Monthly Archives: September 2014

Does PHD Immediately Normalize the Bodyweight Set Point?

The results from the Perfect Health Retreats continue to surprise me.

Retreat attendees come for all sorts of reasons. In terms of weight, they have so far had a fairly similar profile to the general middle-aged population, with almost half being obese and another quarter overweight. That’s enough obese and overweight participants to give us insight into the effects of our advice for weight loss.

Weight Loss Experience at the Perfect Health Retreat

When I was preparing my Ancestral Health Symposium talk on weight loss, I noticed a remarkable pattern that I didn’t have time to discuss in my talk. The pattern was that the amount of weight loss during retreats was proportional to the excess weight of the participants.

Here are some charts, with the amount of weight loss during the retreat plotted against BMI. From our 2013 retreats, which lasted 30 days, I’ve plotted just the obese participants:

01 Weight Change During 2013 PH Retreats

And from our May 2014 retreat, which lasted two weeks, I’ve plotted the obese and overweight participants:

02 Weight Change During 2014 May PH Retreat

You can see that the amount of weight lost in this short period is roughly proportional to starting BMI. It tracks remarkably closely to a straight line. I’ve put the equations for the lines underneath each figure.

If weight loss follows these straight lines, then you can easily envision what would happen to someone with a high starting BMI, say 50, who lived at the retreat permanently. He would lose weight rapidly at first. As his weight (and BMI) declined, his rate of weight loss would slow, tracking the line. As he approached a destination BMI in the 20-29 range, his rate of weight loss would approach zero. His weight would stabilize at this destination BMI.

(Parenthetically, let me comment on a few features of the charted data. First, it doesn’t surprise me that the destination BMI in the 2013 retreats was higher than that in the 2014 retreats; our program was still under development in 2013, the retreats are much more optimized now; for example, the 2013 retreats were held in a rather dimly lit facility with few windows, yet we know that circadian rhythm entrainment is huge for weight loss. Second, it doesn’t surprise me that the 2014 data is noisier than the 2013 data; the shorter retreat means that other factors, such as jet lag from traveling to the retreat, influence outcomes more significantly; also, in May 2014 we didn’t weigh anyone at the retreat so weights were self-reported from home by guests, making the weights not as reflective of the retreat environment and the time between weighings somewhat variable. Third, it doesn’t surprise me that the rate of weight loss at the 2014 retreat was slower than at the 2013 retreat; 2014 retreat participants were explicitly encouraged not to restrict calories, and wine, snacks, and desserts were served daily, whereas in 2013 the proprietor encouraged some calorie restriction and did not serve alcohol.)

The destination BMIs – the weights at which the fitted lines indicate weight loss would stop – are remarkably close to normal weight.

Implications for a Body Weight “Set Point”

Obesity researchers have found the concept of a body weight “set point” to be useful in explaining obesity. However, they generally find that the “set point” is well above normal weight, even after weight loss interventions.

Our Perfect Health Retreat weight loss experiences are consistent with the existence of a set point. However, Retreat experiences are best understood as telling us that:

  1. The body has a desired weight – a set point – that weight inexorably migrates toward.
  2. The pressure or force driving weight change, as indicated by the rate of weight change, is proportional to the deviation of actual weight from the set point. A larger deviation from the set point creates a greater pressure for weight change and a more rapid migration toward the set point. As the set point is approached, the rate of weight change slows down.
  3. In the context of our retreats, in which people follow the Perfect Health diet and lifestyle, the set point is reset to a normal weight within a few days of their arrival at the retreat.

If PHD does indeed reset the set point to normal in a few days, it is consistent with the theme of my Ancestral Health Symposium talk: it is diet and lifestyle that determine weight; fix those and your weight will inexorably normalize.

But this conclusion is radically contrary to the beliefs of academic obesity researchers. The general view is that changing the set point is extremely difficult, in part because the determinants of the set point extend back in time many decades:

Your heredity and your environment-starting back at the moment of your conception-determine your set point. Over the long term, excess food and insufficient exercise will override your body’s natural tendency to stay at its set point and lead to a higher, less healthy set point.

