Remembering Kevin Moore

Jimmy Moore’s n=1 Experiments: ‘Safe Starch’ Sweet Potato

When I was in Austin, Texas in mid-March for the PaleoFX conference, I met this vibrant and passionate young woman by the name of Ashley Tudor (be sure to connect with her on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook) who I could tell right away would be a fun person to talk to. With her background in health innovation and strategic marketing, Ashley has been one of the behind-the-scenes people at work attempting to change public perceptions about nutrition, obesity, and healthy living. At the speaker’s dinner on the night before PaleoFX got started, she and I became engaged in conversation about the current state of diet and health in America when she mentioned to me at the time that she had a new book coming out called Sweet Potato Power: Discover Your Personal Equation for Optimal Health (which subsequently released in late March 2012 with Victory Belt Publishing). I was cautiously intrigued by what I was hearing from Ashley to say the least about what kind of “power” you could get from consuming sweet potatoes. So I asked her if I could receive a review copy of the book to learn more. The book arrived at my doorstep on Friday and I look forward to diving into it much more deeply soon to write a review of it on Amazon.com.

But even as I have already started reading the Introduction to Sweet Potato Power, I’m liking what I see from Ashley. She acknowledges the merits of low-carbohydrate nutrition while making the distinction between the popular low-carb diets like Atkins and the evolutionary diet principles that make up Paleo which has come on strong in recent years (Shape lists it as the #3 most searched diet in 2012…incidentally, The Atkins Diet ranked #1!). Even though Paleo puts the emphasis on the real, whole foods our bodies were designed to be fueled with over their macronutrient makeup, she admits there are merits to being what’s commonly referred to as “carb-conscious” for those of us who have metabolic challenges of one sort or another from many years of very poor nutritional choices. Ashley even states that sweet potatoes can–and probably even SHOULD–be a part of a low-carber’s choice of “smart carbs” which she describes as “underappreciated and underutilized.” But she’s quick to point out that we are not the same and that finding out what is right for YOU is really a matter of doing your own self-experimentations to see what’s right and what’s wrong about what to include in your diet. She even said as much in her appearance in Episode 46 of “Low-Carb Conversations” last week. And I couldn’t agree more.

I’ve long held the position that people need to find what works for them and then do it. Of course, defining what that term “works” means depends on who you are. There are those who are overly-obsessed with what the scale says and whether or not a nutritional plan is successful is predicated on how much they currently weigh. Meanwhile, a more prudent way to measure whether or not a particular plan is working for them could be the impact on key health markers such as your cholesterol panel and blood sugar readings. Less than one year ago after returning from the 4th Annual Low-Carb Cruise in May 2011, I started a series of blog posts I refer to as my n=1 experiments to see for myself how my blood sugar would respond to various foods. I’ve personally tested low-carb pasta, low-carb bread with fat, low-carb bread without fat, and Atkins shakes compared to orange juice, raw milk and more. These tests were quite illuminating because they showed exactly what was happening to my blood sugar when consuming these so-called “low-carb” foods.

With all the talk about “safe starches” which I first wrote about in an October 2011 blog post entitled “Is There Any Such Thing As ‘Safe Starches’ On A Low-Carb Diet?” (and will be continuing the conversation when I moderate a panel on the subject at the upcoming Ancestral Health Symposium (AHS12) in Boston, Massachusetts coming August 9-11, 2012 featuring Paul Jaminet, Dr. Ron Rosedale, Dr. Cate Shanahan and Dr. Jack Kruse), I’ve been curious to see what kind of impact some of these would have on me and my whacked out body. As you know, I’ve been very open about my struggles to get my weight managed over the past couple of years despite eating an amazingly clean real foods-based diet (in fact, I’ve been eating a low-carb Paleo diet for the past seven months since returning from AHS11 in Los Angeles). Even still, the weight hasn’t budged and has ever-so-slightly crept up higher and higher as the months go by.

Although I have been lifting weights very regularly and getting much stronger than I’ve ever been in my entire life, I’m also putting on abdominal fat despite the exercise and super-clean diet. To say I’m frustrated is an understatement and I’ve spoken with many of my experts friends who I’ve interviewed on my podcasts about it. In fact, one doctor has been helping me work through some of the issues I’ve been having, including low testosterone, since December–but no fat loss has occurred. Thanks to the testosterone cream and an estrogen inhibitor this world-renowned physician has me taking, my testosterone is now at the level of a 15-year old and my recovery time between workouts has improved dramatically. So it’s not all bad news, but I’d love to see the fat come down on my body so I can start seeing some of these muscles I’ve been building start to pop out. They’re there and my strength increases are more than noticeable. Maybe I should hold a contest called “Who Can Fix Jimmy Moore?” to see who can figure out what the heck is going on with me. I’m kidding…or am I?

One of the things that some of my Paleo friends have been telling me to try (including a rather lengthy discussion with Paul Jaminet about it at PaleoFX) is that perhaps what is missing from my diet is some “safe starch” defined as white rice, white potatoes and sweet potatoes, for example. As a diehard ketogenic low-carber for over eight years, it’s very difficult for me to wrap my head around the idea that eating something that would ostensibly turn to sugar in the body and raise my blood sugar and insulin levels could be identified as “safe” for me to consume. But of course I’ve merely ASSUMED that this was the case and never actually tested to see what would happen if I actually ate some starch. That’s what inspired me to pull out my handy-dandy blood glucose monitor (which everyone who cares about their health should own and test often whether you have diabetes or not) and put this “safe starch” theory to the test on my body. Because I’m not quite ready to dive right into something like white rice or white potatoes (be still my fluttering heart!) just yet, I figured sweet potatoes would be a good first place to test the theory since it at least has some healthy nutrients in it, primarily high levels of Vitamin A. So I committed to doing it for a week under a variety of circumstances I’ll detail below.

It was recommended for me to conduct my n=1 experiment by consuming half of a large sweet potato daily for this test and to ALWAYS consume it with fat and protein for an accurate test. The theory is consuming fat and some protein with the starch will ostensibly slow the blood sugar rise and lessen the impact on your metabolism. That makes total sense to me. Checking on my friend Monica Reinagel’s NutritionData.com web site for the nutritional info on this, you can see the nutritional numbers on the large sweet potato to the left. Be sure to cut the numbers in half since I only consumed half of a sweet potato baked in the oven for an hour (although I wonder how many people would likely eat an entire sweet potato in one sitting when they consume one as opposed to cutting it in half like I did…but I digress).

So that would be around 18.5g carbohydrate–not too overly high in carbohydrates for a low-carb dieter. With my typical 30-40g daily carbs, this would certainly push me to the edge of being out of a ketogenic level of carbohydrates (anything above 50g daily is what Jaminet recommends to avoid the supposed dangers of “very low-carb diets”). Additionally, I was informed by several of Paleo nutrition educator friends that aside from aiding in possibly helping with fat loss, the starch from the sweet potatoes would help with my difficulties in getting adequate rest at night and lower cortisol levels brought on by my low-carb diet (that’s the popular meme that’s been spread about livin’ la vida low-carb as of late in the Paleo community). This certainly piqued my curiosity enough to give it a go for one week to see exactly how I would do.

The following includes pictures of exactly what I ate during the experiment, my body weight each day, my morning fasting blood sugar reading, my postprandial blood sugar test results, how many hours I slept each night and my commentary:

April 2, 2012 – 8:30PM-11:00PM
Food consumed: Chicken breast cooked in grassfed butter with cheese and spices, 1/2 sweet potato mashed and mixed with organic cinnamon, 1 Tbs honey, and 3 Tbs Kerrygold grassfed butter


JIMMY’S COMMENTARY: For the first couple of days of testing, I wanted to try adding a bit of honey with the sweet potatoes to see what impact that would have on my blood sugar. While many believe honey is a better alternative than sugar because it is a natural sweetener, it appears that’s just not the case for my body. As you can see, my blood sugar saw a huge spike in the first 30 minutes after consuming this meal. What I’m trying to establish here is whether it is starchy or sugar-based foods (or both!) contributing to sharp rises in blood sugar. A quick 45-point spike was followed by a 15-point drop that sustained for about an hour before gradually returning towards baseline readings after 2 1/2 hours. I consumed this meal later at night to see if it would help me sleep better and I only got six hours of rest.

April 3, 2012 – 3:15PM-5:45PM
Food consumed:Two bratwursts cooked in grassfed butter with fermented sauerkraut, 1/2 sweet potato mashed and mixed with organic cinnamon, 1 Tbs honey, and 3 Tbs Kerrygold grassfed butter


JIMMY’S COMMENTARY: My fasting blood sugar this morning was slightly higher than it usually is and I wonder how much of that has to do with eating the sweet potato so late last night. You’ll also notice I put on three pounds since yesterday which isn’t totally unexpected when introducing starch into your diet again after avoiding it for so long. I again tested the sweet potato with honey but this time a little earlier in the mid-afternoon. And yet again you can see a huge spike in blood sugar even larger than yesterday jumping 59 points in 30 minutes. The level dropped down about 10-15 points and sustained there for the next hour before precipitously falling back to baseline between 120 to 150 minutes postprandial. My sleep after consuming this meal was horrendous with a measly four hours of rest before I was wide awake again.

April 4, 2012 – 5:00PM-9:00PM
Food consumed: Rotisserie chicken, 1/2 sweet potato mashed and mixed with organic cinnamon, stevia and 3 Tbs Kerrygold grassfed butter


JIMMY’S COMMENTARY: Because of the horrible sleep I experience last night, my fasting reading this morning was earlier than normal and again registered over 100. My usual readings are typically in the upper 80s to low 90s for a fasting morning blood glucose. My weight dropped by one pound since yesterday and for the first time I decided to test the sweet potato without adding in any honey to see if the starch would produce the same kind of spike that was seen in the first two days that included the honey. You’ll notice my pre-meal fasting blood sugar reading at 5:00PM was pretty healthy today at 89 and the spike without the honey was quite noticeable–just 28 points today. But then the next 2 1/2 hours my blood sugar hovered less than 10 points below this peak reading before slowly returning towards baseline by the end of four hours of testing. Overall the spike wasn’t bad, but I’m wondering if that lingering blood sugar that lasted for three hours is good or bad. It certainly doesn’t seem to be detrimental. And whether it was the sweet potato or the lack of sleep from last night, I got a robust 9 hours of much-needed zzzz’s tonight.

April 5, 2012 – 6:45PM-9:30PM
Food consumed: Rotisserie chicken, 1/2 sweet potato mashed and mixed with organic cinnamon, stevia and 3 Tbs Kerrygold grassfed butter


JIMMY’S COMMENTARY: Today my weight dropped back down to where it was at the baseline of when this experiment started. However, my morning fasting blood sugar was very high coming in at a whopping 119. I kept on fasting and measured again two hours later at 11:30AM just to make sure it wasn’t a bad reading and that measurement came in at 116. YIKES! Clearly something is spiking my fasting morning blood sugar numbers and you can’t help but think that the starch has something to do with that. Is this cause for alarm just yet? That’s undetermined but it certainly is not moving in the right trajectory towards healthy normalized blood sugar levels. Again I had the sweet potato without honey (because obviously it was having an impact on my blood sugar levels) and the spike was only 22 points today. Of course, I’m mixing in a good amount of fats and protein to help slow the blood sugar rise–mission accomplished. Unlike yesterday’s test though, something peculiar happened with the readings today. They dropped slightly after the peak reading at 30 minutes and then looked like they were going back to baseline before jumping up again by the end of hour three. I was starting to get hungry again, so I had to stop testing and get something to eat. My sleep this evening was just 6 1/2 hours. If the starch is supposed to be helping me sleep, it’s not doing a very good job.

