5 Reasons Your Low Carb Diet May Be Failing

Welcome to inaugural issue of The Calorie Skeptic, the official e-Zine for Why-Low-Carb-Diets-Work.com!

This e-zine will explore provocative topics related to the low carb diet. In today’s issue, we will take a look at:

5 Reasons Your Low Carb Diet May Be Failing

Please note that I am not a doctor or nutritionist -- this stuff is merely supposition based on my research and a touch of intuition. For advice, see your doctor.

#1. Carb Creep

You lost 25 pounds on Atkins, and now the pounds are sneaking back, as is that belly flab. Argh. What could be going wrong? Possibly, you are adding too many carbohydrates back into your diet. You have to understand, carbs/sugar are in practically EVERYTHING we eat. Common sources of carb-creep carbs include:

  • Sauces with hidden sugars
  • Low sugar fruits and veggies, when taken in enough quantity (e.g. the 12 oz. bag of frozen cauliflower in my freezer has 12 net carbs -- equal to 1/3rd a can of Coke!)

Possible solution: Systematically cut out even moderate carb foods. Track everything you put into your mouth for 2 weeks. Seek accurate data about how your body responds to different foods.

#2. Too Many Fake Carbs

Maybe some of you out there can sustain yourself on nothing but caribou meat. But most of us crave a little variety. "Fake" carbs -- foods made with stuff like sucralose or carbalose -- allow us low-carbers the occasional relatively-guilt-free cheat. But too many of these artificial goodies may be able to blunt weight loss in sensitive people. Some fake carbs are cut with small amounts of sugar. And/or the problem could be related to something called the cephalic insulin response.

Possible solution: Cut out ALL fake carbs and track your results. Sigh. I know. These treats make low-carbing bearable. But you gotta do what you gotta do.

#3. Stress

Chronic stress can have a bad effect on your cortisol levels. This in turn seems to be able to elevate insulin levels. As we low-carbers know, insulin can cause our bodies to store calories as fat in the fat tissue. Thus, stress can blunt the effectiveness of low carbing.

Possible solution: Explore the stress reducing benefits of regular meditation. The scientific evidence is compelling. Take an hour and watch this video, in which an expert in the field, Jon Kabat-Zinn, walks the guys at Google through the argument. Convincing stuff, methinks!

#4. Medications

After doing preliminary research on the web, I found that many common prescription medications -- from corticosteroids to antidepressants to antihistamines -- appear to cause weight gain AND to elevate insulin levels in some patients. The alternative theory about obesity that I have come to embrace implicates excess insulin rather than excess calories. So maybe these meds act more or less directly on the fat tissue, and that is why we gain weight on them and why we can’t shake that weight. Posts like these abound online -- from frustrated patients who clearly are packing on pounds despite doing their darndest to eat less and exercise more.

Possible solution: Talk to your doctor about maybe changing up your meds? Honestly, since I am not a doctor, I have no idea what to do here. But the insulin hypothesis to explain the weight gain seems consistent with what I have come to believe.

#5. Natural hormonal shifts

Your fat tissue is not a garbage bag for calories. It is an active participant in metabolism, and it is sensitive to changes in hormones. Women going through menarche, pregnancy, and menopause, for instance, can experience tremendous natural hormonal shifts that no doubt impact insulin sensitivity. I have been looking at a phenomenon called Couvade Syndrome, also known as sympathetic pregnancy. Dads-to-be can develop symptoms that mimic pregnancy -- complete with weight gain. The conventional explanation is that this is behavioral -- the dads-to-be consume more calories because they are around hungry moms all the time, and they copy their eating habits. But this behavioral explanation is laughably incoherent, unless you want to argue that animals like marmosets (who also experience Couvade) have Freudian issues.

Possible solution: Be on the lookout for anything that can disrupt or change your hormonal balance. Talk to your doctor or endocrinologist about it. But shift your paradigm about weight loss away from thinking only about the food you eat and the exercise you do -- and instead consider the entire gamut of things that can impact your hormones/insulin levels.

I know. This weight loss thing can be a huge pain, and there is not much good science to help you. But I believe a lot of problems (on low carb diets and other plans) can be better met by thinking about the issues through the prism of Insulin Counts (as opposed to Calories Count).

Comments? Questions? Feedback? Rants? Fanatical praise? Please email me. This e-zine and why-low-carb-diets-work.com are very much works in progress. Let me know what you would like to see, and I will try to make it happen.

And get your friends and family to sign up for The Calorie Skeptic! It is only gonna get better, folks!