This implies that normalizing the set point will also require years or decades, because that is how long it takes for the influence of past set-point-raising factors to expire.

The Center for the Study of Nutrition Medicine, led by the distinguished obesity researcher George Blackburn, advises that one can’t sustainably lose more than 10% of body weight in six months:

Scientific evidence supports losing no more than 10% of your body weight at a time. It turns out that the body’s set point and its many regulatory hormones dictate the effectiveness of the 10% loss. That’s the amount of weight you can lose before your body starts to fight back. Many clinical studies have confirmed this phenomenon. Of course, some people can lose more than 10% at a time, but precious few can then maintain that loss.

After you maintain your new, lower weight for 6 months, you can repeat the cycle and reset your set point again by losing another 10%.

Is Dr. Blackburn’s conclusion, confirmed by “many clinical studies,” valid for PHDers? To test that, we need a longer time series.

The largest weight losses at the Perfect Health Retreat have been about 10% of body weight in 30 days. If Dr. Blackburn is right, then after people on PHD lose 10% of the body weight – i.e., after one or two months on PHD – then we should see weight loss stall or enter a yo-yo pattern for the remainder of six months, until the set point adjusts lower and weight loss can resume.

Alternatively, if PHD immediately and permanently resets the set point to a normal weight, the rate of weight loss in PHDers should track a straight line just like in the retreat data. We should see continuous weight loss with no stalls – although there will be a steady slowing of weight loss as a normal weight is approached. In the long run, weight is normalized permanently, and there is no weight regain as long as the person remains on PHD.

Which is it?

The long-term pattern of weight loss on PHD

Fortunately we have a few cases in which PHD readers have faithfully followed our advice, tracked their weight closely, and shared the data with us.

Before I discuss their weight loss experiences, let me describe the weight loss path we would expect to see if the pattern observed at the retreats holds up. The weight loss pattern observed at the retreats is described in a simple equation:

06 weight loss formula 1
Here w is body weight, sp is set point, τ is a characteristic time for weight loss, and Δw is the change in weight achieved in a retreat of length Δt.

Those of you who took calculus will recognize that as a differential equation which we can integrate. It leads to the following formula for weight as a function of time:

07 weight loss formula 2
Here e is a mathematical constant that is about 2.718. This is the formula for what is called an “exponential decay.” Weight starts at w(0), the weight at time zero, and it decays steadily toward the target weight, sp. The characteristic time, τ, is the time needed to progress 63.2% of the way toward sp.

So if PHD is really re-setting the set point to a normal weight within a few days, after which the set point doesn’t change — it just stays at the same weight, normal — then we should see weight loss follow this exponential decay.

OK, now let me get to cases.

The case of Jay Wright

Previously on this site we discussed Jay Wright’s weight loss journey. Here is his weight in blue, and I’ve fitted an exponential decay to it in red:

05 Jay Wright Weight History after starting PHD

It’s a pretty good fit with a set point of 151 pounds and a characteristic time of 146 days.

Jay’s weight loss took place in 2011. In several years since then, his weight has remained stable around 170 pounds. I believe Jay’s height is 5’10”, so his BMI at 170 pounds is 24.4 and his BMI at the fitted target weight of 151 pounds would have been 21.7.

As you can see by reading Jay’s story, during his period of weight loss he was intentionally restricting calories to 1200 calories per day; but when he got to his goal weight of 170-175 pounds he stopped restricting calories and ate to appetite. I’ll speculate that intentional calorie restriction may lower the set point by a few BMI points, say from 24.4 to 21.7, so that Jay’s “set point” during his weight loss period was 151 pounds but it reverted to 170 pounds once he began eating ad libitum.

