Doubling Down on Atkins: The Atkins Diet’s Missing Phase

Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times' TV Skeptic

Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times’ TV Skeptic and Successful Low Carb Dieter

I have lost 55 pounds on The Atkins Diet, the most well-known low carb diet. I went from obese to a normal weight, I have improved all my risk factors for chronic disease, and I feel better than I have in years. You won’t find a more enthusiastic supporter of Dr. Atkins anywhere. At the same time I’ve done a ton of research on diet, nutrition and metabolism and I’ve come to believe that there is something missing from the Atkins diet.

The Atkins diet is a low carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet with four stages.

The first phase is called Induction; you limit yourself to less than 20g of carbs per day, mostly from vegetables, and you don’t count carbs from fiber. Induction is followed by Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL), a gradual increase in dietary carb content. After OWL comes Pre-maintenance, further adjustment of carb content until weight is stable at the dieter’s target weight. The final phase is Maintenance, a low carb diet strategy for the rest of your life.

The only problem is, I don’t know anyone who has made it past OWL. Not just among my personal friends and family (several on Atkins), but also among my Facebook friends, Google+ circles and Twitter. I’m sure there are some who have, but most of the long term Atkins dieters I know are experiencing weight loss stalls.

Not everyone agrees on what constitutes a diet stall. I consider a diet stall no weight loss for at least 6 weeks.

I find it easier to understand stalls if you visualize weight loss as a graph. The shape of the line that tracks your weight, starting high in the upper left and, over time, heading mostly down toward the bottom right is your diet trajectory.

The ideal Atkins diet trajectory (below, in red) would look something like this:

A steep slope to start, leveling out a bit during OWL, then finally flat-lining for pre maintenance and maintenance.

Ideal Atkins Trajectory and the Author's

But it rarely works like that in the wild. My own trajectory (represented above, in blue) shows a rapid weight loss followed, briefly, by more gradual, weight loss, then a one-year stall with minor ups and downs.

Ideal Atkins Trajectory and the Author's

If you look at the weight changes of low carb dieters in several of the published studies you’ll see that typical diet trajectories (represented above) include rapid weight loss followed by gradual weight loss, followed by a slight weight rebound.

If you look at the weight changes of low carb dieters in several of the published studies you’ll see that a typical diet trajectory includes rapid weight loss followed by gradual weight loss, followed by a slight weight rebound. In many cases dieters in these studies lose significant weight, more than on other diets studied, while improving their risk factors for chronic disease, but stall at a weight that’s higher than they desire.

It is important to note that Diet stalls, or plateaus, are not unique to Atkins or low carb dieting. They may be one reason why dieters on many different diets become discouraged and give up.

There are many factors that could be causing stalls: Insulin resistance; set points; hidden carbs; excess dietary protein leading to gluconeogenesis, where our bodies make carbs from protein or triglycerides. The cause could be a combination of those and other factors, or it could simply be that some of our target weights are just not realistic for our ages, our bodies and our metabolisms.

Whatever the cause, these diet stalls are a serious issue for many dieters and I’ve come to the conclusion that what’s needed is a new phase for the Atkins diet, designed to overcome stalls.

I don’t think I’m alone in thinking this. Several of the most prominent members of the low carb community, after experiencing their own stalls, or dealing with patients or clients who are stuck with more fat than they would like, have been experimenting with different versions of the Atkins diet’s missing phase.

Dana Carpender is following a version of the Fat Fast, an intermittent diet of 1000 calorie per day, for a few days at a time, with 90% of the calories coming from fat. The Fat Fast diet was recommended by Dr. Atkins as a last resort, but it’s not in the current Atkins diet book.

Jimmy Moore is conducting an experiment in nutritional ketosis, a diet strategy characterized by high fat content and almost no carbs, as in the Fat Fast, but Jimmy also keeps track of his progress by frequent testing of blood sugar and blood ketones.  He adjusts his fat, protein and carb intake to ensure his glucose and ketones stay at desired levels. His experiment was inspired largely by “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living” and “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance” by Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney, who are co-authors, along with Eric Westman, of “The New Atkins for a New You.”

Sweden’s Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, AKA the Diet Doctor, is also experimenting with higher than the already high fat consumption in his LCHF diet, aiming for target insulin and ketone levels, as measured with frequent blood tests.

Shortly after Dana and Jimmy began their public experiments, I designed my own. I call it doubling-down on Atkins. (The term double-down comes from BlackJack, when you believe you have a winning hand you can double-down, raising the stakes, risking more, for a chance to win big.)

