Thursday, March 16, 2006

Is Low-Carb Weight Loss A One-Time Deal?

Now that I've been livin' la vida low-carb for well over two years now, I cannot imagine ever eating any other way for the rest of my life. It has become so natural for me to eat low-carb foods that I barely even think about it anymore. My instincts are well-rooted in what low-carb living is all about and why it is important for me to continue on eating this way.

But, the fact of the matter is not everyone who goes on a low-carb diet thinks this way. Many people go on a "diet" hoping to lose weight before they go back to their "normal" way of eating that got them in their weight predicament to begin with.

Why do we do that to ourselves and expect our weight to be controlled? I admit I used to go on diets just long enough to lose weight and then scratched my head wondering why I gained all the weight back after I began my old habits again. What a dope I was!

Don't we know that the ONLY way we can keep our weight off is to find a way to eat that satisfies us so much that we don't feel the need to ever resort to our old ways ever again? I didn't realize this before January 1, 2004, but I know that fact now. Livin' la vida low-carb was the way I began eating on that fateful day in my life that would go on to help me lose over 180 pounds and I fully intend to eat this way for the rest of my life to keep my weight managed.

Whatever you choose to do to get your weight under control if you are overweight or obese, whether it is low-carb, low-fat, or anything else, be sure you commit yourself to doing that for the rest of your life so you can make the weight loss permanent and keep your health in tip-top shape.

Let's go down a hypothetical road for a moment, though, shall we.

Let's say for some mysterious reason I decided to start eating like a madman again stuffing my mouth with sugar, processed foods, refined carbohydrates and the like. Plus I'd start washing down all that carbolicious junk with gallons of sugary soda like I used to consume daily. Although it sounds like a nightmare, stay with me on this for a second.

What's gonna happen? Besides getting sick just thinking about it, I'll undoubtedly gain all my weight back in no time and weigh well over 400 pounds (and my wife would kill me! LOL!).

AAAAAAAACK! Oh no, what do I do? How can I lose weight...AGAIN?!

Well, I could go back on the low-carb lifestyle by starting at the Induction phase, right? Will it work again? Or is low-carb living like a magic genie of the lamp granting you this one wish of weight loss and once you've been granted that wish you can never have it again?

If you are wondering what the heck I'm talking about, let me share with you an e-mail I received from a reader today who is in that exact same predicament and wants to know if livin' la vida low-carb is just a one-time deal or will it work again:

I went on low-carb diet about 2 years ago for a year. I very effortlessly lost a lot of weight and felt great!!!

But then I went off of low-carb and gained it all back.

Now I am trying to go back and try again but it is not as easy as the first time.

Is there any truth in the saying that low-carb only works well the first time you try it and is there any scientific truth to back it?

I have to admit the first thing I did was laugh when I read this e-mail. No, I don't think the situation she describes is a laughing matter, but I had never heard of low-carb only working one time. That's certainly a new one to me.

Since I have never lost weight on low-carb, gained it back and then attempted to lose weight on low-carb again, I don't have any firsthand experience with this. But it seems logical to me that if low-carb worked for you before it should work for you again.

Without the knowledge of knowing what you are eating on your low-carb plan, let me HIGHLY encourage you to get your favorite low-carb program (Atkins, Protein Power, South Beach, etc.) and READ THE BOOK again from cover to cover. Absorb the information like a sponge and then do it exactly as detailed by the author who wrote it. Don't stray from the plan or attempt to "do Atkins" on your own. Go buy the book!!

Then be very mindful of the carbs you put in your mouth and always be on the lookout for hidden carbs in foods you wouldn't suspect. For people who have read my book, hot dogs and Vanilla Pepsi come to mind! :)

When all is said and done, if you want to find an effective way to lose weight and keep it off, then make livin' la vida low-carb your forever and ever and ever and ever lifestyle change and don't you ever look back! It'll be the best decision you ever make in your life and you've got so many people rooting you on to success because we've been there ourselves. GO FOR IT!

I'm sure I've got some readers who lost weight on low-carb, gained it back and then found success again. You learned your lesson and now you've realized this is the only way you need to eat for the rest of your life.

Please share your comments with my reader to assure her that she's not losing her mind and that she WILL lose weight the low-carb way again. Click on the comments link below and tell us your story.


Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Low-carb will always work, no matter how many times one would go off (which is not smart!) and on again. The reason for that, of course, is the fact that it is the only intelligent, scientific way of eating that works WITH your metabolism instead of against it.

Having said that: indeed, going off and on ANY diet may result in a larger measure of metabolic resistance against weight loss. The reason for that is the built-in survival mechanism that every human being has built-in. The human body, by default, does not want to lose weight, no matter how obese it is. Especially persons with many years of yo-yo dieting can tell you how incredibly difficult weight loss can be on anything but a low-carb diet.

I have coached a lot of people with extreme metabolic resistance against weight loss. In my experience, however, low carb is the ONLY way of eating that ALWAYS breaks the metabolic deadlock - with perhaps some extra measures, like the ketogenic version of the diet, targeted vitamin supplementation and exercise the weight loss is back on track quite quickly. Not always easy, but it keeps working - for the very reason that indeed this is the only way of eating that is completely natural and well-adapted to the human metabolism.

So the notion that low-carb works only once is not only simply untrue but especially unscientific. The story that there would be "scientific evidence" for this alledged one-time weight loss is total and utter nonsense. In fact the opposite is true.

3/16/2006 7:59 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

I can be harder the second time (or more) around. One reason why I REALLY don't want to gain my weight back.

3/16/2006 8:41 PM  
Blogger Sandylp said...

Jimmy, Thanks again for a wonderful post. I've now lost 78 pounds eating lc, but it was my second try with the Atkins diet. The first time I fell into the trap of eating anything labeled low carb and I stopped losing weight and got discouraged. When I tried a second time, I made it a point to not eat any processed food and was finally successful.

3/16/2006 9:32 PM  
Blogger Kimberwolf said...

I see someone already posted a link to the infamous "one golden shot" article on Low Carb Luxury. Great site, but I believe that article is one of the most depressing reads possible -- despite its heartfelt attempt to give slow second-time losers some hope. Speaking as a second-time loser myself (who likewise fell into the over-stressed, too-much-low-carb-junk-food trap like an idiot), I can say that when I started Atkins again on Jan 3, I didn't experience the sudden and tremendous drop in my substantial 287 lb weight. I lost a few pounds on induction, but it wasn't dramatic ... not like the very first time back in 2003. It was miserable. I just knew Atkins would work for me, could feel my energy surging back, my depression receeding, my enjoyment with life bursting out all over again. But I watched the scale (knowing better) and mourned for the loss of my one "golden shot."

I added in regular exercise (Curves gym) 3-4 times a week, started taking the stairs and parking further from the store front. I immediately cut out the Atkins shakes and even powdered Splenda to avoid the maltodextrin which anecdotally *may* stall folks. (I honestly don't think it bothers me, but I wanted to be sure. So please don't take that as a slam against these products!) I watched calories loosely, just to make sure I wasn't tucking away 10,000 calories! (I wasn't -- about 1500 per day. Again, unnecessary for the most part, but it helped me know what was going on with my renewed lifestyle.) I read like a fiend - online, books supporting different low-carb plans, etc. My husband thought I was being a bit obsessive...but I called it desperate. I wanted this to work again and articles like the "golden shot" was telling me it wouldn't. At least, not as well.

And then, without warning and on no particular pattern, my weight started dropping about five or six weeks into things. One morning, two pounds vanished. The next morning, another one. And since then I'm losing steadily again - anywhere from 2-4 lbs each week, barring weirdness. (Weirdness = having to travel cross-country and lacking access to much food or water, except a little baggy of nuts I took with me. Not eating much, just scrounging where I could but staying at induction levels of carbs, meant gaining 2 lbs over those 3 days. And happily losing them - PLUS 3 more - in the following week when I get back to my usual way of eating.)

I love low-carb. I love this blog (which I just discovered recently!). And I DO NOT believe the one golden shot rule. I think it's largely a mythic creation born from yo-yo dieting which decreases metabolic resistance and from returning to low-carb after years of being off plan and therefore older. Our metabolisms slow as we age, also making it harder to lose weight - comparatively. And expectations. Every time will be different. I was crushed when I didn't see huge induction losses because I'd seen them before. But my body is different now -- and wasn't willing to give it up then. In fact, now I can say that I'm losing faster and more steadily than I did my first time around.

