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LOW CARB QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FAQ
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ATKINS DIET FAQ

Can medications slow the weight loss down?

You will need to stop taking any unnecessary over-the-counter medications, such as cough syrup or cough drops, antacids, sleep aids, antihistamines or laxatives. Many prescription medications also inhibit weight loss, among them birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy, steroids and anti-arthritis medications, beta-blockers and antidepressants. Talk to your doctor to see if an alternative approach can be found. You can also refer to Dr. Atkins. Vita-Nutrient Solution (Fireside, 1998) for more natural approaches to deal with your symptoms.

There are also several categories of drugs that can cause adverse effects when taken while on a controlled carbohydrate eating plan. First are the diuretics, because reducing your carbohydrate intake alone can have a dramatic diuretic effect. Second, since Atkins is so effective at lowering high blood sugar, people who take insulin or oral diabetes medications that control blood sugar can end up with dangerously low blood sugar levels. You will need to be closely supervised in order to adjust your dosage. That.s because the weight-loss phases of Atkins will naturally normalize your blood sugar levels. In combination with your pharmaceuticals, you could put yourself at risk for hypoglycemia. Third, Atkins has a strong blood pressure lowering effect and can easily convert blood pressure medications into an overdose. If you are currently taking any of these medications, you will need your doctor.s help to adjust your dosages. (source - Atkins.com)

How do I talk to my doctor about my low carb diet?

Steps for Clear Patient/Doctor Communication
Berkowitz suggests following these steps for having that initial "talk" with your doctor:

Be sure you've taken the time to get informed before bringing up the subject. You don't have to know everything about low-carb diets, metabolism and nutrition, but you do have to have some understanding of why and how they work. Pick up a copy of LowCarb Living Magazine, or read one of the popular low-carb diet books. Know about the research supporting controlled-carb nutrition and be willing to share it. "This is the stuff your doctor understands," says Berkowitz.


Be sure to tell your doctor WHY you want to follow a controlled-carb approach. For instance, remind him or her that you've tried other diets and haven't been successful. Like all good practitioners, your doctor really does want you to succeed, and being reminded that you have tried the "standard recommendations" for losing weight (maybe many times) will make him or her more likely to say yes to a new approach.


If your doctor is still against following a low-carb regimen, you need to confront the underlying reason - not dance around it. "If he or she says 'NO!', you need to come right back and ask 'What are your concerns?' and then LISTEN." Until you know what specific concerns exist, you're not having an open dialog.


The problem may simply be that your doctor thinks there's only one set way to "do" low-carb. "That's just not true," says Berkowitz. "No one diet or carb level works for everyone." Be sure your doctor knows this, too.


Suggest a short, supervised trial period. "Almost every doctor will say yes to that, especially if you agree to come in for periodic testing," is Berkowitz's final suggestion. At the end of the trial period, you and your doctor will hopefully be happy with the results, and you'll have strengthened the relationship as well.

(source: http://www.lclmag.com)

What are some suggestions for eating out low carb?

I think that the best places to eat out at are steak houses. They normally have a great salad bar and you can have a wonderful steak along side. You need to be careful with the dressings and might want to keep a small tupperware container with your own dressing. A lot of restaurants are now offering more low carb options, such as Applebee's, Ruby Tuesday's, Cracker Barrel, Subways, and Friday's. If you want other safe options, try browsing one of your favorite restaurant's website before leaving the house...they might just have nutritional information on their site. I have heard that the McDonalds grilled chicken cobb salad is great for the Atkins diet and of course you can have a cheeseburger without the bun. If you're dining for business, try to show up 15 minutes early so you can look over a menu and discuss the choices with a waitress before sitting down with your dining companion. And whatever you do be careful to stay away from sauces and dressings without finding out what the ingredients or carb counts are. Good luck.

 

I am a complete sugar addict. How do I reduce my cravings for sugar?

The first two weeks are hard for some people. In order to reduce the cravings....

