Monday, January 02, 2006

Egyptian Journalist Says Atkins Diet Makes You 'Kiss All Carbs Goodbye'

Lamya Tawfik says low-carb produces "lack of energy, lack of warmth"

This Islam Online column by freelance journalist Lamya Tawfik details her belief that weight loss resolutions for the new year cannot be kept if you are livin' la vida low-carb.

As someone who not only tried, but succeeded quite nicely at keeping my New Year's resolution to lose weight in 2004 on a low-carb plan, I was greatly disappointed to read Tawfik's comments regarding this incredible way of eating that has so radically changed my life forever.

In a section of her article entitled "Low Carb vs. Low Fat," Tawfik contends diets such as Atkins are an oxymoron in nutrition.

"So you can basically order a burger and eat it without the bread. You can eat vegetable sautéed with real butter and still lose weight. Load up on cheese but no, you can’t have it on bread. And don’t eat fruit, they are carbs."

Clearly Tawfik is trying to ridicule livin' la vida low-carb with this little rant of hers. What's so wrong with eating a burger without the bun? Think about all the carbohydrates you are keeping from your body by skipping it. You don't need it!

In fact, my local talk radio show host Ralph Bristol, who wrote the foreword to my book, was talking about diets this afternoon on his show and pretty much challenged me on the premise that the foods I eat would be better between a couple of slices of bread. I explained to Ralph that it's just not worth the pain and agony to eat those unnecessary carbs which will then turn to sugar in my body and make me fat! People are eating WAY too many carbohydrates for their bodies these days.

But Tawfik sees irony in the fact that you can eat vegetables in fat-laden butter and "still lose weight." Gee, imagine that?! Eating fat CAN help you lose weight. It's been scientifically proven to improve heart health, too, Ms. Tawfik! GASP!

You CAN eat lots and lots of cheese (and I do!) and can even eat it on some great-tasting low-carb breads or wraps. These bread products are MUCH lower in carbohydrates and usually contain a very high fiber content which even Tawfik cannot argue is GOOD for you, too!

And don't tell me "don't eat fruit" as part of my low-carb lifestyle! I get to eat LOTS of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and more. What I DON'T need are unnecessarily high-sugar fruits that will simply derail my weight loss and weight maintenance when I am livin' la vida low-carb. I think I'll skip the 30-carb bananas thank you very much.

While Tawfik quotes an Egyptian nutritionist who confirms the Atkins diet is good for weight loss and healthy living, she then makes the ridiculous notion that it produces a "lack of energy, lack of warmth, and most importantly, it’s impracticability."

"What happens after the weight loss? Weight maintenance is jeopardized because unless you plan to kiss all carbs goodbye for the rest of your life, you’re likely to put it all on back again."

A "lack" of energy and warmth (what the heck is that, anyway?!)? I've never been more energetic in my entire life, Ms. Tawfik. My body overflows with energy and vigor like never before now that I am livin' la vida low-carb and almost 200 pounds lighter than I was just two years ago. What is so impracticable about this way of eating? I find it to be incredibly easy to follow because the foods are so scrumptuous and appetizing to savor and enjoy.

And I don't "kiss all carbs goodbye" as you suggest, Ms. Tawfik. In fact, I eat LOTS of carbohydrates! The only difference between the way I eat now and how I ate when I was 410 pounds is the fact that I now have a purpose when I put something into my mouth. Do I want to enjoy the good low-carb foods that will keep my weight under control or will I mindlessly shove whatever I want into my mouth and live with the consequences? I think I'll choose the former over the latter, Ms. Tawfik!

Proclaiming that "carbs are an easy source of energy," Tawfik quotes someone who makes the ridiculous statement that "low-carb diets are particularly dangerous for children, adolescents, old people or women who are pregnant or lactating."

But low-carb/high-protein diets provide people losing weight on them plenty of energy and a metabolic advantage over other kinds of weight loss programs, especially the failed low-fat/low-calorie/portion control diets that are constantly shoved down our throats by the government and so-called health "experts."

Livin' la vida low-carb is a great plan of action for overweight or obese children, teenagers and even senior citizens.

I'll give credit to Tawfik for pointing out the shortfalls of a low-fat diet, too, including that they are deficient in vitamins and make people feel tired and unable to function. She added that fat is good for normal brain activity and low-fat diets can be harmful to the body.

But her recommendation for weight loss and maintenance includes cutting calories, following the food pyramid, exercising daily, implementing a lifestyle change, and losing no more than 1-2 pounds per week.

Some of that advice is good, although I encourage counting carbs instead of calories because it has worked very well for me. And during my weight loss in 2004, I lost an average of about 3-4 pounds per week, most of it in the very beginning. I have now kept that weight off for a year and counting. I fully intend to keep my weight under control for the rest of my life by continuing the low-carb lifestyle change that I have implemented.

Tawfik ends her story on weight loss with some pretty wise advice.

"The truth of the matter is, weight loss, like any goal, requires discipline, effort, change of lifestyle, and creating time. Put simply, you can’t eat all you want and lose weight. You also can’t lose the weight without effort and you can’t hope to maintain the weight you lost, if you don’t change your lifestyle."

Hey, she's finally got it right. But I have found that livin' la vida low-carb is arguably the easiest and best way that I have found to lose weight and keep it off forever. It's such a shame that this remarkable lifestyle change is still so misunderstood even after all these years it has been out there.

