Frequently Asked Questions

for the Lowcarb Diet and Exercise List

About this FAQ:

This is the FAQ for the Lowcarb Diet and Exercise List. New subscribers are advised to look in this FAQ before posing a question to the list. Authored by Homer Culley, Ryan Eamer and Delfin. Questions or comments relating to these FAQs should be directed to (Homer).


This FAQ is provided as is without any expressed or implied warranties. the authors/contributors assume no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of information contained herein.  The content for this FAQ is based on postings made by numerous list members. However, the authors would like to specifically thank Lyle McDonald, Elzi Volk, Dave Skinner, Jay Campbell and Alex Wilson for their assistance in reviewing and preparing the material presented here.  Thanks to Jerry Joplin for adding the index below.


  1. General Questions about the list
    1. What's the purpose of this list?
    2. What does "CHO", "LBM", "BMR", etc. mean? (commonly used abbreviations)
    3. Why is there so much discussion about the CKD on this list?
    4. Why is there so much discussion about Weight Training on this list?
    5. How do I subscribe?
    6. How do I unsubscribe?
    7. Is there a digest version available?
    8. Why did I get "unsubscribed"?
    9. Are there any posting guidelines?
  2. Diet Related Questions
    1. What is the role of insulin in these diets?
    2. What is a "CKD"?
    3. What is a "TKD"
    4. What is "The Ketogenic Diet"?
    5. What is "BodyOpus"?
    6. What is the "Anabolic Diet"?
    7. What is Atkins?
    8. What is "Protein Power"?
    9. What is "The Zone"?
    10. What is the "IsoCaloric" Diet?
    11. What is CAD?
    12. Where can I find out about EFAs?
    13. What is the Glycemic Index?
    14. Should I be doing a CKD?
    15. Is Ketosis necessary to lose weight?
    16. Isn't ketosis a dangerous condition?
    17. How can I tell if I'm in ketosis?
    18. What if my ketostix aren't getting dark?
    19. How long will it take me to get into ketosis?
    20. Can I drink alcohol in ketosis?
    21. How much weight can I expect to lose?
    22. How should I set calories?
    23. How much protein, how much fat?
    24. Help! I've stopped losing fat, what's wrong?
    25. Why Should I be taking my temperature regularly?
    26. What do I do when my temperature starts to drop?
    27. Help! I just started and I feel terrible! What's happening here?
    28. What kind of foods can I eat? What can't I eat?
    29. What about artificial sweeteners?
    30. How much water should I drink?
    31. Where can I get some lowcarb recipes?
    32. Where can I find out how many grams of carbs (protein, fat) is in..(macronutrient breakdowns)?
    33. Where's the fiber in this diet?
    34. Does Fiber count as carbs?
    35. Why do I have to "carb up"?
    36. How do I carb-up?
    37. When do I start the carb-up?
    38. Should I have some carbs before the depletion workout?
    39. How long should I carb-up?
    40. How much should I eat during the carb-up?
    41. Can I carb-up on donuts and other "junkfood"?
    42. How do I calculate my carb-up numbers?
    43. Do I need to eat every two hours, or can I eat fewer large meals?
    44. How should I plan my meals with regard to fat intake?
    45. I've heard I should avoid fructose, is this true?
    46. I gained a lot of weight during my carb up? Should I worry about this?
    47. Where can I get just glucose?
    48. Why should I be using calipers to check my progress?
    49. How do I figure my Bodyfat Percentage?
    50. Where can I get accurate calipers?
    51. What about other methods of measuring Bodyfat Percentage?
  3. Supplements
    1. Do I need to take supplements?
    2. What's the difference between these "natural supplements" and drugs?
    3. What should I take during the no-carb phase?
    4. What should I take during the carb up?
    5. What are thermogenics?
    6. What is ECA?
    7. How does ECA work?
    8. Isn't ECA dangerous? Isn't it against the law?
    9. Where can I get ECA?
    10. What about "Ripped Fuel", "Diet Fuel", etc.?
    11. What are the recommended dosages (ECA)?
    12. Is the Aspirin part necessary?
    13. What is Yohimbe?
    14. What is Yohimbe used for?
    15. How does Yohimbe work?
    16. What are the recommended dosages (Yohimbe)?
    17. Can I combine Yohimbe with ECA?
    18. Is Yohimbe safe? What are the side effects?
    19. What about Yohimbe and MAO inhibitors?
    20. What are "Glucose Disposal Agents"?
    21. Why would I use them [Glucose Disposal Agents]?
    22. What about Vandyl Sulfate?
    23. What about Chromium?
    24. What is ALA?
    25. So, when should I take ALA and in what dosage?
    26. Is it safe [ALA]?
    27. What about HCA (CitriMax)?
    28. What are the recommended dosages (HCA)?
    29. Is HCA safe? Any side effects?
    30. Should I use Carnitine?
    31. What is Creatine Monohydrate?
    32. Can I use CM on this diet?
    33. What about Glutamine?
    34. What about Pyruvate?
    35. What is Whey Protein?
    36. What are MCTs?
    37. What is Flax Oil?
    38. What is Flax Meal?
  4. Exercise
    1. I don't want big muscles like a bodybuilder, shouldn't I use light weights to tone?
    2. What is the best training structure for a CKD?
    3. How many sets per bodypart on the Mon/Tues workouts?
    4. What's a good example workout for the Monday and Tuesday heavy sessions?
    5. How does the Friday high-rep depletion workout look?
    6. When should one use a heavy tension workout on the Friday depletion?
    7. What does Time Under Tension refer to?
    8. What does "intensity" refer to?
    9. What are Intervals?
    10. How do you use Intervals with this diet?
    11. What is HIT?
    12. Can I use HIT principles while on this diet?
    13. How much aerobics?
    14. What is the deal with training to failure on a CKD?
    15. What is GVT?
    16. Can I use GVT on this diet?
    17. High Intensity or Low Intensity aerobics?
  5. Other Resources
    1. What are some other Low Carb resources ( mailing lists, usenet, web pages)?
    2. What are some other Weight Training resources?

1. General Questions about the list

[This Section authored by Homer Culley with assistance from Dave Skinner unless otherwise indicated]

1.1: What's the purpose of this list?

A: From the list owner (Dave Skinner):

" The lowcarb-list is a forum for discussion and support of low carbohydrate diets and/or eating plans that have a goal of hormone control or manipulation. The discussion includes but is not limited to Atkins, Carbohydrate Addicts Diet (CAD), Protein Power, the Zone, Iso Calorie Diet, Anabolic Diet, and BodyOpus diets. Discussions about diets such as Scarsdale or Stillman that are basically low calorie and not just low carb probably should be somewhere else."

"The primary subtopic is how to exercise effectively on these diets when your liver is out of glycogen. However, the use of these diet programs to control epilepsy, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis, and other medical conditions is also on topic. If you have one of these conditions, you should check with your medical professional before acting on any information posted on the list."

1.2: What does "CHO", "LBM", "BMR", etc. mean? (commonly used abbreviations)

A: See below .  Other common abbreviations can be found at:
AD Anabolic Diet by Mauro Di Pasquale
BF Body Fat, generally as part of BF%
BMR Basal Metabolic Rate - i.e. how many calories your body needs to maintain itself without gaining or losing weight while at rest 
BO BodyOpus, a diet and exercise book by Dan Duchaine 
CAD Carbohydrate Addicts Diet, the book by the Hellers 
CHO Carbohydrates (CHO is chemical name, i.e. Carbon, Hydrogen,Oxygen) 
CKD Cyclical Ketogenic Diet 
CNS Central Nervous System 
ECA Ephedrine, Caffeine, Asprin, also referred to as the "Stack" ( see supplement section of the FAQ) 
EFA Essential Fatty Acids 
FWIW For What It's Worth 
GH Growth Hormone 
GI Glycemic Index 
GVT German Volume Training (see exercise section of the FAQ) 
HIT High Intensity Training (see exercise section of the FAQ) 
HIIT High Intensity Interval Training (see exercise section of the FAQ) 
HTH Hope This Helps
HRT Hormone Replacement Therapy 
IAE In Any Event 
IMO In My Opinion
IMHO In My Humble Opinion 
ISO refers to Dan Duchaine's IsoCaloric Diet (discussed in his book BodyOpus) 
KDB Ketogenic Diet Bible - reference to Lyle's book "The Ketogenic Diet", also referred to as "da Book"
LBM Lean Body Mass - Your body weight minus the amount of fat you have 
LC Low Carbohydrate
MAOI Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors. MAO metabolizes serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. By inhibiting this, MAOIs increase levels of those neurotransmitters
NIDDM Non Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus 
OWL Ongoing Weight Loss, often used by Atkins dieters 
PP Protein Power, the book by the Eades
RM In the context of diets, "reward meal" - from CAD - in the context of weight training may refer to "repetition maximum" i.e. "performs sets at 70% of 1RM"
SJW St. John's Wort - an herb with purported anti-depressant properties 
SKD Standard Ketogenic Diet- dietary approach where the goal is uninterrupted ketosis
T Testosterone
TIA Thanks In Advance 
TBM Total Body Mass
TUT Time Under Tension. (see exercise section of the FAQ) Also referred to as TUL (Time Under Load)
VS Vandyl Sulfate (see supplement section of FAQ) 
YMMV Your Mileage May Vary - a general indication that what worked for "me" may not work the same for "you"

1.3: Why is there so much discussion about the CKD on this list?

