Thursday, May 03, 2007

Why Isn't Low-Carb Working? What's Wrong?

Your weight and/or health is in dire need of help, so you decide to start livin' la vida low-carb on the advice of a medical professional or even on your own. The first couple of weeks are going along well for you helping you lose weight and feel better than you have in a long time, but then WHAMMO BAMMO--SCREEEEECH!!!--the weight loss just suddenly stops on you.

At this point, you decide to throw your hands up in the air and say to yourself, "Why the heck should I keep doing this crappy diet if I can't even lose weight?" Frustrated and discouraged, you stop this diet and start stuffing your mouth with carbs, carbs, and more carbs which puts the weight you lost back on your body and then some.

Stupid diets!

If that story is funny because it reminds you of yourself, then welcome to the club. We've all been there allowing mind games to take over where rationality has been thrown completely out the window. We know livin' la vida low-carb is healthy for us and yet somehow we think the scale has to constantly show a loss or we think we've failed.

Rather than asking whether low-carb is working or if there is anything inherently "wrong" with us, the better question we should ask is, "What's the alternative?" Think about it...if you weren't eating a low-carb nutritional approach, then how would you be eating?

Low-fat? HA! Not on your life--I don't like being hungry and irritable.

Vegan? Riiiiiiight! NOT!

Slim-Fast? Couldn't stop pooping!

Lots of fruits and veggies? What makes THAT healthy? Don't they fatten up pigs by feeding them that most prevalent of all vegetables known as corn? EWWWWW!

One of my readers presented this exact dilemma regarding her low-carb experience in an e-mail this week. Here's what she wrote:


Okay, here is my deal--I have put on 50 pounds in less than a year!!! This weight gain is crazy so I had my chiropractor who is also a good friend run blood tests on me. Well, he found out that my thyroid is not very good and suggested that I try the Atkins diet because I don't process sugars very well.

I said okay this sucks because I am not a big meat eater. Am I right that a low-carb diet mostly consists of MEAT?!?! So I went through the Induction phase of Atkins and lost 10 pounds. Now, well over 2 months into it I haven't lost any more weight. HOW DO I LOSE MY 50 POUNDS?!?!

Also I get very emotional and cranky on the Atkins diet. Is there a way of fixing that?!?! Let me know if you can help me!

THANKS so much for writing and sharing openly and honestly about your struggles. Let me assure you that livin' la vida low-carb can and will change your life forever if you stay focused on the big picture--50 pounds will soon be gone forever! Conceive it, believe it, then achieve it! YOU CAN DO IT!!!

If you're not a big fan of meat, that's okay. There are lots of vegetarian low-carbers out there. Just find the non-starchy veggies you can enjoy: cauliflower, broccoli, spinach leaves, green leafy veggies, green beans, and so much more. A full list of the approved veggies on your low-carb plan can be found in any major low-carb book, including Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution.

As for your Induction experience, CONGRATULATIONS on losing 10 pounds. But the fact that you STOPPED losing after Induction leads me to believe you increased your carb intake too much. How about sticking with Atkins induction for a little longer to see if the weight loss continues? This is arguably the most important time in your weight loss journey.

Finally, those feelings you claim are caused by your low-carb diet are only temporary during the first week or so (sometimes referred to as Induction flu). But the longer you stay on low-carb, the better you feel and look. The anger and rage you are experiencing is likely withdrawal symptoms from the sugar addiction. It will quickly pass and you'll never deal with it again.

I hope this helps! I'm proud of you for giving this another go. Start today on day one of your low-carb plan and MAKE IT HAPPEN! I'm always here to help anytime! THANKS again for writing!

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Blogger Ladyred56 said...

From another view your writer said that her "Thyroid is not very good." indicates to me that this might also be causing her a problem with weight loss. I am going to assume that her thyroid function is low. Perhaps she needs to see her regular GP and get some medication to regulate that. She did not say anything about taking meds for this so I am going to assume she is not. Having a low thyroid function can cause problems with over all energy level not to mention metabolism.

5/04/2007 7:01 AM  
Blogger b0b0 said...

Corn isnt a vegetable- its a grain and thats why it fattens up pigs. Do a little research before you ramble on like a fool.

5/04/2007 8:15 AM  
Blogger CB said...


Several years ago, I frequented a low-carb bulletin board, trying to offer advice and encouragement to others who were trying la vida low-carb.

Very often, when a "new" low-carber would ask for advice to help a "plateau", the reason turned out to be that the person wasn't really following Atkins, but rather some pre-conceived notion of Atkins.

(I am reminded of them because of your reader's email comment about "eating lots of meat".)

In those situations, the usual litany of questions went something like as follows:

0) Have you read DANDR?