To double-down on Atkins, I ratcheted the carbs down to 15g per day (from about 30), increased my fat at every meal, and eased off a bit on my protein intake. I also went one step further. I cut out all artificial sweeteners; I eliminated the small amount of occasional fruit; dropped the low carb tortillas; eliminated nuts; and stopped drinking wine with dinner. I had enjoyed all of those during the 6 months where I lost most of my weight. It’s not quite the Atkins Fat Fast, or nutritional ketosis, but it has elements of both. I also check my blood sugar and ketones, but not as frequently as Jimmy or the Diet Doctor.

In two months of doubling-down, I’ve lost ten pounds. It’s nothing like the rapid weight loss I enjoyed when I started Atkins, but after a year-long stall, I think it’s just fine. If I can lose four or five pounds per month, I’ll be at my target weight by the holidays. (But how many times have I said that?)

There’s another benefit to this doubling-down on Atkins. Although I don’t think I could have tolerated this food when I first started Atkins, right now I’m fine with it. In fact, the best way I can describe how I eat is: I eat as much as I want of whatever I want, whenever I want to. But somehow I no longer “want” to eat foods that are not on my diet. I had cravings for sweets and missed bread for much of my time on Atkins. But not after I started doubling-down on Atkins. Jimmy and Dana are also reporting changes in their appetites and cravings.

Doubling-down, the Fat Fast, or nutritional ketosis, are all personal experiments, they’re not science. It’s n=1: One person trying one diet. Anecdotes at best. There is precious little science and study of overcoming stalls in dieting. Maybe if enough people report good results in these experiments on ourselves, we will pique the curiosity of researchers and grant-funders.

It’s too early to say exactly what this new Atkins phase would look like. My guess is that it would involve a fat percentage along the lines of the Fat Fast: 80 to 90% of calories from fat; careful testing of blood glucose and blood ketones; limited protein intake.

Of course, I still believe that the healthiest and most effective weight loss strategy is Atkins and the low carb high-fat lifestyle. But these long term stalls are more than discouraging. I spoke to someone a few days ago who told me of her experience with Atkins about 15 years earlier. Her diet trajectory was fairly typical: Rapid weight loss, followed by gradual weight loss, a stall and rebound. Without easy access to the kind of support and the community we have on the internet now, when she stalled and then began gaining weight back, she thought the diet had simply stopped working for her. She even tried the ketone urine test strips and, when they didn’t show ketosis, she gave up and eventually put the weight back on. She’s back on Atkins now, and if she hits another stall, at least this time she knows what’s happening.

In my case, I would be fine with being stuck 20 pounds above my target weight for the rest of my life. It sure beats being 70 pounds over. But some dieters have stalls when they’re still obese, many stall when they are still overweight. Sometimes the stalls break and weight loss resumes. Sometimes stalls don’t break. Sometimes people start to add weight, while some reach a set point while still heavier than than they want.

Long term stalls are a problem for many Atkins dieters, and I hope the authors of the next version of the diet consider adding a new phase specifically designed to overcome stalls. I wouldn’t expect big changes to the official Atkins diet anytime soon. Phinney, Volek and Westman wouldn’t add new Atkins phases willy-nilly. If they consider it appropriate, they’ll take a very careful and conservative approach based on the best science available.

But Atkins dieters experiencing long-term weight loss stalls are starting to find solutions compatible with the Atkins-based low carb high fat lifestyle.

Are you conducting your own low carb n=1 experiments? Let us know in the comments below.

Comments

  1. arlene says

    I’ve experienced exactly what you are talking about here…rapid weight loss, followed by a little bounce up (3-4 pounds) for the past 14 months. I’ve been contemplating going back to the beginning, but cutting all sweeteners and going back to 20 carbs or less. I’d love to hear what others are doing.

  2. says

    “The only problem is, I don’t know anyone who has made it past OWL. Not just among my personal friends and family (several on Atkins), but also among my Facebook friends, Google+ circles and Twitter. I’m sure there are some who have, but most of the long term Atkins dieters I know are experiencing weight loss stalls.”

    I don’t think I have been particularly hidden with my story (with a few million YT video views) nor do I even think I am that unique having multiple friends who have been at goal longer than me. For me, 8 years at goal has been pretty much more of the same. I am not sure portraying the diet as one of long term stalls is particularly helpful or many cases accurate. Do people stall? Sure. The things that once worked or the amount of food or exercises that dropped 2-4 pounds a week for the first 12 months might not drop those same pounds the last few weeks.

    For me, it was less about doubling down on Atkins, but understanding that what worked once might need to be tweaked or helped later. Running 20 miles a week might need to be 25 miles, or it might even be more carbs, i.e. progress to OWL or even Pre-maintenance. I think this fixation to drive carbs lower especially closer to the end seems more trick than a lifelong way of eating for most. There are some with extreme metabolic resistance like Jimmy that need LCHF (80-90%) or the Fat Fast of the original Atkins Diet to stimulate weight loss or even continue weight loss. I just hesitate to personally promote “fat bombs” or olive oil shooters rather than say low carb stir fry or even fried chicken to fuel one’s body.