A: Discussion on the list is determined by the list members by their postings. Most posters have wanted more information on the CKD and variations. This list is one of the few resources for those desiring more information on this. The CKD requires a degree of precision that is not required by some other low carb diets. Discussion is not limited to the CKD, however, and list members should feel free to pose any question relating to low carb diets and exercise.

1.4: Why is there so much discussion about Weight Training on this list?

A:The most effecient way of speeding up your metabolism is by adding Lean Body Mass (LBM). Calorie reduction programs without weight training will generally result in a loss of both fat AND muscle, resulting in a slowed-down metabolism. Weight training tells your body that it *needs* the muscle that is there, in fact, that you could use more. It has been estimated that each pound of muscle requires between 35-40 calories per day to satisfy energy requirements. Adding 10 pounds of muscle will boost caloric requirements by appx. 350 calories, i.e. you can now eat 350 calories/day more and not add fat.

1.5: How do I subscribe?

A: Use your e-mail package to send a message to: In the body (not the subject) of the message type "subscribe lowcarb-l" (that's the letter, not the number "one"). After you send your message you will receive an e-mail back welcoming you to the list, if you've been sucessful. You will also get a return message if you fail.

1.6: How do I unsubscribe?

A: Use your e-mail package to send a message to: In the body (not the subject) of the message type "unsubscribe lowcarb-l". After you send your message you will receive an e-mail back indicating your removal from the mailing list. You will also get a return message if you fail to unsubscribe. If you will not be able to access your e-mail for a period of time (e.g. a week), you should "unsubscribe" yourself to avoid filling your mailbox when you're gone. You can resubscribe when you return and "catch up" by reading the archives. List traffic often queues up for a day or more to some ISPs and because of this you may receive several messages after you've received your "unsubscribe" confirmation from Majordomo.

1.7: Is there a digest version available?

A: Yes. Use the same instructions as for the list for subscribing and unsubscribing and substitute "lowcarb-l" with "lowcarb-l-digest".

1.8: Why did I get "unsubscribed"?

A: The list owner will unsubscribe you if the list is unable to deliver mesages to you, either due to a full mailbox (yours) or an unreliable server (your ISP's or e-mail provider). The list owner needs to be able to deal with undeliverable mail. If this situation was temporary, simply resubscribe. If you find yourself being unsubscribed with regularity, you should investigate using another ISP. Trolls, spammers and abusive posters are all subject to being "unsubscribed". However, this is not a moderated list: you do not need permission to post on any topic.

1.9 Are there any posting guidelines?

A: As noted above, this list deals with exercising and low carb diets, so please post "on topic". Newbies to mailing lists should take a look at: . It makes some good suggestions with regard to "netiquette" for mailing lists, USENET, etc..

2. Diet Related Questions

[This Section authored by Homer Culley and Delfin as indicated]

2.1: What is the role of insulin in these diets?

A: Insulin management is the goal, in one form or another of virtually all of the diets classified as low carb. Insulin is a hormone that the body secretes, based upon metabolic conditions in the body. The ingestion of carbohydrates causes insulin to be released. Protein causes insulin to be released but to a much lesser degree than carbs. Fat has a very small effect on insulin levels. Insulin helps move glucose out of your blood into your body cells. A high circulating level of insulin inhibits the mobilization of fat from fat cells. Many people have poor insulin sensitivity (i.e. insulin does not do the job effeciently in the body that it was intended to do) and controlling their blood sugar (glucose) levels through ingesting less carbohydrates allows them to lose fat and alleviate other problems caused by high blood sugar levels. In ketogenic diets, once ketosis starts, insulin is present in only very small amounts. On a CKD and TKD, insulin levels are deliberately elevated at specific times to take advantage of the anabolic effects of insulin.[HC]

2.2: What is a "CKD"?

A: CKD stands for Cyclical Ketogenic Diet, a generic term for a diet that restricts carbohydrates to induce a metabolic state known as ketosis and includes a period of high carbohydrate eating to replenish glycogen stores depleted by exercise. CKDs were originally designed for competitive bodybuilders. While most low carb diets focus on the control of insulin, the explicit goal of a CKD is insulin and hormonal manipulation. That is, using a period of ketosis to induce fat burning and ingesting a large amount of carbohydrates in a limited time to take advantage of the anabolic properties of insulin, transporting protein and other nutrients along with glucose to muscle cells. The three books describing the CKD are "The Ketogenic Diet","BodyOpus" and "The Anabolic Diet". Most of the FAQ content deals with CKDs, unless noted.[HC]

2.3: What is a "TKD"

A:  Targeted Ketogenic Diet.  It is essentially a ketogenic diet where carbohydrate intake is timed around weight training workouts. The goal is to provide enough short term energy to exercise effectively without disrupting  ketosis.  The amount of carbs to be consumed is determined by the number of sets to be performed.  Lyle McDonald has suggested  5 grams for every two sets to be performed as a guideline. A person planning for 10 sets would consume 25 grams preworkout using these guidelines.   Most TKD followers use abbreviated weight training routines: i.e., HIT /Hardgainer, where only one or two sets of an exercise are performed.  An extensive listing of sample abbreviated routines can be found at: .  Carbohydrates are generally consumed 30 minutes prior to workout. Others have found sucess with carb intake during their workout.  Some TKDers also take in  post-workout carbs, generally with some protein to aid in recovery.  Fat intake should be avoided when taking in whatever source of carbs is chosen.  Experimentation with the amount and timing of carbohydrate consumption will generally be necessary to get the results desired.

Glucose /Glucose polymers are often used as preworkout carbs. "Smarties" (U.S. version only) and "Sweettarts" are popular pre-workout carbs, but anything that is easily digestable and will give the desired amount of carbs is fine. [HC]
2.4: What is "The Ketogenic Diet"?

A:  Refers to the book written by Lyle McDonald, "The Ketogenic Diet - A Complete Guide for the Dieter and Practitioner"
Morris Publishing; ISBN: 0967145600.

(From description of the book at )
"The Ketogenic Diet' is a complete resource for anyone interested in low-carbohydrate diets (such as the Atkins Diet, Protein
Power, Bodyopus or the Anabolic Diet). It looks objectively at the physiology behind such diets, including potential negative effects, and gives specific recommendations on how to optimize such a diet assuming an individual has chosen to do one. Two modified ketogenic diets (which involve the insertion of carbohydrates to sustain exercise performance) are also discussed in detail, along with specific guidelines. Exercise is discussed in great detail, including background physiology, the effects of exercise on fat loss, exercise guidelines and sample workouts. A great deal of basic physiology information, dealing         with both nutrition and exercise topics, is included so that readers without a technical background will be able to understand the topics discussed."

Available at ,  and . [HC]

2.5: What is "BodyOpus"?

A: BodyOpus refers to a CKD described in some detail in a book by Dan Duchaine. It contains his recommendations on the diet, supplement and exercise suggestions and a good amount of detail on the mechanics of the diet and exercise programs. It was the introduction to many of the posters on the list to the CKD. While some of the supplementation and carb up recommendations have been refined since the book's publication, it remains the most detailed book (to date) on the CKD. The book also contains information on "standard" dieting and the IsoCaloric diet. The book is not generally available in bookstores, but and offer it (as of 11/1999). BodyOpus-354 pages Duchaine, D. (1996). Underground Body Opus: Militant Weight Loss and Recomposition. Carson City, NV: XIPE Press. [HC]

2.6: What is the "Anabolic Diet"?

A: Refers to a book and video by Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale on his version of a CKD. This book is not geared toward fat loss, although Di Pasquale does address it briefly. The Anabolic Diet is promoted as a way of manipulating the body's hormones to add muscle. The book does not contain a lot of detailed recommendations on macronutrient breakdown, etc., but the plan he outlines has been used successfully by list members in the past. Not generally available, but the Home Gym Warehouse (800-447-0008) offers it. [HC]

2.7: What is Atkins?

A: Refers to a book by Dr. Atkins - "Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution" by Robert C. Atkins, MD, 1992. Paperback edition published by Avon Books. ISBN 0-380-72729-3.

The most popular book about ketogenic dieting to date. Many are under the impression that it is strictly a "no carb" diet, but that only refers to the two week induction phase that Atkins recommends. Carbohydrates are gradually added back to the diet to determine individual tolerances in the Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL) portion of the diet. Not a lot of attention is paid to caloric restriction or exercise.

2.8: What is "Protein Power"?

A: Refers to a book by the Eades, " Protein Power" by Michael R. Eades, MD and Mary Dan Eades, MD, 1996. Paperback edition published by Bantan Books. ISBN 0-553-57475-2.

This book goes into a good amount of detail into the reasons low carb dieting is effective. Divided into two phases, one for those who need to lose 20 percent of their body weight or more, and the other for those closer to their ideal weight who simply wish to improve their body composition and embark on a healthier lifestyle. It also suggests weight training and how to incorporate it into your schedule. Of the "mainstream" books, this one comes closest to the topics discussed on the list. [HC]

2.9: What is "The Zone"?

