By Sally Fallon Morell
Life is not fair, and the way it is most unfair lies in the fact that some people gain weight easily while others can eat just about anything they want and never gain an ounce. Even more unfair: the most common situation in a couple is a husband who can eat thousands of calories per day and remain slim while his wife slowly puts on weight even though she tries to watch what she eats. The situation gets worse at menopause, a time when most women naturally put on weight.
Long-term, permanent weight loss requires a complete change in lifestyle, including rejection of all processed foods, adopting a schedule of regular meals and, above all, dedication to nutrient-dense foods. If your diet is not supplying all the vitamins and minerals your body needs, the urge to eat will eventually overcome the best of intentions and the strongest willpower.
Let’s assume you are the typical American eater—consuming mostly processed food, trying to avoid fats and following a chaotic meal schedule, with lots of between-meal snacking. You have packed on the pounds and probably have developed several other health problems. You crave sweets and crunchy foods like chips. You have tried many diets, always starting with the best of intentions, but always giving in to hunger and temptation. Where do you start? How do you lose weight without feeling hungry and deprived all the time?
Here’s my formula: I call it Purge, Splurge, Fast and Last—four steps to bring you to a new relationship with food, lose weight and resolve health problems. If you have already been on a Wise Traditions diet for some time but still need to lose some weight, you won’t need the first two steps, but can jump in at Fast and Last.
The first step is purging your kitchen—that means going through your cupboards, pantry, fridge and freezer—and stashes throughout your house and even in your car. Get some big plastic bags and throw out every item that isn’t healthy and clean. Don’t berate yourself for “wasting” food—what you are throwing out is worthless anyway.
Start with the bottled dressings—one look on the labels will show you that they are absolute junk. Throw out the sauces and condiments. Get rid of the boxes of cereal, the cookies, crackers, donuts, candies, sodas and bars (even so-called healthy bars). Toss the frozen dinners, the white bread, the mixes, the microwaveables. Above all, discard all the margarines, spreads and cooking oils. All conventional dairy foods need to go too and, most importantly, anything labeled “lowfat” or “reduced-fat.”
Now replace what you have thrown out with real food—see “The Wisely Stocked Kitchen” in this issue, page 47, for guidelines. That means healthy fats like butter, olive oil, lard, coconut oil and duck fat; good natural proteins like meat, fish and eggs; artisan cured meat products such as bacon, salami and pȃté; whole grains you will prepare yourself; genuine sourdough bread and healthy crackers; natural sweeteners; raw nuts made into crispy nuts; natural fermented sodas like kombucha; lacto-fermented condiments and naturally made ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise.
Now that you have all the good foods at hand, especially good fats, you can give yourself permission to eat them. Many have told us that when they give themselves permission to eat butter and other traditional fats, they can’t help splurging on these fats for many months. And that’s okay! Go ahead and eat as much of these fats as you want. Put them on everything—vegetables, meat, fish, and porridge. Spread butter thickly on sourdough bread. Put cream on your fruit and in your sauces. Add extra yolks to your scrambled eggs.
The key thing during the splurge period is to get used to three meals per day, with absolutely no snacking between meals. Eating plenty of fats with your meals will keep you from feeling hungry in between. Try to get on as regular a schedule as possible, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same time every day.
This is the period to catch up on all the nutrition you have been lacking while on the standard American diet, so it’s important to include nutrient-dense superfoods at every meal—raw whole milk, raw cheese, yogurt, cream and butter from grass-fed cows, liver and other organ meats, bone broth and fish eggs, shellfish and oily fish. Supplements should include cod liver oil (for vitamins A and D), high-vitamin butter oil or emu oil (for vitamin K) and desiccated liver (for vitamins B12 and B6, iron, zinc, phosphorus and many other minerals).
Moderate consumption of carbs during this period is fine—especially carbs with lots of butter—and while you don’t need to eliminate sweets completely during this period, you should eat them only in moderation—and only homemade sweets such as natural ice cream, nut-based cookies and stewed fruit with cream. Consume these after a full meal, not between meals. You may find that you don’t even want dessert if you have eaten enough fat with your main meal.
Lacto-fermented foods such as sauerkraut, beet kvass, kefir and kombucha are important inclusions. The splurge period is also a good time to cut back on stimulants such as coffee, tea and chocolate. Instead of coffee, have a cup of bone broth or coconut oil and molasses dissolved in hot water.
You probably won’t lose weight during the splurge period—although some people actually do—but your weight will stabilize and you may see many pesky health problems disappear. The key is to get used to regular meals and nutrient-dense food.
