Cheating on Low Carb Diets Will Greatly
Reduce Their Effectiveness
It may be hard to believe now, but this is how it usually goes when
you stay on your diet without cheating. Even occasional cheats can be
very destabilizing and often results in days or weeks of cravings until
you get recover from it. Just as with alcoholism where one drink is too many
and a thousand drinks won't be enough, the same thing happens with sugar
or high impact starches like bread. Once you start, you may not be
able to stop until a fair amount of damage has occurred.
For those with significant sugar and food addiction issues, it may be
necessary to find a support group. The online support boards for low
carb diets can be very helpful. Years ago, I joined a 100-day
cheat-free challenge where I checked in every day to report whether I
had cheated. It takes 100 days to make a new habit automatic.
I learned a great deal about myself and my diet on that challenge. I
also learned much about the finer points of a low carb diet. When I
was tempted to break the diet, I would go and read the posts at
lowcarbfriends.com for strength and inspiration to continue my recovery
from food addictions.
A controlled carbohydrate diet is specifically geared to sufferers of
hyperinsulinism meaning that you over-secrete insulin in response to
sugars and starches in the diet. What are the signs that you have the
problem? A high calcium/magnesium ratio on the Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis test is a clear indicator.
uncontrolled appetite and food cravings, adrenal fatigue, hypertension,
Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity are all strong signs of blood sugar imbalances and insulin resistance. These problems are mainly due to overeating carbohydrate
beyond your personal tolerance level but will also result from very
Carbohydrate intolerance is also known as insulin resistance as the
insulin production is often too high yet the insulin is not working at
the cell membrane. In many cases, the blood insulin is always above
normal. For others, adrenal weakness and burnout is the main cause of
blood sugar swings. As the condition progresses, insulin resistance
develops and worsens. The body must secrete more and more insulin to get
the same response from the cells. The more chronically high your
insulin levels are, the more resistant to fat loss your body becomes
because insulin is a fat storing hormone.
In many cases insulin is secreted too late after the blood sugar has
risen more than it should, and then a large amount is released which
drives the blood sugar back down too fast and too low. This is called
reactive hypoglycemia and it causes a great many uncomfortable or even
debilitating symptoms. The sudden weakness, fatigue, anxiety, shaking,
sweating, brain fog and sleepiness that arrive an hour or two after a
meal can be very alarming and is often not identified by a wide range of
health practitioners. Even if it is identified, they may recommend
eating more sugar instead of less. This will just keep the problem
going for years at a time until the health consequences become more and
All of this can be happening even when the blood tests such as
fasting glucose and A1c are completely normal because the blood sugar is
a dynamic and constantly changing aspect of body function. In general,
we eat more carbohydrate than is healthy for us. For a good two-thirds
of the population, what has become normal consumption is enough to
result in significant health problems often beginning in childhood.
Atkins deserves great credit for his pioneering work in controlled
carbohydrate nutrition at a time when he was being constantly attacked
for it. He was one of the first doctors to publicly challenge the
hypothesis that eating cholesterol and so-called saturated fat (in other
words, animal-based fats) raised blood cholesterol and caused heart
disease. This hypothesis has been thoroughly discredited now although
the media has still not caught up to that fact.
What many do not understand about Dr. Atkins' diet, is that it is an
elimination and challenge diet for carbohydrates. They are called
elimination/challenge diets because you eliminate the possibly offending
items, usually for about two weeks or until symptoms improve. Then you systematically reintroduce them (that is the challenge part) to observe
any reactions or effects. The Atkins Induction Phase of his diet is exactly that.
Carbohydrate intake is reduced to a small amount of green, non-starchy
vegetables, and held at that level for about two weeks. Then slowly
and in a systematic manner, carbohydrate foods are reintroduced at the
rate of 5 grams of carbs per week. This is called Climbing the Carbohydrate Ladder.
Starting with the most easily tolerated carbohydrate foods, such as
additional vegetables, you work up to trying the more troublesome ones
such as fruit and grains, to determine your individual carbohydrate
tolerance. Individual tolerance can vary from under 20 to over 100 net
carbs per day. See Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution for the
details. Net carbs are total carbohydrate content minus fiber and sugar
alcohols. Both of these are considered to be carbohydrate, but they
have little or no impact on blood sugar levels.
After over 25 years on a low carb, ketogenic diet, I wish I had
started it twenty years before I did. I believe I could have avoided
many years of illness and suffering if I had gone the low carb way when I
was younger instead of the vegetarian and semi-vegetarian, low fat way
that was in every single book on healthy diet for thirty years except
for Dr. Atkins. But because the focus was on weight loss, which I
really didn't need, I thought it did not apply to me. I do recommend
Dr. Atkins' Diabetes Revolution. It is an excellent book on low carb diets
for health more than for weight loss. But all of Dr. Atkins books clearing explain how to effectively do a low carb, ketogenic diet.