Atkins diet, blood sugar, and weight loss

  1. I have and as I said, I am on some version of the diet myself, though not for weight loss purposes. In rankings of Diets *generally* Atkins rates very low. The weight loss effects from Atkins are mostly due to the fact that carb restriction is a good way to lower calories. So it amounts to a a calorie restriction diet for people who simply want to lose weight, and it works because people generally like being allowed to eat fatty stuff, so they are more likely to stick to it than to a "healthier" calorie restriction diet.

    But for people with blood sugar issues it is beneficial for other reasons. What Dr. Atkins did was to take a hypoglycemic diet that previously existed and re-package it for weight loss. At his death by congestive heart failure he weighed 258 pounds.

    -Dave K
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Yes, it's helped me quite a bit with energy levels, which seemed to fluctuate a lot before. I'm still struggling with how exactly to stay on it. It seems if I go over a certain threshold of carbs that I have a huge drop in energy.. Though I haven't done the whole pee strip whatever thing to find out what my tolerance is.

    With better energy levels comes better concentration and hopefully I can control my ADHD symptoms. Diet is a big deal for sure!

    -Dave K
     
  4. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,535
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    I don't think the question of his death has ever been resolved. The official explanation is that he fell and hit his head. And at 258 Lbs, he clearly was not on his own diet.

    Recent evidence shows that fat can function as an endocrine organ and produce something that acts like insulin. And when you produce too much insulin like I do, carbs consumed are quickly converted to fat. So it becomes a vicious cycle. I have an unusual variant on metabolic syndrome and have had it my whole life. But the more typical form is increasingly common in adults, and this all goes back to blood sugar and obesity. So one has to wonder just how many people might benefit from a low-carb diet.

    I was never able beat the weight gain problem until I went Atkins. So I have to think this notion that it is simple matter of calories is at best selective. Maybe for some people, but I reject that claim 100%. When I went on this diet, I was still eating 1500 calories a day, but I was shedding weight so fast that it scared my wife.
     
  5. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,535
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    One thing that I wanted to add regarding perception. I've talked with quite a few people who said they went on the Atkins diet and lost some weight, but nothing dramatic. After a bit of interrogation, it was obvious that they had never gone into ketosis. While that allegedly is an alternate path, all of my dramatic losses, which ocurred during several rounds of intense dieting over a period of a year, were associated with strong ketosis. And there is no missing this. Your mouth gets as dry as a desert and taste like you've been chewing on iron. You can get test strips for this but you really can't miss the signs.

    During these periods of extreme weight loss [~ 5+ pounds per week], I was consuming 25 grams of carbs a day, and mainly from raw vegetables. Three days of that and you WILL be ketogenic. But it takes a few days to deplete the glycogen reserves in your body.
     
  6. It's true, and most of the people that say that they are on Atkins are not at all. They haven't studied the diet. They just start ordering double whoppers with bacon and taking the bread off and saying "yeeeeup! I'm on atkins."

    -Dave K
     
  7. Monique

    Monique 4,699
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    Well, most people who diet do not enter the state of ketosis thus the amount of calories consumed should be predictive for their weight gain/loss.

    Ketosis is an inefficient metabolic state where energy from fatty acids is partly wasted (acetone) thus caloric requirement for sustained weight becomes higher. I tried to look up exactly what the ratio of energy production is of a normal metabolism vs a ketogenic metabolism, but unfortunately couldn't find it. It would be interesting to know the numbers..
     
  8. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,535
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    Within the context of people who have blood sugar issues, I don't think a direct comparison can be made to non-ketogenic and high-carb diets. We don't respond properly to carbs in the first place. In my case, I got so bad that even the sugar in a glass of milk would cause me to release too much insulin and then crash my blood sugar. And while I was lying on the couch sweating with a heart rate of 160, all of the sugar I needed to function was being converted to fat. I was only able to break this cycle by taking carbs out of my diet via Atkins.

    I was actually going toxic on my own insulin and exhibiting acanthosis nigricans, which has all disappeared since going on Atkins.
     
  9. My remark about the calories has to do with people not in our situation. I do think the calorie restriction plays a major part in weight loss for those people.

    My crashes aren't probably as bad as yours, but my experiences are similar. It's hard to explain to people why it's not "healthy" for me to eat an apple or an orange. At least, post-induction, not coupled with a fat source.

    The good news is that I am a peanut butter addict, and it's one of the best things for me...
     
  10. Monique

    Monique 4,699
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    The following question is for me to understand the situation, if you have too much insulin and blood sugar crashes all the time.. doesn't the body already go into ketosis? Or is it too confused by the sugars ingested and the glycogen stores it tries to convert back into sugar?

    Another question: if you are on the Atkins diet, what happens to the glycogen stores? Does the body hold on to a certain reserve? The muscles still need it for fast energy right?
     
  11. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,535
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    I think the blood glucose levels have to be below a critical threshold for a period of time before ketosis kicks in. So I'm not sure but I would guess that the blood sugar levels aren't low enough long enough to change one's metabololic mode.

    Oh boy, now you're really stressing my limits of memory... IIRC, most of the body can use fatty acids for energy through beta-oxidation. The big concern is typically the brain, which cannot convert over to use fatty acids. This is where acetyl-CoA, which is produced though the citric cycle [...?...] is thought to pass the blood-brain barrier and provide the energy needed for the brain. But even the most die-hard Atkins fan will tell you that you don't want to eliminate carbs completely, I think mostly due to concern about energy for the brain.

