5 Ways to Thrive While You Wean Off Carbohydrates

5 Ways to Thrive While You Wean Off Carbohydrates

By: Austin Perlmutter, Medical Student, Miller School of Medicine

A few years ago, the science became too significant to ignore, and I decided to drastically cut back on my dietary carbohydrates. I believed in my good baseline health, and didn’t foresee any complications with this decision. A day in, I faced mood swings, crashing energy levels and intense cravings, and I started questioning my choice. Several days later, my mind cleared and my energy levels stabilized. I then realized how important my choice had been, and why I would never go back.

Years later, I counsel my patients and friends to venture down the same path, as the health benefits of a low carbohydrate diet cannot be denied. So often, I hear the same sentiment: it’s too hard to stop eating carbs! Ladies and gentlemen, I hear you loud and clear. Without help, cutting back your carbs is no easy task, especially if they’re a large part of your diet. But it doesn’t have to be that challenging! With the following tips and tricks, you’ll put your mind and stomach at ease. You’ll coast past this roadblock and come out feeling better than ever. 

  1. Fight fire with fireData shows that sugar cravings work like drugs cravings, acting on the same neurochemical pathways.  This helps to explain the withdrawal effect seen on stopping carbohydrates. Understand that the discomfort you face is your body withdrawing from an addictive substance, and use this as fuel to push yourself forward. Don’t allow a food to control you like a drug, and realize how much better you’ll feel when you purge this addictive substance from your body.
  2. Attack your cravings head–on: While many of us would like to get healthy overnight, it’s important to look at cutting carbs as a significant lifestyle change. Realize that this way of eating will take a little while to adapt to, and be ready to tackle the cravings when they come. Diffuse your carbohydrate cravings by having a supply of high quality snacks like nuts, cheese, meat and veggies on hand for the first few days of your transition. This isn’t the time to worry about counting calories; just snack whenever the longing for carbs gets to you and you’ll come out the other side better for it.
  3. Don’t sabotage yourself: The beginning of the carb-conscious journey is the hardest part. Don’t make it tougher by hanging around Italian restaurants and dessert bars. Of course, life will go on around you, but there’s no need to start your diet the night before a charity pancake breakfast. Set yourself up for success by removing unnecessary temptation within reason. Bring lunch to work, so you’re not stuck deciding between unhealthy options.
  4. Make a commitment: The biggest problem with diets is that we don’t stay on them. Cutting back on carbs may be the best thing you do for your health, but if you backslide to your original way of eating after 2 months, your body will also revert to its prior state. Before you begin, ask yourself why you want to change. Take the before pictures, write down your reasons for change and make a real commitment to your health. A short-term diet is nothing compared to a lifestyle change. This is a long-term commitment to a healthier, brighter future.
  5. Believe in your decision: Over the years, I’ve faced everything from curiosity to outright ridicule regarding my dietary choices. Some people will be appalled that you choose not to have a sandwich or will find something egregiously wrong with refusing a slice of pie. Mostly, they won’t understand why you eat so differently. You need to understand that as Americans, though we aren’t bad or stupid people, we are not healthy people. Your goal is to be the healthiest you can be. Let others judge, and when they ask about your food, explain to them why you’re eating the way you are. Stay strong, and others will follow.

For more information, order your copy of Grain Brain today and join Dr. Perlmutter’s email list.

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  • Pradeep Kumar M Sreedharan

    I went on a ketogenic diet, (high fat-ghee and coconut oil, lower protein-two eggs, mushrooms,cheese, and vegetables as fillers/bulk) but had to abandon due to daily diarrhoea, loss of minimum energy to survive(shaking hands). What shall be my next course of action, kindly guide!

    • Noritaarf

      Pradeep, how long were you eating low carb? You symptom sound to me like carb or keto flu and should pass in a week or so if you stay the course.

    • jaydeejj

      This definitely sounds like keto flu. It’s what happens when you’re body is going into and getting used to ketosis. It’ll pass. Drinking chicken broth and taking magnesium will help. Once you get over that hump you’ll be fine. The first time I did kept years ago, my keto flu was TERRIBLE! I occasionally have a cheat meal that’ll knock me out of ketosis. But now, my body has gotten used to it and I don’t get keto flu anymore.

  • Steve

    I’ve been gluten-free, low carb, and high healthy fat since I first saw you on Dr. Oz, yet I did not suffer from carb withdrawal. This from a person who consumed orange juice, four servings of fruit, whole grain bread or shreadded wheat cereal, pasta, ice cream etc… all his adult life (I am 63 years young). As you mentioned, cravings were satisfied by eating raw nuts such as walnuts, pecans, and almonds or cheese. What put an end to the cravings was fasting for the first time back in early March. Since then I am less stressed and have more energy.

    • David Perlmutter

      Sounds like you found the right lifestyle for you Steve.

      • leonard unger

        Hi Dr.Perlmutter,
        I just bought two of your books Grain Brain and the Better Brain Book. i am half way through grain brain.
        I love beer! Can I after say a month or so of no consumption of grain safely consume x? amount of beer just two nights a week? Is there any safe alcohol other then red wine one can drink say once or twice a week?
        I love bbq but bbq joints are not going to serve grass fed beef. If I eat non grass fed meat could I counter act the bad Omega6 by say two tablespoons of fish oil?
        Than You for you time.
        Leonard Unger

        • MarcusK

          Leonard, you do not say anything about your old symptoms and what improvements you have seen after going on the new diet. If you want to keep the improvements, you need to stick with your new diet.

          The question is if you want a healthy lifestyle or not since there is no such thing as ‘healthy but sometimes unhealthy’ lifestyle.