1. Try to avoid caffiene... it really increases cravings for most people.
2. Make sure you are eating enough and have lots of induction friendly foods on hand. If you keep your stomach full and eat enough food then you won't have hunger pains and that should help avoid cravings bit.
3. With the soda. Try to avoid soda as much as possible. DRINK your water. And you might want to try green tea. Green tea is a wonderful antioxidant and can help produce a higher weight loss. And if you want to drink diet soda, try for ones sweetened with splenda, not sucralose like diet pepsi is. Sometimes soda can induce cravings, and in certain people, it may actually act like sugar alcohols in the body slowing your weight loss. My best advice is to stay away fro mthe soda for your two initial weeks of induction.
4. Take L-glutamine for sugar cravings.
5. keep some pain-killer of choice on hand for the first couple of days of induction. You'll probably experience a headache or two and some general "uckiness" (technical term ) for a little bit while your body is adjusting to not having all of the sugar, caffeine, and preservatives it's gotten used to.

Woh...What is up with this bad breath?

Dragon breath is a normal side effect of Low Carb Diets, at least for the first two weeks.
Basically, what you are smelling (tasting?) are the ketones (fat waste) being burned off by your body. This is a GOOD THING; basically, this is a natural *ketosis indicator* -- far more reliable than those stix! Your body can release ketones any number of ways -- but most common are through the breath, through the skin & sweat glands, and through your urine output. You can help your body *choose* to release them through your urine by drinking adequate water throughout the day. When we fail to drink enough water and become even *slightly* dehydrated, the dragon breath is more noticeable and some people experience horrible body odor. So try to drink as much water as possible to relieve your bad breath symptoms.

Can you have brain damage during Ketosis?

The brain does not require 100 grams of carbs to function. The Eskimos have traditionally consumed a diet that is predominantly fat, with minimal incidence of heart disease and diabetes. The brain has an adaptation ability to function perfectly burning ketones instead of glucose, which comes from carbs. The liver will provide the obligatory glucose needed, and then uses its fat supply for the rest of the brain's fuel source--along with the rest of the body. The human body has an exquisite ability to adapt to its environment.

It has been known since 1966, when research was done on the brain's ability to use ketones, that no damage is done when carbohydrates are not available. In starvation, the body can function on all ketones and still remain functional. On Atkins, you are taking in at least 20 grams of carbs that provide the obligatory glucose and glycogen for body requirements. Your liver will also make glycogen for maintaining required levels like your blood glucose level that must be kept within a certain range. Just like your body tightly regulates your temperature, your acid/base balance and other metabolic functions, it regulates the amount of ketones that accumulate. When excess levels accumulate, it expels them in the urine maintaining a safe equilibrium. Your brain receives the obligatory needed carbs, then very effectively uses ketones. No adverse effects will occur on a low carb intake.

How long does it take Ketones to show up in your system?

It usually takes three to five days to get into ketosis. But everyone is different. Some take longer some shorter.

Is it true that Low Carb (to the extent that it's actually the Atkin's induction) dieting won't work if you don't cut the calories too?

If you cut the calories too, your body goes into starvation mode and hangs on to weight and excess water...thinking it may need to save what it has for later...you need around 1500-1800 calories a day and even up around 2000 unusual--as high as 3,000 isn't totally unheard of though no one would recommend a daily diet of 3,000 unless you were running a marathon the next day! Anyways, on a low-carb diet, your appetite should be surpressed naturally where you won't even want to eat a lot anyways.

Also, a calorie is not a calorie. Dr. Diana Swarzbein explains in her book, The Swarzbein Principle, that to determine the calorie content of a food scientists break the food down into its simpliest form and then determine how much energy is needed to consume it (she explains better than I do). But the body does not break down and burn protein and fats in their simpliest form. So they are not consumed as completely as carbohydrates are - if you eat 350 calories of chicken your body doesn't burn the whole 350 calories because it is not completely broken down. I recommend reading her book for a good understanding of how the body works in these area - well written and easy to understand. I think her carb limits are a little high for me but otherwise it is excellent and worth reading.