April 6, 2012 – 2:45PM-5:15PM
Food consumed: Two bratwursts cooked in grassfed butter with fermented sauerkraut, 1/2 sweet potato mashed and mixed with organic cinnamon, stevia and 3 Tbs Kerrygold grassfed butter


JIMMY’S COMMENTARY: Weight is remaining stable again today (which is surprising to me considering the added starch I’m consuming daily during this experiment) and my morning fasting blood sugar is again over 100 (although not nearly as high as it was yesterday). For my sweet potato testing, the fasting number registered in at a healthy starting point of 91 and rose 32 points, lingered for the next hour and a half before heading downward towards baseline again. I’m sensing a pattern with the starch. There’s the initial spike which doesn’t go very high at all, then it gradually starts falling and remains at a level between the baseline fasting number and the 30-minute peak before returning to baseline. This looks to be a very normal blood glucose response to consuming food. And it’s starch no less! To say I’m surprised by this is an understatement! Getting eight hours of sleep tonight also helped me feel somewhat better about consuming some starch in the form of sweet potatoes in my diet.

April 7, 2012 – 4:15PM-6:15PM
Food consumed: One bratwurst cooked in grassfed butter with fermented sauerkraut, 1/2 sweet potato mashed and mixed with organic cinnamon, stevia and 3 Tbs Kerrygold grassfed butter (post-workout meal)


JIMMY’S COMMENTARY: Yet again, my weight remained steady for the third day in a row despite the obvious addition of extra carbohydrates from the sweet potatoes. Additionally, my morning fasting blood sugar reading was above 100 for the fifth day in a row! Like I’ve said previously, my usual fasting readings in the morning when I wake up are always below 100. Today I decided to throw a twist into the experiment by going to the gym for a weight lifting workout and then consuming the sweet potato meal for my post-workout meal. I tested my blood sugar right before lifting for 45 minutes and then as soon as the workout was over. My fasting number went from 101 to 108 before I consumed the meal. Although the numbers started higher than they had for this testing period, you’ll see there was virtually zero impact on my blood sugar. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I kept testing every thirty minutes and the readings were without a few points of each other. WOW! So does this mean it might actually be beneficial for me to start eating at least half of a sweet potato as part of my post-workout meal? I don’t see any good reason why it shouldn’t because there was no obvious blood sugar spike that took place. On the downside, my sleep was only 6 1/2 hours tonight. UGH! If starch was supposed to be the secret weapon to better sleep, it has failed me miserably.

April 8, 2012 – 12:00PM-3:00PM
Food consumed: 1/2 sweet potato mashed and mixed with organic cinnamon (control test without any fat or protein consumed)


JIMMY’S COMMENTARY: My weight was up a couple of pounds on the final day of testing. Finally my morning fasting blood sugar came in below 100 again for the first time since the beginning of this test. And my fasting blood sugar prior to my final test today was a healthy 95. All week long I have been eating my 1/2 sweet potato with cinnamon, stevia (or honey) and copious amounts of Kerrygold grassfed butter along with my regular fat and protein in my meal. But as a control experiment comparison, I wanted to see what would happen if I just ate the sweet potato with some cinnamon and stevia and nothing else. As you can see, the results were quite erratic with my first hypoglycemic episode of the week. While the blood sugar didn’t spike very high, the fact is it was all over the place and not controlled like it has been all week when consuming fat and protein with the starch. The take-home message I see from this is to make sure you are consuming plenty of fat and some protein with that sweet potato to lessen the impact on your blood sugar levels. Needless to say, I was STARVING after the end of three hours and had to eat something to keep from passing out. Yet again, sleep was compromised despite the starch with just six hours of rest tonight.

So there you have the results of my n=1 test of the “safe starch” sweet potato. What does it mean for YOU? Really, it doesn’t mean anything about how YOUR body will respond to sweet potatoes. The only way you can know how you will respond to consuming sweet potatoes or any other food for that matter is to get yourself a glucometer (available at any pharmacy, Wal-mart, etc.) and start testing just like I did. My results simply give you what happened to one man (with a really messed up metabolism) and that’s it. As I’ve said before many times, you need to TEST TEST TEST for yourself to see how you respond. If you are avoiding starchy foods and you’re happy with that, then there’s certainly no reason to start eating them now. However, if you’re curious about what would happen to your body, then try doing your own n=1 experiment and let me know how it goes. Feel free to share your experience in the comments section below if you have conducted similar blood sugar tests after consuming sweet potatoes on your low-carb lifestyle. Perhaps I’ll get up the gumption to try white rice or white potatoes at some point. One thing’s for sure, I’ll be eating PLENTY of fat and moderate amounts of protein with them if I do!

  • I have a question:  how long were you awake before you tested your fasting blood sugar?  I think there are two possible problems indicated by your 9 a.m. test.

    Either you are sleeping from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. — I think this is cortisol challenging. Our bodies are usually happier sleeping from sundown to sunup and show it in our metabolism. I would love to see what happens if you spend a week ratcheting back your morning rising time to dawn-ish and then let your bed time go earlier so that you increase your nightly time in bed until it’s the length you want. 

    OR you are rising way before 9 a.m., but fasting for a few hours, in which case this could be a Somogyi effect: that your blood sugar WAS even lower, but being up and expecting to get going your body reacted in one of various ways that elevated a true fasting blood sugar.  I see that a lot in morning athletes, who have very low triglycerides, I know their overal sugars are low because of how they’re eating. When they skip their pre-workout snack and spend time getting to a lab, I believe their blood sugar appears falsely elevated.  They’d have to test at home for me to be sure.

    What do you think?

    Deborah Gordon (M.D., but don’t hold it against me)

    • LLVLCBlog

      Thanks Dr. Gordon. My general (ideal) sleep pattern is 11pm-7 or 8am. It’s hard for me to get to sleep earlier than that. Maybe I work too much but that is the reality of keeping up with my schedule. Also, when I go to sleep at say 9pm I’m up wide awake at 2-3am. Maybe I can test what you’re saying and see. Can’t be worse than my sweet potato test week was. I tried to test soon after waking up each morning.

      • melancholyaeon

        For sleeping Jimmy have  you tried taking 5-HTP? I take 3 and find they work very well. 

        • LLVLCBlog

          Tried it, didn’t help me. Magnesium and melatonin help some.

          • melancholyaeon

            So sorry to hear that, Jimmy! You know Dr. A’s Vita book recommends GABA, calcium, mag, melatonin, and inositol as well as 5-HTP. I do hope some combo of these might help you, altho’ I know it’s so frustrating to go through all the trial-and-error. :)

            • LLVLCBlog

              I seem to have better sleep on the days when I can be outside under the sunshine for an hour or so…it’s like my circadian rhythm gets set again and I’m good to go. I need to invent an outdoor office. 😀

          • SpaceVegetable

             Melatonin is a wondrous thing! I’ve slept badly all my life (seriously, ask my mom how I kept her up all night as a baby). Throw in the discomfort caused by RA and sleep is extremely difficult. Melatonin has been a godsend for me, allowing me to fall asleep in about a half hour instead of the 2+ hours it normally takes.

      • Call me Deborah. That sleep pattern is fine: the most important thing is to keep the same rising time each day.

        But your tests say 9 a.m…..so if you’re up for a couple hours before you test, all sorts of things can happen to your blood sugar, particularly if it’s rebounding up from a low reading. But waking up at 2-3 a.m. sounds like adrenals to me:  I’d be happy to chat with you about that if your doc (I know he/she does hormones so perhaps) isn’t familiar with adrenal testing or adrenal calming. 

        Which magnesium, which melatonin, when and how much can also all matter.

        Happy to chat — my office # is 541 708 5658: if you call, we can set up a time, I’d do it the way I usually do online consultations, but in honor of your service (I’m serious) to the world, all for free for you!

        • LLVLCBlog

          Thanks for your offer to help Deborah. Interestingly, I’ve been sleeping better the past few days after being outside in the sun for several hours each day.

          • Always a great solution to reset that internal clock. I read somewhere that morning sun helps you go to sleep and afternoon sun helps you stay asleep. I haven’t always found that to be true but more outside time (especially if it involves any heavy lifting) is good for us in any book.

            • LLVLCBlog

              I’m finding the sun has been helpful in better sleep. :)

              • SpaceVegetable

                 Could it be the Vitamin D?

    • SpaceVegetable

       Are you certain that everyone’s body is “happier” with that sort of sleep schedule? My own body naturally tends to more of a night-owl late to bed, late to rise schedule when I stop trying to control it. It’s really annoying, actually, since the world seems to be run by morning people who bounce out of bed ant ungodly early hours, all chipper and ready to go :-)

  • melancholyaeon

    Wow Jimmy, aren’t you worried about those fasting blood glucose levels? I mean, some say anything less than 100 is ok, but many more folks are gravitating towards even lower numbers in the past couple of years, like 86 or less. Certainly your N=1 has proved Jaminet wrong – for you. His crowd are younger people 27 and under. Let’s see what happens to them when they hit 30, 33. But will they still be testing then? 

    • LLVLCBlog

      I didn’t like my fasting BG in the morning during this test. Normal readings are upper 80s to mid-90s. I’d love to see older PHD adherents doing this same test.

  • guest

    Have you tried no dairy?

    • LLVLCBlog

      I cut out dairy for three months…no improvements in weight or any aspect of my health. Only high-fat dairy for me.

  • LLVLCBlog

    I’m concerned about “safe starch” for diabetics. And yet there’s this notion that starch is the magic answer.

    • melancholyaeon

      Those who tout starch Jimmy don’t have TD1 or T2D; they aren’t even insulin resistant. They just don’t have a strong understanding of diabetes or metabolic syndrome. T2D is a foreign planet to them, that’s all. I’m sure there are a lot of super weightlifting heroes under 30 who can eat 125g of potatoes. But they aren’t us and we sure ain’t them. 😉 

      • LLVLCBlog


  • LLVLCBlog

    Fruit after a workout stokes cravings galore for me. Maybe I need to test bananas myself but I’m afraid I already know the answer.

  • Follmercarolyn

    Love your experiments, Jimmy..I test my bsugar from time to time..

    However, I thought it was interesting on April 7th that you only had one delicious looking brat with your sweet potato and your blood sugar stayed more stable..Could it be because you cut
    back on your protein at that particular meal..(Dr. B.)..??? 


    • LLVLCBlog

      Possibly Carolyn! But I maintain the exercise had more of a role. Wasn’t as hungry right after working out.

  • LLVLCBlog

    Thanks! But I wasn’t following PHD per se but the recommendations of several Paleo nutrition consultants. But you might be right about spreading the starch out along all the meals during the day. I still don’t get the purpose of eating that much starch.

  • bubba29

    i am curious why you added sweetners to sweet potatoes?

    • LLVLCBlog

      Personal preference on taste.

