Nikki H. From the UK Low-Carb Success Story

Nikki H. From the UK Low Carb Success Story

Nikki H. from the United Kingdom is 30 years old and has lost 37 pounds low carbing! She started her low-carb journey weighing 254 and wearing size 26 tops and 26 pants. She is now sporting size 18 tops and 20 pants! (***Note: UK sizes are larger than US sizes; the smallest size in the UK is an 8.)

Nikki has been low carbing since June 12, following “Atkins mainly, with other elements from all over, as most ‘long time’ low carbers do. I am highly influenced by Barry Groves, the author of Eat Fat, Get Thin,” she told me.

Nikki explained. “I got majorly fat when Mum and I moved in with my stepfather. We lived with my grandparents until I was six. My stepfather’s penchant was for ‘good foods’ – LOTS of ice cream and sticky sauces. There is a thin picture of me that Granddad has on his telly. It was taken when I was five. The next pictures of me really show a marked increase in girth! I look particularly odd in a picture taken when I was about eight or nine, I think, flat-chested as anything and with a big pot belly!”

Nikki’s only major weight loss attempt was when she was 16. She had been “picked on” by her school peers at a party. “I joined Weight Watchers and dropped from 15 stone 2 pounds to 10 stone 11 pounds in just under a year.” (***Note: There are 14 pounds in a stone.) “Weight Watchers, at the time, was using the exchange system. Not a bad plan, but not sustainable for life, as it did not really teach you how to eat in the real world. It was structured; you had a plan. This made it easy, and I am the sort of person that can do this. Added to that, it was pseudo low carb, so my appetite was sort of suppressed.”

“With the lack of fat in the Weight Watchers program, using carbs for energy resulted in loss of muscle tone for me, not that I had much to start with. I did go a little weak and feeble. It revolved around certain quantities to make up calories, mostly from protein. It limited fat and carbs. It made me feel good and in control emotionally, it was a structured plan.”

“However, I ‘saved’ my three fruit allowances to eat when I was hungry, using raisins as my ‘savior food.’ I know now I was giving myself a sugar high/insulin crash. Having a ‘breakfast food’ of carbs meant I used my fruits mid-morning, and often went without potatoes for one meal. Potatoes were (and are) a big thing for me. I remember having to ‘save’ my bread exchanges when I went out for lunch so I could have potatoes! I know now, looking back on it, that the Weight Watchers plan of that time had a lot of pluses going for it, but controlling my hypoglycemia, was not one of them.”

“After I quit Weight Watchers, I had a slow, steady gain until I found low carbing. I made several halfhearted attempts to limit my gains by using the Weight Watchers plan, but it was too restrictive for my lifestyle.”

“I did join Slimming World for about six months when I was 25 or so, but I had limited success. I kept missing classes due to work and was not fully committed to the way of eating, so I stopped. I felt hungry, miserable, and out of control. It was 2/3 structured eating and 1/3 eat what you like, and got very, very repetitive. I would eat a slice of toast for breakfast, a pasta salad for lunch, and something for tea. I again used a fruit as a snack, and was always dissatisfied with my food.”

A friend of Nikki’s, Tim from work, first told her about low carbing. “He told me about it, and the chemistry. As a scientist, it made sense, so I read the book and went for it! There are no bad parts about this way of life! Everything is good: no hunger, no hypoglycemia, reduced arthritis, lower blood pressure, and better hair, nails and skin. I am not a slave to my next meal any longer and the food is wonderful! At present, it is still very much a work in progress. I will eat low carb for life; it’s not a problem.”

A low carb regime can be summed up as “eating naturally.” Your body is designed to eat meat and fat. Indeed, we have an enzyme called elastin, that dissolves meat sinew in our guts. We would not have developed this if we were not carnivorous animals. We need protein and fat to survive. Carbohydrates are useless to the body, providing only quick energy! If we ate nothing but pasta and bread, we would die of malnutrition. We get essential fatty acids from fat, essential amino acids from protein. There is no such thing as ‘essential carbohydrate acids’.”

Nikki is the low carbohydrate support list owner of the “Low Carb UK” list on yahoo groups. “So, I would say, my support system is rather good,” she laughed. Nikki has helped hundreds of low carbers adapt to the low-carbohydrate lifestyle in the United Kingdom. (Those in Britain do not have all the low carb products offered to those of us here in the United States.)

Nikki is also honored to have Barry Groves, author of Eat Fat, Get Thin ( as a member of her list. “He has been low-carbing for 40 years!” Nikki said “That is 10 years before Atkins jumped on the wagon! He is a world champion archer with 4 Olympic gold medals and is about as healthy as they get. He wanted to spread the low-carb word in the UK and so he wrote his book. (He comes from Oxford.) ”

“Family wise, both my mum and grandfather are ‘onboard,’ but still eat ‘normally.’ I wish I could get my grandfather to low carb. He has high blood pressure. Just recently, people have been remarking how well I look!”