The case of Isaac Knoflicek

Our second case was posted by Isaac Knoflicek on the PHD Facebook group a few weeks ago. Here was his weight loss chart. He described it this way:

~110 lost, first chunk was bike commuting, then after about a year of that I started PHD and the weight came off like crazy.

Isaac gave me his weight loss data. Here is what happened after he began PHD:

04 Isaac Knoflicek Weight Loss History after starting PHD

As you can see, it’s a great fit to an exponential decay – an even better fit than in Jay’s case.

Isaac is 6’3” (190.5 cm) tall, so the target weight of 191 pounds is a BMI of 23.9 – absolutely normal.

Although Isaac’s data ended in early 2013, he wrote, “I’ve spent the last year and a half making smaller tweaks but generally staying around the same weight.” That’s consistent with him having gotten close to his target weight; and with his set point having been permanently reset to a normal weight, so that there is no biological pressure for weight regain.

Here are Isaac’s before and after photos:
08 IsaacKnoflicek before09 Isaac Knoflicek after


Every obese person who has come to our retreats has lost weight (save one whose weight was unchanged), and in most cases weight loss tracked closely to the same pattern for all participants: a linear relationship between weight loss rate and starting BMI. The line reaches a zero weight loss rate near a normal BMI.

The implication is that for nearly all retreat participants, PHD actually fixes all the factors of overweight or obesity and leads to a normalization of the body weight set point. Although our experience at the retreats is still limited, the statistics are good enough to infer that PHD should work for most, if not all, non-diabetic obese people.

Another implication is that it’s possible to normalize set point in just a few days. If set point wasn’t normalized in a few days, weight loss rates over a 14-day retreat could not track a straight line.

Very likely, the reason the set point has appeared persistently high to academic researchers is that the weight loss approaches they have studied don’t actually address most factors in obesity. My Ancestral Health Symposium talk explains that weight is set by a multifactorial process and if multiple obesogenic factors are left uncorrected, the set point will remain elevated.

A third implication is that there is a characteristic physiological time for weight loss, and it may not be possible to accelerate weight loss much. The fastest rate of weight loss we observe is about 4 months to move 63% of the way toward normal weight from current weight. Based on rates of weight loss at the retreats, 6 to 8 months is more typical.

Fourth, it’s not obvious that calorie restriction is either necessary or desirable for long-term weight loss. If all calorie restriction does is temporarily lower the set point by a few BMI points, without affecting the characteristic time for weight loss τ, then calorie restriction may have little effect on either the ultimate weight or on how long it takes to reach it. Calorie restriction may be an energy-sapping, misery-inducing tactic that succeeds only in reducing weight slightly for a few months, with no long-term benefit. And it may have health risks.

Finally, the “last ten pounds problem” has produced a lot of angst. People often lose weight successfully to a weight about 10 pounds above their personal target, then find it extremely difficult to lose the last 10 pounds. We can now see why the last ten pounds can be so hard to lose. First, any minor defect in diet or lifestyle may raise the set point slightly. Second, weight generally rises with age, and people may use their younger weights as targets; so they may be underestimating their body’s physiological weight target. But mainly, it may just be that weight loss becomes very slow once you are within ten pounds of the set point. At 10 pounds above the set point, it takes 6 months to lose 6 pounds, even if you do everything perfectly. That’s only 1 pound per month. From 4 pounds above the set point, it takes 6 months to lose another 2.4 pounds – only 0.4 pounds per month. Then the pace of weight loss slows further. Once the rate of weight change slows to 0.1 pounds per week or less, it will appear to have gone to zero.


To convince skeptics, we will need more data. But I’m going to jump directly to these conclusions:

  • For most people, PHD (including both diet and lifestyle practices) will cure obesity – in the sense of normalizing body weight set point – in a few days.
  • Although the set point is normalized almost immediately, weight loss takes time. Even if you do everything perfectly, it takes about 6 months to shed 63% of excess weight, a year to lose 86%, 18 months to lose 95%, and 2 years to lose 98%. The last few pounds take a long time to go away.

