Letters and Dr. Novella’s Responses

Atkins has been around way to long to call it a fad. It wasn’t widely accepted, but it was around over 30 years.

I lost over 80 pounds on Atkins in about a year. Near the end of that, I found out I have Congestive Heart Failure. No, not from Atkins, my Dad had the same thing at about the same age. On the other hand, I have less than 10 percent blockage, so a year on Atkins didn’t hurt.

A few years ago, I had a massive tooth infection and became so weak I could barely walk to the other end of the house. At the time I was about 20 pounds overweight, exercising, and could go about an hour and 20 minutes at my target pulse rate. A few days later I couldn’t stand long enough to take a shower without exhaustion and considerable pain in my legs.  I stayed that way for a few YEARS. After I read the Atkins book, I started limiting my Carbs, and as it kicked in, I had a considerable increase in my strength in a short time. I was in Ketosis. Something about that started me back towards normal strength, and health.

My sister saw me before Atkins and after, (she’s a Nurse Practitioner) and she says the Congestive Heart Failure probably would have killed me if I hadn’t been on Atkins. Since you wrote an article about it, I suppose you at least one of the Atkins books.

The part about Ketosis is important. I didn’t count calories, I just limited Carbs. Days when I felt hungry, I had Bacon, chunks of cheese, and other Low Carb snacks. DIDN’T go hungry. Stayed in Ketosis, and lost weight. My biggest problem was that I sometimes didn’t eat as many Carbs as I was supposed to.  It’s not just Calories in and out. Ketosis helps burn FAT. I didn’t lose much muscle as far as I can tell. I didn’t have the resources to measure body fat, but I didn’t lose much.

And I’ll be honest, in the last year, I gained about 20 back, but I was in the Hospital twice and my Dad died. It was a tough year. Try telling the Hospital you want more meat and vegetables but fewer Carbs. They just don’t believe in changing things.  I’m back limiting my Carbs now, the pants seem loser, and I feel better (partly due to the Pacemaker they put in).

Ketosis puts your body into a different “state of mind”, it starts burning more fat. Which of course means it actually is burning more calories, in a sense. Wasting more too, but I got ’em to spare. There have been several studies cited the last couple of years that say it works. But, when it comes to me, I’m fairly anecdotal. For me, it worked great, and probably saved my life. It’s been around 30 years, and several new studies say it works well, so maybe “fad” isnt’ the best way to describe it. And I think it’s dangerous to lump all approaches together, maybe some work and some don’t.

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