BANNED POST: Tips for newbies from a 5 year low-carber


(Gabe “No Dogma, Only Science Please!” ) #1

So this post has (apparently) been banned by one of those “for beginners” Facebook keto groups; that particular group has nearly 2m members and they seem only to approve posts from newbies that they can then comment on with an ad for their paid “keto” program. So I thought I’d post it here.

Newbies, you’ve come to the right place! Read on, because I’ve been doing this for nearly 5 years and I can break this sh!t down nice and simple for you. This is just my advice and my story; I have nothing to sell you. I’ll give you the basics up front:

If you’re a newbie, keep things simple:

  • No sugar, no starches.
  • Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full.
  • Eat from the approved list of foods (link below).
  • Eat whole, healthy foods: meat, green veg, fish, and healthy fats.
  • Avoid eating cr@p out of a package, especially if it says “keto friendly” or “low carb.”
  • Avoid d@mn vegetable oils. Learn about what’s a healthy oil and what isn’t.
  • Here’s your approved foods:
    Please, do yourself a favour, click that link, and follow the guide. There’s a reason Taubes put it in the appendix to his seminal, world-changing book, “Why We Get Fat.” (It’s Dr Eric Westman’s old-school low carb diet for his patients at Duke University.)
  • Don’t bother measuring ketones. You’ll feel it when you’re in the zone.
  • BONUS: For inspiration, read/watch/listen to material about low carb. Lectures by Taubes, Phinney, Westman, Noakes, Lustig are good for starters
  • BONUS: Learn about blood work and get the right tests done.
  • BONUS: Get a continuous glucose monitor for real-time data on how different foods affect you.

If this post by some chance blows up and gives that PDF the hug of death, I’ll try find a way to post that PDF elsewhere, but loads of websites have this general info, for instance:

The background to my story is that I lost a bunch of weight >15 years ago on “calories in, calories out” by exercising a bunch and reducing caloric intake. I was successful but I eventually gained it all back, and dreaded the hard slog of doing it all again. I’d gone hungry quite a bit and the exercise was enjoyable but hard work and hard on my joints.

Fast forward to summer 2016. I was leaving NYC for a brief international vacation and none of my buttoned shirts fit me. I had to buy an XL and felt embarrassed to even be seen in public. Once I got back, I resolved to figure this thing out once and for all.

I got back to NYC and quickly found a book on my shelf I’d bought in 2011 but never read. It was Taubes’s “Why We Get Fat” and I realised that I must have bought it because it seemed very science-heavy, unlike most of the other diet literature I’d glanced at over the years. (In retrospect, “The Zone” was pretty good for its era, and I had read that the first time I lose weight.)

I was convinced: all I had to do was reduce the stimulus for my body to secrete insulin. I didn’t get super religious about it: I kept eating some fruit, like mangoes, but I cut out every single other bit of sugar and starch from my diet. I took the view that any substantial carb reduction in my diet would show some effect. Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good!

In fairness, I was doing quite a bit of cycling back then. But the results were dramatic: I lost 10kg or 22lb in about 10 weeks. It happened so quickly that coworkers, who saw the change happen “gradually,” commented on it. I dropped a bit more in the year after that, but my weight has settled back up where it was at the end of that first 10 weeks. And that’s ok! It’s what’s called my “Phinney weight,” which you can google, but my blood work is pretty good and I’m working with my doctors to keep trying to troubleshoot and improve things even more.

After nearly 5 years, I can tell you that I honestly will never go back to regularly consuming bread and sugar and pasta and pizza etc. Has keto/low carb been the magic bullet for everything in my health or my life? Def not. But I eat as much as I want, of foods that I love, whenever I want, and my body stays happily in my current weight range.

Over the years I’ve learned a lot about cooking, bloodwork, exercise, and loads of diet hacks. I’ve used continuous glucose monitors and I’ve done lots of different blood tests and seen various doctors to learn more about how to hack this lifestyle as tightly as I could. I’m happy to share them if people are interested. And sure, fathead pizza and almond cookies and keto cheesecakes are kind of fun sometimes.

But my main advice is as above: keep it simple, and eat whole, healthy foods. You may not get dramatic results – I’m not a ripped demigod and I don’t look like Leo – but dammit you’ll feel better in 10 weeks, I can tell you that much.

Initial weight loss (but only started tracking after losing half of it, start weight was ~95kg)

Years of maintenance, averaging around 83kg, my apparent "Phinney weight"


Why anybody wastes time with Facebook groups is beyond my comprehension.


