Bedtime Honey and Sleep: Different Kinds and Amounts of Honey

A reader named Sam, an engineer in Irving, Texas, writes:

I am a long time reader of your blog. Based upon your writings, I have taken Vitamin D in the morning and Magnesium Glycinate powder at night for over a year. Both have helped. So I do not have any sleep issues that needed to be addressed. I took the honey only to see if it would make any further difference. I was a bit wary to begin with as I do not usually consume honey. I have had a mild allergy to eating honey until at least several years ago. Even a teaspoon of honey would within an hour give me abdominal cramps that would last for an hour or more.

I started a Primal/Paleo/PHD way of eating 3 years ago. No processed foods, no wheat, only fermented dairy (kefir/cheese/cultured butter/ghee), occasional alcohol and occasional desserts (generally fresh fruit or some ice cream) and regular use of home fermented food like sauerkraut, beet kvass and lemonade.

So the honey experiment was also to test whether the changed diet had fixed the allergy.

I tried regular store bought honey (Kroger) first. I took a tablespoon approximately 10 minutes before going to bed. It could be a bit more than a tablespoon as I would dip a regular tablespoon in the jar and eat it as soon as the stringing ended. The first day there was anxiety in expectation of an allergic reaction. No cramps but there was some mild abdominal pain, I would just call it discomfort. I thought this could be psychological. So I tried it for 3 more days. Still the same discomfort within the hour. But I would fall asleep at some point and wake up feeling the same as I used to earlier.

I almost quit after this – when my wife reminded me that we had some Manuka honey in the pantry that we got as a gift and that could be worth trying. So I did. This is a honey produced in New Zealand and has some number on it – that claims to have medicinal properties. This honey was thicker, so easier to measure. About one tablespoon each night, same time as before. Same discomfort – no change in overall sleep quality or post waking up energy. I tried this for 4 days.

It may seem that the obvious course of action would be to quit the experiment at this stage. However, around this time, I read a comment on one of the blogs I follow, describing the process of refining honey for bottling. Apparently it is heated and filtered as a minimum and maybe more processing in most cases. I know a friend who cured his allergy to homogenized milk (skin redness after consumption) by shifting to raw milk which he pasteurizes himself at a low temperature. So I looked for raw unprocessed honey and stumbled upon a source – which curiously had regular raw honey and fermented raw honey. I ordered a jar of each.

Initially I tried the raw honey, in the morning, in white tea just to test for the abdominal discomfort. Surprisingly, there was none. So I decided to take it at night and continue to see if there are any benefits. One tablespoon as before. I usually fall asleep within a few minutes of turning off the lights. This time, I noticed that I would toss around a bit longer before getting to sleep. However, I did notice that I would wake up more energetic. As I said it is subjective – hard to describe. But I would get ready faster and finish up a few chores that I would be lazy about on other days.

After a week I reduced the dosage to one teaspoon. The only observable change was that the tossing in bed now ceased and I would fall asleep quickly. So I stayed with this dose as a smaller dose is difficult to measure accurately.

After a total of 10 days on regular raw honey, I decided to try the fermented raw honey – only because I had ordered it and had it with me. I stayed with the one teaspoon dose just before bed and immediately noticed one remarkable change besides the increased energy in the morning. Normally, I wake up once at night, around 2AM, to go to the bathroom. The very first night, I slept through till the morning. Subsequently, I have noticed that occasionally I wake up at 5AM but most nights I just sleep through.

It is has definitely increased my sense of well being and post wake up energy.

His main conclusions are:

1. Raw honey works better than ordinary (cooked) honey. Manuka honey is no better than ordinary honey. Fermented raw honey is even better than ordinary raw honey.

2. One teaspoon is better than 1 tablespoon — fell asleep faster.

3. The benefits include less waking up at night, more energy in the morning, an increased sense of well being, and better motivation (e.g., to do chores).

I fall asleep quickly whether or not I take honey at bedtime. But it is curious that fermented honey works better than non-fermented. Fermented honey has less sugar; maybe that’s the reason for the difference.

38 Responses to “Bedtime Honey and Sleep: Different Kinds and Amounts of Honey”

  1. Drini Says:

    Thank you very much for this blogpost. I think I also noticed that I have more difficulties falling asleep when I eat honey before sleep (1 Tbsp). I noticed for instance that honey raises my body temperature, I think that this is not the effect you want before going to sleep (Isn’t sleep associated with lower body temperature?). Maybe having honey 30 minutes or 1 hour before going to sleep might also help getting to sleep faster. This was never a problem prior to using honey. I think I should also try different doses and check their effects.