So if you eat 1800 calories and it is 65% fat and 20% protein you aren't actually burning 1800 calories - a metabolic advantage for low carbers.

I've had several episodes of diarrhea since starting a low carb diet. How can I avoid it?

People on Induction are more likely to initially experience constipation than diarrhea. However, some people can't tolerate dairy products—and consumption of cheese and cream may cause diarrhea. If this is the case, try eliminating all milk products and see if it gets better. Unsweetened psyllium husks can be added, which act as a sponge, soaking up water and helping form a normal stool. If you don't respond to that treatment, then look at the amount of fat you are eating. If you have been on an extremely low-fat diet prior to starting a low carb diet, it may take your body a while to adjust. If you had your Gallbladder removed, diarrhea might also be a side effect of a low-carb diet. Diarrhea could also result from taking the recommended supplements. Try stopping them for a week, then if the diarrhea goes away, reintroduce them one at a time. So long as you have diarrhea, it is especially important to drink a minimum of eight glasses of water a day to avoid dehydration.

Since starting a low-carb diet, I have been constipated. How can I become regular again?

Constipation is very common on the first few weeks of a low-carb diet. First make sure that you are eating at least 3 cups of salad vegetables and that you aren't using your allotted carbs for non-salad carbs. When you start to add more carbs to your diet, make sure that you incorporate first more vegetables, followed by berries and seeds. Another reason that you may be constipated is that you aren't drinking enough water. Drinking water helps you on so many levels so make sure to drink your water.

If this doesn't work, try to consume some supplementary fiber in the form of wheat bran sprinkled on a salad, psyllium husks mixed with water or ground flaxseed blended into a protein drink. The amount needed to stay regular varies from person to person. Try starting with a tablespoon, but be carefull not to use too much because it can also constipate you more if you use too much of it.

Can you drink low-carb beer?

If you have yeast-related problems, such as bloating, gas, a coated tongue or cravings for sugar, you should limit beer or eliminate it from your diet. Otherwise, after Induction, you can drink light beer as long as it does not make you gain weight or stall your weight-loss efforts. (taken from Atkins.com)

Why can't I drink alcohol when on a low carb diet?

You should not drink alcohol during the first few weeks of low carb dieting because you are trying to cut your cravings for sweets. Drinking alcohol can increase symptoms such as bloating, sugar-cravings, and gas. All of these things can interfere with weight loss. However, An occasional drink of alcohol later on in your diet (after induction), is perfectly fine as long as you make a low-carb choice, such as Vodka or wine. Make sure to read the packaging on all mixed drinks to make sure that there are no added sugars. (taken from Atkins.com)

How Long Can I Stay on Induction?

The longer you consume no more than 20 grams of carbs daily, the more body fat you will burn. Depending on how much weight you need to lose, you can safely continue with Induction as long as the following three conditions are met:


Your blood chemistries, lipid values, blood pressure or blood sugar levels continue to improve or remain stable and within normal limits.


You feel well and are experiencing a high energy level, normal sleep patterns and stable moods.


You are not bored. Boredom could lead to cheating and undermine your efforts.

However, it is important to understand the entire Atkins Nutritional ApproachTM. The ultimate goal of the program is to advance from the Induction phase through Ongoing Weight Loss and Pre-Maintenance, culminating in Lifetime Maintenance, which should become your permanent way eating. By following these steps, you can find your Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CCLL), also known as your carbohydrate threshold for losing, and ultimately your Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium (ACE), also known as your carbohydrate threshold for maintaining. Segueing from one phase to another will help you maintain a healthful weight, feel good and decrease your risk factors for chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.

That being said, if you have a great deal of weight to lose, you can certainly stay on Induction for six months or even more. When you switch to Ongoing Weight Loss, your rate of loss will naturally diminish. On the other hand, if you have a modest weight loss goal, say 20 pounds, and lose the first pounds rapidly, it is important to move through the more liberal phases so you can establish the good eating habits that will become part of your ongoing lifestyle and end yo-yo dieting.
(Taken from Atkins.com)

Doesn't ketosis lead to loss of muscle mass?

