, never to be heard from again.

All this aside, read the post and come to your own conclusions as to what the best diet is for simple, quick weight loss and act accordingly should one of your New Year’s resolutions be to lose weight.

If you need some motivation to jump in with both feet and do it, then read this post, this one and this one.

Best of luck with all your resolutions.  I look forward to continuing our journey together in 2010.


  1. Hi Dr. Eades,

    I have a question: Why do we model human metabolism with a measure–the calorie–that is built on combustion analysis? Our bodies are not combustion chambers.

    I really have a hard time grasping, intuitively, what a calorie actually is. I suspect that there is a better way to account for–measure–energy intake and processing that matches our sophisticated physiologies/biochemistries more closely.

    Thanks for a great 2009!




  2. Happy new year to you too Drs Eades! With your encouragement and new book I was able to lose 50 lbs this year. Tho the holidays brought a few of them back to me, I am sure that I will be able to get back into my comfortable routine and keep on losing. Since I was also dx with my second breast cancer this year, I am highly motivated to stay on the high fat road to health. Thanks for a great 2009 and a better 2010

  3. Dr. Eades,

    happy new year and thanks for your continuing effort on this blog,

    a post about another myth regarding “how many calories does a pound of muslce burn each day” would be very helpful as it is still a common misunderstanding that has yet to die….


  4. @SSS

    I don’t really want to get back into the whole Colpo thing. If you want to read about it, you can simply put his name in the search function on the front page of the blog. If you want the one post that set the stage, check this one.

    @Albert Nigrin

    Check this post for my take on the metabolic advantage. I’ve written about it many times, so if you want to read other posts, put ‘metabolic advantage’ into the search function.

  5. Happy New Year Dr Mike and to your lovely bride!!! Let it be full of heaqlth, wonderful memories and good times!

  6. Just want to wish you and yours a Happy New year!! I’m hoping to be able to get me one of your Sous Vide Supremes, but being unemployed at the moment, it’s not looking like it’s going to be soon!

    I do hope MD posts her Roasted Red Pepper soup!!!

    Happy New year!! Hope 2010 is even better than 2009!!

  7. I have a hopeful tale: I belong to a group called Toastmaster’s International. We get together weekly and practice public speaking skills.
    A couple of years ago, I gave aspeech called “Fad Diets” in which I argued that the real fad diet was the low fat-high carb one that had done so much damage to the public over the last 30 years. I got full marks for the organization and delivery of the speech ( was invited to give it to two other groups), but. as you can imagine, many people disputed the premise, that low carb was better. A few weeks ago, I noticed that one on my primary oponents was looking very trim, and I asked her how she did it. She told me that she and her husband had “gone primal!” This past Saturday morning, she was speaking, and quoted something about “The garden of self-loathing” which she said she’d read about on a blog… of course, when I asked her, it was the PP blog. So, you see, if you hold to your beliefs, you never know who will be listening, and eventually turn around.

  8. Hope you continued success in 2010. I’m a huge believer in the low-carb gluten free paleo (a la Robb Wolf) diet similar to what you recommend. I hope 2010 brings about more open minds and a lower price on the sous vide supreme.

  9. My best wishes to both of you for a prosperous new year!

    I noticed that you and MD drink red wine. Is it mostly for health reasons like ‘resveratrol’ or just taste? Someone just forwarded the following article to me by Bill Sardi entitled “How Long Shall Humans live? The Current Answer Lies In A Glass of Red Wine” It specifically talks about Resveratrol. Here’s the link:

    I’m fairly new to your blog so I don’t know if you’ve addressed this in a previous blog. I love your scientific bent on things and would like a few words from you about it. I’m not currently a wine drinker, but would certainly consider it if it made a big contribution to being healthy.

  10. Hi Dr. Eades – Can’t believe I stumbled onto your blog all these years after (once) successfully trying Protein Power. I won’t belabor the point that giving up on it wasn’t the brightest idea I’ve ever had, although I have, thanks to your logical, insightful writing, always refused statins and get really incensed at the constant barrage of cholesterol hype.

    Thought you’d get a kick out of the following website from the English Daily Mail:

    It’s a tortured version of low-carb, trying to have it both ways because: “Your body has been using carbohydrates for fuel since the day you were born.” (She makes it sound as if infants are served toast points and cereal immediately when, in reality, much of breast milk, for instance, is fat.) The comments are interesting too. Some people seem to be aware of the value of a REAL low-carb diet.

    At any rate, excuse the mini-rant, and thanks again for your blog!

    Happy New Year!