    Seth: I agree. You should certainly try smaller amounts of honey. You might also try other sources of sugar, such as a banana.

  2. B.B. Says:

    This blog used to discuss the benefits of interminent fasting. Now I am reading about the benefits of eating honey right before going to bed.

    How do people eat honey before bed and do IF at the same time?

  3. kxmoore Says:

    what is fermented honey? i googled it and “mead” kept appearing.

  4. dearieme Says:

    The claim for Manuka honey is some sort of anti-bacterial property. It’s delicious stuff, in my view, but if it doesn’t work for Sam, then for Sam it doesn’t work.

  5. Joe Says:

    B.B.: If fasting intermittently, I don’t think a teaspoon of honey would have much effect, one way or the other. That is, the fasting wouldn’t have to be zero calories, only reduced calories.

  6. vs Says:

    Dr. Michael Eades has recommended honey or sugar at bedtime to help with sleep. He suggests ketosis can hinder sleep. A small amount of honey or sugar (one teaspoon) at bedtime temporarily knocks people out of ketosis. This allows them to fall asleep easier.

    Dr. Eades wrote this in a 2009 blog post:

    http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/bogus-studies/more-thoughts-on-why-low-carb-the-second-time-around/

    He suggests ketosis may hinder sleep: “And once we get going again on a low-carb diet, we usually get into a little ketosis, which makes falling asleep a little more difficult yet.”

    After discussing the benefits of low-dose sublingual melatonin tabs as a sleep aid, he recommends herbal tea with one teaspoon of sugar or honey at bedtime:

    “The other thing you can do is to have a cup of herbal tea right before bedtime. And sweeten the tea with either sugar or honey. That’s right. Real sugar. A teaspoon of sugar is about 5 grams of carb, which won’t do a lot to hinder your weight loss, but it will be enough to shut down ketone production long enough to get you to sleep.”

    A search of Dr. Eades’ blog reveals that he has mentioned this a few times in response to reader comments about poor sleep on low-carb diets.

    I do not believe Dr. Eades has written on why ketosis may hinder sleep. A Google site search of his blog did not turn anything up. If anyone has insight on this link between ketosis, sleep, and sugar, please let us know.

  7. daz Says:

    @Sam,

    Hi Sam, i been trying to find an image of the label for the ‘Really Raw Honey’ fermented raw honey showing the nutrition facts, with no luck.

    could you tell me what the carbs and sugar numbers read on your label pls.

    i found the non-fermented info, which was Total Carbs: 17g, Sugars: 17g (for a 21g server size).

  8. Sam Says:

    @kxmoore – here is the source I used for Fermented honey
    http://www.reallyrawhoney.com/category_s/44.htm

    @daz – the nutrition facts about FRH are the same as the NFRH – In fact the jars have the same labels – Only “fermented’ is written on the lid. It however tastes much different.

  9. daz Says:

    “In fact the jars have the same labels – Only “fermented’ is written on the lid”

    …that would explain it…why all the labels looked the same, but the look of the contents varied (using google images)

    thx for the reply

  10. Paleophil Says:

    I’ve been using Really Raw fermented honey for years. It’s the only honey or sugar that I notice any benefits from (with the possible exception of the much maligned agave nectar, which I recently started experimenting with, but it’s too soon to tell), and I have tried many. The main things I notice from it are reduced skin flaking on scalp, eyebrows and forehead, reduced muscle tension and a mild feeling of well being. I don’t get this from their unfermented honey. However, if I consume too much, I get some dental gunk in the morning, though not as much from other honeys.

    I asked the Really Raw people if they had heard of any unusual benefits like this from their fermented honey and they confirmed that other customers had reported benefits. It’s also by far my favorite tasting honey, though not everyone shares that opinion.

  11. Gina Says:

    vs:

    Ketogenic diets raise cortisol, which hinders sleep. From what I have read, this is more pronounced in women (and female rats).

    Side note: I would beware of advice from the Drs. Eades. They are married to low-carb dogma and advise more and more restrictive diets (to the point of an all egg diet) to people for whom low-carb is obviously not working.

  12. daz Says:

    keep us updated on your Agave nectar experiment Paleophil, pls,
    are you trying it before bed.

    i wrote Agave nectar/syrup off without a second look after reading it was very high in fructose…tho i never did investigate any deeper,…brands, production, sugar breakdown,…etc

  13. dearieme Says:

    Two sorts of honey that might be worth somebody’s trying, in hopes of non-sugar benefits: honeydew honey and comb honey.

