Monday, October 09, 2006

Three-Day Atkins Study Deceiving People Who Need Weight Loss About Low-Carb

Dr. Chow having a cow over so-called side effects that come from low-carb

When I read about studies like this one regarding people who go on what the media calls the Atkins/low-carb diet, it literally takes everything within me to keep from pulling my hair out because it is obvious the researchers don't have a clue what livin' la vida low-carb is REALLY about.

Lead researcher Dr. Chin Moi Chow, senior lecturer in the School of Exercise and Sport Science of The University of Sydney in Australia, claims that she observed 15 people on the Atkins diet over a THREE-DAY period and noticed that the study participants experienced more mood swings, fatigue and even extreme dreams allegedly as a result of being on a low-carb diet.

Dr. Chow said more of the Atkins dieters were able to sleep deeply (18 percent) than the control group on a normal diet (14 percent) because the higher fat intake supposedly stimulates the release of a hormone called cholecystokinin that makes them tired. But she was quick to point out the trade-off for this deep sleep includes vivid dreams and frequent waking up in the middle of the night as the body "struggled to break down hard-to-digest foods," apparently referring to the additional fat and/or protein consumed by low-carb dieters.

While only 20 percent of the study partipants on a normal diet remembered their dreams, 53 percent of Atkins dieters recalled how "unpleasant" their dreams were.

“Some people didn't remember much about their dreams but they definitely remembered that they were unpleasant,” Dr. Chow stated. ”Others reported being chased or experiencing nasty stresses related to their daily lives."

The negative impact of this manifested itself during the daytime for the Atkins dieters who were tired, moody, irritable, lacked concentration, and could not focus. In fact, Dr. Chow made the following grim conclusions about people who go on the Atkins diet.

"It might make you lose weight and sleep more deeply but the side effects are so bad that they seriously affect your life," Dr. Chow exclaimed. “So that's not good on your work situation or social situation, and if you have a lapse of concentration while you're driving that could be fatal."

She added that the Atkins dieters in her study were also suffering from low blood sugar levels and ketosis which she describes as "chronic starvation." Who would ever want to put themselves through something like this?!

Dr. Chow presented her findings at the Australasian Sleep Association Conference in Perth, Australia, on October 7, 2006.

Does this sound like a weight loss plan YOU would want to do after reading a study like this? Heck, if I hadn't already lost close to 200 pounds on the Atkins diet already, then I'm not so sure I'd want to do it with the way Dr. Chow conducted her study. I have previously blogged about low-carb changing your mood, but that's not the whole story.

Let's throw a little practical reality into the picture right about now.

As my friend and fellow 200-pound Atkins diet weight loss success story Kent Altena recently explained in his video about Induction flu, there are some rather unpleasant TEMPORARY side effects to beginning a low-carb program because most people are addicted to carbohydrates--VERY ADDICTED! I know I was.

I personally wanted to kill myself on the first day of my Atkins diet experience because I felt so unbelievably weak, drained of any energy whatsoever, a massive headache from Hell...I think you get the picture. My wife Christine will tell you that she has never seen me get so sick as I did on January 1, 2004 when I embarked on this journey to lose weight on the Atkins diet.

But is this a reason to NOT start a low-carb plan? Heck no! It's VERY natural to make your body go through the sugar and refined carb withdrawals in those early days because it is a necessary step to getting to the best part of livin' la vida low-carb--WEIGHT LOSS, BABY! Had I given up after just three days, Dr. Chow, then I would never tasted the thrill of an enormous weight loss and vastly improved health. My life was RADICALLY changed for the better because of the Atkins diet.

Plus, what's with a study about the Atkins diet on just fifteen people for only three days, Dr. Chow? That's not the Atkins diet. It doesn't even take you through even one-fifth of ONE PHASE of the Atkins diet. Come on people, let's get real about what we are calling the Atkins diet here. This reminds me of that Georgia student who went on Atkins for two whole days. WOW, that must have been some plan. NOT!

