Hi! Welcome to the first of what we plan to be an ongoing series of three-question interviews with people in and around the world of low-carb and keto dieting. Why three questions? Because I wanted to get some substantial information for you without putting a big burden on the various people I’ll be interviewing.
Why is Jacqueline Eberstein, RN the first? Because she ran Dr. Atkins’ clinic for thirty years, that why. She has more first-hand experience with ketogenic diets than anyone else I know. Who better to ask?
Question 1: Dana Carpender: There’s some push now for people to get into really deep ketosis. It’s my understanding that unless you’re using ketones as medication for a neurological issue — epilepsy, dementia, or the like — the point of testing positive for ketosis is that it shows that you are running a fat-burning rather than a glucose-burning metabolism. Can you speak to this issue? (I’d also love your take on exogenous ketones, which I consider to be a scam unless someone has one of those afore-mentioned neurological issues.)
Answer: Jacqueline Eberstein: I agree with you that using exogenous ketones simply to increase ketones for fat loss is not a good strategy. Some of my clients came to me because they were ingesting large amounts of fats (bulletproof coffee, etc) to elevate ketones. They were unable to lose weight or even gained because the ketones they produced came mostly from dietary fat not their own fat stores. The goal is to use your own fat stores for fuel to lose inches and weight. This is a good place to reiterate that it is not weight loss but rather fat loss that matters. The scale is the least accurate measure of fat loss. Take your measurements every 2 weeks.
If one has a serious neurological condition, in the future we may find that exogenous ketones are useful. Much more research needs to be done. For neuro conditions, a 20-gram total carb ketogenic diet should be used as a lifestyle for controlling insulin and blood glucose. Careful regulation of insulin and glucose metabolism in the brain is essential.
Question 2: DC: You worked with Dr. Atkins for, what, thirty years? Other than weight loss and the improvement of health issues related to metabolic syndrome — diabetes, hypertension, deranged blood fats (low HDL/high triglycerides), what sorts of health improvements did you see? Any that you found surprising, at least at first?
Answer: JE: When I began working with Dr. Atkins, I expected weight loss. What surprised me immediately was that patients experienced more comfortable fat loss with this approach because of the decrease in hunger and cravings and loss of inches beyond what the scale demonstrated.
Many patients experienced less joint pain, fewer headaches including migraines, better and more stable energy, improved sleep and less snoring. Patients reported improvements in GERD, gas, bloating, and other gastrointestinal conditions such as IBS and colitis. More stable moods, clearer thinking, less irritability, and anxiety also occurred. Improvements in PMS, polycystic ovary syndrome, acne, fewer vaginal yeast infections made many women happier.
A proper level of carb restriction decreases inflammation, an important factor in many illnesses, including cardiovascular disease. Chronic inflammatory conditions such as allergies, post-nasal drip and recurring sinusitis, and many more often allowed patients to decrease the need for medications. Having a stronger immune response resulted in many reporting fewer cold or flu episodes than previously.
What surprised me the most was the wide range of chronic, often medicated conditions, that responded to a dietary change. This allowed many people to stop or decrease their medication intake. The expense, side effects, and unhealthy metabolic effects of many meds, especially on blood glucose and weight management, makes this result of low carb keto lifestyle an unexpected plus.
Question 3: DC: What are the most common mistakes/pitfalls for new low carbers? What is your best advice to those just starting out.
Answer: JE: The best advice I can give is to educate yourself about this lifestyle to ensure long term success. Understanding how and why this works so well and the health benefits you can enjoy can motivate you from day to day. Controlling carbs not only helps you to stay healthy as you age but also can reverse a number of medical conditions that decrease your quality of life.
Be sure to learn how to do the plan from an experienced reputable source. Dr. Eric Westman trained with Dr. Atkins, published the first research on the Atkins approach and continues to use it in his practice. He has authored several books that I endorse. Be sure to read the book. Don’t just skip to the diet. Follow the plan as it has been designed. It has decades of success behind it. Don’t do your own version or get confused with the loads of sometimes incorrect info on the internet.
Prepare your kitchen. Get rid of all the foods not on the plan. This is a whole foods minimally processed way of eating. Avoid using the many low carb bars, shakes and other items at least for now.
There are many sites on the Internet that can help you to vary your plan to avoid boredom. Dana’s cookbooks are especially informative. Regardless of whatever source you use for recipes always choose those that only have the foods on your plan and be careful of serving size.
Weigh yourself the morning you begin. Measure your bust/chest, waist, hips and one thigh and your upper arm. Repeat every 2 weeks and record. Always measure the same arm and leg. Set a size goal rather than a weight goal.
Most people are unaware that many factors influence the scale. Many sabotage themselves by jumping on and off the scale daily or even a few times a day. By doing this you are setting yourself up for failure because your expectations are usually incorrect. You’ll be disappointed and unfulfilled expectations cause many to quit.
Remember this is not a sprint but a marathon. This is about establishing a lifestyle and getting yourself out of the yo-yo diet pattern. It takes at least 3 months for humans to establish a new habit.
Periodically review how much better you feel than before. You can positively improve your quality of life simply by changing your food choices. Use the improvements you experience to motivate yourself forward.
When grocery shopping make a list and stick to it. Don’t go shopping hungry.
Read labels. Do not use Net Carbs.
Taking 1 cheat day per week will lead to failure.
Remember that as you age, or you become hormonally challenged your weight loss journey may be slower. Keep going. You can still succeed.
Dana Carpender: Thank you for your time, your friendship, and many years of dedication to the Low-Carb community.
About Jacqueline Eberstein, RN
Jacqueline A. Eberstein runs Controlled Carbohydrate Nutrition, LLC, and is an RN who never thought she would spend most of her career dealing with weight loss and nutrition until she met Dr. Bob Atkins. It is because of him that she has avoided the diabetes and obesity that was likely to be a result of her genetic makeup. It is because of her personal and clinical experiences working with him that she learned a better way of weight management and health maintenance. She has avoided many of the medications people her age rely on. She is happy to be sharing her knowledge of what Dr. Atkins taught her about diet, but also about Complementary Medicine. It still saddens her that he can’t be here to share his great knowledge and see that much of what he talked and wrote about is being accepted. She will continue to try to be his voice.
CarbSmart Articles by Jacqueline Eberstein, RN
- The Fat Fast Is It For You? by Jacqueline Eberstein, RN
- Low-Carb Atkins Induction: It’s Not Just for Weight Loss
- Ketones: The Misunderstood Energy Source
- The Holidays are Coming: Low-Carb Strategies That Will Lead to Long-Term Success
- Celiac Disease and Other Gluten-Related Disorders
- The Down Side to Prescription Drugs – What You May Not Know
More Low Carb Recipes & Articles by Dana Carpender