          Try to find new things in the new diet that satisfy you and buy a BBQ or grillpanto make your own steak.

          Be careful with fish oil, make sure that you buy a brand that has no mercury and look carefully at the amount of omega-3 that they have (it varies a lot).

        • Wendy

          Hi Leonard,
          There are gluten free beers available although they are still made with grain. I don’t have much beer experience so you would be better off checking reviews on gluten free beer. The “noglutennoproblem.blogspot.com” site has some reviews if you put it in their search. This seems to be pretty much the Paleo/Primal way of eating, so I would check with some of their blogs to see how they deal with it. I would say if it is only an occasional indulgence and you are having the gluten free variety it’s not something to stress about.

  • Cheezzer

    Thanks for sharing. What are your thoughts on carbs from brown rice?

    • David Perlmutter

      Thanks for the laugh. Brown rice is a gluten-free grain that, if desired, can be consumed in strict moderation.

  • Cindy Robin

    I began eating this way three weeks ago, and have had zero cravings, only some physical withdrawal symptoms. I had been eating a LOT of suger on a daily basis, with and without gluten.

    • David Perlmutter

      Here’s to the many weeks of success ahead Cindy.

      • Cindy Robin

        Thank you so much!

  • Lynn Dell

    Hi, I’m Lynn, and I’m a carboholic.

    I started the low carb diet with great enthusiasm, lost some weight, began to feel better in places where I have pain receptors giving me information about inflammation. I then returned to wallow at the carb trough for a time. I find even one day of a high carb binge can set me back for a week while my blood sugars recover and return to normal. So, if it happens to you, don’t let it discourage you – just get back on track.

    I find exercise is crucial, and I do not mean a little walk around the block – more like walking at least 3 miles or biking at least 5 miles, as fast as I can go. I am better at the eating part than the exercising part, which frustrates me greatly.

    As of today, I have lost 44 lbs.. I was a little nervous today, because I woke up with fasting blood sugar somewhere around 70, had a big breakfast of eggs, pumpkin seeds, a little raw spinach, some almonds, and a little 85% chocolate – and went to donate blood. I did not feel faint when it was over – yay! (I never have felt faint, but didn’t know what would happen today, since this is the first time in years I’ve donated with a fbg that low.)

    • David Perlmutter

      Thank you for this honest post Lynn.

  • Theresa

    I always wonder since vegetables and fruit are carbs, ought we not to instead use the term starches? This would end any confusion about our need for a balanced diet of proteins, fats, and carbs. We need all of these! :)

    • Lynn Dell

      Carbohydrates can be classified as sugars and starches. We don’t really need sugars and starches in our diet (well, paleo proponents would say our gut needs resistant starches, but leave that for the time being).

      The reason we don’t need carbohydrates is because our body can produce the glucose (a sugar) it needs from protein.

      So, even if you ate absolutely no carbs (an impossibility if you eat nuts and many veggies and some fruit), if you took in only protein and fat, your body would still maintain blood glucose homeostasis by converting protein to glucose (a process called gluconeogenesis).

      Thus, we absolutely must have the right kind of fat, and good quality protein in our diet. We need fiber. And because some fruits and many vegetables contain so many good micronutrients along with their carbs, we also eat them. It’s just a matter to keep those carbohydrates – the sugars and the starches – under 60 to 80 or so grams per day.

  • Rob

    As a big fan of yours who wants to believe you and has bought your book for a number of family and friends, I am wondering how you would respond to that one star review of your book on Amazon.com where a doctor checked out a number of your references and claimed you exaggerated the findings to suit your argument. I would love to hear you answer that in a way that let’s me continue to avidly promote you.

    • kelley

      Keep reading. Other readers debunk the debunker. I would think Dr. Perlmutter stands behind the book as written.

    • Lynn Dell

      Rob, here is a link to a study or one like it that the supposed MD doing the critique (he did not provide his credentials): http://paleohacks.com/questions/143193/new-study-low-carb-diet-linked-to-increased-inflam.html

      One of the criticisms this guy levels at Grain Brain is he claims the study cited by Dr. Perlmutter claims a high fat low carb diet raises cortisol and c reactive protein, which is a marker for inflammation, and that Dr. Perlmutter failed to mention this while citing the good effects of the diet mentioned in the study.

      I wondered about this, too, having read the critique on Amazon. When I started eating according to the Grain Brain recommendations, all I can tell you is my joint and soft tissue pain went away in a matter of about less than two weeks. What I’m saying is, where I can *feel* chronic inflammation – the diet made it go away.

      I don’t know what my cortisol levels are, nor my c reactive protein. I try to go by how I feel as much as I can. While I can see that perhaps my cortisol levels may have risen a little, I can see no way under the sun that c reactive protein would have risen, because I just feel so much better, joint inflammation wise. But I’m just one example.

      Another thought that some critics of this study have pointed out — it is hard to say whether the people in this study had their omega 6 to omega 3 ratios where they should have been. That is another unknown. If too many omega 6 fatty acids and not enough omega 3s, there will be inflammation, so I’m told.

  • Jewells

    Hi I’ve been on paleo diet for a year or so and occasionally have a small splurge if I’m out- but listening to your grainbrain talk yesterday and reading the book i realize the dangers. My mother began a stumbling gait 10 years ago and is now bedbound as her ability to walk came to an abrupt halt- I wonder if it was the consumption of carbs that affected her?
    -I occasionally want a little treat so make an almond, coconut(shredded and oil) few dates to sweeten a little- slice -yum but i’d like to know whether the oil helps reduce the GI of the dates or am i just kidding myself?