A: Refers to a series of books by Barry Sears. Not really a low carb diet in the usual sense, Sears' 40-30-30 ratio still has the majority of calories coming from carbohydrates, but it is much lower than the "food pyramid". There is a ton of information on the "Zone" which I won't duplicate here. A web address for finding out more:
The Zone : A Dietary Road Map to Lose Weight Permanently : Reset Your Genetic Code : Prevent Disease : Achieve Maximum Physical Performance

by Barry Sears, Bill Lawren

Hardcover - 352 pages 1 Ed edition (June 1995)

Harpercollins; ASIN: 0060391502

Mastering the Zone : The Next Step in Achieving Superhealth and Permanent Fat Loss

by Barry Sears, Mary Goodbody

Hardcover - 384 pages (January 1997)

Harpercollins; ASIN: 0060391901


2.10: What is the "IsoCaloric" Diet?

A: Also known as the IsoMetric Diet. This is a diet plan espoused by Dan Duchaine and described in his book "BodyOpus". Basically it suggests splitting caloric requirements equally among protein, carbohydrates and fat. There is an emphasis on low glycemic carbs. [HC]

2.11: What is CAD?

A: Refers to a the Carbohydrate Addicts Diet, a plan developed by the Hellers. The Hellers' books outline their plan for low carb eating in the two books noted below. The plan basically consists of two low carb meals and a "reward" meal each day. The Hellers have a site that includes a FAQ for their program and have a CAD mailing list. For more info, please see:
The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet : The Lifelong Solution to Yo-Yo Dieting

by Rachael F. Heller Dr., Richard F. Heller Dr.

Mass Market Paperback Reprint edition (March 1993)

HarperCollins Publishers; ASIN: 0451173392

The Carbohydrate Addict's Lifespan Program : A Personalized Plan for Becoming Slim, Fit, & Healthy in Your 40S, 50S, 60s & Beyond

by Richard F. Heller, Rachael F. Heller

Richard F. Heller, Rachael F. Heller

Hardcover - 464 pages (January 1997)

HarperCollins Publishers; ASIN: 052594 [HC]

2.12: Where can I find out about EFAs?

A: Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill : The Complete Guide to Fats, Oils, Cholesterol and Human Health

by Udo Erasmus

Paperback Rev., upda edition (December 1993)

Alive Books; ASIN: 0920470386
THE book on fats. Anyone interested in finding out more about fat choices should read this book. [HC]

2.13: What is the Glycemic Index?

A: A rating that compares how fast a given carbohydate enters the blood stream in comparison with glucose. Originally designed to aid diabetics regulate insulin levels. Low GI carbs enter the blood stream more slowly than High GI carbs. The glycemic index of a carbohydrate source is easily lowered by combining it with protein and fat. While low GI carb sources are used to maintain lower insulin levels, high GI carbs are used post workout for an insulin "spike" by some.[HC]

2.14: Should I be doing a CKD?

A: It depends on your goals and your starting point. CKDs were originally designed for competitive bodybuilders who need to have as little body fat and retain as much LBM as possible. While these goals are consistent with that of most low carb dieters, many followers of a CKD start off with a greater relative amount of LBM and are experienced weight trainers. The amount of work they are able to do in their weight training sessions will exceed that of novice trainees. You don't need to be an experienced trainee to benefit from the principles of the CKD, but this should be kept in mind when discussing exercise protocols and details of the diet. A number of people find a CKD difficult to follow and can accrue most of the benefits of the plan from following the exercise recommendations discussed on the list with whatever low carb eating plan they can follow (i.e. CAD, PP, etc).[HC]

2.15: Is Ketosis necessary to lose weight?

A: It's not necessary to lose weight - all you have to do is take in less calories than you expend and you will lose weight. Most people MEAN that when they want to lose weight ,what they really want to do is lose fat. Many diets reduce calories too much and people do lose weight, but a lot of it is muscle along with the fat. This reduces the person's metabolism and fat is regained more easily. Being in ketosis means that your body's primary source of energy is fat (in the form of ketones or free fatty acids). The state of ketosis is believed to be anti-catabolic, minimizing the loss of muscle when dieting. A number of studies that compared several forms of reduced calorie dieting have demonstrated that the least amount of LBM is lost on a ketogenic diet. Also, ketogenic diets tend to accelerate fat loss because when fat is coverted to ketones, it cannot be converted back to fat, and so is excreted.[HC]

2.16: Isn't ketosis a dangerous condition?

A: Ketosis is not dangerous for non -insulin dependent diabetics and people of "normal" health. Epileptic children have been put on ketogenic diets for years as a method of treatment. The Inuit (i.e. Eskimos) have eaten ketogenically for long periods of time. Virtually all of the diets discussed, including the CKD and Atkins do not have the dieter in a constant state of ketosis. The long term effects of ketosis are unknown. [HC]

2.17: How can I tell if I'm in ketosis?

A: The primary method: Ketostix (urine analysis strips) . Ketostix can be obtained at a pharmacy. If your pharmacy has a diabetics supply area, it will be there, otherwise simply ask the pharmicist. Ketostix measure the prescence of ketones in the urine. If the strips get dark, you're in ketosis. Ketosis is also evidenced by particuarly bad or "fruity" breath and foul smelling urine. A metallic taste in the mouth is also commonly noted. Many people notice a different mental state when they're in ketosis. For some, they get "foggy" about things while others are exactly the opposite: they feel more alert. This appears to vary considerably from individual to individual. Ketostix are not a completely reliable indication of ketosis, but it's the best we have. [HC]

2.18: What if my ketostix aren't getting dark?

A: There are varying degrees of ketosis. If the strips aren't changing color at all, you may still be in, just not excreting sufficient ketones to react the sticks. But as long as you are showing at least "trace", you are in ketosis. The correlation of the degree of darkness of the strips to fat loss is unclear, the strips represent the amount of ketones present in the urine (i.e. excreted). If you burned up all your ketones as energy , the strips won't show anything. Darker strips don't necessary indicate greater fat loss. Some individuals find that lesser degrees of ketosis are better for fat loss although this is not universal. [HC]

2.19: How long will it take me to get into ketosis?

A:This varies by individual. Some people will take several days to get into ketosis, others will take less than one day. Generally, the longer someone is on this diet, the less time is required to enter ketosis (metabolic adaptation). Entering ketosis is a matter of getting the liver to dump all of it's glycogen stores. Strategies for speeding the descent into ketosis is often a topic of discussion on the list.[HC]

2.20 Can I drink alcohol in ketosis?

A:  Alcohol consumption will not kick you out of ketosis.  It's effect on the liver results in more ketones being produced.  Don't confuse this with more fat being burned: the opposite is true - the more alcohol you consume, the less bodyfat you will lose.  The alcohol becomes the source of ketone production instead of fat.  Many people become intoxicated much more easily while in ketosis. [HC]

2.21: How much weight can I expect to lose?

A:You'll lose a lot of weight the first week, at least until the carb up. The weight loss is primarily water and glycogen. The removal of carbohydrates from the diet and the reduction of glycogen can results in substantial bodyweight reductions, during the low carb period. The ketogenic diet is diuretic and supplements taken, such as the ECA stack will also add to this effect. This weight loss can range from 3-10 lbs. in most individuals. During a weekend carb up, much of the weight loss will reappear, as the body looks to restore muscle glycogen and water. One to two pounds of FAT lost per week is common on this diet. The scale is not a good indicator of progress on this diet as you may become more efficient at storing muscle glycogen and adding some muscle while losing bodyfat. The scale may indicate no weight loss from week to week. This is why body composition measurements are used instead.[HC]

2.22: How should I set calories?

A: If you know your maintenance calories, start at 10% under maintenance. If you don't, start at 12* your bodyweight. Adjust as necessary, depending on your progress. [HC]

2.23: How much protein, how much fat?

A: Start by calculating your protein requirements: 0.9 grams of protein for every pound of LBM. This number multiplied by four will be your calories from protein. Subtract this from your target calories (10% under maintenance or 12* bodyweight) and the remainder is calories from fat ( divide this by nine to get fat grams). The CKD calculator program [] will do the math for you if you know your BF%. Lyle McDonald advises that if the calculated protein requirement ends being less than 150 gms, 150 gms should be used for the first three weeks of the diet to prevent nitrogen losses. Larger individuals should use the 0.9 gms/ bodyweight guideline as long as it is above 150 gm. [HC]

2.24: Help! I've stopped losing fat, what's wrong?

A: Eliminating these sticking points is often a topic of discussion on the list. The answer usually lies in examining your calorie level and making the necessary adjustments. In most cases, the reason is that the dieter has dropped calories too low and forced their body into "starvation mode". While annoying to dieters, this is a survival mechanism designed for periods of food scarcity. If you overdo the calorie restrictions, your body will react this way and seek to conserve what it has left. Your metabolism will essentially slow down to accommodate the reduced intake. It is estimated that this occurs at approximately 1000 calories below maintenance. That calorie number is a combined number, meaning the amount of calories burned (e.g. from aerobics) and the amount of calories that you eat below maintenance. This is a very common problem. Occasionally, it's because calorie restriction is not enough. Atkins and others only speak to restricting carbohydrates, not calories and seem to depend on the "satisfying" nature of higher fat foods to restrict food input. Count your calories. [HC]

2.25: Why Should I be taking my temperature regularly?

