June 18, 2009

What is Hypoglycemia?

To understand Hypoglycemia, we first have to understand "normal" blood sugar control. And by normal, I mean you don't have metabolic syndrome issues. You have good glucose tolerance, and are not yet insulin resistant.

The body loves homeostasis, (balance), so it does whatever it has to, to keep your blood sugar level within a very tight framework. In other words, normal blood sugar doesn't bounce all over the place. There's a very specific curve or path that it follows.

Normal blood sugar runs around 80 mg/dl, which is where one's "fasting blood sugar level" or "baseline" should optimally be. Until you eat something, and then it's goes UP. In a healthy individual, this blood sugar rise never goes above 120 mg/dl, irregardless of what or how much you eat.

Now, when blood sugar rises, first phase insulin is dumped into the bloodstream to help shuttle the glucose into the cells. The amount of insulin dumped is generally dependent upon what you ate the LAST TIME. Not what you're eating right now. If that's enough, great. Blood sugar level will slowly return to normal, and your cells will be well fed. If it isn't enough, the body will produce more insulin which keeps trickling into the bloodstream until it is.

The amount of time this takes obviously depends on what you ate, and how much. But generally speaking, after a typical meal, it takes 3 hours for the blood sugar to return to a normal baseline level. After which it pretty much stays there, irregardless of how long you go without eating. Thanx to Glyconeogenesis.

There are three types of Hypoglycemia. Drug induced, Reactive, and Fasting.

Drug induced hypoglycemia is pretty self explanatory. You take too much insulin, you take too much Metformin, or some other type of drug that interfers with the above process.

Reactive Hypoglycemia is when you produce too much insulin. The spike causing the blood glucose level to either go below baseline, or to fall too quickly. This occurs within 5 hours of eating. But generally you hit your lowest level somewhere between 1 and 3 hours. At which time other hormones comes into play to kick the blood sugar back up to normal. Normal meaning baseline.

However, it doesn't work that way with Reactive Hypoglycemia. Usually the hormone kick results in higher than baseline glucose levels somewhere between hours 2 and 3.

Fasting Hypoglycemia is when you're either fasting for longer than 5 hours, or you find yourself in a situation where you can't eat for that long, and as a result, your blood sugar drops below 70 mg/dl.

All three conditions means your body is not reacting normally. Something in the pathway is amiss.

Hypoglycemic symptoms do not come from the level of glucose in the blood. They come from adrenaline which is kicked into gear whenever the blood sugar level begins to fall too quickly, or when glycagon isn't able to convinse the liver to release it's glycogen stores.

So just because you aren't experiencing so-called Hypoglycemic symptoms, (irritability, dizziness, weakness, hunger, craving for something sweet, need for caffeine, etc.), that doesn't mean you aren't having a problem somewhere in the cycle. Because like anything else, it is very easy to get USED to the response to adrenaline your particular body has. Even going so far as becoming "addicted" to the energy rush that adenaline gives you, or mistaking that energetic feeling for a healthy response to whatever you've been eating.

When blood sugar is up, a hypoglycemic is hyperactive, energetic, and feels happy. When the blood sugar starts to drop they feel irritable, tired, and begin craving a quick pick-up. If one uses diet caffeinated drinks or coffee to do that, energy drinks or whatever, the caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands to encourage the liver to release glucose into the bloodstream.

One of the major problems with a Hypoglyemia diagnosis is that there is often a very small window when the blood sugar actually falls to the point where adrenaline is necessary. With that window usually being only about 5 minutes or less. So testing every hour, or even every half hour, can easily miss your lowest point. And make you think you are healthy, when you are not.

Now one of the keys to diagnosis is comparing your blood sugar curve to a normal curve. Because there's some very interesting things that happen when we're caught up in Hypoglycemic cycles. Typical body response to falling glucose levels is to first activate glucagon, which informs the liver that it needs to convert it's glycogen stores into glucose to keep the glucose blood level at baseline.

However, if the liver doesn't have any glycogen stores, or simply doesn't respond to glucagon's signal, maybe can't manufacture glucose through Gluconeogenesis fast enough, the blood sugar level drops to the point to where other hormones rush in to save the day. That's where adrenalin comes in. When the blood sugar drops below 70 mg/dl, a surge of adrenaline is released. But adrenaline always overshoots the mark. So rather than returning the glucose level to baseline, it raises the blood sugar above baseline, and you end up with BOUNCING values.