  11. Hi Dr Eades,

    So glad to find you have a blog that I can check periodically and find out what’s going on in your low carb world. I just finished reading your Protein Power Life Plan. I had read Protein Power some years back and only just now found out you had the life plan book out. Shows you how much I get out . So needless to say, I ran right out and got it, then powered my way through it. I also lent my protein power copy to my coworker a few weeks back, which disappointingly stays to this day, on her desk and has yet to be read. Ah! I so wish I could enlighten everyone but they are resistant to my charms. Including my friend, who has a son with chrons disease, but gets annoyed with me if I suggest that a low carb lifestyle will help him. Grrrrrrr…..

    The low carb lifestyle seems so obvious to me to be the nutritionally superior choice in diets that it boggles my mind that not everyone sees it. Even doctors and nutritionalist will tell you that insulin promotes fat storage, then will turn around and tell you to cut your calories to lose weight. Hmmmm…..well shouldn’t I eat a diet that keeps my insulin levels stable so as not to promote fat storage? ” Nope” they’ll say, It’s all in the calories.”

    Well anyway, that’s my roundabout way of saying; glad you’re here and look forward to reading your future and past blogs.

  12. Oh yes, one other comment. I stop telling people that I practice a low carb eating style. For some reason it freaks people out.

    “on no, not that bacon and hamburger diet, you’ll kill yourself”

    So now I call it a paleo diet. Their response to that on is:

    “Oh, hmm…very healthy of you. You must feel wonderfull.”

    Same darn diet…..different name…..makes me laugh

  13. @Matthew

    You’re right. I never did respond to Colpo’s book. I didn’t really realize this until I went back and looked up the older posts to link in this one. Somehow I thought I did dissect his ideas on this blog, but I guess I dissected them only in my mind. I’ve got a post coming up that I can use both to explain the metabolic advantage and show where AC went wrong in his book.


    Instead of the words ‘reduced efficiency,’ think wasting calories. If you eat more calories than you burn off, those calories have to go somewhere. Most of the time they end up as stored fat. On low-carb diets they are dissipated as heat (in other words, calories are wasted), which is why many studies have shown that low-carbers can consume more calories than low-fatters and maintain their weight.

  14. But Dr. Eades,

    You never did respond to Colpo’s Fat Loss Bible Chapter One like you said you would. I do believe that following a low carb diet would result in a superior fat-loss advantage as indicated in your books, but I’m still waiting for you to offer a rebuttal to his detailed position. Anyway, Thank you for the Middle Aged Middle book. It’s been a great gift for my middle-aged friends!



  15. Just stumbled on the following posted on Wikipedia re: Richard Feinman:

    “The second law [of thermodynamics] is a dissipation law. It says that all (real) processes are inefficient. Feinman explained how diets of different composition vary in efficiency, in particular, how carbohydrate-restricted diets can lead to reduced efficiency. Whereas the effect is not always seen, the argument is that there is no reason to doubt published reports where it does occur.”

    Low carb diets can lead to reduced efficiency? Is that right? Has someone been messing with the text, is my understanding of low-carb that far off the mark, or is there a simple explanation for what that implies, or what I infer? (According to Wikipedia, from whence this quote came, “[The] page was last modified on 30 December 2009 at 03:58.”)

    Inquiring minds want to know. Thanks!

  16. The problem with the old calories in calories out theory is that it is based on the first law of thermodynamics which only applies to a perfectly efficient, closed system. The human body is hardly an ideal candidate for such an application as partly explained by the second law of thermodynamics. Here is a detailed post on the absurdities of applying the first law of thermodynamics to the human body:

  17. RE Colpo: I Emailed you on 14th Jan 2010 about this so I’m not expecting a reply just yet.

    See I have a theory

    My theory suggests that Colpo is right and that you are wrong. I expect there to be controversy over this!


  18. Happy New year Dr.E. New reader here – but have seen links to your blog elsewhere. Just subscribed yesterday! Thanks for creating an informative and inspiring body of writing.

    I am also a relatively new low carber – since just before 11/25/2009. Have lost 24lbs (208 to 184) since using a ketogenic diet that I would characterize as a hybrid of Dr.Cal Ezrin and Dr.Atkins. Now I see that my diet also falls in line with much what you have written.

    Thanks again – looking forward to a new year of ketogenic education and inspiration.

    Welcome aboard! I’m glad to have you as a reader.

  19. I have had several health problems over the years and I have recently started eating 90% vegetarian and I love it. I have never felt better in my life. I have been consuming everything I can read on the topic. If you can’t go 100% veggies then flexitarian is the way to go! I would like to work my way to 100% whole foods but it’s a struggle.

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