Moderate exercise is important—a long, vigorous walk every day, swimming, game of tennis or golf, dancing, some strength training, rebounding or any combination of these will get the blood moving and help with insulin
Once you have gotten used to the Wise Traditions diet, you can move to the weight-loss stage, which involves what’s called “intermittent fasting.” That means a period of more than twelve hours—ideally up to eighteen hours—without food. As explained by Dr. Cowan (see page 24), if we go twelve hours without eating any food—protein, fat, or carbohydrate—we run out of the stored glycogen starch in our liver, which is there to get us through a twelve-hour fast. After twelve hours, the hormonal situation switches over to make glucagon, which signals to the body to mobilize stored fat and turn that into sugar in the blood. The fast also helps you release fat from your liver and toxins stored in other parts of your body.
This means that you are going to eat either breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner. My preference is the former—a substantial breakfast in the morning and then a fairly large lunch around one o’clock in the afternoon. If you have to cook an evening meal for your family, you can console yourself by looking forward to the leftovers the following day.
In the fasting stage, you will need to cut back on carbs, but not completely eliminate them. For the most part, you’ll need to cut out sweets and eat slightly smaller meals. The key is to continue with nutrient-dense foods and plenty of fats to keep the hunger pains at bay. By eliminating one meal, not only do you switch to fat-mobilization mode, but you also reduce your caloric intake. As you can still eat two satisfying meals each day, there is no sense of deprivation. Be sure to consume plenty of liquids—such as broth, kombucha and water—and continue with your exercise regime.
You should lose weight slowly and steadily during the fasting stage—count on three to five months to lose a dress size. The time may come, however, when you hit a plateau. That may mean you have reached your ideal weight (which is probably higher than what you hoped to attain) or need to embark on a more vigorous exercise regime. Here’s a good website for calculating your ideal weight: www.smartbmicalculator.com/
You have lost several dress sizes (or shirt sizes) and you do feel better—now what? The key to maintaining your weight is to continue with nutrient-dense foods and a regular schedule of eating, with no snacking, no between-meal eating and no processed food. You may need to skip a meal several times per week to maintain your weight, but by now you are used to that. The rest of the time you can enjoy three normal meals per day, high in fat and moderate to low in carbs.
This is not a yo-yo diet plan, the kind where you lose weight quickly and then gain it all back and more. Weight loss is slow and steady, and carried out in such a way that you improve your health and nourish your body, not starve yourself of nutrients. The plan does not punish you and requires little willpower—only wise choices and a hefty dose of resolve. Purge, splurge, fast and last: it’s a plan that can work for everyone.
GETTING THE NUTRIENTS YOU NEED
VITAMIN A: Critical for hormone production, thyroid function, healthy lungs, cell function and just about everything else. As a whole, Americans are grossly deficient in vitamin A. Best sources are cod liver oil (take every day), liver (eat several times per week), butter, cream and eggs.
VITAMIN D: The companion to vitamin A, vitamin D plays an important role in insulin production and weight loss. Best sources are cod liver oil (take every day), egg yolks from pastured hens (eat every day), poultry liver, lard, bacon, shellfish and fish eggs.
VITAMIN K: Good vitamin K status is associated with better body weight and less abdominal fat in younger adults, and lower weight gain in menopause. Best sources are high-vitamin butter oil or emu oil (take every day), duck or goose liver (consume weekly), duck or goose fat (use frequently) and hard aged cheeses (eat frequently).
B VITAMINS: All the B vitamins work to help you make more energy in your cells; choline is especially important. The best sources of choline and indeed all the B vitamins are liver and egg yolks. Soaked whole grains are another good source.
VITAMIN C: Vitamin C is key to healthy adrenal function, healthy gums and many other processes. Best sources are lacto-fermented foods (eat daily) and fresh fruits and vegetables. Those with high requirements for vitamin C can take a natural supplement such as Amla-C.
CALCIUM AND PHOSPHORUS: Many diet plans leave people short of these key nutrients. Best sources are raw milk or raw cheese (consume daily), yogurt and kefir.
ZINC: A cofactor for vitamin A and needed for over one hundred enzymes in the body, the modern diet of processed food is a recipe for zinc deficiency. Best sources are red meat, liver and shellfish (eat frequently).
IRON: Critical for healthy blood and prevention of anemia, the best sources are red meat and liver (eat frequently).
BENEFICIAL BACTERIA: Good gut flora are associated with lower weight! We get beneficial bacteria by eating lactofermented foods like sauerkraut, beet kvass and homemade kefir and yogurt.