  14. Joe Says:

    Gina: “Side note: I would beware of advice from the Drs. Eades. They are married to low-carb dogma and advise more and more restrictive diets (to the point of an all egg diet) to people for whom low-carb is obviously not working.”

    Being wed to the low-carb way of eating is a “good thing,” in my opinion, because it works. And he’s never, to the best of my knowledge, ever advised anyone to eat an all-egg diet. He has, however, discussed an experiment that Jimmy Moore was contemplating, namely eating nothing but eggs for a week to see how that would affect his cholesterol levels. Dr Eades said it would likely raise his LDL a bit, but his trigs and HDL levels would increase substantially (very good things). And that’s it.

    There’s nothing really restrictive about the diet Dr Eades recommends either. It’s basically nothing more than eating fewer carbs and more healthy fats and proteins, and avoiding sugar and grains, all of which have positive effects on our health.

    Of course, if you’re from the school that thinks it’s actually healthy to eat lots of sugar, starch, seed and vegetable oils, trans-fats, refined and processed foods, and “healthy whole grains,” I can see why you might think otherwise.

    Personally, I’m sticking with Dr. Eades, Dr. Jaminet, Mark Sisson, The Weston-Price Foundation, Dr. Sinatra, Dr. Ravnskov, Robb Wolf, Dr. Lundell, Dr. Grimes, Dr. Kendrick, Dr. Bowdon, Dr. Masterjohn, Dr. Westman, Dr. Davis, Dr. Perlmutter, Dr. Hastings, and countless other doctors, researchers, etc., who recommend the low-carb/paleo way of eating.

    Works for me!

    Seth: How do you reconcile low-carb advice with data that show honey at bedtime improved sleep? Eating honey is the opposite of avoiding carbs.

  15. Bedtime Honey and Sleep | Mallacoota Honey and Warré Beehives Says:

    […] Bedtime Honey and Sleep: Different Kinds and Amounts of Honey … read Full Article […]

  16. Joe Says:

    Seth, eating honey is not the same thing as avoiding carbs altogether. It’s called LOW carb eating, not NO carb. I generally eat between 100 and 150 gs of carbs per day. 1 tablespoon of honey contains ~17 gs of carbs. No big deal, really. I used to eat a lower number of carbs when I wanted to lose some weight, but now that I’ve lost what I wanted to lose, the 100-150 gs per day maintains my desired weight easily.

    I don’t dispute that eating honey at bedtime improves sleep. But it didn’t improve mine, after a short n=1 experiment. Which I intend to fiddle around with again soon, incorporating the changes we discussed.

    Yes, I’m almost out of bananas!

    Seth: Thanks for explaining that — but it seems to me there really is a contradiction between advocating that people eat less carbs and discovery of an effect that requires eating more carbs. What if the bad effects of carbs were due to 1. eating them in factory food and fast food (food that is especially fattening because it has exactly the same smell every time) 2. eating them at the wrong time of day (the right time of day is after 6 pm)? I am not saying that low-carb diets aren’t helpful. Obviously they help many people. I am saying that the theory why they help (used by many of the experts you listed) seems to be quite wrong. And this wrong theory has gotten in the way of improving those diets. You know more about the work of the experts you listed than I do, so maybe I am missing something.

  17. Joe Says:

    Seth, first, I’m in no position to advocate anything. I can, however, attest to what works for me. And has for a long time.

    Everything is a trade-off to me. Do I want to eat a few more carbs (than I normally do) if I can sleep a little better at night? Which is going to have the more positive effect on my health? Will I be able to measure it? Feel it? Etc. I can’t answer that yet, regarding eating honey right before bedtime. But eating ~17 grams of honey probably won’t jeopardize the positive effects of my otherwise low-carb/paleo diet, and if it allows me to sleep a bit better, that’s a win-win for me, right? And if it doesn’t, no harm, no foul.

    It didn’t matter much when I ate carbs, or what they smelled like, etc., but I didn’t really do a lot of experimenting with that. I found a way that worked for me, and then I stuck with it.

    I don’t understand why you feel the theory of why low-carb works is wrong. The more carbs one eats, the more carbs one wants to eat. That’s the way it works for me, anyway. I can eat a certain number of carbs without getting into trouble. More carbs than that? I blow up like a Macy’s parade float.