1) How long were you on induction?
2) How many grams of carbs were you eating a day on induction?
3) How many grams of carbs are you eating per day now?
4) How much water are you drinking?
4a) How much non-water (diet/carbonated drinks, alcohol, coffee, etc.) are you drinking?
5) What kind of variety comprises your diet?
5a) Are you eating whole, natural foods, or pre-processed foods?
6) How much fiber are you eating?
7) Are you taking supplements?
8) How much exercise are you getting?
9) Are you consuming any "hidden" carbs? (Including sugar alcohols found in most "low carb" replacement foods.)

Almost invariably (probably 90% of the time), the person who had the plateau issue either 1) hadn't read the book, or 2) could eventually trace the problem back to one of the above questions.

In the minority group that couldn't identify a problem from the above questions, sometimes the following questions helped resolve the issue:

1) How long have you been on a plateau? (One week is NOT a plateau. Two months - as with your reader - is much closer to a true plateua.)

2) Do you have any food allergies (nuts, yeast, and dairy are all common food allergies)? Food intolerances can be sometimes difficult to identify, but can cause problems with weight loss.

3) Do you have a thyroid problem, as confirmed by your doctor?

There are others that I'm sure I could remember, if I thought long enough. But, hopefully these will help some who might be getting discouraged.

Here is my favorite advice for anyone trying to live la vida low-carb:

1) Drink LOTS of water - try for 1 gallon (128 oz) per day; more, if you are exercising vigorously.

2) Unless you are trying to determine your critical carb levels, stay AWAY from the scale. I recommend only comparing weights once a month, at the same day/time each month. I believe that true progress only shows itself in a more long-term view for most people. Daily - or even weekly - weighings can fluctuate due to many factors, all of which are "noise" that can mask the true weight-loss trend.

3) Exercise, exercise, exercise. Whatever your level of physical fitness, you can do *something*. Even if, at first, it is "only" parking as far away from the door as possible, so you have to walk farther each day. You would be surprised at how *little* the body must be pushed beyond its current capability, in order to reap the benefits of exercise.

4) Eat whole, natural foods as much as possible. A salad with an ounce of cheese and some ham or chicken is MUCH, MUCH, MUCH better for you than eating an Atkins bar. It tastes better, it is more filling, it (ahem) comes out better on the other end, and it will help progress your weight loss.

5) Eat a variety of foods. Find a new vegetable in the allowable vegetables list in DANDR, and experiment. I never liked Brussels sprouts until I was a low-carber. Now, they are one of my favorites, steamed, with butter and a little salt and fresh-cracked pepper. The more your diet is varied, the better the chances are that your body is getting the proper micronutrients, and the better the chances are that you will not get bored with your diet.

Okay, this has been long-winded again. Hopefully someone will find something helpful in all of that!

5/04/2007 8:27 AM  
Blogger Debi said...

Hi Jimmy -

I LOVED this post and will be curious to hear the longer-term progress. I, too, stalled on Atkins after a 67 pound loss in 2002. After that loss, I was also diagnosed w/ thyroid problems and am now on medication for that. Sadly enough, when I got off the low carb wagon, I gained back all but 25 of those 67 pounds (20 pounds of which was due to another medication I was taking).

You are also aware that I now suffer from a tingling/burning tongue about 1 1/2 - 2 weeks into low carb -- which is why I haven't been able to get back into it.

Well, last weekend, I again rejoined the low-carb wagon. Primarily due to your article on Kimkins. I've gone down 4 pounds in less than 1 week (8 pounds in 5 weeks now). Of course I fear the tingling/burning tongue will return next week sometime, but I have an appt with an Endocrinologist on 5/18 -- and am hoping that if that occurs again, she will be able to determine why it is happening and fix it so I can continue this fabulous lifestyle. I am more energetic and feel so much better when I low carb!

As a side note, I have an extra motivation to stay low carb (with the help of my Endocrinologist) -- you see, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer back in December. I had a full hysterectomy ... and they got it all. Yep, I'm one lucky lady ... all the cancer is gone. Why does low carb make sense when you've had cancer? You see, cancer thrives and grows on sugar. If you remove it, and any foods that turn to sugar, you starve cancer cells. ;-)

Anyway, I'm thankful for my cancer cure ... and pray that I never again have it return. As to my weight loss, I'll keep on truckin' until I get 52 1/2 more pounds off!


5/04/2007 11:38 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Hey b0b0,

Get off your high horse long enough to realize the reality that MOST people view corn and potatoes as vegetables. You don't need nor should you ever eat either one of these foods, but people rationalize that they can eat these to get their "vegetable group" portion for the day. UGH!

Don't lecture me on being a fool when you have done an excellent job of proving what one really is. I appreciate your readership and comments at my blog, but don't be condescending and ignorant.

5/04/2007 12:48 PM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...


Many varieties of maize have been bred to produce many additional developed ears, and these are the source of the "baby corn" that is used as a vegetable in Asian cuisine. So in most of Asia and in many other parts of the world maize (corn) is definitely classified and consumed as a vegetable.

To quote yourself, "Do a little research before you ramble on like a fool."

5/05/2007 2:06 AM  

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