      • Martin

         Have you considered that non-caloric, non-sugar sweeteners might still have an impact on your insulin levels? Robb Wolf and Gary Taubes have discussed it.

        Also, I’m far from supporting the food-reward hypothesis, but why not try let food taste like food? Preferences can be changed rather easily.

        • LLVLCBlog

          I’ve tested sweeteners before and they had no impact on blood sugar levels. But I already do let food taste like food. I certainly don’t see anything wrong with enjoying the flavor of food.

          • Martin

            >> I’ve tested sweeteners before and they had no impact on blood sugar levels
            How about insulin level? Again, I remember both Robb and Gary talk about this problem. It’s one of the reason diet coke doesn’t necessary help. Remember that you spent years conditioning your body to release insulin in response to sweetness (I did the same, btw).

            • LLVLCBlog

              I wish they made an at-home insulin test. Perhaps you are correct but wouldn’t know without that test.

  • TheLazyCaveman

    Hey, Jimmy! Interesting data. I also tried the safe starch experiment, and while I’ve found that it’s had negligible effects on my fasting BG numbers (usually mid 90s-low 100s, due to dawn phenomenon, they level out to the 80s once I eat), it has done a lot for my cortisol levels. See after following VLC Paleo for over a year, and living the over-worked life I do, I had some serious adrenal fatigue. Chris Kresser put me on Adrenotone and Seriphos to help even me out and help me sleep, which did help, but adding starch from white potatoes, not sweet potatoes has helped tremendously. I honestly have no idea why I feel better on white potatoes than sweet potatoes, but I do know that the increased starch has reduced the amount of gluconeogenesis I go through and thus has lowered my cortisol. It took a few weeks, but my weight did drop a few pounds as well. In order to see this benefit, I had to add the starch to every meal, and make sure that it wasn’t in addition to what I was already eating, but was in place of some of the protein and fat. Much like Richard Nikoley did, I experienced a reverse “carb-flu”, so unless you hit that during your experiment, I’m not sure you were eating enough starch throughout the day.

    I’m a little worried that the addition of the Kerrygold, cinnamon and honey (I know that wasn’t a regular part of it) is making your meal too palatable, and maybe causing you to overeat a bit. I took some of Stephan Guyenet’s advice and reduced the palatability of my meals, and found it was much easier to eat to satiety and not overeat. Just some food for thought :)

    • TheLazyCaveman

      Oh, also, eat some veggies, buddy! Think of your micronutrient status!

      • LLVLCBlog

        Great comments Badier. I’m not opposed to trying the white potatoes or rice. Next time hopefully. As for the palatability point, I don’t discount it. Won’t use the honey again. As for the veggies, I didn’t want to confound variables in the experiment but I love my spinach. 😉

    • Gladina

      Wow…OK.  I don’t believe in reward theory at all.  I am a HUGE fan of Jack Kruse!  

      • melancholyaeon

        I hear ya Gladina. According to reward theory, French people should just be dropping dead of boredom from eating all that Beef Wellington with potatoes dauphin, read wine, cream of vegetable soup, mixed salad, grilled sole, dark chocolate mousse, and select cheeses for dessert. Because this kind of food is “unrewarding” and very “unpalatable.” Yup, Beef Wellington  – “unpalatable.” Are these reward-theory people crazy? Have they never eaten a 5-course dinner in Lyons? I mean, seriously. C’mon.

    • SpaceVegetable

       “too palatable” ??? Come on. Life is hard enough without dreading your meals. I’ve found that even when my meals are very palatable and enjoyable, that as long as I consume enough protein and fat, I won’t overeat because I feel full. Granted, others may not respond the same way, but honestly, I think there are better hings one can o without making eating a chore.

      • TheLazyCaveman

        Note that I said “too palatable”, and not “bland”. I’m not suggesting that anyone stop using seasonings or only eat boiled and steamed food, because you’re right, that is boring and awful. However, adding excess sugar and fat in the form of honey and butter to something that is already sweet, like a sweet potato, does have the effect of slowing down leptin signaling, and therefore slows down the satiety signal, and may lead to overeating. Every meal should be enjoyable, but not overly so that it encourages overeating.

  • Tim Swart

    Hey Jimmy, Have you 

    • LLVLCBlog

      Pasture raised meats. Perhaps there were high PUFAs in those particular meats, but there was one bit of information I left out of my post…my ferritin levels are high. So the physician I am working with has me reducing my red meat consumption to about twice monthly to get those down (as well as giving blood regularly). I’m aware of Kresser’s idea of “normal” blood sugar readings and I agree with it to a point. It can’t be good that my fasting numbers the day after eating starch would be so high into pre-diabetic levels. The only thing I added to the sweet potatoes besides grassfed butter and cinnamon was a touch of stevia. Just enough to bring out the sweetness in the sweet potato which is what I enjoy about them. As someone else said, perhaps the palatability issue came into play with them tasting good, but that was my personal preference. Again, I would have consumed grassfed beef but my iron levels are elevated. Trust me, I miss it in my diet!

      • Tim Swart

        Thanks for the reply Jimmy, I still think that overall with reading the many many comments, being as VLC as you have been for so long, many things are going on, and that, not the fact that you tested the carb threshold could be part of the issue.  I noticed that your timing on eating is all over the map.  One thing that is certain with BG.  If you consume high amounts of carbs at night before bed, your BG WILL be high in the morning.  As a diabetic, prior to Paleo this was always the case for me.

        Your test day where you ate the sweet potato after your workout is exactly where you should be consuming any starch if you choose to eat it.  I consume carbs like white rice or sweet potato only after my crossfit workouts when I have totally spent my glycogen stores due to the strenuous exercise, and it’s only like 1/2 cup of any starch, hardly the 3 or 4 cups you’d get with a chinese meal as an example of rice.  This is why your BG didn’t spike as bad because you were just replenishing what was just burned.  

        On days I don’t work out, I eat usually just once a day fat and protein with very low carb only.  Might be worth a try.  I am sorry to hear you had to cut back on meat.  I would cut back on the processed meats pictured and even cut back on bacon before I’d cut out red meat.  And being that my nickname is “Dr. Bacon” even I don’t consume it but 2 or 3 times a week now. Less lately as I’m out of my pastured awesome bacon.  I eat red meat every day. 

        SLEEP IS PARAMOUNT to success.  I know this must be difficult for you with your busy schedule, but you really do need to stop eating anything after 7pm, and just relax and get to bed by 10-11pm at the latest.  Everything that Mark Sisson says about the keys to the Primal Blueprint of Eat well, exercise smart, get some sun, sleep well and don’t stress are completely true.   Please get some sleep!! :-) 


        • LLVLCBlog

          Trust me, Tim, I know. I don’t really eat a lot of processed meats in my diet. But I didn’t want to show chicken at every meal. Tried to vary it up with those pastured brats. I haven’t had bacon in about six months and 1-2 beef meals a month is killing me. But those iron levels need to come down and I’m getting there. I don’t eat after 7pm. And the lesson I gleaned from this experiment is to only eat starch after a workout. As for sleep, I can’t control when my body will wake up. :(

  • Kent Altena

    Just wanted to say, it was interesting article.  I know I dealt with my own minor weight gain and am thankful that I have it solved, and I only wish it for you as well.  I have never been convinced on the you need starch approach for myself personally as the dangers of very low carb have simply not hit me.  I don’t have any problem whatsoever though if it helps or even *might* help to get some relief from symptoms.  I think you got your specific answers on safe starches and your sleeping.

    How were your workouts this week?  Any more energy or ability to lift more or workout longer?

    • LLVLCBlog

      THANKS for your input Kent! My workouts weren’t really impacted at all good or bad from the sweet potato. I suppose it might have helped somewhat with the recovery on the day that I lifted and consumed it as the post-workout meal. But nothing I can quantify.

  • Resmungo

    Jimmy, you are the man.  I love your willingness to try this and your thoroughness with it.

    • LLVLCBlog

      THANK YOU! I enjoy doing these posts and hope to discover even more in the years to come.

  • LLVLCBlog

    All great tests for me to do on my own…perhaps the palatability thing would make a difference…I suppose my old sweet tooth is trying to creep its way back into my life again. 😀

  • LLVLCBlog

    Gretchen, I always appreciate your input! And you’re right…it seems those who promote “safe starches” are using it as an excuse to eat more carbohydrates. Some can get away with that but others of us cannot.

    • Jimmy, I don’t think this is at all about excuses – recall that the root of the discussion was the quest for the right nutrient ratios for perfect health, and there is a significant justification provided for the consumption of 50-100g glucose/day in Paul Jaminet’s book.

  • LLVLCBlog

    THANKS Jill! Keep in mind I am probably bigger than you too and require more food than you would typically eat. Love your test on the beans and bread.

    • Jillm

      65 years old and 65kg

  • LLVLCBlog

    Steven, I appreciate it! Don’t know if I’m quite ready to try the incremental increase in starch idea just yet, but I have heard this from others before. THANK YOU for your input!

    • melancholyaeon

      Can you explain this theory to me Jimmy? So somehow if you sneak up on the Food Pyramid a little a time, it somehow won’t add up to SAD? Just can’t wrap my mind around this one. :) 

      • LLVLCBlog

        The theory is that very low-carb diets raise cortisol levels and lower T-3 production. Adding in safe starch gets you out of ketosis but keeps you low-carb. I’m not buying the theory but that’s what it is.

      • Steven

        I hope my comment didn’t come across as a judgement call on low carb diets.  I actually think they are generally very effective for weight loss and the metabolic syndrome.  The point of my comment was my attempt to explain why certain things are happening: Jimmy’s fasting glucose and hunger during his safe starches experiment and the amount he eats in general.

        In a similar way I think some exercise is generally effective for weight loss.  But I can also present an argument how it can be detrimental in certain contexts, for certain people.

        Let’s say a low carber increases their carbs to 150g, that’s half the carb content of the SAD, not exactly close to the SAD.  Our low carber is also doing other things such as replacing the vegetable oils with animal fats, not guzzling down soft drinks and eating far healthier meals than pizza with chips.  Think of the Kitavins: they eat just as many carbs as the SAD, but there are many other aspects of their diet which are different to the SAD and promote health.

        The people who recommend safe starches don’t support the food pyramid.  I don’t either, hence why I wrote a large submission to the new Australian dietary guidelines group

  • LLVLCBlog

    I added the cinnamon because that’s the way I eat it. If the blood sugar lowering effects came from the cinnamon (and I’m not surprised if it did), then that’s a real world example that still applies. And the fact I used cinnamon with every meal of sweet potato kept the experiment constant. Would the BS have gone higher had I not consumed the cinnamon? Perhaps. But I would never eat it that way.

  • LLVLCBlog

    Always great to hear from you, Holly! I’ve been told by people I eat too much and that I don’t eat enough, so perhaps my calories are right where they need to be. 😀 Still working through it all and you know I NEVER giving up.

  • LLVLCBlog

    It’s not a perfect science but it’s better than trying to guess what is happening since you can’t always “feel” blood sugar changes.

  • LLVLCBlog

    I’m not sure what you mean by “reign yourself in.” Are you referring to any cravings? I don’t have any from the sweet potato experiment. My morning fasting blood sugar levels are in the mid-90s now that some time has passed since the experiment…that’s a bit higher than they were, but not shabby. I’m appreciating everyone’s input.

