Welcome all seeking refuge from low carb dogma!

“To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact”
~ Charles Darwin (it's evolutionary baybeee!)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The New Atkins ~ Ketosis & The "Atkins Edge"

One of my "bad" issues with TNA is the whole issue of some magic carbohydrate level for weight loss. 

I had a big problem with this point which led me to go off Atkins "big time" the prior two times I tried it (for extended periods and with much success at the time, I might add).

I'm a firm believer that for a goodly portion of adults, it is dieting and a diet mentality that has contributed to becoming overweight/obese.  If you're not following all the rules, then why bother ... right?  Or you've been good so what's one restaurant or take-out meal going to do -- forget that many of those meals, especially if you add a cocktail, can tally up to 3000 cals in one pop!

At least with CRD's, if you eat maintenance level calories one day, you just put off one or two sevenths of a lb weight loss for a day or so.   Of course plenty of folks on CRD's will continue to eat the entire pkg of cookies or whatever the forbidden goodie is, but the successful ones aren't always purists -- rather they accept the occasional indulgence and move on.

With LC plans, somehow 10g extra carbs is going to set you back days, weeks even?  It sounds so cool, almost, that we have some magical CCL for losing and an ACE for maintining.  All I have to do is find that number, stay at or under it, and voila!  But woe is me if I have a bite of mashed potatoes and exceed it.  

C'mon.  Does that REALLY make any sense?  It defies all earthly laws to gain a pound of body mass without consuming at least a pound of food -- and that would have to be a pound in excess of basic needs.  So any temporary setback on an LC diet is likely mostly water.  Now folks with water balance issues, and especially the rather overweight, can fluctuate by as many as 10 or more lbs just from water.  In my experience, I fluctuate ±3lbs about what I consider to be my true weight ... sometimes even when VLC'ing.  If I've gone from totally glycogen depleted to filling the stores, I can easily gain 5 lbs overnight (as I did on a recent vacation), but since that water weight is w/in my muscle cells distributed about my body, my clothing fits just about the same.  Bottom line, I don't sweat these pounds.  It may take some people longer to reverse the water weight pendulum, but they haven't gained energy-storage weight (outside the glycogen).

So anyway, in the original Atkins, Dr. A was clearly referring to a threshold to stay in ketosis with his CCL for weight loss.  On pg. 94 (paperback version, Sept. 1973 printing, ©1972 Bantam), The Diet Revolution Calorie Theory is stated:  Calories in equals calories used plus calories excreted unused.

Now Westman know full well that excess ketones don't add up to a whole lot of wasted calories.  These three are among the authors of a Review article entitled Low Carbohydrate Nutrition and Metabolism ... rather ironically funded by the Atkins Center but not referenced in TNA.  (Whassup wid dat??)
Two longer-term studies, in persons without diabetes, that measured fasting blood -hydroxybutyrate concentrations over 10 wk found that, whereas the concentrations increased over the first 2–4 wk, they then decreased and, after 10–12 wk, remained only slightly higher than those of dieters following other diets (21, 23).
In the article, they basically identify ~50g as the carb threshold for an LCKD.  In the book they refer to ketogenic diets several times (for treatment of epilepsy mostly and diabetes in one instance).  And yet mysteriously missing is any mention in determining CCL (only seeing if you lose weight).  I find this quite odd.

In the article the "low carb metabolism" is described for LCKD:  70% fatty acids (dietary and lipolysis of adipose tissue), 20% ketones ( dietary fat & protein and lipolysis and ketogenesis of adipose tissue), 10% glucose (gluconeogenesis, glycogenolysis).  If this isn't the "Atkins Edge", then they acknowledge that above 50g there's no significant switch to this alternate metabolism. 

As early as 1980, LaRosa found that subjects following an LCD do not necessarily replace the carbohydrate with either protein or fat, but that they, rather, reduce starch and sugar intake (9). Under such conditions, even though the absolute amounts of fat and protein do not increase, the percentage of fat and protein will increase. Recent research reviewed below has determined that the reduction in calorie intake is a result of appetite and hunger reduction. In this way, LCDs are also low-calorie diets that include an increase in the percentage of calories from fat and protein but not necessarily an increase in absolute amounts of fat and protein.

It seems to me that a more honest presentation and justification for CCL and ACE would be the above.  There does appear to be a spontaneous decrease in caloric intake associated with minimizing carbs.  I think that at least in part is due to the number of calorie dense carby/fatty foods (all those pastries, pizza, french fries and the like) one has to limit.  But given that adaptation to ketosis on LC is well-known (and Atkins isn't even close to the ketogenic diet used to treat epilepsy!), their description of the "Atkins Edge" seems disingenuous at best.  

These authors ignore their own (Atkins funded) writings to re-invent the same old wheel.  I would have loved for them to acknowledge that -- gasp!! -- Atkins was right on the health and weight loss aspects of his diet, but wrong on the calorie theory.

I don't see what's NOT exciting about spontaneously reducing intake without going hungry and possibly with a whole lot less discipline (it can be far easier to count carbs once you get the hang of it).  Wish they had done this.  It would have been a far more fitting tribute to Dr. Atkins.


Toby Brown said...

Very interesting. Thanks!

Me said...

Thanks Toby :) While this blog is mostly for me to organize research, it's nice to know someone's reading it and finding it helpful/interesting.

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