Atkins - advice from those of you who have done it
#31
The problem with Atkins is that one can lose a lot of weight initially because of water weight being loss. Carbs will hold water which will increase the weight of the body. So, for judging a diet, you can't actually lose fat that fast. Losing 10 lbs in two weeks is possible, but it is not normally fat that is being lost, but water and muscle.

There is the same issue with weight gaining. Muscle grows slowly, so rapid initial gains are almost always water (and initial increase in muscle size is also just fluid, called the "pump" which can last for quite a while). Promises of rapid weight loss/gain and rapid muscle growth/fat loss are usually deceptive and usually involve the rapid retention or release of water.
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#32
There's absolutely nothing wrong with red meat.  There's never been any evidence that saturated fat is harmful, and the demonization of it was purely political and ideological.  If you look at primitive societies that don't have the modern disease and obesity that we have, whether they eat high-carb like the Kitavans with their potatoes and coconut oil or low-carb like the Masai with a diet of beef and dairy, most of their fat tends to be saturated, whether from meat, dairy, or tropical oils.  My only concern with red meat would be how it's raised: cattle raised on a feed floor and fed mostly grains have thousands of times the level of e-coli that cattle on pasture do, for example.  So that's a plus for hunting or growing your own right there.

Grains are only reasonably healthy if you buy them whole, so the unsaturated fats in them haven't had a chance to go rancid, and soak or ferment them to break down the anti-nutrients that all seeds carry to protect them from premature development.  It's quite a hassle.  And no one should ever under any circumstances eat soy, unless it's been fermented to destroy the faux estrogens.

I started low-carbing at 290 pounds, lost to 220, then stopped and gained back to about 260, and started again and got to 240, where I seemed to plateau.  (And no, it wasn't all water weight.)  I made two mistakes: not following the actual diet by increasing my carbs as I went, and not dealing with the underlying issues that made me gain weight in the first place.  You see, people don't become obese because they eat too much; that's as silly as saying you can make your child an NBA player by feeding him twice as much.  The kid who grew four inches one summer ate like a horse because he was growing; and likewise, fat people eat more because they're getting fat.  In Good Calories, Bad Calories, Gary Taubes points out people who have a condition where one part of their body gets obese while another part wastes away, and he asks the obvious question: are they eating too much and making one part fat and eating too little and starving the other part?

We get hungry because our cells decide they need energy, so they send out the signals that cause hunger.  If there's a metabolic imbalance of some sort, like a hormone being over- or under-produced, some cells can be unable to get energy as efficiently or completely as they should, so they end up asking for more food before we should really need it.  The extra energy has to go somewhere, so we either go run a mile or we store it as fat.  If we have enough willpower to refuse to eat when we're hungry, those cells are still low on energy, so our body temperature drops and our metabolism slows down.  Now we're burning even less energy, so unless we cut our calories even more, we've got more to store as fat, and the cycle just gets worse.

Low-carb works because it counters the most common metabolic imbalance that causes obesity: insulin resistance.  Insulin tells your cells to take sugar from the blood and do stuff with it.  It's very important to keep blood sugar within a tight range at all times, so if your cells get resistant (stop responding as quickly as they should), the pancreas quickly pumps out more and more insulin to compensate.  Usually the fat cells don't get resistant as quickly as the muscle and organ cells, so they happily store energy when insulin tells them to, and the next thing you know you've got love handles.  Low-carb cuts the sugar intake enough that your insulin levels come down, so the fat cells aren't getting that message as much anymore.  Also, when insulin lowers, hormones like glucagon and adrenaline get a chance to tell your fat cells to release energy for burning.  All this results in weight loss, or at least the cessation of weight gain.

There's only one problem: what caused the insulin resistance in the first place?  The simplest guess is that carbs do: put more sugar in your system, produce more insulin, and your cells gradually become resistant to it.  But there's a problem with that: some people, and indeed some whole societies like the Kitavans, eat lots of carbs, and it never happens to them.  We've all got a friend who eats Skittles and Mountain Dew every day and never gains a pound and has energy out the wazoo.  So if too many carbs didn't make me insulin resistant, what did?

The latest research seems to be pointing toward an underlying hormone called leptin, which regulates the metabolism, as well as some stuff that goes on at the blood-brain barrier involving the hypothalamus.  The word that keeps coming up is "inflammation"; when cells become inflamed, the metabolism gets messed up, and cells become leptin resistant and then insulin resistant.  So what causes the inflammation?  Well, one major cause we know of is omega-6 fatty acids.  In small quantities, they're essential, but large quantities cause inflammation.  And omega-6s fit perfectly as the culprit, because consumption of them rose drastically in the mid-1900s with the replacement of butter and red meat with vegetable oils and chicken.  Most high sources of omega-6 are processed foods like vegetable oils and peanut butter, so all those traditional societies that are ridiculously healthy get very little omega-6.  The evidence is stacking up.

