I'm going to tread carefully today because I'm a little incensed, and I have to watch my tone.
I told you a couple blogs ago about how I botched my understanding of Atkins with double quarter pounders. This was due to ignorance. I didn't read the books. I didn't know why people were able to lose weight on it. How can people lose fat by eating so much fat?
A common theme I see on the message boards is, "I tried Atkins, but I gained weight!" I messaged one of these people and asked her how her induction went. I never heard back from her. I'm guessing it's because she didn't read the book, and didn't do induction.
Most of the low-carb methods I know of have some level of induction. Even the "South Beach" diet. South Beach is a moderate carb, low-fat diet. I decided I was never again going to buy skim milk or low fat cottage cheese, so I didn't choose this diet. But I love the cookbook and still use it. I just use real butter and whole milk/cheese replacing the low-fat versions in the recipes. However, South Beach has "phases" that starts off with heavily restricting carbohydrates.
Just like Atkins. Just like Protein Power. Primal Blueprint doesn't have an induction per say, but it does restrict carbs to certain vegetables and fruit during the weight loss stages, and opens a wider variety during maintenance.
Here's why induction is essential - not optional - to low carb success.
Many of us on high-carb/low fat diets have unnaturally high levels of insulin in our bloodstream. Many of us were never diagnosed with insulin resistance or diabetes, some of us were. If we're carrying excess amount of bodyfat (33% in my case), we are in a state where our bodies cannot use all the carbohydrates supplied, and it gets stored as fat. In the presence of high insulin load, dietary fat gets turned into triglycerides, and we're unable to burn stored fat or dietary fat for energy.
Triglycerides are a fuel source. The reason why people with metabolic syndrome also have high trigs is because the insulin load prevents them from being burned. High triglycerides are a symptom of a very severe problem - insulin resistance. Your body can't burn the triglycerides in the presence of the dominant insulin hormone.
Insulin is a hormone that turns on fat storage and turns off fat burn. The point of induction is to drop that insulin load so we can start burning fat. If people skip induction, particularly if they are very overweight or insulin resistant, then they don't drop their insulin load when they start eating more fat. The fat they eat gets turned into triglycerides, makes their blood lipids worse, they get fatter, and then they declare Atkins doesn't work.
Still, there are some cases where people's bodies are resistant to losing weight (low carb OR other), and even if they do induction, they might not see the results many of us do. Dr. Eades has several tips for these people to try.
Induction is very restrictive, but it is temporary. Some of us experience 'low carb flu' where we feel sick. This is usually due to side effects from our high carb diets. Headaches and cravings due to sugar withdrawal, not too unlike a drug addict symptom, are common. Switching from burning glucose to fat results in an energy drop, but we adapt.
About 'low-carb flu'. I became very sick due to an overgrowth of candida. This was from years of high carb/high sugar and antibiotic use that allowed the candida to overtake my system. I never knew this was a problem, and took me completely by surprise. Allergies, eczema, chronic sinus infections, yeast infections, IBS like symptoms, poor digestion, and inability to lose weight were all symptoms.
I got the worst sinus infection of my life as the candida was being starved out due to sudden carb withdrawal. It took months of probiotics in order to get rid of it. Before I tried low-carb myself, I would have dismissed someone describing candida overgrowth as quackery.
I'm a believer from real world experience. I have been free of my candida infection for about 9 months. I have no allergies, no eczema, no sinus/yeast infections, no IBS, and lost weight. I don't care if there are no scientific studies to prove this. Anecdotal, coincidental or not, this was what happened for me. My quality of life is so much better. This is one reason why I won't consider going back to a high grain diet. I don't want that crap back.
I'm a little tired of people dismissing low-carbs as a valid diet because of a few ignorant people who didn't read the books and are eating poorly. Pizza is junk food. Double quarter pounders are junk food. Deep fried food is not low-carb. People who order steaks and skip the salad are not eating the way the low-carb books recommend.
Look, there are people who eat poorly on any 'diet'. I see people on the message boards exclaim, "I've done everything right! Why can't I lose weight?" You go to their food tracker, and there's baked Lays potato chips, Snackwells Devil's Food Cakes, and low-fat yogurt that has 26g of sugar. You know why I find this particularly sad and funny? Because this is what I used to do! I didn't lose weight that way either! I wasn't eating remotely healthy.
I know vegetarians who don't eat enough vegetables. Doritos are not a highly nutritious vegetable. Why is it if you search for 'vegan' on FoodGawker.com, 90% of the recipes that come up are vegan muffins, cookies and cakes? Aren't vegans supposed to eat vegetables? (And to be fair, low-carb has a similar problem).
"Low carb" friends who eat double quarter pounders because "the extra meat compensates for the bun" are making a poor choice. People who pick the toppings off pizza leaving the crust are making a poor choice. When I did this, I was making a poor choice.
I want to apologize to all my low-carb friends for perpetuating this myth many years ago.
I am partially responsible for this stereotype, so I wish to make amends.
I am ethnically half Korean/half German. I grew up on my mother's yummy and healthy Korean meals, eating lots of vegetables along with protein and rice. I wasn't fat growing up.
One of my favorite dishes is Korean Kalbi, which is usually a marinated short rib, but sometimes my mom would use other cuts of meat like flank steak. A popular way we used to eat it was to take a bite sized piece and fold it into a fresh lettuce leaf like a wrap.
I grew up in Colorado, and in addition to my mom's Korean food, my cooking style is heavily influenced by Southwest Tex-Mex. Fajitas are my favorite tex-mex food.
Last night I made what my husband called "Kaljitas". Part kalbi, part southwest fajita. I grilled a flank steak, onion, and bell pepper like a fajita. I made guacamole and broiled a zucchini.
We wrapped it in lettuce leaves instead of flour or corn tortillas. Topped with a little guac.
This was 343 calories. A very respectable number even for low calorie diets.
I dare make the claim that this is healthier than my low-fat diet days. I would have skipped the highly nutritious guac because of its fat content, instead eating the comparatively nutritionally devoid tortilla. A small fajita sized tortilla has 90 calories. That's as many calories as my guacamole serving. I probably would have eaten 3 tortillas, making this a higher calorie meal.
Also, I do not buy "low carb" tortillas any more than I would "low fat" tortillas. Enjoy them if you wish, but please do not fool yourself into thinking it is somehow beating the system. Our biology knows the difference.