Most who are officially diagnosed with Hypoglycemia (either Reactive or Fasting) have been known to demonstrate very low glucose levels. Waaay below the 60s that we've been discussing here. Mostly because of the high glucose required for testing. So it isn't just a matter of checking what our blood sugars are doing within a low carb framework. Since low carb is the typical corrective treatment.

Hypoglycemia causes a lot of "fight or flight" symptoms associated with the blood glucose's decline. Then improvement of symptoms upon eating. Getting that pick up. But sometimes this can be caused from the stomach emptying too soon. But most of the time it has to do with a damaged carbohydrate metabolism.

MILD Reactive Hypoglycemia, while not life threatening perhaps, does interfer with weight loss and health. Because whenever blood sugar rises, or is in a bouncing situation, insulin elevates or continues to stay elevated as it's the ONLY hormone that lowers blood sugar, clears the blood of current fatty acids and proteins, and locks up fat stores. Not a good situation to be in if fat loss is your goal. PLus there are loads of health issues that result from elevated insulin, in any degree.

Now there's another form of Hypoglycemia known as Fasting Hypoglycemia. It occurs more than 5 hours after your last meal, and is diagnosed when the blood glucose level drops into the 60s or less. It has many causes: drugs, organ failure, hormonal deficiencies (like adrenal fatigue), non-beta cell tumors, congenital and/or enzematic disorders (hypoglycemia in kids), or elevated insulin levels caused by Insulinoma (tumor of the beta cells), autoimmune situations to either insulin itself, or the insulin receptors. It can also be caused from drinking and eating carbs at the same time, or a damaged liver. So that's another possible dangerous situation to be in, because if the body is reacting normally, it just doesn't happen.

Also keep in mind, that for a glucose tolerance test to be accurate, you have to be eating a diet high in carbs. The purpose being to stimulate the pancreas to its full potential for secreting insulin. Plus home glucose meters are not accurate enough to show you exactly what's going on if you're suffering from more than mild Hypoglycemia. They can be as much as 15% off. They were created for high blood glucose accuracy, and begin to fail somewhere in the 60s.

So if you're having readings that are anywhere near what we been discussing here, go and see your doctor for an accurate testing. Please.

June 13, 2009

Does High Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease?


I don't intend on going into all of the particulars of the various dietary studies that Gary Taubes uses to prove his point in Chapter 2. That there is "no" real evidence to prove that high blood cholesterol causes heart disease, due to studies being contradictory, bias, or filled with too many variables to give the results any meaning.

But it is interesting to note how human nature tends to use and view such studies. Especially since Ancel Keys himself, the originator of "the low-fat diet is the healthiest diet" dogma, was guilty of ignoring, rationalizing, or tweaking studies that didn't support his beliefs. I guess that's just human nature to view things through our own perspective. We read not to discover truth, but to find something that will support and uphold what we already believe.

Which doesn't make scientific studies un-useful, it just means we gotta be careful when we're reading the results and commentary attached, because sometimes things are accepted as givens that really aren't, or the author of the report states as fact things that weren't even shown to be true in the study.

Now, science tries to avoid that kindda thing by requiring scientists to try and prove their theories wrong, but it doesn't really happen that way in the real world. People are quick to ignore, reject, or rationalize away anything that doesn't fit into their current perspective. Even among low-carb advocates, bloggers, and reporters there's a tendency to color the results, explain away, or even outright reject anything that doesn't fit into what we think we know and believe about low-carb science today.

Which is why it's important that we do our own research, and come to our own conclusions and testimonies regarding this stuff. Cuz if we just sit back, and take someone else's word for it, if we read a bunch of blogs or forum posts, and follow in their footsteps, even if they're all saying the same thing -- we're really no different than the press and gullible public who took Ancel Keys at his word about dietary fat. Are we?

We're still pinning our physical salvation on someone else's sleeve.

