Once you've been heavy for some time, you're in a metabolic trap, a sort of high-walled box created in large part by high insulin levels. You may already have noticed that you're trapped. Certainly, trying diet after diet and failing on all of them is depressing. I know from personal experience and from the comments of thousands of my patients just how tightly the lid of metabolic obesity seems to press down. Fortunately, there is a key to unlatch this box. A perfectly natural bodily process called lipolysis can lift up the lid and let hope shine in.
The definition of lipolysis sounds like Nirvana to a person longing to lose weight. It means "the process of dissolving fat." Isn't that exactly why we're all gathered here today? Now I will tell you the "secret" to unlocking the latent power of lipolysis.
When you burn fat, it breaks down into glycerol and other fatty acids. How does the process actually work? Are there any drawbacks? There are plenty of laypeople and even physicians who think there must be.
And burning one's fat off sounds like a faddish trick. These folks give a skeptical shrug and say, "I'm sure people lose some weight with your approach, Dr. Atkins, but don't they gain it right back again?"
The interesting thing is that, if they adhere to the four phases of my program, which includes finding their Critical Carbohydrate Level for Maintenance (CCLM), meaning the amount of carbohydrates they can consume and neither gain nor lose weight, not many do. The phase known as Lifetime Maintenance, though more indulgent, evolves naturally from the three weight loss phases, thereby gradually teaching Atkins followers a permanent way of eating that still moderates carbohydrate intake to the degree that is necessary for each individual.
As for the weight loss phases of Atkins, they are simple and overwhelmingly effective. I don't see any reason why I should understate the facts. Lipolysis is one of life's charmed gifts. It's as delightful as sex and sunshine, and it has fewer drawbacks than either of them!
In the earlier editions of this book I used the word ketosis to describe this wonderful process. In fact, here is exactly what I said: "The term 'ketosis,' when it applies to the benign, diet-induced type we're talking about, is really a shortening of the term ketosis/lipolysis, which is enough of a tongue twister that you can see why it is commonly referred to only by the name ketosis." Well, experience is a great teacher, and over the years I have learned that in my attempt to simplify things I created confusion.
Let me explain. The Atkins Nutritional Approach stimulates the process of lipolysis, a state I hope you are always in: burning your fat for energy. A secondary process of lipolysis is ketosis. Ketosis occurs when you are taking in a low level of carbohydrates from the food you eat, as you will during the Induction phase of Atkins. Lipolysis results in the creation of ketones (that's ketosis), a perfectly normal and natural function of the body.
In the minds of laypeople (and even some ill-informed doctors) ketosis is often confused with diabetic ketoacidosis. The latter is the consequence of insulin-deficient subjects having out-of-control blood-sugar levels, a condition that can occur as well in alcoholics and people in a state of extreme starvation. Ketosis and ketoacidosis may sound vaguely alike, but the two conditions are virtually polar opposites. They can always be distinguished from each other by the fact that the diabetic in ketoacidosis has been consuming excessive carbohydrates and has high blood sugar, in sharp contrast to the fortunate person doing Atkins.
To avoid any further confusion, I will use the term lipolysis throughout this chapter to describe the process of burning fat for energy.
Many controlled carbohydrate regimens have been proposed over the years. They work with some degree of effectiveness for some people. However, many of them do not bring carbohydrate intake down to a level that will permit lipolysis. For people who are metabolically obese and have great difficulty losing, that is a grave weakness.
Atkins, on the other hand, starts off at 20 grams of carbohydrates. Each individual then proceeds at his or her own rate, gradually adding back both the amount and the variety of carbohydrate foods. We'll get into the specifics of how you calculate grams of carbohydrate and which carbs you will and will not be eating in Chapter 8. For now, let me assure you that my state-of-the-art weight loss program is the safest, healthiest, most luxurious way to become and stay slim for the remainder of your life.
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