    It also provides me with better health profiles and numbers. Yeah, my total cholesterol is a little high, but my trigs are negligible, my HDL level is very high, the size of my particles is huge, by BP is better than normal, my inflammation is low, my BS is better than normal, etc. I don’t really buy into the diet-cholesterol theory of heart disease anyway. But, like Pascal’s wager, it can’t hurt to “keep the faith.” I’ll probably be a better man. And if they are right, I’ll still be okay. :)

    Nota bene: No one who has read:

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Great-Cholesterol-Con-Disease/dp/1844546101

    …could possibly believe the cholesterol theory afterwards!

    Also, I think what you’re missing about those experts is that they aren’t as rigid as you probably think they are. There’s wiggle-room. There’s also acknowledgement that what works for me might not work for you, and vice versa.

  18. vs Says:

    Thanks to Joe for sharing his experience. I agree most low-carb diets are not rigid and there is wiggle-room. If one follows a low-carb diet from start to finish, they are more “controlled carb” rather than “low-carb”.

    Low-carb diets advocate carb-restriction to lose weight and improve health. Then they offer strategies to help a person *increase* their carb intake to find the amount they can eat to maintain their weight and health.

    Take the Eades’ book “Protein Power”, or Dr. Atkins’ book “The New Diet Revolution”. Both recommend starting the diet with very low carb intake: Atkins 20 g per day, the Eades 30 or 55g per day. This should promote weight loss and help normalize blood chemistry, blood pressure, etc.

    But then both books advocate slowly adding carbs back into the diet: 5 or 10 g of additional carbs per day, over weeks or months, following a system set out in the books.

    The goal of these two plans is not to eat very low carb forever, but instead to find the person’s unique carb tolerance- how many carbs they can eat and still maintain their weight and health. Dr. Atkins called this amount the “Critical Carbohydrate Level for Maintenance”.

    This carb level varies, but as Mark Sission wrote in his book the “Primal Blueprint”, it can be as high as 100-150 g per day. This is especially true if the carbs are high quality fruits and vegetables, rather than heavily processed foods.

    For those following a low-carb diet like the Eades or Atkins plans, a teaspoon or tablespoon of honey at night is a reasonable increase in carb intake.

  19. Seth Roberts Says:

    Why do I think the theory behind (most) low-carb diets is wrong? Because they say carbs cause obesity. Whereas I lost lots of weight drinking sugar water. They have never explained this, they ignore it.

  20. Joe Says:

    But Seth, how many grams of CARBS per day were you eating? Yes, including the sugar in the water.

    Seth: I increased my carb consumption, which caused me to lose weight. This contradicts the idea that carb reduction causes weight loss (which implies that carb increase should cause weight gain) no matter how many grams of carbs I was eating. When I was losing weight I wasn’t eating very many carbs besides the sugar water because I had very little appetite.

  21. Gina Says:

    I think the theory behind low-carb diets is wrong because of huge populations of lean people who eat starchy diets.

  22. B.B. Says:

    Maybe bananas work for some people because they are rich in potassium, which can be absent in the modern diet.

    Also, what about protein and fat at bedtime. I have a favorite snack of riccotta cheese with honey. The honey may help, but the protein from ricotta cheese may stabilize blood sugar and provide nutrients for muscle repair.

    Does fat like flaxseed oil help in the evening?

    I am wondering about people’s experiences.

  23. Joe Says:

    Gina, I’d say this: If a high starch diet allows you to remain thin and fit and healthy, by all means, go for it. I’m not really a proselytizer.

    But too much starch causes me to gain weight. Not a little starch now and then, but a steady diet of it. The vast majority of people I know who eat starchy diets are fat and out of shape, especially as they age. The vast majority of people I know who restrict their carbs are fit and healthy. I’m not a scientist, so I can’t explain exactly why that is so. Perhaps the scientists can’t either. I just know what my eyes and ears tell me.

    And eating a low-carb/paleo diet is very EZ for me to do. And I really like the results. I usually don’t spend a lot of time “fixin’ what ain’t broke.”

    I can’t explain it any better than that.

    Seth: I wonder if your low-carb diet hurts your sleep, meaning that a higher-carb diet would give you better sleep. With a good understanding of why low-carb diets produce weight loss, it might be possible to increase how much carbs you eat (to get better sleep) without causing weight gain. Without a theory, it is pure trial and error. A good theory about weight control should be able to greatly reduce the trial and error. When you say “too much starch causes me to gain weight” you may be drawing the wrong conclusion from your experience. Maybe one form of “too much starch” causes weight gain but another form would not.

  24. Joe Says:

    B.B.: “Maybe bananas work for some people because they are rich in potassium”

    Define “work.”