A:Taking your temperature right after you wake up is an objective way to track any changes in your metabolic rate. The timing is important, as it leads to the most consistent temperature readings. You should take your morning temperature just before you start dieting to serve as a baseline for comparison. A reduced body temperature indicates a drop in metabolic rate. Weekly comparisons will tell you if your metabolism starts slowing down too much. [HC]

2.26: What do I do when my temperature starts to drop?

A: The short answer: up your calories to above maintenance for a period of time. Eating more frequently may also aid in this process. You may actually start to lose fat during this period of above maintenance calories as your body's metabolism upregulates to accommodate the new levels of food intake.[HC]

2.27: Help! I just started and I feel terrible! What's happening here?

A: The transition to ketosis can be difficult, as the body is undergoing a metabolic changeover from using primarily glucose as fuel, to using ketones. You may have most of the symptoms of low blood sugar. Once you are in ketosis, energy levels go back up. This transition time lessens the longer one is on the diet. For many people, the removal of carbohydrates from their diet makes them feel much better.[HC]

2.28: What kind of foods can I eat? What can't I eat?

A: Protein and fat. That means lots of meat and no vegetables, grain or fruit. Chicken, steak, bacon, fish, mayonnaise, heavy cream, cream cheese, most hard cheeses and oils. You can't eat anything that includes more than trace amounts of carbohydrates if you want to get to and stay in ketosis. Your best approach is to keep a daily log of everything that you eat and also record the macronutrient amounts (i.e. protein, carbs, fat) using a food counter book (see 2.30). Since you're not getting in a full range of vitamins from food, make sure you at least take a multivitamin supplement and a calcium supplement. HC]

2.29: What about artificial sweeteners?

A: Most should be OK, but be aware that some people have problems with diet sodas that contain citric acid. If you have problems getting into ketosis, try dropping the diet sodas and see it it's a problem for you. Avoid anything containing Sorbitol - it's converted to fructose in the liver and will kick you out of ketosis. [HC]

2.30: How much water should I drink?

A: As much as you can stand. At least 1/2 gallon (2L) daily. A ketogenic diet is diuretic and taking supplements such as ECA, which also have this effect makes it very important that you continually replenish fluid levels. Some feel that taking in a lot of water helps prevent ketone concentration in the blood from becoming too high. This is important, since the body will release insulin if this occurs.[HC]

2.31: Where can I get some lowcarb recipes?

A: This list isn't very big on recipe sharing. The Lowcarb Support List (see 5.1) postings frequently include recipes. Liz Jackson has a site that includes many lowcarb recipes at : Atkins has a low carb cookbook and most of the other popular titles include recipes. Check out cookbooks for diabetics, these often have recipes for very low carbohydrate meals. List member Alex Haas has also authored a book designed for low carb dieters.

Everyday Low Carb Cookery - Alex Haas [HC]

2.32: Where can I find out how many grams of carbs (protein, fat) is in..(macronutrient breakdowns)?

A: The best resource is "The Complete Book of Food Counts" by Corinne T. Netzer, 4th edition 1997.

Paperback edition published by Dell. ISBN 0-440-22110-2. It has information on the protein, carbohydrate, fiber, fat and sodium content on thousands of items, including packaged and "fast foods" [HC]

2.33: Where's the fiber in this diet?

A: There is almost no fiber in most food choices. Some nuts, e.g., walnuts, have a good degree of fiber and are incorporated by some. For others, the carb content of the nuts is enough to prevent them from staying in ketosis and is avoided. Flax meal is also used in the same way by some. If you can incorporate this into your diet, you'll get a good amount of fiber, unsaturated fat and some protein. A non-carbohydrate fiber supplement is often used. Psyllium husks and guar gum are used by some and can be found in many health food stores.[HC]

2.34: Does Fiber count as carbs?

A: The short answer is no. If a food has 10 grams of carbs listed and indicates 8 gms. of fiber, the carb count is really only 2 grams. Again, the tolerance for the carbs associated with the foods that contain fiber is an individual thing.[HC]

2.35: Why do I have to "carb up"?

A: At a certain point, your muscle glycogen will deplete to a level where productive training will not be possible. Eating a largely carbohydrate diet during the "carb-up" phase of the diet replenishes these stores. Carbohydrates ingested during this time go mostly to replenish the depleted glycogen and are not stored (for the most part) as fat. It also lets you eat the foods "forbidden" to you during the week. The CKD is very specific about the amount of carbs you should ingest and the time frame allowed. [HC]

2.36: How do I carb-up?

A: After reading the list for a while, you'll notice that this is often a topic of discussion. Individuals are different, and what works for one person may not work for another. In general, first time CKDers are advised to stick to the basic 7-day plan (outlined below) for at least 2 weeks. Try it, monitor your results, and keep careful records. That way, if it works you know what to keep doing. If it isn't working, then your detailed records will give you the info you need in order for the list members to help you. Careful record keeping can't be stressed enough. Another common mistake people make in the beginning is changing too many variables in their program at once. At the end of the week you won't be able to tell which variable was responsible for your results, good or bad. It's advisable to spend some time reading the archives and really thinking about your plan before starting.[Delfin]

2.37: When do I start the carb-up?

A: Immediately following the depletion workout.[Delfin]

2.38: Should I have some carbs before the depletion workout?

A: The latest recommendation from Lyle is to just have a piece of fruit or two a couple of hours before the depletion workout. Some people skip this altogether, and others start slowly adding carbs up to 5 hours before the depletion workout and still report getting good results.[Delfin]

2.39: How long should I carb-up?

A: The initial recommendation was to carb for 48 hours. Some people still do this, but many have found that carbing for 48 hours causes them to gain back too much of the fat lost during the lowcarb days. A lot of people have had success limiting the carb-up to 24-32 hours.[Delfin]

2.40: How much should I eat during the carb-up?

A: If you've read BodyOpus, you'll recall that Dan Duchaine recommends 16g carbs per kg lbm during the first 24 hours, and 9g/kg lbm the second 24 hours. While this might be appropriate for some people, it will probably be too much for most of us. The revised guidelines for the carb-up are:
CHO/kg lbm
5 g
On the first day, your carb calories should make up 70% of your day's total, with the remaining 30% being divided equally between protein and fat. On the second day carbs should make up 60%. The other 40% should be divided up between protein and fat. Get at least 1g protein per pound lbm, and the rest of your calories can be from fat (as long as your total fat intake during the carb-up doesn't exceed 88g).

There are two basic approaches to carbing: the "technical" way, and the "relaxed" way.

The "technical" way:

You can either do the math below yourself, or go to the CKD number cruncher found at Just punch in your variables and you'll get a table with all the info you need. To use the number cruncher, you need to know your bf% and weight.

The "relaxed" way:

Just eat carbs for 24-48 hours, get about 1g protein per lb., and keep fat intake below 88 grams total.[Delfin]

2.41: Can I carb-up on donuts and other "junkfood"?

A: Some people seem to be able to eat just about anything they want during the carb-up and still get good recomposition with a minimum of spillover into fat cells. It's generally agreed that allowing yourself a small amount of junk food during the first few hours of your carb-up probably won't do any damage or lead to spillover, but some people find that it's better to skip the junk altogether. The general consensus seems to be that if you're going to carb on junkfood, then you should limit the length of the carb-up to 32 hours or less. The carb-up really shouldn't be regarded as a chance to binge on junkfood, but as a chance to refill your muscles with glycogen in order to keep training and not lose too much muscle mass during dieting.[Delfin]

2.42: How do I calculate my carb-up numbers?

If for some reason you can't access the CKD number cruncher <, here's an example of how to figure out the calories and macronutrient ratios for your carb-up. (We'll use a person with 150 lbs. lbm (lean body mass) for our example):
  1. Determine your lbm in kg by dividing lbs. by 2.2
  2. 150 lbs/ 2.2 = 68.1 kg

  3. Multiply this number by 10 to get your total carb intake in grams for the first 24 hours.
  4. 68.1 kg * 10 = 681 g carbs

  5. Multiply this by 4 to get the amount of calories from carbs.
  6. 681 g carbs * 4 = 2727 calories from carbs

    Your carb calories should make up 70% of your day's total, with the remaining 30% being divided equally between protein and fat.

  7. Take the number you got from step 3 and divide it by 0.70 to get the day's total calories.
  8. 2727 / 0.70 = 3896 total calories. Note: this may seem like a lot, especially after dieting at 12-13 * bodyweight, but don't worry; calories should be around double maintenance for the first 24 hours of the carb-up.

  9. Take the number from step 4 and multiply it by 0.15 to get calories from protein and fat
  10. 3896 * 0.15 = 584

  11. Take the number from step 5 and divide it by 4 to get the grams of protein and by 9 to get the grams of fat.
584 / 4 = 146 grams of protein

584 / 9 = 64 grams of fat.

