Category Archives: Atkins

Learning how to get started on lowcarb/keto.

OK, you’ve decided to try lowcarb/keto to deal with some health problems or some weight you want to lose. If you are like most people, your biggest stumbling block will not be a lack of ‘willpower’ but a lack of information.


Diet product marketers love that lack of information. Big marketers use ignorance to sell vast numbers of products to deluded people— like those ‘keto’ pills that contain a tiny amount of MCT oil, and the claim is that if you take those pills, you can still eat loads of carbs and stay in ketosis. 


There are also the pathetic mini-marketers, many of whom seem to live in India, who spam social media groups on MeWe, Gab, and the anti-free-speech social medium with F and B in the name. They will sell you ‘keto’ meal plans and fast weight loss gimmicks and self-published ‘keto’ recipe books with non-functional recipes full of typos. OK, folks, real businessmen with a product to sell don’t spam online groups to get free advertising. 


How do you get real information? From actual books, most of which will be published by actual publishers. The best authors are doctors who have become known in the keto community. Some non-doctors like Jimmy Moore and Dana Carpender are useful as well.


The problem with getting your initial infomation on lowcarb/keto from podcasts, web sites, spammers, or self-published spam books is that anyone out there can make podcasts, web sites, spam posts in groups, and so on. They can put up wrong information if they want to, too. I remember encountering some one that had a book out about carnivore, who demanded that his followers in a social media group accept his theory that a carnivore having a hard time losing weight should cut the fat from his diet. I pointed out the Kekwick and Pawan study of 1957, but that person didn’t seem to think it applied as much as his own personal authority did.


I am not a medical doctor or a ‘diet’ guru or an experimental scientist. I’m just someone who has found out about lowcarb/keto and used it for blood sugar control and weight loss. Since I’m decently well-educated and have read loads of books about lowcarb and about diet and health in general, I’d really like to help others get correct information, too.
So— I’m starting a series on this blog. We are going to study the book ‘Doctor Atkins’ Diet Revolution’ and apply some of the things we learn to our lives. 


To participate, you will have to buy a copy of ‘Doctor Atkins’ Diet Revolution,’ which was published in 1972. You can get it as a mass-market paperback from Amazon or other online retailers, or you may be able to get a copy from a used book store if you have one where you live. I got my copy of the book from a thrift shop years ago. 


Dr. Atkins later wrote ‘Doctor Atkins New Diet Revolution’ in 1992. This book is a useful book, it advocates for the same eating plan, and I own a couple of copies of that book as well. But it’s not the exact text we are going to be talking about. Do consider the book an officially encouraged secondary textbook, however.


When you get your Atkins book, start out by reading it. If you are a big reader like me, you will dash through it the first time, and may need to read some of it over again to catch some important points. If you are not big on reading, if you don’t consider yourself good at reading, start at the beginning and read a chapter a day or a section a day until you get through. Read at your own pace. If you have the book on Kindle you can easily highlight anything that seems important or that you might want to read again later.


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Are you on board with joining us in this look at Atkins? Say so in a comment on this blog, then order the book, and read it when it arrives to get yourself basically oriented as to what Atkins and the lowcarb/ketogenic way are really all about. The next post in this blog series will come along in about a week.

You Really Do Have To Eat Low-Carb

One of the constant temptations of the low-carbohydrate, ketogenic way of life is deciding that there is some sort of gimmick out there that will let you eat ‘normal’ high carb junk food and still have the health benefits of low-carb and ketosis.

If you don’t come up with this bad idea on your own, merchants are willing to sell it to you. I’ve seen an ad for powdered MCT oil which claims that if you buy and use their product, you can continue to eat high-carb bread, pasta and fruit and magically somehow still have the same benefits as if you had eaten a healthy low-carb diet.

This is the sad and sorry truth. You cannot outrun a bad diet. You cannot buy a product that will magically undo the effects of a bad diet. You will have to eat healthy for your whole life if you want health benefits for your whole life.

On the bright side, knowing the science about the low-carbohydrate way of life means you don’t have to be trapped in the miserable ‘Hunger Games’ of the unscientific calorie-counting method which fails 90% of the time. We can eat actual tasty food— three meals a day if we like— and not have to suffer through hunger pangs.

