Weight Gain on a Ray Peat Diet

I wanted to bring up a topic that I see mentioned frequently on forums and comments that relate to the Ray Peat diet. Seems a lot of people experience weight gain. Last month I received this comment from Greatgiantsteppah:

I have tried this diet for a couple of months now and have gained a lot of weight (mostly Subcutaneous fat) around the stomach and my abs are a goner. My diet has consisted mostly of fruit, carrots and milk and then some beef.

These comments are common. For those not familiar with the Ray Peat diet, read my post The Peat-atarian Diet For Those of Us With Average IQs.

The diet ideas of Ray Peat are not about fat loss or achieving an ideal weight. The goal is to increase metabolism and support the thyroid. That often means increasing calories and carbohydrates. Getting healthy hormonally is more paramount than weight management. Some people gain weight. I did.

My Story

In early 2012 I noticed that my weight kept dropping. I went from a healthy lean 195 down to a ripped but gaunt 183. My height is 6 foot 2.5 inches (189 cm). I was eating a super clean hybrid of WAPF, Paleo and the Perfect Health Diet. I needed to gain weight, but I wanted to do it in a nutrient dense manner. My research led to the conclusion that ice cream was the optimal food. Ice cream also happens to be a superfood on the Ray Peat diet. Read that post if the idea that ice cream can be super healthy puzzles you. I had trouble with it until I really dug into the numbers.

It worked. Eating ice cream stopped my weight loss. Once I stabilized my weight, I decided to use ice cream to gain muscle. And it worked. I gained 10 pounds of muscle before the end of the year. Throughout the summer of 2012, I was preaching the gospel of ice cream to anyone that would listen.

The problem came later. I overshot my target weight and kept gaining. For the first time in my life, I had developed a sugar craving. Then I went a month without coffee and my appetite signals got all messed up. Today I am 10-15 pounds heavier than my target weight. The good news is I have more muscle and am no longer gaunt. My metabolism seems to be high, but so is my appetite.

Photo by Atomische * Tom Giebel

Losing Weight on a Ray Peat diet

Remember the point of the Ray Peat diet is not about having ripped abs, but having a healthy metabolism. If you are still recovering from thyroid or metabolism issues, you may want to solve that before pursuing an ideal weight. I am not a nutritionist, nor do I have any clients. I’m just trying to figure this riddle out myself.

The standard advice I see in forums devoted to Ray Peat when it comes to fat loss is to reduce your dairy fat content and cut back on the coconut oil. So you might go from whole milk to 2% milk fat. I suspect this standard advice is geared towards the individuals who still need to boost metabolism, as it would ensure they were still getting ample carbs and sugars to support the thyroid. The reduction in fat would reduce calories without restricting carbs.

I suspect that standard advice is not ideal for those of us with healthy metabolisms. I could be wrong on this, but my guess is those of us with healthy metabolisms just need to correct our appetite signals. I doubt reducing dairy fat is going to do that. Some ideas that come to mind are:

  1. Replace highly palatable foods by consuming the components separately. Have a piece of fruit and a glass of milk instead of ice cream. You get the sugar and the dairy fat without the high flavor signals.
  2. Replace the sacred orange juice with oranges. An orange has 1/2 the calories of an 8 oz glass of orange juice. I don’t eat oranges myself, but I like to rotate in new fruit every week.
  3. No more Mexican colas or other sugary drinks. Not because they are bad, but because of their effect on appetite.
  4. Reduce milk quantity. For me, I’ve decided to consume milk every 2nd or 3rd week. I’m still dialing it in, so I don’t have an exact ratio yet, but I’m only buying whole milk.

Your Thoughts?

To be clear, I am in no way endorsing the Ray Peat diet. Some parts make sense to me and some don’t. I am a student of what makes different diets work. This one is more complicated than most. I successfully used ice cream to fix my rapid weight loss, now I am going to see if I can curb my appetite signals using slight tweaks of the Ray Peat diet.

If you have any tips or ideas, drop a comment.


Add yours

  1. My abs have also kinda disappeared, and I’ve gained 4 kilos.
    That’s because I’m now feeding myself so that I can actually stay focused all day without any inhaled or liquid stimulants.
    Turns out I need quite a few more (carb) calories to do that than I’ve ever eaten in my life.
    I like it.

  2. Nice post MAS,
    I decided to experiment with four weeks of a diy soylent drink for two meals a day. (e.g., google hackerschool soylent). Though the whole concept is strongly contrary to most of what you (and most of us readers of your blog) have been pursuing the last few years, I have learned a lot about my cravings, appetite and hunger signals.

  3. I am also experimenting with a partial Peat diet. Partial for two reasons.. main reason I’m broke and have $30/wk for food (dairy isn’t cheap).. second because I want to listen to my own body more instead of what everyone “thinks” I should eat.

    My question/theory is this though…. If your metabolism is truly high or at least similar to when most people’s were high (ie, as children) then wouldn’t it follow that you can eat to appetite and stay the same weight for the most part?
    If so, then maybe your metabolism isn’t as high as you think it is OR maybe your idea of what weight you “think” you should be is actually too low. Just a thought of course.

