During my 30 years working with Dr. Robert Atkins, one of the most difficult issues to address was helping patients who seemed to be doing everything right, yet found weight loss extremely difficult. We considered those patients metabolically resistant to weight loss. It was as if their bodies had lost the key to opening their fat cells to utilize their fat stores for energy.
Why does this happen? I don’t have a definitive answer, but in my experience, it is more common in women, especially when hormones are changing. Additionally, many prescription drugs cause weight gain or make it harder to lose. It can also be the result of reaching a set point, and seems to be more common after frequent weight cycling.
We used many methods to help these patients: a 20-gram-per-day carbohydrate restriction to normalize high insulin levels, evaluation, and treatment of thyroid, identification of yeast and food intolerances, all circumstances that inhibit weight loss. Yet there were still patients that needed more drastic solutions.
What is the Fat Fast?
Back in the 1970s, when Dr. Atkins was writing his first book (Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution), he found research done by Drs. Kekwick and Pawan in the ‘50s and ‘60s that demonstrated little weight loss on a 1,000 calorie per day diet consisting mostly of carbs. However, weight was lost on a diet of 1,000 calories per day of mostly fat and a little protein. Of course, with more fat and almost no carbs in the diet, people who are ketone resistant usually began to produce ketones.
Cutting calories is an effective strategy for dealing with severe metabolic resistance. The Fat Fast is a 1,000 calorie per day diet, with about 90% of those calories from fat, eaten in five 200 calorie feedings spaced throughout the day.
As a test, follow the Fat Fast plan for five days. Most people are able to do this.
Weigh yourself the first morning of the Fat Fast. Then on the sixth morning, record your weight loss. If you were able to follow the plan, cycle on five days and off two days. Follow a strict Induction plan on the 2 days of no more than 20 grams of carbohydrate per day, but without the strict caloric limitation. I recommend that the 2 days off be on the weekend to allow more food flexibility. However, that’s your choice. Continue to weigh as described above and record your progress.
Most people can follow this plan, although the first two days or so can be difficult. Hunger should be reduced by the third day. If hunger remains an issue, increase to 1,200 calories daily in 5 feedings.
It is possible to lose weight on the Fat Fast, then regain a bit on the two days of Induction. But the end result should be a downward pattern, helping you break that set point. Once you have lost enough weight you should be able to resume Induction full-time and continue losing. Keep in mind that the Fat Fast is not meant to be a long-term solution.
The Fat Fast is not for you if:
- You lose weight easily. Atkins is a lifestyle designed to personalize carb intake from weight loss to lifetime maintenance. A low calorie diet like the Fat Fast is not appropriate for a quick fix. A very rapid and excessive weight loss can be dangerous to some people due to loss of minerals.
- You are just beginning Atkins. It should be used only after following Atkins as described in one of the many books available. One should not begin with the Fat Fast or resort to it without troubleshooting other causes of slow weight loss. Most people do not need to use the Fat Fast if they follow Atkins correctly.
- You have a week when you don’t lose any weight. The scale doesn’t change nice and evenly week in and week out. It would be wonderful if it did. Inch loss is a much better indicator of fat loss. Most people will continue to lose inches even if the scale doesn’t move regularly. Just have patience.
Try the Fat Fast as a last resort if you can’t break a plateau (no weight or inch loss for 4 weeks).
Atkins Center food choices on the Fat Fast
Choose any 5 of the following items and space during the day. Items may be repeated on the same day.
- 1 ounce macadamia, Brazil or walnuts–about 15 nuts.
- 2 ounces cream cheese, St. Andre cheese, brie or other full-fat cheese.
- 2½ ounces beef.
- 3 slices slab bacon.
- 2 hard boiled egg yolks with 1 oz of mayo or mixed with ½ a California avocado.
- 2 ounces of sour cream mixed with 1 tbsp. caviar. Serve with 3 or 4 pork rinds.
- 2 hard boiled egg yolks with 2 tbsp. mayo. Serve with 3 or 4 pork rinds.
- 2 ounces chicken, egg, shrimp, salmon, ham or crab mixed with 1 ½ tbsp. mayo.
- 1 ounces chicken, egg, shrimp, salmon, ham or crab with 1 tsp. mayo with ½ California avocado.
- 2 ounces heavy whipping cream, sweetened with no carb syrups. Can beat to make a fluffy mousse.
Like all phases of Atkins even the Fat Fast can be individualized while keeping the fats high as you slowly increase calories. Some people can move up to 1,200 calories with 300 calories at 4 meals daily.
Be sure to follow Dr. Atkins recommendation to take an iron free (unless you are iron deficient) multivitamin/mineral. This was a standard recommendation for all of his patients.
As you’re in the process of losing be sure to educate yourself on the phases of Atkins to enable you to find your maintenance level that can last for a lifetime. If you have been a weight cycler in the past, know that you can learn to maintain a healthy weight forever.
Further Reading About Fat Fasting
- Find over 35 free Fat Fast Diet Recipes.
- Atkins Fat Fast – Breaking A Low Carb Weight Loss Stall
- Can You Do The HCG Diet and Atkins Fat Fast At The Same Time? by Dana Carpender
- Update: Slow Burn Workout Goes Well On My Fat Fast by Dana Carpender
- Using the Fat Fast & A Ketogenic Diet For Menopausal Weight Loss