Curious if I’m right? If you are overweight and would like to test this personally, come to our retreats and help us generate more data.


Reader Reports

It’s been a while since we’ve shared reader feedback – too long!

In the last few months, readers have reported good results against: obesity; underweight; joint pain; anxiety and panic attacks; autoimmune thyroid conditions; infertility; back, neck, and stomach pain; insomnia; hunger; menstrual cramps and pain; fatigue; bipolar disorder; scoliosis and back pain; prediabetes; eczema; skin quality; multiple sclerosis; irritable bowel syndrome; heart palpitations; leg cramps; low energy; low libido; flat mood; gingivitis; type 2 diabetes; ringworm; seborrheic dermatitis; back pain again; thyroid, adrenal, and gut issues; autism; arthritis pain; and headaches.

Thank you to everyone who shares results! If, by chance, you want to cure some of these conditions yourself, the quickest way forward is to attend our Perfect Health Retreat.

From Amazon reviews

Taylor wrote:

This book is great. I’ve been on the diet for about two months and have already lost ten pounds, and I feel a lot healthier.

Charlie wrote:

Lost already 12 pound in 6 weeks. Simple advice with big impact.

Healthy pursuit wrote:

I have been waiting for this book all my life. I have tried every diet with no success. I knew there had to be a diet that was nourishing but also did not create constant cravings. I have been on this diet for just a few days, but already feel much better and have less cravings. I will be recommending this book to all my family and friends.

Mary Joy Fant wrote:

Both of my grandmothers lived to be in their hundreds. They both cooked their own meals and ate lots of potatoes and onions. Neither had ever been hospitalized. Both died from complications from broken hips. I have been low carb for a couple of years but after the first 40 #s I am just stuck. Can’t lose more weight and still need to release about 50 more to be at a health weight. After I got the book I started immediately with adding potatoes and rice and lost 2 # this week. I liked that I had the bare bones of the book with diet info at the very beginning. Took me a week to finish the book. Now I feel like I too will be able to be a spry healthy person in my later years. I am a 57 year old female and looking forward to life with a healthy and strong body. Thanks for such an informative book and for the hope it gives us all.

Mallory Osugi wrote:

It’s been said before…but it really is the sanest book on health. No exaggeration or gimmicky ideas, just very sound and practical information that completely makes sense. I am rereading for the fourth or fifth time and still having dozens of epiphanies. This is one book I am buying for as many loved ones as I can convince to accept it. I started on zero-carb, lean-meat-and-veg Paleo, and became painfully thin and developed some health problems, and now I have gained weight, but in a good way–I get some compliments on looking toned or, once, to my surprise and delight, like a runner (though I exercise little). And I have fixed several other problems. I am just dying to give this to everyone

D&S wrote:

In short, this book has changed my life. Since adopting the PHD shortly before Thanksgiving, I have lost 25 pounds. I have not “dieted” at all. I just simply removed the foods the book suggested and ate more of the foods recommended. I have also practiced the intermittent fasting suggested in the book.

I feel unbelievably better. I have 10 times the energy and the pain in my joints is gone. Consequently, I have been exercising more regularly. The pounds are just melting off. I have not been at my current weight since I was in High School over 25 years ago. I can’t wait to go to my physical and see my blood work. In addition, it is now fun to sit by the pool in my bathing suit and wear my entire new wardrobe.

From the PHD Facebook group

Go to the PHD Facebook group page and click “Join Group” to join:

Leo wrote:

my bad anxiety and panic attacks came from following Atkins … this was my first attemp at dieting, thankfully my second attempt 3 years later was with phd, lost 4 pounds/month for 8 months

Angela wrote:

I have been a type 1 diabetic for almost 30 yrs-low carb was life changing for me for a good number of yrs. I was 30 grams or below each day without cheating (ever) for a few yrs with really great results. I truly thought I found the magic fix! after I developed an autoimmune thyroid problem things went south and no matter what I felt bad-very low carb can cause issues with converting t4 into t3….I explored adding the PHD safe starches back in with good results. for me, carb balance is a must. if I am too low carb for a wk or so I can tell. As soon as I up the starches I get some relief.