You can respond to Lamya Tawfik about her comments against livin' la vida low-carb by e-mailing her at


Blogger Science4u1959 said...

lack of energy, lack of warmth... this is absolutely hilarious. What a circus... From where or what these "experts" get their rediculous ideas is a complete riddle, wrapped in an enigma. I will challenge this, ahem, expert to come up with some relevant references to studies showing the validity of this jibberish.

Ludicrous... the opposite is true, of course. Wholesome, natural, quality-nutrient dense foods like low-carb promotes are the best sources of quality calories to speed up metabolism. Anyway, we know that, nutritional science knows that, only this "expert" thinks differently... maybe she should stick to Pyramidology or similar pseudo-science. Sorry, but I have little respect for "experts" like this.

1/03/2006 1:03 AM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

There might be something to the "lack of warmth." I came across this in the archives of the Weight Loss forum I go to. It's by a committed low carber who's lost 70 pounds and been maintaining for over a year now.

I'm so sick and tired of feeling like I'm feezing to death! I wear three layers in the house and it's still not enough. There are only two ways for me to feel comfortable...

It started about two months into Atkins and has never gone away. I know that the act of dieting can make you cold and it has happened to me before when I was on WW but it completely subsided after a period of time. I've been freezing since spring of 2004. I was even cold during the summer and I swear I could easily tolerate the thermostat being set at 85...

Today I went out searching on the internet and found a low-carb forum where lots of people said they freeze when they're in ketosis. One guy said he was the type to go out in December in shorts and a t-shirt. Now he sits at home under a blanket in summer!

T3 and T4 levels were mentioned. That poster said, when the percentage of calories from carbs drops below 20%, T4 to T3 conversion decreases, and that low T3 will make you feel cold.

Just a thought. Certainly it's nothing earth shattering and I haven't had this happen to me. I've always liked it hot, even before I started Atkins.

1/04/2006 1:16 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Hmm... interesting observation. Indeed it is possible, although quite rare, that T3/T4 conversion is affected: in other words a slowing down of the thyroid. That can be proven by measuring body temperatures over a few days.

Similarly, it could also indicate a slower metabolism as a result of a too low intake of calories. I never experienced anything of the sort, but I would try this: increase caloric intake, i.e. healthy fats, and supplement some extra vitamin E to improve circulation.

It's not impossible that this person already had a sluggish thyroid (and maybe you too). That would explain the "cold" and also failing to lose weight (not to mention the sheer impossibility of maintenance of weight) on conventional diets - an often seen and good reason to start low-carb.

1/04/2006 3:15 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

An afterthought: saturated fats like coconut oil have shown to be an excellent means of speeding up metabolism. It converts to energy inmmediately and is not stored. I would recommend to take 1 spoonful before or after each meal, too.

1/04/2006 3:34 AM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

I don't get the "cold" thing. That hasn't happened to me. I think my weight stall has more to do with my body wanting to be at a higher weight than I want to be. Even going by the Met Life charts I'm in a healthy range (though at the high end). I really want to be 142, but my body keeps hanging out around 147.

1/04/2006 7:14 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

Oh, just an FYI, I did have thyriod tests a few years ago. I wanted to rule it out as a possible cause for my depression - if there was a poblem I wanted to be on the right medication. The thyriod tests came back normal, which I expected, and I've remained on my anti-depressant since then.

1/06/2006 3:57 PM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Hm, personally, I am not very impressed by thyroid tests. I coached a lady with weight-loss problems, once, in the UK, and she lost a staggering amount of weight on Atkins after some difficulty to kick-start it. I suspected the thyroid, however, her thyroid tests came back consistantly as "normal". Almost a year later a specialist confirmed that her thyroid function was not normal and even had the thyroid removed and put her on artificial T3/T4. After that losing the remaining few pounds was achieved very easily.

Thyroid tests are not always reliable, and most doctors are extremely reluctant of supplementing T3/T4 because most of them are worried that you'd use it "only to lose weight". Which of course for most is not the case, but it does cause a lot of trouble. My own thyroid function is also quite sluggish, always has been, but no doctor will prescribe T3 or T4 (or both) supplements. Luckily, thanks to Atkins, I was able to lose the weight and keep it off.

As for anti-depressiva, you are aware that such medications ofter impair or even disable weight loss and weight maintenance? Most have significant impact on metabolism. Many are known, among several other side-effects, to hamper the body's ability to convert fat into energy by blocking the efficient release of the enzyme lipase, thus making lipolysis more difficult and less efficient. That could affect your ability to enjoy sports and exercise (exhaustion symptoms due to a lack of energy) and make weight loss more difficult.

1/06/2006 11:14 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

My ADs actually give me energy because I'm not longer spending all my energy thinking about how horrible I feel. My mind was so noisy and that took lots of energy.

I haven't found the meds to mess with metabolism. What they seem to do is cause carb and sugar cravings, which will of course cause weight gain. I've heard numerous reports of people wanting to eat sugar straight from the bag (I used to help moderate a depression board). Since Atkins keeps those cravings under control (at least most of the time), I've been able to lose. I was on a non-weight gainer (Wellbutrin) about 9-10 months, but have been on the weight-gainer type the rest of the time (Zoloft and Celexa). The reason I decided I needed to lose weight is because the last weight-gainer I took packed 40 pounds on me.

Turned out to be a good thing because I lost that 40 and then 20 more. :) I haven't weighed this little my entire adult life. :) I actually tapped goal for the first time yesterday. :-D

1/07/2006 10:17 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Congratulations! That's a great success, and I am happy for you :-)

1/08/2006 11:31 AM  

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