Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What To Know When Weight Loss Is Slow

Maintaining a steady weight better than the alternative

It's Week 19 of The "30-In-30" Low-Carb Weight Loss Challenge and I checked in with a 1-pound weight gain this week putting me at 217 pounds. Back and forth, up and down, my weight just refuses to break that 215 barrier for some odd reason or another.

Actually it DID break 215 late last week when I weighed 214 on my Friday morning weigh-in. But the weight came back up by the time I stepped on the scale today. ARGH!

Of course, this doesn't bother me as much since I started using the "Google 15" tool which gives a better representation of where your weight loss actually stands. But at some point I will need to break that 215 if I am ever going to reach my goal of 199. Now I've only got 11 weeks left to lose that last 18 pounds. It's not impossible, but getting more challenging.

This whole thought process about being stuck on a particular weight got me to thinking today (I know, that's dangerous!).

Why do we kick, scream and beat ourselves up when the scale remains on one particular number? What's up with that kind of attitude just because the weight loss stops happening for a few weeks or months? We too often criticize ourselves and want to find fault in what we are doing WRONG that we hardly spend a single moment patting ourselves on the back for what we are doing RIGHT!

Click here to read more about why I believe you should celebrate even if the scale shows you're not losing a single pound on your low-carb plan.

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Blogger mrfritznyc said...

yo, jimmy, IB here (having trouble logging in that way for some reason tho...)

anyway, you know... you keep posting Kimkins success stories...

and you keep complaining about not losing....

but yet you want to hold onto the myth that calories dont matter when you do low carb.


I've been watching mine and I now once again weigh less that I can remember weighing in more than 10 years, 15 maybe even.

12/12/2006 10:12 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Mr. Fritz...that name describes you well, IB, because your brain must be on the fritz right now!

You won't hear me "complaining about not losing" weight. On the contrary, I am CELEBRATING the fact that I am no longer where was once was with my weight.

Four months ago you chastised me for not counting my calories when my weight hit 240 pounds. I never said calories "don't matter when you do low-carb," but rather that you don't have to count them. I still don't and was able to lose 25 pounds--only five pounds away from my original goal of 210 by the end of February.

The point is I have been VERY successful doing a straight low-carb plan without counting calories and a minor stall is not going to deter me. CONGRATULATIONS on your success, but I've still got you beat. I'm approaching a weight I haven't been since the 5th grade! Can't wait to hit 199!

THANKS for your comments!

12/12/2006 10:30 PM  
Blogger Lady Atkins said...

I've been hovering around 145 no matter what - more calories, fewer calories, more carbs, less carbs, almost no carbs. It doesn't make a difference.

And I'm actually about 5 pounds up (around 150) because for about 2 weeks I ate to satiety. I can't do that when I take a med who's main side effect is to make me hungry. So I gained and now I am back to journaling everything I eat and counting calories and carbs. Hopefully the weight will leave!

I have no planned "off diet" days until my birthday next month (Jan. 11) so I can be good (all bets are off on my birthday!). And Christmas and New Year's will be low-carb affairs. :)

12/12/2006 11:12 PM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Nobody in his right mind would say that "calories don't count". In the end, of course, we are all governed by calories.

All Jimmy said was that in the context of a low-carb dietary regimen there is no need to count calories. And he's completely right, for two reasons.

First, if one follow a truly low-carb dietary regimen, the body, as one of the many beneficial results of a high intake of quality fats and proteins, will initiate several hormonal sequelae, among which those that very effectively signal satiety. This is why it is very hard to overeat on a low-carb diet - thus providing an automatic way of controlling caloric intake.

Secondly, it is a well-known fact that fats and proteins follow quite dissimilar metabolic pathways: a phenomenon that the late, great dr. Robert C. Atkins coined the metabolic advantage. This results in the body having to spend far more energy to metabolize those fats and proteins ingested than it has to metabolize glucose from carbohydrates.

