Monday, March 20, 2006

Atkins Diet: Deflator Or Invigorator?

I'd like to discuss a very misunderstood aspect of livin' la vida low-carb that unfortunately has become a part of the stereotype of what happens to you when you go on the Atkins diet.

Have you ever had somebody tell you their reason for not going on a low-carb diet is:

"It makes you feel too tired."

"My energy gets completely sapped."

"Without carbs, you can't quite function at full capacity."

Of course, when I hear people say things like this, I can't help but ask them how long they were on the Atkins diet. Most of them said it was the worst couple of DAYS of their life. LOL! Oh, well no wonder! That's not the Atkins diet!

Most genuine low-carbers will tell you those first few days are indeed a doozy. But don't forget that your body has to undergo some pretty radical changes, expecially if you were used to consuming large amounts of sugar and other unnecessary carbohydrates with your old dietary habits. Breaking that carb addiction and getting your body into fat-burning mode is what the Induction phase of Atkins is all about.

While the first day of my Atkins diet experience in January 2004 was THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE, it only got better from there. Within a week (and after losing 15 pounds!), I started feeling better and better. By the time my first month on the low-carb lifestyle was completed, I had lost 30 pounds and my energy level was steadily on the rise.

By the end of my weight loss phase in December 2004, I had shed 180 pounds in one year and felt more energetic than I had ever been in my entire life. That incredible miracle that happened in my life two years ago is still invigorating me to this day. I keep kicking myself for not doing this in my 20's, but I am so grateful that I've got my life back again. I am a new man today because of low-carb.

Unfortunately, though, not everyone has the same response to low-carb living as I have apparently. I received an e-mail from one of my readers who shared her concerns that since she began a low-carb routine in April 2005, she is constantly exhausted and tired despite losing about 40 pounds to date.

Here's what she wrote:

Hi Jimmy,

I started eating low-carb last April after going to the doctor and seeing a number that I had previosly only seen while pregnant! I have lost at least 40 lbs so far. I am not sure of the actual number because I refuse to own a scale. The fluctuations depress me and will cause me to give up!

So, the only time I weigh is for a check up at my doctors. I am 37 years old and now weigh 148 lbs. As you can see from the numbers I never lost a dramatic amount of weight at once. Just slow and steady.

My problem is this -- I have not seen the increase in energy that I would expect after losing so much weight. I am most of the time exhausted for no good reason. What is my problem?! This issue makes my family a little skeptical of the health benefits of low-carb living. I refuse to go off this way of eating as it is the only way I have ever been able to lose weight.

Do you hav any suggestions on what I can do to feel better and keep my family happy?

WOW, thank you so much for being willing to share your story with me.

Let me first tell you how very proud I am of you for refusing to allow anyone to tell you that livin' la vida low-carb is not the very best way for you to lose weight and keep it off for good. The pressure to stop low-carbing from those friends and family members is too much for many people to bear and they just give up. This just breaks my heart.

However, you have a legitimate concern about what is happening to you while on a low-carb diet. There are many reasons why you could be experiencing these feelings of being tired and exhausted. Without knowing your specific lifestyle, let me offer five suggestions that you might want to try to help you with this.

1. Are you sleeping well? Be sure you get a good night's sleep of at least 7-8 hours per night. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep can contribute to obesity and inadequate rest can make you feel tired all the time.

2. Are you eating enough food? One of the unfortunate things about what we consider as healthy eating in the U.S. is the notion that you must cut back on your portion sizes dramatically. But not when you are livin' la vida low-carb. Of course, you shouldn't gorge yourself, but if you are hungry then EAT a nice low-carb meal or snack. I eat every three hours so I NEVER get hungry.

3. Are you exercising daily or most days of the week? When you are tired, I'm sure the last thing you want to think about is exercise. But you will be utterly amazed just how good a walk on the treadmill or 30-minute session on the elliptical machine will be for your body to help you destress your life. The intense energy and release of positive endorphins will keep you feeling great for many hours after your workout. If you're not already working out, then START IMMEDIATELY!

4. Are you letting stress and worry encompass your life? As much as we try to deny it, stress can and will have an effect on your body in harmful ways, especially when you are trying to lose weight. As if doing that isn't difficult enough, life's day-to-day challenges can push us to the brink of a nervous breakdown sometimes. As a result, this can cause you to be mentally and physically drained. While there's no easy way to relieve stress and worry out of your life, find solace in the love of your family even if they aren't supporting your low-carb plan, the relationships of those trusted friends who care about you, and in the God of the universe who created you to trust in Him with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding by casting all your cares on Him. Relieve the stress in your life and your exhaustion may be alleviated.

5. Are you seeing your doctor to determine if you have a medical condition unrelated to your diet? It's always a good idea to check with your personal physician whenever you have symptoms that are unusual so he can evaluate what you may need to get better. Perhaps your tired feelings have nothing at all to do with your low-carb lifestyle. Your doctor should be the one to make that determination.

