Rerun: Addictive, Persuasive, and Seductive

(This one, from March 2008, is worth a read if you haven’t read it yet. – LCC)

I got this question from a reader and thought it so important that I’m posting the response here rather than bury it in an old post.

Your question:

what concerns me is so many people write in saying they’re doing induction again (and again and again) because even though they love low carb and lost weight, they went off the diet and gained all the weight back. i’m quite interested in low carb but if it works so well why does everyone go off it?

Is a damn good one – I wonder why it hasn’t been asked before.

My answer is that carbs are addictive, pervasive, and seductive. They mess with your blood sugar and can give you a high, they surround us in our homes, offices, and on every street corner, and they taste good.

You can live quite nicely on Atkins – you can eat a wide variety of foods and not be hungry – yet still lose weight. But it takes eternal vigilance to avoid an addictive substance that is in most processed foods, and is offered up by well-meaning friends a dozen times a day.

You end up having to commit to a lifestyle that makes you different than others. I’ve heard my office is having a beer and pizza day in the near future – I won’t be having either. Will this make me look like I’m not participating because of some issue that I have with the company? While it’s not the case, it might be the perception. Someone brings in donuts – can’t have them. A birthday party? You hear: “you’ve GOT to have a piece of cake.”

Do you want to lose weight on Atkins and keep it off? Then you have to be that person who asks if there’s any carbs in the salad dressing at a restaurant – see the server look confused and run back to the kitchen. Will they come back with the right answer? Who knows? Order diet soda. Do they fill the glass with diet or the real stuff? Can’t be sure, so I order seltzer or stick with water. Going to a dinner party? You might have to inquire to the host if there will be something to eat that’s low carb – if you don’t explain this you risk going hungry, offending the host because you don’t eat, or giving in, eating the carbs, and potentially backsliding into a high-carb lifestyle.

If you are the type that likes to ‘fit in’ – you won’t. It’s a great diet for iconoclasts and nonconformists who don’t care about this sort of thing or like to be different, but you’ll stand out in a crowd.

Like hardcore vegetarians, severe diabetics, and other people with very exacting dietary restrictions, you will be that ‘pain in the ass’ at the restaurant table.

The people here have decided that it’s worth the effort, even when they periodically backslide.

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6 thoughts on “Rerun: Addictive, Persuasive, and Seductive

  1. Aye, this is true. People always tell each other to eat a balanced diet and to have everything in moderation, but what are they basing this on? It is all relative. Atkins is a balanced diet for our ancestors, and 70% rice with 10% protein is a balanced diet for someone living in Japan. Atkins isn’t that weird, really, and I don’t know why people have to have a gut reaction against it.

    I am lucky enough that both my family and my in-laws are very friendly to dieting and low carb, else this whole thing might be much harder.

  2. All true, but I think one should not underestimate the power of moderate carb reduction (I.e. giving in to Beer night once in a while). I lost 40 pounds on a diet that was carb-reduced, but far from ketogenic. I am going all out LCHF / ketogenic right now just for kicks (and health), starting from well within normal weight restrictions.

    So just because you aren’t willing to “stand out” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start cutting carbs wherever you can, even though ketosis might be out of reach. (studies confirm this, even moderately carb-reduced diets tend to whip the behind of low-fat alternatives).

  3. It should also be added that regular diets have sky-high off-the-wagon rates. I am willing to bet that LCHF has substantially lower rates of failure than the normal low-fat fare.

    • I agree, Dobbie. Low carb diets work quite nice for many people, ketogenic or not. You can also still enjoy life on them. I lost weight twice on low cal diets and they were hell – I just learned to live with being hungry all the time – of course I couldn’t sustain it.

      Ketogenic diets like Atkins give low carb dieting an extra ‘kick in the pants’ – it’s really helpful for the larger folks, I think.

      I *NEVER* lost an ounce on a low fat diet.

  4. I agree, I think that low carb does work but its just so easy for carbs to slip back in. You never really hear people say that it didn’t work. Its just they stopped doing it.

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