Celebrating a Lighter, Leaner Janaia

I lost forty pounds in five months. That weight has stayed off for over a year without struggle.

I’m absolutely tickled. My tail is wagging. I have the body I longed for since I was a teenager. I feel lithe and young, I have lots of energy, I’m dancing inside and out. I just attended my 47th high school reunion and someone remarked, “you look fabulous.” I was one of only a few people (out of twenty) who wasn’t heavier than in high school.

A wonderful surprising joy is I don’t go hungry. I eat surprisingly small meals that are richly satisfying. I don’t depend on exercise to keep weight off.

I still eat chocolate.

I’ve tried numerous weight-loss diets over the years, lost five to thirty pounds each time, and then regained it over time.

It’s not about deprivation. It’s about letting my body return to the metabolism it evolved with. I’ve become a fat-burner.

My 88-year-old mother lost thirty pounds at the same time. My partner Robin lost ten pounds. She was already slender, but she lost weight in her middle, around the organs where it’s unhealthy to store fat.

We all have more energy and vitality than we did before. My emotional life is calmer, lighter, quieter. My hot flashes have diminished. Robin’s herbal supplements for lyme seem to be more potent.

This isn’t a diet, it’s really a lifestyle. It’s a very low carbohydrate lifestyle akin to the new Atkins diet. We’ve become fat-burners. It means we’re burning fats for energy, rather than carbohydrates like most people do.

We eat moderate protein, very low carbohydrates, high saturated fats.

Notice I said high in saturated fats. Animal fats like eggs and cream and meat. Coconut oil. No vegetable oils. We’ve learned it’s what the body evolved on, and prefers.

Yes, it flies in the face of standard medical dietary advice, but NOT with the research results which have largely been ignored or suppressed. More about that in another blog.

We got started by following The Six Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle by Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades. Authors of Protein Power, their medical practice focused on conditions best met by nutritional changes. It came about as Dr. Mary’s middle thickened, despite doing what she advocated for her patients.

We radically reduced our carbohydrates. A few berries are the only fruit. No grains or starchy vegetables. And of course no added sugars or flour.

Every meal includes moderate protein and some good quality saturated fat. Meals are tinier than I was used to, but the fats make them very satisfying. I come away feeling satiety, contentment, not full. I don’t get hungry for many hours. I have more stamina.

Within about two weeks, our bodies had switched to burning fats for energy — both the fats we ate, and importantly, the fats stored in our bodies. Hunger sensations faded (we found that these come from carbohydrate addiction.) And the pounds melted off, until I reached a plateau many pounds lower than I imagined. The plateau seemed to be my body saying “I’m happy here.” I didn’t push it lower: I trusted its wisdom.

Robin and I dug into reading more about this ketogenic diet. How healthy is it? Are there contraindications? We’ve learned it’s how our ancestors ate for 99.99% of their time on the planet. Our bodies evolved with this eating pattern. We learned how saturated fats prized by our ancestors feed our nerves and our big brain.

The ketogenic diet doesn’t have the insulin swings associated with blood sugar fluctuations (and hunger) associated with obesity and diabetes. It reduces inflammation, cancer factors, osteoporosis and heart disease. Yes, heart disease. Contrary to what the medical establishment advocates!

I’ll report on our reading in another blog. I’ll give an outline of the 6-week Cure; a sample daily menu; what I eat when stressed. I welcome your questions — with delight! Who else wants to give this lifestyle a try?

Related posts

About Janaia

Janaia Donaldson is the host and producer of Peak Moment TV. She has worked as a graphic designer, illustrator, and educator; and a user interface designer at Xerox.
Robin Mallgren is the director, videographer, and editor of Peak Moment TV. After completing a Ph.D. in computer science, she worked as a software development engineer at Xerox.

Comments

  1. Jelle,
    Thanks for your comments. I recognize most of the books on your list from the commenters on our Peak Moment show 191 “The Vegetarian Myth” with Lierre Keith. Her book by the same name lays out why veganism and vegetarianism are not sustainable for the human body, nor for the planet. She demonstrates how agriculture — tilling the soil, especially for annual plants — is biocide, and has been causing desertification since the beginnings of agriculture.

    These books run contrary to my body’s experience, and also to Robin’s. We were vegetarian for most of the past 24 years. But when Robyn’s immune system went into the basement, we began to increase the healthy (non-vegetable) fats and quality proteins (grass-fed meats where possible) along with reducing the sugars and starches. The diet I write about here feels vitalizing and satisfying in a way that vegetarianism, or even something like The South Beach diet, did not.