  • Cindy Robin

    Three weeks in, I had some wine with dinner. It didn’t upset my stomach as it has in the past. However, the next day I wanted more wine and/or something sweet. I had some fruit, which didn’t really address the craving. So, I’ll need to be careful with that.

  • hanoona

    I have been forced to go on low carb high fat diet. I took zyprexa for 13 and ended up with adrenal fatigue and hypoglycemia. my health care professional is an acupuncturist and she is great. I saw you on PBS tv yesterday and you confirmed what I have been doing for a year now. I wasn’t eating a very bad diet, but the side effects of my medication were deadly. So, I decided to die or save myself. I survived. We need Doctors like you, because I don’t believe in doctors with MD’s anymore!

  • Ri

    im really happy you posted this and discussed the challenges of going off carbs I think one of the biggest is for sure the social aspect and not eating like everyone else. I don’t bother explaining anymore because carb addicts are very much stuck in their ways and will say things like you need to eat from all the food groups and carbs provide you with much needed fiber. Sure that’s true but not all carbs are created equally. I can not bring myself to eat a bagel anymore – I don’t want it or crave it anymore I just imagine it sitting in my stomach like a lump and the gluten binding to my intestines and causing problems-no thanks not worth it! I don’t see it as being real food to me breads are just like a filler with no real nutritional value. Since reading your book and adopting a low carb lifestyle and regular exercise I haven’t lost a ton of weight (5’5 and 135lbs so I don’t really need to) but I have noticed my body composition changing and getting more toned and muscular and I just feel so much better! And just so I don’t hear any rude or unwanted comments from people and so I don’t offend anyone-ill take that piece of cake or cookie that im offered and maybe if it looks really good ill allow myself to take a bite or two but then when no ones watching ill toss it -or ill offer it to somebody else who wants it. You cant win in this society as far as deviating from the social norms go even when it comes to your eating habits so its best to not try to sit there and explain it to people when most of the time it goes through one ear and out the other lol.. I say keep doing it and know your doing the best thing for your health and body and you can be a living example of health and wellness. One of my role models is Halle Berry. At 47 she was able to have another child and she just glows. I read up about her diet and she revealed that she was diagnosed with diabetes as a child and has since followed a very strict low carb low sugar diet along with regular exercise shes managed to maintain her slim figure and still look fantastic in a bikini. She doesn’t look a day over 30. Yes shes a celebrity and has the money for personal trainers and chefs and people to help her stay looking fantastic but at the end of the day its ones own commitment to health and wellness that will determine how they look and feel. And buying fresh wholesome foods is cheaper than paying mounting medical bills down the road when your health is in a deep decline due to poor dietary choices made throughout your life. I thank you sincerely Dr Perlmutter-Knowledge is Power. I come on here daily and I love that your always posting something new and keeping us informed! God Bless! By the way I noticed in your last video you looked quite tanned-do you recommend sunscreen ? do you use it?or do you think its better to soak in those rays? I live in Canada so unfortunately im lacking in vitamin D :(

    • Cindy Robin

      Love the bagel visual!

      • ri

        thank you! its not as appealing when you think about the havoc its wreaking in your body is it

      • Diegolady

        Just looked at my grocery list and there is: gluten-free bread, GF bagels and GF muffins at the top. I’m still reading Grain Brain and thinking hard on how at my age (80) and with achy fibromyalgia and arthritis every day I have gotten to this state. An aha moment!!! I Know I have a LONG way to go and some days rationalize that at my age, what the heck….

        • Elle

          diego lady, perhaps going to the senior games would help motivate you.

  • David Balbi

    Dr Perlmutter, I’ve been taking Protandim for three years and recently began a low carb diet after reading Grain Brain. Which supplements are the most important to add to my Protandim? I’m on a budget and can’t spend $150 a month on supplements.

    • David Perlmutter

      The key three I suggest of my super seven would be DHA, Vitamin D and coconut oil.

  • Carlosd

    Have you read this new study that came out on May 15th by Peter Gibson?

    “Researchers Who Provided Key Evidence For Gluten Sensitivity Have Now Thoroughly Shown That It Doesn’t Exist”

    Any thoughts on this?

    http://www.businessinsider.com/gluten-sensitivity-and-study-replication-2014-5#ixzz326cDpsi0

    • MikeW

      I would like to hear your thoughts on this too. However, it is important to note that the Business Insider article was based on another article titled “Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity May Not Exist.” That is a bit different. Also one of the researchers, Biesiekierski, recognizes that “gluten may very well be the stomach irritant we’ve been looking for.”

    • Cate

      You know, I never worked with doctors regarding my gluten sensitivity. I don’t know about now, but for many years, doctors didn’t even study nutrition so they didn’t know about gluten and it’s effects. I just had symptoms and I went on an elimination diet which was Dr Atkins’ high protein, low carbohydrate diet. At the beginning it’s a no carbohydrate diet to get the ketones going – and that’s when the negative symptoms I’d been having from eating gluten foods all went away. That got my attention! I listened to my body. I didn’t need a doctor to tell me if gluten sensitivity existed. I had symptoms, changed my diet and they went away. End of story!

      • MarcusK

        Good for you, Cate!
        Unfortunately, we grew up with the idea ‘go to the docter when you get sick and take the drugs that he prescribes’. It is difficult to change this idea but stories like yours may help other people to put some common sense back into our decisions about our health. I like to emphasize ‘our decisions’ since we are responsible for our bodies and we are responsible for which docters (the bad or the good) we choose to help us to get better.

