Saturday, January 28, 2006

Low-Carb Weight Loss Is 'Water Weight,' Health Instructor Contends

Pauline Genter tells students low-carb weight loss is only "water weight"

This Minnesota State University Mankato Reporter story features a campus health educator and former dietitian who believes junk food is way too prevalent on college campuses today and contends that there are better, healthier choices available for students to choose from instead. I could not agree more with that and would even extend that ideology to American society in general.

But what MSU nutrition health instructor Pauline Genter mindlessly says about the low-carb lifestyle is simply inexcusable and I will not let her get away with it!

Genter's responsiblity at MSU is to help her students eat well and stay healthy while they are attending college. As a former college student, I can appreciate the incredible challenge that she faces trying to educate these busy young skulls full of mush about the proper eating techniques for a healthy body and mind.

I don't know about you, but eating "healthy" when I was in my late teens while attending college was just about the last thing on my mind. You are at the age in life when you feel like you are invincible and you don't worry about health problems like heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, or obesity at that age. Those are all problems for people who are OLD! Young people can be pretty ignorant (and I can say that having walked in those shoes just a little more than a decade ago) about such things, to say the least.

And yet, what happens after college? You get married, you have kids, you start a career and then LIFE happens. Those poor habits you picked up in college are now beginning to manifest themselves in the form of a jelly belly and thunder thighs along with your doctor telling you that your cholesterol and triglycerides are through the roof. You also notice your blood pressure rising and you are having trouble breathing. Most shocking to you is the fact that you can no longer weight yourself on a "normal" scale which means your weight has skyrocketed out of control!


Guess what? That was ME two years ago at the age of 32, just a little more than 10 years after college. While I was not a thin man in college, I certainly didn't let my weight reach the 410-pound mark it did as of January 2004. The fast-paced life of a college student unfortunately can carry over into the post-college years since old habits are very hard to break. So you are always eating on the go and never consciously think about what you are shoving into your mouth. It's a sickening life to life, don't you think? But, sad to say, it is "real life" for so many of us.

Gaining 15-20 pounds a year can quickly result in an enormous weight gain over the course of time, which is exactly what happened in my case. It's scary to think about what would have happened to my weight and health had I not started livin' la vida low-carb when I did. Let's not think about that nightmare scenario! It reminds me too much of what has happened to my brother (keep praying for him please!).

But, as you know, I started the Atkins diet on January 1, 2004 and I have never looked back. I lost 15 pounds the first week, 8 pounds the second week, a total of 30 pounds in the first month and yet another 40 pounds in the second month of my weight loss program. By the end of 2004, I had shed 180 pounds off of my body and resolved in 2005 to not gain it back. Last year, I lost an additional 10 pounds and am continuing on with the low-carb lifestyle as my healthy weight maintenance plan.

Unfortunately, people like Genter don't believe this way of eating is effective over the long-term and they are miscommunicating the healthy benefits of the low-carb lifestyle to young, impressionable minds.

Describing low-carb living as one of those quick "fixes," Genter said programs like the Atkins diet only lead to the loss of water and muscle weight rather than stored fat.

β€œI would say the low-carb phase is gone,” Genter told the MSU Reporter. β€œIn the long term none of that works since you end up regaining water weight anyway.”

Oh really? Tell me something, Ms. Genter, are you really asserting that I lost 190 pounds of water weight? Is that what you are trying to say because that's what I interpret your comments as saying? When am I supposed to begin "regaining water weight" as you claim? My weight has not gone back up since I began livin' la vida low-carb two years ago and I've actually been able to stabilize and control my weight for the first time in my life.

In fact, when I had my body fat percentage checked in October 2005, it had dropped from nearly 50 percent of my body weight when I started in January 2004 all the way down to just 11 percent! Are you still convinced low-carb only helps you lose water, Ms. Genter? Do you know how incredibly foolish that statement makes you sound? Where is your credibility when you make such broad-based statements on health and nutrition, subjects you are supposed to be well-versed in?