    In the end, we each have to figure out what works for us.

    • says

      Hi Kent, thanks for your comments! Admittedly, my circle of friends and people I know is a pretty small sample. There are lots of people out there who have reached their target weights, and congratulations to you and them. Still I suspect it’s a fairly small proportion of all who try.

      For some of us, increasing our weekly running from 20 miles to 25 miles is not an option. For many running 5 miles a week wouldn’t be possible. That is one of the most attractive aspects of the Atkins diet. It doesn’t require a lot of exercise to lose weight.

      I ref soccer, which is seasonal and is fairly strenuous exercise (lots or sprinting, running and jogging for about 6 hours per week). I haven’t noticed any change in my weight in season or out of season.

      Not sure what “fat bombs” are or olive oil shooters, but why hesitate to promote them? I think we agree on low-carb stir fry, and, depending on the recipe and daily protein intake, fried chicken too.

      Ed

  3. Jillian says

    Hi Ed,
    I’m glad you discovered what got you out of your stall. But I’m confused as to why you and others feel the information on how to get out of a stall while doing the Atkins diet is currently not available–no matter what ‘phase’ of Atkins a person is in. I’m coming to the Atkins diet from the ‘New Atkins for a New You’ book. In New Atkins, Dr.s Westman, Phinney & Volek discuss weight stalls at length and what to do about them on (at least) pages 106-109 and 128-130. Granted these particular pages are in the chapters on Induction and OWL, the ones I know best because that’s where I’m at! Nonetheless, the information is still what everyone seems to be tweaking to get out of a stall. Also, in the book at the end of every other phase they discuss what to do if you stall or regain weight. What am I missing?

    • Lorena says

      Jillian, I was going to say the same thing. In one version of Atkins he gives an example of a person who found it extremely hard to lose weight. That person would maintain on OWL, but could only lose weight doing intermittent fat fasting. That was in the 1990s. Dana did not discover this method, Atkins already covered it.

      • says

        Lorena, you’re right, Dana did not discover the Fat Fast (she never claimed she did). Dr. Atkins modified a diet studied by Alan Kekwick and Gaston Pawan in the 1950s (“Calorie Intake in Relation to Body Weight Changes in the Obese,” Lancet, July 28, 1956, 155-161) and they based their research on another diet recommended by William Banting in the 1890s.

        Ed

    • says

      That’s a very good comment, Jillian, thanks. What I should have mentioned was that during my year-long stall I went back to the book, went back to induciton, posted questions on the Atkins website and tried a good number of possible solutions. I started testing blood sugar to see how I was doing and found out through some experiments that the onions I was having with eggs for breakfast were spiking my glucose every morning, that really got my hopes up, and eliminating them kept my blood sugar stable, but noo change on the scale.

      You’re right, that doubling down on Atkins shouldn’t be the first reaction to the first stall, but I tried a number of things first, and I know Jimmy and Dana did too.

      >>I’m glad you discovered what got you out of your stall.

      I’m still keeping my fingers crossed! I hope I’m back on track but it’s too early to say for sure.

      Ed

  4. says

    I started Atkins in 2005 at 310lbs. Bombed off 100lbs in 8 months, met current husband, had 2 kids and fattened right back up. After our daughters first birthday and being told I’d never lose the weight I’d gained from pregnancies, based on statistically data from my doctor, I hopped back on the Atkins train. 2009 – 2010 went from 254 to 175lbs. Ate low carb then tried low calorie. Lost weight on low-cal but binge eating disorder came flying back with a vengeance. So I struggled from binge eating, guilt, issues with injuries, and illness during 2011. Gained 10lbs. Summer of 2012 – had enough of low calorie, started off in May low carb got back down to 175 and wanted to keep going. In July I tried the fat fast on and off while low carbing and boom – 15lbs gone. I am now under 150 and trending down to 145. I have just re-read the Atkins book, the books you mentioned above, Jimmy’s Nutritional Ketosis blogging, and on my way to hitting my last goal weight of 135. Stalls indeed happen. Weight loss at this stage of the game is hard and taxing, but I’m going to do it. =o) Keep up the great blogs! Highly useful and I do encouarage others to read.

  5. ThatWriterChick says

    I’ll tell you exactly why Atkins doesn’t work long term. Because they allow the reintroduction of grains during OWL and maintenance. After reading William Davis, MD’s book “Wheat Belly,” it’s like the light bulb clicked on for the first time in my life. No grains was the “missing piece” for me. By eliminating the appetite stimulating gliadin protein found in wheat, I was never hungry anymore. I can IF for 18 hours without even realizing I’ve done it. Those low-carb tortillas they allow (and low-carb/high fiber bread) are the reason I could never stick with low-carb for more than a few months prior to this. I’ve now been low-carb for 13 months and grain-free for 11 months, and wow, what a difference. I sincerely hope the authors realize this folly and clear it up in the next edition of the book, because aside from allowing grains on Atkins, it’s a great way of eating.