    • Joe Texan

      Agri-business, the food processing industry, fast food francises, and grocery stores make up nearly 2 trillion dollars of the U.S. annual economy. Do you think they are not going to do everything possible to discredit anyone who challenges that amount of money? Dr. Atkins recommended the same diet and they took his medical license away. The pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lusting, M.D. in his book “Fat Chance” wrote that he is on Michelle Obama’s nutrition board and cannot even get the government to set an upper limit on daily sugar. He said that everyone he spoke with in the Obama administration responded “We are not going to take on that fight.” I am old enough to remember T.V. commercials with M.D.’s saying that tobacco is good for you because it calms your nerves. They will role out a multi-billion dollar campaign against this diet. Fortunately, Dr. Perlmutter is not fighting alone. He now has an army standing shoulder to shoulder with him.

    • maria

      For many years I suffered with fatigue and I was told, basically, it was in my head. (I was celiac.) Now people are being told gluten-sensitivity doesn’t exist. But what we eat DOES influence how we feel.

    • SteveN

      This article has a feel very much like the ones that various industries plant to try and cast doubt on the real science that threatens their commercial interest. It’s similar to those that the oil industry puts into the pseudo media to confuse the issue and cloud people’s judgement about climate change or that the tobacco industry backed when fighting regulation. Reader beware.

  • Angela Milne

    I’d like to convert a paragraph from this article to a South African context; man, I can relate!
    “Over the years, I’ve faced everything from curiosity to outright ridicule regarding my dietary choices. Some people will be appalled that you choose not to have a sandwich or will find something egregiously wrong with refusing a slice of pie. Mostly, they won’t understand why you eat so differently. You need to understand that as South Africans, though we aren’t bad or stupid people, we’re not healthy people. Your goal is to be the healthiest you can be. Let others judge, and when they ask about your food, explain to them why you’re eating the way you are. Stay strong, and others will follow.”
    Thanks, I need all the support I can get!

  • Bonnie

    I have not have any unhealthy carbs since March 4th , it was ruff, but I feel so much better and I have lost 40 plus pounds of Fat not just water. So I am in a good place.

  • Ruth

    I went to a family reunion yesterday and the group was trying to talk me into the pie…and brownies…and pasta salad. Ha, I smiled and told them it looked delicious (not wanting to offend the cook), but that I was no longer eating any of it. No apologies. I think I piqued some interest…

    • Carol Ann Gillespie

      When these occasions occur, I always smile and say “later – I’m too full right now.” “Later” never comes and I find that folks get interested in other things so the issue disappears.

      • David Perlmutter

        Not a bad strategy Carol. Thanks for giving this tip to others.

  • CC

    I want to get the book and do this low carb eating. What’s the book called and how can I join a support group?

  • Keri

    Dr. Perlmutter, I (age 39) just finished your book and am extremely intrigued. I have two questions…I am not over weight and actually have trouble keeping weight on at times, (I have always been able to eat whatever I want and I don’t gain weight) but I do feel like I have low energy and brain fog. Is this diet ok for someone that does not have weight issues. Also, my son (age 9) is a competitive gymnast, he trains 20 hrs a week…will he be able to sustain his energy without carbs? Thank you!

    • David Perlmutter

      Of course. This isn’t a diet, but a lifestyle change to put someone on the road to better health. On the topic of your son, you should certainly consult with his pediatrician before making any changes.

  • Nancy

    Dr Perlmutter, My 33 year old daughter has Narcolepsy and just in the last year has had cataplexy set in and it has accelerated quite a bit. She is working with a neurologist, but I tell her her diet is crucial in managing her symptoms. Do you feel a gluten free diet or a Ketogenic diet would be best?

    • Elle

      She would need a lot of help with the keto, but seems like that would be the way to go. Try “It starts with Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig if the keto is too difficult to start with.

  • Spockdog92

    I’m new to this on-line community so I’m not sure this is the right place for this

    I need some down to earth information about what to eat . The recipes/menus in the book are great but I need affordable suggestions.
    Any help?

    What are all of you eating?

  • Spockdog92

    Hi, what do all of you eat? The recipes in the book are great. I need to be quite frugal as well as have good idea what constitutes a meal for this way of eating.
    Any help?

    • Elle

      I am currently doing the whole 30. Got the book “It starts with food” from the local library. I am on day 11. I like that it is structured making it easier for me to follow. No sugar-alcohol-grains-legumes-dairy-potatoes.
      This is for 30 days and at that point well- —it is in the book.

  • SJ

    Can a high fat low carb diet work for someone with coronary heart disease history? I want to eat this way, but feel I may be harming my husband, the one with the history, if we both eat this way.

  • Beck

    I heard your interview on Coast to Coast back in 2011. I really appreciated your research and message you are getting out to the public. I just finished reading Grain Brain which has a whole slew of useful information and motivated me to plunge into the four week program. I have several questions:

    1. I’m curious being hypoglycemic how I might do a fast safely. I have been able to get by without any food on days I’m not exercising until aprox 2pm before I feel like the blood sugar is becoming much too low. Perhaps I should not fast.
    2. How could a vegan and lactos intollerant person do this program seeing there is a limit to beans because of the carbs?
    3. What are your thoughts on Dr. Peskin’s work regarding fish oils causing inflammation, that instead it is better to consume the “parent essential oils, ALA” (ie. from flax seed oil) and have your body convert the ALA to EPA and DHA?

    Thanks for your time,
    Beck

  • Beck

    Scratch the question #2 regarding the vegan lactose intolerant person. I found the answer in the Frequently asked question.

