Learning Moore from Jimmy: A Critique of Nutritional Ketosis by Valerie Berkowitz

Valerie Berkowitz, MS, RD, CDE, CDN
Valerie Berkowitz, MS, RD, CDE, CDN

Wow, Jimmy gave us a lot to think about in his last post, “My 5 Low-Carb Mistakes And How Nutritional Ketosis Rescued Me From Them“. Congratulations on your low carb success Jimmy!

From my perspective as a nutrition expert, I think the four most important lessons are:

  1. No two people are alike, so when following the same type of lifestyle as a friend or family member, you may need to make tweaks to individualize your plan.
    Current scientific information suggests that our genetic make-up and our medical history dictate what foods we should eat. Not the USDA guidelines or The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, not your doctor or family and friends – your own body.  I believe that you have a say in what you eat, unless you “have” to eat cereal for breakfast –  then you lose the right to choose, and must trust a professional to help you make alternate choices. These alternate choices will help you test variations in your food routine to determine what your specific needs are.

  2. You are not the same throughout the course of your life.  Whether you are consistent with your nutritional plan or have had some indiscretions, your nutritional needs will change over the course of your life.
    Listen to your body!  Do not ignore signs that things are not right.

    “This diet does not work for me anymore”. “I lost weight and then started gaining”. To me, these statements mean that something in your body has changed.

    We need to re-evaluate your plan, supplements or exercise routine. Aging, childbearing, excessive stress, lack of sleep, these are just a few situations that throw the body out of balance and may change nutritional needs.

    If your nutritional intake does not follow the change in your body’s nutritional needs, you will hit a road block. Do not throw in the towel. Figure out how to get around it, just like Jimmy. This may take a month or a year but if you do not try there is only one outcome – and it ain’t pretty.

    Following a general low carb diet will not work if your hormones change. The low carb lifestyle won’t work as well if you develop adrenal fatigue or thyroid issues. If you get into a rut and start eating foods that trigger cravings, it may not be as easy getting back on track. You may be creating a vicious cycle of lethargy and depression.  You need to find a way to break that cycle.

    Jimmy also illustrates something I dealt with many times while working with Dr. Atkins: the “CCLL”, critical carbohydrate level for losing. Your CCLL is not a fixed, unchanging number. Nothing lasts forever, not even your CCLL.

  3. When something is not right, do not give up hope. Be your own detective; help experts help you.
    Seek out the answers to your low carb stall or weight gain and you shall find the answer.  For support and ideas, reference my book, “The Stubborn Fat Fix” It is a good start.

    Many clients come to me expecting an immediate solution to their problem. In my many years of practice, I can say that rarely is the answer simple. In fact, Stubborn Fat is extremely complex. Often supplements are necessary to help repair damaged or over-stressed body systems. The more information provided,  the easier it is to identify what the cause, or causes, of the problem are.

    Last but certainly not least is something I say to my clients all the time: “Track your every move.” Journaling helped Jimmy in his search for an answer. Tracking food, activity, feelings of fullness or hunger after meals, emotions, and any other piece that might fit the puzzle is the best way to find answers.

    People do not like to face the truth. But tracking food intake should be considered a positive experience. It is not about what you should have eaten, it is about the information each food provides to help you attain your goal.  Knowledge is power.

  4. Learning to follow hunger cues is important. I cannot recommend “eating to eat.” There are different schools of thought regarding hunger cues. Some may benefit from eating more frequent small meals or snacks, others feel better with intermittent fasts. The most important thing is to find what works for you.
    If you overeat when meals are skipped, consistent meals are important. This is also true if you have diabetes or hypoglycemia.  On the other hand if, when you skip a meal, your mood is unchanged and you feel good, and there is no medical reason you need 3 meals/day, controlling meal frequency may help you.

In Jimmy’s case, he mentions eating one low carb meal per day. I will wait with bated breath for him to post sample low carb menus.  My big question: “Is Jimmy eating the same amount of calories or less in one meal/day than he would if he ate more often?”

I believe the composition of nutritional ketosis works for him, and I believe that calories are metabolized differently for different people. Is it possible that going from 3 or more meals/day to 1 meal a day helped Jimmy’s ketosis by restricting calories as well as increasing fat percentage and reducing carbs?

Are you up for your own n=1 experiment to find out how to jump start your low carb weight loss? Tell me how you feel about this in the comments below.

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  1. Hi Valerie and welcome to the team. We are lucky to have you here!