    I only say this as I remember what it was like until I was about 20 yrs old. I literally ate anything I wanted and stayed at a low weight with plenty of muscle for my age. When I graduated high school I weight 118 lbs and I am 5ft 2 1/5in tall. When I quit dance I gained about 5 lbs from 18-20 and then about 5 more from 21-23. To me it was a horrible thing and I became overly concerned in my opinion now. My response was to start actually looking into nutrition. Big mistake! I went vegetarian then vegan and just slowly gained more and more… then when I was about 159lbs age 27 I found paleo. That made me yo-yo like crazy. I would go super low carb and no gluten or dairy at times then swing back when I had massive cravings most likely from low carb and just so much restriction in general. Which then yo-yo’d me from 153-163 back and forth for awhile. Then I went super strict Dr. Kruse style… which did net me the most weight loss ever and I got down to 143lbs, but my thyroid hated me and my hair started falling out everywhere. And naturally I crashed with cravings and couldn’t keep it up for longer than 3 months. And I went up to around 173lbs. Then I just dallied in paleo land for a bit longer. Found Matt Stones stuff.. did that for a few months… though luckily I never went low calorie (on purpose at least) and had stayed around 2000 calories avg. Gained weight of course and then partial Peat now and now am at my highest weight ever at 185lbs. But I’ve finally seemed to have platued and even with calories fluctuating but what some would consider high at 2300-3000 a day (I’m pretty sedentary) my weight stays steady and only fluctuates like normal within 2 lbs of 185. This has now lasted for about a month or so.

    Of course I’d love to get back down to 120 ish, but what I’d truly love is to get back to being able to eat what I want when I want and not gain weight. As a teen.. even late teen when I was pretty much done growing… I ate easily in excess of 3,000 cal a day. I ate anything I wanted and no issues whatsoever. I always loved sugary things and ate a ton of carbs naturally as well. I know I’m 30 now and I doubt my metabolism will get back to what it was then, but I’d like to have it be close if possible. Things were much easier when I didn’t worry about food stuff and I ate what tasted good and my body just took care of itself. 🙂

  4. @Erica – Thanks for sharing your story. Sounds like you’ve gone from one extreme diet to another. That stress could account for some of the problems you’ve had. You asked:

    If your metabolism is truly high or at least similar to when most people’s were high (ie, as children) then wouldn’t it follow that you can eat to appetite and stay the same weight for the most part?

    I think the answer is yes. For me, my appetite just increased at a faster rate than my metabolism. At least that is my thinking as of today. I went from eating super clean no sugar to a pint of ice cream a day. There is a happy medium.

    Good luck on your health and finding what works.

  5. Glenn Whitney

    Sep 8, 2013 — 5:31 pm

    My current guess is that for those feeling deficient in carbohydrates (for whatever reason, physical demand or ailment) the go-to source might be:
    Mashed potatoes (homemade) with butter and/or sour cream
    Why? Because most people find them delicious but also quite quickly satiating.
    Making them high fat with the butter and/or sour cream slows the insulin release (unlike ice cream)
    Apparently the only really gut-irritating element of potatoes is the peel. And someone knowledgeable (can’t remember who) suggest Russet potatoes are the best.
    Also, they are pretty inexpensive although high quality butter can be pricey. Maybe try mixing in some egg yolks (I haven’t tried this yet).

  6. Glenn Whitney

    Sep 8, 2013 — 5:45 pm

    The Food Lovers of potatoes:

    Also you can throw in some coconut and/or MCT oil into the mashed potatoes, and lots of iodized salt, of course.

  7. @Mas: Thanks… Yeah I suppose so. I never considered most of them extreme.. except the vegan, but I also have never been good at sticking to diets. Even though I truly tried to think of them as lifestyle changes as I had an aversion to the term diet. I still sucked. I may have been vegan the longest, but I fell off many times with dairy. Out of everything I’ve given up in the name of some food eating way meat was the easiest adn dairy the hardest. I “cheated” all the time on everything but the meat/vegetarian way.

    I agree about the stress idea though. I never thought of stress as something I would have an issue with, but that’s because I didn’t realize for a long time that stress wasn’t just how you felt emotionally or work related. I’ve always been a laid bad super low stress person. I didn’t know until recently that food changes could actually stress your body. That plus a stressful relationship during my vegan days I think did more damage than I ever knew.

    Anyways, hopefully I’ll figure it all out someday lol. I am lucky I suppose in that I never developed an eating disorder. I’ve never lasted eating less than I was hungry for longer than like 1 day LOL. I love to eat. And even through all my diet experiments I still have been trying for health above all else… even if it hasn’t always worked out that way.

    Yes, some people seem to go crazy with the ice cream on Peat. I see stuff in the forums and I’m like.. How much ice cream are you eating?! If you can eat it whenever you want maybe it’s ok to eat a normal amount instead of like you’ll never eat it again. LOL.

    Good luck to you as well. Hopefully your metabolism will catch up to your appetite soon.

  8. @Glenn – We are on the same page. Potatoes is exactly where my research has led me. I am working on a post right now that gives them their props. Sour cream is one of those foods I forget about. Thanks for the reminder. Will be picking up some today.

    @Erica – I started with 1 pint of ice cream a week and worked up to 1 pint per day. Then I scaled back to about 3 pints a week, but I also got into making dairy kefir. Right now, I have moved to no ice cream and limited kefir. My metabolism is strong, but my appetite is stronger. 🙂

  9. Glenn Whitney

    Sep 9, 2013 — 10:27 am

    Kefir cheese is now rocking our world:


  10. @Jake – I found the text too hard to read. My eyes demand only the finest in typography. 🙂

    How about a quick summary?

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