Memory is a fragile thing. It’s been maybe three years or so since I did the Atkins induction phase. For those of you unfamiliar with this, the way you are supposed to start Atkins is to get your net carb count under 20 grams a day. One small glass of orange juice has more carbs in it, so, for folks who’ve never done it before, it’s sort of like tip-toeing into very, very cold water.
For those of you considering it, I’m not trying to scare you – I’m trying to prepare you. I think that maybe one of the reasons that Atkins fails most people is mindset. I think Atkins downplays some of the aspects of induction, while I tend to believe that understanding what’s ahead as you begin induction is critical to succeeding.
As I’ve mentioned, I had lost up to 90 lbs, but I’ve put 20 of those back on. Being I threw away all my fat clothes, there’s no going back. About a week or so ago, I was closing in on 200 lbs when I want to be 170. I’m about 188 now and have gone back on induction to help get the weight off.
People – I will always be fat, no matter what weight I am. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that inside every fat person is a thin person trying to get out. Well, inside every thin person who got that way by losing a lot of weight is a fat person who is really pissed and wants an entire box of Oreos – and maybe a quart of milk to wash them down – NOW!
That fat person in me has gained the upper hand as of late, so here I am doing induction again. I started three days ago, so I am experiencing again what it was like the first time round. So what’s it like? What am I doing exactly?
- I feel weird. Not bad, but weird. Induction induces ketosis which, to simplify, forces your body to burn fat as there’s no carbs to use as your energy source. As you are changing your body chemistry, you have to expect to feel something different. For me, it’s a mild lightheadedness, nothing really extreme, but noticeable. I’ve had people tell me that they can’t do Atkins because it makes them dizzy, but I think that it’s a change they weren’t anticipating and it’s focused on too much. If they thought about that mid-afternoon I-can’t-keep-my-eyes-open feeling as being an unnatural state, a mild lightheadedness would seem trivial in comparison, but they are used to being sleepy in the afternoon, so it seems normal. It isn’t normal, and for me I’ll trade one for the other in a heartbeat.
- I miss sweets. when you are on low carb and maintaining your weight, you can have fruit and chocolate and other sweet goodies, if chosen correctly. You can even cheat now and then. Induction, however, is pretty strict, so these are verboten. what do I do? I eat a packet of Splenda straight. It cleanses the palate, so to speak. People think I’m weird when I do this, but I’ve given up on caring what people think of me long ago.
- I’ve given up Nutrasweet. I have found that the artificial sweetener Nutrasweet (aka aspartame) stalls me. I can only tolerate a little bit on induction. I found that 4C has a Splenda-based fruit punch – cranberry/pomegranate – that I thought I wouldn’t like but I do. It also helps to quiet the cravings for sweets. When I’m maintaining, Nutrasweet doesn’t bother me, but I can’t have much of it during induction.
- I’m taking fiber therapy. I actually use psyllium (the main ingredient) regularly, but I think that this is critical for induction to work. I think Atkins glosses over this in his book, but I need the extra fiber. I have never bought the unflavored stuff that Atkins recommends – I use the sugar-free orange Metamucil – or the sugar-free store brand – Costco’s is my fave. Yes – it has Nutrasweet in it, but not enough to stall me. I completely ignore the directions for use and put up to a heaping tablespoon in half a glass of water, stir and drink quick. Not the high point of my day – the stuff is not a taste sensation, and if you don’t guzzle the stuff down fast enough, it turns into a gritty pudding that could be used as a torture device to elicit confessions from suspected criminals.
- I’m having a breakfast again. I’m never hungry in the morning – I’m a night eater. I’m forcing myself to drink an Atkins shake each morning. It definitely helps – yesterday it seemed that I wasn’t hungry after eating in the late afternoon and for the first time in a long time I didn’t eat at night.
- I’m eating the low carb cliche. What I mean by that is induction is painted by most people what low carb is like all the time – but it isn’t. I’m eating breakfast sausages, eggs, cheese. I’m having salads with Ken’s low-carb dressings. Today – the 4th of July – I’ll have some London broil and pork ribs on the barbecue – maybe try the spinach with sour cream recipe I found on the Low Carb Band-it blog. I’m restricting my food choices – not because there aren’t many, but because of time – I work full time and have two kids so I can’t spend hours in the kitchen. It’s a temporary thing, however. Induction is not Atkins – this is a pervasive myth. It’s a couple of weeks or a couple of months if you have a lot of weight to lose. It’s worth it for me because…
- My appetite is diminishing. Induction causes ketosis, and ketosis is an appetite suppressant. The irony of most diets is that they cause you to obsess about food – which is probably part of the reason we got fat in the first place. I’ve seen so many people on low-fat diets eat their tiny hockey-puck sized lunch in two minutes, look at the clock and sigh as they were still hungry as hell and they had five hours to go before their next meal. I actually forget about eating during induction.
- I’m noticing bursts of energy. It’s a good feeling. I did low-fat diets in the past and there were no energy bursts – just this excruciating effort, this relentless, tiring march that only a marine drill sargent would love.
- I’m avoiding headaches so far. Last time I did induction I would have mild headaches. I think this was from too little water. I’ve upped the water and haven’t had a headache yet. we’ll see if I can avoid them completely – stay tuned.
October 11, 2012 Update
I’ve added a post on what Atkins Induction feels like on Day 30 – you might want to check it out.