MEAL IDEAS FOR THE FASTING STAGE
Glass of raw milk, bacon and eggs, fresh fruit, small glass of beet kvass
Soaked oatmeal with butter and natural sweetener, glass of raw milk or kefir
Cheese omelet, glass of raw milk or kefir, mug of bone broth
Leftover soup, sourdough bread with butter and cheese
Smoothie made with whole yogurt, egg yolks, coconut oil, fruit and natural sweetener
Pȃté on sourdough bread or crackers, small salad with grated cheese, fresh fruit or a few dates
Smoked salmon with cream cheese on sourdough bread, sliced avocado
Caviar or salmon roe on crackers or crispy pancakes with sour cream, small salad with bacon and grated cheese
Homemade soup with sourdough bread and raw cheese
Fish or meat with heavily buttered, steamed vegetables, small salad with grated cheese
Welsh rarebit on fried sourdough bread, small salad
Liver with bacon and onions with heavily buttered, steamed vegetables
Braunschweiger or liverwurst on sourdough bread or crackers, homemade soup
FOODS THAT ARE A DIETER’S BEST FRIENDS
COCONUT OIL and OTHER COCONUT PRODUCTS: Coconut oil is high in medium-chain triglycerides, a type of saturated fat that is never stored as fat but which the body uses to boost metabolism. A good way to get a recommended one to two tablespoons per day is to put the coconut oil in a mug with one tablespoon molasses and a pinch of powdered ginger. Add hot water and enjoy as a hot pick-me-up—much better for you than coffee!
DATES: Hankering for something sweet after a meal? Dates are your answer. Have a date or two, or date meat mixed with coconut. You’ll find that dates will quickly quell the craving.
BUTTER: The queen of fats, put butter on everything! Butter will help you absorb all the nutrients in the foods you eat and make all your food delicious and satisfying. Plus, three components of butter (iodine, vitamin A and butyric acid) are necessary for robust thyroid function.
BACON: The combination of fatty, crispy, salty and sweet make bacon the ultimate comfort food and there’s no need to leave it out of the Fast-Last part of the diet. Have bacon for breakfast and put bacon bits on a hearty chef’s salad at lunch and you will never feel deprived!
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2017.🖨️ Print post
Geri Quintero, LAc. says
Thank you Sally. I’m going to send this out to my Traditional Foods Cooking class right now… Spring is a good time for fasting and cleansing as it’s the “Liver time of year” on the Chinese Medicine calendar, so I’m sharing your article with my patient email list as well.
Since the autor doesn’t make a difference between vitamin k1 and vitamin k2 I find hard to take the article seriously. Also most of us have no access to raw milk and good quality organic food is expensive so the plan is not very realistic for most working class people.
Not true…. I am an organic farmer. I have found I can have awesome meals by dealing directly with other farmers. I save on meat costs immensely. Also, find an organic chicken farmer. When they are about to rotate their flocks, but a bunch of the older chickens. Not expensive like at the stores and great for putting in a crock pot for bone broth and then use the meat for salads, stews, etc… Also, if you want raw milk products….check your state and local co ops to find a herd share program. You will then be able to get raw milk and raw yogurt and raw cream even if they aren’t allowed to retail raw milk in your state! Also, look around for organic grain mills. I know of one in Ohio that sells sprouted grain flours! Stutzmans farms in millersburg ohio. And, their prices beat any stores prices. You can actually save money by buying organic and pasture raised…..just need to know where to look!
Joe in Missouri says
Get off your butt and grow a garden….
Or go to a framers market and learn who does not use pesticides.
I’ve read a lot of Sally Fallon’s work and she does make the distinction between K1 and K2 in other places. As to the cost of grass fed, pasture raised meats and raw dairy, and organic vegetables and fruit, yes, for most of us it’s quite expensive. That’s why obesity and chronic disease affect the poor disproportionately. As others have said you can grow a garden and in many places (which are increasing in number) are allowed to keep chickens or other fowl, but I understand that when you’re poor you may be working too many hours to realistically keep up with those responsibilities and/or may not have access to land that will allow those activities. In addition there are states where the sale of raw milk is completely prohibited, so we’re not all lucky enough to be able to find a place where we can legally obtain raw dairy.