I also found this forum because I was banned from a couple of SubReddits (they were both run by the same people I guess) for asking a question when I first started this lifestyle (a question that I asked on here and got very good responses), saying that they don’t allow newbies to post at and when I asked them for referrals to other websites I could post my questions they told me if I can’t figure it out myself then I shouldn’t be doing keto and then promptly banned me entirely, lol.


I like FB for only 1 thing…the zero carb/carnivore sites. Other than that, BLECK. I am older, dinosaur who doesn’t give a fig about social media, I only use internet to ‘do me’ and what I require. This forum is one of THE best for nice knowledge people and great advice and is controlled very well by the mods for ‘what diet forums’ are all about :slight_smile:

Banned. Who hasn’t been banned or pushed the envelope but if someone is the mod of a site and goes by XYZ and you break that, then yea, outcome is banned :slight_smile: what other way would it go down?

It is great to get the world out truly…do it wherever ya can but if banned, find another forum to chat a bit and then you keep the good flowing on!

(Gabe “No Dogma, Only Science Please!” ) #5

It’s a shame, though, because I had a cool before/after pic (which seems to go down well on those FB and reddit forums) and I reckon this post, because it contains actionable advice, might have gone viral.

There’s a lot of newbies getting really mediocre advice there, and when you run a group with nearly 2m followers, I think it’s super cheap and grifting and unethical to only approve the posts of super-n00bs JUST so that you can post the first comment, which is “buy our 28 day course.” And the link to the course looks like malware, to be honest.

My question is: does anyone have any other tips for newbies? Or have I summarized it fairly neatly?

(Polly) #6

I think your summary is excellent @gabe.

The link to Gary Taubes appendix which gives a list of approved foods should be especially helpful to the new ketoer.

I agree that anyone selling meal plans or products for keto is probably best avoided.

(Bob M) #7
  1. Don’t stress about the scale. Toss it if you want.
  2. Don’t stress about ketones.
  3. You need to determine what’s right for you. If eating something sweet causes you to not stay low carb, maybe you have to stop eating anything sweet for a while? If you have a high carb meal and find that extends to days, maybe you have to limit high carb for only special occasions? (I tend to not desire more sweets or carbs, but I’ve also been doing this 7+ years.)
  4. If you find yourself eating more of something every time, perhaps not eat it? For me, this is nuts and bacon as two examples.
  5. Dairy? Some people have issues; others don’t.
  6. Artificial sweeteners? Some people have issues; others don’t.

(Edith) #8

An addition to the scale comment which would be:

Even if the scale isn’t changing your body composition most likely is.

Robb Wolf recommends the tight pants test: start with a pair of pants you can barely get into and every few weeks try them on. Even if the scale doesn’t change all that much, they way the pants fit may.

(Jack Bennett) #9

Shame on you @gabe … you made it hard for them to sell a complicated and unnecessary “keto program” by pointing out how simple it is and how you don’t need a paid program at all. :grinning::+1:


I totally don’t follow some of your advices (they are good just not for everyone) so I personally would add everyone is different and we should listen to our body - provided it’s smart enough to give us the right hints. But you did really well IMO.
Of course we can add zillion things for the people who don’t do it so well with various items, it’s vegetables for me as they are just way too carby and certain fats because it triggers overeating in my case but everyone has their own list.

By the way I just don’t understand how anyone can sell keto related useless stuff. My mind must work differently from the average one. I need low enough carbs, how hard is that to do? If I do it on my own way, I have way more freedom and I can finetune it so it suits me the best. I wouldn’t follow some eating plan if I got paid a lot… Not like I could, I don’t follow my own plans… I mean, exactly, when I make my meal, take a photo and sit down to eat. I never eat exactly that.


Can someone explain to me why so many sites advocate blueberries as a low carb fruit, such as the Diet Doctor link in the first message?

The only common fruits higher in net carbs are bananas and grapes.

For example, why welcome blueberries, but not pineapple?

(Laurie) #12

Maybe they think it’s easier to limit the amount of berries. But … some of us know there’s no such thing as “a few” berries (or a few nuts, etc.).


Yep, I think because it’s easier to eat a few from berries, at least someone thinks so.

I preferred raspberries and (frozen, that’s important) banana on keto :slight_smile: Both had a negligible amount of carbs per portion but it’s very individual.

