We’ve all heard the following story before: someone was overweight, sick, and generally frustrated with life. But then they switched to a vegan diet and suddenly they felt like a completely new person.
The vegan diet helped them lose weight, increase their energy to almost forgotten kindergarten levels, reawakened their sex drive, and gave them amazing glowing skin, just to name a few benefits.
There are even people who report having healed some serious diseases. And with “serious” I mean true heavyweights such as diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer!
And not only that. The lab tests at the doctor’s office show the same results:
- improved insulin sensitivity
- lower inflammation levels
- lower blood pressure
- lower triglycerides
So even the doctors nod in agreement and approve of their patient’s new way of eating, even though they have just lost a paying customer.
And if you’re still not convinced, the new vegans will smash your objections with their brand new Instagram accounts showcasing their amazing transformation with before and after pictures.
So even I, who is currently following a carnivore diet, have to admit that a lot of those new vegans look pretty damn healthy.
So why don’t I just ditch The Dark Side of eating meat and instead embrace the vegan diet for my own health, for the animals, and for the planet?
Oh, if it only were that easy.
My initial experiences with veganism were great!
Ten years ago I did exactly that. In 2010, I started eating a vegan diet, raw vegan to be more precise. (Yes, type it in the comments: “Mo, YouWereDoingItWrong™. Raw vegan doesn’t work.”)
I was really excited about the positive health changes that I got. My energy levels improved significantly, my acne that I had been battling for years cleared up entirely, and I was finally not getting sick all the time like all those years before.
So believe me: I was just as excited about veganism as some of you are. I thought the raw vegan diet was THE solution to everything, though I never adopted a nickname like “Rawritz” as so many others did with their names. Yes, this was really a thing.
However, over the years I’ve seen and felt the downsides of both the raw vegan and the cooked vegan diet.
While some people I’ve met have successfully cured themselves of cancer with a raw vegan diet, I’ve also personally known two people who were following this diet for a decade but still developed cancer and died at the end.
Today’s post is not about all the negative long-term effects of the vegan diet (I will cover that in the future). Instead, I’m going to explain to you the underlying mechanism of the vegan honeymoon period.
This post will be one of the most important pieces of diet information you will ever read.
I know this is a pretty bold statement for a brand new blogger in his very first blog post.
Read the full article and judge me after you have read it. Okay?
The following concept will give you the ability to categorize all of those conflicting diet concepts out there and integrate them into the bigger picture.
So many people I talk to these days have entered a stage of “dietary nihilism” where they throw their hands in the air and say: “Every day you hear something different. One day it’s low-carb. The next day it’s high-carb veganism. And every week there is a new scapegoat food that’s vilified. You know what? I’m just gonna eat whatever the hell I want!”
In other words: They are completely confused about eating the right diet and have, therefore, just given up.
So let’s put the High-Carb vs. Low-Carb Paradox into perspective.
So far we know that on both ends of the spectrum many people experience amazing transformations in their health and their body composition.
For some weird reason, both of those opposing approaches do work. And this weird reason does have a name. It’s called the Randle Cycle, named after its discoverer Philip Randle. 
The Randle Cycle describes the phenomenon that carbohydrates and fatty acids compete for absorption. If both are present in the bloodstream at the same time, they can cancel each other out and cause metabolic problems.
When fatty acids enter the muscle they block the influx of glucose. As a result, glucose gets converted into fat and enters the fat tissue. The glucose influx into the fat tissue, in turn, blocks the release of fatty acids into the bloodstream.
When you go on a low-carb high-fat diet, your blood glucose levels will be so low that there is no excess glucose that needs to be converted into fat. Your muscles can comfortably burn fatty acids and your fat tissue can easily release fatty acids which makes your fat depots shrink over time.
As a result, people on a low-carb high-fat diet lose weight and improve their metabolic health markers.
Conversely, when you go on a high-carb low-fat diet, you won’t have that many fatty acids in your bloodstream. Now all the glucose can easily enter the muscle without being blocked by fatty acids. When your muscles can burn all of the glucose, there won’t be any leftover glucose that your body would have to convert into fat.