But we have to limit our carbs. That means there are foods we just may not eat any more. Maybe because we’d have to eat such a tiny portion of them it’s not worth bothering to do it. Or because it will just cause more carb cravings than you want to deal with. Or you were only eating those nasty bananas because someone told you they were healthy, and it’s and actual relief not to have to eat them any more.

When you have beaten any carb addictions you have, you may decide you like the way you feel on low-carb a lot better than you like the momentary pleasure of having a high-carb food in your mouth. But you have to break those addictions first, by following your low-carb plan until it is your way of life.

NOTE: to learn about the low-carb keto way of life, don’t rely on strangers on the internet who may not have good knowledge. Get a good book, by an author whose name is well known in the low-carb keto community. Since a lot of the current crop of keto influencers started off doing Atkins, and Atkins is ketogenic and low-carb, ‘Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution’ is the book I recommend that you start with. Read it all the way through. Read the chapter with the instructions on how to do the actual diet every day for at least two weeks. Get the rules into your head.

Why Original Atkins is Best

I’ve been doing the low-carb thing for over 20 years now. It started when I bought the original Dr Atkins Diet Revolution in a thrift shop. I had heard bad things about Atkins, but I was desperate to lose some weight, and figured I could just quit when I became thinner.

I never did quit. My goals changed when I saw low-carb/keto helped with health problems. I managed to accumulate many other Atkins books, as well as others about our way-of-eating.

I liked the original Atkins the best. In the time when that book was written, few folks had access to specialty grocery stores and specialty foods. Atkins knew most followers would be limited to the foods they could get in a regular grocery. Big city people don’t realize it, but many people have similar limitations even today.

Original Atkins was also free of the Atkins corporation which had not been started yet. Later Atkins books feature recipes calling for Atkins brand ingredients, some of which are no longer made, others which are not available in all areas.

I am troubled how the current Atkins products brag about their low ‘sugar carbs’ on their labels. We don’t count ‘sugar carbs’ on Original Atkins but carbs. They also talk about their protein content and never mention fat. Well, a corporation is a life form that lives to sell product. We can’t expect it to do anything that would hurt sales.

Another difference is that Later Atkins has you counting ‘net carbs.’ This tends to reward people for eating high fiber foods. In Original Atkins you just counted carbs, and so you couldn’t exactly chomp down two heads of lettuce at a meal, or use a high fiber ‘low-carb baking mix’ that can cause painful constipation.

Original Atkins is not perfect. Aimed at weight loss only, it has multiple levels that by the time you hit Maintainance, have you out of ketosis altogether. Not good if you need ketosis to help you deal with your arthritis, diabetes, autism spectrum disorder or depression on an ongoing basis.

The solution to that is to be smart. Don’t get caught up in a cycle of going up levels to add back more carbs, and lose the benefits of being in ketosis.

As you learn more about low-carb/keto, you may tweak your practice to incorporate your new knowledge. I no longer use canola oil, for example. And I’ve learned to enjoy some zero-carb foods, like pork chops, that I never used to like. I’m also crazy for chicken thighs, because they are cheaper than wings, taste great, and I can make bone broth from the bones.

Keto is Different from ‘Dieting’

The Keto/Low-Carb approach is often misunderstood because people assumed it is just another form of ‘dieting.’ And ‘dieting’ means calorie-counting, cutting back on food amounts, experiencing hunger as a form of virtue, perhaps radical reduction of fat— the whole package that gets called ‘semi-starvation’ in scientific journal articles. 

Critics of Keto/Low-Carb have been claiming for so long that you only lose weight on our eating plan if you cut the calories that Dr. Robert C. Atkins, in his very first book in 1972, felt the need to include the case study of a patient of his who lost 80 pounds on 3000 calories a day. We cut back on the carbs, not the calories or total food amounts. 

Imagine a ‘dieter’ in the morning. He used to eat two slices of buttered toast for breakfast, now that he’s ‘dieting’ he eats his toast dry. If he can’t lose weight on that kind of restriction maybe he only eats on slice of dry toast. Or maybe he buys whole wheat bread and decides since he’s being so good, he can have 3 slices of dry toast in the morning. It’s ‘healthy whole grain!’ Without butter!