“People need to understand the way the body treats carbohydrates,” Nikki said. “10,000 years ago, when we reached the level of Homo Sapiens, carbohydrates were rare. With fat and protein, our bodies have a ‘satiety switch,’ whereby you cannot eat more than you need without the discomfort. This is an ‘instant switch.’ Once you are full, you are inclined to stop eating.”

“Carbohydrates in our bodies don’t work like that. Because they were rare, we have no genetically preprogrammed ‘off-switch.’ You can eat and eat and eat until you feel sick, bursting full, but still want more! So in these days of refined carbohydrates, where mainstream society deems them the ‘perfect’ food, of course, you eat and eat.”

Low carbohydrate supports the production of ‘happy chemicals’ for the brain, which is why our moods are more stable. The blood sugar swings from eating carbohydrates produce depression. Most (not all, by any means) of one’s moods are caused by swinging blood sugar levels. Cure that, and you are better equipped to deal with the rest of it.”

“Getting stuck for a few days is no worry,” Nikki went on to say. “Your body is ‘collecting its thoughts,’ as it were. It will be shoving water into your depleted fat cells so that they retain their shape, and then later they will gradually ‘collapse.’ This is a protection mechanism so that your skin will shrink properly.”

“Also, remember that low carbohydrate eating makes your body build muscles, and this can cause a scale to stall. Your body is recomposing, and muscle takes up less space than fat for the same weight. (Muscle is denser) You will still be losing inches and gaining a better metabolism! Low carbohydrate dieting does not guarantee a straight downwards path. It is erratic. However slow, sure, and muscle building makes sure that your metabolism comes out the other side in a better state, helping your body to maintain sleekness, as long as you continue to eat a good healthy low carb diet.”

“Diet drinks in this country (Great Britain) all contain aspartame; we get no choice in this. Aspartame is (allegedly) an addictive substance that stimulates the production of insulin in the body. It also is said to cause bloating, weight gain, migraines, joint pain, and a whole long list of nasties. My advice, is to avoid as much as you can. I know for me, if I slip off of the Diet Coke wagon, with more than one, I can expect to gain weight and also bloating, and at least some of that weight will hang around after I have lost the bloating.”

“My most important advice for new people? Start Atkins induction after Friday lunch. When you withdraw one of the body’s favorite drugs, sugar, you will almost certainly feel like crap…reheated for around 3-5 days. So, if you start after Friday lunch, the worst should be out of the way by Sunday. If you don’t want/need/have time for this ‘withdrawal,’ then do not cut your carbs all at once. Start by axing sugar, then cut down on the starches over a period of a month, upping your non-starchy vegetables accordingly. Aim to have ditched the rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, and flour by the end of the month. One is aiming to end up with a “diet” made up of 65-75% fat, 20-25% protein, and 5-15% carbohydrates. This is the principle of Barry Groves Eat Fat, Get Thin .”

“Dr. Atkins mentions that eating more fat will help you to lose weight faster, but he is a bad wordsmith, and does not trumpet this as loudly as he should, in my humble opinion. Most people find the higher their fat percentage, the faster they lose. We do not count calories to limit them, but a good rule of thumb is to be eating 10 times your body weight pounds in calories to lose weight. For me, this works out to be 2,030 calories per day – so you can see, this is not a restrictive diet in any way. You will almost certainly be eating less in plate volume, low carb is like that, but if you eat less calorically in the belief that you have to eat less to make the body lose weight, your body will just go into ‘starvation mode,’ hanging on to your body fat and wasting your metabolically active, fat-burning muscles instead. You have to prove to your body that fat is in plentiful supply so that it knows it can afford to release fat from your cells.”

“Eat until you are full, then stop. Atkins saying ‘eat all you want’ means ‘eat as much as you need not to be hungry,’ and is not an excuse to camp out by the fridge! Fat and protein are self-limiting foods. I find I eat much less in volume than I used to. This can give you psychological hang-ups. I now find myself leaving food sometimes, and I am a charter member of the clean plate club! If you take more than you need, immediately throw it away, put it away, or spoil it somehow so you don’t force yourself to eat it. Listen to your body; it knows what it is talking about when it says it does not need any more food.”

And finally, Nikki advises us to, “Drink water!!!! Water will help your body burn fat. Nothing else counts as water but water!”

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Karen Rysavy from Colorado is 38 years old and 5'11 inches tall. Karen started low carbing in 2000 doing a combination of Atkins and Protein Power but since that time has studied most of the popular low carb plans out there and implemented parts of each (the parts that worked for her) into her own personal Way of Eating. She began at 271 pounds and wearing size 24/26 and is now 210 and wearing 14/18. Karen revised her goal of a size 12 and 185 pounds to "happy and healthy". A very important goal for Karen, one which she has REACHED!

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