If you are going to accurately look at the Atkins diet that was created by the late great Dr. Robert C. Atkins, Dr. Chow, then you need to go at least two weeks to get through the Induction phase and then another 8-24 weeks to see how the dieter progresses from being controlled by carbs to taking control of their eating habits for the first time in their life.

Sure, it can be rough in the early days of Atkins and nobody in the low-carb community is denying that. But that's like leaving a movie theater five minutes after the movie starts because a character you liked was murdered. Does this mean the movie is bad because of this? Of course not. And neither does any pain or struggles that come early on in a low-carb plan.

Even Dr. Chow admits these side effects that she says happen on the Atkins diet have not been evaluated over longer periods of time, but rather she insists on making her three days indicative of ALL low-carb dieters at any point on the diet. That's just plain ridiculous, Dr. Chow, and you should be ashamed of yourself for putting that out there in the public realm as scientific fact. It's nothing more than a low-carb hatchet job and you know it!

My blogging friend Suzique from the new "Low-Carb Lab" blog made the following comment in this blog post about Dr. Chow's study today.

"If the people would get past the three-day mark they would see an amazing reversal of all this. Side effects are NOT from fat in the diet but the withdrawal from carbs. Yet studies like this keep the public at large ignorant of the real facts of this way of eating."

I couldn't have said it better myself, Suzique!

Wanna express your thoughts about this silly study with Dr. Chin Moi Chow herself? You can e-mail her at

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Blogger Meredith Curry said...

Yeap, that is just what I needed. I'm a true addict, but I'm a work in progress! Thanks for keeping us motivated.

10/09/2006 7:43 PM  
Blogger BillyHW said...

I remember being very *foggy* on day 3 of induction, but by day 4 it was already much better and by the end of the two weeks I was back to normal.

10/09/2006 8:19 PM  
Blogger R. Francis said...

Boy, do I hear that. I actually am closer to Protein Power's approach (and even closer to Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Diet, that being the point of the exercise for me), but still, same principle -- when I dropped the carb level hard, I felt terrible.

For a few days.

Now a day doesn't go by when someone doesn't tell me again how much more energy I have. Enough to lift weights three times a week and do serious cardio on three more days a week and still get out and do things. And that's just after one month. :)

Three days. Cripes. Some science.

10/09/2006 8:52 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

What an idiot! Everyone goes through the flu for the first 3 days. If she would have just extended it one more day the results would have started to improve.

Grains ARE addictive - they activate the pleasure center in the brain. Withdrawal from them is no different than withdrawal from any other drug - detoxing takes time.

10/10/2006 1:29 AM  
Blogger AnOldHouse said...

My understanding is that the metabolic cutover can take as much as six weeks. For me, it was five weeks...of constant diarrhea! So much for needing any fiber supplements for constipation! LOL

Anyway, this is just the way my system reacts to any changes. Otherwise, I felt perfectly fine. About the fourth week, I did consider quiting the program even though I had lost nearly 20 pounds by then. Then one day, my system fully adapted was back to "normal" and even more "normal" than it's ever been.

I honestly believe that you can't fully appreciate or measure the effects of a permanent change in dietary habit for at least 3 months from initiation and any study that purports to do so in less time is completely fraudulent with an overriding motivating agenda.


10/10/2006 11:46 AM  
Blogger LCforevah said...

I'm glad you quoted Suzique regarding the "withdrawal" from carbs. I also had vivid dreams the first few nights of low carb, just like what happens when people withdraw from amphetatamines and barbituates. If we consider that excess carbs(or any carbs) are what cause a whole cascade of health problems, both physical and mental, it isn't so hard to extrapolate that withdrawal from carbs would act on the brain just like withdrawal from some major drugs.

I now have much greater mental clarity during the day, and better, more vivid dreams than I've had in years. I consider that good all around.

It's unbelievable that any doctor doing research would actually bother to present a three day study. It strikes me as pure bias against low carb.

10/10/2006 1:23 PM  

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