Thursday, February 16, 2006

Low-Carb 'Dear Abby' Answers Your Questions

I'm starting to feel somewhat like the low-carb "Dear Abby"

With all the e-mails I have been receiving from people about livin' la vida low-carb lately with all the various experiences people are sharing with me, I'm beginning to get a taste of just an inkling of what the late Abigail Van Buren dealt with in her many years of writing a popular syndicated advice column called "Dear Abby."

I guess you could say I've become the "Dear Abby" of low-carb, dieting and weight loss. LOL! Not that I mind that distinction at all mind you. In fact, I rather enjoy reading what people think about the low-carb lifestyle and the interesting questions and comments that come across my e-mail box. It gives me an opportunity to clarify some popular misconceptions while helping further the truth about low-carb that so desperately needs to reach the culture.

One thing is for certain -- after sticking around here at my blog for a few days, nobody doubts that I have an opinion, do they? Especially when it comes to talkin' about livin' la vida low-carb! :) And I'm all-too-eager to share it, too, don't you know, don't you know!

So, if you've gotta question about low-carb or any subject for that matter, then sent it to the low-carb "Dear Abby" (or you can call me "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb Man") at

Speaking of questions about low-carb living, I received the following e-mail about a week ago and have honestly been sitting on it thinking about how I wanted to respond. It's loaded with tough issues and I can see how these things could frustrate my reader.

Here's what he wrote:


I have been reading your blog for maybe 3 months now. I am a former South Beach dieter who lost 20 lbs or so, but have now gained it all back.

My internist put me on Advicor (a statin drug) due to my HDL being 39, triglycerides at 130, total cholesterol at 235 and LDL at 175. These numbers have been chronically up and down - down when I weighed 204 (now 225 at 6'2") on South Beach.

So why am I writing now? I am so confused...

I was a member of the online South Beach Diet program and I had all the books, but I recently turned then in for cash about 2 weeks ago thinking I am done with this.

Right now I am hardly exercising which I need to change. I have met with a trainer and have a workout in place with my YMCA membership -- no excuses!

But honestly I am nervous about getting tripped up again when I add the carbs back in. What is the bottom line truth with all this carb-talk anyway?

Even Level 2 of South Beach has bread added back ... then I look at the Kraft Foods Dr. Agatston did, high sodium and long list of ingredients that I can't pronounce. Is he just in it for the money? I know I don't need to eat them but it makes me question his integrity. I also know he favors statins and I think he takes them himself. Why would he need to take them if his diet is so great? I would like to get off mine.

I am rambling now -- sorry -- but I'm very frustrated. It seems everyday there is a new, theory, book or study -- it just makes me want to eat a big bag of Cheetos!

Thanks for listening and for your site.

Can you see why I've been reluctant to respond? This guy's e-mail was chock full of topics to discuss.

Here was my response:

Sorry this took so long, but you made me think about this one a while. Here goes.

Yikes! What an e-mail! Let's see if we can't help address some of the MANY issues you list in your e-mail.

First of all, THANK YOU for being a regular reader of my blog. Obviously you have the right motives about what you are wanting to do with your low-carb lifestyle by coming to a blog that offers education, entertainment and edification for people who are attempting to lose weight, especially those who are doing it the low-carb way. CONGRATULATIONS on choosing this incredibly healthy, long-lasting way of eating to help you get there.

You mention that you have done The South Beach Diet in the past. Since I did the Atkins diet during my initial weight loss phase, I cannot specifically address any of your concerns with The South Beach Diet program because I have no experience with it. I do know that Dr. Agatston allows certain kinds of carbs sooner than Dr. Atkins does with his plan. But there are benefits to both programs and I know many people who have done well on them.

With that said, let me ask you a question. Why did you gain the weight back? Did you stick with your South Beach Diet and move through the various phases as Dr. Agatston prescribed in his book? Did you notice your weight creeping up by weighing yourself daily or did you just suddenly wake up one day and put on the 20 pounds all at once?

I don't even need to know the answers to those questions because you and I both know what happened. You likely went back to your old habits and allowed them to take over control of your life again. In order for livin' la vida low-carb to work for you, you MUST make it your permanent lifestyle change -- NO EXCEPTIONS!!! Actually, it doesn't matter what weight loss method you choose, you need to make it the way you eat and live for the rest of your life. FOREVER!

If you have had success losing weight on a certain program and enjoy the foods you can eat on that plan, then why would you move away from it just because your weight is under control? It's like the old saying, "You need to dance with the one that brung ya!" If low-carb "brung ya," then keep on dancing with her! That stands to reason doesn't it?

As for statin drugs, I only have one thing to say about them: RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN FROM THEM!!! I took Lipitor for a while and Crestor because my doctor convinced me I HAD to take them to get my cholesterol under control. But after noticing some very painful joint pain and other body aches taking these highly publicized and heavily marketed drugs, I turned to low-carb living to help me get my cholesterol number in a healthy range.

Today, my HDL has risen to 71, my LDL is 119, my triglycerides are 57, and my total cholesterol is 201. Some would look at my lipid profile and think I'm still too unhealthy from a cholesterol standpoint because my LDL is over 100 and my total cholesterol is over 200. But new research studies have concluded that it is not about your LDL or total cholesterol. Instead, it's about the triglyceride/HDL ratio (my friend Regina Wilshire wrote an EXCELLENT piece on this subject at her "Weight Of The Evidence" blog this week).