The process of low-carb is simple enough to understand. Stored fat is burned in the body when your body enters ketosis through intense carbohydrate-restriction for the first two weeks of the Induction phase. Once your body is in this fat-burning mode and you maintain a customized controlled-carbohydrate eating schedule for your body to remain in ketosis, your body WILL burn the excess fat for energy.

When I weighed over 400 pounds with a 62-inch waist, there was little doubt in anyone's mind that I had a TON (literally!) of stored fat to lose. THANKS to the low-carb lifestyle, my waist shrank down to 46-inch by the end of 2004.

However, something rather peculiar happened in 2005. Although I ended up only losing another 10 pounds of weight, my waist size shrunk an additional 8 inches! WHOA, how'd that happen?! Did some more water weight evaporate inside of me, Ms. Genter? Can you 'splain that one to me using your expertise as a dietitian? Just how much water is in my body weighing me down?

I think it is all too obvious to everyone reading this that livin' la vida low-carb helped me lose weight by burning lots and lots of stored fat and gives anyone desiring weight loss a healthy, nutrient-dense, and deliciously long-term way to manage their weight and improve their overall health. How long are the positive effects of the low-carb lifestyle for people like me going to be ignored by so-called "experts" like Genter before their blatant bias is exposed for all the world to see? You can't ignore me or the many others like me forever and we'll not stop sharing our stories of success anytime soon!

With about half of her students currently on a diet, Genter has a daunting task trying to help them eat well and maintain good health. She has seen a dramatic rise in medical-related issues resulting from her student's obesity, including Type-II diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension. With nearly three decades of experience treating these diseases, Genter is hoping to impart some of her years of wisdom on the students she has coming to her for nutritional advice.

But until she recognizes the potential benefits of livin' la vida low-carb for her students, Genter will probably never get to see the permanent "lifestyle changes" she desires to see implemented in them before they graduate from college. Perhaps someday she will open her mind and give her students a chance at changing their lives forever at a time when life is really just beginning for these young men and women starting out in their adult lives. We can only hope their health education from Genter does not lead them astray as they get older. Otherwise, these students will be in their early 30's facing many of the same issues that I did before I started livin' la vida low-carb.

You can e-mail your comments about the low-carb lifestyle to Pauline Genter by writing to her at Encourage her to look at the science behind low-carb to see how it is revolutionizing what we know about healthy living and proper nutrition. Times are changing and it's time for people like Genter to get with the program if she genuinely cares about the health of her students.

1-30-06 UPDATE: Pauline Genter apparently has been hearing from many of you because she sent me this e-mail today stating she was "misquoted...several times" in the column by the student reporter which resulted in her getting "some rather unpleasant e-mails" from my readers. THANK YOU for voicing your concerns to her.

Genter attempts to clarify what she said in this e-mail:


I am sorry if you were offended by the article. Unfortunately, the student reporter that interviewed me was taking hand written notes (not tape recording) and misquoted me several times. What I was trying to tell him is that often when people go on a quick-wt. loss diet or take a diet supplement, they will lose a lot of water at first and also some muscle mass. If weight loss is sustained over time of course fat is lost. I was mainly talking about the ads for "lose 11 pounds in 8 days" that are all over the internet. Many of our students want this quick fix before spring break. I did make the observation to the reporter that the number of people following these plans had declined over the past year and the popularity of "low carb" food products has waned (these observations are from published studies).

I know several people that have lost weight successfully using low carb programs such as Atkins and South Beach. Some have kept off the weight and, like so many other weight loss programs, some have regained all of the weight. I am very interested in the area of weight loss maintenance and have studied this extensively. I believe that there is no "one right way" to lose weight that works for everyone and I certainly support individuals to find something they can stay on long term, a lifestyle change.

I hope you will post this reply to your blog - I am getting some rather unpleasant e-mails.