  25. Jenny Says:

    I’ve been trying about 1 tsp of honey at Bedtime since Seth first mentioned it. For the first time in 32 years, I now sleep all night. I never had difficulty falling asleep, just staying asleep past 3 -4 am. I am definitely getting through the chores faster, and more of them (ie more energy).

    I am also losing the post-Christmas weight at a pretty regular 0.2Kg a night. This rather fits with Seth’s sugar water.

    BTW, I’ve eaten paleo for the last 8 years since I found I was coeliac, using a relatively low-carb version.

  26. Paleophil Says:

    @daz, I too had written agave nectar off and had even suggested to my sister to stop using it, thanks in part to negative views on fructose from folks like Dr. Lustig. I have tried taking the agave syrup before bedtime a couple times and didn’t notice anything particularly different, though I was already sleeping through the night.

    I did notice that the first time I tried it in a long time that I was surprised by a nice wave of muscle relaxation after taking it that I sometimes get after consuming RF honey. It’s baffling to me, because fructose is supposed to raise lactic acid, not lower it. Does anyone know of a possible cause for this? Perhaps it was coincidence, though I do seem to get a bit of it most times I try it.

    I doubt I’ll add agave nectar to my regular diet, but the early testing has been interesting.

    In contrast, brown rice glucose syrup, which I also tested a small amount of after glucose syrup was recommended by a fairly well respected Paleo blogger as the safest carb for carb sensitive people like me (even supposedly safer than “safe starches”), had rapid and rather bad negative effects. It also tasted pretty bad to me.

    vs wrote: “This is especially true if the carbs are high quality fruits and vegetables”

    Don’t forget honey, which is the topic of the article, after all. :)

  27. daz Says:

    i dropped in to a health shop the other day & looked at the agave offerings,
    talk about spoilt for choice,
    a few of the options were agave blue, light, dark, clear, amber,

    i’m guessing the sugar breakdown & mineral content etc would vary quite a bit between types & brands,
    & i would assume the ‘effects’ would/could vary quite a bit as well

  28. Gina Says:

    “The vast majority of people I know who eat starchy diets are fat and out of shape, especially as they age. The vast majority of people I know who restrict their carbs are fit and healthy.” – Joe

    You must not live in Japan, France, Italy, Greece or Costa Rica. I take it that the people you know who eat starchy diets are also not Seventh-Day Adventists. All these groups eat starchy diets and are healthy and lead long lives. None eat low-carb diets.

  29. Joe Says:

    Gina, I think if you’ll google a bit, you’ll find that all of those countries are currently experiencing the same problem we are – an epidemic of obesity and diabetes.

    But let me add this. I wouldn’t care if they weren’t. I know what works for me, and what doesn’t work for me. And selfishly, that’s the only diet I really care about. My own. And starches give me a problem. I don’t totally avoid them, but I tread lightly.

    Nota bene: For someone who warns others of heeding dogmatic advice, you seem pretty dogmatic yourself.

    Seth: I agree, obesity and diabetes are going up in those countries. That doesn’t change the fact that they are a lot slimmer than Americans while eating a high-carb diet. Which they have been doing for a very long time, like a hundred years or more. The high-carb diet is unquestionably not the reason for the increases in diabetes and obesity. It is something about Western foods that is. Or perhaps something else about Westernization (less activity?). All of those countries are eating far more Western foods in recent years. You seem to be ignoring this — it isn’t carbs that are bad, it is something else.

  30. Joe Says:

    Seth: “I wonder if your low-carb diet hurts your sleep, meaning that a higher-carb diet would give you better sleep.”

    Before I started eating low-carb/paleo, I ate like your typical Italian (which I am), and unfortunately resembled Luciano Pavarotti, not Frank Sinatra. And I slept poorly. By poorly, I mean maybe 2-3 hours on a good night. On bad nights, no sleep whatsoever.

    “With a good understanding of why low-carb diets produce weight loss, it might be possible to increase how much carbs you eat (to get better sleep) without causing weight gain.”

    I sleep pretty well, all things considered, for my age. 7-8 hours on a good night. 5-6 hours on others. Plus a daily nap of ~45 minutes. Most mornings I wake up refreshed, others mornings, not so much. I don’t even know where perfection lives, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time looking for it. I’m not going to sacrifice my current way of eating, my health profiles, etc., just to sleep another hour per night. I understand the health benefits that come from getting a good amount of sleep, but I also understand what happens to my health when I eat too many carbs, get fat, etc.

    “A good theory about weight control should be able to greatly reduce the trial and error. When you say “too much starch causes me to gain weight” you may be drawing the wrong conclusion from your experience. Maybe one form of “too much starch” causes weight gain but another form would not.”