When we are on Keto, by contrast, we will ditch the bread (unless we can buy or make low-carb bread) and keep the butter. An easy solution if you are lazy like me is to put your butter in your hot coffee or tea, making it ‘bulletproof.’ If that feels too much like skipping breakfast (which many of us ketonians do) you can add an egg. Or two, or three. Eggs are low-carb enough to be a ‘free food’ on Keto. You can cook your eggs in butter, coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil. Whichever you like. Or you can have hard-boiled or baked eggs if that’s what you prefer.

A ‘dieter’ has this dilemma— he constantly has to cut back, reduce calories, eat less. But that doesn’t always lead to the desired weight loss. It may just train your body to get by with fewer calories per day. This is why dieters experience weight loss plateaus, that usually can’t be fixed without more calorie restrictions. Which leads to hunger. Which, if you are not anorexic or a diet fanatic, will lead at some point to the dieter ditching the diet to EAT something.

On Keto we work WITH our bodies. When we feel hungry, there are low-carbohydrate foods we can eat. If we are not so hungry because of being in ketosis, we can do intermittent fasting or OMAD (one meal a day) when we feel like it. 

Our bodies are not under our voluntary control. You can’t control the rate at which your heart beats, or how quickly your body digests food, or when your body makes insulin or how much it makes or if your body, because of insulin resistance, doesn’t pay proper attention to insulin.

Keto is a trick to make your body let go of the weight without feeling constant hunger pangs. Since hunger pangs are your body’s signal that you need food, healthy people can’t ignore hunger signals for long. And because of that, ‘dieting’ fails. Keto DOES hit weight loss plateaus, and you may need to do some intermittent fasting or cut down further on your carbs from time to time. But it won’t make you go hungry. 

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To get good instructions on how to go Keto/Low-Carb, get one or both of these books: Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution (1972); Dr. Atkins New Diet Cookbook (1994). They have instructions on doing the eating plan, recipes, and menu plans. 

The Scientific Reasons Why Calories Don’t Count

Some medical people are so convinced of the merits of the semi-starvation diet (calorie-counting) that when the first popular ketogenic eating plan came out, Atkins, they proclaimed without gathering evidence that anyone who lost weight on Atkins did so because they were eating less calories, perhaps because Atkins was so ‘boring.’ (For me, I’ve never gotten bored by being able to eat when I’m hungry instead of having to endure hunger pangs.)

Atkins tackled this issue in his first book in 1972. He gave the case history of a man, Herb,  who had a calorie intake on the Atkins eating plan of 3000 calories a day— not a semi-starvation diet calorie level! And yet he lost 85 pounds in four months on this eating plan.

According to advocates of the calorie-watching, semi-starvation diet, our bodies are like calorie calculators and with all these ‘extra’ calories in 3000 calories a day, Herb should have been steadily gaining weight, not losing 85 pounds. The numbers don’t add up for weight loss, and for semi-starvation diet advocates it is all about the numbers.

In the Keto/Low-Carb realm, it’s all about the science. We look on the body not as a calorie calculator that will punish us with fat if our numbers are wrong, but as a metabolism, that uses insulin to metabolize our food, and that can be thrown out of whack by a condition called insulin resistance— where the body learns to ignore the insulin it makes, and so makes ever more insulin which it ignores ever more, and in the end results in T2 diabetes— which is a disease with too much insulin, not too little as in T1. The ‘fix’ for T2 diabetes is not insulin shots, which normally cause weight gain and give the body even more insulin to semi-ignore, but to lower one’s carb intake and get one’s body back in balance— at best, through the standard Keto/Low-Carb eating plan. 

The golden standard of science is the experiment which is sound enough to get published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The case studies Dr. Atkins gives aren’t as good. We don’t know how carefully he observed his patients, and we don’t know whether he ‘cherry-picked’ through a thousand case studies to get the ones he wanted for his books. Scientific journal studies are much more ‘sciency.’

The best or at least best-known study for the case of ‘calories don’t count’ is the Kekwick and Pawan study of 1957 (Remember those names and that year.) It was called ‘Metabolic Study in Human Obesity with Isocalorie Diets High in Fat, Protein or Carbohydrate,’ published in ‘Metabolism Clinical and Experimental.’ 