But I'm gonna be honest with you as I always try to be at my blog. I'm concerned that your HDL is a measly 39 and you claim to be on a low-carb lifestyle. That number is WELL below what most of my low-carb friends report about their experience. Additionally, your triglyceride levels are also higher than most low-carbers I know. It makes me skeptical about whether you are truly livin' la vida low-carb or not.

The good news is you don't have a lot of weight to lose and it won't be difficult to get those 20 pounds down rather quickly (if Britney Spears and Janet Jackson can do it, then so can YOU!). But low-carb can do so much more for you besides weight loss and you should start anew to reap the lasting health benefits of a low-carb lifestyle.

My friend Michael from Low-Carb Central in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is also a tall guy like you and me, but he does NOT have a weight problem. He weighs just 165 pounds (and that's dripping wet!) and yet he is an active low-carber. Why? Because his cholesterol and triglyceride numbers were out of sight before he started.

Since he began his low-carb program, he has seem remarkable improvements in those numbers. Granted, he can eat a few more carbs than those of us who want to lose weight get to eat, but he's basically cutting out the sugar, flour and processed foods.

I certainly can sympathize with you being "so confused" about what works for weight loss. It's hard, especially when you hear all the seeming conflicting messages about what to do from people who call themselves "experts" on health and nutrition. I told myself a long time ago that if I ever found a weight loss method that worked for me and it was one I enjoyed, then I would make that the last diet I ever go on. I guess you know which one that was for me, don't you? :)

Low-carb is not necessarily for everyone, but it can be for you. I encourage you to pick up Jonny Bowden's book "Living The Low-Carb Life" to learn about ALL of the various low-carb programs and to help you decide which one is best for YOU. I think you've only scratched the surface of your potential on the low-carb lifestyle and haven't given it an opportunity to work for you. Read Jonny's book and then start livin' la vida low-carb!

Let me tell you how proud I am of you for having that desire to incorporate exercise into your low-carb lifestyle, too. As a fellow member of the YMCA, I don't know what I would do without my daily workouts now. Keep in mind I used to be a 410-pound big fat slob whose idea of exercising was watching sports on television! But all that changed for me when I started losing weight two years ago. It is a VITAL element to your success!

As for your concerns about "getting tripped up again," we're not gonna let that happen this time. One of the reasons I wrote my book was to help inspire and motivate people who need to know someone who has overcome their weight problem already. I'm a real man who went through the same struggles and frustrations that other overweight and obese people have dealt with. I don't get paid to do what I do, I simply share my experience to help others in their own journey.

If you are worried about eating too many carbs after you lose the weight, then add them back slowly. But first things first. Let's get you on the program again, starting out the RIGHT WAY by getting on a specific plan and sticking to it. Whether it's South Beach, Atkins, Protein Power, or whatever you choose, get on a program and stay on it exactly as it prescribes. Any deviation from it will simply lead you back to where you are now.

The "bottom line truth" about carbs (especially SUGAR!) is that they are heavily contributing to the obesity problem that persists in America and around the world today. With the low-fat diet fad proven to be a BIG FAT LIE in long-term studies, there's no better time to start livin' la vida low-carb. It's the best way I have ever found to not only lose weight, but to help you keep it off and live a healthy life for many years to come.

One last comment regarding your concerns about the South Beach Diet products from Kraft: READ THE LABELS! As I state in my book, it is SO important that you read food labels no matter what the marketing claim is on the front of the package. I even did this with the Atkins-label products just to make sure and the same should be done with the South Beach Diet products. Don't assume they are healthy and low-carb just because they claim to be on the front. Do your own research and then make good choices.

So, what are you waiting for? Start livin' la vida low-carb TODAY!!! And stay away from the Cheetos! Hee hee!


Blogger Newbirth said...

I'm finding Lifetime Maintenance the same as the weight loss phases of Atkins. If you've read my blog lately, you'd see that at my recent body comp test I lost 3.3 pounds of fat and gained 1.8 pounds of muscle. In order to continue losing fat and gaining muscle without gaining weight I have to keep going as I have been.

However, now that I am seeing results from all the weight training, it does make me want to do it more.

Also, by doing the weight training first and THEN the cardio, I pretty much have my pick of cardio machines.

And the new year's resolutioners have finally left, so I have my gym back. :)

2/17/2006 1:18 AM  
Blogger lowcarblady said...

I want to reiterate what Jimmy has already said. Read Living the Low Carb life by Jonny Bowden. I have lost 140 lbs following low carb and my HDL/Tri were very good last checkup. For years my Dr tried to get me to take drugs but I refused. Processed foods of any kind, even and esp. some low carb are not good. Makes no difference whose name is on the box. Giving up white worked for me IE sugar,flour,bread,potatoes,rice and pasta. Yes they can be eaten in small quanities AFTER you have reached maintenence but not often. After 3 years I don't miss them and they used to be an every day food for me. Knowlege is the key to sucessfully losing weight the low carb way and Jimys blog is an excellant place to start. Jonny's book will also help!

2/17/2006 8:09 AM  

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