From Anonymous:

So here’s a story for you. Friend just gave birth. Baby and mom are great. Mom is 36. First two babies were at age 21 and 24. Then despite best efforts, no babies came–and mom was so, so sad. At 32, she decided the age span was too large and she didn’t want to keep trying. They started using birth control.

A year ago March, mom was diagnosed with Crohn’s and she could only tolerate those awful elemental diets. Slowly, she added joint stock (pressure cooked) with feet, joints. Then little bits of egg yolk and liver in the stock. Then meat. Then bits of blended veggies. Eventually, she was eating essentially a Sarah Atshan version of PHD (lots of soup!)

Around the same time, they stopped using birth control thinking that it was pointless anyway because, after all, they’d tried for 9 years to no avail.

Then, after 5 or so months on PHD/AIP/traditional foods, at age 36, she was pregnant! **After 9 years of trying**

Uneventful pregnancy.… Amazing n=1 for treating infertility that was, in this case, likely both male- and female-factor.

Kathy James wrote:

I also switched from VLC. I’m about 5 weeks in, and I already consider this a success.

When I switched to PHD, I had just gained over 20 lbs on low carb Paleo, with thyroid symptoms (terrible!!). I continued to gain after starting thyroid meds. Then after switching meds, and starting the PHD, I gained another 8 lbs. However, in spite of the gaining, I feel DRAMATICALLY better. More clear headed, more energy. I’ve included resistant starch and my gut is doing so much better!!!

I believe I may have just lost a couple lbs. I’m trying to not get on the scale, and focus on healing and taking care of myself. Trust me, would LOVE to lose these 28 lbs!! However, I want to be healthy, and this is getting me there, I believe it.

I like the saying “you don’t lose weight to get healthy, you get healthy to lose weight”.

Pola wrote:

Hi everyone, thanks for adding me. My story, if anyone is interested: I had been on the paleo diet for over 4 years, getting more and more low carb until I went ketogenic for over 1 year, eating just fat and meat, zero or close to zero carbs and I was getting more and more more fatigued. I started experiencing increased stiffness in my body, especially my neck. I seemed to be always in a sort of spasm around my shoulders. I was feeling constantly nauseous and I had recurring sharp pain in my stomach area. A visit to the doctor could not explain what it was. I started experiencing something I never had before: a burning sensation in my mouth, an insatiable thirst. I could drink as much water as I wanted, it was to no avail. It was literally as if my mouth was on fire. I also started having the sensation of head pressure and head pulling that felt like there were strings attached to my brain and somebody was pulling down on them. For the first time in my life I started developing insomnia problems. I would sleep only 5 or 6 hours, sometimes wake up in the middle of the night. Then there was phlegm in my throat. Years ago it used to be extreme and it improved dramatically since i stopped eating grains but then came back on the low carb and ketogenic diet. I kept on spitting out clear phlegm. Most curious of all: I gained weight! That was truly baffling to me. I was literally not eating any carbs. It was just meat and fat. Organic 100% grass-fed burgers with 20% fat content and slabs of organic grass-fed butter on it – and I was gaining weight. Or I would drench everything in coconut oil. When I mean no carbs, I mean not only no potatoes, rice etc, but also no starchy veggies like carrots, beets, winter squash, not even salads. I would eat a salad maybe once every 3 or 4 months. so then somehow by accident I came across mark sisson’s article on about candida and him mentioning Paul’s theory that candida feeds more readily on ketones than on carbs and I decided to put it to the test. Given that sweet potatoes were part of the paleo diet I thought that that allowed me to safely test the claim without me having to break my paleo/keto diet strain and still remain at least a “pure paleo dieter”.