    Seth, here’s my theory: Find something that works for me, and then stick to it. I like n=1 experiments as much as the next guy, but I also understand the wisdom of not trying to fix things that aren’t broken. I got here by experimenting, by the way. And in my experiments, I discovered that eating copious amounts of pasta, Italian bread, pizza, etc. was going to kill me. So I tried all the popular ways of losing weight and getting fit. None worked very long (especially vegetarianism), or very long. Until I tried eating low-carb. Then the weight came tumbling off. Then I learned about the paleo diet, and changed my low-carb base accordingly. Then came even greater weight loss, plus amazing improvements in all my health profiles.

    What’s not to like?

    Seth: I agree there is a lot to like about that story. As for what’s not to like, I suspect your sleep could be better. Maybe your gut biota could be better — check out the correlation of fiber intake and heart disease if you think this is unimportant. I also wonder when you started eating low-carb. Alex Chernavsky lost lots of weight when he started low carb but around two years later he started gaining it back.

  31. vs Says:

    Thanks to Gina, Joe and Seth for sharing their thoughts and experiences, and for this very interesting discussion. For what it is worth, I believe Gina and Joe are both right.

    Gina points to countries, and Seventh-Day Adventists, who eat starchy diets and are healthy.

    One possible reason: they do eat a starchy diet, but don’t generally exceed 600 calories a day from starches.

    Here is Paul Jaminet and Shou-Ching Jaminet in “Perfect Health Diet”:

    “Although the precise magnitude of the various quantities is uncertain, it appears that the body’s natural daily glucose consumption is about 480 calories for brain and nerves, 200 calories for glycoproteins such as hyaluronan and mucin, 100 calories for muscle glycogen and immune, intestinal, and kidney cell use, offset by about 200 calories of glucose produced in the course of fat burning.

    For sedentary healthy people, then, the natural carb intake is about 600 carb calories per day.”

    These facts inform their diet recommendations. The Jaminets suggest eating:

    “About 600 carbohydrate calories per day from about 1 pound of “safe starches” such as sweet potatoes, yams, taro, white rice, sago, tapioca, and potatoes and 1 pound of fruits, berries, and sugary vegetables such as beets and carrots.”

    Generally, 600 carb calories works out to 150 g of carbs per day. This is what Joe mentioned above, and what Mark Sisson emphasized in “Primal Blueprint”.

    It appears it is ok to eat certain carbs- and indeed might be beneficial to do so. The key is knowing how much: too many and one is likely to gain weight. Many low carb and diet paleo books are really just about helping people find the right amount of carbs.

  32. Joe Says:

    Seth: “I increased my carb consumption, which caused me to lose weight. This contradicts the idea that carb reduction causes weight loss (which implies that carb increase should cause weight gain) no matter how many grams of carbs I was eating. When I was losing weight I wasn’t eating very many carbs besides the sugar water because I had very little appetite.”

    Life is full of contradictions, my friend. Some people who eat lots of carbs do well, some don’t. Some people who eat lots of meat do well, some don’t. I can’t explain it. I can’t explain why you lost weight by consuming sugar water, and you probably can’t explain it either.

    The good folks at NuSi: http://nusi.org/about-us/board-of-directors/#.Us7qGLQnXng

    …are busy trying to explain it. Using the scientific method, for a change. Maybe they’ll be able to explain it, maybe not. But in the meantime, I have results that appear to work well for me, even if I can’t explain them in scientific terms.

  33. Joe Says:

    vs: “For what it is worth, I believe Gina and Joe are both right.”

    Heh. That wouldn’t surprise me one little bit!

  34. Joe Says:

    Seth: “I agree there is a lot to like about that story. As for what’s not to like, I suspect your sleep could be better. Maybe your gut biota could be better — check out the correlation of fiber intake and heart disease if you think this is unimportant. I also wonder when you started eating low-carb. Alex Chernavsky lost lots of weight when he started low carb but around two years later he started gaining it back.”

    My gut biota is in very good shape. I drink some kefir almost every day, and I eat a lot of high-fiber veggies and fruits. I also eat a tablespoon of soluble fiber each day (in the form of Konsul). You could set your watch by my “movements.”

    Fiber is important, but not at the expense of everything else.

    I’ve eaten this way for roughly 10 years, Seth. I used to weigh 300 pounds. I weigh about 190 today, and it hasn’t varied by more than 10 pounds either way, since I first got to 190. 190 puts me at a 24.4 BMI.

