Weight Loss and future research

During my first week on The Harcombe Diet I lost weight every day. I know that we are advised not to weigh every day but if I read that my weight loss will be considerable and that I could lose a stone in two or three weeks then it is natural to conclude that a bit of weight will be lost each day.

This proved to be true. Water came pouring out of me and accounted for, I should say based on the rate of pee, five to six lbs. After that I continued to lose weight.

I am sitting here on day 13 of the diet and in fact I am heavier today than I was this time last week. I feel dejected.

I have decided to go back to phase one as I suspect the dairy produce may be the problem. If this doesn’t work then I will try some carb/very low fat meals (making sure that I don’t eat a fatty food for three hours before or afterwards) and see what happens then. I expect this will reduce the calories I am eating – but we don’t count calories.

This makes me want to understand even more about the way digestion and fat burning work. If we don’t understand the responses of our bodies to the various foods and the combinations of them with which we assault them, how can we eat effectively.

The issue I have with the book is that it doesn’t explain enough about this and so I am making it my mission to find out and record what I find in this blog.

While lying in bed this morning I began to wonder about muscle burning. I have read before, and the Harcombe Diet book states it, that when the body wants extra reserves it will burn muscle before it burns fat. This is the reason why there is a difference between different kinds of exercise on the body. if the body exercises too vigorously the body will convert muscle to energy because it is easier. If, however, more gentle exercise is taken, keeping the heart rate up but not too high, then fat is burned.

Zoe Harcombe states that calorie controlled, low fat and high carbohydrate diets encourage the burning of muscle as well as fat. Well what makes that happen? What device in the human body causes muscle to be converted to energy when muscle is useful and fat is not?

It will be my next mission to discover this If I can.


Ketosis is the state into which the body enters when it needs to burn fat. When blood glucose is low and stored reserves of energy have been exhausted, the body will start to burn the stored fat.

ketones are the product of ketosis. They are produced by the liver from fatty acids and the body uses them for the energy it needs. If the levels of ketones are high enough they can be detected in the urine using keto sticks obtainable from pharmacies. In this state the body is producing more ketones than it can use and this is not ideal.

On the Atkins diet this state of ketosis is actively sought and keto sticks are used to ensure that there is a small quantity of ketones in the urine. Ketones are acidic and if they are present in high levels as can happen in diabetics then they cause damage to the liver and kidneys (ketoacidosis). Normally, for the rest of us, this is not a danger as long as we keep the ketosis to a minimum.

Having low glucose levels in the blood either from a low calorie or low carb diet is the state that triggers ketosis. This is liable to make one feel sluggish and tired.It seems, though, that if carbohydrate levels eaten are kept to an optimum (this can be achieved by eating about 60g carbohydrate per day according to Atkins) then we feel more alert but fat burning will still occur. At this level we will only be producing the ketones we need for energy.

As far as I can make out, the body must be in ketosis to burn fat, so on any diet, if weight loss occurs then ketosis is in action. On a low carb diet the body is forced to burn fat even though calorie intake is high. The body is ‘tricked’ into burning fat because it is the carbohydrate in our diet that is converted into glucose and it is low glucose levels that trigger ketosis.

If you eat too much fat on a low carb diet then whatever can’t be processed by the liver enters the blood stream. It will be converted into ketones and used for energy before the stored fat is used. This seems to imply that eating too much fat will slow down weight loss but that ketosis may prevent some or all of the fat in the blood from being deposited in the arteries.

This information was partly found here http://www.holisticonline.com/Remedies/weight/weight_ketones-and-ketosis.htm

partly here


I can’t be sure of the original research source of the data above.

The Harcombe Diet

I know I’m always going on about food but I read about this lady in Whizz’s Mensa Magazine and was impressed.

Zoe Harcombe advocates a mixture between the Atkins Diet (40 – 90g of carbs per day and as much fat as you like) and food combining (don’t eat carbs and fats together so eat meat/fish/full fat dairy-with low carb veg/berries, or starchy foods,with any fruit/veg and with absolutely no fatty food). She combines this with nutritional advice to maintain a healthy body- although it is difficult to know sometimes which bits are for health and which for weight loss.

For the first five days there is a detox to rid the body of the causes of its cravings and once the five days have passed then the diet is as above.

It is true to say that my sugar cravings vanished after the first 5 days. I have looked longingly at the wine bottle on a few occasions and also the fruit juice as I mainly eat the fatty days. Carbs are my downfall and having tried Slimming world and lost absolutely nothing after weeks on green days I know the carbs won’t work.

So, I find myself back on Atkins but calling it the Harcoumbe Diet albeit without the alcohol and with a bit less cream and more olive oil – I think!

During the first week I lost half a stone (7lb) and over the next couple of days got to 8.4 lb. On the following couple of days, Sunday and Monday, I stuck to my diet as well as I could. My only cheats were 2 small glasses of Champagne (we went to a wedding), one glass of red wine, and some sugar which I ate inadvertently on a bowl of strawberries. Seemingly, as a result of the cheats, over the next couple of days I gained 2 lbs and during the subsequent four days of this week I have clawed back 1.5 lbs.

This is not exactly a dramatic weight loss but the food is very enjoyable so I will persevere. I plan a couple of weeks with absolutely no cheats and if the weight loss remains steady and acceptable I will continue.

I was interested to work out how many calories I have been taking in so I did a quick analysis of today’s meal plan and here it is:

Breakfast: Streaky bacon, 3 eggs and a tomato (carbs:5g, calories:580, fat: 31g)

Lunch: smoked salmon (Zoe does not recommend smoked food as Candida feeds off it, and Candida can be one of the causes of food cravings) and mascarpone cheese with salad leaves (carbs: 5.8g, calories: 795, fat:69.68)

Dinner: Salmon mousse with leaves (carbs: 3.68, cals 131.68, fat: 16.8), Berries and cream (carbs: 16.93g, cals: 359.82, fat: 36.52g)

Total consumption: carbs: 31.41g, cals: 1866, fat: 154g)

The fat level is over double the government’s RDA but I was amazed to discover that the calories are slightly below the total of 1940 recommended for an average woman of course that would not be to enable them to lose weight.

Zoe Harcombe tells us to throw out calories but I am interested to have worked out that I am eating so much rich food and yet not really eating huge numbers of calories.

The book is available on Amazon for £5.99 until the end of July then it will be £7.99. It may leave you asking more questions but Zoe is quite helpful if you send her one or two questions by email – more than that and she will charge for a telephone call on a premium rate number. Some of your questions may be answered on her faqs www.theharcombediet.com

I will continue on the diet and keep you posted on progress. If you have any experience of the diet then I’d be interested to know about it. It’s a shame she doesn’t have a message board on her website but if I get enough response I might look into starting one myself.