By the time I had returned from the grocery stores on the day of the test I hadn’t eaten for a good 3 hours and with a now sober eye I noticed that the head pressure had increased and the stiffness in my neck and body was escalating as well. I cooked and ate the sweet potatoes I had just bought and the relief I felt was nearly instant. Within 20 or 30 minutes the head pressure which had been unrelenting for good 1 year, just dissolved. Fatigue improved markedly as well as the body and joint stiffness.

The painful insatiable thirst that not even a gallon of water a day was able to quench? The sweet potatoes took care of that. The constant nausea? I wasn’t even done eating before I noticed an immediate relief.

I had taken a theory, tested it and verified it. Within 3 or 4 days I had lost the extra weight I had accumulated around my waste on the ketogenic diet. I stopped spitting out clear phlegm. My energy was better and the body stiffness stayed better as well. The heart palpitations which hadn’t allowed me to sleep, stopped. I haven’t experienced them since.

I was sold.

That was around 9 months ago. Since then I kept proving Paul’s theory correct every day, several times a day. I’ve learned to tune into my body and know now when my body goes into ketosis and when it’s time to eat some carbs to not allow things to escalate. And it works every time.

Paul, feel free to add this to your testimonials on your website if you want.

Anyways, thank you so much for helping me out of my ketogenic diet delusion.

Thanks, Paul!

From email

J wrote:

Just to let you know I have been on phd for about 7 months, my body is in amazing shape feeling awesome.

Kathy wrote:

Just a few days on the diet and I can’t believe how much better I am sleeping and how little hunger I have.

K wrote:

My menstruation cramps have completely diminished and that has never happened before. I almost get it always the first day menses and it usually keeps me doubled over in pain for at least 10-15 minutes and for the rest of the day it would just be a gnawing pain at my side. So the fact that I barely have fatigue (except from my finals) and that I feel no painful cramps anymore has completely blown my mind. I have always had pain and it always incapacitated me for the week. I am so fascinated by this fact.

G wrote:

I have Bipolar type II. It’s been a month and a half [since I started PHD] and I am not looking back. Eating along the lines of the PHD is definitely having a positive effect on my moods – significantly reduced diurnal mood variation, less depressed mood and much better sleep.

KM wrote:

I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing one of the best books ever written.  Your research is so thorough and your conclusions are so enlightening.  Your work has greatly improved my life and my health and for that I will be forever grateful.

When I was 16 years old, I was diagnosed with scoliosis which caused me pain and hardship.  Every doctor I went to said basically the same thing, “It’s not so much the degree of curvature that is plaguing you, it’s the inflammation.”  In 30 years of seeking treatment, not one doctor ever asked me what I was eating.  After beginning the Perfect Health Diet in order to lose some weight, I ended up curing my back pain in the process.  The inflammation was aggravated by a diet high in carbohydrate and low in fat.  In fact, when I was 16, I had been on a Weight Watchers program that allotted me one tablespoon of olive oil a day and that’s when I had the first flare up.  In hind sight, each time I would attempt to lose weight, my back would freeze up and I then I couldn’t exercise, so I would gain more weight.

Now, at 46 years old, I have reached the goal weight that was set for me when I was 16–and the process is so enjoyable!  I now go for weeks without even thinking about my back pain!  It’s a miracle!

Alfred wrote:

Hi Paul. Quick feedback. My concern was prediabetes and eating a pound of potato/ day. Well for 1 year now I have consumed half a pound a day and been fully complient with PHD. One year ago A1C was 6.6, this week A1C is 6.1. Thank you for all you do.

Helen wrote:

I have been wanting to let you know that I tried your eczema recommendations for my pre school daughter and within only a couple of days the eczema dramatically reduced and it was completely gone within a week. I also start taking choline, along with the standard supplements you recommend and I actually feel a lot better.

Floyd wrote:

First I just want to say thank you PHD. I truly believe the book you co-wrote is one of the best books ever written and should really be taught in schools. I follow your diet and it has changed my life for the better.

