Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Atkins: The Plan I love to hate . .

Fellas, I know that last week I promised to blog about why calories count and how so many folks are frustrated with all the conflicting opinions about this, especially in the low-carb (LC) community; however, this is a post that I've wanted to do for quite sometime, and it will actually lead into a longer discussion about why calories count, which I'll post next week.

OK, let me be upfront and tell you that I follow a paleo-style, low-carb diet and consider myself to be a part of the low-carb (LC) community; however, what follows here might get my LC card revoked. You see, there are many folks in the LC community who hold Dr. Atkins in an extremely high regard; hell, I really wonder do some of them have an altar in their homes dedicated to the man. Now, I'm not taking any cheap shots here because I was once a devout follower of Atkins and the way that I use to preach about my new found dietary religion to folks, you would have thought that I was studying to become a priest of the church of St. Atkins. Looking back, I was more than just a follower; I was a fanatic . . .

I like to call 2004, the second year of my weight loss journey, the year of Atkins. It was an exciting time for the LC community. Low-carb mania had definitely hit a good stride, and the food industry was more than happy to accommodate the horde of new low-carbers. I had lost more than 40lbs. following Atkins plan in less than six months and was convinced that, as he states in his Atkins New Diet Revolution, that calories didn't count; it's all about counting your grams of carbs.

2004 was an interesting year for me because I was a newlywed and was enjoying my new family and new house. After dropping to my lowest weight in years, I was a devout follower of Atkins and bought any and all Atkins products I could get my hands on. Oh, I ate Atkins cereal, muffins, breakfast bars, bread, etc. If it had the infamous red A on it, I tried it. I was convinced that I would continue to drop weight, by simply counting my carbs.

I just couldn't believe that I was able to eat so many foods that had been demonized by the mainstream press and medical establishment and still lose weight. There were times when I believed that it was just too good to be true. I felt great, had energy, and was even trying to convince my overweight friends that they should read Atkins's book for themselves and forget simply listening to his critics.

I watched with excitement as the food industry started to shake in its boots over the many low-carb converts and how their bottom line was being affected. Hearing Krispy Kreme and the OJ industry cry about falling quarter numbers made my day. Also, the new low-carb offerings at my favorite fast-food places made me proud to be part of the low-carb revolution; however, there was just one problem: I stopped losing weight and hit a major plateau!

No matter how much I cut my carbs, I still could not break through the plateau, and I couldn't understand why. I re-read Atkins's book and decided that I needed to simply keep my carbs at the induction level of no more than 20g a day. I was already exercising 3-4 days a week on my elliptical machine, my keto stixs were kinda pink, which, according to Atkins, meant that I was in ketosis, so it was a big mystery to me.

Since I was fitting into clothes I had put away years ago, I really didn't mind the slow, or should I say, no weight loss until 2004 ended and the new year rolled around, and I had lost a grand total of 5 pounds for the entire year! That's right, in 12 months I had lost a measly 5 pounds while eating no more than 20 grams of carbs daily. Now, keep in mind that these are net carbs that I'm talking about because I was more than happy to eat my LC ice cream, cookies, and candy bars--LC Atkins reese's cups clones were my favorite. I really didn't care that these "alcohol sugars" had me running to the bathroom like someone taking Alli; I just couldn't believe that I was eating the forbidden fruits and still losing weight . . . or was I?

I had fooled myself for an entire year, eating all kinds of processed LC junkfood, believing in the net-carb "scam", and not counting calories, only to finally come to grips with the fact that I had lost only 5 pounds in one year. So, either it was me, the diet, or a little bit of both. I really didn't care, all I wanted to do was to start losing weight again. So, since I consider myself a sane person, I couldn't keep doing the same thing expecting a different result.

2005 became the year that I dropped Atkins and discovered Dr. Ellis's Ultimate Diet Secrets, Anthony Colpo's The Omnivore website, Dr. Wolfgang Lutz's Life Without Bread, and re-read Ray Audette's Neanderthin with a much more open mind.

(... to be continued)


Anonymous said...

Whoa! Patience, Grasshopper!! LOL
I absolutely understand where you are coming from and what you're trying to say here, but let me ask you this: Was your decision to drop the Atkins plan a patience thing? I'll tell you why: I'm very impatient at times, too, and like yourself, I felt like it was taking me forever to lose weight; but I see you mention you did lose 5 pounds in one particular year--okay, so it's not earth-shattering by any means, but you didn't gain a pound and you didn't maintain. You lost weight, albeit painfully slow. And again, I can't stand slow, drawn out torture (dieting) but perhaps at the time since you were making lots of changes in your diet to begin your journey to thinness, the Atkins plan was the best choice since you did probably feel like were actually eating and not starving? That was/is my experience from time to time.
Great post, man.

