There is a difference between an eating plan for weight loss and one for just living. Not everyone gets that.  I didn’t.  I have lost a great deal of weight (30% of my body weight) two – three times; and a lot of weight (5-10% ) enumerable times. I was super successful each time.  Man – I could lose weight with the best of them.

How? First – while in high school and then college – was just portion control and eliminating sweets. In my mid 20’s, I did Weight Watchers – the original – back in the early 70’s and got down to super thin – a 32 inch waist.  Each time I gained back the weight and more.  The original WW diet formed the model for my ensuing weight losses – but that was modified by the Low Fat movement that was foisted upon us. I hated eating Low Fat.  Never was able to tolerate eating food that tasted like cardboard and plastic. Calorie Counting became a way of life. Some exercise was in the mix, but as my will power to eat right waned, so did my desire to go to the gym.

As time went on and life got in the way, I cared less and less about my weight.  By the time I was in my early 60’s, I had hit 260 pounds and climbing. A visit to the Doctor for a cough that would not abate resulted in a hard smack up side the head. High Blood pressure meds were prescribed along with blood tests and a warning “don’t exercise or start a diet until we do all the testing.”

Sadly – I ignored the advise and headed to the Book Store – for some guidance on weight loss. I found a small book by Dana Carpender, which had a couple of pages explaining a Low Carb diet and the rest was a compendium of food carb content.  The updated book is on Amazon, Dana Carpender’s NEW Carb and Calorie Counter-Expanded, Revised, and Updated 4th Edition: Your Complete Guide. I followed the advice to the letter, aiming for no more than 25-35 grams of carbs per day.  That book went with me everywhere as I learned the carb count of various foods.  I already knew the Calorie count.  I started eating low carb on the day I joined a gym – March 12, 2007

I discovered the TNT (Targeted Nutrition Tactics) Diet in November of 2007.  The Diet was outlined in the November issue of Men’s Health magazine.  That issue changed my life.  It opened my eyes to the fact that dietary fats were not the devil’s spawn. I bought the full Men’s Health TNT Diet book once it was published.

The TNT diet had several “Plans.”  Each plan was tailored to your needs based upon the amount of weight you wanted to lose and how long you were already eating low carb.  It does not quantify calories, grams of carbs, protein or fats.  It gives you lists of foods you can eat and suggested meals and recipes. In many ways – similar to Weight Watchers. There is a full top-of-the-line exercise plan that goes with it – although any good structured plan would work.  Along with it, there is a TNT Forum on the Men’s Health site which answers any question you may have.

As I read more and more, I came to understand that Plan A is what I now know to be a Ketogenic Diet – one designed to eliminate your body’s dependence upon glucose (the product of eating carbs) and switch to Ketones (the product of eating fats) for energy.

An analysis of Plan A – was straight forward – the basic formula for a Ketogenic Diet. Here it is in a Nut Shell:

Carbohydrates: 25-35 grams is the sweet spot – but no greater than 50 grams in any day.  All mainly from non-starchy vegetables.

Protein:  1 gram of protein per pound of your Lean Body Mass – your body without the fat.  Another way of looking at that – .8 grams per pound of your Target or Proper Weight.

Dietary Fats:  All the rest of your energy needs.

When I started – I was 260 pounds, exercising 3 times a week.  My goal was 180 pounds. To maintain the 260 pounds, I had to eat close to 3,600 calories a day.  To maintain 180 pounds, I would have to eat approximately 2,500 calories a day. Assuming a goal of eating 2,500 calories – here is the macro-nutrient break down.


Carbs: 150 +/- calories a day.  (6%)

Protein: 550 +/- calories a day.  (22%)

Dietary Fats: 1,800 calories a day.  (72%)

The actual breakdown varies on a day-to-day basis.  This is NOT a NO CARB diet.  You must eat your non-starchy veggies which have carbs.  There are carbs in almost everything we eat.

This is NOT a HIGH PROTEIN diet.  This is more than the bare minimum protein that the FDA requires for you to live healthy – but in no way is it HIGH.  There are those who feel that to be fully on a Ketogenic diet, the protein should be reduced to closer to 100 grams – BUT – I do not believe they are taking into account exercising.  A “balanced” diet of 30% protein would have you eat closer to 190 grams a day.  Now that is a high protein diet.

This is a HIGH FAT diet.  No question – Fat is the source of your energy. Period.  You can not eat low-carb and low fat – your body would have no energy to survive. One of the biggest mistakes that folks make when they first dip their toe into Low Carb eating – is to significantly reduce their Carbs while maintaining a Low Fat diet. They crash and burn quickly.

Dietary Fats are your only variable for controlling your weight loss.  Reduce them and lose more – increase them and slow the weight loss process or gain weight.

“That is insane – your Cholesterol numbers are going to be off the charts.  You are killing yourself!” the world shouts at me. Here is a chart of my blood work. You decide.

Simply put – if you are not eating carbs then your body burns dietary fats for energy and those fats don’t cause a problem. Strange but true.

It takes 2-3 weeks for your body to switch from a Carb burning machine to a Ketone burning machine.  When you read the articles concerning various studies – look behind the hype and see how long the study had the individuals eating Low Carb. Most of the time it was for maybe 2 weeks. That is not enough time to prove anything.

I get a bit crazy reading the strange things on-line. Some of the Myths and down right false ideas:  Low Carb is High Protein – Not.  Paleo is Low Carb – Not.  Your brain only burns Carbs – Not. Your brain is a switch hitter and the aging brain loses its ability to use glucose and thrives on Ketones. Your body cannot exist without eating carbs – Not. Your body can make glucose – in part from amino acids. You can not exercise or grow muscles without carbs – Not.  Check out my two year anniversary pics. You only lose water – Not. That comes from the fact that as you burn up the stored glycogen in your muscles, your body loses stored water.  One gram of glycogen holds onto 4-5 grams of water.

Eating a ketogenic diet – is eating Very Low Carb – Normal Protein – High Fat.  It is the true Low Carb diet. Eating more than 50 or so grams of carbs is probably eating a reduced or low Carb diet but not a Ketogenic diet. Everyone is different.  At what point does your body stop being in a Ketosis and revert to burning carbs – a moving target – different from person to person and from year to year.  No question that eating above 100 grams (400 calories) of carbs will shut down ketone production.  

But – is that reduction of carbs without transitioning to Ketosis – bad for you?  If you are eliminating highly processed foods – it can only be good.  The question that you must answer is what works for you.  Knowing that you want to keep protein close to 1 gram per pound of lean body mass – the question remains – how do you balance fats and carbs. Eliminating fats has proven to be a false idol. Eating a high carb diet is just plain fool hardy.  Your own body must be your guide.

There are so many books out there – some good – some not so good – some worthless. If you are interested in pursing reading – check out Drs. Volek and Phinney’s The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living. It is pretty close to the definitive statement and guide.

If you like to just watch a video, here’s one to watch with Dr. Mary Vernon.