I didn't plan on writing this much, but all that is to say: low-carb is a great way to lose weight, but it's not the whole story.  If you want to be healthy and be able to keep the weight off, you have to address the underlying metabolic problem, and just cutting carbs probably won't do that, though it may reduce many of the symptoms and give you more energy for a while.  I'm currently raising my own carbs quite a bit (just as all the plans, including Atkins, call for), but concentrating on whole starches like potatoes; no refined stuff.  This week I'm actually doing a raw milk diet---nothing but raw milk, probably a couple gallons a day.  Before pasteurization, a milk diet was often prescribed for metabolic issues.  It's known to speed up the metabolism and raise energy levels, which have always been a problem for me, so it'll be interesting to see how that goes.
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#33
And there are ways to rapidly lose fat/gain muscle. If you manipulate your hormones, it can result in rapid results. For fat, reducing the glycemic index of your diet will usually cause fat to not increase and if you are healthy, may result in rapid loss of it as well. Increasing growth hormones and testosterone will cause fat to be lost rapidly, although, one's body weight may not change much due to muscle growth.

Remember, when losing or gaining weight, there are many parts of the body. Losing and gaining water is very easy and fast and losing muscle is easier than losing fat. If you diet and go running, your weight loss will be from muscle. If you diet and lift weights, your weight loss may be lower, but you'll lose almost only fat and gain muscle. A calorie deficit is only part of the picture.
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#34
(05-03-2010, 02:19 PM)Herr_Mannelig Wrote: The problem with Atkins is that one can lose a lot of weight initially because of water weight being loss. Carbs will hold water which will increase the weight of the body. So, for judging a diet, you can't actually lose fat that fast. Losing 10 lbs in two weeks is possible, but it is not normally fat that is being lost, but water and muscle.

This is true, but I don't know why it's a problem.  If someone offers me a job for $10/hour, but says he'll pay me $50/hour for the first week as a hiring bonus, is that a "problem"?

Yes, the initial "whoosh," as many low-carbers call it, is mostly water that was used to store glycogen (sugar) in the muscles, which is released when you aren't storing sugar in every nook and cranny anymore.  So what?  It's a nice emotional boost to see the scale drop like that 3-4 days into a diet, even though you know it's not all fat and it's not going to keep happening (assuming you actually read a low-carb book and weren't trying to follow it based on what a friend told you her neighbor saw on Oprah, of course).
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#35
(05-03-2010, 02:34 PM)Mhoram Wrote:
(05-03-2010, 02:19 PM)Herr_Mannelig Wrote: The problem with Atkins is that one can lose a lot of weight initially because of water weight being loss. Carbs will hold water which will increase the weight of the body. So, for judging a diet, you can't actually lose fat that fast. Losing 10 lbs in two weeks is possible, but it is not normally fat that is being lost, but water and muscle.

This is true, but I don't know why it's a problem.  If someone offers me a job for $10/hour, but says he'll pay me $50/hour for the first week as a hiring bonus, is that a "problem"?

Yes, the initial "whoosh," as many low-carbers call it, is mostly water that was used to store glycogen (sugar) in the muscles, which is released when you aren't storing sugar in every nook and cranny anymore.  So what?  It's a nice emotional boost to see the scale drop like that 3-4 days into a diet, even though you know it's not all fat and it's not going to keep happening (assuming you actually read a low-carb book and weren't trying to follow it based on what a friend told you her neighbor saw on Oprah, of course).

Well, right now I am in the introductory phase, and already I am dropping a ton of water weight (not surprising, considering how much soda I drank).  Ive been keeping the level of carbs at about 20-30, which I will slowly increase in 2-3 weeks.  The problem is, I am not seeing an agreement anywhere as to how much you should  increase after that.  10 more grams a week?  Ive read a couple Atkins books earlier this year, but I went online for 'real people' stories, some of whom increase to 60 grams the following week.

I am in for the long haul, as really they say the key to every diet is changing your personal habits, which I intend to do.  Another thing Ive read is that some people who encourage people not to weigh themselves allow weight to be gained unnoticed because of not keeping track. 
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#36
Unless you want to put in a lot of time researching, I think it's best to pick one plan and follow it.  On Atkins, I think you increase carbs 5g/week after the two-week Induction period, until your weight loss stops, and then stay just below that until you reach your goal weight.  On Protein Power, you start out at <30, then go to <55 when you've met certain requirements, then when you're done losing, you gradually increase until you find your maintenance point.  On Schwarzbein, you start out higher, somewhere between 60-150 depending on your situation, and increase or not based on health changes.  So it varies, and each plan has reasons based on what else it has you doing, so it's probably best to follow a single plan as closely as possible.