I know that all sounds very bleak, but the silver lining is that you know what you need to eat to move toward a better state of health. Maybe you can’t completely purge your existence of processed foods, maybe you have no energy to cook or time to exercise (but if you’re a working poor person, exercise is probably a component of your daily work). My advice is to strive for progress, not perfection. Traditional cooking methods do tend to take more time, but a lot of that time is spent waiting for food to finish cooking (as in lacto fermented foods and crockpot meals). Start with what you can manage and please stop telling yourself “I *can’t* afford it.” The best thing you can say to yourself is “*How* can I afford it?” When you start thinking like that it shifts your frame of reference from one of anger and fear to a mental state of creativity and hope. If you give up without trying, you know what will happen. Open yourself up to the possibility that maybe you *can* make some changes for the better.
So well said, this response impacted me greatly. I will apply these principles to my life. Thanks for taking the time to post this. I like what you said about changing your mind set from cant to how.
A very comprehensive article. I started IF about a week ago, and found it to be a surprisingly easy transition after eliminating processed foods and sugar from my diet. Your article confirms a lot of what I’ve been thinking/research. Thank you for the great information!
Elaine Kist says
I have been a WAPF member off and on for years. I wish there was a diet book, with menu ideas and portions. I have all the food WAPF promotes on my ranch, but I can’t lose a pound and the weight is hurting my bones and joints. I would like more information on how to eat, not just what to eat.
I am an organic farmer too! Here’s what I do. Just started doing it two and a half weeks ago. Lost some weight and a pant size. Think I’m gaining muscle. 🙂 I throw a chicken in the crockpot with water. And, any extra veggies on hand. At night, let some brown rice soak in your fridge. Next day (24 hrs. Later) I drain the chicken and pull off the meat. I then put the broth in the fridge to cook with over the next couple days. Cook the rice in the rice cooker using the bone broth instead of water. Boil some veggies in the bone broth. Mix it all together and put on some of the chicken pieces. Great. And great for left overs. Want to freeze the extra? Just put in a mason jar and add some a little more bone broth. And freeze! Want to change it up? Switch to beef. Other veggies. Sprouted grain noodles. The crockpot takes a ton of work off your shoulders. Also, my family does what I call a power meal every lunch following the same menu type in Weston’s trials. I modified it a little. But, start with o.j. And cod liver oil. Then make sure your meal has meat, bone broth, veggies, dairy, and a sprouted or soaked grain. Then some lightly warmed fruit with honey. Sometimes I just take the homemade raspberry juice concentrate I make from our farm and pour some in with my orange juice. My whole family has noticed changes! No constipation, even in my 4 year old, better sleep, feel stronger, weight loss….hope this helps!
Todd Baum says
I have read extensively on the topic. I recently read Dr. Jason Fung’s “Obesity Code.” Highly recommend this book. Losing weight is to some extent, not possible, as you aleady know. Dr. Fung explains this, but also offers hope with keeping insulin levels low, and decreasing insulin resistance. It’s all explained in his book.
Love Dr. Fung and “The Obesity Code” should be on life’s required reading list. If you don’t like reading check out his YouTube videos.
Joe in Missouri says
Read Mercola’s book “Fat for Fuel”
You can make this diet indistinguishable from a WAP diet and you will lose weight.
There is! Sally’s and Mary Enig’s book “Eat Fat, Lose Fat.” It’s an awesome resource and has tons of recipes and meal plans!
Weight loss tip I’ve learned thru experience: Stay away from any barley juice powders or wheat grass stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I love the stuff. And yes it gives me more energy….BUT….. There a tons of published medical studies online about how it raises the hormone prolactin. Which affects all the other hormone levels including cortisol. Men can usually take the stuff and be okay. It’s good for pregnant women. But women in their thirties and forties, it can start affecting weight and hormones. Took the stuff for four years. Stopped, and within two months no p.m.s. And also no blood sugar spikes.
Thank you for your lovely article. I was wondering if you would care to comment on how to do this sort of fasting when you have terrible low blood sugar? I have tried intermittant fasting and the whole 3 meals per day no snacking thing and I am unable to manage it. My blood sugar drops so badly that I become confused, slur words, and am overall unable to funciton. Since I have adrenal fatigue, I am unable to recover afterward, and will be slugish, fatigued and must lie down most of the day after a blood sugar crash like that. So how would I make this work with adreanl fatigue, an untreated thyroid problem, and low blood sugar. Thank you in advance for your response!
Tanya Storm says
Mellie – I’d suggest healing your adrenal fatigue before you take on intermittent fasting. It does cause a degree of stress to the body (and this is worse for women, unfortunately.) It could exacerbate and prolong your adrenal fatigue, and I know you don’t want that! So focus on healing for now, and once your adrenals are functioning well, only then try the intermittent fasting.