The truth is, evidence can be compiled to support any hypothesis. Take Ancel Keys 7 country study, for example. He literally hand-picked the countries that would support his beliefs. And even though he discovered something new, how saturated, unsaturated, and monosaturated fats affected people differently within those 7 countries, if he'd used say, France, his findings would have been very different. Cuz the french use lots of saturated fat, but have very little heart disease.

So Keys was totally off-base using fat, any kind of fat, as a measurement as far as heart disease is concerned. But he was severely blinded by his perspective. He just wasn't able to get beyond that. Even though much of the evidence told a very different story, he stuck with his first instinct. Tweaking it just a bit after that 7 country study to form the root for the current Mediterraneon Diet so in vogue these days within many low-carb circles.

Interestingly enough, the Mediterraneon Diet isn't based on what those who live on the Mediterraneon coast of Yugoslavia eat, or even on what any of those in the cities of Italy eat. It's based on Ancel Key's low-fat 7 country diet study. His new theory of that day. But because the theory fits into our nice little low-carb box we call healthy, we turn our heads and hold up the theory as if it were fact.

Now the ONLY reliable, accurate type of trial is controlled, rather than vague observations of populations called studies. Those that try to create 2 identical situations, using a double-blind and placebo technique, and changing only a single variable at a time. In order to see what happens as a result.

But dietary trials can't be performed in that manner. Because when you lower fat, let's say, you also lower calories and that's 2 variables, not one. If you wish to keep the calories the same, then you have to add something to take the place of the fat you've lowered, and once again, you get more than a single variable.

So how do you know which variable is the cause of the outcome? How can you trust those types of studies and observations as being accurate? You can't. You just have to guess (educated or not). Which means you end up with scientists and researchers and journalists making flat-out judgments about these things. Ignoring what they don't understand, or rejecting what doesn't fit with current popular opinion.

Another thing I picked up on in this chapter was how those with low cholesterol suffer from just as many heart attacks, as those with high cholesterol. But it seems that nobody wants to discuss those folks. Nobody wants to address the idea that we are supposed to live longer, and be waaaay healthier if we lower our cholesterol numbers. Because that situation doesn't fit with what we have always been told to believe. That high cholesterol is bad, and low cholesterol is good. Even though it isn't true, was clearly proven to be false in the studies that Taubes includes in his book. Plus all this doesn't hold up for women anyways.

Which is another thing that I haven't heard anyone talk about. The fact that most, if not all, of these studies were done on middle-aged men. Not older men, or younger men, or even women. Just middle-aged men. Yet physicans throw statins at all of us!

Like what happened to me, a few years ago, right after the vertigo started. Blood work came back showing an extremely high CRP marker, with elevated liver enzymes. So what does the doctor do? He prescribes statins (the strongest one on the market by the way, which caused my feet to swell, off and on, for 3 years after taking them for a mere 30 days) and sends me to a Healthy Heart Program.

Talk about low-fat dogma!

He was extremely afraid that I was going to have a heart attack, but come on! Everything does not circle back around to heart disease. I had Vertigo for heaven's sake. Meniere's Disease, in fact. So it's no wonder that my CRP marker was elevated. Besides, systemic inflammation is more associated with elevated insulin levels than anything else. But what I couldn't believe was he was actually going to IGNORE my elevated liver enzymes, and start me on that poisonous stuff. With the only caution being to come back for testing in 2 months, to see if my liver was getting worse.

HUH?

But then, he's also the same doc who told me I wasn't disabled until a specialist told him I was disabled, even though my husband had to literally carry me into his office because I couldn't walk on my own.

You know...sometimes the medical profession is downright scary!!!

The Low-Fat Dogma: A Leap of Faith

This week I've been reading and studying chapter 2 of Good Calories, Bad Calories. And I found it very interesting in light of the fact that my brother-in-law recently had a heart attack plus a double by-pass for arteries that were 95 and 99% clogged.

For as far back as I can remember, the medical profession has been preaching the benefits of a low-fat diet -- defined as being 30% of your daily calories, or less.

What I didn't know was that the idea to prescribe such a diet didn't come from any kind of truth. But originally came from well-meaning physicians convinced there was a heart-disease epidemic. Apparently they had "heard" about the possibility that a low-fat diet could prevent heart disease, and rather than waiting for scientific proof to back up the claim, decided to put their patients on such a diet.