    Our further reading, like The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, or The Diet Cure, has revealed research, studies and personal anecdotes indicating that high-fat (and low carb) diets are far better for reducing incidence of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses…and improving brain and nervous system function (it has all those high quality fats the brain needs for optimal functioning — much harder or impossible to get from plant sources alone).

  2. Janaia, I have watched every show you and Robin produced from the beginning of Peak Moment. I greatly admire the work you both do, and recommend your show to many people.
    I just found your journal and was surprised to see your post regarding diet. Very timely for me. I read “The Vegetarian Myth” after your interview of the author and started researching the information. While I love magazines and books with the beautiful pictures of baskets of fruits and vegetables and loaves of fresh baked bread, I can not eat like that. If I don’t get enough meat and protein, I desperately want sugar. I have slowly moved to eliminating carbs from my diet and I am feeling better. Definitely more clear headed. I felt like the last year I have been moving in a fog, which I think had to do with my sugar consumption.
    I am very interested in hearing more about how you lost weight, how you eat now, and if you have had any blood work done recently and how the results look. Thank you for sharing with us.
    Sincerely,
    Gwendolyn

  3. Ed, Sally and Tim, Antonio: this is a ketogenic diet (fat-burning), and the primal diet is quite similar. Like Ed says, it’s how human ate for the 99.9% of the time before we began agriculture.

    Sally, it took about 2-3 weeks of very low carbs for the body to switch to fat-burning. Meanwhile you’re detoxing, plus the body is ramping up fat-burning while insulin levels remain low. I had days of feeling lethargic until I was fully etogenic.

    Ruthanne, I *do* eat a salad every day. Other low-carb veggies are cooked. Yes, the only fruit is about 1/3 cup of berries daily. Research is showing that fructose (prevalent in fruit) is not processed like other sugars; it’s processed by the liver and excess is stored as fat. See Dr. Johnson, Fructose and the Fat Switch.

    Antonio, you bet Big Pharma and Big Food don’t want us to know that our diet — a ketogenic diet — can prevent heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and a host of other conditions.

    Sunghoon, I eat meats, eggs, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, butter, cream, coconut oil, local raw milk from grass-fed cows (which is higher carbs than cheeses, but I want the other nutrients); low-starch vegies; olives, pickles (you need more salt than on the ordinary diet); nuts, coconut flakes, a square of 85% chocolate and are for treats and when I’m feeling stressed. All as organic and pasture-raised as I can find.

  4. Rodolfo Pierre says:

    Que Tal Janaia

    Me alegra verla asi…

    Siempre pensaba que tenia unas libritas de mas…

    siempre disfruto sus documentales

    Busque el traductor de google que cada dia esta mejor…

    Afectos dede el Caribe

    Mantengase feliz.

    Rodolfo

    ========rough English translation=======
    Que Tal Janaia

    Glad to see this/so …

    I always thought I had some extra pounds …

    I always enjoy his (your?) documentaries

    Search google translator every day is better …

    Affections from the Caribbean

    Stay happy.

    Rodolfo

  5. Antonio & Villa says:

    WOW! We LOVE the new you Janaia – you look so vibrant and healthy and youthful! I (Antonio) had similar results (40 lbs lost in 4 months without exercise, stabilizing naturally at my college weight) moving to a paleo diet which is very similar to your ketogenic diet.
    .
    It’s only thanks to free and independent nutritionists, authors, and bloggers such as yourselves who have walked the walk, and talked the talk, and lived through it first-hand, that this information gets out there among the decades worth of ingrained misinformation (and disinformation/propaganda) fueled by Big Pharma corporate interests. It’s truly amazing and so sad how the accepted “expert” medical establishment promotes their “healthy” diets which are for the most part, exactly the opposite of what we should be doing!
    .
    You two are a continuing inspiration – well done and keep it up! We (especially me, Antonio) look forward to hearing more about what you eat when stressed as anxiety is still my continuing issue I battle with daily.

  6. I’m wondering, what book might us mid to late 30’s folk go to find something similar?

  7. How sustainable /scalable is a diet that requires us to grow more animals?Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of diets that reduce carb intake (south beach diet works for me) but I do wonder how my little patch of land is going to get anywhere near sustaining me without growing some high carb crops on it. I don’t think I can be resilient with out a large patch of potatoes/squash and corn on it and I don’t have the land space to feed those to animals and eat them instead.

