I first became aware of Dr. Atkins and his “protein diet” when I was 12. This was 1972, and my mom and her buddies had decided to try this diet, as they dutifully tried each new diet, read each new diet book.
I remember grumpiness, breath mints, and pork rinds suddenly showing up in the house where they had never been before. There were a lot of roast dinners. Bacon fumes hung in the air each morning. Of course, her few extra pounds melted away, but slowly returned when she and her buddies went “off Atkins.”
This diet was quickly followed by the “liquid protein” diet, an even more austere version of the protein-centric panic diet, where we drank a pink syrup laced with lots of amino acids instead of eating. Those of us who tried it (including me, at the ripe old age of 16), dropped lots of weight quickly. But this stuff was removed from the market because people were experiencing the annoyance of kidney failure and the inconvenience of death.
Long ago, I conflated the impressions of these two events in my pea brain, as I believe many folks did. Atkins became a code word for kidney failure in my mind. The specter of LowCarb diets was just that, a deathly alternative for desperate people.
These were unfair and baseless ideas, and I’ve since been forced to change my opinion. I’m not alone there, either. Please read Gary Taubes’ 2002 New York Times article (linked below). It’s long, and worthy.
I didn’t try Atkins’ induction diet. I did carefully read and absorb into my diet what he has to say about his second diet phase (there’s a second phase? Yeah, and a third and fourth.), Ongoing Weight Loss. When I follow the recommendations there, I am more able to stay in control of my eating. That is, when I learned the difference between good carbs and bad and cut out sugar and cut way back on white flour products, and strictly avoid processed foods, I stopped experiencing the cravings, particularly the night-time cravings, that often brought me down.
Probably the most important aspect of the OWL phase is that it focuses on helping YOU find the right diet for YOU. We vary wildly. What my daughter with the humming-bird metabolism can eat is two times what I can eat. What my body does with carbohydrates may be very different from what your body does with them. Your body may respond well to one form of carbohydrate but badly to another. OWL works by helping you study, experiment, and find what works for you, over time. It also slows down your weight loss. That might not feel like a good idea, but the slower the better.
Take a peek at OWL. I think these tips and principles can be folded into most any program, and make a great basis for an ongoing maintenance diet when you’ve lost all the weight you want to lose.
It’s so hard to learn how to eat to give your body what it needs to be healthy. So difficult to tell between a psychological craving and a biological need. It’s so natural to want a simple, memorable formula that will allow you to lose weight quickly and then return to your former habits. But resist the urge to fix the problem quickly. Give yourself time to lose and time to learn.