So what's the deal with the Atkins diet? Does it deflate you of all your energy as this one reader suggests? Well, not necessarily.

On the same day I received her e-mail, I also got an e-mail from another one of my readers who told me how his energy levels have gone completely ballastic since beginning a low-carb program and he is utterly amazed by this transformation that has happened to him just three days after starting on Atkins.

Here's his encouraging e-mail:

I just wanted to send you a quick email to let you know how much I appreciate the work you do. I have only being doing Atkins for about 3 weeks, but I have lost almost 9 pounds of my goal of losing 60 total. Though I still have a long road ahead of me, if I never lost another pound, I would probably do Atkins anyways due to a benefit I didn’t really expect.

After the first 3 days of feeling like complete crap, my energy level has just EXPLODED. I have been more productive in the last few weeks than any other 3-week period in my life. In fact, today my wife (who I always considered to be the most productive person I have ever met) actually described this new energy level as “sometimes annoying.” (But not as annoying as having a husband that needs to be surgically removed from the couch, I’m sure). I have always considered myself to be fairly laid back individual who just happens to enjoy my “down time.” As it turns out, I think I have just spent the majority of my adult life in a perpetual state of exhaustion!

The crazy thing is that I am still 51 pounds overweight. I can’t imagine how much MORE energy I am going to have when I am skinny?!?!?! I’ll drive my wife crazy!!! (We have a great relationship which is why we can tease each other like this)

Anyways, I just wanted to let you know that you are a big reason I even decided to get back on the Atkins diet and that your blog is a daily source of encouragement to me. Please keep up the good work.

LOL! Keep "annoying" your wife, buddy!

Isn't that an amazing story? And it's only gonna get better from here. My wife is always reminding me that I'm 34 years old and I'm not supposed to be moving around like I'm 21. I usually just tell her that I couldn't move this well when I was 21 so I'm making up for lost time! :)

So what's the verdict? Does the Atkins diet deflate or invigorate your energy? We've heard people on both sides share their experiences, so what's YOURS?

Is the Atkins diet a deflator or invigorator? Share your comments by clicking on the link below or e-mailing me at

3-21-06 UPDATE: Well, here's another one of my readers who says that the Atkins diet is an invigorator for her after just a few days of being on it!

I was on the Atkins diet a few years ago, and lost a bunch of weight. I did well on the diet, but for some reason went off and made excuses about why it was to hard to stick to. I must have had a total brain fart or maybe just listened too much to the crapola that it's unhealthy, blah, blah, blah.

Anyway, after struggling through Weight Watchers, pregnancy, low-fat diets and calorie counter programs, I found that my energy was completely drained and I was again a complete carbaholic. Not only that, but I gained 80 lbs since Atkins.

I've now been on the low-carb diet for 5 days now. I've committed to sticking with it as a lifestyle. I'm already seeing higher energy levels. I actually feel like exercising, which I haven’t had that feeling for quite some time. In addition, my sugar cravings are almost gone. So as far as I'm concerned, livin' la vida low-carb is an invigarator!

CONGRATULATIONS! Anyone else have a story to share? Send 'em on!


Blogger Newbirth said...

I would ask if she's taking her supplements. I would recomment a good multivitamin and a B-50 or even B-100 tablet. I take B-50 and that sucker gives me energy!

Your suggestions are also good. You need to get enough sleep, eat lots of veggies (that's where the vitamins are!), exercise, and eat enough (especially enough veggies!).

3/20/2006 9:03 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said... personal answer. I have MORE energy because I no longer have the blood sugar spikes and drops making me crave sugar giving me a blood sugar spike and drop... Stable blood sugar at all times means stable energy.

The only time I get tired is after working out for 90 minutes at the gym. I tend to push myself pretty hard because I get there so rarely nowadays. If all I did was 30 minutes of cardio I would feel invigorated, but no...I do 30 minutes of weights and 1 hour of cardio, and that is tiring. But that's not Atkins' fault. 90 minutes would tire me on any diet.

3/20/2006 9:10 PM  
Blogger nkb-vp-ltl said...

I fainted at the gym on day seven. luckily my trainer was with me. (and yes I was drinking water and I ate breakfast before I went).

I had to start eating some carbs again to be able to exercise. I was dizzy all the time and I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to run my 5k the following saturday...and sleeping 10 hours a day. certainly that's not healthy.

but after incorporating a few extra carbs in the forms of fruit and wheat bread I'm ok again.

no carbs, bad...minimal carbs, fine.

4/03/2007 5:04 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Hey NKB,

None of the major low-carb diets call for "no carbs" and ALL of them call for "minimal carbs." So livin' la vida low-carb is EXTREMELY healthy for you! THANKS for confirming that point.

4/03/2007 5:26 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home