Now my fruit is lemon and it’s still a relaxed thing as my new default woe is carnivore-ish :smiley:

But these advices are weird sometimes. That’s not for keto, it’s carbier than that but for a diet where one limits carbs… Watermelon. I’ve read one should eat that fruit when dieting as it’s mostly water. If there is a single fruit which it’s near impossible to eat a TON of, that’s watermelon (yeah, surely some people can do it but not a normal person). 1 kg is a cute portion IMO but after MANY low-carb years I can eat less than that. But it’s easier to ignore, seriously.

Berries… It’s not hard to eat much from fresh raspberries or strawberries. I never had blueberries in my garden (wrong type of soil) and almost never bought some of those super expensive things (and it rarely was tasty when I did) so I don’t know how one eats that :slight_smile:
But I really don’t understand why the berries. Raspberries are very low-carb AND tasty, I never could overeat my super tiny but tasty tiny strawberries (they grow between June and October in my garden though they aren’t so great in the end) but not all berries are like that. And what’s wrong with the other fruits if my portion is small? It never made sense to me but probably it’s for the folks who want things to be simple or who likes lists. To me, everything may fit keto, it depends on the amounts (and the person) but some are usually a bad idea or impossible. And we may want more than just going under our personal ketosis carb limit.

3 raspberries is totally a valid portion in my world. But I usually just use a few drops of lemon juice.
These two are my favorite fruits (I dislike avocado) as they are very low-carb AND the portion is super tiny (when the raspberries are frozen, at least. when they are fresh and soft… I still won’t eat, like, 300g of it, that’s my SO but it was different when I started keto). Both are important though if the portion is really small, the sugariness isn’t a big deal (see my frozen bananas in my first keto years… or my wine with 20% sugar content, okay, that was for fun but I really was unable to consume much of that. now I couldn’t drink it at all).

And pineapple… I don’t know about others but when I was a beginner ketoer, if I opened a fruit and it wasn’t a watermelon, I didn’t stop at a slice. Blueberries are tiny, it helps a bit :smiley:
But of course, many of us don’t live alone… I use that when I want some of a not small fruit… As I am the one who is weaker with opened stuff. It took MANY years to be able to eat a slice of apple (it doesn’t worth it in most cases but I have a wonderful Granny Smith tree).

And maybe… Berries are trendy things? Dieters put them on their little snacks or whatever. Even I can’t see that everywhere. So a part of the newbie ketoers see something familiar at least?


My only tip is to take an actual before picture. I didn’t and here I am, 45 lbs down. I have just tried so many times and failed with so many different diets that I did not expect anything more than a 10 or 15 lbs loss. I was so negative about the possibility of weightloss that a “before” picture seemed pointless.

(squirrel-kissing paper tamer) #15

Tip: if doing it for weight loss and you want to use the scale, add weekly tape measurements. It tells more of the story, especially if someone is pinning their happiness on a scale and it stops moving.

Keep a meals/fiid list. It’s helpful for shopping, when you’re brain dead after a long day, etc.

(BuckRimfire) #16

r/keto seems to be run by dicks but r/lowcarb is OK in my experience. Was that one a problem, too?

(BuckRimfire) #17

Agreed. If weight loss is your goal, take a bunch of body measurements with a tape measure early on: wrist, knee, elbow, mid-thigh, waist, biceps, neck, etc. If waist, neck, knee, elbow, go down more than biceps and mid-thigh, that’s pretty cool.


I believe it was r/zerocarb and r/carnivore


I like the group. Some of the moderators are very brusque with frequently asked questions that could easily be answered by reviewing the FAQ.


I wasn’t on reddit since ages (I got a bit addicted and spent too much time there so I made sure I can’t even reach it. for some reason, I never could do that with this forum but this isn’t as busy and is a much nicer place anyway)… When I started keto, it was full with “beware of too much protein”… So I know that even if I try to eat “little” protein, I can’t.

But r/zerocarb was crazy, nothing like the carnivores here. I remember folks eating little soft bones (that’s fine) and rotting meat (what. we are humans, not vultures). Maybe I popped in at the wrong time? Probably, I have that talent.

And r/omad was the place where people were advised to be strong and embrace all the pain and personality changes (like being rude with the boss and clients sometimes) and just starve. Maybe I am a tad intolerant here but it was painful to read. I went against the flow and advised eating when one is really hungry… :smiley:
r/fasting was worse, sometimes with underweight people deciding that not eating for a week is a suberb idea. But the rest was way more normal, with many very hardcore EF folks.

But there is everything there. Sometimes I visited r/veganketo and still couldn’t understand HOW they do it.

Enough reminiscence of those times I suppose. I don’t even know what the mentioned places are like now.