Monday, September 26, 2005

Platkin Is Back: Low-Carb Not For Long-Term

When the enemies of low-carb (and there are many) allow their criticisms of this incredible lifestyle change encompass their entire purpose in life, then all sense of objective thought and reason are thrown out the windown.

That's exactly what has happened to a man who calls himself "The Diet Detective" -- Charles Platkin.

You remember Platkin's reaction to my blog when he went totally berzerk after reading this blog post in June.

He claimed in his rant at the time that low-carb "is ridiculous because diets don't work."

"If they did we would all be thin—right? If any of those diets worked why would we as a nation be getting fatter and fatter (or you dispute the figures as well)," Platkin exclaimed at the time.

Well besides the fact that people in the media and so-called health advocates like Platkin have chosen to slam livin' la vida low-carb at every turn, too many people feel like they are getting conflicting messages about what is best for them to get their weight under control and to restore their health.

To his credit, Platkin attempted to bring some clarity to the issue of long-term "weight stability" in this Rednova story.

He mentions that there are many ways discussed to lose weight, but very few that show you how to keep it off.

"Weight maintenance is significantly more important and more difficult than losing weight," Platkin wrote.

He's right and wrong. I will agree that weight maintenance is something that is absent in many "diet" programs out there today. Too often people view their "diet" as having a beginning and an end. I always did before I started livin' la vida low-carb. When I lost 170 pounds on a low-fat diet in 1999, once the weight loss was over I went back to "normal" eating again. You can guess what happened next.

But this time I decided to make the low-carb lifestyle my permanent way of eating so I would never weigh more than 400 pounds again! Nine months after losing all that weight, I can proudly say that I have kept the weight off successfully by enjoying the healthy benefits that low-carb has to offer. It's a lifelong change that will add many years to my life.

Yet I believe Platkin is wrong about maintaining your weight being "more difficult" than losing weight.

Platkin quotes a psychiatry and human behavior professor in his column who said weight maintenance is too "routine" and "boring" to be as exciting as the weight loss experience. Therefore, it is that much more challenging to keep the weight off.

As someone who has been through this process personally, I can only share my own anectdotal stories about this. For me, once I started in the routine of eating low-carb it got easier and easier as the months progressed. After eating this way for about six months, I noticed it was so deeply ingrained in me that I didn't really have to think about it too much. Ever since, I have a gauge within me that knows exactly how many carbs I have eaten at all times. It just happened.

What has motivated me in 2005 to maintain my weight after losing so much weight in 2004? While it was indeed gratifying and motivating to see that scale moving down week after week last year during my weight loss phase, I have to tell you that watching the scale stay at the exact same number has been just as thrilling to me. For the first time in my life I am MAINTAINING my weight. This is huge.

I spoke with my dad on Saturday and he commented to me that this is the longest I have ever gone after losing weight without gaining it back. And it's true! The difference is livin' la vida low-carb IS my lifestyle change because I never looked at it as a diet that I would start and then stop. It just became a part of who I am and will stay that way forever.

Creating a list of 8 key principles to help you once you maintain your weight loss over the long haul, Platkin believes these principles are necessary for preventing future weight gain. Given Platkin's stated opposition to the low-carb lifestyle, I'll look at these individually with careful scrutiny:

1. It's not as hard as you think.

Platkin says the old adage that only 2 percent of people who lose weight can keep it off is based on a studies that are "decades old." He quotes someone in the story that says the number is ten times that -- or 20 percent. That means you have a 1 in 5 chance of keeping your weight off after losing it. Those are pretty good numbers that can continue to go up as people find a lifestyle change they can live with.

2, Create practices you can live with -- forever.

Again, excellent advice. Don't look at your weight loss method as a "diet" and it will be easier to transition it to just the way you eat. When anyone asks me if I am still "dieting," I immediately respond, "Do you mean am I still eating low-carb?" After the look of bewilderment on their face begins to subside, I gently explain that this is my permanent way of eating that I will be doing for the rest of my life. It's the only way I will ever keep my weight under control.

3. Have a "5-pound warning system" to keep yourself accountable.

For me, it has been 10 pounds, but the point is you need to set a maximum weight limit that will set off alarms inside of you if you exceed it. DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! :-) Seriously, if you see the scale get to a certain level, then you need to tighten the belt and get your weight back down to where it needs to be. Since I reached 230 pounds in January, the highest my weight has gotten up to was 251. But today when I weighed myself, I was 227. I don't mind the weight fluctuating as long as I can be around my lowest weight within a week. So far, so good thanks to continuing the low-carb way of eating.

4. Do some kind of calorie-burning exercise.

I could not agree more. I cannot imagine going a day without some kind of cardiovascular exercise. My favorite is the elliptical machine at the YMCA. In fact, just yesterday I burned 1100 calories in about 75 minutes on it! WOW, what a feeling! It was great and I LOVED it! That may sound strange to someone who feels like they barely have enough energy to roll out of bed in the morning, but you'll get there. Start off slow and work your way up to where daily exercise is desired. It can happen and will help you keep your weight under control.

5. Make your diet automatic.

This is the concept behind Platkin's book and the idea certainly makes sense. Get into a regular routine or pattern about how you are going to eat so you don't even think about it. As I stated earlier, it took me about six months to reach this point. Now it is such second nature to me I really don't think about what I can and cannot eat. I just know.

6. Be consistent in your eating patterns.

We've all told ourselves that we'll be really good on our "diet" during the week so we can eat whatever we want on the weekend. Or how about during the holidays? It's family, so I have to eat up, right? WRONG! Your family will certainly understand if you decide to stay on your low-carb program during your time with them. In fact, when I visited my mom and siblings last Christmas, they were VERY accomodating to my low-carb needs. My mom even got me a slice of low-carb cheesecake for my birthday while everyone else has one that she made herself. Don't feel pressured to "relax" your way of eating because it will come back to haunt you later.

7. After maintaining for a few years, it gets a whole lot easier.

I tell people all the time who want to know how I lost weight and kept it off that I don't believe I have accomplished anything until I can keep the weight off for 3 years. That means, come January 1, 2008, I will be holding a HUGE anniversary party (low-carb, of course) to celebrate my weight loss and weight maintenance success. I have my skeptics, Platkin included, but I will make it to that date and beyond.

8. Eat a low-calorie, low-fat diet instead of a low-carb diet.

Why is this not surprising? Despite the fact that Platkin wrote in his comments on my previous column that his "recommendations are NOT low fat," that's exactly what he is promoting. While I don't have a problem with people who choose that dieting method, I think it is haughty and condescending to look at anyone who choose another way, such as low-carb, as being wrong. Guess what, Mr. Platkin? Do you realize that I am a part of that National Weight Control Registry that you often quote in your columns? While much of their research has featured people who lost weight on low-calorie/low-fat diets, I am bucking that trend with my data input. Let's just see how much longer the effectiveness of the low-carb lifestyle is ignored before people like yourself acknowledge you were wrong. I'll be waiting for your apology.

Nice try, Mr. Platkin. While I appreciate much of the information you provided about how to maintain your weight long-term, your blinded bias against the low-carb lifestyle makes it difficult to take you seriously.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home