    • wally courie

      thank u for trying the experiment & for the painstaking results:

      1. 88 mg/dL may not feel right to you b/ it is NOT hypoglycemic. As low as 70 is considered normal. As a diabetic, i”ve had lots of experience w/ hypo. i don’t start shaking & sweating until it’s below 50.  Karo syrup, used on pecan pies, is pure glucose & my preferred remedy for hypo. honey is sucrose which contains half fructose. ( i also saw a non-diabetic pass out as she was reaching for a candy bar in a vending machine.)

      hypoglycemic discomfort is brought about by low blood sugar triggering the fight or flight hormones- noradrenalin & such. the sweating & shaking and the feeling of about to pass out.

      2. u may try metformin. i think kruse recommends it. there is an article by wolff on how it retards exotoxins in the blood. It is phenomenol at retarding every form of cancer they have looked at. I had a friend that lost a ton of weight after metformin b/c it turned out he was hyperinsulemic.

      3. u may try okinawan purple sweet potatoes. same starch b/ different anti-oxidants.  orange sweet potatoes have beta-carotene which is a vitamin a percusor. there’s some controversy whether it gets converted to vit A sufficiently.

      4. Mark Sisson says over 40 gm and between 200 (?) puts u in a twilight zone where u don’t have enough carbs b/ out of ketosis. Kruse says watch your seasons.

      5. i went from 300 to 230 lbs or so in six months b/ have been stuck for over a year. i just started the leptin resest, cold shower, and the the timothy ferris (24 hr body) vitamin protocol. PAGG. the r-alpha-lipoic acid (the A) seems to be doing the trick. 

      let’s see if i can get to 220 lb by my b”day a month from now.

      • LLVLCBlog

        I merely meant it went below my baseline fasting reading when I said “hypoglycemic,” not in the clinical definition of the word. It was curious to see that only happened when I had the sweet potato alone without fat. I’ve done Metformin for one month about two years ago…just gave my stomach a mess of pain and nothing else. Someone else mentioned the purple sweet potatoes…haven’t seen those anywhere in my area but I’ll look for them. I’m happy to watch my seasons if I knew what the heck that meant. LOL! I am not opposed to trying CT…maybe during the summer when a cold ice bath sounds inviting. 😀 THANKS for your input!

        • wally courie

          Asian markets & Whole Foods carry the purple sweet potatoes. I took me forever to get used to metformin b/ now in my 12th year on it after being diagnosed diabetic, i am used to it. i forgot to mention that i have been static at about 230 lb for 8 months now. i lost the 70 lbs by cutting out sugar, wheat, rice, & potatoes. Occasionally i have a cheat day. tim ferris says the cheat days are essential. the carbs will rehydrate u b/ a couple of days later u regain your regular weight.

          maybe being stuck is your set point for the quantity & quality of the nutrients u r taking. u have to shock your system out of it, perhaps like u did with the egg protocol.

          Thanks again for your evangelistic efforts!

  • LLVLCBlog

    I hear ya, Josh! But that just sounds disgusting to me. LOL!

  • LLVLCBlog

    Oh, you said on a baked potato…not sweet potato. HA! Well yeah! Of course I’d do all of that if I ate baked white potatoes. LOL!

    • pam

       i second the white potato + cheese & veg, bacon/sour cream.
      then you don’t need to sweeten it!

      or a wasabi mashed potato (w/ some butter or heavy cream).

      or Japanese purple yam.

      or you can try cooking white jasmine rice in coconut milk or cream (100%) + some coconut oil or butter. yummy also 1/4 C = 35 gm carb.


  • LLVLCBlog

    Hope things look up for you again soon, Sandra.

  • LLVLCBlog

    Do you think the results would have been different somehow? Do you think the consciousness of knowing the readings in real time might have impacted the results in some way? I’m fascinated to hear what you’re thinking. Of course, even if a third party had done the testing, I still would have felt the prick of that dastardly lancet needle. :O

  • LLVLCBlog

    This has already been discussed with several other commenters, but I’m sure doing a lower-palatability experiment would be a great idea. But beef is off the menu as a regular food until my iron levels come down. I like the idea and I’ve done similar experiments before with eggs and just meat…nominal success doing that but nothing long-term. I like the idea of experimenting with this though.

    • Mike

      Nice.  I would just add that the above is not necessarily low in palatability.  I think it is very tasty (especially when spiced appropriately).  I just find it makes me full relatively quickly and seems to decrease my appetite in general after a few meals of it.  I’ve seen some recommend donating blood occasionally to help reduce high iron.  I’m guessing beef avoidance, means lots of pork and poultry which might not be ideal due to high omega 6 content.  

      Great blog and podcast, by the way.  Helping to bring a lot of important content and discussion to a wide audience.

      • LLVLCBlog

        Gotcha! Yes, I’ve been giving blood about every three months to help with the iron…it’s gonna take some time. It’s a catch-22 for me because I enjoy my omega-3 rich grassfed beef sources. I suppose I could eat more fish…that doesn’t have a load of iron it does it? THANKS for your comments on my work. Even if I never figure myself out at least others are benefitting from my work along the way.

        • Jeffrey_Brauer

           Calcium inhibits intake of iron, could be a way to help get your iron where you want it..

          • LLVLCBlog

            Interesting theory. Is there any science supporting this?

  • LLVLCBlog

    No. I don’t have sleep apnea though.

  • LLVLCBlog


  • LLVLCBlog

    I’m still concerned about the impact the starch had on my morning fasting blood glucose numbers that wasn’t there prior to the experiment. Perhaps it would normalize the longer I consumed sweet potato, but that was kind of a shocker for me. The honey wasn’t anything that came from Jaminet…it was merely to contrast what would happen if a Paleo-styled sweetener were introduced. While you hardcore Paleo people are able to eat your sweet potatoes as a savory meal, let’s face it–in the real world people will want to sweeten them. That’s why I used the honey. I appreciate your input and this was a fun experiment to do.

  • LLVLCBlog

    No more testing this go around…my fingers are still sore from all the pricking. 😀

  • LLVLCBlog

    But, the fact remains that it was a real-world situation and the results were what they were under the circumstances I used. The problem with these n=1 tests is there are so many things you can do with them. I just have to do what I do and let those results be what they are under the conditions I do them. THANK YOU so much for your kind comments and support of my work.

  • Philis Hileman

    I would love to have your discipline, Jimmy.
    Do you plan to keep consuming them for a longer test.
    Did you think you had any positives to continue?

    I think my blood sugar would go up and stay up. When it goes up it does not come down for many hours. But then I never go as long as you without nibbling on something.

    Thank you so much for sharing once again. You are very generous to all.

  • Mindy Noxon Iannotti

    Interesting Jimmy.
    I kinda agree with our friend Badier about adding veg.  For me, dinner (when I eat my SP) is meat with a salad & SP, so that’s how I’d want to test it.  I’m not sure I want to know so I’m not inclined to test anytime soon (head in the sand…)
    Also, we often roast our SP, more than mashing.  Slice them into circles about 1/4″ thick, skin on, toss in melted coconut oil, then 425 degrees for 20 minutes (flip 1/2 way thru, don’t burn!).  Then salt ’em.  Wonder if this would change anything with lack of cinnamon or sweeteners?   Just a thought.  As anecdotal evidence, I do sleep better when I have SP for dinner.

    • LLVLCBlog

      Again, I didn’t want to confound too many variables. As for the cinnamon and sweeteners, that’s how I would eat them in the real world. I welcome others to test in the way they would eat them.

      • LLVLCBlog

        I was encouraged to use a lot of fat with the sweet potato to lessen the blood sugar response. And when I didn’t consume fat with the sweet potato my BS wax erratic. On my Eggfest I never measured calories and didn’t restrict fat. As I’ve said many times, the tiny amount of stevia I added was for personal taste preference. Appreciate your input.

        • Diva

          Yes but on your eggfest you only ate eggs so the calories were pretty much controlled and there were no other variables such as butter, salad dressing, etc.

          I do not think that they would have wanted you to eat 3 tablespoons of butter. Did you tell them this is how much butter you were using? I think overdoing the saturated fat can also impact blood sugar levels.  I believe someone had a blog post on this so this could have also affected your results. Even Mark Sisson does not overdo the fat if you have ever read the menus he posts.

          • LLVLCBlog

            True. I hear what you’re saying and perhaps less saturated fat would have warranted different results. But I contend the blood sugar spike would have been worse, not better. Anyone who wants to test this on themselves can feel free to report your findings.

  • I did a similar experiment on myself without honey. I was thinking about eating all day which is not what happens when I eat meat and fat with non starchy vegetables on my usual low carb plan. To me that was a signal that my blood sugar was up. I became a dreaded “clock watcher” from my weight watcher days! Maybe sweet potatoes are “safe” for people who have never been obese but not for me. Thanks for keeping it real Jimmy!

    • LLVLCBlog

      Thank Caitlin.

    •  Caitlin, exactly. For someone who’s been obese, things don’t always act the same way. I also become a “wanting to eat all day clock watcher” when more carbs come in (starchy carbs, not non-starchy vegetables).

      • LLVLCBlog

        I personally was surprised I wasn’t as hungry eating the sweet potatoes…but of course I was consuming ample amounts of fat with it too.

  • LLVLCBlog

    But that is because I had used the cinnamon and stevia in the other experiments. Only the fat was removed to minimize the variables. :)

  • Jimmy, this is a great post. From my personal experience (and I have a lot raising 2 Type I diabetic daughters), sweet potatoes are pretty good, but white potatoes suck. Rice that we make at home is ten times better than restaurant rice (because we don’t overcook it is my theory), and quinoa is generally pretty good (we use it as a ‘rice’ in things like soup mostly).

    I think the whole key to the safe starches argument is that it simply fails to recognize glucose response as an essential (and for some THE most essential) component of what makes a food ‘safe.’ The fact is Paul’s book is very informative, interesting, and I like it a lot. Paul is also a supremely nice guy and very likeable (from my experience), but the fact is I think he dropped the ball on the safe starches thing, and it should include toxins, fructose, AND glucose response to be useful. I think it needs to be revised.

    I also think there is a concept of in vivo reality that needs to be dealt with, which I know well as a doctor, which means that if it makes sense on paper, that doesn’t mean it makes sense in the real person. In fact, it may act the exact opposite. N=1 is not a new idea. Aristotle mentioned it when he pointed out A=A, meaning we are all unique and individual, which brings me to my points.

    150 carbs makes sense theoretically, and Paul backs it up using a well-reasoned argument, but in spite of that, it is in a sense arbitrary. To be fair, (and I think Paul would agree with I am about to say), theoretically the carb requirement is zero. That’s certainly what Dr. Bernstein says, and and most others have argued, but that once again, may not match the in vivo reality.

    In my view, it seems that 40-60 works great for a lot of folks, and 100 works better for others–some also do better with more or less depending. I personally tend to think for a lot of men, 80-100 is a nice sweet spot, from what I have seen with my patients and friends.

    Finally, to really blow the roof wide open (just because it’s always a good thing to do–becoming more knowledgeable can be a destructive process, after all!) it may not be so much about carbs, as it is about nutrient density–Meaning specifically, that when you don’t eat the empty and poisonous 2.5-3.0 cups of sugar that most Americans do, and you cut that out, what is left to eat?

