New to Atkins or Keto? 8 Secrets You Need to Know to be Successful!

New Strawberry Plant
Are you brand new to Atkins or Keto?
Here are the 8 secrets I learned
from losing over 100 pounds!

Are you brand new to Atkins or Keto? 


You've made a wonderful choice that can really change your life for the better.

However, getting through the first month or two on Keto can be a bit confusing or overwhelming. I know. I get a good amount of email from people who are just beginning a low-carb diet and are confused about the way that Keto works.

Maybe, the diet isn't living up to your expectations.

Or maybe, you haven't actually read Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution. If not, you're probably just trying to implement the Atkins Diet from what some of the information you've read online.

Then again, maybe you've been recently diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes and you're looking for a fast way to get your blood glucose level under control, but were secretly hoping to shed some weight as well.

No matter why you decided to go Keto, this post will clear up a lot of your confusion because I'm going to share with you the 8 most important secrets I learned when losing over 100 pounds on Keto.

Pinterest Image: Girl Sitting on Top of Mountain

Secret #1: Don't Trust the Atkins Info on the Internet

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about the Induction diet on the internet. Everyone thinks they know what a low-carb diet is and what it can do for you. They are very eager to tell you all about it. However, the Atkins Diet isn't just:
  • bacon and eggs
  • greasy cheeseburgers
  • and T-bone steaks
Neither is it a fat fest. The Atkins protocol has strict recommendations for how to add fat to your diet, and so does Keto.

Fears of Keto vary from person to person, but can range from Atkins causing kidney problems and high cholesterol levels to Atkins being responsible for gallstones and heart attacks. None of that is true. 

Did you buy into any of these myths? 

Are you feeling a bit hesitant right about now? 

If so, you can put your mind at ease. I quickly learned that most of what you hear or read online is garbage. It's based on misconceptions or pure marketing hype. 

Journalists are more interested in getting high ratings, lots of comments, and additional traffic than they are in sharing the truth with you.

Atkins and Keto are:
  • healthy
  • perfectly safe
  • and extremely nutrient dense
But if you're doing Atkins Induction, you do need to follow the Atkins Diet correctly. Atkins Induction isn't magic. Although beginners often experience quick weight loss, this is not true for everyone.
  • PCOS
  • insulin resistance
  • pre-diabetes
  • diabetes
  • metabolic syndrome
  • autoimmune diseases
  • food sensitivities
  • your ability to convert fat into energy
All of these conditions and factors play a large role in the outcome of Phase 1. So does the number of times that you have gone on a diet before. 

Secret #2: Effectiveness Depends on How Many Times You've Done Keto  Before

A low-carb diet is extremely effective for those who are brand new to the Atkins protocol. Even more so, for those who have been around the block a few times. 

If you are a second or third timer at the Atkins table, you still have a decent chance of shedding a large amount of weight during the first two to four weeks. 

There are sound biological reasons for this.

When you are new to a low-carb diet, the body has never made a generous amount of ketones for any length of time. It does not know how many ketones to make or how many fatty acids it will take to support your daily activities or take care of all essential body functions. 

The body has to gain the necessary experience in adapting to a ketogenic way of life. And that takes a bit of time.

For this reason, some beginners see a metabolic advantage to restricting carbs, and lose more weight than expected, but that advantage seriously weakens each time you go off the Atkins plan and then try to come back. 

If you are new to the low-carb lifestyle, carbohydrate restriction offers tremendous potential. Keto is one of the best diets for weight loss. However, the price for not doing it correctly or turning it into a crash diet can be quite high. 

The more often you go off plan and try to come back, the less effective a low-carb diet becomes.

Secret #3: Being a Yo-Yo Dieter Comes with a Price

Most of the people who write to me have cycled on-and-off a low-carb diet for a long time. 

They are not beginners.

Red Yo-yo

Some of you have also abused Induction

If Atkins has stopped working for you, you're probably looking for ways to tweak the program. 

The body is super talented at adapting to whatever you're doing, and that goes for any diet, not just Atkins. Eventually, if you cycle on and off enough times, the body learns how many ketones it takes to support the brain. 

Once it knows, it will only make the amount of ketones it needs to protect your life and -- no more!

When you reach that point in your weight loss journey, the ketone testing strips will no longer change color and fat loss becomes a strict calories-in versus calories-burned phenomenon. 

Most low-carb dieters don't understand that.

Secret #4: The Atkins Nutritional Approach Requires a Certain Mindset

Assorted meats, pickles, and green pepper slices
The Atkins Diet is for Life

The dietary changes you begin to make when you go on Atkins Induction really need to be for life. 