    • says

      Hi, ThatWriterChick, interesting comment. In my case the only grains I re-introduced during OWL was low-carb tortillas. I’d have half a tortilla (3g net carbs) a few times per week. And this was while I lost most of my weight. I’m now tortilla free and wheat free!

      Ed

  6. Jeanette says

    I stalled after loosing 78 pounds with over 40 still to go. Eventually I got frustrated and gave up. Later it occurred to me that someone who is nearly 80 pounds lighter requires less food. This time when a stall eventually happens I’ll know what to do.

    Thank you!

    • says

      Jeanette, I know the kind of frustration you’re feeling. A couple things that helped keep me going: First there’s a lot of support and information on the internet now. The Atkins website has forums that I found very helpful. Also, consider blood tests for glucose and even ketones to see how you’re doing.

      The biggest boost in confidence I got came after about a year on Atkins (a few months into my stall) when I got my tests results at my annual checkup. Every single risk factor for chronic disease had improved. HDL up; LDL slightly down; Triglycerides way down; blood pressure down.

      Ed

  7. Nikki says

    Ed: Would you please share some of the things that you DID eat during your “doubling down” phase?

    Thank you!!!

    • MJ says

      I agree with Nikki, I would like to know an example of foods you eat on the “doubling down”. I have a lot of trouble knowing what a typical day of food is when I try to increase fat and decrease protein.
      Thanks a lot.

    • says

      >>>Would you please share some of the things that you DID eat during your “doubling down” phase?
      Sure, Nikki. These are my own personal choices, of course, and your milage may vary!

      Typical breakfast: Bacon & eggs and left over veggies (fried). Usually I fry the eggs in bacon grease or coconut oil. If it’s an omelet there’s usually some cheese involved, if not then probably sour cream. And always Green Chili.

      Lunch: When I’m at work, it’s a salad with three kinds of fatty dressings (blue cheese; oil & vinegar; mayo). Other days, if I’m not too hungry, I’ll just snack on beef jerky. It’s not uncommon for me to skip lunch and snack altogether. (I never went without lunch and/or snacks before Atkins, and rarely before doubling down.) At home it’s Tuna with lots of mayo, stir-fried veggies and/or raw veggies and cheese.

      Dinner: Meat (chicken, pork or beef) stir-fried veggies; avacado. Plus I put big dolops of mayo and sour cream on the plate along with mustard or horseradish to make a fatty sauce.

      If I eat out, it’s often mexican food (fajitas or carnitias with no rice, no beans and no tortillas); or burgers (no bun, no fries). Always extra mayo and/or sour cream.

      What I don’t eat at all: Simple carbs; grains; artificial sweeteners; fruit; starchy veggies (potatoes; rice; beans; carrots; etc.)

      I’ve changed the one instruction in Atkins that most carbs come from veggies. In my diet *all* carbs come from non-starchy veggies. I don’t count carbs regularly but I estimate my daily net-carb intake to be around 15g.

      I may still be eating too much protein, which could slow my weight loss.

      Also, if, two-years ago, you had shown me the diet I’m eating today, there is no way I would agreed to it. I had a sweet tooth; I always hated vegetables; I ate bread at every meal; I ate potatoes or rice daily. It was only after more than a year on Atkins that I think I would have been open to doubling down.

      ES

      • Nikki says

        Wow! Thanks, Ed! My biggest downfalls are gum (sugarfree, but has artificial sweetener) and popcorn. I guess my other question is what to eat if I want to keep protein low and fat high??

        • says

          Popcorn? Sugarless gum is a minor thing, a bug on the windshield. Popcorn is a head on collision with a Mac Truck.
          Popcorn not as bad as sugar, or white bread, but that’s like saying a Mac Truck’s not as bad as a freight train!

          Popcorn is starch, it will spike your blood sugar and raise your insulin. Insulin is what stores fat. So all that nice butter on your popcorn will be added to your fat cells and the fat that’s already there won’t be able to get out.

          ES

  8. Susan says

    Hi Ed, very interesting topic. However, eating two (plus sometimes a snack) pretty decent sized meals a day during what you describe as your “doubling down” period sure sounds a lot more than 1000 calories. Maybe I’m doing mine wrong? How many calories would you estimate is in your DD diet you describe here? FYI, I’m doing one now, though I wasn’t calling it anything in particular; just over 2000 calories, but skipping breakfast and lunch (maybe a cube of cheese about an inch square) and a 7 ounce steak for the only meal of the day accompanied by a small serving of green vegetable. I stay “full” by drinking about 5 large cups of tea each 24 hours with about 1/3 cup whipping cream each one. That’s actually over 2000 calories, and well over 50% fat. I can’t imagine not doing this kind of IF (intermittant fasting–at least not solids) and keeping under 1000 calories. If I substituted the cream for cream cheese or macadamia nuts or mayonnaise I don’t see that it would be that different. What do you think?