All of this boils down to the fact that it is quite unnecessary for most people to count calories on a low-carb diet: it is simply pointless to do so, unless one suffers from metabolic disorders or uses medications. Most medications have a rather negative influence on weightloss: they increase metabolic resistance and impair (and sometimes completely block) these natural processes.

To make a long story short: yes, calories do count, but when one is wise enough to follow a properly implemented low-carb dietary regimen there is normally no need whatsoever to count calories as a result of the aforementioned metabolic processes and advantages.

That's all Jimmy said and he's completely correct.

12/13/2006 1:57 AM  
Blogger mrfritznyc said...

To make a long story short: yes, calories do count, but when one is wise enough to follow a properly implemented low-carb dietary regimen there is normally no need whatsoever to count calories as a result of the aforementioned metabolic processes and advantages.

That's all Jimmy said and he's completely correct.

he said a lot more than that. Guess his name fits him, he says a lot "moore" than he needs to. Weighs a little bit "moore" than he wants to as well! You make fun of my name, Jimmy, so there you go, back at you!

no need to count calories? metabolic advantage? then tell me why low carb forums display story after story after story about people who are completely stalled out well short of their goal? either that, or their goal is set too high. My contention, Jimmy's distortions and personal insults aside, has always been that Atkins works and works fantastically, but for most people, it only works to a point. It is a rare person indeed who can follow atkins as described and "eat to satiety" and reach a realistic level of leaness without thinking about portion control. No, you dont need to count calories. But if you aren't as lean as you should be, if you have stalled short of your goal for a few years (like me), then it only makes sense to cut down on your portions, ie cut down on your calories.

I find Atkins maddeningly vague about this point. I thinnk that's why the Kimkins diet is so popular and might I say, succesful at getting people truly lean. She addresses this head on. No, you cannot eat all you want and expect to lose weight. Eat only when you are hungry.

12/13/2006 8:26 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I'm not interested in a peeing match, Mr. Fritz. Suffice it to say I believe and abide by the following:

1. Eat low-carb foods.
2. Eat until I have satisfied my hunger.
3. Never count calories or portions.
4. Exercise moderately.
5. Doing it for the rest of my life.

That's my philosophy put as elementary as possible. If someone else wants to do otherwise, then that's their prerogative. But this is working for me, so I'll be sticking with it.

THANKS again for your comments!

12/13/2006 9:30 AM  
Blogger mrfritznyc said...

here's my version of your list, it's only slightly different:

1. Eat low-carb foods.
2. Eat only enough to satisfy my hunger.
3. Lift weights twice a week ("Slow Burn" style).
4. Do it for the rest of my life.

12/13/2006 10:31 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Of course, eat only when you are hungry. Why else eat? I agree.

Weight loss stalls happen for a multitude of reasons, on any diet, including our beloved Gov't most favorite, the low-fat fad. The most common reason is the simple fact that our bodies do not want to lose fat, even if a person is obese: fat is the survival "energy stash" of the body - just like in the animal kingdom it's fat that makes the hibernating animals survive without consuming anything for months. They are simply in ketosis. Did you know that most (lucky) people are naturally in ketosis during their sleep? While in ketosis the process of lipolysis burns stored fat for energy.

When a person has been yo-yo dieting for many years -especially many women are the life-long victim of this phenomenon- on low-fat, portion control diets, the natural mechanism that regulates fat storage gets into "emergency mode" after a fad diet, influencing the secretion of insulin - thus creating the "bonus pounds" that appear after the person in question stops the diet and returns to a "normal" eating pattern.

Simply put, that's what causes the yo-yo effect: dieting, followed by weight loss, resulting in "emergency insulin", resulting in weight gain PLUS bonus, again, dieting, followed by weight loss, stimulating MORE "emergency insulin", resulting again in weight gain PLUS double bonus, and so forth, ad infinitum. It's a very discouraging (and detrimental and sometimes even ultimately deadly) spiral.

