Thursday, July 31, 2008

Jimmy Moore Is Losing Weight!

Jimmy Moore is one of the "stars" of the low-carb movement. In 2004 he followed Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution and took his weight from 410 down to 230 pounds.

He wrote a book about it, Livin' La Vida Low-Carb, and launched a blog with the same title. Since then, Jimmy has started many more blogs, interviewed the movers and shakers in the weight-loss community and served as an inspiration for people who want to experience the satisfaction of losing weight successfully.

But all was not perfect in the world of Jimmy Moore. In December 2007 he began to do resistance training. Long story short--in the process of building up strength and muscle mass, Jimmy gained 30 pounds and couldn't seem to get rid of it. He has kept a current account of these adventures in his Low-Carb Menus blog.

Fast-forward seven months. Jimmy finally seems to have found a method that works. Here it is:

1. He has stopped eating desserts and low-carb products. Even though Jimmy always ate strictly low-carb, he counted net carbs. That meant that he subtracted insoluble fiber, soluble fiber, sugar alcohols, glycerin, maltodextrin, and similar low-glycemic-impact carbohydrates. He ate Atkins bars and Dreamfields pasta, as well as low-carb brownies, cookies, muffins, ice cream, chips and wraps. Except for insoluble fiber and possibly erithritol, eventually all of these carbs have to be dealt with as carbs. In order to store or metabolise them, the pancreas must release insulin. And when insulin is released, fat stays trapped inside fat stores and is not available for burning.

2. He is eating much less protein. Protein is important for building and repairing muscles. But eating protein also causes insulin to be released. It's important to eat enough protein to keep the body in good shape, but if too much is eaten, insulin levels stay high, and the excess protein can be converted to glucose through gluconeogenesis.

3. He is waiting about six hours between meals and is doing very little snacking. Eating low-glycemic-impact carbohydrates and protein every few hours keeps insulin levels elevated continuously. Eventually the insulin signaling system down-regulates itself, and the muscles, liver and brain gradually become resistant to insulin. Waiting five to six hours between meals allows insulin levels to decline to baseline or near baseline. This in turn permits hormone-sensitive lipase to mobilize fatty acids from fat deposits. The body can use free fatty acids for fuel while the insulin signaling system has a chance to reset itself.

4. He is eating fewer calories. One of the best aspects of low-carbing is that it's easier to count carbs than calories. In the initial stages of low-carb weight loss, the anorectic effect of ketosis and the satiety-producing effects of moderate protein and high fat all work together to limit the number of calories consumed without requiring much conscious effort on the part of the dieter. However, in the words of Robert C. Atkins, "I never said calories don't count." As weight is lost and as the body becomes more efficent at low-carb living, eventually it becomes necessary to become aware of the number of calories eaten versus the number of calories used for resting energy expenditure, activity energy expenditure and thermogenesis. The advantage of dieting the low-carb way is that when fewer calories are eaten, the body does not have to slow down its metabolic rate to conserve energy. Low carbs mean a low insulin level, which gives the body ready access to the energy it has stored in adipose tissue.

Jimmy Moore's experiences are his own, and may or may not apply to others who are trying to lose weight or maintain a weight loss. But they do provide real-world insight into how low-carbing works on a practical basis.

An Update (October 12, 2008)

Jimmy followed this regimen until the middle of August and took his weight down to about 255. He then joined Isabeau Miller's FitCamp for two weeks and began doing all sorts of vigorous exercise, which he has faithfully continued during the subsequent weeks. To avoid muscle weakness and exhaustion during workouts, Jimmy experimented with adding in healthy extra carbs. He also returned to eating his favorite low-carb products and began eating more often. Bottom line: On October 3 and again on October 11 Jimmy weighed in at 270 pounds.

It is commonly believed that increased exercise results in weight loss. In Jimmy Moore's case, increased excercise has twice resulted in weight gain. Some of the weight gain is undoubtedly muscle, but the correlation between significantly increased exercise and significantly increased body weight is surely a cause for concern. As Jimmy continues to use various approaches to return to his 2004 weight of 230, it will be instructive to see which strategies work for him and which don't.


JayCee Botha said...

Fantastic news! Thanks for the update! JayCee

Val said...

"The advantage of dieting the low-carb way is that when fewer calories are eaten, the body does not have to slow down its metabolic rate to conserve energy."

Really? What if you do a combination of low carb and low fat? What does that do to your metabolism? I was on such a diet and lost a lot of weight. I came to my senses and started to eat more protein and fat. Since I have been doing this, my weight loss has stalled. I would love to drop my calories a bit while low carbing to get rid of the rest of my excess weight but have not done this because I thought I would lower my metabolism. I am confused.