Only individuals on very low-calorie diets can lose muscle mass, because they have an inadequate protein intake. Atkins, however, is not calorie restricted (this isn't an invitation for gorging, but a recommendation to eat until you are no longer hungry) and the high protein intake required offsets any possible loss of body mass.
(Taken from Atkins.com)

 

How do I read the lipolysis testing strips?

The package label shows various colors but don't worry about the exact level of ketosis you will find on the strip. The strips are especially helpful in the Induction phase when you start doing Atkins. After a while, the important thing is to see how your clothes are fitting and what the scale says. Later, as you move through the other phases and increase your carbohydrate intake, the strips are no longer needed. As long as you continue to lose weight gradually, lose inches, have your appetite under control, and experience none of your old symptoms, you are clearly burning fat. Moreover, in most cases LTS will no longer turn pink or purple once you are taking in 50 or more grams of carbs a day, so they are of no use above that level of carb intake.
(Taken from Atkins.com)  

What shade of purple should my lipolysis testing strips be? Will they show different levels at different times of day?

Because every person's metabolism is different, the sticks turn different shades of purple or pink for different people. And, yes, results vary depending upon the time of the day, whether or not you exercise and what you last ate. It doesn't matter whether your strips turn a dark or light color. Some people never even get into ketosis, but still lose weight easily. So don't worry about the exact level of ketosis shown on your test strips; what is more important is how your clothes are fitting, what the scale says and how you feel.
(Taken from Atkins.com)
 

I have been on a low carb diet for a while and want to cheat...will I gain all the weight back?

No you will not gain back fat that you've lost with one meal. But you will most likely gain weight back, but much of it will be the water that comes with the carbs. You might also get 'sick' feelings. Common symptoms of "carb overload" after having been off large quantities of carbs for some time would include headache, gas, bloating, fluid retention & swelling, etc.

Can we have the low carb candies and other products that are made with sugar alcohols?

This is an argument amongst many low carbers and there isn't any one answer. My answer to you is that you should only eat these low carb candies if you are desperate for a sweet treat and don't have anything else on hand or if you are on maintenance. These low carb candies will stall you, kick you out of ketosis and/or cause you to crave and possibly go off the low-carb plan. Also, sugar alcohols can cause terrible diarrhea. One reason why sugar alcohols may stall your weight loss are because of the following reasonings:

Fiber isn't metabolized - not only does it not impact blood sugar, it also isn't digested by the body - it doesn't count.

Can the same be said for sugar alcohols or glycerin? NO.....both are metabolized in the body - they may not impact blood sugar, but they are metabolized - you cannot exclude the carbs in there because they are in there and they do get metabolized.

Many of the protein & candy bars out there have upwards of 20g of carbs when you include the sugar alcohols or glycerin - typically 200-240 calories also. They also typically have 1g to 2g of fiber - leaving upwards of 18g of carbs that you're told to dismiss.....for convenience? for a meal replacement? because it doesn't impact blood sugar? Does this make sense to you when you really think about it?????

If you chose instead to have a 1/2 cup of cantaloupe, wouldn't you count the 6g net carbs it has? Why? They're there! They aren't going to send your blood sugars spiraling up, but you count them because they're there!

I am very hungry and I have been pigging out on low carb foods...is this okay?

Yes. Eat when you are hungry. Eat until you are satisfied but not stuffed. Don't worry...it will be alright. As long as you are pigging out on very low carb items such as eggs, meats, and cheese, you should continue to lose. Listen to your body.

Can I have sugarfree gum?

Although sugar alcohols affect everybody differently, all low-carbers that I have spoken to say that sugar free gum does not affect their weight loss.

Why can't we have Aspartame?

