Sunday, May 06, 2007

No Weight Loss, No Fair: 'I Feel Like Giving Up'

There's a common mentality as it relates to weight loss that is probably the single-biggest reason why people are unable to reach their goal weight. I have gone through it many times over the course of my life and it is what has prevented me from being the ultimate success that I have now become.

What is this mysterious reason why weight loss fails so often?

I think it all comes down to expectations. When you start livin' la vida low-carb or any diet plan, there are certain markers that you set for yourself either arbitrarily or by design. Regardless, we believe a certain set of events must happen to give us affirmation in our newfound journey or we're ready to throw in the towel.

Can I just say how incredibly silly that kind of thinking is?!

For example, let's say you start the Atkins diet today and two weeks later you ONLY lost 10 pounds when you expected to lose 20. Are you disappointed? Many would be which is the heart of the problem I'm talking about today.

Another thing that happens is you lose 15, 25, even 50 pounds and then the weight loss just stops. Yeah, welcome to the club! That's gonna happen, so you just have to be prepared for it.

Unfortunately, some people like to use this as an excuse to just give up. UGH! Why would you do that just because that little machine known as the scale doesn't do what you want?

Check out this e-mail I received from a reader who felt this way:

I have been doing low-carb for several years now. I had already lost 60 pounds, but then gained about 20 back after Hurricane Katrina hit in my area.

I have recently lost those 20 pounds, but now I am at a standstill. I have been doing the Induction phase for awhile now and did not move on to Ongoing Weight Loss because of the slow intial weight loss.

Whenever I have done Induction before over two weeks, I've always lost 12-15 pounds. Now, I do it and only lose 5 pounds at the very most.

I am counting my carbs and suddenly find myself just not eating anything anymore because my weight is not going anywhere. I even workout three times a week.

Any suggestions? This is all making me feel like giving up. Low-carb used to work so well for me, but sometimes I feel like my body has become used to low-carb. Maybe I need to switch to something else. Any help would be appreciated.

Thank you so much for writing and you are not the first repeat low-carber who has seemed to have a harder time losing weight the second time around than the first. Some say it's the "one golden shot" theory, but I don't buy into that. If you've lost weight on low-carb before, then you can do it again.

By all means, if your weight loss is not happening at the same rate, DON'T start eating less. That will actually make the problem worse because you'll be even more hungry and irritable. My suggestion is to keep your carbs at Induction level (20g daily) and just keep doing that with a cheerful heart as if everything is working well.

Commit to do that for 45 days and don't give in to the temptation to cheat or even weigh yourself for the entire time. I know it'll be hard to resist, but you must. What's the payoff? At the end of that 45-day period, you will have lost weight and inches while gaining a newfound appreciation for this way of eating.

If you feel good and are enjoying this lifestyle change, then there's no reason why you would ever go back to another way of eating ever again. Now GO FOR IT!!!

Perhaps you feel like it's not fair when your weight loss slows or stops. Think about this: AT LEAST YOU'RE NOT GAINING! And that is a VERY good thing that you should celebrate. Plus, weight loss isn't your clothes fit, how you feel, your general state of mind, etc. are critical parts of the diet equation, too. Don't neglect them just because you stall.

It's time to stop lying to yourself and start losing weight. When you think of weight loss as a journey of choice, there's no reason to quit just because you have a few days or weeks of no weight loss. I went 10 weeks in a row during my weight loss when the scale just stopped moving down!

The good news is I remained focused and was adamant I was NOT gonna give up no matter what obstacles were gonna come my way. Heck, I had already LOST a lot of weight, so why would I suddenly start complaining because the weight loss ceased. What a tragic ending that would have been to an eventual 180-pound weight loss success in one year. It would have never happened if I had quit like so many people do.

Word of advice: DON'T DO THAT!

Gotta question about your low-carb journey that's bugging you? Send me an e-mail at

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Blogger Carol Bardelli said...

" I even workout three times a week." That might be part of the problem, especially if it's a little cardio and no resistance training. 3 X a week is sold by the exercise and diet industry because people like the sound of minimal effort, it doesn't mean it works for most of us.

The other issue is portion size. Even on low carb some of us are sensitive to portion size. Dr. Atkins stressed this, low carb is not an invitation to pig out. He recommended 4 to 8 ounces of protein a meal not a pound or more. Same with fat.

Third, like Jimmy always says and he's exactly right, this has to be a lifestyle. You get on and ride the rest of your life whether this horse is minding you this week or month or not. Stick with it forever and it will work.