    • says

      Hi Susan, A very interesting question. Here’s the thing, I can’t answer it. I don’t count calories and I have no basis to estimate how many calories are in any of these meals.

      On Atkins, or doubling down, calories are not the issue, and I don’t limit myself to an arbitrary daily calorie count.

      When I’m hungry, I eat. When I’m full I stop eating. I eat very little carbs a moderate amount of protein and the rest fat. that keeps my blood sugar/insulin low so my body doesn’t store new fat and stored fat is metabolized.

      Is your diet working for you? I doesn’t sound very fulfilling. I’ll give you the same advice I give anyone else: If you haven’t already, get the Atkins book, read it, follow it as strictly as possible. Stop counting calories and start counting carbs.

      Ed

      Also, while doubling down I’ve eliminated all nuts too. I think they interfere with weight loss.

  9. says

    Welcome to the team Ed!

    I wonder if people are confusing what you have done, and what Jimmy is doing, with the fat fast. I keep seeing people mention 1000 calories (not just here, but other online groups as well). While the fat is certainly high (I’m using the nutritional ketosis method myself) NK is not the fat fast. It’s simply adding more fat in the diet, while keeping the protein at a moderate level. My calories have ranged from 1500 to 2500, while keeping fat at around 80 – 85%. So while I’m certainly getting the benefits of the higher fat content, I’m not intentionaly limiting my calories in any way, at this point. It doesn’t sound like you or Jimmy are being restrictive either, though I’ll admit that skipping meals because you aren’t hungry will certainly lower caloric intake. It just depends on how many calories you get when you do eat. I’ve also skipped meals due to lack of hunger, and my calories still seem to be above 1400, due to the fat content. I hope that clears up any confusion anyone may have.

    • says

      >>>Welcome to the team Ed!

      Thanks, Amy!

      >>>I hope that clears up any confusion anyone may have.

      And thanks for the helpful comment, I think it did clear things up!

      Ed

  10. Susan says

    Yes, I was referring to the “fat fast”. What’s interesting about Ed’s post is he’s referring to the fact that there seems to be a need for a kind of intermediary phase that’s stricter than what is generally considered to be intermediate-term but less strict than the hard forcing of yourself into ketosis. I don’t remember the actual term Atkins used but he definitely talks about a very strict, 1000 calorie a day heavy fat diet of about a few days to force people into ketosis that don’t get there easily.

    I didn’t want to go there, so my over 2000 calorie system is working. It’s kind of a modified paleo in that I need the reduced calories over the long term (believe me, some of us really do have to watch the calories) but it’s high in fat and dense nutrients.

    I failed at Atkins several times because like many people I fell a little too hard for the artificial sweetners, and what I’ve come to call “fake” carby foods. You know, pastries and candy and ice cream with low “net” carbs. When I gave up the taste of sweetners period, I started seeing results. Life’s too short to go chasing after that stuff. I just figured I needed a bit of a kick in the (ever growing) backside and force myself into some dicipline. You would be surprised how others learn to respect your wishes, also, once you show you’re not backing down. I also gave up grains and starches, which is a paleo idea, but those are also high in carbs, so Atkins would approve.

    So far, I’m feeling surprisingly satisfied, though I’m really ready for that steak at 6 PM! Lunch is easy and uncomplicated and I don’t feel heavy or sluggish at work. Heavy cream in tea is how the British drink it, though mine of course is a bit indulgent on the cream.

    I’m also 61, so it’s to be expected that my intake requirements are less than they used to be. There’s no way I’m going to be a “fat old lady”. No way.

    • says

      Hi Susan, Very Interesting comment, here’s a few thoughts…

      >>>Yes, I was referring to the “fat fast”.

      Yes, and that’s also what Dr. Atkins mentioned as a last resort, but it’s not in the new Atkins book. You restrict calories below 1000, 90 percent from fat and do it for a few days at a time.

      That’s what Dana has modeled her approach on.

      Jimmy is doing Nurtrional Ketosis, and is increasing the proportion of his calories from fat while lowering even further calories from carbs and keeping protein moderate. He’s also doing frequent blood tests to keep himself on track.

      What I’m doing is not as drastic. I’ve cut out all simple carbs; cut out all foods not in Atkins Induction; increased the proportion of fat. But no calorie restriction. I still eat as much as I want.

