137: Always Hungry?

Feb 9, 2016

Let’s try something new! I’m going to be kicking off a monthly series on the podcast – you can consider it the Primal Potential Book Club! We’re starting with Always Hungry by Dr. David Ludwig.

I read a ton. I’ve always got a couple of books going. Each month, maybe even a couple of times a month, I want to share with you the best books I’ve read, the most interesting things I’ve learned and how I’ve changed my fat loss approach (if at all) based on those books.

Without question, one of the best books I’ve read recently is Always Hungry by Dr. David Ludwig. In today’s episode I’m sharing the most powerful lessons in the book and my thoughts on his “Always Hungry Solution” that he argues (quite well) will conquer cravings, retrain your fat cells and help you lose weight permanently.

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Always Hungry?

Always hungry

In today’s episode I’m sharing what I feel are the most powerful & high-impact points made by Dr. Ludwig in his new book. I share my commentary and what changes I made based on this great read (as well as how my body responded). Definitely take a listen to the full episode but here are the highlights of what I share from the book.

  1. We don’t get fat because we overeat. We overeat because we’re getting fat.
    What? Huh? Of course we get fat because we overeat. No. We overeat, he argues, not because of the volume of food we eat but because of the type of food we eat.The type of food we eat creates a hormonal condition that makes us 2 things: hungry and fat.It makes our fat cells greedy. They suck up more than their fair share of the nutrients we eat. The body responds by triggering hunger & cravings. We eat more. We overeat because of the hormonal conditions created by the type of food we eat.Dr. Ludwig uses a couple of great examples to help explain this notion that we overeat because we’re getting fat, not the other way around.Think of a teenage boy during puberty. Do we say he’s growing because he’s eating so much? No! We say he’s eating so much because he’s growing. The hormonal conditions in his body are increasing his appetite. His appetite isn’t creating the hormonal conditions that make him grow.The same is true in pregnancy. Do we say that a pregnant woman’s belly is growing because she is eating so much? No! She is eating so much because her baby is growing. The hormonal conditions in her body increases her appetite.This, he argues, (strongly, in my opinion) is what happens with obesity. Here’s what Dr. Ludwig explains in Always Hungry: The food choices we make when our diet is filled with processed foods, grains, wheats and oats send insulin production into overdrive. Insulin is a fuel delivery hormone (if you need an overview on insulin, check out this episode).This chronic, overstimulation of insulin essentially fertilizes your fat cells. Your fat cells become greedy because they are overstimulated. They suck up more than their fair share of the nutrients you consume.Well, what happens if the fat cells are taking more than their fair share of the nutrients you consume?The body misses out. The rest of your body doesn’t get the fuel it needs, even if you’re eating it! How does the body respond? Hunger & cravings to stimulate you to feed it and by lowering your metabolic rate to conserve fuel because it’s not getting enough (even though it is).

    It’s not a matter of having too many calories in the in the body, it’s too few in the right place.

  2. We can reprogram our fat cells to release stored calories
    Our food choices are responsible for programming our fat cells to take up too much fuel. Therefore, by changing our food choices, we can reprogram our fat cells to release stored calories. We do this in two ways (that I go into in more detail in this episode). We do this by choosing foods that don’t overstimulate insulin production/release and that control (and minimize) inflammation.
  3. Dieting is not the answer.
    Cutting back on calories will cause weight loss in the short term, but it programs your body to work against you. There’s a better way. Dr. Ludwig uses the example of taking an ice bath in response to a fever. Yes, a fever is reflective of too much heat in the body so you could reason that sitting in an ice bath would bring your body temperature down. And it will, in the short term. However, the body will compensate by making you shiver and trigger vaso-constriction to conserve heat, so it’s not a long term approach.We see this all the time with dieting. Sure, it might lead to short term weight loss but the body will fight against you by lowering metabolic rate, increasing hunger and triggering cravings.Dieting is a short term strategy that has been repeatedly proven to deliver, at best, short term results. We have to work with the body, not against it.
  4. It’s not about calories.Even when you keep calories constant, you can significantly impact the number of calories you burn at rest by changing where your calories come from.In Always Hungry, Dr. Ludwig shares some of his clinical research where two groups of individuals received the same exact number of calories per day, but with different ratios of carbohydrate and fat.The individuals on the higher fat, lower carb diet burned 325 more calories per day at rest than the individuals consuming the exact same number of calories but on a lower fat,  higher carb approach.It’s not about the number of calories you consume as much as it is about the signals they send to your body.
  5. Your fat cells reach a critical threshold where they begin to emit stress signals to your body.Your body’s primary objective is survival. It will always operate from a “survival first” perspective. The two most significant threats to your body are starvation & infection.Your body fat is protective against starvation. It is the fuel reserve for your body. More or less, it ensures your protection against starvation. For that reason, your immune system (prevention from infection) and your body fat are very closely linked.Your white blood cells (whose job it is to protect against infection) patrol your body fat. They do so because your body fat would be the holy grail feast site of a potential infection.Unfortunately, your fat cells become stressed when they’re taxed and over-fed. They begin to emit stress signals to which your body responds.Those white blood cells call in reinforcements from the rest of your body (preventing infection fighting elsewhere) and your body begins to attack itself. This is the onset of auto-immune disease and other inflammatory conditions including heart disease.
  6. We have to eat to reduce inflammation & calm our fat cells so they are willing to release their stored fat.Dr. Ludwig shares how to do this via food choices in his Always Hungry Solution.

The Always Hungry Solution is all about minimizing your body’s insulin response and controlling inflammation via food choices. Of course it emphasizes whole foods with the greatest emphasis on plant-based fats like avocado, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil followed by non-starchy vegetables and high quality animal proteins.

  • Phase 1: 2 weeks long. 50% of calories from fat, 25% from carbohydrates (non-starchy veggies and non-tropical fruits) and 25% from protein
  • Phase 2: Duration of weight loss. 40% of calories from fat, 35% from carbohydrates (non-starchy veggies & fruit)  and 25% from protein
  • Phase 3: Maintenance – finding what makes you feel the best while maintaining results

After reading Always Hungry, I was inspired to make a few changes. Just these tiny changes to my already clean diet improved my sleep, significantly reduced my hunger (and I wasn’t really hungry to begin with) and in just 10 days led to noticeable changes in my lower abdominals.


Always Hungry by Dr. David Ludwig

4 Reasons Calorie Counting Doesn’t Work

58 – Understanding Insulin

Carb Strategies for Sustainable Fat Loss

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