5/06/2007 8:30 PM  
Blogger V. Veritas said...

Sticking with it "forever" is not a very good idea!

The biggest issue with "low carb" is that there is not enough fiber for optimal health—in particular for people with health problems such as thyroid, diabetes or diverticular disease. Low carb should be done very carefully and restricted to eliminate only processed carbohydrates, not complex carbohydrates.

The reasons modern peoples worldwide are obese is because of the ingestion of junk foods loaded with cheap, processed carbohydrates and trans fats instead of natural, complex carbohydrates and good fats. The other cause is a lack of exercise. People don't even know what real food is anymore, never mind a proper portion. The ingestion of these low nutrition, calorie dense foods is not satiating, but rather these are addicting and make people want more and more. Thus, people over eat, even while they are malnourished.

The elimination or severe restriction of complex carbohydrates particularly fruits, grains and legumes can lead to severe health problems over a lifetime.

Restricting complex carbohydrates and eating mostly proteins is playing with fire! You should be very, very careful about doing this for the long term.

You may want to look into the
"Slow Food"
movement to find out what real food is and how to enjoy it.

5/06/2007 9:50 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I respectfully disagree, V. Veritas. I just returned from a conference of bariatric physicians where low-carbohydrate research was presented with the latest clinical trials and studies available.

Your claims about protein and the so-called lack of fiber on a low-carb diet is not what the researchers shared. Instead, higher fat and protein along with ample amounts of fiber is what makes livin' la vida low-carb a very healthy way to lose weight and ward off disease than previously thought.

Carbs should be looked at as sugar because that's how the body recognizes them when they are consumed. Sure, I agree that green leafy and non-starchy veggies are carbs you could eat as part of your healthy lifestyle, but eating plenty of protein and fat will help slow the blood sugar rise.

As for fruits, you can eat low-glycemic ones like berries and melons, but high-sugar ones like bananas and oranges are NOT healthy for you, especially if you are diabetic.

I've been livin' la vida low-carb for over three years. WHEN am I supposed to get sick from eating this way long-term, hmmm?

THANKS for your comments, but you couldn't be more wrong if you tried.

5/06/2007 10:29 PM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Veritas wrote: "The elimination or severe restriction of complex carbohydrates particularly fruits, grains and legumes can lead to severe health problems over a lifetime.".

I beg to differ. Can you show me the science (real science, not epidemiological studies, please) that proves that we need to consume grains? Can you show me one (that's 1) tightly controlled, randomized study in a clinical setting that conclusively (or even remotely!) proves that regular consumption of complex carbohydrates is absolutely required for good, robust and sustained health?

You can't, because there are no such studies. Not one! This is the old "essential carbohydrates" crap all over again. In nutritional science, there is no such thing as essential carbohydrates. There are essential FATS, and PROTEINS, but no essential carbs. Period.

While I agree that the beneficial phytonutrients and trace minerals from (selected, low-GI) veggies and some carefully selected (controlled) carbs are good for overall health in our polluted environment, life and excellent health can very well be sustained without them.

In fact the most healthy, disease-free populations are found among those that do not (NOT) consume any (ANY) carbohydrates. And that, as opposed to the "essential carbs" nonsense out there, is a hard, scientifically, historically, and anthropologically verifiable fact.

5/07/2007 12:34 AM  
Blogger mrfritznyc said...

"By all means, if your weight loss is not happening at the same rate, DON'T start eating less."

golly jimmy, I dont think you could possibly be more wrong! (no suprise there, right?). As I've said before, based on my own experience, and from what I've read on many internet forums, just counting carbs alone will only get you so far. Pretty close to where you want to be, but for most folks, not quite where they ought to be or could be. If you're happy there, great. But if you want to get truly lean, that's when you need to start watching portions, counting calories, whatever you want to call it. You need to learn to eat just enough to control your hunger, and no more. Low carb style of course.

I've been on so-called "induction" for five years, and after my weight hit just over 197-8, nothing changed. FOR FIVE YEARS. Then I started strenght training, cut out the cardio, and started watching my portions, now I am down to 186.

my conclusion: carbs count, but so do calories. and cardio is a waste of time.

5/07/2007 8:34 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS for your comments, MrFritzNYC, but I think you need to go back and reread that quote you pulled in the context of this post.

The reader said she's "just not eating anything anymore because my weight is not going anywhere." Calorie restriction with a purpose is one thing, but "not eating anything anymore" just to get the scale to move is STARVING yourself.

