Friday, April 20, 2007

Low-Carb Diet Concerns Hashed Out At Amazon

One of the neatest aspects of blogging about low-carb are all the people who discover the truth about this way of eating day after day after day. That's why I always keep the lines of communication open for anyone who desires to learn more about livin' la vida low-carb...even if I've answered those SAME questions many times before. I'm working on a frequently asked questions (FAQ) link along with a full upgrade to the look of my blog to help with this, but it's not ready yet. Soon. :)

Of all the places I write online includes the discussion area at I love this relatively new feature on Amazon because it exposes people to a variety of voices they may not have otherwise known about. In August 2006, I posted a question that simply asked "What Are Your Criticisms Of The Low-Carb Lifestyle?"

Responses from all kinds of people have poured in over the past eight months, but there was one from a person named Smartypants that was full of some excellent questions and intriguing statements about low-carb living. Let's take a look at what this person's "criticisms" of the low-carb lifestyle are:

OK Jimmy, here are my criticisms. My experience with low carb has been good and bad, I never lost any weight, but the high protein and fat kept me from getting very hungry.

I low-carbed for two solid years with no slip-ups and never lost a pound. Then I was put on a medication for diabetes that made me very nauseated and I started eating carbs to settle my stomach (which worked better than, say, chicken or fish). I lost weight, finally.

This weight loss I am assuming came from the nausea and not eating very many calories, which just blows the low carb concept all to heck. I felt better on low carb, I will admit, but if I don't lose weight, the diabetes doesn't get any better. So, it seems to me, that it's still the calories that count.

Now I've been told my cholesterol is too high (I believe you, it's of questionable significance) and my HCP has told me to cut out the fats for weight loss and lipid control. How do I work this into a low carb diet? If I have to count calories and cut out the fat, that pretty much takes me back to the SAD.

I'd love to get your take on this.

Don't you know I had a thing or two to say. Here's my response:

THANKS so much for sharing your story. You're certainly the first person I've ever seen to have all the problems you described about livin' la vida low-carb. But let me attempt to address your concerns.

Dr. Atkins was very adamant about one thing throughout his book and I echo that sentiment regarding low-carb diets--they don't work for everyone. GASP! Yep, it's true. They don't. But that doesn't mean you should give up tee-totally without trying a few options first.

If you read Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution or any other low-carb plan, then you know what it takes to get your body into ketosis (fat-burning mode). Most people who lower their carbs to 20g or less for two weeks will experience deep ketosis and, thus, weight loss.

But for a minority of the population (and you would probably be in this group), weight loss just doesn't happen. It could be you are eating some hidden carbs and don't even know it. Or perhaps your carbohydrate tolerance is VERY low. Either way, it's not good when you are trying to lose weight.

That's why Dr. Atkins went into detail in his book about the Fat Fast. This is designed for people who are livin' la vida low-carb (and doing it BY THE BOOK!) and simultaneously NOT losing weight. If you had already demonstrated an ability to lose weight eating this way, then I would tell you to avoid the Fat Fast. But it's worth a shot to kickstart you into weight loss. Read all about it in Dr. Atkins' book.

You mentioned you have diabetes which low-carb has been shown in all of the latest research to improve. If you feed your body sugar or elevated amounts of even non-sugar carbs (which turn to sugar when you eat them), then you are simply going to raise your blood sugar and your A1c number. NOT good!

Noted Type 1 diabetic Dr. Richard Bernstein has been successfully living with his diabetes for over four decades without the use of insulin or the heavy doses of meds the "experts" say you MUST take to survive. As my wife Christine would say, "That's bull-funky!"

Eating carbs when you are a diabetic simply invites your body to get sicker and sicker which forces you to take more and more drugs and possibly insulin shots to manage all that carb-age you are feeding it. The fact is your body doesn't actually need ANY carbs at all and can make its own carbs from the protein you consume through a process known as gluconeogenesis. It's an amazing thing!

My main theme when I speak to people about diet and weight loss is to find what works for you, study and absorb thoroughly the plan that you want to follow, do that plan exactly as prescribed by the author, and then keep doing that plan for the rest of your life. That's what I'm doing with livin' la vida low-carb and others are doing on their respective programs. There is no one-size-fits-all diet.

If you want to be in bondage to counting calories and fat grams, then knock yourself out. But I have been low-carbing for 3 1/2 years and have never counted the first calorie or fat gram I'm taking into my body. All I have counted is the net carbs (total carbohydrates minus dietary fiber and sugar alcohols). It has been the easiest weight loss plan I've ever done and it doesn't even feel like a diet. Never has.

My life has been transformed now because I don't eat sugar, I don't overload my body with totally unnecessary carb-loaded foods like potatoes, rice, regular pasta, doughnuts, fast food, and the like. If people would just cut out the junk, then many of them would not be dealing with obesity today. It's all about making choices that are good for you. It's hard, I know, but it can be done.

The fact that you felt better on the low-carb lifestyle encourages me that it very well could have been working for you when you were on it, although the weight loss was not happening. There are health benefits to livin' la vida low-carb (especially for your diabetes, as I previously mentioned) that go beyond what the scale says. But I understand how discouraging it must be to have your weight be at a stalemate.

On the issue of cholesterol, again the latest research shows that the LDL and total cholesterol is not nearly as important as the HDL "good" cholesterol being high (mine is 71) and your triglycerides are below 100 (mine are 57) as it relates to the risk for cardiovascular problems. Yes, my total cholesterol is over 200 (GASP!), but I'm not a bit worried about it as long as HDL and triglycerides stay where they are. :)

I can certainly see your dilemma and urge you to look into the multiplicity of low-carb plans that are out there. Some of them like Kimkins are low-carb as well as low-fat and low-calorie and have made the difference in a LOT of people's lives. My plan happens to be the Atkins diet which is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet (my fat/protein/carbohydrate ratio is close to 60/30/10).

Best wishes to you as you try to figure out what is best for you. The biggest encouragement I can give you as a former 400+ pound man is just NEVER GIVE UP! If you stay in the game and keep working at this, then you can't help but be successful when all is said and done. Discouragement is the greatest enemy to weight loss there is which is why I attempt to provide DAILY encouragement, education, and inspiration at my blog.

Come by and visit when you get a chance and start livin' la vida low-carb the RIGHT way. :)

THANKS again for your thought-provoking comments and questions. SEE YA!

I'll keep an eye on the Amazon page for more comments from others about what they don't like about livin' la vida low-carb. That's how we're going to keep influencing our culture and changing our world. Feel free to add your comments at Amazon or share them in the comments section below.

4-21-07 UPDATE: I'm certainly not infallible as evidenced by this e-mail from one of my readers:

One correction I must make to your blog, Jimmy. This is in regards to Dr. Bernstein. You mentioned that even though he is a Type 1 Diabetic he doesn't take any insulin. Ahhh, if Dr. Bernstein didn't take insulin, he'd be dead in a couple of days! He takes probably the lowest dosage of insulin I've ever heard of for a Type 1 Diabetic but he does take insulin - and I could be wrong but I believe he takes insulin a couple of times per day. I just think it's important that anyone that is a Type 1 Diabetic and reading your blog could get the wrong idea. Yikes! Type 1 diabetics do not produce ANY insulin and they MUST take insulin to survive.

Oops! Sorry about that. You are absolutely right. The key point is he doesn't take as much and does not need diabetes medications to control his disease. THANK YOU to my reader for correcting my misinformation.

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