    Nutrient dense foods (which are mostly low-carb, but some are not). It may be that 3rd thing, or the optical illusion, that is often present when you look at things that seem to work. In other words, the fact that you cut carbs may not be the only or the most direct cause of weight loss and metabolic stabilization, etc. It’s the fact that you are now eating foods that are nutrient dense.

     Just some fodder for thought! Great post.

    • LLVLCBlog

      Thanks for your input Dr. O.!

  • Don in Arkansas

    I like the idea of a ‘fix Jimmy Moore’ contest even though it was said in jest.(?) We’re all in this together and I too, even though I’m doing HFLC my weight is creeping in the wrong direction as well so I feel your pain/frustration.  You lost your original 180 lbs on Atkins.  Maybe it’s time to dance with the one that brung you, as we say down here in the sticks.  I am personally currently at 255, have gained about 8 in the last month or two and my n=1 experiment, starting today is calories-<1800 and carbs <50.  I know you're not a calorie counter but maybe you oughta give it a shot?  I'm not a believer in 'a calorie is a calorie is a calorie' but there is a need to create a deficit to lose weight.  At least that's been my n=1 experience.  I remember in "Fat Head" Tom's goal was calories <2000 and carbs < 100.  100 grams of carbs would not be good for me, but it worked for him.  I'm not a fan of Dr. Phil, but there is something in his trademark phrase – "How's that working for you?"  

    • LLVLCBlog

      You forget I’m a Southern boy too Don. I’m essentially doing Atkins with better food quality already.

  • Dracil

    The general feeling by folks at paleohacks is that you have way too much fat and sweeteners and not enough actual safe starch in your experiment and they’d like you to redo it with these factors corrected for. http://paleohacks.com/questions/112241/hack-jimmy-moores-safe-starch-sweet-potato-n1-experiment#axzz1s43avAnr

    • LLVLCBlog

      THANKS for your input Dracil and I have seen the PH feedback about my n=1 on sweet potatoes. The experiment is what it is and will not be repeated by me. I encourage anyone who would like to do it again to be my guest and share your results with the methodology you choose. I consumed the sweet potato in the amount and style that was real-world for me. I was encouraged to use plenty of fat with the starch and I only used a tiny amount of stevia to bring out the sweet potato flavor. Again, this was a personal preference for me that would be how I would consume it in real life. Actually, I probably would have consumed a whole sweet potato rather than half, but I wanted to give the test the best circumstances to respond for me. Overall, it didn’t show too much of an adverse impact except when mixed with honey. So I’m curious…if I were to repeat this test (and I’m not saying I will), then feel free to share exactly how much sweet potato and fat should be included to make it better. We’re all ears.

    • This reminded me why I never read paleohacks… The overall tone is very unpleasant.

      Depending on the hypothesis, there are many possible experiments and variables. The question this experiment asked was “What does Jimmy’s blood sugar do
      when he adds 1/2 a sweet potato with butter and honey to his normal
      meals?” and now he has an answer.

      In my opinion it’s perfectly valid to say “Long term I am not going to eat sweet potatoes without butter and sweetener so that’s the way I will test.”

  • Everything about this test took a lot of courage, Jimmy! Thank you for sharing this with us. I must admit, I had to stop reading half way through this post because all of your pictures made me HUNGRY! I needed a snack….:)
    This sort of thing would be fun to do with my husband….He seems to be able to eat lots and lots of carbs without being affected by them to a certain degree. I’d love to see the difference between my readings and his. 

    • LLVLCBlog

      That would be fascinating to see Ashley! Glad you enjoyed my food pics…should have posted a warning. 😀

  • Gladina

    Can you please do an n=1 for Jack Kruse leptin Rx + CT?  PLEASE?????????  (Note: You’ll drop weight like crazy, you’ll get restored cortisol, you’ll be able to get off of testosterone cream some where along the line’, you’ll get improvements and reductions in the estrogen dominance,  better sleep, hmmm what else???  EVERYTHING).  You will have to stop the heavy training while doing LR Rx, but with CT, you’ll be getting skeletal muscle development anyway, so don’t worry!  Please please PLEASE, do Jack Kruse protocol!  Thanks.  😀

    • LLVLCBlog

      Give me some time…I’m not opposed to testing CT.

  • Gladina

    No, there is nothing wrong with the amount of butter he’s using.  If he goes on Dr. K’s protocol,  with CT, first of all, his appetite might get smaller anyway.  Second of all, clearly it was the sweet potatoe, since it’s a) wrong time of year to even eat that anyway (that’s if you’re metabolically healthy in the first place).  He eats a lot of fat anyway on his own w/o the potatoe. 

    • Jakey White

      right, the butter isn’t keeping him fat, it’s the lack of cold therapy.  and carbohydrate during winter.

      honestly, get real. 

      • LLVLCBlog

        So your theory is that the calories I’m consuming from the butter is why I am unable to lose weight. Interesting theory…haven’t heard that one before!

        • ben61820

           Glad is accurate in that there could easily be more calories in the mix of butter and sweet potato than perhaps you realize. If you eat too many calories you will gain weight. You could try maybe just cooking a piece of whole meat (ie not processed stuff like sausages), think chicken breast for instance. Have a whole baked sweet potato or two maybe along with that. Drizzle a teaspoon or two of coconut oil on top when done cooking. It may be easier to keep track of how many calories you are eating while still allowing you to eat good food choices, have your protein, your good fat, and good starch. Eat the same thing for a month and see how it goes. Who knows, you may be happy with the results!

          • LLVLCBlog

            With my high iron levels I have to avoid red meat. So I’m abundantly aware of chicken which I consumed for half of the time in this experiment.

            • Galina Lebedev

              Probably, I said something like that before in my previous comments to some of your previous post, but I want to repeat myself –  from my personal LC experience I found out that the abandon amount of butter and other nutrients doesn’t matter only at the beginning of LC diet. I have been eating LC since November 2007, and ditching grains, starches , fruits and sugars was enough then, but not now. Now I use such way of eating  as a way to keep my appetite under control while EATING LESS. Very recently after reading 
               I started to check my calories intake at the Fitday.com and found out that it varies between 970 and 1600 calories a day, mostly  under 1500. I eat one small meal and one normal one within 6 – 8 hours eating window, no snacks. It allows me to just maintain my weight loss. Doctors who professionally advised people on LC diet for a weight loss like Drs. Eades and Atkins never encourage their patients to add unlimited extra butter just for heck of it or due to “personal preferences”.As a side note – sure, personal preferences are personal, but it is ridiculous to use for just half of sweet potato 3 Tbs of butter plus sweetener. You don’t do yourself any favor. Personal preferences are not a religion. 

              As a LC blogger, I think you will be interested to check out some posts on the blog the Scribble pad , there are some good examples http://itsthewooo.blogspot.com/2012/03/insulin-hypothesis-is-not-same-as-cih.html, http://itsthewooo.blogspot.com/2012/03/quick-update-protein-restriciton-ftw.html, http://itsthewooo.blogspot.com/2012/03/carbsane-is-terrible-human-being-paleo.html

              • LLVLCBlog

                To each his own.

        • Go Kaleo

           I think Jakey could have been more polite about it, but what I think he’s saying is that the total calorie load you’re consuming is the issue, to which the butter contributes significantly. Not the butter specifically. Like I said on FB, I’m estimating your meals at 1000+ calories each, simply using less butter (not NO butter) could have a positive impact on your weight loss. I see many clients who lose weight on low-carb to a point, then their weight loss stalls out, and tweaking their calorie intake a little (not changing *what* they eat) is usually enough to get the scale moving again.
          Just my respectful $0.02.

          • LLVLCBlog

            I don’t necessarily disagree, Amber. The point with the butter in this experiment was inhibiting the blood sugar response to the starch in the sweet potato. It was an experiment. That said, I’m happy to test the idea that lowering calories would produce weight loss. That n=1 would be better because I wouldn’t have to prick my finger. 😀 Maybe I can do this when I return back from the Low-Carb Cruise in mid-May.

            • Counting calories is counter productive, people prefer to eat to appetite, period. One thing that’s glaringly obvious though is the high food reward in your sweet potato meals. They have it all sugar, starch, fat & salt. Sounds way too much like a dessert. Even if you are using a sweetener and not sugar, the flavour is what provides the reward and your meals have it in bucketloads! 

              • LLVLCBlog

                I appreciate it Alma. And I’m not totally opposed to possibly doing the test again without the “food reward” aspect by leaving the sweetener of all sorts off. THANKS for your input!

  • Lisa

    Honestly, the thing that bothers me about this whole “safe starch” business is the same thing that bothers me about the 30 BAD movement. If you’re a Crossfit fanatic or an elite cyclist, maybe “safe” starches and copious fruit are ok, and perhaps even necessary. The problem is when these “experts” start making broad generalizations about the benefits of these foods. I used to go to the 30 BAD website, and I would see these stay-at-home moms talk about how they’ve gained 40 pounds in a few months of eating only fruit, but they’re going to stay the course because “Freelee” (one of the site’s creators) said she also gained weight when she first started, but managed to turn herself into supermodel. I feel sorry for these people, because most of them will dig themselves into a big hole from which it will be difficult to emerge. From all appearances, Freelee and her buddy Durianrider, spend most of their day exercising (or at least active). And as far as I can tell, Freelee doesn’t have kids and doesn’t spend 10 hrs a day sitting in an office in front of a computer screen. Yet they continue to advise people of all types to get thousands of calories a day from high-sugar fruits like dates and bananas. The Paleo community is starting to sound a bit the same way when it comes to dogmatism around certain foods. So many are into this Grok lifestyle stuff with the Crossfit training and sprinting barefoot on the beach that they forget there’s a huge segment of the population that may want to get healthier than they are now but are still largely sedentary and metabolically compromised. I find it very difficult to believe that mostly sedentary, overweight, sick people with damaged metabolisms will benefit from white rice and potatoes. There are plenty of non-starch sources of vitamin A, including liver and many leafy greens, and there are plenty of other ways to improve sleep (I personally resolved my years of insomnia with 5-HTP and melatonin). Fortunately, Jimmy, you know how to test yourself in a safe and methodical way and are very knowledgeable when it comes to nutrition and how certain foods affect you. But many people who read these often-conflicting paleo blogs recommending things like safe starches or “cold thermogenesis” are becoming confused and angry over the contradicting (and increasingly wacky) information, and I believe many will start to abandon the paleo idea as a “fringe” movement akin to fruitarianism, which would be a shame. It’s really great that you’re encouraging self-experimentation so that people understand that what works for a particular blogger and his/her disciples may not work for everyone.

    • LLVLCBlog

      This is something to consider, Lisa. But there are many in the Paleo community who I consider friends who are big into people finding what works for them even if that means forgoing eating starches if they are unable to. Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf, and others are all about individualizing nutrition to the individual. Where we are led astray is when “safe starches” are promoted as healthy for EVERYONE or even nearly everyone and then the wrong person starts eating white rice, white potatoes or even sweet potatoes. I’m all for people becoming experts on their own body and to stop relying on anyone else to tell them what’s right for them.