Once you are ready for intermittent fasting, I’d suggest making sure you are not eating too many carbs and/or too little fat at your meals. I can definitely go longer between meals if I have not eaten many carbs, and if I’ve enjoyed a satisfying, high fat meal. Best of luck to you!
Jerilyn Ingram says
When you are skipping a meal, is drinking raw milk allowed? Or would that be considered a meal time food?
That would be considered a meal time food (anything that raises your insulin levels.). The idea is to lower your insulin for a longer period of time – not just calorie reduction.
I gained weight for the first time in my life (had always been thin) when my appetite dropped and I started skipping meals (ate 2 meals a day) and drinking lots of whole raw milk. Be careful.
Taking notes of those vitamins. Will try my best to cope up with the need of this body of mine.
Good fats is indeed good from preventing us from feeling hungry from time to time
Pat Howe says
I have been using these concepts for about six years, having been introduced to Weston A. Price by my Naturopathic Doc. This program probably saved my life, or at least a whole lot of chronic symptoms that were gathering. Three years ago I had knee surgery and was told I could expect knee re-construction in two to five years. I was also told that cartilage doesn’t regrow and that meniscus tears don’t heal. The surgery was a clean up job with gloomy prognosis.
Today I am over fifty pounds lighter, and I used Weston A. price every step of the way. I was a preemie baby, and permission to use butter and clean fats has been crucial. I use bone broth to heal my joints. I reconfigured my life and did a remarkable course in commercial cooking. Today I am most gratified to work for a local organic grocery as a salad/cold food chef. My knees don’t hurt and I am developing a Tai Chi/Chi Gung practice. You need cartilage in joints to do that. The mainstream doctors were wrong.
I am most grateful and delighted to be a member and supporter of Weston A. price.
I don’t quibble about details, I do what works for me. This program works for me.
With much gratitude to Sally,
could you please send contact info for your Naturopathic Doc?
What about the sugar in raw milk ? How does that fit in with a low carb diet/ keeping insulin levels down ? I’m not diabetic nor do I have insulin resistance but want to know how to include raw milk. I do intermittent fasting too 18-24 hours at the moment with hardly any carbs save for a an onion or a few tomatoes here and there.
I would add a warning for postpartum women desiring to lose fat that this method can cause them to lose their milk supply.
What is a healthy body fat percentage for women?
Ann Stidd says
Eating only three meals per day with no snacking does not work for me. I’ve lost and maintained the loss by eating every three hours – that keeps me in fat-burning mode. If you wait too long between fueling, your body will go into starvation mode and start to store fat. Fasting for long periods of time (12 hours) is a sure way for your body to start storing fat.
Yeah, pretty sure fasting expedited my hormonal decline, not by itself – but in the real world people don’t fast cleanly enough for it to be a sure positive. I now do a daily 12 by not eating after 6-7pm, which is good for sleep – but fasting while restricting carbs, exercising, being as stressed as we are, and already being malnourished seems like one of those things that is great in theory and maybe not so great in practice, at least in my case.
I have done lots of IF, 48s, 72s, 96s, and a 5 day fast. I have experimented with salts, fasted exercise, and a whole slew of other combinations of fasting principles. But – for me, the stress of life, and not having my diet dialed in well enough to eat productively in a short window (not for lack of density, but because of sensitivities I am still working out) fasting seems a net negative for me. I think it contributed strongly to a messed up Thyroid, messed up Adrenals, and other issues, ultimately leading to weight-gain and a persistent crashing phenomenon that makes it difficult to hold down an exercise habit.
I went from being a top physical performer to being one of the worst physical performers in my military unit trying to follow a fasting lifestyle. Again, not necessarily the fasting, just be aware that it does not mix well with stress.
When you see a fasting proponent (someone who suggests fasting day in and day out, for life) just ask yourself how much stress that person is under, whether they are getting everything their body needs, and if Jesus Christ fasted as an exercise or as a constant lifestyle. And when somebody says “look, this lion doesn’t eat for 3 days, or a week,” – ask yourself if the lion is sitting around in a pool of cortisol. When animals aren’t eating, intentionally, it is because they’re dead to the world resting.
Just my two cents.
Arla L Pieper says
Fasting for 12 hours is a sure way for your body to start BURNING FAT!! Go study Intermittent Fasting with Dr. Jason Fung on You Tube and learn…every time you eat, especially carbs, it is a signal to your body to STORE FAT …YOU DO NOT go into Starvation Mode when you Intermittent Fast.
shell shockers says
The information you share gives me more knowledge. I am very grateful for that.
Are there any meal services that deliver the food ready to cook and divided up into meals?
Or, are there any WAPF coaches that can give us meal plans?