I wish I had understood that back in the '70s, but I didn't. 

Instead of taking the time to discover the amount of carbs it took to maintain my weight, I simply tried to live by intuition. My metabolism would be in better shape today if I had made different choices. 

The original Atkins book does offer suggestions on maintaining, but I totally ignored Dr. Atkins' advice.

Back in 1975, when I first discovered the original Atkins book at the library, I didn't have much weight to lose. I was only 40 pounds overweight, so it came off quick. 

It took only 6 weeks to hit goal weight.

In January of 2007, it was much harder. When I re-started Atkins Induction that year, I had gone on and off of the Atkins Diet (or something similar) several times. I was about 150 pounds overweight. 

With low carb, the body will usually give up 40 to 50 pounds easily before it begins to catch on to what you're doing and begin to put up a fuss. 

At that point, weight loss will slow down and the body will begin to defend its fat stores. 

It doesn't stop using fats for energy, but you will either start to lose weight very slowly or go into a lengthy plateau because the amount of food you're eating is equal to the energy that the body needs on a daily basis. 

Your body will always adapt to what you are doing, bringing your calories eaten into balance with the calories used. When you reach that place, you have two choices:
  1. Accept that you are done and be grateful for the amount of body fat you've lost.
  2. Do something that disrupts energy balance again.
Many people have been able to shed 100 pounds or more. I don't deny that. 

I was one of them. 

But, I had to go to a very strict diet that was low in fat and calories to get there. 

Even if you discover a way to disrupt energy balance, most people still fall short of their weight-loss goal. 

Since I had rotated on-and-off of Atkins so many times over the years, for me, 2007 was too late to do a traditional Atkins Induction. The body gave me a fierce fight from day one. I only lost 2 pounds that first month and another 2 pounds for month two. 

The only way I could get the body fat to start coming off at a reasonable pace was to drastically lower my dietary fat to 60 grams a day, which resulted in a severe reduction in calories. Not starvation levels, but just above that.

For me, there was no other way. I had pushed the body too far.

If you are brand new to the Atkins Diet, you have great potential for success. But you do have to stay mindful and firmly make up your mind that this is what you really want to do. This means making a firm commitment to turning Keto into a lifestyle.

To do that, don't do what I did. 

Secret #5: Add Carbs Back Just Like Dr. Atkins Said To

Carrots and Broccoli
Too many people try to live at 20 carbs for too long.
Your body will adapt to whatever you eat on a regular basis.
Don't fear carrots, peas, and higher carb veggies.

Do Atkins by the book.

The REAL book.

And by that, I mean: add the carbs back into your eating plan in Phase 2 exactly like the book tells you to do. 

Don't stay on Atkins Induction indefinitely. Do the work. Find your own personal level of carb sensitivity, and then use dietary fat to dial in your calories, so you're eating at a caloric deficit.

Maintenance doesn't have to be just meat and veggies.

However, that's the type of diet you'll end up with if you don't find your personal critical carb number for losing and eat to that number for most your weight-loss journey.

Too many dieters make the mistake of wanting to get the weight off so quickly that they don't do Atkins correctly.

Someone tells them that Atkins Induction is the quickest way to lose weight, so they stay at 20 grams of carbohydrates, or less, for their entire weight-loss phase. They believe that's the way Atkins is done. 

It's not.

Keto is sometimes done that way, but not Atkins.

If you have more than 40 or 50 pounds to lose, the body will eventually adapt to that 20-net carb level you're eating. Then, when you try to add carbs back, you won't be able to. Not without regaining weight.

There was a girl over at Low Carb Friends who was going through this very problem a few years ago. She spent all of Atkins Phase 2 eating at 20-net carbs per day. She never returned carbohydrates to her diet. When she reached maintenance she gained weight whenever she tried to add anything back in. 
  • She is not an isolated case. 
  • She is not an exception. 
  • She is the RULE!
Throughout the years, I've watched this happen over and over to so many people. 

If she wants to maintain her current weight, she will have to stick with 20-net carbs for the rest of her life because that's what her body got used to. Her body's ability to process and use carbohydrates tanked.

The same thing happens to people who consistently go on-and-off of a diet. 

Any diet. 

The body looks at dieting like a famine. It handles weight loss as if you were in a famine situation. This happens with all diets, not just low-carb diets.

During a famine, the body is in protection mode. It does what it has to do to help you survive. It doesn't know that you are just on a diet. It believes that food sources are scarce. It believes that you are starving.

If you give up and return to your old style of eating, the body will believe that the famine is over. At that point, it will do everything in its power to put the weight back on.