Today, they call that kind of behavoir Preventative Medicine.

I can remember how strongly my own doc in California was that I was in mortal danger because I was overweight, which meant my cholesterol and/or blood sugar was sky high -- even though he hadn't tested any of that stuff yet. When the results came back "normal" on the cholesterol, he did apologize, but since my fasting sugars were a bit high, he still placed me on what is known today as a Healthy-Heart Diet. He stressed and insisted that chicken breast was the healthiest form of protein there was. That I was putting myself in grave physical danger if I didn't get both my fasting blood sugar and weight under control by going the low-fat, higher-exercise route.

Okay. Sure. But it was my blood sugar, not my cholesterol that was outta whack. Right? Well...yeah. But fat's the bad guy. If you wanna cut down on carbs, okay, but carbs aren't really the problem he said. It's fat and lack of exercise that's driving up your fasting blood sugars.

I guess it's only natural that the press jumped onto the same low-fat wagon. They always seem to have some type of agenda in getting the public to "believe" what they want them to believe, even if it isn't always clear why. And BELIEVE is the nail this whole dieting advice hangs on.
Eat less fat and you'll live longer.

Besides, if you repeat it often enough, the majority of the public will believe it too. And believe it they did. Even though skeptics voiced their concerns and oppositions to putting that type of faith in something that wasn't any stronger than a hypothesis. A guess. Hardly anybody listened. Most jumped onto the same wagon of belief that the press wanted them too.

Like the Railroad. My brother-in-law had been receiving dietary counsel from them for 2 years before his heart attack and by-pass operation. Eat more veggies, they said. Eat less fat. Use only Olive Oil. Avoid processed foods. Take fish oil. Each year it was something new they told him to do. Yet it didn't work.

WHY? Because the Low-Fat dogma isn't true. It was just a theory that Ancel Keys came up with after investigating and watching a lot of folks eat. It was an educated guess. There was never anything scientific or logical about it.

And we, the "gullible" public, got taken for a ride.

June 07, 2009

What Constitutes a Healthy Diet?


The word "healthy" is being thrown around a lot these days. You gotta eat a heart-healthy diet to avoid heart disease. You gotta eat a healthy low carb diet to get your obesity issue under control. You gotta eat healthy (good) fats to keep your arteries clean and inflammation at bay. But what does the word "healthy" actually mean?

I don't know that society as a whole even knows. Not when we've been batted around by all of the differing camps of opinion and diversity of experiences out there. The conflicting scientific studies. The overriding money-interests of those trying to sell us a particular line of goods. A particular line of bull-crap.

And it's not unique to the low-fat camp either. The low-carb community has just as much pig mire being slung around these days as anyone else. Follow-the-money, and a whole different picture begins to develop!

So now we have a lot of individuals throwing their hands up into the air in disgust and going back to what they believe Paleo man ate, or the cave-men ate, or what they believe our bodies were designed to eat (an all meat and water diet), because there's just too much garbage being thrown at us these days with it's resulting food sensitivity and addiction. Too much bodily damage -- all in the name of the mighty dollar.

We have others who are going to a lesser extent, and shunning all processed foods. A whole-foods diet, I think it's called. That's the category my brother-in-law's original cardiologist was in. He firmly believes that processed foods cause heart disease, and that they should be avoided like the plague.

And then, of course, we have the low-fat guru's and low-carb guru's who believe healthy is anything that fits within the box that defines their specific dieting parameters. Whole foods, processed foods, frankenfoods...none of that matters. All that matters in regards to a healthy low fat and/or low carb diet is whether or not a food is low fat and/or low carb.

It's no wonder that a lot of us are being taken for a ride.

I found it particularly interesting that the USDA estimate for 1830 regarding meat consumption (not including farm goods, locally produced animal goods, nor eggs, milk, poultry, or fish) was 178 pounds per person, per year. Because that comes out to about 1/2 pound of non-local, non-poultry, non-fish meat per day. Add to that 1/2 pound -- the poultry, and the fish, and the local animal goods, the milk and eggs and cream and butter and all of that; and all of a sudden you discover that you really don't have to go all the way back to Paleo or cave man days. You don't have to GUESS what constitutes a healthy diet.

