The reason I decided to post this note today is the following discussion
thread: Atkins Meat and Millet Diet . Start reading with Dolores' posts.
My Cholesterol Bomba
I started experimenting with the high animal fat low carb nutrition in July 1999. It worked so well for me that it became my lifestyle ever since. Since it never caused me any trouble, I could never understand why were some people, especially diabetics, opting out after just a few months with lots of complains. Yet those were exactly the people for whom a high fat low carb diet was best suited (*) and could have been the most benefitial had they been able to persist. Why couldn't they?
I think I can probably answer this question now:
The most likely reason behind diabeitc's failures to follow Atkins lies in the induction stage being too short and Dr. Atkins unfortunate recommendation to increase carbohydrates beyond the ketogenic limit (about 20g) following the short induction stage, as well as the lack of restriction on the amount of protein! Diabetics need probably about 2 years to adapt, before they can add more carbohydrates and protein back to their HIGH FAT diet. I needed 1.5 years before I could tolerate the average beyond 20g carbs a day!
Fat does not cause permanent insulin resistance. Under normal circumstance, it only does it while you eat it, not a few hors afterwards. Even if I eat lots of fat, I can have 100g of carbs on the next day (though I rarely do).
My body WAS insulin resistant intitially on the high fat diet, but I was able to increase my occasional consumption of carbs way above my initial 50g level [NOTE: this is an error, should be 25], gradually over time.
In the first year I could not exceed 25g of carbs (1 beer) without suffering a massive headache. Gradually after a couple of years my body recovered its usual flexibility and I am able to eat occasionally up to about 100g of carbs as vegetable, fruit and my two favored "truly essential macronutrients" - ice cream and chocolate.
For me a high fat low carb diet wasn't a road from bad to worse, it was from bad to normal!
I suspect that the reason behind Atkins diet #1 delayed (not immediate) blood glucose deterioration among some patient was his allowance to up the carbs after his initial induction stage. Some patients probably took it too liberaly and coupled with the then much stronger fatophobia than nowadays, may have resulted in overconsumtion of lean protein and carbs.
In my experience on the high fat, which is probably representative to many middle-aged adults ( 43 at that time) , my hormonal imbalance involving insulin resistance, with hypoglycemia and poor glucose regulation persisted throughout the first 1.5 year! Atkins induction period (6m ?) was probably not long enough for people with metabolic syndrome and with diabetes! It certainly was not long enough for me. In the first 1.5 years I could only tolerate 25g of carbs! Which was not a huge problem but I just had to remember to be strict. Whenever I ate more, even 50g would cause me a headache especially if I simultaneously exceeded protein as well! For example, I remember a massive headache I got from a plate full of salmon with potatoes!
Technically my capacity to consume carbs became in that initial period much reduced than before on the high carb diet, therefore technically you could argue that I had "deteriorated" from being insulin resistant to being virtually a diabetic! However, that is purely of academic interest (i.e of useless value) because I RARELY exceeded those 25g of carbs/day, and when I did stuck to those 25g I had absolutely no problem and my health continued improving. That 25g limit didn't bother or worry me at all! For example my intestinal sensitivities and dry eyes syndrome went away with weeks. My mild angina begun gradually abate and I was feeling stronger and more energetic with every passing months. That was the story of the first 1.5 years. Most Atkins patients I guess - would probably bail out during that stage, not understanding why they suddenly feel much worse the moment they add "little" bit more carbs after Atkins unfortunate recommendation!
The second stage of my adaptation to my high fat nutrition occured after 1.5 years. My mild angina completely disappeared, and I discovered that I am no longer carbohydrate intolerant!
I remember how surprized I was when after eating two full bowls of strawberries I did not get any sensations! I no longer would get a headache after drinking wine and especially beer.
I recommend also to look back at this post Can ketogenic diet cure cancer?, please notice the two papers referenced:
Ketosis leads to increased methylglyoxal production on the Atkins diet.
A brief critical overview of the biological effects of methylglyoxal and further evaluation of a methylglyoxal-based anticancer formulation in treating cancer patients.
*) For example, see the following comments and papers:
1. Beware of the carbs!
However, at least 22 experiments have documented the benefits of reducing the dietary intake of carbohydrates in type 2 diabetics.2-23 Most of them were controlled studies where a low- carbohydrate diet was compared with a low-fat diet, and almost all of them found that the former was better than the latter as regards weight reduction and glycemic control. In several of the low- carbohydrate groups patients were even able to reduce or stop their antidiabetic treatment.Most of these studies were ignored by the Cochrane authors because their length was shorter than six months. However, to-day four studies with a length of six months or longer have been published and with similar benefits as in the short-term experiments.14, 15, 19, 23
2. Control of blood glucose in type 2 diabetes without weight loss by modification of diet composition
... A 30:20:50 [P:C:F] ratio diet resulted in a 38% decrease in 24-hour glucose area, a reduction in fasting glucose to near normal and a decrease in %tGHb from 9.8% to 7.6%. The response to a 30:30:40 ratio diet was similar.
Altering the diet composition could be a patient-empowering method of improving the hyperglycemia of type 2 diabetes without weight loss or pharmacologic intervention.
3. Dietary carbohydrate restriction in type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome: time for a critical appraisal
Current nutritional approaches to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes generally rely on reductions in dietary fat. The success of such approaches has been limited and therapy more generally relies on pharmacology. The argument is made that a re-evaluation of the role of carbohydrate restriction, the historical and intuitive approach to the problem, may provide an alternative and possibly superior dietary strategy. The rationale is that carbohydrate restriction improves glycemic control and reduces insulin fluctuations which are primary targets. Experiments are summarized showing that carbohydrate-restricted diets are at least as effective for weight loss as low-fat diets and that substitution of fat for carbohydrate is generally beneficial for risk of cardiovascular disease. These beneficial effects of carbohydrate restriction do not require weight loss. Finally, the point is reiterated that carbohydrate restriction improves all of the features of metabolic syndrome.