Koustav wrote:

I wanted to send you a thank you note for your work on the blog and the book. Like a lot of other people, I have been looking for a more healthy diet for ages, and found the cornucopia of diet information available on the internet to be highly confusing, if not downright misleading. I found your blog after reading recommendations on Chris Kresser and Mark Sisson’s blog, read through the a lot of it, and ordered a copy of your book.

This was in February of this year. Since then, I have lost about 25lbs and have run a 10K with my wife. My wife, who was fit to begin with, jumped on board early, and not only has she reached her goal weight, but her skin looks so clear that people have commented on it. I got additional copies of the book for my parents, sister and extended family, and everybody who has read the book has lost weight after following the diet. My father has lost lost 10lbs, which has been amazing, since his doctor has been recommending that he lose weight for years! I did not expect to convince people this easily, but after all, nothing works as well as results!

Dorothy wrote:

I have been following your PHD closely for 6 months including 16 hour fast daily, eating only twice and taking a course of probiotics. I have a fairly benign form of MS but 18 months ago got a bad outbreak of eczema which I have never had before, combined with a deterioration in my MS. This was arrested after a few months of PHD incl all supplements as well as the additional Lysine and Arginine you advised for MS….

But just to say again, I have had a wonderful improvement to my general health and MS and I attribute this to the daily fasting, eating your recommendations and the hour- long strength/ weight training twice a week. The combo is very very powerful medicine :))

Lisa wrote:

Reading your book and practicing the diet has been very beneficial to me. I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and have been suffering pain, bloating, et cetera for 30 years. My symptoms are now 80% reduced. I am trying to perfect my diet using your guidelines to alleviate the other 20%.

From PHD comments

Kathy wrote:

My husband and I had purchased your book a few months ago, and I had been reading your blog for awhile. We have fully implemented the PHD way of eating and it has been about three months now. It has made a big difference for us both, in improved health and weight. I have had no more heart palpitations, and my leg cramps have subsided. (and i lost 4 lbs) …

My husband and I have both had significant improvement on your Perfect Health Diet and were low carb before so enjoyed the addition of the safe starches. Thank you for such a great, great book!!

Nick wrote:

I would like to thank Paul and his wife from the bottom of my heart. I was on Gaps for 2 months to deal with digestive disorders and pain. I noticed good results on GAPS but after 2 months looked like I was wasting away. I had very low energy; dry mouth; low libido, yellow, gelatinous semen; flat mood; gum infection (lowered immunity). It seemed to me that carbs and starch were the ultimate “bad guys.” After reading Paul’s work, I realized they are actually necessary. Within 2 days all the above symptoms reversed, and I am feeling better than ever. This is a detail that the current low carb fad has not addressed. I was really worried for my health, and can’t even imagine going years on very low carb. For someone like me with a fast metabolism, I would probably end up dead. Thank you again – you guys are a great light in the dark.

TC wrote:

Heartfelt thanks for creating such an erudite comprehensive and lifeimproving work. A friend of mine who is suffering from type 2 diabetes and non alcoholic fatty liver disease adopted PHD some 15 months ago and for the first time [she has tried scores of diets] in her life has not felt hungry! She has taken all the recommended supplements[other than coconut oil which causes indigestion]and after 9 months and 2 daily fasts a week she is now consistently loosing weight.

Joseph Downey wrote:

I had ringworm and seborrheic dermatitis and lots of amalgam fillings. I still have the fillings, but fungal problems went away on PHD. The ringworm went away immediately. The dermatitis took six months. For a while, it would come and go depending on stress or circadian rhythms. If I stayed up late watching TV too many nights, it would flare up. Hasn’t flared up for at least 8 months now.

Matt wrote:

After reading your book, I’ve been following the Perfect Health Diet for some time now, and have never felt better!

