May 09, 2012

Personalize Your Low Carb Diet Plan with Atkins 72

(This is part 9 and the final installment of a multi-part series on How to Tweak a Low Carb Diet. It explains the path I have traveled in my weight-loss journey. If you arrived here without reading part 1, you can do so by clicking on the how-to link. Part 1 also contains links to the other posts in this series.)

Vertigo Gets Worse at 20 Net Carbs
At 20 Net Carbs
Brain is Starved for Fuel
When you begin to restrict carbohydrates to less than about 100 carbs per day, the body is forced to draw upon its liver glycogen to keep your blood glucose levels steady.

This is according to Dr. Michael Eades who says the brain needs about 120 grams of glucose per day.

I can tell you, from experience, that during those first few days, the brain doesn’t get the proper amount of fuel to function correctly.

Or at least, I don’t.

I know this because I started having severe vertigo attacks when I restricted my carbs to only 20 net carbs per day. Other people have talked about experiencing the similar things, but mostly complaints are about being tired or having brain fog.

The way low-carb experts say it works is this:

May 06, 2012

Weight Loss, Low Carb Diets and Sustainability

(This is part 8 of a multi-part series on How to Tweak a Low Carb Diet. It explains the path I have traveled in my weight loss journey so far. If you didn’t read part 1, you can do so by clicking on the how-to link. Part 1 also contains links to the rest of the series.)

The low carb road I have traveled towards thinness has been long and rugged. Many times along the way, I’ve been tempted to give up. Looking back now, I’ve made little progress in my weight loss attempts since I left my version of Kimkins behind. That’s the cold, hard truth for me. By following a variety of low carb diets, I’ve learned a lot about myself. My health has improved because I was able to discover many of the food categories I need to avoid (gluten, cow’s dairy and corn) but I am no closer to my weight loss goal than I was then.

This morning, I weighed in at 173 pounds, and all I could do was sigh. While that makes my before and after pictures still accurate, that glorious one-hundred pound marker I had at one time achieved was, unfortunately, not sustainable. I’ve never talked about how I managed to carve off those extra pounds because I did it with the help of hHCG drops at a calorie level I would never advocate on this blog.

Like all of the other low carb diets I’ve been involved in, I did not follow Dr. Simeon’s original protocol. Although low in carbs, it was far too low in protein, and after only two days, I felt absolutely terrible! So I tweaked it by dropping the fruit (except for strawberries when they were available in my area), doubling the protein, using mostly turkey breast, and increasing my variety of vegetables to match what was allowed on Lyle McDonald’s plan.

Even so, the 12-week experience was so traumatic for me that one diet round was all I could stand. I have never been able to talk myself into doing it again. I am an extremely inactive person due to the vertigo and ataxia, and I cannot imagine what it would be like to attempt that strict of a diet if you were working outside of the home or had to take care of little children. It just totally blows my mind!

The biggest problem for me in regards to sustainability has not been the calorie level I’ve used while dieting. It’s been my food sensitivities and the calorie level needed to sustain my new maintenance level. Food allergies and intolerances keep the intestines inflamed, and that causes all sorts of strange body reactions.

Unfortunately, when I started reacting to corn, my weight loss suddenly became unsustainable. Part of that has to do with an increase in appetite that occurs when you come in contact with an allergen, but I also believe that your metabolism slows down freeing up body resources needed to fight the perceived invader. The result? I’ve regained almost all of the weight I lost while using hHCG.

Now, when I reached about 165 pounds, I started to panic. It felt like I was losing ground, and I didn’t want to look at my hHCG experience as a waste. So what did I do? I joined Weight Watchers online out of a knee-jerk reaction to protect myself. I honestly didn’t know what else to do. I knew I couldn’t return to Atkins’ Induction. I knew that a very low carb diet would mess up my metabolism again. (I have a theory about that, which I’ll be doing a post on soon.)

So I did the next best thing: I turned to simple calorie control.

But I didn’t get very far before I realized that I was putting out a ton of cash for an extremely low fat diet plan that was creatively designed to hide the fact that all you are actually doing is counting calories. Today's program is nothing like the old Weight Watchers' exchange program at all.

Today, Weight Watchers has you keep track of points, and they claim that their new diet formula is not connected to calories. They claim that these points come from a formula that only takes fiber, protein, carbohydrates and fats into account. You can see that in their old formula that’s easily available online, but most of us already know that calories are easily determined if you know the grams of protein, fiber, carbohydrates and fat of any particular food. Protein and carbohydrates have four calories per gram, fiber has one or two, and dietary fats have nine.

It would be as easy as heck for their computer program to know exactly how many calories you’re eating. Plus, I was also plugging everything I ate into Fitday as well as their online program, and my calorie count for the day was fairly consistent: 1200 to 1300. I canceled my subscription because I realized that if I wanted to count calories, I could do that myself for free. I didn’t need to count fancy points.

At the moment, my weight loss road has come to a halt because I’ve been fighting to find some type of stabilization in my life. I’ve been trying to figure out all of the places where corn hides, what safe brands are, and what I can and cannot eat. Throughout this process, I’ve come to the shocking realization that a typical low carb diet is loaded with corn and corn derivatives.

Corn hides in almost everything, especially in the way that meat is processed and preserved. It hides in the waxes that coat fresh vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes and bell peppers. It hides in the gas that’s used on avocados, and in the way that eggs are washed and sometimes coated. It’s found in almost all cheeses, butter and other dairy products. Heck, it’s even used to make distilled vinegar and can be found in refined oils as a de-foamer, which makes mayonnaise also off limits. Citric acid and maltodextrin are generally made from corn (but not always) and can be found in catsup, canned tomatoes and most sugar substitutes, especially sugar alcohols such as erithritol or sorbitol.

To be intolerant of corn is basically a nightmare. So here I sit, not knowing where to turn to next. But one thing I do know is that I'm not so sure I can do what it would take to maintain 125 pounds. Most of the low carbers who have reached goal weight maintain that weight by eating very few calories. Of those I've investigated previously, their calorie count is somewhere between 1,000 and 1,200 calories. That's maintenance!

So, I've been thinking about that a lot over the past two weeks. Struggling with that actually. Because if I can't maintain 160 pounds at a size 12, maybe I should just call it quits and be content with my current size 14.

Part 9: Personalize Your Low Carb Diet with Atkins 72