Ray Peat weight loss is elusive for many, mainly due to following wrong advice. Hopefully by the end of this article you may figure out where you are going wrong.
Interesting reading in the Ray Peat groups recently and the study where a bunch of guys were given 6,000 calories and no exercise. It demonstrated that while their metabolism increased, so too did their fat and other, not so great, health markers.
While the study was extreme, I think it was a great example of how too many people emphasise the increase of calories as the only way to get to health and a higher metabolism using Dr Ray Peat principles. (Anything under 2,500 calories was deemed to be an eating disorder! What?)
I’ve never agreed with this and as a result, didn’t increase weight while switching around my diet. I was about 5kgs (10lbs) overweight when my low carb world came crashing down around me, but I stuck to about the same calorie level as before – about 1400 calories – while I moved away from fat bombs to more fruit, juice, honey and lean protein.
Now I’m settled on about 1800 calories and still working on the perfect macro mix for me*. (To put it in context, I am 5’10” and about 140lb (63kg) – I have a sedentary job and my only exercise is a bit of walking and 10 minutes of weights daily as per my exercise program OneTenToned. )
Here are the factors considered to be important around Ray Peat Weight Loss:
– must get your 8 hours or you are behind the 8-ball and your body will be stressed. Also the body burns fat at rest, so lack of sleep is severely limiting your opportunity to do this. (It’s why shift workers and new mums generally have issues.)
– keeps cortisol and adrenaline continuously elevated which hangs on to your fat stores and messes up your hormones. So many things cause it like excessive cardio, drinking coffee first thing in the morning, fasted exercise, just not eating something for breakfast, which is on top of normal life stresses like money, kids, job, relationships, lack of rest and sleep etc. Read more about cortisol here.
Dr Ray Peat: “In recent years there have been studies showing that regular milk drinkers are less fat than people who don’t drink it. Although the high quality protein and saturated fat undoubtedly contribute to milk’s anti-obesity effect, the high calcium content is probably the main factor.”
Which is why I drink 1 litre (4 cups**) of skim milk a day – as this yields the minimum daily requirement for calcium – 1200mg.
– many benefits of sun exposure especially on your brain. Recommended 20 minutes a day, which creates Vitamin D, which in turn helps the absorption of… Calcium! (See how all the factors work together?)
Type of exercise
– exercise that is not beneficial to permanent weight loss is excess cardio. This is because it creates stress, lowers your metabolism and in some cases damages the thyroid. Walking is fine in moderation, and a little weight bearing exercise encourages muscle growth and increased metabolism 24 hours a day. Read more here: One Ten Toned.
– probably the key to everything in your body really and wrong bacteria can also prevent you from losing weight. If you are intolerant to anything, this is a tell tale sign of gut issues. It usually starts with wheat/gluten, which causes leaky gut and if not fixed, then you slowly become intolerant to more things like dairy etc.
This article explains more about the gut bacteria weight loss link, even though I don’t agree with their dietary recommendations.
Calorie Level Balanced to Needs
– as mentioned at the start, drastically increase calories to force a response is not the answer. All this does is make everyone fat. Plug your vitals into something like www.cronometer.com and work out what your approximate calories should be to maintain your weight.
From there, if you are under eating at say 1200 calories and you should be 1800 calories, then increase by 100 calories per day for a month to let your body settle into it, while you work out your optimal mix of foods below.
Type of food
– important for whole body health as well as metabolism and weight loss, but the foods in the Dr Ray Peat protocol go against most alternative health theories. To see exactly what to eat and what not to eat see these posts:
Eating Peaty: What not to eat.
Eating Peaty: What to eat.
More importantly though, I want to touch on lower fat intake for weight/fat loss because I think this is basically the key when eating Peaty.
Certainly reading the forums, the people who have had the most success in cutting weight/fat from their body with Ray Peat eating, have gone super low fat – like 10-15g a day. And the reason for it is this:
So when we are trying to remove polyunsaturated fats from our body, this is a particularly toxic/damaging state. Where as if the fats are saturated, it’s not as bad.
So that would explain why some people have said they went low fat for a while (which would clear out the PUFAs as fast as possible,) but could then increase dietary saturated fats again somewhat and still not increase the weight/body fat again.
But still we are not talking a lot of fat, maybe increasing to 50g max per day because whether we like it or not, this way of eating is high carbs. The result being that high fat and high carbs together are a particularly lethal mix for weight gain.
So it’s the same advice with calories – don’t make any sudden moves. Check your fat intake for a typical day, so you know approximately where you stand. (More importantly too, check the foods contributing to the fat – eggs and cheese are the killers for me even before adding any butter etc to cooking!) Then try for the next month or so to decrease by 10g of fat a day and increase carbs and see how it feels.
Some say they get too hungry – make sure you replace the fat calories with protein or carbs.
Others say they don’t sleep as well – try eating your fat for the day in your evening meal.
For other people it’s that they just don’t feel as satisfied – make sure the foods you do eat are nutrient rich like fruit, instead of plain sugar or rice which are just pure carbs with no other nutritional value.
Let us know if lowering fat does or doesn’t work for you and why.
– this is important for weight loss as well and is the sum of all the above. It’s good to know where you sit with waking temperature and pulse and if they are not optimal yet, then keep working on that before you try to lose weight.
However as I have said previously, I don’t believe you have to increase calories drastically to improve your metabolism, as this will only increase your body fat on the journey. (If you are already overweight from increasing calories, start the journey back to lowering them again until your find your balance, but super slowly, so that all your health gains don’t disappear as well.)
I raised my body temperature from 35.3C (95.54F) waking to 36.7C (98F) and have reached 37.7C (99.86F) after good meals of fish and fruit for example, while maintaining a similar caloric level. But it took 2 years to do this. (It may have taken a shorter time frame if I had known about the low fat part sooner.)
Ray Peat Weight Loss Summary
It’s the right mix of food at the right caloric level for your needs, as well as putting all the other factors mentioned above in place and being patient. It took me 2 years of tweaking to make progress and still I have to recheck my fat intake about once a quarter, as it’s so easy to creep up. Cottage cheese is now my best friend! (Read more on cottage cheese here.)
Join us on the private facebook group for more discussion on this.
Let’s keep learning; we’ll get there!
* I have now found the perfect macro and calorie mix for me and it is all detailed in the ZEN Beach Diet book meal plans. Grab yours here.
**I no longer have 4 cups of skim milk a day. I found having this as well as cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt tipped me into the too much dairy category. It started to have negative effects on me. I am now down to 2 cups of any kind of dairy a day. I explain more in the Zen Beach Diet book and this blog post.