      • Lisa

        That’s exactly the point I was trying to make–though you said it much more succinctly! :)

  • LLVLCBlog

    1. I didn’t measure my calories. But most days I tend to run 2300-2500.

    2. My doctor is out of the country right now but he has these numbers available. I’d be delighted to share them, but I don’t have access to them at the moment. All the T numbers and other male hormone panel salivary tests have been recently re-run again after being on the cream. Not sure of the % but the doctor says it is a very low-dose. I’m now only taking it every other day in very small amounts. It’s barely the size of a pea before I rub it into my skin.

    • ben61820

       Jimmy, do you not think that perhaps 23-2500 daily cals is too much for you? I mean, I’m 5’11” 32 years old, male, athletic and very active. I’m picky and measure everything I eat – I do 2300-2500 daily cals but that is for maintenance with my very active schedule. In times of relaxation I’ve maintained leanness with more in the 2100 range. Perhaps you could do well with just eating less calories?

      • LLVLCBlog

        Again, I’ve cycled calories up and down many times with no impact on my weight. If it was merely about calorie control alone, this wouldn’t be a difficult fix. But like I said, perhaps I’ll test that soon.

    • Cvictorg

      Maybe 2300-2500 calories/day is too high


      Take a look at the  Nutrient Analysis of Atkins Sample Diets – the weight loss is appx 1500 calories/day – 10% carb, 32% protein and 58% fat – maybe you should try this and see if it works – do another n=1 but do it for a month or two

      Ongoing Weight Loss MenuBreakfastCheese omelet
      3 ounces of tomato juice
      Bran Crispbread (amount containing 2 grams of carbohydrate)
      Decaffeinated coffee or tea
      LunchChef’s salad with ham, cheese, chicken, egg and oil and vinegar dressing
      Iced herbal tea
      DinnerSeafood salad
      Poached salmon
      2/3 cup of vegetables
      1/2 cup of strawberries (in heavy, unsweetened cream)

      • LLVLCBlog

        Feel free to do that yourself and report your results.

  • LLVLCBlog

    That’s awesome you can tolerate that many carbs.

  • Jakey White

    guess what?  calories count for losing fat.  sorry, that’s the way it goes.  you use starch to replace a meal component, not as a vehicle to consume three additional tablespoons of butter. 

    there’s sensible low carb eating and there’s complete fairy land low carb eating.  calories will always count.  you stopped losing weight because as you got thinner and thinner, you were no longer in a caloric deficit.  you can rail against this, curse me, curse life, curse weight watchers, but if you put yourself in a caloric deficit, you will lose weight. 

    • LLVLCBlog

      Actually, the butter was no more than I would normally be consuming in a meal. So there’s no “additional” there to speak of. Calories can possibly count but I think the quality of those calories is much more important than the quantity. Of course, I could be wrong considering I’m working through what’s happening right now.

    • LLVLCBlog

      Incidentally, I cut my calories drastically to around 1200-1500 daily during this weight stall for about a month. Net results: I gained five pounds. There’s something more at play here than mere calories.

      • ben61820

         I’m sorry jimmy, but there is no way you gained five pounds during a time when you truly consumed 12-1500 calories per day. How do you measure your caloric intake? Do you weight everything? If you’re going to attempt any kind of measured project with this N1 thing you may as well be accurate. The best way is the weight everything you eat and use the most accurate information regarding each component of the meal. A simple scale with both grams and ounces will do the job. Livestrong, while being full of less-than-accurate information on their general site, has a very accurate and rich calorie data base.

        • LLVLCBlog

          Believe what you want but it is what it is. Perhaps that’s another n=1 I can conduct.

        • SpaceVegetable

           Dude, everyone responds differently. I ate 800-1000 calories daily for a solid month and gained 8 pounds. I had friends who kept telling me I was at risk for anorexia, even when I showed them the weight gain. So really, it might work for you, but we all have different body chemistry and exercise levels. I’ve been fairly sedentary due to a broken leg (which was one reason I decreased my low-carb food quantity), so perhaps even that was too much food. I certainly haven’t been hungry.

          • Woodey

            No that is either a lie or a gross exaggeration. To say “everyone responds differently” to justify severely mixed results is bunk. Greg Ellis of Bye Bye Carbs even said that is just not true. We all share the same biological system, doctors don’t go to med school and read 7 billion physiology books. That is just a wild statement to make, what you should say is “I don’t know”, which should lead to “but let’s go find out”. Its so hard for people to say that, but its what makes for good scientific discovery.

            LOL “I ate 800-1000 calories daily for a solid month and gained 8 pounds.” If it weren’t for the fact that there are impressionable people who read this blog I would ask for you to share another story. If by some miracle what you are saying is true, then there is way more to your story that aren’t saying. Trying to discredit someone by making crazy sounding statements is pathetic.

    • Gladina

      OK, it’s just b/c you don’t understand.  So his leptin status is probably kind of crappy, and it’s true, following Kruse’ leptin Rx and CT DOES help and it DOES reset leptin at the hypothalmic level.   Just trust me, I used the Rx and use CT…= MIRACLE!  

  • Nope! I am kicking butt with diet (ketogenic paleo) and exercise (slow burn/HIT) alone. I was able to bring my A1C down from 10.7 to 5.3 this way.

  • Jillm

    Sandra, ask the butcher to save some chicken skins, or other fat, for you, to make stock.  My butcher gives me a large bag full, no charge.  As the stock cools, fat rises to the top.  I use that instead of vegetable oil.  The stock makes delicious soup. 

  • Eric Fremd

    Excellent experiments Jimmy! Very interesting indeed, but I fail to understand how adding “safe starches” will help speed your metabolism and get you burning the fat? I thought your goal is to get your metabolism back on track and I don’t think daily consumption of starchy carbs are going to help. But I am just an Engineer and not a Doctor. I like your comment about the “Fix Jimmy Contest” and I have tried to follow your progress as I need to fix myself and am always looking and thinking about what may work. So since your fasting experiment it sounds like you are rebounding, eating only 2300-2500 calories and even going as low as 1200-1500 and still gaining 5 lbs. It sounds like you are getting more exercise but also gaining fat. Frustrating!

    I think your analysis that something else is going on is right on track. I have no idea what that could be? But I remember reading in your book that you would have a “cheat meal” about once a month while you were on your 180 lb weight loss. I don’t know how strict you have been on your “diet” but I know you are way more disciplined in eating than am I. I do think this may be the problem. I think Leptin is certainly involved. Maybe you should try a “cheat meal or day” every 2-3 weeks followed by a fast day with long-slow-distance exercise (walking or easy stationary bike). I know you can do a 36 hour fast. Then every week do a 24-36 hour fast. I know this may sound crazy but try to cut your fat intake for 2 days- say 20% fat and 80% protein (maybe a bit more fat) with no veggies then do  your normal routine the other 4 days- high/moderate fat, moderate protein, plenty of low carb veggies. Mix up the days at random or as required by your social calendar.

    I am not sure what exercise program you are on but it sounds like you are gaining muscle- I assume you have factored this into your “weight” and have done a water body composition test- all the other tests lie in my opinion. Using your finger calipers and looking in the mirror does just as well but is just not quantitative. “Less is more sometimes” and maybe you are working out too much? I don’t know what you are doing. I know you are doing HIT but not sure what program? Try a 4 minute Tabata HIT for cardio- warm up for 6-10 minutes, 4 minutes of Tabata HIT (20 second max effort, 10 second rest for 8 sets) then cool down for 5 or 6 minutes- then you are done with cardio in 15 or 20 minutes. The only other cardio allowed would be easy cardio like walking, etc. Do this 4 days in a row and then rest 3 days. Not sure what you are doing for resistance training either? Are you working full body or body part split? I think either is fine but you have to rest at least 5 days between workouts. I prefer to do a split routine and rest 7-9 days for each body part. Lift heavy with intensity- low rep heavy weights after warm up, work to failure and strip weight and work to failure again and again finally ending with negative reps to failure. I can work my split in 20-30 minutes- but I am not sure how you can do this with full body- I don’t think one can be as intense working full body. Keep up the volley ball and add some walking if you want more cardio or light bicycling.

    I did a program like this almost 2 years ago and lost 60 lbs very quickly but failed to follow through and stabilize my weight. I lost 5-6 lbs per week. I am currently back up over 300 lbs and my goal is 220 lbs. I am metabolically resistant- but not nearly as efficient as you. I look at your “meals” as snack size. Yes- I know I need to eat to satiety. If you can “Fix Jimmy” you can fix a whole lot of people. I hope you can figure it out.

    Thanks for such a great article on your experiments with “safe starches”…I think eating “safe starches” are fine once a week before a fast day or once every couple of weeks. My favorite “safe starch” is sushi. This is my favorite “cheat day” meal. I want to have 6-pack abs before I want to eat starches of any kind. Although I love bread and pizza- I don’t miss it much. I have made awesome low-carb pizza with Atkins bread mix. I fully understand the cravings when you eat carbs- like the sweet potato without fat- it’s just like eating Chinese food- you will be hungry again 2 hours later. I just don’t see how eating “safe starches” is going to help metabolically challenged folks like us lose 60 to 100 lbs better than without the added carbs. Incidentally if I have trouble sleeping- I eat lean protein- grilled or baked chicken breasts or lean steak not carbs.

    Keep up the great work!


    • LLVLCBlog

      Thanks Eric. The planned splurge was in my first book and only lasted that first year or so of my journey. I have no desire for going “off plan” now because I enjoy my low-carb life despite the weight frustrations. I actually do fast for periods at a time but I find it’s difficult to fully concentrate beyond 24 hours with no food. And I can’t stop eating on the day after the fast.

      Yes, I have gained muscle mass, but my abdominal fat is also getting larger. I workout lifting weights 2-3 times weekly which would hardly qualify as too much. I occasionally add in some HIIT too. And basketball or volleyball for some fun cardio.

      I’m working through all of this and will continue to pursue an answer to it. It’s out there and I’m bound and determined to find it! BTW, lean protein hasn’t helped me sleep a wink.

      • Eric Fremd

         Good luck Jimmy! You are in a battle with your body…I don’t think you need to go “off plan”…it is only 1 meal I am talking about…if you don’t want to consume “carb-age” then do it with the foods you love- I buy a flat of strawberries and eat most of the whole flat in an evening or between lunch and dinner and late night snack…of course my carb count goes way up…this is a “cheat-day” “on-plan” the idea is to double up your calories and up your good carbs…or I make a low-carb pizzia and eat as much as I can- I like to eat or I grill up about 2 lbs of steak- yes I can eat 2-3 lbs of steak- grass fed beef! Yummy…but that’s right you gotta cut the red meat for now…Or I do it with salads and whack the Sweet Tomatoes by my house with 2 HUGE plates of salad- one specialty the other spinach loaded with veggies and smothered in blue cheese crumbles and blue cheese. I can’t even imagine how many calories this is? i am so full after I eat that meal. I think you need to put a “cheat-meal” in at least once every 2 weeks- I do it once per week. Then I follow it up with a fast day. I think it takes a few times fasting 24 or 36 hours before you can eat regular the next day. I tend to eat a little bigger- but after doing about 5 fasts my body understands that it is okay to burn fat and a famine is not around the corner. I woke up after 36 hours and was not even hungry- I did a 4 minute Tabata HIT for 20 minutes total with plenty of energy and waited 2 hours after my workout before I felt really hungry and decided to eat.