JR wrote:

I came to the PHD after a very mixed experience with the GAPS diet, which I tried after a recommendation from my sister in law. I have had chronic health problems since I was 18, and have been diagnosed with mild CFS/ME, IBS among other things. For the last 10 years I have had chronic inflammatory back pain, which remarkably is much better after I started changing my diet. Having taken NSAIDs for a decade I found after some time on the GAPS program that my pain recovered enough that I could manage without them. However after about a month and a half on the program I began to feel really ill. My GAPS practitioner encouraged me to stick it out, but I needed to work and was feeling so ill that driving was difficult, let alone doing my job, which requires me to think fairly hard at least some of the time! I decided to try a medically trained GAPS practitioner, and she basically had me eat loads of butternut squash, a safe starch according to the PHD! This helped a lot, but in the process I had come across the PHD and bought the book. As a scientist your book was a breath of fresh air, I had resigned myself to accepting what I thought was essentially a trial an error approach to diet based on intuition (GAPS/Western A Price style), or the medical establishment approach (when I consulted my doctor during my GAPS issues he told me I was a hypochondriac as I was not overweight so why should I be on a diet?!). Now I follow the PHD and my back pain is 90% resolved, although I still have some health issues.

Primal J wrote:

Hi, Paul. You’ve helped me tremendously with issues I’ve had with my thyroid, adrenals, formerly VLC woe and the issues that resulted, gut health, the whole lot

Marcia wrote:

My 5 year old son, diagnosed with autism, does very well with a no fructose version of the PHD. But there have been a couple foods that have been incredibly good for him, and I just had to share our experience. The first is raw egg yolks. I know from your book that having 3 yolks a day is good for many people, but I find that when my son has 2 yolks, 3 times a day (each serving about 4 to 6 hours apart) his language and eye contact is so much better. The positive effects seem to wear off in a few hours, so we find that multiple doses throughout the day works well. Sadly, cooked egg yolks have had no good results.

The second food that has been really good for him is resistant starch. We give him 1 TB of raw potato starch with his probiotic, 3 times a day, and he is so much more social and more affectionate than ever before! I was nervous to try it because my son does not digest most carbs or fiber well, and I was worried about the potential increase in SCFA (since some very compelling research by Dr Derrick MacFabe implicates propionic acid in autistic symptoms). But so far, we have seen no negatives and only wonderful results.

For my son, his autistic symptoms will wax and wane depending on what he eats. And trust me, I know how crazy this may sound, but we actually have days now where it seems like his autism has nearly vanished. I have no doubt that his gut plays an utterly profound role in his mental health.

Rebecca wrote:

Hello, My family has been following your food program for 30 days and we can tell the difference … no more arthritis pain every day, no more low-level chronic headaches, more energy, better digestion … we love it! … Thank you so much!! You have really changed our health for the better in only a month…I’m looking forward to seeing more changes over the next years!!

Jeff wrote:

My wife and I have both been trying the PHD diet this spring. We both feel better, have more energy and certain acute symptoms (e.g. IBS) are gone. But our experiences with weight loss are very different–I have lost 25 pounds since February with limited exercise, she has lost nothing.

From Twitter

@ppedrazzi wrote:

PHD transformed me. If it was a pill it would be impossible to keep in stock.

We are grateful to all readers who share their stories! Thank you!

Four Reasons to Attend an Ancestral Health Retreat

I have a guest post up at PaleoHacks, “4 Reasons to Attend an Ancestral Health Retreat.”

Briefly, the reasons to attend our Perfect Health Retreat are:

  1. You can pick up ten years of discovery in two weeks. Ten years is how long Shou-Ching and I have been learning how to live an optimized ancestral lifestyle in the modern world. Two weeks is how long it takes us to teach all we know.
  2. It will improve your health and increase your lifespan. Our advice really works. Good health is priceless.
  3. You’ll enjoy a great vacation and make new friends. The retreats are a luxurious experience in a magnificent setting; and the people are terrific.
  4. You’ll help us prove to the scientific and medical communities that ancestral diet and lifestyle work — and thereby help bring better to health to billions.

Go over to PaleoHacks to read my full argument!