You just have to go back to before the food manufacturers got their hands in our pocket books. Back to when oranges, grapefruit, broccoli, cantaloup, asparagus, spinach, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, celery, mushroom, lima beans, corn, green beans, and peas were unknown...or very rare. Back to when the typical carby staples in the American diet were potatoes, cabbage, onions, radishes, apples, pears, peaches, plums, grapes, and some berries. In season!

Back to when there wasn't any vegetable oils, margarines or Crisco. Back to when there was just butter, tallow and lard. Animal fats. Back to when flour wasn't the ultra fine stuff we know as flour today. Back to when the gluten protein molecule didn't even exist! There wasn't anything to make ultra-light, fluffy white bread and cakes with. It was very coarsely ground. If you've ever tried to grind wheat on a hand-churned wheat grinder, you'll know what I mean. Not the same thing.

So what happened to us? How did we get gullible enough to swallow it all? The idea that saturated fats (what man has lived on since our humble beginnings) raise cholesterol, and thereby cause atherosclerosis, heart disease, and untimely death? How did we get gullible enough to swallow the idea that we as a people are gluttons? That we have no willpower. That we're spoiled and lazy? And how in tarnation did we ALLOW the basic 4 food groups to be turned into our modern day nightmare of a pyramid?

Amazing what a little mind-control can do, huh?

Let's face it. We've been sideswiped by those we set up as authorities over us. Whether that be government agencies, researchers, scientific analysers, food manufactorers, advertizing agents, food refiners, or even authors. We have. Because we did as we were told, lowered our meat and animal product consumption, lowered our animal fats, then raised our fruits and veggies (including vegetable margarines and oils), our sugars and starches.

And what did we get for our obedience? The diseases of civilization (that used to be called the diseases of aging, by the way). The unsightly and unhealthy consequences of obesity. Excessive hunger and cravings, food sensitivities and addictions. Eating disorders. Fiber issues. Gluten intolerance. And the list goes on and on.

We've done it to ourselves. We have no one else to blame. They spoke, they commanded, and we obeyed. It's as simple as that. We TRUSTED them to tell us the truth. To have our best interests at heart. But they didn't. They only cared about getting us to give up our money.

And that's the real bottom line.

June 05, 2009

Taubes for Dummies


I've been reading and digesting Chapter 1 of Good Calories, Bad Calories over the past couple of days, plus wading through a thread over at Low Carb Friends that was asking folks if they felt Taubes' book was a boring, mind-wandering, tedious read.

Most of those who felt driven to reply agreed with the original poster, that it was hard going, and even torturous at best. And that he needed to write a book called "Taubes for Dummies."

Some of them were disappointed because they wanted to be entertained. Some of them had to literally make themselves read it, because they didn't want to have to weed through the studies that defended Taubes' point of view. Some of them skimmed through the pages and encouraged others who were unhappy with the book to read it that way too. And yet others started reading it with good intentions, I'm sure, but didn't finish it. In fact a couple of them couldn't even remember if they'd finished it or not. But said they knew they'd read enough to be informed.

Well...I'm not so sure about that.

Because the discussion quickly degraded into a nasty war between low-fat and high-fat ideology. With personal attacks and name-calling being directed towards those who didn't share their views and beliefs regarding a low-carb diet.

Now I kept reading because I was waiting for someone to use a reference from Taubes' book to support their view that a true low-carb diet was a HIGH-fat diet, and that anyone combining low carb with low (or lower) fat was wading through troll territory. But you know what? NO ONE ever did that. They just kept insisting that the person they considered to be a troll hadn't read the book, nor understood it.

The whole argument reminded me sooooo much of the beginning of Chapter 1, where Eisenhower's experience with a low-fat diet didn't fit with the current mind-set of the day. So his experience was excluded from the realm of possibilities. It was considered to have no substance, no value, because the nutritionists and dieticians and researchers of the day weren't interested in discovery. They were only interested in finding situations that confirmed their current belief systems. In this case, that a low-fat diet would prevent heart disease. Or at least, control it.