      >>>What’s interesting about Ed’s post is he’s referring to the fact that there seems to be a need for a kind of intermediary phase that’s stricter than what is generally considered to be intermediate-term but less strict than the hard forcing of yourself into ketosis.

      Either way, the goal is ketosis.

      >>>I didn’t want to go there, so my over 2000 calorie system is working.

      That’s great!

      >>>I failed at Atkins several times because like many people I fell a little too hard for the artificial sweetners, and what I’ve come to call “fake” carby foods. You know, pastries and candy and ice cream with low “net” carbs. When I gave up the taste of sweetners period, I started seeing results.

      Yes. I figured out pretty early that most low carb versions of high carb foods ended up being counter productive. After eating low carb bagels, I wanted a real bagel. The solution? No more low-carb bagels!

      That said there are a few low carb foods that I will go back to once I’m at a weight I’m happy with (some brands of low-carb ice cream are pretty good, and, I know they get a bad rap, but I enjoyed Atkins bars through most of my weight loss.)

      >>>You would be surprised how others learn to respect your wishes

      You’re lucky, sometimes I get pressure from family and friends to cheat just this one time!

      >>>There’s no way I’m going to be a “fat old lady”. No way

      That’s the spirit!

      ES

  11. Mary says

    Hi Ed,

    I, too, experienced a minor stall. Not a stall really, but my weight loss had slowed down to 1-2 lbs. per week with plenty of exercise. Then Thanksgiving rolled around, and we headed out of town. I decided that I would enjoy all the food, but not pig out. I enjoyed the traditional goodies, but I watched my portions and didn’t go back for seconds. I had one or two cookies, rather than mindlessly grazing. To my surprise, I lost 4 pounds! When I returned home, I went back to low carb, and I was back to losing at a regular clip of 4-5 lbs per week (provided I kept up the exercise). It would be interesting to see this little experiment repeated.

  12. says

    I have been eating low carb for over 9 years to control my BGL and weight (lost 60 lbs), but had trouble with my weight creeping up again, so in July 2011 I decided to try a Fat Fast. Since my passion is creating low carb recipes to share on my websites, I had to create Fat Fast recipes, too! The Fat Fast worked to get my weight headed down again and some of my recipes are a regular part of my diet now.

    Ed, you said your only carbs come from nonstarchy veggies, but don’t forget the cheese, sour cream, eggs, dressings, mayo, etc. Those are where most of my carbs come from. I do use some sweeteners, but try to stick mostly to erythritol when possible.

    I have posted an article on my DARdreams website called “Low Carbing On The Go” which gives a typical day for me during the week. On the weekends, I usually eat out, having a steak, salad, and nonstarchy veggies or a lettuce-wrapped burger with a salad. I gain a couple of pounds eating out, but they usually leave along with a buddy or two when I get back to my regularly scheduled eating plan.

    When I decided to try the Fat Fast, everything I read said to be careful; it was only for a short period of time and not to be followed forever, etc. After I tried it and found it works as an ongoing plan (with a few tweaks) I became aware of others doing it (Jimmy, Dana, Amy, and now Ed, etc.). Great low carb minds continue to think alike!

  13. Richard E says

    Great to read Ed’s original posting, and all your comments afterwards, because I’m relieved by that ‘I’m not the only one’ feeling I get when I have my views and understanding confirmed by so many others.
    I’m a senior – 73 years – and have carried between 220 & 240 lbs for decades. Other than being too chunky looking I was healthy. Then, a few years ago my BP began creeping upwards. During one of my infrequent checkups, my physician reported “concern” about my 155/93 reading, and began to reach for the prescription pad.
    NO WAY was I going on drugs. So I began to read – starting with Gary Taubes, then Atkins, Bowden, and even Doug Varrieur’s “Fat to Skinny” rather cartoon-like offering and others. Lots of articles on the net and lots of thought later I decided that some permanent changes were required.
    Oh, how many times before had I said the same thing… and then went right on eating what I had always eaten – mountains of breakfast cereals, big fat chunks of warm-from-the-oven homemade bread smothered in butter and jam, potatoes of every description, pies, cakes, etc., etc. Oh sure, I would cut way back for a month or so and lose a few pounds in the process, but like my cat – the weight always came back… usually with a vengeance!
    You know where this is going… I jumped with both feet onto the LOW CARB BANDWAGON following bandleader Atkins’ arrangments with a few solo riffs of my own special creation to add interest. I found it amazingly easy to jettison wheat, rice and/or sugar from my diet. I never felt hungry until it was mealtime. One of the saving graces was that I was and am an avid meat eater – any kind of meat prepared in any way. And I don’t know what I’d do if they ever outlaw cheese or broccoli or cauliflower or romaine lettuce or cans of tuna and salmon.
    To keep this from becoming a novel-length True Confession, the results: now 176 lbs. (down from 240) and still dropping but VERY slowly – perhaps 1/2 lb per week). BP 125/70. More than 10 INCHES have disappeared from my waist (48 to 37) and 7 INCHES are gone from my chest and butt. Result: I have NOTHING in my closet that comes close to fitting. I have so much excess epidermis – a talented taxidermist could easily fashion a young child and have enough left over to cover a cat! I had dreams that when I dropped the weight I’d be looking great in sexy shorts and tight T-shirts. Don’t think so. My body has all the tone and texture of a bag of soaking wet crepe paper… and my physician said there’s NOTHING that can be done about it short of surgery… and that ain’t going to happen.
    Enough for now… I’ve been that 176 for 3 weeks now. Too early to call it a “stall” but my dream goal of 165 may be just that – a dream. Doesn’t really matter. I feel great and think I look terrific (when dressed). All my blood panel stats are right on the money for my age.
    But here’s the best part, and the KEY info and point of my entire post: it is CRITICAL that whatever dietary regimen you cook up for yourself that results in whatever you define as “success” MUST BE ONE YOU CAN FOLLOW FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE – WITH EASE! Anyone can lose weight when constantly focussed on food and constantly having to say “NO” to cravings. In this new low carb life of mine it wouldn’t occur to me to eat bread or pasta, or a donut or potato, or put sugar onto or into anything, etc. It has become as if those foods do not exist on my radar so it’s just no effort to avoid them. I can’t imagine what could ever come over me to make me go back to my old way of eating.