So, during the first 24 hours, our example person needs to take in:
3896 calories total
2727 calories from carbs (681 g)
584 calories from protein (170 g)
584 calories from fat (76 g)
For the second 24 hours the numbers would look like this:
68 kg * 5 = 340 g carbs
340 * 4 = 1360 carb calories
1360 / 0.6 = 2266 total cals
2266 * 0.2 = 443 cals for each protein and fat
443 / 4 = 113 g protein
443 /9 = 50 g fat
If you've been paying attention, you'll notice that following this equation doesn't give our example person enough protein. So if we instead use the following calculations:
68 kg * 5 = 340 g carbs
340 * 4 = 1360 carb calories
1360 / 0.6 = 2266 total cals
2266 * 0.25 = 566 cals from protein / 4 = 141 grams protein
2266 * 0.15 = 339 cals from fat / 9 = 37 grams fat

2.43: Do I need to eat every two hours, or can I eat fewer large meals?

A: Research has shown that glycogen synthesis depends on total carb intake over time rather than meal size or frequency. This makes the matter "how many meals and how often", more a question of personal preference than anything else. If you're supplementing with Alpha Lipoic Acid or HCA during the carb-up, less frequent large meals might be better as this gives your stomach a chance to empty between dosages (these supplements are more effective taken on and empty stomach). The important thing is to make sure you get your 10g carbs per kg lbm during the first 24 hours. Whether you do it in 2 meals or 12 is up to you. [Delfin]

2.44: How should I plan my meals with regard to fat intake?

A: For a detailed meal schedule, see Lyle's original FAQ at and read section 10d. [Delfin]

2.45: I've heard I should avoid fructose, is this true?

A: It's a good idea to keep fructose to 50g or less/ 24 hour period, as that's as much as the body can process. Fructose also has more potential to refill the liver's glycogen supply than other carbs, which could delay re-entry into ketosis after the carb-up. However, some people can eat a lot of fruit and sucrose during the carb-up and still get good results. [Delfin]

2.46: I gained a lot of weight during my carb up? Should I worry about this?

A: It depends. The weight you gain from glycogen storage and water is nothing to worry about. This is the whole purpose of the carb-up. But if you notice an increase in your caliper measurements, then you've probably eaten too much for your metabolism to handle. Examine your carb-up, adjust as necessary, and note your results the following week.[Delfin]

2.47: Where can I get just glucose?

A: Carboforce from Unipro is pure glucose polymers. Many favor maltodextrin, which can be obtained in bulk at many of the "home brewing" specialty stores. The candies called "Smarties" and "Sweettarts" are pure dextrose and are used by many as pre or post workout carb sources. The "Smarties" candies referred to here are sold in the U.S.A. under this name,  "Smarties" sold elsewhere are chocolate coated candies that won't serve the purpose. Ultrafuel from Twinlabs is largely glucose polymers, but has a small amount of crystalline fructose. [HC]

2.48: Why should I be using calipers to check my progress?

A: Bodyweight will fluctuate considerably on this diet, due more to glycogen and water than anything else. Using calipers and certain mathematical formulas will enable you to keep track of the composition of your body, and gauge your progress more accurately. Novices to weight training will actually put on some muscle while losing bodyfat. Calipers will bear this out. The scale might indicate no progress when in fact considerable progress has been made. Weight loss is not important, fat loss is. [HC]

2.49: How do I figure my Bodyfat Percentage?

A: By taking caliper measurements at specific points and plugging the results into a mathematical formula . See Lyle's instructions in the "Lyle McDonald BodyOpus Pages". There are also instructions that will come with the caliper you purchase. If you belong to a gym or health club, they may do this for you. However, just because they offer it (Body composition measurement) doesn't mean that they are expert at taking the caliper measurements, so read the instructions and try to determine if they know what they're doing. Try to get the same person to take the measurements each time if possible. The only way to be assured of consistent readings, however, is to do them yourself. Consistency in taking caliper measurements is very important: take your measurements at the same time of day and the same day of the week for accurate comparisons. While the %BF you have gives an indication of your progress, the most important indication is the caliper measurements themselves: if they're going down, you are losing fat, regardless of what formula you use to calculate your BF%. [HC]

2.50: Where can I get accurate calipers?

A: Unfortunately, most of the calipers that are sold in health food stores and pharmacies are so inaccurate as to be worthless. They depend of the user squeezing the caliper rods to take a measurement. How hard or how little you squeeze can lead to wild fluctuating caliper measurements. Healthcare professionals use Lange calipers, which are fairly expensive. Many list members use Slimguide calipers available from Creative Health Products . These use a tension spring for accurate measurement.[HC]

2.51: What about other methods of measuring Bodyfat Percentage?

A: Most don't have the same degree of accuracy. If you can get hydrostatic weighing done (usually at a college or university), that has been proven to be fairly accurate, but this is expensive and obviously inconvenient. There are a number of devices that use bioelectrical impedance, and these can give wildly ranging results. The only ones that have any degree of demonstrated accuracy are models that cost thousands of dollars and are generally limited to Doctor's offices. The software used to calculate body composition also makes some assumptions about body composition that are not applicable to weight trainers. If your gym uses one of these devices to perform body composition analysis, it's doubtful that they have the level of equipment and experience necessary to provide an accurate analysis. Some will even use the generally high measurements that these devices indicate as a sales point for personal training, etc. Don't believe it. The scales that purport to tell you your BF% are also so inaccurate as to be worthless, even though they now sell an "athletic" model, which has slightly more realistic assumptions regarding body composition for non-sedentary people.[HC]

3. Supplements

[This Section authored by Homer Culley and Delfin as indicated]

3.1: Do I need to take supplements?

A: Other than a multivitamin and perhaps calcium, no. Generally speaking, the food choices on a CKD/low carb have a lot of protein, so a protein supplement won't be needed to meet requirements. A number of list members have found that supplementing with magnesium and potassium is helpful in dealing with fatigue and muscle cramping problems. Many list members use Whey protein, usually in combination with heavy cream and/or flax oil, but this is a matter of personal preference. While not required, many list members take thermogenics e.g. ECA during the no carb period to aid in fat burning . They also find that the stimulation provided by ECA aids them in exercising with low glycogen levels. Glucose Disposal Agents, e.g. ALA are frequently used also. Many of the supplements discussed on the list are detailed in the following section. [HC]

3.2: What's the difference between these "natural supplements" and drugs?

A: There are a very broad group of substances that fall into the "natural supplement" category . It should be noted that the distinction between whether a substance is considered a supplement or a drug is largely a legal and political distinction rather than a chemical/biological one. The DHSEA legislation in the U.S. opened the door to a lot of substances that are classified as drugs in other countries to be sold as nutritional supplements. The fact that these substances may be found in nature is no indication that they are safer and will have less side effects than other substances that are produced in a laboratory. The bottom line is, whether you purchase something at a pharmacy or a health food store, pay attention to dosages, interactions and possible side effects.[HC]

3.3: What should I take during the no-carb phase?

A: If you're not in ketosis yet, you can take the glucose disposal agents if you find this helps. After you've hit ketosis, drop them. The ECA stack and/or other thermogenics are used by many during this period. Ingesting something like HCA is a waste of money during this phase since only trace amounts of carbs are being ingested.  The diuretic effect of ketosis can cause a loss of electrolytes; principally Sodium, Potassium and Magnesium.  Recommended amounts for supplementation are : Sodium 3-5 grams, Potassium 1 gram, and Magnesium 300 mg.  Calcium is routinely used by many at appx. 1200 mg./day, especially for those not ingesting many dairy products.  [HC]

3.4: What should I take during the carb up?

A: ALA and HCA either alone or in combination are used by a number of list members. VS is also used by some. Glucose disposal agents have been shown to aid in glycogen storage (the purpose of the carb up) [HC]

3.5: What are thermogenics?

A: Thermogenics are substances that, when ingested, raise the body's metabolic rate, encouraging the use of bodyfat as fuel. The ECA stack, cayenne, ginger and others are all regarded as thermogenics. The ECA stack is described in some detail below. Cayenne and ginger are not CNS stimulants, but especially with cayenne, you will notice a definite rise in body temperature. There are a number of products on the market that essentially combine the ECA stack with these extra thermogenics. Thermadrene by AST Nutrition is one, "The Stack" by ISP Nutrition is another. [HC]

3.6: What is ECA?

A: ECA is an abbreviation for a combination of Ephedrine, Caffeine and Aspirin. This combination has been shown in study after study to be an effective fat loss aid. Ephedrine is technically a beta-adrenoceptor agonist and CNS stimulant. It's a chemical "cousin" to adrenaline and has similar effects when ingested. [HC]

3.7: How does ECA work?

A: Ephedrine works by stimulating the adrenal gland to release epinephrine. This hormone attaches to cell receptors (both alpha and beta) which play a role in the release of fat stored in the body's cells to provide energy (among other things). Caffeine assists in the thermogenic effect by inhibiting the release of some chemicals that would otherwise act to counter the effects of ephedrine. Aspirin works in a similar fashion to caffeine in inhibiting a feedback mechanism. Beta agonists (like ephedrine) have been shown to have an anti-catabolic effect also. That is, they help spare lean body mass when dieting. It is believed that ephedrine aids in protein sparing and may actually aid in protein synthesis. The bottom line is that this combination has been the subject of numerous studies, both short and long term and has demonstrated that it can be a valuable aid in doing the two things you want to do when dieting: lose fat and retain muscle. [HC]

3.8: Isn't ECA dangerous? Isn't it against the law?