  8. Ann, I commend you for eating locally. But there’s a radical difference between our diets, a metabolic difference: our diet is very low carbohydrate (about 50 grams a day). Roughly, if applied to your day, it would mean no raisins or dried fruit but a small portion of berries; only low-carb raw veggies like salad greens or broccoli (no carrots), no beans, potatoes or grains.
    You’d probably have more animal protein for a moderate level of protein each day, e.g., meat or eggs every day.
    You’d make up the calories you’re not getting with carbohydrates by having more saturated fats: butter, coconut oil, bacon oil, liquid egg yolks rather than hard-boiled.
    I’ve noticed my menopausal symptoms have quieted considerably on this ketogenic (fat-burning) diet. And my emotional states is much more even, calmer.
    When I think of a truly local diet, I think about what the indigenous people ate in your region. Most likely a lot of fish, elk or deer, berries; and some vegetables and fruits foraged from the wild. We’re a long way from that now!

  9. Excellent post. My diet is evolving into something like this as well…but kind of self discovered. Our goal on our land is to be as food self sufficient as we can and we get better every year. I read your post while eating my breakfast…a few nuts and raisons (our own raisons), tomato, apple, pepper, tomatillo, jerusalum artichoke, and a chunk of my homemade feta. Lunch will likely be a different assortment of raw veggies, dried fruit, and a boiled egg. We also eat a diet high in eggs, raw goat milk/homemade cheese, and some local meat (beef, goat, chicken) twice per week. Also smaller portions. We use mostly coconut oil. Dinners often involve beans or potatoes or quinoa for carbs (two teenagers). I have evolved to this diet naturally because it’s what we have mostly from our land (except the meat). I feel better, and at 45 with peri-menopause and the night sweats hitting a few years back, I am doing ok. This diet…the local food diet, is like you said, probably closer to how our bodies evolved. Anyways, it certainly agrees with me.

  10. Arly, the deeper question is not just weight loss, but what is healthiest for the body. We didn’t evolve eating high carbs. A high-carb diet builds insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.

    Studies show that people on a low-fat diet have a much, much harder time keeping the weight down. And, with low fat, they’re starving their brain and nervous system of the saturated fats they need to thrive.

    Has she kept the weight off for a long time? That’s one key to a diet that’s not just for weight loss: can you sustain eating this way for your whole life?

  11. Arly Helm says:

    Funny–you lost 40 lbs eating almost no carbs and lots of fat, and a girlfriend this week told me she lost 40 lbs eating almost no fat and lots of carbs. Wish we could all just be our perfect weight eating and exercising moderately. Sigh.

  12. Anita Wald-Tuttle says:

    Thanks for all the good info, Janaia. The switch has done wonders for you, I agree. I want to know more details since I think I’m on the right track but need a few revisions. Can’t make the Oct 8 meeting since it conflicts with the Briarpatch Member dinner and meeting the same evening. How about a re-invite to the November dinner meeting?

  13. Hi Janaia,
    You look fabulous. Are you saying that you don’t eat any veggies,
    like salads, etc. And no fruit at all (except berries)?
    Do you eat everything cooked?

    all the best,

  14. Ed Adamthwaite says:

    Wow Janaia, you look really good. Your experience mirrors what I have done in the last 6 months. Feeling lethargic, no energy, 99 Kg (218 lbs) etc, I jumped at the “Fat, Sick and nearly Dead” juicing diet by Joe Cross. It got the weight loss going and also got me through the withdrawal symptoms caused by the gliadin gluten in triticum wheat, the headaches and hunger pangs were bearable due to the juices being so yummy. Previously I had read “The Vegetarian Myth” by Lierre Keith and then came across “Why we get Fat” by Gary Taubes, which is like a more concise version of his earlier book “Good calories, bad calories” with new information. It all made sense, the juice diet got the flick (it had done it’s job) and I went on to a regime very much like yours. Now at 80 Kg (176 lbs) I can zip up ladders, run up stairways and work all day without getting tired. In essence, all that I have done is cut carbohydrates by following what is called the Paleolithic diet, being what humans evolved on up until the last 10-12 thousand years before we started agriculture and became ‘civilised.’
    What really became apparent is the wrong information pushed by things such as the good food pyramid. To lose weight, all we need to do is omit the base layer of the good food pyramid and voila! Weight loss.
    The really good thing is that you don’t get the hunger pangs caused by carbohydrate withdrawal and can quite happily go for much longer between meals. And when you do finally eat something yummy, it tastes reeaally good. :-)