It isn't bad for everybody, but Aspartame stalls a lot of people. However, other people have no problem with it. Atkins reccomended against it because of possible health concerns regarding its use, but that is very debatable and many like myself believe it is perfectly "safe" if used in moderation.

What do you mean that I can't eat potatoes, rice, or pasta? I have always been told that these are healthy alternatives to fat. What is left to eat?

Basically there are both good and bad carbs that you can eat. All carbohydrates are not created equal. Low carb diets are designed to prevent blood sugar levels from spiking and causing the overproduction of insulin—a hormone that helps convert carbohydrates to body fat. The first carbohydrates you need to add back to your diet when you move beyond Induction are more vegetables, then seeds and nuts, then berries and then—if you are still losing—legumes and grains. Later, if your weight loss is progressing well and you have increased your daily carb intake, you may eat an occasional slice of whole grain bread. You can still eat many foods and you might even find that you enjoy your meals much more on a low carb lifestyle. You can still eat vegetables, meats, cheeses, eggs, and other items. Take a look at Atkin's acceptable food list.

What are hidden carbs?

Basically hidden carbs are carbs that are found in items you wouldn't generally think would have carbs. Generally, plain meats, poultry and fish contain no carbs. However, commercially processed meats, etc can have carbs added that you may not suspect - sausages, hotdogs, and meatloaves may contain breadcrumbs, milk ingredients and sugars; bacon, ham, pastrami and other cured meats are made with sugar, corn syrup or dextrose, and many canned fish products contain sugar or starch-added sauces. Always read the label to be sure. Other sources of carbs that often get overlooked are coffee, and the cream and packets of sweetener used. These can add up quickly if you drink a lot of coffee through the day. Coffee has 0.8 carb grams for a 6 fluid ounce cup. That's a small cup. Think about it, especially during Induction or early Intervention phases of your low carb program. Avoid anything "lowfat", they are almost always high in carbs. Salad dressings and condiments can add up too, and make sure you are accurately measuring your allowed vegetables. 1/2 cup of broccoli is not 2 cups of broccoli. And remember to count the carbs in those breath mints and sugar-free gum. Cheese and cream are often overlooked as a source of carbs, so know how much you are consuming. If you are honest and accurate, you will see that there really are no "hidden" carbs. Read labels carefully, and get yourself a good carbohydrate gram counter. (partially taken from lowcarb.ca)

What are Net Carbs?

Net carbs are the amount of carbs in a food minus the fiber and sugar alcohol. This is because sugar alcohol and fiber are not digested by your body so they don’t count towards your carb total for the day. So if you are eating something that has 9g carbs and has 3g fiber, and 1 g sugar alcohol, you count that as 5 g “net carbs”. Sugar alcohol is found mostly in sweets and will be listed on the packages of most low carb desserts such as low carb candy bars and brownies.

How Safe is Low Carb Eating?

Low Carb eating is very safe and natural. There is a lot of misconception out there about low carb eating. The most prevelant is that you are cutting out all carbs and that you can’t eat any vegetables or fruits and that the diet consists of high fat meats. This is simply not true (but if it were that would be bad for you!). The truth is that you are cutting out sugary processed foods that have no nutritional value at all. Most low carb plans recommend eating lots of vegetables (probably a lot more than the folks who are telling you this way of eating is not healthy are eating!). After the induction phase you can add in even more veggies and fruits. Low fat meats are stressed as well, just like any other diet. Think about what you were eating before you started low carb eating (or what you are eating now if you are not low carb yet) - do you think those foods are good for you?

What Low Carb Diet Plans are out there?

There are many low carb plans out there, but Atkins is the most popular. The South Beach Diet, Protein Power Diet, The Carbohydrate Addicts Diet, The Diet Cure, The Eat Fat and Get Thin Diet, The Fat Flush Diet, The Go-Diet, The Insulin Resistance Diet Plan, The Life Without Bread Diet, The Neanderthin Diet, The Schwarzbein Principal Diet, The Specific Carb Diet, The Sugar Busters Diet, The Suzanne Somers Diet, The Your Fat Can Make You Thin Diet, and The Zone Diet.