This means that your fat tissue can release fatty acids without them being blocked by glucose anymore.
As a result, people on a high-carb low-fat diet also lose weight and improve their metabolic health markers.
You could think of your body as a car with a special engine that can run on both diesel and gas. The only thing you have to take care of is to never mix diesel and gas together.
So if you mix sugar and fat, this is when problems start to occur. If you cut out either carbs or fat, then you deactivate the Randle Cycle, which will improve your health and lower your weight.
Now we can understand why so many new vegans feel so amazing when they start the vegan diet. The vegan diet is generally on the higher-carb lower-fat side of the spectrum.
This deactivation of the Randle Cycle will always help with weight loss and lead to metabolic improvements.
And yes, you will become more insulin sensitive on a high-carb low-fat diet. Read that last sentence again.
When your cells don’t have to deal with sugar and fat at the same time they will become very insulin sensitive.
In fact, a high-carb low-fat diet can make you even more insulin sensitive than a low-carb high-fat diet. The latter will also make you more insulin sensitive, but your cells will go into a so-called state of physiological insulin resistance (not to be confused with pathological insulin resistance). Your cells do this to preserve the little blood glucose that’s left for the brain.
Your body can easily switch off this physiological insulin resistance once you re-introduce carbs into your diet.
On a high-carb low-fat diet, you will become extremely insulin sensitive because your cells are only dealing with sugar but not fat. And since your insulin receptors are like muscles – the more you use them the more effective they become – you will become more insulin sensitive on a high-carb low-fat diet.
And more insulin sensitivity not only correlates with weight loss. The less weight you carry around, the less inflammation you have to deal with. This is because fat tissue produces pro-inflammatory adipokines such as leptin. [2, 3]
When your skin cells become more insulin sensitive and less inflamed you will notice this in overall better-looking skin.
So there you have it. The reason why new vegans temporarily feel better and lose weight and improve all their metabolic markers is that they are finally deactivating the Randle Cycle which had constantly been activated during all those years on the Standard American Diet.
So let’s recap:
Carbs alone don’t lead to insulin resistance.
Fat alone doesn’t lead to insulin resistance.
It’s the sugar-fat combo (aka Standard American Diet) that leads to insulin resistance.
But why is nobody talking about this? Because everyone has their own agenda and doesn’t want to admit that the opposition might also be right in some cases. Not only the vegans but also the low-carbers and some carnivores create their own echo chambers where they ban opposing viewpoints.
This lack of interest in any dialogue and retreating to echo chambers instead isn’t just exclusive to the nutrition scene. You can see this everywhere on the internet, especially in politics. But I digress.
So does this mean that I recommend a vegan diet?
This vegan honeymoon period doesn’t last forever. Sure, your metabolic health improves but as soon as you’ve depleted your nutrient reservoirs it will only be downhill from there.
So I do acknowledge that a high-carb low-fat diet can work long term. But it must include animal products. And it must not be zero-fat. You absolutely need animal products and a certain baseline of fatty acids to make a high-carb low-fat diet work in the long run.
A good example of a sustainable high-carb low-fat diet which includes animal products is the Japanese diet. And unsurprisingly, Japan has one of the highest life expectancies in the world. 
So if you only do the one-month Veganuary challenge and return to eating animal products afterward you can indeed improve your metabolic health. (As long as you don’t eat vegan junk food.)
In the meantime, I’m doing the World Carnivore Month challenge.
So keep in mind. Never become dogmatic about your diet. Always stay open-minded so in case things don’t work out as expected you retain your ability to look at it objectively and adjust your diet as needed.
This applies not only to the vegan diet but also the carnivore diet and every other diet concept in between.
In a future post, I will talk about scenarios when it’s okay and even beneficial to activate the Randle Cycle.
And now: Share the sh*t out of this blog post!
Also, leave me a comment if you liked this post or if you have any questions.
That’s it for today. Until next time,