A: Individuals with high blood pressure, any heart problems or any other diagnosed medical condition should definitely get clearance from their doctor before using ECA. Both Ephedrine and Caffeine are Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulants and will cause an increased heart rate. Most people adapt to the effects of ECA over time, i.e. the CNS effects lessen, but the thermogenic effect doesn't. Ephedrine has been linked, in EXTREME dosages, to some deaths, most notably in a form called "Herbal Exstasy" several years ago, where it was used as a recreational drug in the manner of amphetamines. Ephedrine is used as an over-the-counter Asthma medication in the U.S. Legal status varies from country to country. [HC]

3.9: Where can I get ECA?

A: Ephedrine alone is not sold anymore, but is commonly sold along with guafenesin (an expectorant) as part of over the counter asthma medications, e.g. Primatene or Bronkaid tablets. Some big drug chains also sell a generic equivalent. Psuedoephedrine (e.g. Sudafed) is NOT the same thing and won't have the desired effect. Caffeine pills are readily available as "No-Doz"or "Vivarin". Again generic equivalents are generally available. Aspirin, if used, should not be substituted with different pain relievers (i.e. Tylenol). [HC]

3.10: What about "Ripped Fuel", "Diet Fuel", etc.?

A: These products contain the herbal sources from which the components of the ECA stack are derived. The most common source of ephedrine is from Ma Huang, the most common source of caffeine is Guarana and for aspirin the source is White Willow Bark. Any product that contains these three or at least the ephedrine and caffeine components is commonly referred to as ECA. If you go the herbal route, get one that is "standardized". This means the manufacturer offers assurance that the potency of the extracts is consistent, e.g. that the 334 mg. of Ma Huang in "Ripped Fuel" will contain 20 mg. of ephedra (ephedrine). Twinlab products are standardized and some other manufacturers products are also. Check the label. Twinlab also makes a product called "Metabolift" that is an identical formulation to "Ripped Fuel" but less expensive. "Diet Fuel" contains other ingredients, such as Citrimax (HCA) and Green Tea extract. These ingredients add to the cost of the product and, in the case of ketogenic dieting, some are of questionable use during the period of ketosis. [HC]

3.11: What are the recommended dosages (ECA)?

A: 20 mg. Ephedrine (1 tablet), 200 mg. Caffeine, 50-325 mg. Aspirin. It is recommended that ECA dosage not be constant, i.e. only take it 5 days out of 7, or only on training days, to give your adrenal system a break. [HC]

3.12: Is the Aspirin part necessary?

A: The aspirin is supposed to extend the effects of the stimulation caused by the E&C components of the stack. If you have a problem with aspirin, dropping it will not substantially reduce the thermogenic effect of the stack. [HC]

3.13: What is Yohimbe?

A: Corynanthe yohimbe is a tree. We're interested in the active substance, Yohimbine Hydrochloride, which is extracted from the bark. [Delfin]

3.14: What is Yohimbe used for?

A: Yohimbine is used for many different purposes, but its most interesting property for dieters is as an aid to fat loss. Some people find that supplementing with Yohimbe in conjunction with cardio leads to accelerated fat loss. Some women have successfully been able to reduce lower body fat (which is notoriously resistant to diet and exercise) by taking Yohimbe. There are reports of men who have found it useful for getting rid of that last bit of fat around the abdominal area as well. Others have tried Yohimbe and not gotten any results at all. [Delfin]

3.15: How does Yohimbe work?

A: First we need to talk about adrenoreceptors and fat cells. There are two primary types (and several groups) of receptors: beta and alpha. Beta receptors stimulate many processes in the body including fat breakdown and calorie burning, as well as raising heart rate and blood pressure. Stimulating the beta receptors is, for dieting purposes, a good thing. Alpha receptors on the other hand tend to inhibit fat burning and tell the body to store fat instead. Thus, turning off the Alpha receptors is a good thing. Yohimbe works by inhibiting the Alpha receptors, i.e. shutting off the "fat storers". Research shows that stubborn bodyfat (such as the fat in women's hips and thighs) can have up to 9 times more alpha receptors than beta receptors. Inhibiting the alpha receptors should allow for more effective loss of fat from these areas. The problem is poor blood circulation in the fat deposits, which means that you have to do something to increase circulation in that area. Cardio is one way to do this. Taking Yohimbe orally affects the alpha receptors throughout the whole body, not just in the fat deposits where we want it. People have tried to get around this by experimenting with topical creams, or even injecting pure Yohimbine directly into the fat deposits. The jury is still out on the efficacy of topical creams/injections, and injecting oneself is out of the question anyway for safety reasons (infection, introduction of god knows what into the bloodstream, etc.). Generally speaking, some people have found that taking oral doses of Yohimbe in conjunction with cardio is an effective way to reduce fat, especially stubborn fat deposits. [Delfin]

3.16: What are the recommended dosages (Yohimbe)?

A: If you're going to give Yohimbe a try, the first thing you have to do is determine how much of the active substance (Yohimbine HCl) is in your supplement. This information should be on the bottle. Many of the people on the list use Twinlab's Yohimbe Fuel which is standardized at 8 mg Yohimbine per capsule. How much should you take? This is highly individual. The optimal dosage is 0.2 mg Yohimbine per KG body weight. You have to do the calculations and figure out how much this is for you. For example, if you weigh 60 kg, then you need 60*0.2 mg , or 12 mg. This works out to 1 1/2 capsules Yohimbe Fuel. However, it is not advisable to start out with the optimal dosage. Some people have adverse reactions to Yohimbe, experiencing elevated heart rate and blood pressure. It's a VERY good idea to start out with a low dose (4-8 mgs active Yohimbine) and gradually work up. Monitoring heart rate during cardio is recommended. Some people find that although they tolerate Yohimbe, it increases their heart rate for a given cardio intensity. Monitor your heart rate and adjust intensity accordingly. So, when should you take Yohimbe? It should be taken (with caffeine or coffee) in the morning on an empty stomach about 30 minutes before cardio. Taking Yohimbe with food or shortly after a meal will completely negate its fat-burning effects. If you can't do cardio in the morning, just make sure that you wait long enough after your last meal to ensure your stomach is empty before taking the Yohimbe. Otherwise, you're just wasting your money. [Delfin]

3.17: Can I combine Yohimbe with ECA?

A: Once again, this varies with the individual. Some people can combine the two with no problems , some experience severe adverse reactions. The effect of taking ECA with Yohimbe would be Beta receptor stimulation (ECA) + Alpha receptor inhibition (Yohimbe) = greater total fat burning effect. However, heart rate and blood pressure are also controlled by beta and alpha receptors. Stimulating beta receptors (with ECA) + inhibiting alpha receptors (with Yohimbe) can cause large increases in heart rate and blood pressure in some individuals. Caution is definitely advised. Some people are able to take Yohimbe in the AM pre-cardio, and then wait at least 4 hours before they take the ECA stack. Others take ECA and Yohimbe on alternate days. As with most things, YMMV. Proceed with caution and if in ANY doubt, check with your doctor first. [Delfin]

3.18: Is Yohimbe safe? What are the side effects?

A: If you're pregnant you should NOT take Yohimbe. It can also increase the effect of certain medications, and inhibit the effect of others. If you're taking anti-depressants or other mood altering drugs, you should NOT take Yohimbe. In fact, it is not recommended for psychiatric patients in general. Nor is it recommended for cardio-renal patients, or patients with gastric or doudenal ulcer history. If you are or suspect you are hypertensive or it you are on medication for hypotension, Yohimbe is not advised. If in any doubt at all, CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR. General side effects include elevated heart rate and blood pressure, dizziness, sweating, chills, shakiness, increased salivation, and skin flushing. Some have reported headaches in association with Yohimbe usage. [Delfin]

3.19: What about Yohimbe and MAO inhibitors?

A: Yohimbe should be avoided if you're taking MAOIs. [Delfin]

3.20: What are "Glucose Disposal Agents"?

A: Substances that mimic the action of insulin in transporting glucose from the bloodstream to body cells.[HC]

3.21: Why would I use them [Glucose Disposal Agents]?

A: To help speed the descent into ketosis and to improve the efficiency of the carb up. [HC]

3.22: What about Vandyl Sulfate?

A:Vandyl Sulfate is a soluble form of the mineral vanadium. Although in BodyOpus, Dan Duchaine recommends this as a glucose disposal agent, a number of list members found it not terribly effective for hastening the descent into ketosis and prefer ALA.

Others have found it useful.

Vandyl has a role in insulin management and can help control the levels of insulin in the bloodstream. It has been used in the treatment of NIDDM. VS has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and glycogen synthesis. These effects continue for a period of time after supplementation stops. Non-CKDing low carbers, especially ones that have NIDDM should investigate using VS as an aid. Up to 100 mg./day is recommended. VS should be discontinued after a period of appx. four weeks. Like some other minerals, vanadium can accumulate in the body, so a number of weeks should pass (3-4) before you resume VS supplementation . [HC]

3.23: What about Chromium?