Pauline Genter, MS, RD, LD
Nutrition Health Educator
Student Health Services
Minnesota State University, Mankato

There is no doubt in my mind that there are published studies showing a decline in the "low-carb craze" in the food industry. I don't argue that point at all. But that doesn't mean people who are livin' la vida low-carb is in decline, Ms. Genter. In fact, there are still millions upon millions of us who make this our lifestyle because it is the ONLY way that has ever worked for us to lose weight and keep it off.

Is this way of eating for everyone as the "one right way" for weight loss? Of course not. I too believe people should find what works for them and stick with that plan forever as their permanent lifestyle change.

If you were misquoted by the student in this story, then perhaps you should demand that a correction be printed to clear the air. Perhaps I should redirect my readers to voice their concerns to the paper instead about this.

The student reporter's name is Mike Hanzelka and you can send an e-mail to his editor expressing your concerns about this gross misreporting by clicking here. If the student got it wrong, then an immediate correction needs to be printed.

1-30-06 UPDATE: I heard back again from Pauline Genter regarding this article where she asserts she was "misquoted" by the student reporter. Genter claims the student reporter did not mean to ridicule low-carb. Then why did he, Ms. Genter? There was no need for the story to be written the way it was unless he meant to write it that way.

Here's her follow-up e-mail:

Thanks for your response. I know that the reporter did not mean to put down low carb diets. He did not have an "agenda" but was just doing an article about nutrition services offered at our university. I will contact the reported myself to clear up the misunderstanding. I don't think your writers need to do so.

Pauline Genter

Well, I still think the paper should write a retraction to set the record straight.


Blogger Unknown said...

What an idiot! Yeah, I lost 60 pounds of water, lol. The body fat readings I had done were all off when I went from 37.8% to about 25% at last reading. I'll be having my body fat taken again in just a couple days.

1/29/2006 4:36 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Here's my letter:

Dear Ms. Genter,

I was distressed to read excepts from the Minnesota State University Mankato Reporter and your comments on the low carb lifestyle. I have been on Atkins since March 2004 and have slowly and healthfully lost 60 pounds. You contend that all people lose on Atkins is water and muscle. Did I lose 60 pounds of water and muscle? I have body fat readings taken every few months. Those readings say that I have gone from 37.8% body fat down to about 25%. My next reading will be taken in just a few days. Are those readings wrong?

This lifestyle is just that - a lifestyle. It's not a quick fix. It's not something I'm going to go off of when I hit goal. So I won't be gaining back all that water weight you say will come back because I'm not going to go back to eating the stuff that made me fat in the first place. Additionally, I protect my lean muscle mass by eating high protein and doing weight training. And it is low carb, which means I do eat the healthy carbs in vegetables (and berries in season). I have never eaten so many vegetables my whole life as I have on Atkins. My veggie consumption has doubled or tripled.

Please take a hard look at the science behind this lifestlye before making such false and sweeping generalizations.

Thank you for your time.

Victoria Shephard

1/29/2006 4:55 PM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Excellent letter, NewBirth! For what it is worth, I will send this "expert" a letter too.

1/29/2006 10:31 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I got a response. It was very cordial and basically said she had been misquoted.

I remember working for my college newspaper and doing a story on how nutritious dorm food was, but I don't have a link for it to post here.

1/30/2006 7:40 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I hope I wasn't one of the bad e-mails she talks about. I tend to be blunt, but try to be professional.

1/30/2006 11:39 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Oh hey....found the article I did on dorm food and nutrition.

1/30/2006 11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Jimmy and Afterbirth, you may have lost a lot fat, but you it sounds like you have a lot of personal development to do and a lot of anger to lose as well. Pauline was the best teacher I ever had during my days in college. She is genuinely cares for her students and is an expert in her field. You should be ashamed of the way you refered to her here.

11/02/2009 6:49 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I have no doubt she cares about her students and thinks she is well-adept on health. But if someone like her is unwilling to recognize the tremendous benefits of the healthy low-carb nutritional approach, then it sounds like your dear Pauline still has a lot to learn. I stand firmly behind what I wrote here.

11/02/2009 8:47 AM  

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