    I’ve had friends with Alex’s experience. Without exception, once they started writing down what they were actually eating, they quickly realized it was no longer low-carb. I usually ask them to consider starting all over again, like in Atkins’ Phase 1, and cut carbs way back to 20 grams or less for a few weeks. It has always worked. I’m not saying it always works. For everyone. I’m saying it has always worked for me, and for the people I know.

    Also, though a lot of experts will tell you not to look at the scale everyday, I do. At the same time every day (first thing in the morning). And what that scale says will dictate how many carbs I eat that day. I nip things in the bud. Again, it works for me.

    Seth: That’s good to know, especially about the fiber sources. I am more interested in measuring my gut biota than you seem to be; I want to find out whether there is room for improvement. When you say “it works for me” you seem to be ignoring my point about your sleep. I am not so sure it works for you, in the sense that there is no room for improvement.

  35. Joe Says:

    Seth: “I agree, obesity and diabetes are going up in those countries. That doesn’t change the fact that they are a lot slimmer than Americans while eating a high-carb diet. Which they have been doing for a very long time, like a hundred years or more. The high-carb diet is unquestionably not the reason for the increases in diabetes and obesity. It is something about Western foods that is. Or perhaps something else about Westernization (less activity?). All of those countries are eating far more Western foods in recent years. You seem to be ignoring this — it isn’t carbs that are bad, it is something else.”

    I’m not really ignoring anything, Seth. There are many contradictions in the literature. Frankly, I haven’t seen that many slim Japanese, for example. And when one controls for things like smoking, there probably isn’t that much difference overall. For every Kitivan there is a Masai. And no one really knows why there are obesity epidemics in those places (my guess is increased SUGAR consumption), as well as in our own backyard. People are busy looking for solutions, but I seem to have found mine. And it doesn’t include sugar.

    Seth: You’re ignoring that there are plenty of examples of people being quite healthy and slim on a high-carb diet. Although the Japanese are not incredibly slim today, they were exceedingly slim as recently as 20 years ago. On a high-carb diet. I have no idea what “contradictions” you are referring to, the slenderness of Japanese was obvious to anyone who visited Japan. As was the fact that they ate lots of rice. Moreover, they stayed thin without weighing themselves daily and adjusting their diet according to what the scale said. Perhaps they were controlling their weight in a better way than you are. I agree, Japan today is different.

  36. Leila Says:

    FWIW, I went low carb in 2010 & quickly lost about 45 lbs. I stalled at that point, never did lose any more weight although I am well over my target (yes, it’s quite reasonable). I stayed on the diet diligently (using my carb counter) for several more months but no luck. I understand this is fairly common in the low carb community. I continue to control carbs & most of the weight has stayed off, which is nice. But shortly after I stalled (spring 2011) I started experiencing some worrying effects that cannot be explained by anything other than diet as that was the only thing that I had changed. I developed what appeared to be keratosis pilaris on my back, arms & legs that is mostly resolved now that I’ve added back some carbs. My hair also started falling out and it still is. In my experience, a low or controlled carb diet might be one way for some people to lose weight. But it isn’t effective for everyone and can have drawbacks. I agree that there is likely some other mechanism at work.

    Returning to the topic of honey, I’ve been taking a tsp or so nightly of an unpasteurized locally-produced product. Sometimes it improves my sleep and sometimes not so I’m going to experiment with the dose, maybe added yogurt, maybe try fermented, etc. I do find that the almost daily headaches I usually have upon waking are not entirely gone but are much less painful since I started the honey. I’m not particularly patient & often try several things at once, so that might not be what did it, but I’m thankful.

    I also enjoyed the 2013 year in review post. I started chewing xylitol gum the other day & find almost no plaque on my teeth any more. Nice! I’m giving it more time to see if it helps my mouth & tongue. The dermatologists all have differing diagnoses, of course. I may try spraying some on my head just in case one of them is right & it really is lichen!

    I’ve become a big fan of personal experimentation since I started reading this blog. Thanks Seth!

  37. Joe Says:

    Seth: “You’re ignoring that there are plenty of examples of people being quite healthy and slim on a high-carb diet. Although the Japanese are not incredibly slim today, they were exceedingly slim as recently as 20 years ago. On a high-carb diet. I have no idea what “contradictions” you are referring to, the slenderness of Japanese was obvious to anyone who visited Japan. As was the fact that they ate lots of rice. Moreover, they stayed thin without weighing themselves daily and adjusting their diet according to what the scale said. Perhaps they were controlling their weight in a better way than you are. I agree, Japan today is different.”