For persons like this, a well-implemented low-carb dietary regimen can break that detrimental rollercoaster ride, as only low-carb diets offer far superior glycemic control and hence controlled bloodsugar- and insulin secretion levels.

Sure, weight loss can be induced by reducing calories, but that's not something I would quickly or easily recommend. Perhaps the goal of the person in question is not realistic (influence of media, anyone?) or perhaps there are medications involved. Or perhaps the fat intake is too low, as is often the case. Reducing calories has inherent dangers - like, for example, insufficient intake and absorption of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals as well as a (resulting) low metabolic rate. But, strange as it may sound, it may even ultimately result in weight gain, especially when the goal is far too extreme, as per the mechanism aforementioned. And don't forget that body weight is most certainly not the ultimate indicator for good and robust health. The "right weight" is only a media-induced idea. People can be easily fooled by the media, but Mother Nature cannot. The weight of muscle mass, for example, is much higher than that of fat. Strong bones, a result of higher-protein/fat diets, may also contribute to this. So perhaps the person in question already has an excellent BMI, and there's simply no sound biological reason to lose more weight. And thus, we think, there's a "stall" or the "wrong" weight.

I guess I am either incredibly lucky or indeed I am that very rare person, but since I lost more than 210 pounds on Atkins more than 10 years ago -yes, with some inevitable stalls- I kept it off ever since rather easily, with only moderate to low exercise levels. I think I am as lean "as I should be" given my 6"1 frame, although quite some fitness trainers and/or health "experts" might very well disagree. But I am happy with it, my biomarkers are all excellent and even my doctor was astonished: he told me I had the heart of a 20-30 year old man. And I'm absolutely much older, as my blogger name signifies :)

I never used portion control (in fact I consume quite a bit more calories than before Atkins) and will never count a single calorie - but of course I have to "listen" to my body and stop eating when I had enough.

When I gain a little weight, which sometimes happens, I simply increase the proportion of fat, especially saturated fats, in my diet, and that is all.

12/13/2006 11:12 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

My list is the same as yours, IB. You consciously count calories and carbs and I allow my body to do that for me. :)

12/13/2006 12:31 PM  
Blogger mrfritznyc said...

My list is the same as yours, IB. You consciously count calories and carbs and I allow my body to do that for me.

exactly. when I let my body do the counting, my body decided being 20 plus pounds overweight was ok. I decided differently.

btw, I dont actually count anything, not carbs, not calories, but I am mindful of how much I eat and I avoid all sugar and starch... for the most part.

you dont have to count calories, but can forget that caloires count!

12/13/2006 2:53 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I'm happy to see you agree with me, IB, because that's EXACTLY what I do, too. Welcome to the fray. :)

12/13/2006 3:00 PM  
Blogger Calianna said...

Science4U1959 said:
Did you know that most (lucky) people are naturally in ketosis during their sleep? While in ketosis the process of lipolysis burns stored fat for energy.

Now here's something I've wondered about for a while... and while I thought about just googling to find out, I figured I'd only get a "calories in/calories out" answer.

My question is, if ketosis/lipolysis is the buring of stored fat, how do people on calorie controlled or low fat diets lose any fat at all without ever entering ketosis/lipolysis?

I know that they're not losing all fat, in fact they're losing a lot of muscle, since they're most likely not getting enough protein to retain all of their muscle, but there are people who have lost 100 lbs or more on a low fat/calorie controlled diet. So how is this being accomplished, if they're not entering into some kind of fat-burning mode?

Or is ketosis only the terminology for low carb diet induced fat burning? Does burning fat while exercising or starving yourself on 1500 calories of primarily carbs per day somehow create some other kind of fat burning process?

This is just something I've been wondering about, since one of the biggest "dangers" of low carbing is supposedly the whole ketosis thing.