So stick with the plan. Don't lose hope. Don't psych yourself out with the one-golden shot myth. Believe me, if I can do it ... anyone can. :)

3/17/2006 10:54 AM  
Blogger melissa said...

This is ridiculous. I've fallen off the wagon before and the weight loss has always been the same. Its a perspective. It's also individual.

3/17/2006 9:01 PM  
Blogger wigs said...

I have recently fallen off the South Beach wagon and can't seem to get back on track no matter what I do. I lost 20 lbs and was doing amazing. I looked great. I was walking 2-3 miles per day on my treadmill. I want to get back on track but can't seem to make it thru one day. I don't know why I'm doing this to myself. I know how to do this, I did it for a year. Every time I lose weight I do this and I just can't figure out why. I've eaten my way back up the scale eating sweets, breads, everything bad for me. I want to look, and more importantly, feel great again the way I did before when I was on program. I just hope I can get through 3 days because I know from experience that after that my cravings will go away. I really hope it's not true that this only works the first time around but I am not sure how to stay on low carb for life. I love to cook and bake and I always fall back into baking cookies or cake for my kids and then eating it. I am fine until a holiday comes up and then I say, ok just for today I'll have what I want, then I slip. Eventually I get back on track but this time it's been over 2 months. Last time it was my surprise 40th bd party and there was cake and of course I ate it. I need serious help. Well, thanks for listening, wish me luck!

3/18/2006 10:42 PM  
Blogger N-Watch said...

I am going through this second time battle now and I must admit it's harder than it was the first time several years ago. However, I noted that I developed some areas where I was crossing the line and it has a hard habit to break. For example, 1n 2003, I completely abstained from the "low carb" energy bars, and 7Eleven coffee without the sweetened vanilla capuccino shot. Also, I was using the BodyFlex exercise in 2003 when I started the Atkins induction stage, and now had reduce it to 1 or 2 times per week. So, these are little things that creep in and influence the low-carb effect. While going thru this self-analysis, and doing research about the avian flu, I discovered the low-carb food: sauerkraut. Avian flu, 7Eleven and Sauerkraut

3/19/2006 7:30 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

n-watch and wigs: try to add more fat and perhaps somewhat less protein. Try the ketogenic version, so keep the carbs well below 20 grams per day for at last 2 weeks, after which even persons with extreme metabolic resistance (often from previous medications) start losing and are in ketosis. Also, beef up vitamin intake (C, B complex, cod liver fish oil, garlic, chromium) and try to exercise a little more.

In my experience, these measures are sufficient to mobilize fat-burning. After a while and losing weight nicely, add in some more selected, healthy carbs from green, leafy veggies.

I coached a few people (especially in the UK) with extreme metabolic resistance and indeed they had to follow the ketogenic version of this dietary regimen for over a year (without any problems whatsoever, incidentally). But then they had to lose a lot of weight, and got it off. After going to the maintenance phase, they kept it off ever since.

3/21/2006 1:29 AM  
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3/22/2006 1:52 AM  
Blogger bookworm said...

I am living the one golden shot with Atkins. It IS true for some people that it does not work nearly as easily on subsequent times. I did it over 4 years ago and the weight dropped off like magic. I regained it plus 10 and now I am on Atkins again to lose it and want to change my lifestyle to keep it off. I have been on it for 6 weeks and have only lost 7 pounds - and that in the first 2-3 weeks. I am not eating "hidden" carbs. I recently got some ketostix and got a positive test result (moderate). I am going on the kekwick fat fast this week to try and break through this wall.

3/30/2008 1:11 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I'm sorry you're having trouble, bookworm. But I'm not buying you can't lose weight again on low-carb if you already did it once. The fact it worked so well for you the first time shows your body is metabolically ready for reacting positively to carbohydrate restriction. Keep at it and you'll see the results not just in your weight but your health, too. And by all means, DON'T STOP THIS TIME! :)

3/30/2008 2:14 PM  
Anonymous JV said...

I'm doing the low carb lifestyle the second time round and need to lose 11kg to get to my optimum weight. After 2 months of trying I have only lost 1kg. I had stopped low carb for 17 months due to pregnancy and breastfeeding. Any suggestions why it's not working this time please? If it worked once I think it ought to work again.

6/01/2010 5:42 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Could be any number of things. Please come to my discussion forum at to discuss your current diet and exercise plan. :)

6/01/2010 6:52 PM  

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