Mr. LowBodyFat said...

Adam, thanks for your comment bro; however, losing a measly 5 pounds in 12 months is not only horrible it's down right embarassing. And as far as patience is concerned, hell, I had what my mom would call the the patience of Job LOL! If I was simply trying to maintain my weight at 250lbs and 35% body fat, then I would have stayed with the good doctor's plan of only counting carbs; however, I was actually trying to lose weight.

Nevertheless, once I dropped the "calories don't count" philosophy, started focusing on losing body fat (as opposed to bodyweight), and stopped eating all those low-carb frankenfoods, I proceeded to drop 35lbs in 2005!

Lowcarb_dave said...

I'm eager to see the next installment.

Mate, you are an inspiration to a guy like me who has stalled!


Dave Patrick said...

Hey, I was about 45 pounds overweight, then I got type 2 diabetes, pretty much got my act together overnight, after that.....NO MORE SUGAR, seriously, this works like a charm. cut out sugar and high and medium glycemic foods. Im sure we've heard it a thosand times but the weight will fall off within months, even without additional exercise.
Just have patience.
All the best. Dave

Mr. LowBodyFat said...

Dave, thanks for your comment, but you sound like the late night infomercials. The idea that by simply cutting out sugar the weight will fall off within months is the same crap that LC diet "gurus" and their commercials tell us, and it just ain't true. Also, I checked out your site, and find the title (The Unknown Weight Loss Fact) interesting because what you discuss can be found in any Low Carb diet book from Atkins, South Beach, Sugar Busters, hell, just pick one.

And, the glycemic index is garbage IMO, and has been shown to not even work well for diabetics. If I'm not mistaken, the ADA doesn't even endorse it. Remember, the creators of the GI determined whether a food is high, medium, or low on the GI scale based on a person eating a 50g serving of each respective food individually. They didn't even see what would happen if, as most humans eat, the foods are combined. On your site, you mentioned that dry apricots are low on the GI scale, which is true, but dry fruit is full of fructose, and it's concentrated to boot!

Yes, cut out sugar, but you need to count your calories and exercise to lose and manage your weight. Dieting alone is not the best, safest, or most effective method.

Sherrie said...

I like Atkins in that it is a good place to start but I totally agree with you, the frakenfoods are a trap and you will need to count calories eventually.

I am a very patient person but I didn't last anywhere near as long as you before I started counting. My goal was the same as yours (6 pack).

Big Daddy D said...

I'm still not totally convinced about calories. There was a period of time where I considered them a very poor and possibly fictitious measurement. I'm starting to understand that the lack of carbs prevents putting on weight but doesn't necessarily mean that you will lose it. I'm not 100% convinced yet... but I'm starting to believe in calories again.

Regardless, I caution you about jumping to conclusions. The LC junk food you ate that year of little to no weight loss had sugar alcohols. The American Diabetes Association in one publication had recommended counting 1/2 of the carbs from sugar alcohols. The Drs. Eades (of Protein Power) have told me basically the same thing. So, those Atkins snacks claiming 0 to 2 net carbs per serving more likely had 5 to 20 net carbs per serving. If you ate enough to get the runs then you were probably consuming an outrageous amount of digestible carbs as well. Perhaps this had as much to do with your lack of progress as did the calories?

Regardless, from your results (and pictures posted here) what you are doing seems to be working well for you. Congratulations on the progress and thanks for putting your story and advise out here for all of us to read.

I am very much against the use of sugar alcohols and the associated claims on product labels. It is especially unethical for these companies to market these products to diebetics and children. Can you imagine a bunch of little kids eating a basket full of this crap while their parents think they are doing them a favor?

Mr. LowBodyFat said...

Big D, I couldn't agree with you more about the sugar alcohols and other LC junk food. Not only do these foods actually have carbs that do affect your insulin, as all carbs do (even veggies), but they also contain a lot of calories. And, this is the big trap that many people fall into when they do "Atkins" or any other LC diet that claims that one doesn't need to count calories. Going LC definitely optimizes the weight loss process, but counting calories is still king.