This is how it worked. Kekwick & Pawan compared three 1000 calorie a day diets. But one was high in carbohydrate, one high in protein, and one high in fat. The high-carbohydrate dieters lost very little weight even though they were consuming only 1000 calories per day. The high-protein dieters did lose weight. And the high-fat dieters lost the most weight of all.

Think for a moment. The semi-starvation diet’s advocates have a slogan— ‘a calorie is a calorie is a calorie.’ That’s their way of saying only calories count. But Kekwick & Pawan’s study kicked that slogan in the butt. A calorie acts differently in the human body, depending on whether it is a calorie of carbohydrate, protein or fat. 

The results of the three different Kekwick & Pawan experimental diets explain why our eating plan is LOW in carbohydrates, MODERATE in protein, and HIGH in healthy fats. It’s the best way for weight loss, and in addition a ketogenic diet has proven beneficial for a number of health conditions (See Jimmy Moore’s book “Keto Clarity” for more details.)

And this ‘calories don’t count’ science explains one technique used by successful Keto/Low-Carb eaters. They eat something low-carb whenever they get hungry. They are not counting every calorie and limiting the day’s total. They are eating to feed their body well enough not to be tempted into carbohydrate binges. This is especially important during Induction, the first and strictest level of many Keto eating plans. Don’t get all hung up on the ‘dieting’ mindset and allow yourself to get hungry because you are being ‘good.’ Eating all the zero-carb foods your body might want IS being good on this way-of-eating. If someone tells you that you have to do calorie restriction in order to lose weight on Keto, that person is not scientifically up to date. Don’t let some ill-informed person turn your happy Keto life into a life of hunger and restriction. The semi-starvation diet has been proven through scientific study to fail dieters most of the time. Don’t turn healthy Keto into an imitation of that!

Learning to Do Keto/Lowcarb the Right Way

I read once about a hapless couple who decided to try the low-carb Atkins eating plan but weren’t the kind to read a book about it first. They had heard that the Atkins diet forbids bread. And so they ate pita bread and pasta instead.

Sadly there are people out there who just don’t want to READ. They know how, but reading isn’t something they do. Or perhaps they read only one kind of thing— romance novels, hunting magazines, graphic novels— and they don’t think they can plow through a whole book about how to go on a low-carb eating plan.

For those people: think of it this way. A person in Alcoholics Anonymous may not be a big reader, but he often makes a point of reading from Alcoholics Anonymous’ Big Book every single morning. It can be inspiring as well as informative.

When I first started doing lowcarb, I read in my Diet Revolution book every morning to keep me on track. Before long, I knew by heart the kinds of foods that were allowed and not allowed on a lowcarb eating plan. This made it easier to plan meals, shop, and make food-related decisions.

If you are not the type to read a whole book about a low-carb eating plan in an evening, try this: get a good basic book about low carb, such as:

Atkins Diet Revolution, Robert Atkins, 1972

New Atkins for a New You, Westman, Phinney & Volek, 2010

Keto Clarity, Jimmy Moore, Eric Westman, 2014

Real Food Keto, Jimmy Moore, Christine Moore, 2019

Now, every morning read a chapter or part of a chapter from the book. Or do it in the evening if your mornings are hectic. If the book has a ‘diet sheet’ as the Atkins Diet Revolution does— a short list of allowed foods and forbidden foods— look that part over daily as well. You might purchase the book in audiobook form, if available, and listen while you are doing something else.

After you have finished the book, start over at the beginning until you have read the book or listened to it a few times. Every time you read or listen, you will be internalizing the information a bit more, and inspiring yourself to stick to the plan.

It’s not just that the books tell you precisely how to do the diet. They explain why it works, give some of the scientific research that backs up this way of eating, and also in many books you will find recipes. The more facts you learn, the more you will be able to follow a healthy low-carb diet accurately. It will keep you motivated.

You might also listen to some of the low-carb podcasts by health podcaster Jimmy Moore. He tends to have many prominent guests who can give out good science-based low-carb information, and he has a talent for explaining the complicated stuff.

The problem with being on a healthy low-carb eating plan is that we are surrounded by misinformation about diet. We have to almost un-brainwash ourselves to keep us from going astray with the daily temptations— such as those sugar-filled, carb-filled breakfast cereals with the words ‘heart-healthy’ on the packages.

Do you know about a good book, audiobook or podcast on a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic eating plan?  Let us all know about it in a comment!