  • Cate

    I did it in 1973, thanks to Dr Robert C Atkins’ amazing book, Diet Revolution. I read every word and followed his suggestions to the letter because he made the case for doing so in a very logical, scientific manner. I think he deserves some credit now that prominent doctors like Perlmutter have come on board.

  • Joe Texan

    I highly recommend the book “The Cancer Killers, by Dr. Charles Majors. He cured himself of terminal malignant brain cancer with this new science of nutrients. One thing he wrote is that cáncer cells need sugar and have more sugar receptors than any other type of cell. That is why they give up a glucose injection before an MRI because it makes cáncer cells light up.

  • Mary Jane

    Dear Dr. Perlmutter. I just love your book “Grain Brain”. I can’t afford a,copy right now, but I’ve put my name on the waiting list three times at the library (I can’t renew it because there is always a waiting list–that tells you something) .

    I have Epilepsy and I took medication for 40 years and have been off of it for 7 years. I had too many side-effects. I am really interested in alternative treatments but unfortunately most neurologists can only advise taking medication. This infuriates me!

    I’ve given up most Gluten. I assume Glutten-free bread is OK. I desire chocolate all of the time. I am trying to give up sugar, but there’s a chocolate bar in the Health Food store with Stevia. This is great because it doesn’t have sugar, but it has 25 grams carbo. Plus I can’t eat a couple of pieces. I have to eat the whole bar HELP!

  • Sabina

    I think the best is going cold turkey, just like with smoking. It only hurts for 3 days, then the cravings are gone. Now I can even cook pasta and serve bread to my family without wanting it. There are so many things that I can eat now that I never ate before because it had so much fat. It is awesome!!! And the most astonishing thing is I lost weight on top of it, even though that was not the reason for changing my diet. My concern is preventing Alzheimers.

    • David Perlmutter

      I tend to agree Sabina, but folks will have to do what is best for their health and their body.

  • http://www.lesaffairesweb.com/ Serge Lachapelle

    I would add number 6: Don’t be afraid of fat!… Fat is your friend, good quality saturated fats are the key to appetite and craving control…

    • David Perlmutter

      You bet Serge, healthy fats are our friends!

  • jessenatenuff

    Thank you, Dr. Perlmutter for your expertise and for Grain Brain. Your book helped save my life. Since 2006, I realized that wheat was affecting my health. Still, I would play the “on again, off again” game by eliminating wheat from my diet for long periods only to find myself binging on it again. I began to notice that the periods that I experienced suffering were lasting longer after each binge. The final straw came this past January. My suffering was so horrible I almost checked into the hospital. I was convinced I might be suffering from brain cancer. I had horrible, constant migraine headaches that caused my to stay in bed for hours during the day. I was blowing chunks of mucus from my nose every two minutes. My sinuses were swollen. My head was hot and tingly. This went on for six weeks. Fortunately, I saw your PBS special. I immediately bought a digital copy of Grain Brain. After your special was over I took your advice and bought some eggs (I was eating vegan at the time). I felt so sick but I managed to drag myself out of bed and take public transportation to a food store that sold cage-free, vegetarian-fed eggs. I went, totally, gluten-free. My condition improved, remarkably. The migraines are gone. My sinuses cleared. I lost weight, naturally.
    I experience no temptation when it comes to eating foods containing gluten. I simply won’t do it. I read labels. I ask questions when I’m eating at restaurants. And I let friends know that I’m not giving in to their pleas of, “Oh, just have one little bite.” It simply is not worth it. I won’t go back to suffering that way, again.
    There is one more astonishing thing to share. I’m a 57 year old man and I have been a chronic allergy (pollen) sufferer since I was a young child. Each and every year I experienced itchy red eyes, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, running nose and clogged sinuses. After reading Grain Brain and eating gluten-free, THIS IS THE FIRST TIME IN FIFTY YEARS THAT I AM NOT SUFFERING FROM ALLERGIES. It’s absolutely amazing that I am no longer an allergy suffer. I am so grateful.
    Thank you, again, Dr. Perlmutter.

    • David Perlmutter

      A truly wonderful story Jesse. If you like, share with me at Success@DrPerlmutter.com, so that I may share it with others here on the site.

      • maria

        Dr. Perlmutter, this diet (very close to the Paleo diet and what Dr. Mercola advises) has helped me overcome many health problems. But from time to time, and sometimes for long periods, eating fat bothers my gall bladder (or possibly my liver.)
        Do you have any advice? I already take digestive enzymes. However, the only way I can feel better is to reduce fat, including the sort of fat you recommend . I reduce it for an extensive period, then slowly build up again.

        • David Perlmutter

          This article might be valuable for you Maria. It basically describes an epileptic continued on ketogenic diet s/p cholecystectomy. No side effects. It appears to be the only article describing ketogenic diets in patients s/p gall bladder removal, but may help answer the patient’s questions you’ve been having.

          http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0887899414003154

  • Mike Doyle

    I think that Dr Perlmutter has been straight forward about information he has provided about the low carb way of eating. That is why I made the change. I couldn’t be happier, I feel great! I had the carb withdrawal but was fine with it because I found out, that a person is,hooked on sugar.The hardest part of this way of eating is prep time and lots of cooking.
    I am 60 and have never been over weight, but the change for me has been profound for me. For example, I used to have hypoglycemic like shakes, i didn’t know why, I just would get them periodically.I did all the testing and I am not hypoglycemic. I no longer have that condition. I was on omeprozole, for reflux, but no longer need the medicine. I think this way of eating is great but ,what’s wrong with having a piece of pie or an ice cream cone once every few months. I don’t believe in being chained to the yolk for life. A person needs to live a little……

  • pammypim

    Hi all, I started on the eating plan several months ago, much to the delight of my hoistic doctor who has been pushing me in that direction for years. She wants me off all wheat, dairy, sugar, yeast, alcohol & coffee. I was wiling to give Dr P’s plan a try but since first of March I have lost 14 pounds & 5 pounds more in just the past two weeks – which I didn’t need to lose at all. My doctor is alarmed & frankly I don’t feel all that hot. I have no energy or incentive to do much of anything. Headaches daily. I need to get some calories in me but it’s a hard job now.