    Very nice review of nutritional IQ. I think the articles being written here at CarbSmart are helping so many increase their nutritional IQ. I know you’ve all helped increase mine!

    Sometimes I think that’s the most aggravating part of the USDA guidelines or the ADA of MDA or HSPVA, whatever and whomever the governing body is in the situation is the lumping of an entire nation into “sheeple”.

    We really are individuals. And as you and Jimmy have pointed out, no two of us are alike or have an identical nutritional need. Finding what works for each of us is the hard part and taking a simplistic approach of eatting 2x, 3y, 1z is really very close to magical thinking from my point of view – so what I do know is that I won’t be following the USDA food guidelines any time soon – I’m not one of the 25% who are “fortunate” enough to be able to eat high glycemic carbs without repercussion!

    I’m so looking forward to more articles from both you and Jimmy!

    Again, welcome to the family!

    • Thank you Susie! I agree with you, there are so many people here that have so much information to share. I enjoy your articles and all the posts. I read and “run” as I am always on the road because I am just horrifically busy.

      Best advice for anyone is to listen to their own body, make educated decisions and not be part of a “sheeple”!

  2. i have been having the same question in my mind for weeks: eating once or twice a day shall we have bigger servings, giving way to probable gluconeogenesis if the protein is too much? and if we are already at our desired weight, how do we take in enough calories to keep weight stable?
    after all calories count for most folks. personally, if i eat too much food for a few days, still keeping protein adequate and carbs at around 20 g, i’ ll put on weight easily. so, if i do IF, as i am doing, i naturally eat a hypocaloric diet and to mantain my weight stable is it my metabolism that is slowing down in the long term?

    • Hi Paleo,

      Yes, you sound like you know what is best for yourself. Others can get away without tracking calories but all this hinges on age, activity, underlying medical condition etc…

      Have you tried strength training exercise?

      Thank you for commenting on my blog.

      Be well 🙂

  3. i need you Valerie! i love Jimmy Moore and find his journey fascinating….I read Volek and Phinney and also found their book insightful BUT i don’t think that it works for me!!! ARGH! i feel so defeated. i have been doing very low carb for years now to really no avail (always less than 50g/always less than 20 net grams), high intensity interval training, healthy fats (quality coconut oil and grass fed, pasture raised, raw butter that i make myself from a local farm), not too much protein (less than 90grams a day), organic, grass fed, pasture raised, local meats…..around 1600 calories a day, resistance training, a gazillion supplements….i can easily do intermittent fasting….i am happy with my eating and satiety but i have 30 pounds easy of fat, mostly around my middle. i am 42 years old and sooooooo sick of being fat. i wish that there was a woman out there who could help me. i have literally been so good for years with no success. i am not obsessed with the whole debacle, i am just disappointed and somewhat discouraged. what can i do? buy more books? read more web pages? listen to more blogs? there’s got to be a way……i’ve spent hundreds at least….. 🙁

    • Hi Aimee,

      It is hard to say specifically based on what little I know about you. But I think you have to be willing to make a change. Use what you have learned and take from it what you think may be the right steps for you to see a change. Forget about what works for anyone else, you need to start reading your own body and right now it is telling you, what you are doing is not working.

      What variations might work for you? Slightly up the carbs or cut calories, maybe cut back on exercise or change something you have not tried before. Not extreme just enough to make a difference for you and then if you get a positive response go a little more extreme, not too much, to test the waters a bit more.

      I know what I’m about to say is difficult to do…replace the negative discouraged and disappointed feelings with, I’ve tried these and they do not work. What thing(s)can I tweak, that might shake things up a bit and get the metabolic motor running again.

      Let us know what things you are trying, you will help others like you and that is a positive!

    • Hi, I wonder if your iodine could be low? Or if your female hormones could be off kilter. I am in the same boat as you are, still doing it and stuck. I’m 48 btw and I feel as if the menopause is beginning in earnest.

  4. I’ve been trying the Steak and Eggs diet with mixed results. I’ll do intermittent fasting for about 19 hours. lift weights, and then eat a meal of steak, eggs, and butter. Then I might have another serving an hour or two later. I think my issue is also too much protein. I’m going to give it a month to see if I lose significant weight on ths plan. I’m not new to keto diets and feel like I’ve become fat adapted. It just takes a LOOONG time for me to see my belly fat disappear. If anyone is interested here’s the link – http://steakandeggs.shawnwknight.com and I think it’s available on Amazon under “Steak and Eggs – the diet”. I hope this helps. Hang in there!

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