You don't really start the Atkins Diet all over again when you come back after a lengthy, mindless, diet break. Adaption wise, you pick up exactly where you left off. Your body remembers. 

Each time you restart the Atkins Diet, the body appears to get more resistant to weight loss because it's more efficient at using ketones and fatty acids.

It knows exactly how many ketones to make and how much fat to pull out of storage. 

The fewer the ketones the body makes, the less body fat gets pulled from your fat stores to make them. As a result, the fat comes off slower and slower each time you come back. 

In fact, some people have done this so many times that they don't even lose on Atkins Induction anymore. The body just expects you to quit again.

Secret #6: Your Weight-Loss Diet is Your Maintenance Diet

Maintenance Diet Plate - Meat Skewers, Zuchinni, Potatoes
Maintenance diets are similar to your weight loss diet.
While you might be able to eat a little more,
it won't really be that much.

How you eat while losing the weight is basically how you are going to eat for the rest of your life.

Protein, salad, and veggies will be the bulk of your diet. You can add other things in like berries or nuts, depending on your personal degree of carb sensitivity, your critical carb level for maintenance, but don't expect to ever be able to eat like other people do. That is never going to happen.

Think of carbohydrates as a treat and save them for special occasions. 

If you have kept your carbohydrate level at just slightly less than what it takes to maintain your current weight, as Dr. Atkins advised, you will have a lot more wiggle room to play with at maintenance than someone who has eaten at the Induction level of carbs for several months or years.

Some people find they can have a baked potato when they go out to dinner. Others are able to handle 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal for breakfast or a sweet potato three times a week. Some can enjoy a couple slices of pizza on their birthday, and then they have to return to the basic diet they used to lose weight on.

Unless you are very young or extremely active, you'll have to severely limit the carbs you eat on a daily basis for the rest of your life. 

In addition, the amount of food you can eat and maintain your lower weight will be quite a bit less than what you could eat when you first went on the diet. 

My maintenance calories for 200 pounds is 1800 a day. To get back down to 160, I'm going to have to lower my calories again.

If you eat too much, you will gain weight -- even if you're only eating low-carb foods.

Secret #7: Set a Realistic Goal Weight - Don't Push Your Body

I am 5-feet tall. 

At one time, I wanted to get down to 125 pounds, and specifically, a size 7. I didn't make it. I stalled out at about 165, which for me was a size 14. That was just shy of a 100 pound fat loss. 

Today, I wish I would have been happy with that level of success. But I wasn't. I ran around trying all sorts of tweaks, punishing myself for not succeeding by pushing my body into losing more body fat in any way that I could.

For me, the results of that adventure were disastrous.

My body retaliated with a super-strong starvation response that I didn't expect. 

I have Grave's Disease, which I didn't know at the time. Grave's Disease is an autoimmune condition that causes the metabolism to race like crazy. Food you eat is pushed so fast through the stomach and intestines that you don't absorb your food properly.

While 90 percent of those who live with Grave's Disease get very skinny, due to malnutrition, 10 percent of us go into starvation mode instead. As a result, we don't lose weight. We gain weight because the body's purpose is self preservation.

In an effort to save itself, the body stores all incoming dietary fats and robs the muscles for the extra calories it needs. And yes, I have lost a lot of muscle tissue and strength due to this disease. Eating at a calorie deficit only makes things worse.

In addition, I also pushed my body by going on the HCG Diet for 6 weeks. The HCG Diet is an extremely low-fat, low-carb, low-calorie diet. You get only 500 calories a day. Even as short as I am, those are starvation rations.

During the diet, I did manage to get down to 145 pounds, but maintaining that weight loss after I went back to eating 800 to 900 calories was almost impossible. My maintenance level of calories dropped to below 1,000 a day, so that body weight wasn't sustainable. 

This was a huge shock. 

But it also brought a new realization I had never considered before: If I could not sustain 145 pounds, how was I ever going to sustain 125?

The truth was: I wasn't. 

After gaining back a few of the pounds I had lost, I panicked. I really, really panicked. I had to face the truth that I was never going to reach 125 pounds without starving it off and then starving to maintain it. 

This was one the biggest insights I received by taking this 100-pound weight-loss journey. 

Yes, I was able to shed over 100 pounds, but extreme hunger is one of the methods the body uses to replenish its fat cells once it believes the famine is over. 

This is the real reason why it is so easy to regain weight when you stop dieting unless you're mindful and strong enough to say "no" to the urge to eat.

The body's new purpose is to get you back to where you were before you started losing the weight. Your body's purpose is to refill its empty fat cells at any cost.

It doesn't care that you want to be thin. It believes that filled fat stores is your normal weight.