    Any encouragement is greatly needed. I believe in Dr P’s book & the data he presents but I am having a very hard time following it myself.

    Pammypim

    • RuthHawkins671

      Regarding the headaches, have you been to a chiropractor? I have injured my neck and the rest of my joints in so many car accidents and falls that I live with pain 24/ 7. I was very vegetative and not even getting out of bed to go to church on Sunday mornings because my circadian rhythm was upside down. I began eliminating genetically modified organisms(GMOs) and titrated myself off Prozac after reading “Say No to Alzheimer’s” by Dr Bruce Fife, ND. I also started purchasing freeze-dried and dehydrated foods from Thrive Life LLC and began adding minced garlic and virgin coconut oil to just about everything. They also have over 130 gluten-free products. I became a consultant to purchase it at the lowest cost, therefore you can learn more by going to my online store: https://www.thrivelife.com/RuthHawkins
      I am so much more mentally alert and proactive about taking care of myself. I recently decided that I would also become gluten-free and eat only the best grains. Whole wheat is not good, but Wheat Berries, Buckwheat, and Cracked Wheat are good for youl I get my guidance on grains from: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03184/Cooking-With-Whole-Grains.html

  • ReneWoj

    I’ve suffered with severe skin itching and hives for years Thinking it was due to food allergies I began to eliminate various foods such as tomato’s, MSG, Red and Yellow food dyes, etc. I went to my family physician and to an Allergist in February of 2014. The allergist said I had no food allergies. Both suggested various antihistamine medications. The medications were a temporary fix. I kept getting hives anyway. I was really frustrated so I made an appointment with a dermatologist. However the appointment was two months into the future, into mid-April. I cancelled the appointment. I had no hives or or the severe itching to show the dermatologist. The only thing that I did was to stop eating bread and any wheat products. I am four months into being wheat free and I’ve been itch and hive free. I am so excited about this revelation that I had to write about it just to make sure that other people might learn from my experience.

    • MarcusK

      Did you go back to the Allergist to ask your money back ?

    • Ozzie

      I am so glad to hear from someone else who itches! I had been suspecting what it was. I thought it might be some chemicals in the grass that the lawn people sprayed on there, but even though I stay away from the grass, I still itch. I developed an allergy to spandex first of all, and from there it went downhill. Thanks for your input.

  • Batya

    People will always find a way to criticize and dissent. I really think you are basically on the right track. What I would like from a practical point of view is some kind of recipe book. According to blood work, I am quite allergic to eggs. There does not seem much left to eat once I have eliminated carbs but am trying to keep my protein level to moderate. Even if I am focused on increasing vegetables. Any suggestions?

    • David Perlmutter

      The Grain Brain cookbook will be released this September.

      • Cheryl Autin Ponceti

        I am so buying the cookbook. Can it be preordered?

        • David Perlmutter

          Of course! From online retailers.

  • H Sanford

    How does one encourage institutional food preparers to assist one’s attempt to adopt low carb/ high fat/gluten free diet. Is offering gluten-free bread, juices, etc. too costly for institutions (and restaurants) to make them available. I take my meals in my retirement community and believe it’s going to be tough to adopt your diet.

  • Donna Schroer

    I just finished the book and am very excited to get started. Have al ready made some changes in choices. It is amazing to me how many food items have carbs and lots of them when you start looking at labels. My biggest hurtle has always been sweets. If it’s in the house I will eat it. Working hard to keep the bad food out and the good food in. All the food tips really help as I am not a creative cook. Thanks so much again!!!

  • Jude

    I have dieted many ways over the years. In the last 10 years I have been at my highest weight and poorest health. I was a borderline diabetic with stasis sores and edema. My inflammatory posses tests were quite bad. My default eating has always been super high fat and carbs-any carb with lots of butter. Walking was difficult and I was just about house bound.
    I watched Grain Brain on PBS. The thing that struck me most from your show was the idea that being fat affects the brain. I find it difficult to believe that as a seasoned dieter I never knew that. That my brain is shrinking due to obesity really ticked me off. I knew the chance of strokes or heart attacks were more likely but developing dementia really upset me. I definitely have felt I had lost a touch of my mental edge as I aged but blamed it on menopause. Then after seeing your show I had that lightbulb moment. In the past I have successfully lost weight with a low-carb diet-original Dr. Atkins-so I felt fine with that part.
    The bottom line is that your message spoke to me and my issues. Next I was diagnosed as having hypothyroidism and put on meds. My faithful friends are all amazed at my improvement over the last few months. I am trying every day to improve my eating plan. Carbohydrates do not tempt me anymore as long as I don’t let those hidden ones to get me. I feel terrific and my life gets better every day.