A: Chromium is considered an essential nutrient and acts as a cofactor for insulin. It, like VS, has also demonstrated an ability to improve insulin sensitivity. There have been numerous studies showing improved body composition with the ingestion of supplemental chromium. Many of the supplements, like VS, are often combined with chromium in their formulation. Again, like VS, chromium supplementation can aid in those that have NIDDM. unlike VS, chromium can be taken continuously. [HC]

3.24: What is ALA?

A: Alpha-Lipoic Acid (also known as thioctic acid). It's a potent antioxidant, but is relatively expensive when used for this purpose. It is also a powerful glucose disposal agent, which is one of the main reasons why it's interesting for people following a CKD. In basic terms, glucose disposal agents help lower blood sugar, causing the liver to dump glycogen into the bloodstream. Another property of ALA which is of specific interest to those of us on a CKD is that it is believed to help transport glucose into the muscle cells (where we want it) rather than the fat cells (where we don't want it). While the exact mechanism for this is not known and the research has largely been done on rats, there are several people on the list whose real-world experience with ALA supplementation has yielded results that support the above claims. There are people who swear ALA prevents or greatly reduces spillover into fat cells, even with carb-ups of near legendary proportions. They have also reported that ALA helps prevent bloating and excess water retention under the skin. Despite the reports of spectacular results from ALA supplementation, others have tried it and basically come to the conclusion that it doesn't work. YMMV, as usual. [Delfin]

3.25: So, when should I take ALA and in what dosage?

A: For the reasons stated above, people are generally taking ALA in conjunction with the carb-up phase of the CKD. The optimal dosage hasn't been established , but 200-600 mg taken half an hour or so before meals on an empty stomach is one suggestion. ALA is relatively expensive, so more frugal CKDers prefer to use it immediately following the carb-up, taking advantage of its glucose disposal properties to speed entry into ketosis. Taking 100-200 mgs per low-carb day would be enough to benefit from its antioxidant properties. [Delfin]

3.26: Is it safe [ALA]?

A: As far as we know, yes. Dosages of 600 mg daily for 7 months have not been shown to have adverse effects. [Delfin]

3.27: What about HCA (CitriMax)?

A: Hydroxy-Citric Acid (trade name is CitriMax) is used as an appetite suppressant and is also supposed to inhibit the enzyme in the body that converts carbohydrates to fat. Because of these properties HCA is often used during the carb up. This is a supplement that is not generally used during the no carb period of a CKD, since there is almost no CHO intake and HCA is relatively expensive.[HC]

3.28: What are the recommended dosages (HCA)?

A: HCA should be taken 1/2 hour before mealtime, 3X a day. The dosage is between 500-750 mg. per dose.[HC]

3.29: Is HCA safe? Any side effects?

A: HCA is safe at the dosage level suggested above. An unusual side effect of HCA supplementation is that it may cause false ketosis indications ( i.e. it may change the color on the ketostix when your liver still has glycogen). [HC]

3.30: Should I use Carnitine?

A: L-Carnitine is used in the transport of fatty acids across the cell's membrane to enable their use as fuel. On paper it looks like an ideal supplement for a weight loss program, assisting in the process of supplying fatty acids to muscle cells. Studies have been very mixed as to it's effectiveness. A few list members have reported positive experiences with l-carnitine supplementation, quite a few have seen no discernible effect. L-carnitine is relatively expensive and of questionable assistance. [HC]

3.31: What is Creatine Monohydrate?

A: Creatine Monohydrate is one of the most popular sports supplements around, and with good reason. There is a lot of material available on creatine suppplementation which I won't duplicate here except for a brief summary. Weightlifting involves short, intense uses of energy. This energy is supplied in the body from ATP (adenosine tri phosphate). ATP is formed largely by creatine. Using supplemental creatine generally allows weightlifters to work their muscles more intensely by supplying more energy to them.

Most (approximately 80% ) will experience weight gain when ingesting supplemental CM. There is a "cell volumizing" effect that seems to take place when CM is ingested, causing more water to be stored in the muscle cells along with the CM. Adding seven to ten pounds of bodyweight after beginning CM supplementation is not uncommon. This weight gain is largely due to the cellular hydration (i.e. it's mostly water).[HC]

3.32: Can I use CM on this diet?

A: A number of studies have shown that creatine uptake into the muscle cells is enhanced in the presence of insulin. During the no carb phase of a CKD, little insulin is present. While insulin may enhance the transport of creatine, it is not a requirement for creatine supplementation. If you are going to use CM during the week, it is advisable to take it immediately after working out. The ideal time to take CM is during the carb up, when the transport mechanism is optimal. In essence, you do a once a week creatine load.[HC]

3.33: What about Glutamine?

A: Glutamine is considered a conditionally essential amino acid, but has become a relatively "hot" supplement of late for a number of good reasons. It aids in glycogen storage, promotes Growth Hormone release and has substantial immune system benefits. However, glutamine supplementation is not recommended on a CKD: it interferes with entering ketosis. Non ketogenic low carbers may want to consider l-glutamine supplementation, although it's a bit expensive. If you use it, glutamine should be taken in multiple doses, with each dose not exceeding 2 grams. More than 2 grams at any one time may be wasted as amounts ingested above this are largely absorbed by the liver.[HC]

3.34: What about Pyruvate?

A: Pyruvate has been very popular in advertisements as a fat loss aid, but not so popular with ketogenic dieters. Most of the studies involved taking 30 gms/day and were in conjunction with very low calorie diets. One recent study used 5 gms/day and a more reasonable calorie level, but those results have not yet been duplicated. Pyruvate is VERY expensive for an effective dose. [HC]

3.35: What is Whey Protein?

A. Whey is a protein derived from milk, it is extracted during the cheese making process.

Whey has been demonstrated to have considerable immune system benefits. It has the highest percentage of Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) of any type of protein.[HC]

3.36: What are MCTs?

A: Medium Chain Triglycerides area "manufactured" fat derived from coconut oil. They are more readily absorbed than other fats and easily convert to ketones. MCTs are taken in the form of an oil. Some promoters of MCTs (i.e., John Parrillo) have described MCTs as a fat that can act in a similar manner to carbohydrates in providing "quick" fuel to the body due to it's quick absorption. Unlike flax oil, MCTs can be used for cooking. If you decide to incorporate MCTs into your diet plan, start slowly: diarrhea can result from the ingestion of too much MCTs. [HC]

3.37: What is Flax Oil?

A: Flax Oil, also known as Linseed Oil, provides a source of one of the "good fats" that your body needs to function optimally. Flax Oil is an unsaturated fat derived from flax seeds that has the greatest amount of Omega-3 EFAs of any commercially available oil. The two classes of EFAs are Omega-3 and Omega-6. Omega-6 EFAs come from many sources, so there generally isn't a need to supplement with Omega-6 EFAs. Omega-3's are usually found only in fish oils and in flax. Flax is a lot less expensive than the fish oils.

Flax Oil must be refrigerated and can become rancid in 2-3 months even with refrigeration. It also should not be used for cooking. Despite these practical disadvantages, Flax Oil may be the most popular form of supplemental fat among list members.

3.38: What is Flax Meal?

A: Flax Meal is ground up Flax Seed. You can buy it as Flax meal in some health food stores, but the most economical way is to buy Flax Seeds and grind them yourself in a coffee grinder. Flax Oil can be a little pricey and if you can incorporate Flax Meal into your diet, you get the Omega-3 benefits, plus fiber and protein. How do you eat Flax meal? Well you can eat it by itself, but it mixes well into things like tuna salad, chicken salad, etc. Basically all fat, protein and fiber 100 gm has 370 cal from fat and 80 from protein with only trace carbs according to a nutritional analysis by the Flax Council of Canada (Thanks to Darcy Semeniuk for pointing out this site).

4. Exercise

Note - The Exercise portion of the Q&A was authored by Ryan Eamer, except where noted.

4.1: I don't want big muscles like a bodybuilder, shouldn't I use light weights to tone?

A: Tone is an ambiguous term that needs to be removed from an exercisers vocabulary. All it implies is possession of muscle mass and lack of fat mass in a certain area. The theory of using light weights and high repetitions to promote definition is also ridiculous, as we now know spot reduction to be a myth. Lifting weights in and of itself, will not make you big and bulky, it takes years of dedicated training, dieting, and recreational pharmacology (can you say steroids) to get to look like them. What a carefully constructed lifting program *will* do for you however, is (by adding some muscle) make you look shapely as well as raise your metabolic rate.

A: This question is asked most often by women. It's been estimated that no more than 10% of the female population has the hormones (testosterone) necessary to develop significant muscle mass. [HC]

4.2: What is the best training structure for a CKD?

A: The 2 goals of the weight workouts in conjunction with this diet are as follows:
  1. Send a signal to the muscle to 'maintain', and thus avoid catabolism.
  2. Deplete muscle glycogen to a point where maximal fat burning is initiated.
Traditional structure of workouts involves a heavy Monday/Tuesday split of all bodyparts (e.g. upper body Monday, lower body Tues.) in conjunction with a high repetition/low weight full body depletion workout on Friday. This Friday workout is followed immediately by commencement of the carb-up.

