Atkins Gone Bad

I’m gonna take that inner child and kick his little ass
Don Henley, ‘Get Over It’

I’m big on personal responsibility, and I have to admit that I am the weight I am now simply because a part of me doesn’t want to weigh less.

At the beginning of the year I had managed to put on 20 lbs, and with a little effort I got that taken off in a couple of weeks. I’ve wanted to do another 20, but that hasn’t happened.

In asking myself why, it is apparent that a force other than the conscious me has decided it’s pretty satisified with where I am right now, and that peach pie the wife brought in would hit the spot – washed down with an ice-cold glass of milk.

I’ve been maintaining my weight, which is a good thing, while eating all the high-carb food that low carbers avoid, which sounds like nirvana – except that I think this is dangerous.

My reasoning is that in my estimation, excessive carbohydrates block the proper digestion of fat, causing a host of ills – high cholesterol being only one of them.

So what we have here is what I’d call: Atkins gone bad.

I eat low carb most of the day, then carb out on junk in the evening. Put on a few pounds, then take it back off with a few days of all-day low carb.

I still fit in my clothes – they are snug, but not so much that they cut off breathing. I think the subconscious me thinks that’s just fine – no need to take off any weight, right?

Problem is: I want to take this last 20 lbs off, and keep it off eating healthy becuase I believe that this will indeed add years to my life, life to my years, and stave off decrepitude for as long as possible.

That’s what my logical mind says – then the inner child sees the peach pie…

Oh – I have a stable of excuses – they flood my mind as I chow down on the pie, but they are just that: excuses.

I think willpower is overrated – the trick isn’t to force things to happen, but rather to find ways to change in the most effortless means possible. That isn’t lazy, and it shouldn’t be reduced to a moralistic judgement – we only have so much energy and so much time, and why swim upstream when you can get out of the river and walk upstream with a lot less effort?

And yet…I’m still 20 lbs away from my goal. Willpower is required, but it’s to be leveraged with a bag of tricks that I’ve learned during my years on low carb. Especially the tricks that allow me to keep that damn peach pie out of my gullet while those around me have a carb orgy.

Maybe I’ve forgotten some of them. Maybe it’s time to read my own blog to remember what I’ve forgotten.

4 thoughts on “Atkins Gone Bad

  1. Perhaps it’s time for a bit of biochemical analysis to find out what your body is has been doing with the kind of food you choose to consume. All of us are biochemically unique. Without lab work one is reduced to endless trial and error experimentation; that is, if finding ones ideal diet and achieving ones ideal weight is the goal. Reformed, retired dietitian Kris Johnson furnished these links. If nothing else, they provide some interesting food for thought. and

  2. I really hear you. I feel your pain. I think a lot of us who have come back to low carb understand what you’re doing and the guilt you’re feeling. The first time I ate low carb, I pretty much convinced myself that starchy foods and sugar were poison. Poison! It really helped keep me away from the stuff, but I always knew I was being too dramatic, and I didn’t know at the time how right I was. Anyway at some point, this time around, I looked at the high carb food, and I said “it’s just food”. It’s JUST food! What will it do for me? What will it do TO me? It’s just food. There will be a time for peach pie, but that time is not now. Until then, it’s just food, and it’s just food I don’t want.

  3. Hi Dave,

    Those are very interesting links – thanks for posting them. I’m not sure that lab work would be some magic bullet – lab results can vary from day-to-day, or be plain wrong. Also – we just weren’t designed to be ‘measured’ – it’s not like we come with something like that socket under the dashboard of our cars that the mechanic can plug his computer into and diagnose the problem.

    I think, if you are in this for the long haul, there *needs* to be trial and error. As you said, we’re all different, and even a perfectly measured, repeatedly tested lab reading might be misleading if modern medical science doesn’t see the significance of your individual level being different than the ‘norm’. An example is cholesterol. It doesn’t matter if your cholesterol is moderately high if high cholesterol levels don’t impact *your* arteries.

    Having said all that, I would love to have a detailed blood profile done, but right now I’m limited to whatever I can convince my doctor to order for me. I just had my bloodwork done (while eating the high-carb junk) and will be interested to see what shape some of my numbers are in. If they aren’t optimal, I’m hoping I can convince him to retest in a few weeks because I’m being good (no junk) right now, and a ‘before-and-after’ comparison would be interesting.



  4. Hi,

    You responded to a comment I made on another site, suggesting that we shouldn’t fight each other, but instead find the truth. Obviously you were a little offended by my ketogenic diet bashing.

    The truth is out there, you just have to find it. All of Atkins claims about carbohydrates were accurate. Because they cause a rise in insulin, they are the root of all evil — for a person who has insulin resistance. But avoiding them doesn’t heal the metabolism, it damages it further.

    There are tons of ways to lose weight. I’ve lost weight a half dozen ways. I lost 20 pounds in 44 days one time. Carbohydrate starvation causes weight loss. Starvation causes weight loss. Protein starvation can cause weight loss. Exercising 40 hours a week like I used to can cause weight loss. Food combining can cause dramatic weight loss. Liquid diets cause weight loss. But none of these are helpful in restoring health. None of these get a person closer to being able to eat normal amounts of normal food with normal amounts of physical activity without gaining fat.

    Please check out endocrinoligist Diana Schwarzbein’s recommendations. She is part of the low-carb movement, but understands the human metabolism to an extent that mistakes like the ones uber low-carbers are making can be prevented, and long term success can be achieved. Not only that, but the foods you are craving and tormented by will no longer be appealing. This is a gaurantee.

    The most sensible quote I’ve found on insulin and carbohydrates is provided by Barry Sears in The Age Free Zone (1999)…

    “Can you push insulin too low? Of course you can. This is what happens when you eat a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. Fasting insulin levels drop rapidly (often within days on these diets). Unfortunately, you develop a whole new series of problems. One is ketosis…Without adequate carbohydrate reserves in the liver, the body can’t break down fats effectively, leaving behind what are known as ketone bodies. In a pinch, the brain can use these as a poor man’s glucose…But your brain didn’t fall off the turnip truck. The body will start breaking down muscle protein to make glucose. This is known as gluconeogenesis. It’s not very efficient, but if the brain requires carbohydrate, it will get it somewhere. In addition, without adequate supplies of glucose, you will become irritable and mental cognition decreases. In addition, research has indicated that the longer you stay in ketosis, the more your fat cells adapt so that they are transformed into ‘fat magnets,’ becoming 10 times more active in accumulating fat…A high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet drives insulin levels too low, thereby causing hypotension, fatigue, irritability, lack of mental clarity, loss of muscle mass, increased hunger, and rapid fat regain when carbohydrates are reintroduced into the diet. Not exactly a prescription for anti-aging. This coupled with the increase in cardiovascular mortality because insulin levels are too low, simply reinforces the need to maintain insulin within a zone: not too high, not too low.”

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