  • PattiG

    Dr Perlmutter, My 65 yr old husband was diagnosed w/ coronary artery disease years ago. He has had a very healthy diet (low on all white stuff and sugar) for probably 25-30 years – does Bikram (Hot) Yoga 3 times a week, but has been unable to lower his cholesterol without drugs. Tests have indicated that he stopped the progression of his disease by his diet. His Dr has had him on Statins and Blood Pressure meds to assist the statins. He recently stopped the statins and most of the supplements he was taking and is trying to follow the diet suggestions in Grain Brain – mainly because he is concerned that they have affected his joints and clear thinking. He is a very disciplined guy – and will do whatever it takes – but the problem is that he is losing weight that he cannot afford to lose. He weighs about 135-140 normally. (I HATE it when his weight drops below mine!) He can eat more than anyone I know, but does have a tendency to skip meals sometimes. Add to that a little stress – as we have found ourselves raising 4 young grandchildren. (I’ve got to keep this man healthy!) His doctor of 40 years is very traditional and is basically supporting my husband in this “crazy” adventure. Any suggestions for him on how to stay off those drugs and not waste away would be appreciated. Thank you!

  • Rita

    am trying to follow “Grain Brain” but have lost so much body fat, associates think I am sick. What do I do?

  • Connie

    I am a type 2 diabetic x 2 years. within 3 months of diagnosis I went from an A1C of 15 to 6.2. I am trying to figure out how low of carbs I can go. When my glucose is low I get the usual mood swing, anxiety, shakiness and confusion. I know what is recommended to not go over per meal/snack, but can find no literature on the minimum. Is there a way to ascertain what it will take to keep my glucose constant- a target number to begin with.
    I have long been interested in an anti-inflammation/gluten free diet but my husband does not support it. I know I will have to cook separate meals. I even asked him to do a 6 week trial. No go. I welcome any of your advice.

    • David Perlmutter

      The Grain Brain lifestyle allows for 50-60g of carbs/day.

  • Ozzie

    I’ve been on the gluten free diet for five years. The trouble is that I have so many other sensitivities that I can seldom use any of the recipes. It is strictly meat, veggies and fruit. Is there something I can do to improve that?

  • s0nfl0wer

    In your GrainBrain book to say to get rid of sweet potatoes. I just saw on your website where you say that sweet potatoes are ok as long as you stay within the correct number of grams. This is confusing…?

    • David Perlmutter

      Ideal to eliminate, but can be enjoyed if in strict moderation.

  • s0nfl0wer

    What do you think of raw milk; raw cheese?

  • Paige Kelly

    I recently switched from a fruit based diet to the grain brain outline once reading the book. Has anyone experienced constipation? I am sure to eat many vegetables but I think the fruit had much more fiber. Any suggestions on how to stay regular? I am an avid exerciser so it’s not due to lack of physical exertion.

    • Joe Texan

      Take a probiotic digestive enzyme.

  • Emme

    Hello! Is it possible to eat Oat Bran on this plan?

  • william

    I am totally blind from an auto accident back in 1998 that
    also made me lose my left kidney. I am now on a low potassium diet. How can I
    do a low potassium diet with a low carb diet?

  • william

    I am totally blind from an auto accident back in 1998 that
    also made me lose my left kidney. I am now on a low potassium diet. How can I
    do a low potassium diet with a low carb diet?

  • GK

    .If there has already been a diagnosis of MCI/early Alzheimer’s is it too late to do anything? Will following the diet help?

  • Big Bad Doug

    for many years have eaten with care…read Ornish, Kurzweil, Paleo,
    Timothy Ferriss and many others consumed no sugar, almost no dairy
    (coffee skim).
    Wake in morning feeling 110% but since abandoning all grains now awaken feeling 111% feeling terrific. Feel much stronger. Wow !!!
    Exercise every day pedal 200kms per week. Lift heavier weights.
    Age 81.

    • Joe Texan

      Your story is inspirational!

  • Joe Texan

    In the book Micro Miracles by the Enzymologist, Dr. Ellen Culter, she writes that Carbohydrate digestive enzymes can greatly reduce cravings for sugar and carbs. She says that cravings for sugar and carbs are a symptom of carbohydrate intolerance. The pediatric allergist and author Dr. Dorris Rapp, writes that craving a food is a symptom of an allergy to that food. Both Drs. Culter and Rapp have websites. In the book “Cracking the Metabolic Code” by the pharmacist Dr. James LaValle, he also writes that cravings are a disease symptom that can be treated with nutrients.

  • Joe Texan

    Knowing that the Swedish people have the longest life expectancy, I looked on the internet for their nutritional guidelines. The Swedish government was proud to announce that they are the first country to abandon the recommendation of low colesterol and the first to recommend to their people a high fat and low carb diet. They also said it won’t happen in the U.S. because of the power of Agri-business and the food processing industry. Wheat, soy, and corn are the most heavily government subsidized business in the U.S. With the current projections being that in 20 years 30 million Americans will be dying of Alzheimer’s and 40 million of diabetes, it looks like 25% of the entire U.S. baby boomer generation will be sent to an early grave because of the bad advice of the USDA.

  • Joe Texan

    One more piece of info. You can obtain the nutritional content of any food sold in supermarkets in the U.S. from the website of the USDA. They even have a function where you can have the foods sorted from most to least salt, most to least sugar, etc. One Hungry Man TV dinner contains over 3,000 grams of salt. One serving of most Kellogs breakfast cereals have the equivalent of 8 to 10 teaspoons of sugar. In order to convert sugar and carbs from grams to teaspoons, you divide by 4.

  • phil

    so… I weigh 117 lbs. on a good day and am trying to get to 122 lbs. when I stop eating carbs I go back to 112 lbs. and look haggard. I exercise and am very active. any suggestions?

  • Carol Ann Gillespie

    Low carb beer – Michelob Ultra is low calorie and only 2 grams of carbs. If I want a beer on occasion, this is my choice!

  • Deb

    I have been reading a lot on resistant starch. What is your opinion on green banana flour? Is it ok for diabetics?