12/14/2006 7:35 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Calianna: good question! Indeed, on an low-fat, portion control (starvation) diets people lose weight too. This is the direct result of a caloric deficiency. However, there are major differences (and some similarities) between low-carb dieting and weight loss, and low-fat/portion control weight loss.

To understand this, it is necessary to know a little about proteins, fats and carbs. Proteins, as you probably know, are absolutely essential, just like fats. Carbs however are non-essential, the body can very well function without them, no matter what you may have heard. In fact in nutritional science there is no such thing like "essential carbohydrates". So anyone saying something like that has no clue what they are talking about. Let's look, for example, at the Inuit (Eskimos) who do not consume any vegetable matter and thrive and stay perfectly healthy on a zero-carb, extremely high-fat diet.

So then how does this weight loss mechanism work? It is a quite complex topic, actually, but basically it boils down to this.

By not giving the body the nutrients it needs (severe restriction of calories) these dieters force the body to start all kinds of survival and especially emergency processes. If the caloric restriction is severe enough, the proportion of proteins and fats will be too low for the body to survive. Since the survival mechanism is a very strong and persistant one, emergency measures have to be taken. Hence, this leaves the body no other choice than a desperate process of "kannibalizing" proteins from bone and muscle, including heart muscle.

Lipolysis will also occur in a person starving himself. Lipolysis means nothing else than "fat burning". However, in "emergency mode" proteins are prioritized since the body simply cannot function without them. Thus, the body starts using proteins from bone, muscle, and any other source it can find - desperately trying not to impair brain function too much. Since the brain is primarily constituted of fats (and needs fats to function) lipolysis -fat burning- is minimized.

This shows you how dangerous portion control, especially in combination with a low-fat diet is! It's literally demolishing the body, putting it at great risk and even can kill. That's why the Pritikin and other ultra-low-fat diets at the end of the 1960's and mid 70's killed so many people of heart attacks (heart muscle failure) and brain seizures. That's also why so many people get irrational and aggressive on low-fat diets - they are quite literally damaging their brains.

On a low-carb diet, with it's adequate intake of healthy fats and proteins, all this unnatural and dangerous emergency misery is not necessary. If the carbohydrates in the low-carb diet are restricted sufficiently, the diet becomes "ketogenic". That means that the metabolism, in the absence of glucose from carbohydrates, switches to the (sole) alternate fuel: fat. And thus the body can enter the (mind you, completely natural) state of ketosis.

Since this is a completely natural and quite efficient and effective process, several hormonal sequelae are initiated that will optimize the process of lipolysis - without the body having to resort to desperate measures in order to survive. And thus the fat loss (lipolysis) is far more effective on a low-carb diet. Muscle loss is not observed, to the contrary, muscle mass will increase.

That's basically it. Sorry for the long answer, but this is basically the mechanism. Biochemistry and nutrition are fascinating fields! The human body is a wonderful, incredibly complex and resilient mechanism - yet delicate and needs proper maintenance.

The odd thing is: everybody knows exactly what kind of fuel to put into their car. Otherwise the car would malfunction practically immediately.

Yet few people understand what kinds of fuel the human body needs in order to remain healthy and perform optimally. Their own body - a much more delicate and intelligent mechanism than their cars. Yet they take better care of the car!

Amazing, isn't it?

12/14/2006 10:56 AM  
Blogger mrfritznyc said...

This shows you how dangerous portion control, especially in combination with a low-fat diet is!

no, it shows how dangerous a very low calorie diet is.

it is quite possible to eat low carb and eat enough to remain quite chubby. I know, I am living proof. I also know a guy who had been pretty skinny and went low carb due to Crohn's disease - he actually gained weight!

an awful lot of people-I would guess most-need to either decide you are ok being a bit chubby or decide to control those portions (in addition to low-carbing, of course).

12/14/2006 1:35 PM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Granted, a very low calorie diet in itself is very dangerous too - but the combination of low-fat and VLCD is even more deadly.