Individual differences in recovery rate will dictate any modifications that are made after a trial of this original plan. For instance, some may not have any trouble working their muscles heavy twice a week, and in this case a heavy tension low volume Friday workout is encouraged.

4.3: How many sets per bodypart on the Mon/Tues workouts?

A: Since glycogen depletion is dependent on Time under Tension (TUT), the rep temp is going to determine the answer to this question. If we assume 45 seconds set time, then 6 sets per large bodypart is necessary and 2 for small ( i.e. bi's and tri's because they get worked in pulls and presses respectively).

4.4: What's a good example workout for the Monday and Tuesday heavy sessions?

Mon: Legs and abs
Squats/leg press
Leg curl
Feet high leg press
Seated leg curl
Standing calf raise
Seated calf raise
Reverse crunch

Tue: Upper body
Incline bench press
Cable row
Flat bench press
Pulldown to front
Shoulder press
Barbell curl 
Triceps pushdown


4.5: How does the Friday high-rep depletion workout look?

A: If you choose to do a high rep, depletion workout, simply pick one exercise per bodypart and work the body in a giant loop.

For example:
Legs, chest, back, hamstrings, shoulders, lats, calves, triceps, biceps, abs.

For best recovery between body parts, alternating a leg exercise, a pushing exercise, and a pulling exercise.

Perform 10-20 quick reps per set (1 second up/1 second down). Take 1' between exercises, and 5' between circuits. The sets should not be taken to failure; the goal is simply to deplete muscle glycogen. Many trainees complain of nausea during this workout, which is generally related to not resting long enough between sets. The depletion workout isn't supposed to be hard, just long.

Since the intensity is lower (roughly 50-60% of maximum) glycogen depletion per set will also be lower. Additionally, 20 reps will only require about 20-40 seconds to complete. Assuming glycogen had started at 70 mmol/kg, it will likely take 4-5 circuits to fully deplete glycogen.

4.6: When should one use a heavy tension workout on the Friday depletion?

A: The traditional high repetition circuit style depletion was originally implemented for pre-contest bodybuilders with the theory of supercompensation and cellular hydration in mind. In order to have the muscles appear full and shapely, they would need minimal trauma and damage to come from the workout.

But considering that many will be using this diet are doing so recreationally, the afore-mentioned considerations may be moot. In this case one may be better off utilizing a lower rep, heavy tension style workout (possibly HIT) and letting all the nutrients/carbs/calories from the carb-up go to repair and possibly growth. The question still remains, however, as to whether individual recovery rates will allow one to work each muscle group heavily, twice a week. The best method of resolving this is, as always, trial and error. Experimentation is key.

4.7: What does Time Under Tension refer to?

A: Time Under Tension is related to the tempo of each repetition or the "rep time". It is a variable of weightlifting just like intensity, weight, rep range etc.. For example, if you are performing barbell press and you take two seconds to raise the weight, pause at the top for a second and take a further three seconds to lower it, then the time under tension for that particular rep was 5 seconds. In the CKD time under tension is essentially important as it is the dictator of glycogen depletion.

4.8: What does "intensity" refer to?

A: Intensity is basically how hard you are working in a given set. The best way of defining intensity level is by expressing it as a percentage of an individual's one rep max (that is, the most the person can lift for one repetition only). So we see that intensity is also related to the load on the bar. The heavier the load, the closer to the person's 1RM, and subsequently, the higher the intensity. Volume is inversely related to intensity, in other words, as volume goes up intensity must go down.

A: Intensity in regards to aerobic training means the relative percentage of your maximum heart rate (Beats Per Minute) that you train at. Your maximum heart rate is calculated by subtracting your age from 220. Therefore a 40 year old trainee would have an estimated maximum heart rate of 180. Low intensity refers to training at appx. 60% of this number, or in the above example about 110 BPM, high intensity would be at 85% or about 155 BPM. The big issue is the combination of intensity and duration. That why HIIT (intervals) is used by many as an alternative to the "low, slow" aerobics. You can either do one or the other (high intensity, short duration or low intensity long duration). You will burn more calories ( and fat) using intervals, but incorporating them into a weight training program on low carb is problematic for some because of recovery factors. [HC]

4.9: What are Intervals?

A: Interval training is an advanced training technique that can be used to improve fitness level and increase fat loss. Generally defined, interval training refers to any activity which alternates periods of high intensity activity (i.e. sprinting) with periods of lower intensity (i.e. walking or slow jogging). Some options for interval time periods are 30 seconds sprint/1 minute rest... or 45 seconds sprint/1 minute rest. Usually these will be carried out for a total of 10 intervals.

4.10: How do you use Intervals with this diet?

A: You simply replace any low intensity cardio activity with the sprint intervals outlined above. You have to remember that the differing intensity levels of these two forms of training mean that total time can not be used to quantify effort. In other words, 12 minutes of intervals can quite easily result in the same caloric expenditure as 30 minutes of low intensity cardio. The major benefits from intervals don't come while performing the activity itself, but rather after the session, in what's called POST EXERCISE OXYGEN CONSUMPTION (or EPOC). This is when the major calorie burning from intervals kicks in.

4.11: What is HIT?

A: HIT stands for High Intensity Training. It was adopted originally by Arthur Jones and has now recently been popularized by Mike Mentzer. It exists around the notion that most natural bodybuilders are over-trained on just about any moderate volume schedule, due to the fact that the time the body needs for recovery is more than one would predict. It is essentially a high intensity, low volume protocol that stressing working to positive failure on every set performed, and then resting plenty before training the same muscle group again.

A: More information on HIT can be obtained by reviewing the information at CyberPump. See: [HC]

4.12: Can I use HIT principles while on this diet?

A: Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, muscle glycogen is one of the most critical factors on this diet, ultimately determining its success or failure. HIT training volume simply won't deplete enough glycogen to get to optimal fat burning levels, not to mention inviting fat spillover during carbup. If one is really dedicated to HIT for all training purposes, then they may be able to get away with it by introducing some high rep/low weight sets at the end of the session to deplete glycogen. These should be performed similar to the Friday high rep sets.

A: HIT advocates may find the TKD a better approach for them.  Since muscle glycogen is not replenished with a carb up, there isn't the need for a higher volume of training to deplete it. [HC]

4.13: How much aerobics?

A: The consensus on aerobic exercise is that basically it serves as one possible method of creating a calorie deficit. If the individual decides to create this deficit by restricting calories, or by adding aerobics, or a more moderate combination of both, the difference in fat burning will be negligible. Calorie intake versus calorie expenditure does seem to be the bottom line.

A: The question of how much aerobics and their necessity is a topic of ongoing discussion on the list. It seems to be a matter of individual response and preference. Some feel optimal fat loss, particularly to very low, i.e. competition levels, requires some degree of aerobics. Cardiovascular conditioning is a concern of some, but it should be noted that low intensity aerobics do very little to improve this conditioning. [HC]

4.14: What is the deal with training to failure on a CKD?

A: Failure, like almost any training variable, can be manipulated favorably in a CKD. On the heavy workouts you can train to momentary positive failure. Besides adding Time Under Tension, it also provides a good way to gauge strength changes. Exercise caution here though as overtraining is more of a possibility than normal, considering the constant hypocaloric situation during the week.

4.15: What is GVT?

A: German Volume Training. It is a low intensity/high volume protocol that adopts 10 sets of 10 reps in all lifts, but stresses compound movements with barely any isolation. You usually pick a weight around 50-60% of your 1RM and proceed to perform 10 sets of 10.

A: Charles Poliquin, who popularized GVT in recent years has an article on it at: [HC]

4.16: Can I use GVT on this diet?

A: Perhaps not optimally, but effectively yes. The benefit GVT has going for it with regard to this diet is in glycogen depletion due to such a long set length (again, time under tension). A problem will arise however, if you don't up your kcals to match the volume of work and the extra load placed on the body by such a demanding paradigm. As long as calories are modified accordingly, and you arrange a structure that allows for plenty of rest for each muscle group, then by all means try GVT in conjunction with CKD.

4.17: High Intensity or Low Intensity aerobics?

A: If you decide to not to use intervals as your calorie burning exercise of choice, then LOW intensity, moderate duration is the way to go. Performing high intensity cardio for anything more than a short duration (especially around the lactate threshold), will result in more muscle breakdown that it will be worth in energy expenditure. 30-40 minutes, 3 times a week is a good point to start and adjust from.

5. Other Resources

5.1: What are some other Low Carb resources ( mailing lists, usenet, web pages)?

A web page that describes low carb mailing lists and provides an easy way to subscribe is:

There are other FAQs relating to lowcarb. Newbies to lowcarb should look here:

The official FAQ for the Usenet group Alt.Support.Diet.Low-carb is here:

Another FAQ for lowcarb is found here:

The list has had a number of discussion about Paleolithic Diets.  More info is available here:

5.2: What are some other Weight Training resources?

The Misc.Fitness.Weights usenet newsgroup has a useful FAQ at:

CyberPump! has a site that has a lot of information on weight training with an emphasis on HIT. It also has a "NutriMuscle" colum by Lyle McDonald. It can be found at:

Krista Scott-Dixon has a site aimed at novice female weight trainers:

Lyle McDonald and Elzi Volk have regular columns at  This is a subscription-based web magazine. 

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