Monday, January 14, 2013

The Misconceptions I Uncovered About Atkins

So, here I am on Day One of trying Atkins.  I mentioned yesterday that I was going to try it.  For years and years I have known about Atkins - but never dared go anywhere near it because of all the stuff I'd heard about it.

Then, I noticed on Facebook that someone I knew had been on it since January 1st and already lost 10lbs.  I chuckled to myself as I mumbled some of the comments I had about Atkins... but then it dawned on me that I had NEVER taken the time to look in to Atkins, I had always gone by what people had told me or what I'd heard about it.

Using yesterday as a very quick example - I made the comment that I was going to try Atkins, and my friend posted a comment that said "Atkins: lose weight fast gain right back, because you can't stay on that diet forever".  Nothing against Cathy...just 48 hours ago, I thought the very same thing.

I figured it best that I reveal some of the misconceptions I discovered while doing some research on Atkins, and what made me decide to try it.

Misconception #1:  Lose weight fast, gain it right back, because you can't stay on it forever.

Come to find out, that's not true AT ALL.  Atkins is broken up in to four phases.  The first phase is the phase used to break the addiction over carbs, train the body how to burn fat instead of carbs, and where you stay to lose the majority of the weight.  Phase 2 you move in to when you're ready to start slowly adding carbs back in to your diet - about 30lbs from goal weight.  Key word SLOWLY.  Phase 3 is when you're very close to goal weight - within 10lbs - and you need to learn how to introduce more carbs without over doing it.  Phase 4 is actually called Lifetime Phase.  Because it's the phase you can use for the rest of your life to help maintain the weight loss by identifying how many grams of carbs are needed to maintain - and from what sources.

The reason this misconception exists out there is apparently because a lot of people that try Atkins only ever stay in the first phase.  Once they lose all of their weight, they go back to regular eating...and then gain all the weight back.  The website informs you of that.  If you don't stay the course of the program, you will indeed gain all of the weight back because it's designed to help you control your carb intake...slowly weening you back to them.  If you skip steps, problems are going to occur.  As with all diet and healthy eating plans.

Misconception #2:  All you eat is bacon, steak, cheese, and eggs.

This was probably the reason I avoided Atkins like the plague, because I always thought that it was about eating nothing but meat and cheese.  I wondered how on earth anyone could lose weight by eating so much junk..and that a person's cholesterol level would sky rocket through the roof.

Come to find out, once again, that's not true.  The first phase of Atkins does cut out all complex carbs from your diet:  Grains, pasta, rice, etc.  You focus on eating 4-6 ozs of LEAN protein with each meal and get 20 grams of carbs from vegetables and dairy.  More vegetables than dairy.  I have to cut out any processed sugars, also.  Then, once I move in to phase 2, I start to slowly introduce come complex carbs like whole grains.  Phase 3 introduces more carbs, and so on.  It's to help train the body to burn fat instead of carbs...and also, again, to break the addiction that many people (ME) have with carbs.

Misconception #3:  It's dangerous to cut carbs from your diet.

I've been around the block a few times with diet plans and programs.  I've been told by many personal trainers that it's very dangerous to cut anything from your diet.  Heck, we all grew up with a food pyramid that held complex carbs as the lowest phase of the pyramid - meaning that complex carbs should make up the majority of our daily intake.  So, it's no surprise that I was very hesitant about the thought of cutting complex carbs out completely.

What I found out? Athletes and people that have high metabolisms burn complex carbs for energy.  Those people that are mostly sedentary end up consuming more carbs than their body burns - thus leading to the carbs being stored, eventually turning in to sugars, eventually turning into more weight gain.  It's true that the body DOES need carbs - but they don't have to come from complex carbs that turn in to sugar.  The body can process and use simple carbs - vegetables - for the purpose of hydration and energy... but they don't end up being stored.  The body, instead, starts to burn the fat that's already there for energy.

Once the fat supply starts to dwindle away, the body will need complex carbs for energy once again... but the body has to be trained on how much it needs to eat in order to that you don't gain weight again.  Once again, the reason for phases 2, 3, and 4 of the program.  You can't cut out carbs for a while and then just start eating them again without the proper steps.  I just have to make sure I follow the steps - and I should be OK.

Misconception #4:  Once I cut out complex carbs, I'll start craving them more and end up giving in.

Actually, this one isn't so much of a misconception.  It is true that once you cut out something from your diet - especially something you're addicted to - it will be hard to stay away.  This will all come from staying on plan, trusting it, and being strong.  The best thing I learned, though, is that protein fills you up and keeps you full longer.  Complex carbs fill you up and make you hungrier faster.  If I eat the right amount of protein with each meal, and the right amounts of simple carbs, I shouldn't have to worry about being hungry.  The cravings will be there for the first few days - but with any addiction... I'll just have to try and overcome the desire.

Misconception #5:  Like all diet plans, I'll have to buy a bunch of books, an online subscription, and spend all kinds of money to be on the program.

WRONG-O!  I was so surprised when I went to the Atkins website and found the plethora of information on the phases, food lists, mobile apps, etc. ALL FOR FREE!  Sure, there are books out there if you need them... but everything in those books are on their website - no subscription required.

Just for signing up on the website - for free - I am receiving a free welcome kit that includes sample bars, coupons, and a book about the program.  And, yes, I just said samples and coupons.  If I don't need to spend anything why do I need coupons and samples?  Well, Atkins has their own food line - but it's not required AT ALL in order to see results. Their meal bars, shakes, frozen meals, etc. are just there as another tool, if you want to use them.  I will be using some because all of the meals, bars, and shakes contain the protein I need without the carbs - and it's all nicely measured out for me.  They are great for a busy person like myself who tends to skip breakfast and eats cafeteria food for lunch.

Their mobile app comes with a food journal, weight loss progress tool, scanner to scan foods to check to make sure the foods are "Atkins friendly", and even a restaurant locator that will tell me of restaurants close to me that offer Atkins friendly meals.

For some reason, a program that doesn't require tons of money up front sits well with me.  I figure that I get to try it out without being out any money...what's the harm in that?

So, there you have it.  The five major misconceptions I had about Atkins, and the truth once I actually spent some time to research it.

And, just so you know, I didn't just research Atkins on their website.  I perused blogs, medical websites, and other websites to get my answers.  Just Google "Atkins Misconceptions" and you'll be so surprised at the amounts of personal blogs that share success stories and doctors that actually support Atkins.

At the end of the day, it comes down to the fact that I have to put in what I get out.  I've tried diet plan after diet plan after diet plan and never had any luck keeping the weight off.  I've also tried the no diet plan approach of eating healthier, moving more....and I still gained back all of the weight.  It's going to happen if I don't change my behaviors for good.

The last time I lost weight - a large amount - I was eating clean, healthy, and working out like a crazy person.  But, then I just stopped.  And, of course, the weight crept back in no time.  The same thing will happen with Atkins unless I commit to staying the course and moving through all of the phases.  The proof will really rely in the pudding.  Do I have what it takes to stay the course?  I like to think I do... but time will tell, I suppose.


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