Who Benefits from a Low-Carb Diet?

Anyone who is interested in losing weight can benefit from a low carb diet. Even people just looking for a healthier lifestyle can benefit.

How many meals a day should I eat?

It is a good idea to stick to either 3 large meals or 6 smaller meals. But the nice thing about this diet is you should just eat when you are hungry.

What does it mean to be insulin resistant?

Continuously choosing the wrong carbohydrates (or excessively large amounts of carbohydrates over time) causes repeated and sudden surges in the glucose, too much for the body to burn up all at once. Because of these surges, the pancreas must produce more and more insulin to bring down the glucose, causing the body to become "resistant" to the insulin. And, the higher the insulin, the more fat gets shoved into our fat cells for storage. There's no other place for it to go. Over time, this can lead to insulin resistance syndrome. (taken from shakeoffthesugar.net)

Do I have to count calories?

No...you shouldn't count calories. Research has shown that on a controlled carbohydrate program, more calories are burned than on a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, so there is a certain metabolic advantage to the controlled carb approach. But understand that this does not give you a license to gorge.

If you are used to counting calories and are more comfortable with such an approach, the general rule of thumb is to multiply your present weight by 10 to 12 to get the daily caloric range at which you would lose weight. For example a 150-pound woman who consumes 1,500 to 1,800 calories daily should continue to lose weight.

But, basically, don't bother counting calories. This is a different type of diet than what you are used to.

Is it true that you don't eat fruit or vegetables on this diet?

It is NOT true. The induction stage of the Atkin's diet (that only lasts 2 weeks) does restrict fruit from the diet and only allows vegetables in moderation. However, after the first 2 weeks, you can increase your vegetables and start eating berries, which have a low carb count. Find out what your maximum is that allows you to lose weight and choose what you think is most healthy to eat to fill them.

When I see Sugar-Free on a packaging label, does this mean it is also low carb?

This is a common misconception. Items that say sugar-free often times have a huge amount of carbs. For example, a packet of sugar-free hot chocolate has about 15 carbs. Many SF products use substitutes that are still recognized by the body as a sugar. Maleotose, fructose, and corn syrup are just a few. Make sure to read all labels carefully and you will be okay.

What should I do when my weight loss has stalled?

Most people will experience a "weight-loss plateau". This is a short period of time and you will probably see results soon. But if you are having an unusual amount of resistance, you should scrutinize your diet.

  • Are you drinking caffeinated beverages?
  • Try taking onions and tomatoes out of your diet, these could stall your weight loss.
  • Are you using sugar alcohols? If so, take them out of your diet and go back to basics such as meat, cheese, eggs, and veggies.
  • Drink more water.
  • Consider getting off of medications that might be stalling your weight loss.
  • Finding and eliminating "hidden" carbs in the form of lemon juice, processed foods or medications that may contain sugar.
  • Increasing the amount of fat and decrease protein.
  • Decreasing the number of grams of carbohydrate you are consuming by 5 or 10 grams.
  • Increasing your activity level.

Take a look at Atkin's Overcoming Obstacles web page to find out more specifics.

What is Ketosis?

Ketosis: a condition in which the body will turn to it's stored fat for fuel and is producing ketones as a byproduct. This change in metabolism occurs when the body no longer has incoming carbs to produce glycogen (the stored version of sugar) and after the liver has been depleted of glycogen. When either stored body fat or incoming dietary fat is used as fuel it breaks down into ketones.

NOTE: Ketosis is NOT Ketoacidosis. There are two types of Ketoacidosis: diabetic Ketoacidosis (which is due to simultaneous rise in blood glucose and blood acidity) and alcoholic Ketoacidosis (which is due to heavy alcohol consumption without food intake). If you do not fall into either of these groups your body should have the feedback loops that will keep ketone production in check. Ketones are produced daily by most people to some degree and are a part of the body's system of survival.