Bowl of Guacamole
Body's Purpose After Dieting: Refill Its Fat Stores!
And it does that even if you're eating healthy fats.

At this time, I still didn't get it, so I turned to Nutritional Ketosis for help. Or, what I thought was Nutritional Ketosis.

What I ended up using was Jimmy Moore's version of Nutritional Ketosis, one of the most popular low-carb diets even today. I tried to literally save myself by switching to a:
  • low-protein
  • low-carb
  • very high-fat diet 
But I didn't get the results I was expecting.

Instead of losing body fat, I quickly gained back all of the pounds I lost on the HCG Diet -- plus TONS more.

In addition, since I was only eating 60 grams of protein per day, I also sacrificed a lot of muscle. Since I had Graves' Disease, I grew very, very weak.
  • I was starving all of the time. 
  • I craved real food. 
  • I also started experiencing negative reactions to all sugar substitutes. 
Granted, I didn't understand what a true Nutritional Ketosis diet was, as defined by Dr. Phinney, but the antagonism I experienced from the low-carb community due to the results I got was unbelievable. Most people didn't believe I had gained so much weight eating a very low-carb, high-fat diet.

Before I knew what had happened, I was back up to 180 pounds and the weight was still climbing. 

I didn't know that something I'd done had triggered Grave's Disease, as the doctor I was seeing at the time told me my thyroid was fine. The only way I got the body to calm down and stop freaking out was to totally go off all low-carb diets and move into a strict maintenance plan.

Before my nightmare totally ended, I had gained back almost all of my weight.

I finally stabilized at 20 pounds less than the weight I originally started at when I received the Graves Disease diagnosis. After being treated for Graves Disease and giving my body several months to calm down, on maintenance, I had to practically start all over again. 

But the body didn't like that. 

It started literally freaking out every time I tried to lower my carbs.

It took me 2 years to slowly reverse what I'd done to myself by trying to force my body to give up more fat than it was comfortable giving up. 

Once the body calmed down, I spent another year eating fewer carbs and calories, and managed to drop 40 of those extra 80 pounds I gained. I did this eating at a moderate carb level of 60 to 120 carbs a day and 1,500 to 1,800 calories.

This past year?

I've just maintained, and that includes the last few months that I've been on Atkins Induction. I was 200 pounds when I started eating 20-net carbs again, and I'm still at 200 pounds today (June 2018). 

The body doesn't want to budge. Lowering carbs isn't enough anymore. I'm going to have to move to a low-calorie diet to see results, so don't do what I did. 

Don't push your body to lose more body fat than it is comfortable giving up. You won't win.

Secret #8: Don't Push Your Body

So my best piece of advice?

Don't push your body to go further than it is willing to go. It will figure out a way to get even with you. It will figure out a way to put the weight back on. 

For me, that was Graves Disease and moving into starvation mode. For you, it will be something else. But the body will do it if you don't respect your body and give it some space to feel safe.

As Dr. Atkins has said: "It will eventually backfire on you."

I can honestly testify that this is true.

A low-carb diet isn't something to play around with. It's not a toy. It uses the starvation pathway to accomplish what it does. While that isn't dangerous when used with a little common sense, the cold hard truth is this:

The body will only feel comfortable giving up a certain amount of its fat stores. Push it beyond its comfort level, and it will come out fighting.

In my own case:

The body saw the HCG diet as pure starvation. It saw the way I implemented Nutritional Ketosis as a windfall of dietary fat calories and stored every single one! 

I lost tons of muscle and gained tons of body fat eating 60-grams of protein and 20 carbs per day. 

Although people have accused me of not following the diet correctly (because I didn't buy a blood ketone meter and spend tons of cash on those ketone testing strips), of being shallow, or having ulterior motives for going on that diet in the first place (due to title of our sister site: Life After Low Carb), this is the honest truth.

Ketosis isn't magic. 

Its purpose is to lower your insulin and hunger levels and make it easier for you to eat at a calorie deficit. But you still have to eat at a calorie deficit for low carb to work. You have to need more energy than you're taking in.

All low-carb diets do this, but there are protection mechanisms and backup functions that will come forward if you don't respect your body. Energy output will change to accommodate what you're doing. You'll fidget less, get more tired after activities, think about food more, or start craving sugar.

While some people are able to make it all the way to their target weight, many more do not. 

If you can't live with that reality, then you're better off choosing another way.

Additional Articles for Newbies:

Our Beginner's Guide to Low-Carb Diets
Will a Low-Carb Diet Ruin Your Metabolism?
What to Expect if You Cheat on Your Low-Carb Diet
The Truth About Ketone Testing Strips
6 Dieting Mistakes that Newbies Make