  15. Sally Erickson says:

    Hey Janaia. Thanks so much for this. Tim and I have been eating semi-low carb on and off for a couple years as I discovered wheat exacerbates headaches and sugar causes joint pain for me. But we decided last week to do a very low carb diet, like REALLY DO IT. We are in our fifth day. I’m noticing clothes fitting better and some reduced inflammation. But the energy level is still really low. Really, really low energy by the end of the day. How long did it take for you to really “become a fat burner?” Can I look forward to a boost in energy after 14 days? I would LOVE that. And I’d love to hear more about what you eat when stressed…great topic. And other tips you’ve learned. Thanks again for the beautiful sharing on how well we can feel eating outside the commodities being tendered as food.

  16. Great to hear, Janaia! Sally and I are a week into this same thing. I’d done low-carb/ primal before, using the Eades’ “Protein Power” as my basis. It worked well and quickly, and I kept weight off for a very long time. And then change and stress and other factors drew me back into the quicksand of grains and sugars and the weight came back on. Now it’s time to be rid of it, and reclaim the health and energy of which you speak. Thanks for sharing your story. Peace and love, Tim

  17. Fulton Hanson says:

    Hi Janaia, A question. I’ve been content working on the Alkaline Diet, promoted by Dr Robert Young, with mixed success. I eat a lot of whole veggies and seeds and nuts…but deviate with some grains and meat. I’m probably about 30 lbs over my ideal weight, but feel great.

    Trying to compare these two approaches to wellness has got me in a spin. I’ve avoided meat for 25 years and really can’t remember why…probably has to due with factory farming and justification for killing herds of animals…but not as dogmatic as I once was. Have you compared the two wellness plans in your research and could you way in please.

  18. i WOULD LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE FOOD YOU TOOK.

  19. You go Girl!

    I’ve also lost weight and fat the last few months. I revisited the Testosterone Advantage Plan (obviously intended for men) which has always been useful for me and also without getting hungry. Then I changed to Paleo a couple of months ago and have dropped another 10-12 pounds. My doctor complemented me on looking so much healthier than when I first went to see her. I missed an opportunity to tout the diet altho she knows I’m on it. Good old saturated fat. What a scam the whole fat/cholesterol frenzy has been, and extremely profitable for big Pharma.
    Rick has been shy on embracing the diet. Sometimes it’s harder for some folks. At any rate, he turns 65 next week and we are going to Vancouver Island for the week. Glad to hear your good news. Hug! g & r

  20. Janaia, that’s fabulous! It’s such a simple idea, that eating affects so much about how we look and feel but so many people don’t make the connection. Congratulations to you all! – Milton

  21. wow
    would love to hear about your 6 wk meal plan! Amazing results :)

  22. You’re looking fantastic, Janaia! I am looking forward to examples of your daily diet.

  23. Dixie Redfearn says:

    Janaia, how great!! You look radiant! I follow a very similar lifestyle and have kept 60 pounds off for more than 3 years. I feel better, look better and have more energy. I think some people call this a paleo diet. (May be misspelled) I also avoid any processed food if I can. The way Grandma ate is the best defense against the crap that poses for food these days. Proud of you!!!!

  24. I really like the permaculture information of peakmoment. It’s also nice to see people researching other food styles then the standard American diet.

    Approximately the last 10.000 years we have started to do agriculture, before that we did a bit of hunting and gathering, before that we where living in the (sub)tropics this is where the human species developed. Archaeology showed us animal based food sources have been highly unreliable and plant based foods have been our primary food source during most of our evolution.

    I’m not saying you are doing something bad or wrong. I always encourage people to do there own research. The human body is designed to run on glycogen and fructose, sucrose burning is way easer (less waste products) for the human body then converting fat to glycogen. A low-carb may be counter productive for the human body then a high-carb diet.

    Nice youtube video about this subject:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srkd-irmrC0

    Nice books to read are:
    – The China Study by T. Colin Campbell
    – Dr McDougall’s new book ‘The Starch Solution’
    – Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes
    – Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr.
    – The McDougall Plan by John A. McDougall
    – The 80/10/10 Diet by Douglas N. Graham

    Let us build permanent agriculture and social systems together and make a more sustainable world for everybody ;)

    Hugs,

    Jelle

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