If we have learned one thing in this livin' la vida low-carb journey, it's this: You can eat delicious and nutritious high-fat, high-protein, low-carb foods and your calories will spontaneously reduce.

That's one thing that was consistent in all the presentations in Nashville over the weekend, all without the use of mindful calorie-counting.

Sure, it's a necessity for some like yourself. But most people just don't have to do it. THANKS as always for your comments.

5/07/2007 8:53 AM  
Blogger BamaGal said...

One thing about the comment of eating less---the body protects itself from starvation---if you eat less---you burn less.

As a bariatric pt---weight loss surgery---our surgeons recommend we INCREASE our calorie intake when we stall out. T o get the body back into fat burning mode.

I just celebrated my 3 yr surgiversary---I've been sticking to low carb for those 3 yrs--except when I did something really stupid and added "complex carbs" back into my diet at my PCP's request--it resulted in a binge cycle and a gain of 35 lbs.
I have since returned to my strict carb control <30 gms a day and I'm the world's worst at being consistent with exercise, But I have managed to lose 8 of those lbs in the last 6 weeks.
My health has never been better. So this gal will stick with what works....VIVA LA LC!!

5/07/2007 10:07 AM  
Blogger renegadediabetic said...

Remeber that weight isn't everything. I have been stalled around the 95 - 96 lb mark for a while, even though I continue my low carb lifestyle. Just can't seem to get to the 100 lb mark and I want to lose at lease 60 more lbs. Truth is, I don't know what my highest weight was and I may have indeed hit 100 lbs, but I've drawn a reasonable benchmark to measure from. Oh, well, at least I'm not gaining it all back like I did on low fat.

Anyway, the other day I went to Walmart and my wife asked me to get some new pants for my son. While I was there, I looked at some shorts for myself. Much to my surprise, I found I could fit into a size smaller. It was encouraging to know I was still losing fat, which is the most important thing.

As for V. Veritas, I too disagree. I used to eat plenty of "complex carbohydrates." I chose my bread by the fiber content. Ate mostly whole grain products, etc. Yet I was plagued by insatiable cravings. The "complex carbs" didn't help me lose weight or avoid diabetes. My glucose meter tells me that even whole grains (including oatmeal) jack up my glood sugar, so I have cut way back on grains and other starches and my health is improving. Non starchy veggies, low sugar fruits, nuts, & seeds are the best source of carbs. All this other stuff about "complex carbs" is nonsense.

5/07/2007 10:29 AM  
Blogger Kamran said...

After a while, the body adapts to a low-carbohydrate diet. In fact, it can completely adapt to the diet in a matter of weeks if you're unfortunately metabolically disadvantaged. If you're trying to gain muscle, (and you lose muscle on a prolonged low-carbohydrate diet because you only have fat and protein (muscle) to use as energy. Muscle is the key to weight loss. Plateaus happen mainly because of two reason #1) muscle loss due to excessive cardio, and strict calorie deprivation, and #2) the body's adaptation to low-carbs and low calories. What many bodybuilders do, and what Dr. Pasquale suggests in "The Anabolic Diet" is something known as "carb-cycling" You can go anywhere from 3-5 days of low-carbohydrate (and the definitions of low-carb differ from certain bodybuilding gurus from only 5% of daily calories to 30%), and you cycle in carbs in your schedule for a day or two or even possibly three to about 50% of your daily calories. If you want to gain muscle, insulin is NEEDED as it is powerfully anabolic (you need it to bring in the amino acids into the muscle cells for growth). This anabolic's diet is genius in that during the low-carb of the phase, your Growth Hormone and Testosterone (needed for fat loss and muscle growth) are increased as insulin decreases during the 3-5 day low-carbing. Basically, to avoid plateaus, or at least reduce them, carb-cycling is the way to go. Other rules such as no refined carbs still apply on your "high-carb" days, etc. etc.

When I first left my low-carb diet on a 3 day high-carb binge, I gained 30 pounds in a matter of days, mostly or all water. It takes continuous carbohydrate consumption for insulin to start laying down fat (as your glycogen stores become full). One day of insulin increasing won't put on "Fat" although it will put on water weight. Frankly we've made insulin an enemy, it is not, when we do not abuse it with refined or excessive carbs. We just need our good carbs ONLY at the right times.

5/07/2007 6:27 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I respectfully disagree with what you say as a general rule for everyone, Kamran, but if it works for you then GO FOR IT! My experience is MUCH different.

5/07/2007 6:37 PM  

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