    One last thing. I bought a program for my computer called “Weight-By-Date” (www.weightbydate.com). I paid about $50 for it. It is a LIFESAVER and I couldn’t have have achieved my success without it. I do not benefit from this endorsement in any financial way but I couldn’t suggest more strongly how useful and important it has become in my trek towards healthly living.
    Bye for now.
    Another happy loser!

    • Susan says

      @RichardE and the “flab”:
      I am not totally convinced that the flab after weight loss is permanent. I know that as you age the skin takes longer to re-absorb (my word for it) around the bone and muscle, but it doesn’t make sense to me that the body would keep that much excess flappy skin around forever. After all, our cells are constantly dying and replacing themselves…if the body doesn’t need the extra cells to cover all that fat mass, why would it keep creating them? Being a mother, I know how the belly grows tremendously (and my mom referred to me as a “barn” during both pregnancies, though I was actually slender then) and how it can grow back down to nearly nothing a year later, with proper diet. I don’t think our skin is like a dead piece of elastic that wears out and never snaps back. It’s a living organism. Doctors are impatient and have no reason to wait a year or two for the body to shed all that excess by not replacing unneeded cells. At least that’s my lay perspective.

      • Kitty says

        It takes seven years for all the cells in our body to be totally replaced. I’d say that you’ll be gradually shrinking your skin for seven years.

  14. rae2 says

    I sure hope you’re right, Susan. But I fear that my old covering will still be flapping like a flag in a windstorm for years to come.
    Actually, I joke about it. I’m far past the point where I expect to regain my youthful shape and tone. Heck, even if I engaged in hours of body building exercises, (which I have no intention of doing), it’s my hunch I would just end up with more muscles covered with loose, flappy skin. I’m more than satisfied with just the weight loss, reduction in BP, stabilization of other vital measures, and feeling energetic and almost arthritis free most of the time. I’m looking forward to 20-30 more years in good health before moving on!

  15. Tatertot says

    My weight graph looks exactly like yours. I had been stalled at 210lbs for 18 months, then came across this whacky suggestion to try a ‘Potato Diet’. The Potato Diet is very simple. You eat potatoes- only for 2 weeks. Nothing else. A little salt and pepper or vinegar, perhaps, but no meat, fat, or vegetables.

    I thought, ‘what have I to lose?’ The science seemed legit. I tried it and lost 10lbs in 2 weeks. Several months later, it’s still gone. My mission is to spread the word. I have been “Paleo/Primal/LC/VLC’ for 3 years and still am. This is a 1-2 week fat-buster that really mobilizes fat. Tons of science behind it from food reward, insulin hypothesis, to free fatty acid induced insulin resistance.