    Seth, I really wish you’d stop telling me what I’m ignoring. I have admitted, several times now, that there are people who do fine on a high carb diet. BUT I”M NOT ONE OF THEM. That is, I don’t care how the Japanese control their weight. I care about MY WEIGHT, not the Japanese’s.

    I was stationed in Japan in the 60s. I saw many fat Japanese. They ate mostly fish, veggies and fruit (not so different from what I eat. Plus a little rice and tofu. What I noticed most was the very small size of their portions, which appeared to be a cultural thing.

    Kitivans stay thin and healthy eating a lot of carbs. The Masai stay thin and healthy eating essentially no carbs, just meat and milk. Contradictions, no?

    You also seem to think that weighing myself daily is some kind of hassle. It’s not. I also take my BP almost daily. When I exercise, which I do almost daily, I also time myself, count reps, measure distances, etc. Again, they are not hassles to me. They are just a part of my daily routine. No spreadsheet or statistical program necessary!

    Why can’t my personal success, doing it my way, be just as relevant as any other person’s way? It’s almost as if you’ve lost faith in your own axiom, i.e., the importance and significance of PERSONAL EXPERIMENTATION, at least when it comes to me.

    I just don’t get it.

    Seth: I think it’s a good idea to look at what works for other people, in addition to self-experimentation. My self-experimentation would have gotten nowhere if I didn’t pay great attention to what worked for other people. Nowhere did I say your personal success is irrelevant. Nor do I think that. I’m not ignoring your success, I’m wondering about how ideal it is. And what caused it. Surely those are topics for discussion? Especially because you are doing something very popular (low-carb). I keep bringing up what you’re ignoring because you keep ignoring it (“I don’t care how the Japanese control their weight”) at the same time you say you aren’t ignoring it (“I’m really not ignoring anything”)…forgive me. For all I know you have a good reason for ignoring how the Japanese control their weight but doing so goes against everything I’ve learned.

  38. Joe Says:

    Seth, you’re still not understanding me. And that’s probably my fault. But I’m game-bred, so I’ll keep trying.

    Yes, “I don’t care how the Japanese control their weight.” But that doesn’t mean that I’ve ignored them. Just like I haven’t ignored all the other populations. The Kitivans, Massai, Inuit, etc. Heck, I’ve been studying them at length for many years, trying to figure it out. The one thing I have actually learned from all this is: there are many ways to skin a cat! And nobody can really explain why any of them work to keep the pounds off, live healthy lives, etc! And that includes you, Seth!

    What I keep saying here is that I have found a way to lose weight, keep it off, and enjoy a healthy and fit life. It’s the only way that worked for me. I tried most of the others and they didn’t work for ME. They obviously have worked for others. But I don’t really care what works for others, I only care about what has, and is, working for me. Yes, it’s a good idea to look at what works for others, if only to figure out why/how something worked. But again, that doesn’t appear to be what we are doing here.

    It seems like you’re saying that because the Japanese can eat lots of carbs and stay healthy, I can too. Well, for the gazillionth time, I CAN’T. I’ve tried doing that. I know what happens to ME. No, I don’t know why that happens to me, and neither do you know why it doesn’t happen to the Japanese. So you’re asking me to explain something that you can’t even explain yourself. Is that really fair?

    Look, my way (low-carb/paleo) has also worked for countless others who have really given it a try. The internet is littered with similar success stories. Sure, there are failures, too. I have no idea why some fail and some don’t. I do know why certain people I know have failed, and then got back on track.

    I’ve seen many fat Japanese too (and so have you), and can’t explain why they didn’t get the secret memo that apparently tells the Japanese how to stay fit and healthy. Neither can you.

    So Seth, I’m not ignoring anything. “My self-experimentation would have gotten nowhere [too] if I didn’t pay great attention to what worked for other people.” I.e., I found a way that worked for me while watching what worked for others. Just like you, Seth!

    It just wasn’t the same way. And now that I have, why should I look for yet another way? This way has already made me into a fit and healthy human being. I’m willing to work at the edges, say, by trying a teaspoon of honey at bedtime. I’ve tried that once already, and it didn’t work. I’ll try it again (while avoiding bananas, as we discussed) , and make it a longer trial. Whether it works or not, that little bit of honey at bedtime won’t cause me to substantially jeopardize my usual way of eating. But I’m not going to just cannonball into the deep end of the carb pool. That just ain’t gonna happen. Nosirree Bob.

    亀の甲より年の功
    Translation: Experience is the mother of wisdom. :)