        The idea is to shock your system and let it know it is not in starvation mode and fat storage mode. Tell your body it is okay to burn fat and stoke the metabolism back up. You should try the “cheat”. Plus four consecutive days of Tabata HIT will help light your metabolism “on fire”. You will become a fat burning candle again. I really think you need to upload the calories for 1 meal on 1 day periodically. If you don’t want to fast or go low-fat for 2 days then try to go low calorie fat fast. I like to fast because I feel it is good for my body. But doing a fat-only fast is probably not that much fun. Do a 1000 calorie fat-only fast for 2 or 3 days and your normal program for 4 days. I remember Atkins used the fat fast for super stubborn metabolisms. I am just trying to figure it out myself. Give it some thought.

        Good luck in your N=1. Keep us posted as we are all so interested in what is working and what is not.

        • LLVLCBlog

          Appreciate the suggestion.

  • Cvictorg

    This might be of interest since you say you weren’t sleeping as long during  the n=1 safe starch experiment



    A reduction of sleep time has become common over the last century, and growing evidence from both epidemiological and laboratory-based studies suggests sleep curtailment is a new risk factor for the development of obesity. On this basis, the present review examines the role of sleep curtailment in the metabolic and endocrine alterations, including decreased glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, increased evening concentrations of cortisol, increased levels of ghrelin, decreased levels of leptin and increased hunger and appetite. It will be discussed how sleep restriction may lead to increase in food intake and result in greater fatigue, which may favour decreased energy expenditure. Altogether, evidences point to a possible role of decreased sleep duration in the current epidemic of obesity and therefore present literature highlights the importance of getting enough good sleep for metabolic health. Many aspects still need to be clarified and intervention studies also need to be conducted 



    CONCLUSIONS:Laboratory studies in healthy young volunteers have shown that experimental sleep restriction is associated with a dysregulation of the neuroendocrine control of appetite consistent with increased hunger and with alterations in parameters of glucose tolerance suggestive of an increased risk of diabetes. Epidemiologic findings in both children and adults are consistent with the laboratory data.Maybe you need to work on getting enough sleep.

    • LLVLCBlog

      THANKS buddy! I know getting good sleep is a key in all of this. And, by the way, my sleep for the past few nights has been EXCELLENT ever since I spent four hours in the sun on Saturday. There’s certainly a connection here that I want to explore further.

  • Suffering from type 2 diabetes is never easy. One has to contain a lot of being deprive from the good things,especially good food. I really agree with you there Holly. That is why, we all just have to accept the hard truth.

  • Martin

    Jimmy, the results of your 1-week experiment are not significant in any sense. You simply ran it for too short. It’s similar to putting high-carbers on a ketogenic diet and reporting the results after 7 days. We know what they would be.

    Having said that, I’d stick with a low carb diet :-)

    One thing I find interesting: you fasting glucose is still high. You might be over-consuming protein and working out too much.

    When you plan your next n=1 experiment, try not working out at all for some 2 weeks. Instead just walk or move in any fashion, a lot but not too fast. And stay on a low-carb, low-protein diet. But chances are you’ve already tried that…

    Anyway, what you do is important not just for you, so please keep it up!

    • LLVLCBlog

      THANKS Martin! I never stated that the results of my one-week n=1 test of sweet potatoes was significant or even relevant in any way. I merely shared what happened to me over that course of time and encouraged others to do their own testing. Yes, low-carb tends to do better for me, but it is through these tests that we find out why livin’ la vida low-carb is best for me. Abnormal blood sugar readings are not healthy in the long run. My exercise routine remained the same during this test–basically two lift sessions during the week. Yes, I have tried stay on just a low-carb, high-fat, moderate protein approach. I’m still planning to test other things…thanks for your input! I wouldn’t say there was no value in what I shared in this experiment though. 😉

      • Martin

        There’s definitely lots of value in your experiment! The very discussion that takes place in the comments section is interesting on its own. I’ll run a similar experiment on myself. By the way, it would be super interesting if you could use a glucometer that can also measure the amount of ketones in blood. Volek and Phinney recommend doing so in their latest book. You could then see how a sweet potatoe both elevates the blood sugar and kicks you out of ketosis, if at all, and for how long.

        • LLVLCBlog

          Measuring ketones would be easy with urine Ketostix.

  • LLVLCBlog

    it is what it is. If you can do a better test then do it and share your results. You make a whole lot of assumptions that aren’t even close to being grounded in truth.

    • Violet

      I’m sorry Jimmy, I meant you no
      disrespect. I was shocked when I saw “Jimmy Moore’s n=1
      Experiments: ‘Safe Starch’ Sweet Potato” come up in my feed
      and I had to read it right away. (I’m not even joking, I was so
      excited for you!) I really enjoyed the way you laid it out in an easy
      to follow manner and the pictures were a great touch; it showed great
      objectivity and transparency.

      I’ve done some n=1 myself and have been
      as heavy as 256.6lbs (41.4 BMI) and as low as 117.4 (18.9 BMI). All
      of this reductionist nutritionism that looks at macro- and micro-
      nutrients instead of whole foods is what promotes eating disorders;
      all nutritional dogmas are guilty of this. Meat is not casein
      (vegans), saturated fat is not omega 6 (fat-phobia), fruit is not
      HFCS and safe-starch is not wheat (carb-phobia); you can NEVER lose
      context! I was really offended when you rejected my question for Mat
      Lalonde’s Calories 101 interview about restricting protein and carbs
      (which was on-topic) because I was really struggling with
      implementing Rosedale’s recommendations; I was depressed, I couldn’t
      sleep, and I had horrible carb cravings that led to binges. His
      message was to not be neurotic or militant about macro- nutrients and
      to take a step back when an approach stops working, because things

      This is why I was so disappointed and
      frustrated that you didn’t give safe-starch a fair trial. Because you
      are so influential, I think you have a duty to your followers to
      present your findings in a contextual manner. You acknowledge that
      your BG readings are not an accurate reflection in the context of
      this short experiment yet you maintain that you pathologically can
      not handle starch; I do not understand this because that is not what
      was tested for. You would tell someone to stick it out for a week or
      more if they were first starting a low-carb diet; why don’t you
      afford safe-starches the same leniency? Until you eat enough starch
      to get yourself out of chronic ketosis you will be caught in a
      positive feedback loop where you have glucose intolerance of an
      undetermined nature, and I think you know this.

      Anyway, I really appreciate you putting
      yourself out there and I hope you haven’t taken any of my comments
      personally. You bring together some great minds and that really helps
      people. If I can get ahold of a glucose meter I may try this myself
      just out of curiosity — and because it looks fun!

      • LLVLCBlog

        THANK YOU Violet. My purpose in these n=1 tests isn’t really to do anything more than to encourage people to test for themselves. If I made mistakes in the methodology, food consumed, or length of time I tested, then I’m more than happy for someone else to take up the mantle and test for themselves about what happens to them. I’ve never pretended that these n=1 posts are about anything more than what happens to my body when eating these things. Of course, I held off on my tests for the past 9 months or so because I’m dealing with some metabolic issues…so even my results probably aren’t typical for what most people would see. I don’t mind your comments at all and I appreciate the feedback from everyone. My bottom line is that my results are what they are and now others should do their own testing. Sounds like mission accomplished. 😀

  • LLVLCBlog

    Thanks Eric! Yes, I’m quite aware of the discrepancy in the BS readings of at-home monitors but they are a great guide nonetheless.

  • LLVLCBlog

    Durianrider, have you reincarnated yourself and now go by the named “Lee?” Using terms like “crikey” and eating lots of potatoes, rice and bananas with no fat is a calling card for you dude. Nice try though.

    • Nope sorry Jimmy, it is me Lee!
      Durianrider is a madman, but sorry, so are you.
      I am not a vegan, though admittedly Durianrider was a big inspiration to get me out of the low carb, high fat hell hole.

      There is nothing wrong with cheese or butter every now and again, but as a staple at every meal? Really?

      Perhaps try stepping outside of yourself and your low carb box for a moment. Forget everything you think you know. Do you honestly think you can eat unlimited butter/ fat/ calories and lose weight? Does it REALLY make sense?

      Then snap back to reality and ask yourself if what you are doing is working, honestly.

      I personally am a lean animal, always have, always will be. Sure genetics, even I gain weight (FAT) though if I eat a high calorie/ high fat diet. It is simple maths, if a genetically lean person like me gains weight/ fat on a high fat/ high calorie beyond my calorie needs, then to someone genetically disposed to obesity is going to be in chaos on a diet like that.

      Everyone will lose weight on a 0 calorie diet. Everyone will lose weight on a sliding scale of calories from 0 up to just below maintenance calories. FACT. It will not work if 3 table spoons of butter are added to each meal with the mental impression that the fat calories do not count. They really do count, probably more so than carb or protein calories.

      I suggested the plain rice/ potatoes/ bananas thing because I can honestly say that you would lose fat doing it. Do it for a month. I did it for a month, lost fat quicker than ever before. Being vegan for a month will not kill anyone. Hell even eating 0 for a month will not kill you when you have 100’s of excess fat pounds. Why eat lots of fat when you could just allow your body to use what fat it needs from your own fat stores?

      Why would it work? Well first of all it is terribly boring, which is a good thing to reset food pleasure type things. You will eat less calories because the food is less hypertasty, you physically will not want to eat as much. You will take in less calories because the food is low fat, high volume, low calorie density, something that someone with high appetite/ to calorie needs will appreciate.

      The fact is, eating a meal of cheesy chicken with highly buttered, sweetened sweet potato is a massive calorie bomb and extremely delicious I know…. impossible to under eat on. I could personally over indulge on that much more than any McDonalds or other similar food.

      If you are willing to take testosterone then surely trying a low fat, boring diet for a month will not be as big of a step? Have you thought that perhaps a low carb diet may possibly have caused a low testosterone problem?

      You would lose weight gauranteed. Of course add lots of fruit/ vegetable variety, probably something most people have never experienced. Then add in a bit of meat here and there, whilst keeping the overall fat intake relatively low. That isn’t difficult so as long as you give up the weird notion that dumping tons of butter/ cream/ coconut oil onto everything is healthy and lean human forming. It isn’t. What I suggested is a basic whole foods/ early paleo type diet recommended by someone like Lindeberg.

      Yes it is not as exciting as cheezy chikken, but you gotta make your choice. Health and weight loss or Not.

      I am back from a month away from the internet, I do enjoy listening to the odd podcast or two from you, so keep up the great work.

      • LLVLCBlog

        No thanks.

  • Oly Fischer

    Hi Jimmy.
    Amazing how you recount the hormonal difficulties you’re having and people still sound off about calorie counts! Oh well.
    So something isn’t right/off-balance, but we know the human body is remarkably good at healing itself when given the right tools. So maybe there’s something more that you need not to mention, shed (toxins etc).  Deep green leafy vegetables grown in rich soil…which beats eating dirt, right? There are hundreds of trace minerals elements and the like. Liver. More raw food. Maybe change your protein type to something else…make sure it’s not overcooked so it’s as high quality as possible.
    And maybe transition to a once a day meal plan henceforth….eating after your workout.  For me, I’ve been spending lots of time in the sun working on my square foot gardening patch so I can save money on my organic veggies.

    Also, calcium binds to iron so it sounds like you’d want to wash your redmeat down with dairy or a ton of green leafy things or both.  Low iron is an ongoing issue for me so I try to be kosher about my meat consumption.