    I expect you to ‘poo-poo’ this comment, but soon you will read about it and remember my words! Here is a link to a couple of Mark’s Daily Apple threads with science and N=1’s galore…

    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread70009.html

    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread67137.html

  16. mlb says

    Thank you for all these postings. I can somewhat identify with Richard E/rae. I, too, am a senior. I’m female and have been dieting all my life….since age 12. You all are familiar with loss/gain/loss/gain so I’ll spare you. I, too, have read Gary Taubes, Dr. Davis’ Wheat Belly book and have been an avid fan of Dr. Atkins for years. But, I have always gotten to a point, in Atkins, where I could no longer lose….stalls with one pound or a few ounces up and down for a year or so. Tried Quick Weight Loss years ago and lost a large amount of weight (82 pounds), but it all came back. I have been diagnosed as Insulin Resistant and diabetes runs in my family, so I am really motivated by the LC/HF approach. My chart, like Ed said, has flatlined, and I am not out of the “obese” category yet–far from where I want to be, to be sure. For now, it looks like the Atkins Fat Fast is my only hope; however, I tried it for two 5 day periods and one 10 day period, going on Induction in between the fasts–the latter one (10 day) with no weight loss–and it got me off stall in the beginning, but net loss has only been about 1-2 pounds each time. I am thankful for that, because two months on Induction saw NO weight loss at all. And 4 months on the Wheat Belly Diet was the same….NO weight loss.

    I have come to grips with the fact that my age, my gender (female), my insulin resistance, is making it difficult, but I do NOT want to believe it is hopeless–although I am fighting those feelings every day. There is no way I will EVER cheat on this eating plan. I feel better. Have no more cravings for things I thought I couldn’t live without and seem to have more energy. So, I will NEVER go back to eating sugar and starch. BUT, would like to see some weight loss and, like Ed, would hope for a new phase for Atkins. It just may be possible that the launching of the Nutrition Science Initiative by Gary Taubes and others will find this solution for us. Here’s the link: The Launch of The Nutrition Science Initiative – Gary Taubesgarytaubes.com/2012/…/the-launch-of-the-nutrition-science-initiative…Or, go to GaryTaubes.com. It’s called NuSi and believe they are finally going to put real science behind the effort. I just hope it won’t be too late for me. I appreciate all your comments and ideas and encouragement though. Glad to find this site.

  17. says

    Hi, MLB, thanks for the thoughtful comments, and for the link to NUSI. We should all closely follow their work carefully. Gary and Peter Attia are definitely fighting the good fight! Here’s a couple helpful links:

    Gary Taubes — Author of Why We Get Fat and Good Calories, Bad Calories
    http://garytaubes.com/

    The Launch of The Nutrition Science Initiative
    http://garytaubes.com/2012/09/the-launch-of-the-nutrition-science-initiative/

    NuSI
    http://nusi.org/

    Good luck with your weight loss, and here’s something to think about. Do you have a food (or drink) you have refused to give up on your diet. Soda; coffee with cream; nuts; diet drinks; fruits; chocolate? Or any that are actually higher carb? One thing I’ve noticed is that some dieters won’t let go of a specific food, they might be sure it’s not a problem food, but then they wonder why their weight loss stalls or why they gain weight.

    Think about that, and if there is a food you just can’t do without, try to do without it for a few weeks, and see if that helps.

    Keep us posted!

    ES

    • MLB says

      Thanks for suggestions, but there is nothing you listed that I’m “hanging on” to…..with one exception maybe…black coffee, which you did not list, but for which I am hanging on to. I’ve been doing my own “doubling down” and keeping carbs to less than 15-20 grams. When on Induction, the only obvious carbs are in two cups of lettuce and the miscellaneous carbs in 4 ounces of cheese and/or other allowed foods. I carefully research each and every morsel. I stopped adding tomatoes to my salad several weeks ago. The only time I use artificial sweetner is during the FF and then only with cream cheese and never more than 2 packets a day. For awhile I was eating either one Atkins Bar (for all phases) or one Atkins shake (for all Phases), but have cut them out of my plan as well. However, they are really convenient when on the run and would hope that I could someday count on them for such times when I can’t eat “real” foods. Appreciat your interest and your suggestions. Will be in touch.

  18. DLW says

    Hello! I have very much enjoyed reading all of the posts here. I had great success with Atkins in 2001. Then, over the years and after several unexpected “upheavals” in my life, I regained even more weight than I started our with. Finally, in February of 2013, I restarted Atkins and quickly lost 12 pounds over the first 2 weeks. But then over the following 4 or 5 weeks , I completely stalled. I’m now on day 3 of a fat fast, hoping to jump-start the downward tragectory of my own personal graph. My question is, exactly how much should I expect age to impact my expectations? I was 32 when I first tried Atkins and have just turned 44. Admittedly, I only need to lose about 15 more pounds to reach my goal weight. It’s just that my previous experience 12 years ago seemed to produce amazing results so much more quickly. Am I being unreasonably impatient?

    Also, I realize 30ish pounds doesn’t sound like a lot to worry about, but my weight was beginning to impact my BP, and my insulin fluctuations radically affected my mood and energy levels. I now FEEL so much better and my BP has improved, but I would really love to fit into some my old clothes again. Any advice or perspective would be greatly appreciated. I feel that I have already learned so much from the conversation here, thank you everyone!

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