We really are no different than they were. Not really. We run around hugging our low-carb myths and parroting what someone else has said, without taking the time to investigate and research things for ourselves. We repeat and repeat and repeat the myths and ideas presented by others, (that a true low carb diet is a high-fat diet, for example, rather than an adequate fat diet like Dr. Atkins' called it), until so many folks are saying it, that we don't feel a need to come to our own conclusions anymore about any of this stuff.

We don't WANT to read the studies. We don't WANT to do the necessary leg work. We don't WANT to spend our valuable time investigating. We just want someone to write a book called "Taubes for Dummies" so we can use that dumbed down version, to know what to believe. To know how to attack someone else, who believes differently.

The catch of course, is what if that simplified version doesn't end up saying what we wanted it to say? What if it doesn't actually support our current beliefs and notions? What if the truth is something completely different?

What if everything we have come to believe about low-carb, so far, is a lie?

June 03, 2009

A Little Bit of Maintenance Reality

With all of the mis- and dis-information being presented these days in regards to maintenance, and how to do it properly, I thought I'd revisit some of Dr. Atkins' ideas today. Because it has relevance for even those of us who aren't there yet.

Since I like the Atkins '72 plan better than the 2002, I decided to read that maintenance chapter first. Then also took the time to read what those initial recommendations for maintenance have evolved into. The changes were only slight. So I'll only note the differences when applicable.

To begin with, the bottom line of maintenance isn't any different from Induction or the on-going weight loss phase. The idea is to control one's insulin levels. To watch for the signs and symptoms of hyperinsulinism returning. So you don't really need a scale to tell you when you've over done the carbs, because you'll generally begin craving them.

Now you might not recognize that urge to eat something sweet, more and more often, as craving or addiction, but that's still what it is. And it's a deadly place to find yourself in, if you're trying to maintain your current losses. Because it's soooo easy to rationalize why you think you need those extra carbs, and what those extra carbs are doing to your current maintenance levels.

Which is why Dr. Atkins in all of his plans to date has specifically set a 5-pound ceiling on any weight regained. In '72 his advice was to weigh daily. In 2002, his advice changed to weighing weekly. But the purpose was/is still the SAME. To keep weight maintenance in top priority. To keep weight regain uppermost in our minds. And to help us DO something about it....pronto. Whether that be today, because we're weighing daily, or within a week.

The Atkins plan was NEVER about making excuses and justifications for why our weight is on an upward trend. The Atkins plan is, and always has been, about maintaining CONTROL over our eating. Control over our weight. And especially control over our lifestyle choices. So every pound of weight we regard is statistically significant. In fact, it's an inviolable rule that we take maintenance seriously enough to use that 5-pound ceiling.

So often it's our rebellious mindset that needs to be addressed. Because "any" level of fatness is a serious symptom of disease. Metabolic disorder is a very real syndrome. And ignoring the situation, or pretending that it doesn't exist, or thinking that it's somehow magically healed itself, (or will), won't make health happen. Because metabolic issues cannot be cured, they can only be controlled. And that controlling takes serious effect and attention on our part.

The way we release insulin will always be different from someone who's never had metabolic issues. That is a fact. We can't eat like those folks, and expect to remain thin. Because metabolic syndrome is permanent.

Now a lot of folks will stabalize at their ideal weight level, without a whole lot of effort. But that's because they've figured out just how many carbs it takes to keep their weight at that level. Skipping carbs has become second nature to them. In fact, they're more likely to be eating far below their critical level for maintenance, rather than trying to eat as many carbs as they can get away with, and not gain.

For others, weight maintenance is a serious struggle. Usually because it's hard to wrap our brains around the idea that our critical carb level doesn't always stay the same. At different times in our lives, it changes. Especially as we age. We become more and more insulin resistent. At which time we begin to GAIN weight, even though we're eating the way we always have.
Or we find themselves in the pit of carb creep. Crossing over our own personal threshhold, where the appetite is stimulated by those excess carbs. At which time, we find ourselves wanting them more and more.

Now the answer to maintenance struggle is pretty much the same. You have to LOWER your current carb level, and quite often return to Induction levels, or even less. Because if you're struggling to maintain your weight, whatever you're currently doing isn't working. So the idea is to return to the basics. Return to what gets our insulin levels and cravings for carbs under control. Learn how to conquer those former bad habits, and learn how to cope with real-world challenges.