IB, do you take any medications? I bet the Crohn person does. Most medications are known to impair and even completely block weight loss, and most stimulate weight (re)gain as well.

In my experience -and I've seen a lot of happy low-carbers over the years- most reach their goal relatively easily and keep it off over the long term, with only minor, natural fluctuations.

It's also my experience that a few will experience severe metabolic resistance which impairs weight loss: there are zillions of potential factors, but all medications are number one, followed by candida albicans overgrowth and years of yo-yo dieting.

If you have to resort to portion control, whatever you do, make sure that you keep an adequate intake of (especially saturated) fats and high-quality, complete proteins - such as exclusively found in meats. You could try to supplement your daily fat intake with 4 tablespoons of certified heat-free, viscous, non-RBD coconut oil (VCNO). 2 tblsp with breakfast and 2 with dinner. These oils are uniquely rich in MCT's (Medium Chain Triglycerides) and are easily converted into energy, and will boost metabolism as well.

12/14/2006 2:16 PM  
Blogger mrfritznyc said...

is scotch a medicine? if so, I take plenty! beer too! no other medicines to, except claratin for my allergies.

i eat loads of high quality fat and protein, I am a very good customer at, my source for tender succulent grass-fed ribeyes..

according to a BMR calculator I found today, my BMR is about 1800 calories per day. I am 50 years old, just under 6', weight 189. I suspect my BMR is a little bit lower, actually, but that sounds about right. When I was eating all I wanted, low carb style, I was eating about 2200-2400 - which explains why I stopped losing weight - after dropping 30 or so pounds.

it's not rocket science. when I trim my calories back to 1500 or 1600ish, I start losing weight. duh!

Of course,I'd lose more if I skipped the scotch, but I'm not that desperate!

I suppose it's possible that I might have candida, but I doubt it.

12/14/2006 6:28 PM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Hi IB: well, there you go. Scotch will get you nicely out of ketosis (alcohol is a preferred fuel) and will impair weight loss. Same goes, of course, for beer which is high in carbs.

Claratin is an antihistamine, made out of micronized loratadine, and most antihistamines have the same effects as steroids for the relief treatment of asthma: they cause weight gain. Claratin also contains starches (corn starch) and lactose (sugar) - all known to cause weight gain. The syrup is even worse as it's made out of plain refined sugar.

I can imagine that you'd hate the thought of dumping the scotch, but that very well might help to fight of the allergies; helping you to ward off the Claratin. Alcohols like scotch and beer keep also -if you suffer from that, that is- candida overgrowth intact.

It's a decision I can't help you with, of course, but I think that's the (main) reason you have to resort to portion control.

From experience, however, I do know that low-carb diets help those that suffer from asthma and all kinds of (food) allergies very nicely.

For now, IB, cheers ;)

12/15/2006 1:05 AM  
Blogger mrfritznyc said...

you may be right about the asthma and low carbing, I havent had an asthma flare up since I started 4 and 1/2 years ago.

however, I cant believe a claratin pill has enough of anything that would hinder my weight loss. you know, once in awhile I'll eat some bread at a restaraunt or even a baked potato (just the pulp tho, smothered in butter and sour cream, of course!), and it has zero impact on my weight. I doubt that a tiny little pill does either.

and yes, the booze does as you say, puts ketosis on pause. Yawn. It also adds calories. But I would guess I am in ketosis at least 70 - 80 per cent of the time.

Because I lost 30 pounds while drinking pretty much the same amount as I do now, and because it's basic common sense, I am more inclined to believe the reason I stopped losing weight is because my caloric requirements dropped as I lost the initial 30 pounds. Not a big mystery here.

would I lose faster without the booze? of course. do I care? not at all!

take a look at the low carb forums and see how many long timers there are still short of their goal. that's because they believe the myth that there's something magial about low carb calories.

take a look at, and see how many people reach their goal with ease.

the difference is stark and should tell you something.

12/15/2006 11:00 AM  

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