  • LisaC

    Within two weeks of reducing my carbs I too experienced joints that no longer hurt in the morning, however, I feel annoyingly hungry all the time, even after eating! I have always been a healthy eater, never been overweight (5’5″ and 108 pounds). I work out every other day and other than stiffness mentioned above in hands and hips (I am 50), I am and have been very healthy my entire life. But I have a high metabolism and am finding my energy is a little low since going off of carbs. I feel like I can only eat so many nuts, fruits and salads. It seems like I never feel full anymore and yet weight has not fluctuated. I am not completely off of carbs but probably 90% (will still have whole grain bread occasionally and brown rice). Help???

  • sandy

    everything has soy in it. veggie burgers from praegers and morningstar. so theses are bad for me too????

  • melissa fatima imoudrg

    I was just diagnosed with Celiac disease and your book was suggested by my doctor to read and follow as my regimen. After reading many of your posts and many comments form fans and people who have had positive significant results and impacts on their lives and I am excited to commit to a new lifestyle. I have chosen this next Monday to begin this new journey and want to thank you ahead of time for such immense wealth of knowledge and support.

    • David Perlmutter

      I’m sorry to hear this news Melissa, but I wish you the best of luck on this healthful journey you are about to embark on.

  • Susan

    I purchased the audio book. Is there a list of the supplements I can get and also the 4 week plan and sample menu is not on the PDF, any way to get these items?

  • Kimber

    When following the principles of Grain Brain, I have lost a lot of weight and am very low in body fat. What is the solution when I’m this thin, low in body fat, but still need to be so restrictive on anything spiking insulin in order to protect my brain. I can’t seem to gain weight, and people say I’m too thin. BUT, I want to keep eating this way for brain health in the future. ANY ADVICE??

  • Michelle

    I’m on day three of a Ketogenic/Atkins lifestyle. The reason I looked into this type of eating is due to the fact that I work out very hard; I love boxing, running, kettleball, barre burn you name it and I’ll try it. When I was staying at exactly the same weight for 6 months straight despite my workouts I decided to do some research and came upon your website having remembered reading about the Ketogenic diet years and years ago. Also a fellow athletic friend told me about body types and how he worked out 6 days a week but remained endomorphic.

    I began to put two and two together and realized that my body was most likely holding onto these15 pounds that I want off via the sugars that carbs convert into (not to mention the amount of sugar in juice and the occasional chocolate) My body type survived the Mayflower but in this day and age when we are not out hunting and have croissants on every corner I don’t fair as well. Through various searches I arrived on your site. What’s odd is that when I live in Paris I drop weight incredibly easily despite my love of croissants. Perhaps it was the enormous amounts of grass fed cheese which I ate during my trips that helped. Who knows.

    Anyway I am now in the States and gained 15 pounds last year after an injury…This entire time I have had homemade organic granola with grass fed yogurt in the mornings. Probably black rice at dinners and the occasional sandwich; etc and I tried to work out as much as possible despite my injury. Everything I did was extremely healthy per what we are told in this society and yet I remained the same. The past 6 months I’ve been able to work out more and yet I remained almost the same. Frustration ensued and now I am here.

    Well, I am on day three of protein, fats and vegetables and I am soaring. I took to it like a duck to water (I love swimming too) I got through a 2 hour workout this morning and last night with no problem. I became hungry afterwards but it was a different kind of hunger, not as ravenous. And I was calmer as if my body wasn’t looking for a fix so to speak. Then, I decided to check out my heart rate for 30 minutes on the treadmill. What was very interesting was how easily I could make it go up and down whereas on carbs my heart rate seemed to leap with no rhyme or reason and remained higher for longer. I actually thought something was wrong with the treadmill on many occasions and now I think it was the ups and downs of sugar in my body that caused the fluctuation. Also, I am wondering if my body will be less stiff after my workouts. I knew a lady once who said that at Christmas-time her body would become so stiff from the overload of sugar that she could barely walk. Yikes! And yes, she was overweight. Today I am less stiff than I was a week ago.

    I’m going to continue this route because now I believe we’ve been fed a bunch of (pardon me) bs when it comes to carbs, juice etc because it is a money maker. I’ve come across the same BS in my readings on psychology and the coverups of RD Laing, Alice Miller, Dr. Bowen; etc. so it doesn’t surprise me that the BS exists here regarding carbs. I’ll wrap it up and say I look forward to reading your book Grain Brain. Who knows, if I go into Psychology perhaps I will bring this world along with me. I would imagine that many issues with the brain are exasperated by wheat. ( I do believe childhoods affects us the most but people are too afraid to address their parent’s pedagogy which is why we are still in the dark.)

    As far as critics are concerned and whom I refer to as the saboteurs: people who don’t want to try something new always criticize. My own parents told me that I couldn’t go to college. Luckily I had the constitution to defy them and went to college. Saboteurs are everywhere & they want to keep you down because that’s where they live. When I am challenged by someone because I lead such a different life than most I either a. completely ignore them or b. say “where’s your research?” Luckily I’ll be able to point to my body and say, well here’s my research. People prefer the familiar no matter how painful.

    Wasn’t it Einstein who said that doing the same thing over and over again with the same results is insanity. No thanks I prefer trying new routes. Our bodies are designed to hunt, build and forage and now we have these amazing brains to play with. I’ll treat my body like it’s a tool, train like I am hunting for food and continue on my learning path. Let’s see if my mind works more efficiently, I already learned French and Italian perhaps Spanish is next and maybe I’ll dust off my violin with this new found energy or apply it to Grad School. Happy you exist Dr. thanks for writing this book.