    Take care!
    p.s. Boo & hiss at all the self-righteous starchiacs who probably typed those recs while hyperventilating on their hamster wheel

    • LLVLCBlog

      People like to cling to the calorie hypothesis and instead point the finger of blame rather than offering real solution ideas as you have.

  • drscox

    Whole 30 AND step calories down is not Whole 30.

  • Jeffrey_Brauer

    The Fix Jimmy Contest

    It’s not just about hormones, it’s also about signaling (Nutrigenomics):


    Also, carb up pre-workout, low-carb the rest of the time; high protein post w/o, low pro the rest of the time. Do not carb up post w/o, you’re not a “hard-gainer”:


    • LLVLCBlog

      Love your blog Jeffrey!

  • pam

    “an excuse to eat more starch”? sorry, i find this comment offensive.

  • firstly you should try completely removing all the sweeteners, what the heck is the point of having stevia in ur meals?:S secondly for someone who has been such a low carber for so long it is completely natural that your body will mismanage higher amounts of carbs at first. and if you follow any of the popular paleo advocates, robb wolf, mat lalonde etc.. taking in dense carb sources such as sweet potatoe are always recommended POST work out only , unless you are lean and healthy and are attempting a mass gain or are an athlete. most of the people who stall on weight do carb cycling, but specifically post workout. you can even see this on training protocols like leangains.com, where the majority of carb intake is directly after a workout. at your weight i think ure far off from needing to be that strict, but def. consume a nice half/or full sweet potatoe post workout to maximize recovery. id even attempt just a carb load post without protein and fat. a la mat lalonde, who takes in a small breakfast, then a huge lunch, then a sweet potatoe post workout only  to promote autophagy. good luck! get rid of the stevia!

  • Heidi

    Hey Jimmy,  Wouldn’t some weight gain happen with some water retention due to eating starches?  Also, if I’m correct, it sounds like you put this experiment out here to get feedfack and comments, you’re a tough guy!  If that’s the case, I’ll add my two cents.  In your recent Chris Kresser interview, he also stated that one mistake some folks make when adding in starches is to cut back on calories.  Could you consider adding bone broths to keep up with nutrients, add satiety and lower calories?  Just a thought.  Good luck.


    • LLVLCBlog

      I have to be careful with bone broth because of my high iron levels.

  • Steven

    Sry to be a bit blunt, Jimmy, but you are ignoring the most important feedback you’ve gotten again and again: Food Reward. Cutting your calories is dandy and all, but monitored concomitantly with a high food reward diet will do diddly squat to predict weight gain/loss if you don’t also monitor calories out. The beauty of low food reward diets is that they allow you to eat less and expend more (or equal to what you would normally). You might have only been ingesting a meager 1.2-1.5k calories daily, but I’m almost positive your NEAT decreased enough to warrant your 5 pound (or whatever it was) weight gain. 
    You also have to understand that such scrupulous monitoring of blood glucose and other biochemical markers is rather pointless. In all honesty I think you’re merely procrastinating testing the food reward effect because it is something very difficult for you. If memory serves me right, you affirmed the addictive quality of food on your life, and so it makes a lot of sense that you’re not willing to face it at the current time. The only hope I can provide is that many who have taken a crack at reducing their food reward have reported greater satisfaction after a minor adjustment period–similar to keto adaption reports by low carbers. I wish you the best of luck, Jimmy!

    • LLVLCBlog

      Not sure I’ve “ignored” anything–I’ve been pretty open to hearing what everyone is saying. I appreciate your input…I’m still working through all this. I’m not opposed to testing the food reward theory and would be happy to talk with Stephan Guyenet directly about it. I have no qualms with it. THANK YOU again.

  • MapleGuitar

    My own regimen, which is much easier than it sounds, it to use 3 different meters. That’s right, every time I take my blood glucose reading, I use 3 different (brands of) meters. Then, if two meters are very close, I toss the outlier. Given the variance I’ve encountered, it’s a nice way to get more accurate results. And it only takes an extra 30 seconds, maybe. Only downside is the extra cost of strips.

    • LLVLCBlog

      Interesting. As long as you use th same meter consistently, the results should be as accurat as possible.

  • Diane Soini

    No offense Jimmy but I think you tried your safe starch experiment with way too much of it. When I have sweet potatoes, first of all, I get the kind that are yellow inside, not orange, because the orange kind are sickly sweet. Then I eat only 1/4 to 1/2 of a sweet potato and only at dinner. I put at most a tablespoon of butter on them but sometimes if the meat I’ve made has some kind of juice or sauce left in the pan, I put that on it instead. By eating such an enormous amount of the sweetest kind of sweet potato plus adding sweetener and way too much butter, I don’t know if you’re seeing real results from real food. It’s more like you are testing the results of bombing your body with a huge overdose of both sugar and fat. Nothing good is going to come from that. You didn’t disprove safe starches with your approach.

    • LLVLCBlog

      Thanks. I was advised to consume 1/2 sweet potato by a Paleo nutritionist. There was no sugar in my experiment. I was also told to use a large amount of fat to lessen the blood sugar response. Never claimed that I disproved anything. This was simply what happened to me.

  • JaceB

    Love your N= 1 experiments, Jimmy. Glad you found a graphing program instead of the old graph paper technique. You can format the y axis to start at 70 or so for better legibility. Graphing in PowerPoint is really easy.
    I know that Quest is a sponsor of your podcast but I propose that you test Quest Bars in an N=1 experiment. I did and found I had a 72 point increase in blood sugar at 30 min post meal! My husband had only an 11 point increase but apparently my response is not unusual: http://www.meandmydiabetes.com/2012/03/03/high-fiber-foods-and-blood-sugar-quest-protein-bar-interview/

    • LLVLCBlog

      They’re not a sponsor and I’ve been looking at testing them myself at some point.

  • Janne

    Wow, is this ever interesting! I would like to make one humble observation – why so many fat-laden carbs and greasy proteins and so few healthy veggies? Why experiment with you body (your temple) and what are you trying to prove – that it’s okay to eat SWEETENED SWEET potatoes (honestly!) with more butter than even this Dane would consume in one meal? I just don’t understand.
    I would also venture a guess that those sausages contain some nasty ingredients such as WHEAT that will do nothing but harm.
    It’s not rocket-science – eat moderately-sized meals mostly made up of plants with some healthy fats and protein. And get lots of exercise, move your body!

    • LLVLCBlog

      Lots of erroneous assumptions made here.

  • At some point, calories do count, and it would be good to know exactly how much you are eating – I like Diva’s point.  I’d also ditch the stevia for the purpose of the testing and to get a better enjoyment of food without extra sweetness – confounding element.

    Ever measured your degree of hydration?  Sometimes, appetite is associated with low hydration but can feel like just plain old hunger.

    Stay with it my friend!!

  • Abdurbrow

    I know I’m really late to the party, but Jimmy, I can’t tolerate the sweet potatoes at all because of the high estrogen content.  It might not be the starch, carb content, or the calories but rather that its a prime estrogen source.

  • Helpy Helperton


    I posted this on Jack Kruse’s site, since he apparently has all the answers to everything based on you comment above about holding a contest to see who can fix you….interesting response from him.  Being that he seems to like attention so much, I thought it would be a great way for you two to team up and for him to finally prove something for once.  Guess he isn’t interested in “proof”.  😉

    • LLVLCBlog

      He’s right. I’m working on a protocol right now to get the weight down. Thanks!

  • Sojourner

    Hi Jimmy!  I just came across your blog today.  I’m fairly new to low carb, and not an expert by ANY means…I just wanted to share with you what seems to have been working for me (I had 40 pounds to lose as my goal, and I’m almost halfway there in 11 weeks).

    First of all, kudos to you for not giving up on yourself, for trying to get back on track!  It’s not easy.

    I didn’t have a chance to go through all the posts, so I don’t know if somebody brought this up already or not, but is it possible that you are consuming *too little* calories?  Someone commented they take in under 1500 calories, but this doesn’t sound like it would be a good place to start to me, especially for a man–is your body going in starvation mode?  Some of the low carb information I’ve read on various sites all say to *not count calories*, eat until you’re full, etc.

    I read Dr. Jack Kruse’s (neurosurgeon) “Leptin Reset” and followed his advice, because for me starting on a healthier eating plan, I was A-L-W-A-Y-S HUNGRY, NEVER sated at a meal, and I did not want to snack in between meals anymore (just sets me up to eat constantly–part of how I got myself into trouble!).  http://jackkruse.com/how-does-the-leptin-rx-work/   This may help you reset your body.  He has articles on there about supplements and hormones as well which may be helpful for you with the testosterone issue.  I’m amazed to discover from primal/paleo standpoints that our modern day illnesses all come from inflammation; getting our bodies back to optimal health is necessary to bring down that inflammation (even if it’s not inflammation you can feel, like joint pain, for example) and help ward off disease.

    My humble thought it to avoid all dairy, at least for now, as well as all starches.  Dairy can increase insulin production.  I tried Atkins last year and didn’t lose one single pound in a month, and I believe it had to do with the dairy.  At some point, you may be able to add in things like sweet potato, but for now, until you get your body responding better, you may need to avoid them.  I am currently doing as low carb as I can until I lose a bit more weight–I truly miss my fruit and veggies, but I keep myself going with the thought that the restriction isn’t going to be forever, and when my body is straightened out, I will enjoy them once again with my meals.  Robb Wolf talks about also avoiding tomatoes and peppers, eggs, nuts and seeds, and eggplants for maybe a month to increase the body’s healing of inflammation–I have also done that as well, and I have inflammation I can feel (as well as inflammation I can’t always feel–I have Crohn’s disease and other autoimmune conditions), and the inflammation I can feel has improved.

    Dr. Kruse says to use coconut oil as “your primary diesel”.  That being said, a little bit on some leaner meat would be a good way to add in the healthy fat; try to use this exclusively as your only fat source (or in addition to some olive oil).  I use one tablespoon per meal in various way–in my tea, or on a piece of meat, or to cook with, etc.

    I am a *BIG* believer in red meat–I have a HUGE bias towards it!  I read that you have a high iron level, but will red meat (even though it’s high in iron) affect that?  I personally believe red meat is a superior animal protein and can really help with satiety and providing vitamins and minerals, moreso than chicken.  Are you able to eat fish and shellfish at all to add some variety?

    Lastly, I would stay away from all processed meats.  Bratwurst is very processed, full of fillers, sugars, etc.  I don’t know what your budget is (an unfortunate determining factor in trying to eat healthier!); in fact, try to avoid any sausages, too–they are all pretty bad I think.  Lean real meats (instead of sausages, hot dogs, lunchmeat, etc.) are the best choice–not always quick to prepare, but so worth the reward of a healthier body.

    In a nutshell, I would say to read Dr. Kruse’s information on the Leptin Reset (if you haven’t already) and try it for a month, eliminate any dairy (even the butter) and replace the fat with coconut oil, and see if you can safely consume some red meat, even if only for one meal once or twice a week, and only eat unprocessed meats.

    I wish you all the best.  It is not easy, and what I have found is that everything has been trial and error for me–there is no “one size fits all” approach to health and weight loss…we are all different.  I hope you can find what works for you and get healthy.