We can't do that if we're hungry. We can't do that if we're craving carbs. If we're constantly giving into our addictions and food sensitivites. If we're ignoring our current weight gains and justifying them by calling them statistically insignificant. We can't do that if we're proclaiming to the world that we are following and living a "healthy" low-carb lifestyle -- IF WE ARE NOT!

In the 2002 version of the Atkins Maintenance plan, Dr. Atkins reveals what he considers to be a serious flaw in how a lot of people approach maintenance:

"I have worked with too many overweight individuals who have reached their goal weight four or more times, only to gain back the pounds every time. Their fatal flaw: always trying to return, as closely as they could without giving up Atkins altogether, to their old way of eating." (2002 edition, pg. 210)

WHERE do we see this?

In low-carb products and junk food...do we not? In low-carb recipe forums where folks are always trying to IMITATE their favorite foods. Trying to return, as Dr. Atkins warns, as closely as they can to their old way of eating. Rather than clearing their lives of the clutter of excess carbs, and gaining true health, they cling to their low-carb goodies and snack cakes. They cling to their comfort foods. And they ignore Dr. Atkins advice to binge on protein/fat if you gotta.

In '72, Dr. Atkins clearly made the reader promise to use his 5-pound upper limit for the rest of their lives. The promise being to return to Induction that very day. But I guess few folks were willing to do that, because in the 2002 version, that 5-pound upper weight regain limit is stressed over and over and over again. Many, many times. In fact, he even goes so far as to say "do NOT go back to Lifetime Maintenance without first losing all you have regained." (p. 214)

ALL OF IT!!!

And Dr. Atkins also goes on to say that in his experience, in his clinical practise, those who fail to maintain their current level of weight, are those who do not do that. They do not return to Induction at the first sign of trouble. They make excuses for themselves. They rationalize away their weight gain. They allow one circumstance to follow after another (holidays, birthdays, parties, or whatever), until eventually they are right back where they started. Or even worse.

So WHAT is the problem?
WHY don't most folks listen to the counsel that Dr. Atkins gives?
WHY do we think we can override our body's elevated insulin warning signs?

And most importantly, WHY do we think that if we keep doing what we're currently doing, (eating excess carbs), that things will somehow magically correct themselves? Somewhere further down the line?

Now I realize that a 5-pound upper limit is an arbitrary number. My own personal number is 10. Because 8 lbs is how much water/glycagen I've always replaced when first moving to maintenance -- before everything stabilizes. So don't get caught up in the actual number per se. Think in terms of the idea, whether it be 5 lbs or 10.

As we age, we get less proficient in using insulin. We get more insulin resistant. That is a fact. And interestingly enough, Dr. Atkins in the 2002 version clearly states that our consideration for maintenance levels of carbs shouldn't be how many carbs can we eat and still maintain our weight. It should be more along the lines of how we feel. What level of carbs do we feel best on? Because most people feel better at lower carb levels.

In fact, the average male, according to Dr. Atkins, will begin to GAIN weight right around the 60 carb level. With 50 carbs per day about the average for maintenance.

"Your best carb level is the one one which you can be happiest and healthiest without experiencing cravings or regaining weight."

So while it still all boils down to individuality, (what level of carbs keeps the cravings and excess hunger away), there are guidelines we can use to keep ourselves from having to repeat history. Having to start over from scratch.

The first one being to take a good look at ourselves. Where we are right now. And where we want to go. If we're gaining weight, then we have exceeded our current critical level of carbs, irregardless of whether or not we're eating the exact same way we've always eaten. The same way we ate when we loss "X" number of pounds. If we're maintaining, then we're at our critical level of carbs for maintaining.

It just that simple.

Course....I keep hearing that Taubes says in his book that there are "some" who have damaged themselves metabolically to the point where weight loss all the way to goal weight (at any carb level) is impossible. But that can also become a dangerous row to tow. Because until you've lowered your carbs, removed everything sweet from your daily menus, given up all low-carb products, and everything you are allergic/sensitive too, gotten rid of everything that increases insulin levels, you won't ever KNOW if you are standing in your own way of total success. Settling instead for something less.