This is my first visit to your blog and I LOVE IT! The articles are short, concise and easy to understand. I plan to be a regular here.


Stargazey said...

Hi, Val! Short, concise and easy to understand is exactly what I'm aiming for, so I appreciate the compliment.

As far as your question about low carb and low fat, it doesn't work in the long term. It's a matter of metabolic regulatory pathways. I have been trying to post on this, but it's so complicated that every time I get lost in the woods and put it aside once again.

For now, let me try a commonsense explanation. When a low-carber is eating fewer calories but plenty of fat, his body knows that starvation can't be imminent. The body is therefore willing to part with some of its own fat to make up the caloric difference. (Why carry lots of extra fat on the belly when there is plenty of fat available in the environment?) You can think of eating fat to burn fat in the same way you would think of priming a pump.

However, if the low-carber gets overenthusiastic and cuts calories too much, the anti-starvation mechanisms go ahead and kick in anyway. As we get closer to goal, we will require proportionately fewer calories to support our bodyweight, but each individual also has to figure out how many calories he must eat to avoid going into starvation mode. It's quite an individual thing.

One thing to consider along with counting calories is cutting carbs back to zero or near-zero. If you re-read the 1972 version of the Atkins Diet Revolution, you'll notice that he does start at zero carbs per day, not 20. (That's zero sugar alcohols, zero glycerin, zero maltodextrin, and a very close eye on dairy consumption.) For some of us, the insulin response system is so broken that we have to eat in a way that takes insulin secretion down to the absolute minimum.

If you choose to low-carb this way, you need to be very careful about your supplements--first that the supplements themselves don't contain carbs, and second, that the supplements are meeting all of your nutritional requirements. It's important to consult with your doctor if anything seems to be going out of whack.

Val said...


The makes sense to me! I tried zero carb (fatty meat and water only) in June and gained 5 lbs (I am still trying to take it off). I am not sure what my body needs me to do right now so I just keep eating about 10 carbs/day and maintaining what I have lost so far. I have lost 100 lbs in a year (I need to lose about 40 more) so maybe my body just needs a rest from losing weight for a few months.

Stargazey said...

100 pounds in a year is a lot. (Good for you!)

Learning to do maintenance is itself an art form--in fact it's harder than losing the weight--so your idea of letting your body rest for a while sounds quite reasonable. In the meantime, I hope you keep reading and learning and staying encouraged.

Stargazey said...

Almost three months later, here is another thought:

Jimmy Moore has returned to the eating pattern that brought his weight down to about 255. He calls it the "Sweet"-Free Challenge, and here is a sample menu. Jimmy eats three low-carb meals a day and then does nothing that will cause his insulin to rise between meals. That includes:
(1) No snacks
(2) No soft drinks

This allows his postprandial blood insulin and blood leptin levels to return to baseline. (Snacks--even high protein ones--stimulate insulin release, and artificially-sweetened soft drinks can stimulate insulin release, too.) Avoiding both snacks and soft drinks gradually allows his body to regain its sensitivity to both insulin and leptin.

At the time I wrote the original comments to this post, I was toying with the idea that very low carb and moderate protein was going to be the solution to insulin resistance. According to my own experience and the experience of one of my readers, shared here, that is not the case. Low carb and moderate protein are important, but waiting 5-6 hours between meals, to allow insulin and leptin levels to reset themselves, seems to be a critical factor in restoring proper insulin and leptin sensitivity.

goal is THIN said...

I'm interested that he eliminated snacks between meals.
I do what's called "intermittent fasting," not eating anything for 19 hrs per day and eating all my calories in a 5 hr window. It's GREAT for appetite control -- after the first week I stopped thinking about food at all. I'm no scientist but I suspect it has to do with insulin. In combination with avoiding refined sugar and flour, I've lost 30 lbs over a year. Google "fast 5" if interested!!

Anonymous said...

I am just wondering if trying to control insulin is backwards what I mean is insulin is a satiaty hormone too, and also if your trying to control insulin becaue it stays to high for too long then maybe one should target the resistance rather than the insulin? stephanie seneff on her blog (type in her name) has some really interesting insights into this tha actually addresses the insulin resistance (also called type 3 diabets that is included as well) check it out. you wont be dissappointed. I havent. people assume that insulin itself if stays high causes resistance when in fact it is the resistance that is first the hyperinsulemia is just a symptom not a cause? just a thought.