    DK. Me too! I am a huge peanut butter eater now. It is a mainstay of my regular diet plan, and in a big way. And there is nothing like a tablespoon of PB to get you by in a pinch! Do you use a protein drink? I use Body Fortress, not because it's necessarily the best, but it's pretty good and easy to find in stores.

    Having that protein drink first thing each day seems to be hypercritical my success. Any time I start slacking on that, I end up having to go ketogenic to get back on track.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2013
  12. Monique

    Monique 4,699
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    Thanks, that makes sense.

    I'm not up-to-date on the details (it's also buried in my memory), but I'm 100% sure that the ketones are the primary alternate energy resource for glucose in the brain (ketosis is a treatment to manage epilepsy, the brain likes it). There should thus be no concern in that respect. I don't know how muscles store and utilize ketones though..

    A reason not to completely eliminate sugar and carbs is that the body needs insulin to stimulate the fat cells to store fatty acids. Maybe insulin levels become too low and would disturb the endocrine system? I'm not sure if that's true though. At least it's clear that people with diabetes type 1, who completely lack insulin, go into very dangerous ketoacidosis. The massive and uncontrolled production of ketones acidifies the blood and becomes toxic (the low pH).
     
  13. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,535
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    Yeah, this is all over my head but I did my best to understand the biochemistry. I know a focal point of this is the glucose-insulin response. I'm not sure how this is different from insulin productin in general, but stopping that seems to be key to my situation. Once that switch turns on, I simply produce far too much insulin, and the next thing you know I'm into low blood sugar problems, up to and including passing out cold. This diet has not only elimated that problem through the reduced intake of carbs, but now that I'm in a sustaining phase of the diet, which allows for more carbs, I can tolerate more carbs than I could before I started this. I was told that this would "retrain" my pancreas, which is obviously an extreme simplification of whatever really happens, but I do have a much higher tolerance to carbs now than before I started this two years ago.

    One thing that may complicate things even more for me is that I am apparently prone to the vasovagal response, which is triggered by low blood sugar. So I may not only be prone to low blood sugar problems, but also prone to passing out when they hit.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2013
  14. Monique

    Monique 4,699
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    I'm glad that you've found a diet that works for you, that's the most important fact.
     
  15. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,535
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    Yes, there was really no way to make a completely informed decision about this because it is controversial and key elements of the chemistry are apparently not well understood. But I knew that carbs had become an intolerable problem, and the only option offered by one of the nation's leading experts in metabolic syndrome, a drug sold as Precose, was even more intolerable.

    So, I hoped for the best and gave it a go. And I think Tsu [35 years in medicine] would back me on this when I say that it may well have saved my life. My health had been bad for a long time and was deteriotating quickly. This completely turned things around and gave me control of my life again; in some ways, for the first time ever. So even if it kills me in the long run, I may have been dead by now already. Bottom line is that I feel great and just had all of my vitals closely scrutinized, and all looks good.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2013
  16. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,535
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    A very funny note on all of this. Earlier, I was on the phone with the friend who beat on me until I tried this diet. He is 70 years old and can hold his own with top amateurs on 90 mile bicycle races.

    This morning he was beating on me again because I haven't fully implemented an exercise program that meets his satisfaction. :rolleyes: But the really funny part is that while he was beating on me over this, he had to stop to order breakfast at a drive-thru. And WHAT did I hear? "I'll take an Egg McMuffin, hash browns..." Oh my, he is NEVER going to hear the end of this.
     
  17. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,535
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    I was checking another reference that I used and it ends up going back to wiki, which seems to have good references for both Ketosis and Atkins.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketosis
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atkins_diet

    So yes, I was thinking the acetyl-CoA passed the blood-brain barrier, but the ketones come from the acetyl-CoA.
     
  18. Evo

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    Low carb diets are dangerous as a long term diet.

    http://www.webmd.com/diet/high-protein-low-carbohydrate-diets
     
  19. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,535
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    This diet has been around since the 1970s. Is there any actual evidence of harm done on a properly maintained diet?

    It is noteworthy that many of the claims made above have counter arguments. Not the least of which being that it is relatively easy to take vitamin and anit-oxidant supplements, and you are supposed to eat plenty of vegetables. A large part of my diet consists of raw vegetables.

    Good hydration is required to help avoid organ damage. And the amount of protein and dairy are supposed to be limited.

    I don't think there is any agreement that ketosis is inherently dangerous. Ketoacidosis is dangerous.
     
  20. Monique

    Monique 4,699
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    There are side-effects, such as hyperlipidemia and possible kidney stones. Having a good fat source and supplementing with citrates would reduce that. More info on the long-term effects of the diet (behind a pay wall): Long-term monitoring of the ketogenic diet: Do's and Don'ts

    I support that, just look at the literature: the ketogenic diet is used long-term in infants and children. Ketoacidosis is a dangerous metabolic state. That being said, I wouldn't support a long-term ketogenic diet if there were no reason to maintain it.
     
  21. Not only that, but I've not seen any of them specifically study people that have blood sugar issues like reactive hypoglycemia. They generally study people that are on the diet for weight loss.

    It makes it seem like I have two choices - either suffer crashes/changes in energy and possibly end up diabetic, or suffer kidney problems and congestive heart failure.

    -Dave K
     
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