As for weighing yourself, I think that's a personality choice.  For some people, daily weighing is a terrible idea, because weight is going to fluctuate and most scales aren't that accurate, and they'll beat themselves up and maybe quit every time they gain a half-pound, even if they lost a pound the day before.  Others need the daily check-in to remind them to stay on track, and can handle the variations.  Some never weigh themselves and use a belt or piece of clothing to gauge progress instead, since it's really inches we're trying to get rid of, not pounds necessarily.  That one's really up to you. 
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#37
(05-03-2010, 02:34 PM)Mhoram Wrote: This is true, but I don't know why it's a problem.  If someone offers me a job for $10/hour, but says he'll pay me $50/hour for the first week as a hiring bonus, is that a "problem"?

Yes, the initial "whoosh," as many low-carbers call it, is mostly water that was used to store glycogen (sugar) in the muscles, which is released when you aren't storing sugar in every nook and cranny anymore.  So what?  It's a nice emotional boost to see the scale drop like that 3-4 days into a diet, even though you know it's not all fat and it's not going to keep happening (assuming you actually read a low-carb book and weren't trying to follow it based on what a friend told you her neighbor saw on Oprah, of course).

Yes, it isn't a problem per se, but it is usually deceptive. So many people have good impressions of a diet because of its short term "results". Water can be lost and gained daily (and in fact is).

The point is that a person's metrics should be focused on the actual goal. Unless one has an actual reason to weigh a specific amount, the issue is excess fat (you know, blubber), not numbers on a scale. The primary tool is not the scale, but a camera and a mirror.

Same with lifting weights. Using a tape measure is deceptive due to the natural fluctuations in the body's dimensions. Our weights change daily (lowest after waking up) and our body can swell depending on a number of factors, including temperature. For those who wish to lose fat, the metric should be visual (or medical, however, not really scale related unless one is obese and there is a lot of fat weight which can't be anything else) and for those who want to gain muscle, the metric should be ability. (Again, unless one actually needs to be a certain size or weight, this is true. For wrestlers, jockeys, etc, manipulating water levels is a wise choice for small adjustments without losing ability).
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#38
Atkins worked for me to drop 12 pounds.  Took about 3-4 weeks.  Basics:
1.  Have snacks ready.  I like hard boiled eggs.  I use an egg slicer too.
2.  Quit sugary drinks. They are poison.  I like Diet Dr. Pepper and Diet Pepsi.  For non-caff., Diet A&W and Diet 7 up, though the latter is very sweet.
3.  Even better, install a charcoal filter on your tap water and drink water. Tons of water.
4.  Pre-sliced lunch meat is good to have in the fridge.  Also good cheese.
5.  It is tough to avoid salt, so drink plenty of water, and have unsalted nuts like almonds handy.
6.  Mix the meat and cheese with salad.  I used olive oil and vinegar with black pepper and basil for topping.

When you start, you realize you are addicted to sugar.  At certain times of the day, you get a sugar crave.  Stuff yourself with snacks during this time (Atkin friendly like nuts).

I also take fiber pills.

Also avoid alcohol during your diet.  It will keep the sugar craving going.

Also, get some cardio.  Ten minutes on an exercise bicycle was really good at keeping the weight coming off.

Once you hit your weight, reintroduce the carbs, but always stay away from high glycemic index food, like sugar and sugary drinks.  They will get you addicted to sugar again.
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#39
(05-03-2010, 03:18 PM)Herr_Mannelig Wrote: Yes, it isn't a problem per se, but it is usually deceptive. So many people have good impressions of a diet because of its short term "results". Water can be lost and gained daily (and in fact is).

Absolutely.  I don't know too many people who think of low-carbing as a quick way to lose ten pounds, though, do you?  Everyone I know thinks of it as a long term way to lose a lot of weight.  Maybe that's because they know me.  Or maybe I just don't care what people who aren't paying attention think.
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#40
(05-03-2010, 05:51 PM)Mhoram Wrote: Absolutely.  I don't know too many people who think of low-carbing as a quick way to lose ten pounds, though, do you?  Everyone I know thinks of it as a long term way to lose a lot of weight.  Maybe that's because they know me.  Or maybe I just don't care what people who aren't paying attention think.

Realistically, I know people fail more than they succeed and will have biased thoughts on things.

I do think of low carbing as a way to temporarily lose weight, but the problem is when people think something "works" when in fact they didn't really see it work. Those expensive exercise machines are sold on this principle. They rely on people having good impressions regardless of whether they actually benefit the person so they sell. A 300 lb Olympic barbell set will do more good, but it is too simple and too hard to market for the masses.
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