The Hunger-Free Diet(s)

It started out as “lose weight without hunger on LCHF” and went all the way to “effortless fasting on keto.”  Works for some and it might be true, but the same can be said for low fat diets!  The key, I think, in both contexts, is simple: fewer processed & refined foods… something the Paleo movement got right, imo (although I still think many low-calorie sweeteners are way less unhealthy than HFCS & sugar).

The logic:

1) add “good calories” like almonds to your diet and appetite spontaneously compensates by eating less other stuff: energy neutral

2) you don’t compensate for added “bad calories” like sugar-sweetened beverages: positive energy balance

3) remove bad calories from your diet and you don’t compensate by eating more other stuff: negative energy balance


Book: Good Calories, Bad Calories



Exhibit A. Effects of a low-glycemic load vs low-fat diet in obese young adults (Ebbeling et al., 2007)

Low GI diet: 40% carb, 35% fat, 25% protein

Low fat diet: 55% carb, 20% fat, 25% protein


Rather, hunger and satiety cues were discussed and participants were advised as follows: Eat when you are hungry, before you become famished. Stop eating when you are satisfied, before you become stuffed.GOOD ADVICE


Both groups ate more protein and fibre-rich foods.




Switching from their Crappy Diet to one with fewer refined foods resulted in similar spontaneous declines in appetite and food intake regardless of diet group assignment.  And both groups were equally satisfied with their diets = #winning




And they all lost weight:





Exhibit B. Weight loss on low-fat vs. low carbohydrate diets by insulin resistance status among overweight adults and adults with obesity: a randomized pilot trial (Gardner et al., 2016)

Low(ish) carb diet: 22% carb, 53% fat, 25% protein

Low(ish) fat diet: 57% carb, 21% fat, 22% protein





Appetite spontaneously declined by like, 600 kcals in all groups!

Compliance and adherence were equally good:




What’s next: “effortless weight loss with LF” ??? [no please just stop with these tag-lines]

There are many successful dietary patterns and they all seem to have one thing in common: cut out processed and refined foods.  Whether you’ll do better on one over the other may depend on biological factors like circadian rhythms, insulin sensitivity, or more simply: personal preference.  More whole food sources of protein and fibre seem to work well also.  Because #science.

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calories proper


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  • Have you ever looked at the Shangri-La Diet? I can’t remember who knows what anymore.
    Anyway, Seth Robert’s premise was that calories sans flavor would suppress appetite. And it did. I found him first and had curbed my hunger enough to be able to think about paleo. I took two tablespoons of walnut oil- I think for three years, which helped me lose a lot of weight.

    So, for those familiar with the theory, the assumption would be that the changes in this study came about because the signal (flavor) and the payload (calories, nutrition) are more variable with more natural foods. With processed foods the signal is usually very loud, and the payload is very dependable. Although it is useful to point out a bland flavor can help you get fat over time as well, assuming it is dependably heralding the same calories over and over.

  • NY

    Nice post. Hard to disagree. There seems to be a general consensus on refined carbs and sugar being bad now, as Gary Tuabes pointed it out repeatedly as his first line of attack.

    Stick to what works and makes you less hungry or more full. Fasting might work, what is funny though is, many gurus of long fasting would reject starvation on low fat calorie restricted diets but would deem it perfectly OK while doing long fasts.

    • “Fasting might work, what is funny though is, many gurus of long fasting
      would reject starvation on low fat calorie restricted diets but would
      deem it perfectly OK while doing long fasts.”

      yeah, that’s weird.

    • George Thomas

      Chronically underfeeding (CRAP) and fasting are two entirely different things that yield entirely different metabolic outcomes.

  • Martin

    I also find the shift some took from keto to fasting a bit funny.

    But: do you seriously consider a ketogenic diet equivalent to a low fat diet? Sure, both may lead to comparable fat loss. But is the fat loss the only criterion? What about the nerological benefits that some researchers like Dom D’Agostino study? Or the metabolic effects studied and reported by e.g. Jeff Volek.

    • a lot of benefits can be gained by ditching refined foods (metabolic, neurologic, etc.).

      That said, patients who require low GI or ketogenic diets for things like epilepsy will probably still require those diets.

  • Weight loss wasn’t the goal but my health improved markedly ditching processed and refined foods well before i tried keto. I still believe the metabolically healthy should consume nuttrient dense wholefoods from all sources if no adverse reactions to anything.

  • Yaroslav Fedevych

    I still have a hard time wrapping my head around what “processed” food actually means, and how to define it properly.

    Is this along raw ? cooked axis? Well, then everything cooked is “processed”, in a sense. More raw food? Everything raw? Not sure. Chocolate is processed by definition; almost every bit of meat must be processed unless you like to harbor little parasitic passengers.

    Is a whole-grain bread a more whole food than a regular white bun (when home-baked, I keep hearing that grocery store variety of bread in the US sucks)? Or are they equally “processed” because of baking?

    Also, I bet this is not homemade vs factory made, because fries of my own making are no worse (or no better, depends how you view it) from McDonald’s. Maybe mine are even worse because I tend to overcook them.

    Of course there’s far side of the spectrum where they take potatoes, wash and dry all starch off all of them, and use this starch and a kind of edible glue to make chips, that’s falls firmly under “overly processed” in every book.

    Maybe this is an American cultural assumption where the difference is vivid. As an Eastern European, I don’t get it too much. Can anyone enlighten me a bit?

    • I think the changes in the studies were quite broad and it’s not very complicated; eg, soda & cookies are processed. Pretty much any whole F&V, cooked or raw, is not processed.

    • Kindke

      the best definition of a “processed/refined” food I can think of is any food where the carbohydrate portion has been altered to make it faster digesting and absorbed.

      good example is whole fruit vs fruit juice, the former is fine but the latter is extremely unhealthy.

      • ^^^ good point

      • LA_Bob


        How does your definition accommodate vegetable (seed) oils?

        • Berny3

          My gut feeling (pun intended?) is that perhaps the key problem with processed food is the overabundance of omega 6s, though other ingredients like emulsifiers might add to the problem. Of course, any time the list of ingredients is more than 10 items, you have a host of possible culprits, some acting synergistically.

    • Mathieu Clément

      A simple view: Is it packaged? If yes, then it’s processed 😉

      Or you can check if the ingredients are raw or manipulated in some way.

      Bread (any kind) is defininately processed.

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