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colette_heimowitz's Blog

When you think of inflammation, most likely you think of a wound on your skin that is red, swollen and painful. As part of your body’s natural defense system, a certain amount of inflammation is healthy, especially when it responds to infection, irritation or injury. But once the battle has been fought, inflammation should return to normal levels. Unlike the swelling around a bug bite or the bruise resulting from a fall, you cannot see the inflammation that may be impacting other aspects of your health. This type of inflammation is silent but deadly—it’s causing damage to your organs and can lead to serious conditions like heart disease, cancer and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer and Parkinson’s diseases. It can be caused by a variety of factors including genetics, a sedentary lifestyle, high levels of stress, certain medications, leaky gut syndrome and refined and processed foods and sugars, which lead to insulin spikes.

Right now there is no definitive test for inflammation; the best you can do is measure the levels of C-Reactive Protein (CRP) in your blood through a blood test:

• Less than 1.0 mg/Liter = low risk
• 1.0-3.0 mg/Liter = average risk
• Above 3.0 = High risk

Many doctors consider anything about 1.0 mg/Liter too high. And it’s bad news when inflammation remains chronically elevated. Fortunately a low-carb diet like Atkins has been shown to eliminate those inflammation-causing foods (refined and processed foods and sugars) and focus on foods shown to decrease inflammation:

• Colorful low-glycemic vegetables and low-sugar fruits rich in antioxidants
• Whole food sources of complex carbohydrates and grains
• Protein including eggs, fatty fish such as salmon, legumes, nuts, seeds
• Healthy fats including olive oil and avocado

There are also a few studies that show that a low-carb diet like Atkins is more effective at reducing inflammation than low-fat diets, or even Weight Watchers, the Zone and the Mediterranean Diet. These studies show that dietary carbohydrates rather than fat may be a more significant nutritional factor contributing to inflammation, although the combination of both increased fat and a high carb intake may be also be harmful. Just more reasons why Atkins is good for your waistline and your health.

 

Weight loss is not always a linear process, and it’s perfectly natural for you to lose weight in fits and starts. Usually, if you stick with the program for a few more days—or even weeks, in some cases—your weight loss will resume. You may just need some minor adjustments to get the scale moving in the right direction again.

Here are some things you can do to hopefully push past this plateau:
• Remember to journal. Write everything you eat down.
• Cut your Net Carbs. If you have progressed beyond phase one, decrease your daily intake of Net Carbs by 10 grams. You may have exceeded your tolerance for carbs while losing weight and inadvertently stumbled upon your tolerance for maintaining your new weight. Once weight loss resumes, move up in 5-gram increments again.
• Count all your carbs, including lemon juice, sweeteners and so on.
• Find and eliminate “hidden” carbs in sauces, beverages and processed foods that may contain sugar or starches.
• Increase your activity level; this works for some but not all people.
• Increase your fluid intake to a minimum of eight 8-ounce glasses of water (or other non-caloric fluids) daily.
• Do a reality check on your calorie intake.
• Bye-bye booze. If you’ve been consuming alcohol, back off or abstain for now.

If these don’t make the scale budge for a month, you’re truly on a plateau. Frustrating as it is, the only way to outsmart it is to wait it out. Continue to eat right and follow the other advice above, and your body (and your scale) will eventually comply.

To be a genuine plateau, the pause in weight loss must meet the following criteria:
• No weight loss or loss of inches for at least four weeks.
• You haven't altered your exercise regimen or made any other significant lifestyle change.
• You’re not taking any new medications (including hormone therapy) that may be interfering with weight loss.
• You can honestly say you’ve adhered to all aspects of the program.

How to Handle a Plateau
First, stay calm. Don’t give up and return to your old way of eating.
Remember two things: First, your body is not like anyone else’s. It has its own system, its own agenda and its own timetable. In the long run, your body nearly always responds to consistency and patience.
But in the short run, your body may decide to go its own way, for its own reasons that we may not be able to understand. Be patient; you can afford to outwait it.

Secondly, the number of pounds lost isn’t the only way to measure success. I hope you've followed our advice about measuring your chest, waist, hips, thighs and upper arms. If you’re losing inches, the scale will eventually catch up. Do your clothes feel looser? Have you tried on those clothes that “felt a little too tight” just a few weeks ago? Look at the other markers mentioned earlier. Are you feeling better than you used to? Do you have the energy to do what you want to do? If so, then something good is happening to your body. Be patient, eat right, and you will almost certainly see results before long.

Research has shown that there is a relationship between the food you eat and your mood. To a certain extent, it comes down to nutrients and neurotransmitters. The first thing to note is the human brain is, by far, the most complex structure known to man. It is composed of billions of interconnected cells, each of which is capable of communicating to neighboring cells through chemicals called neurotransmitters. (The Internet, by comparison, is child’s play compared to the network of cells in a single adult human brain.) Serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine are all neurotransmitters that are thought to play a role in helping to regulate your mood:

Serotonin, which helps boost your mood, is made from tryptophan, an essential amino acid found in fish, eggs, chicken, turkey and other meats.

Dopamine is one of the most powerful stimulating neurotransmitters, and it is converted from the amino acid tyrosine, which is found in almonds, avocados, dairy products, pumpkin and sesame seeds.

Norepinephrine is another stimulating neurotransmitter, which is also converted from tyrosine.

There are a number of important nutrients that may also help boost your mood:

Omega-3 fatty acids help with alleviating depression and other mood disorders. Salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, flaxseeds, nuts and dark, green leafy vegetables are all rich in omega-3s.

Lycopene is an antioxidant that helps protect your brain and fights inflammation, which may cause depression. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene.

In addition to lycopene, many other antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables, have also been associated with decreasing depression.

Folate, which is a B vitamin found in beans, citrus and dark green vegetables like spinach, affects mood-boosting neurotransmitters.

Magnesium is a mineral that may help lower your stress level (and low stress is always good for your mood). Spinach is also high in magnesium.

Picking the right macronutrients is also important:

Protein helps moderate your blood sugar, meaning you don’t experience fluctuations in your energy levels or uncontrollable hunger.

Carbohydrates like vegetables, fruits and whole grains have fiber that help keep your blood sugar steady. Low-quality carbs found in sugar, desserts, fried foods and refined grains could make you irritable and cause fluctuations in your blood sugar levels.

Fat, as in monounsaturated, polyunsaturated (including those depression-busting omega-3s) and even saturated fats are essential to healthy brain function. In addition to the foods rich in omega-3s, olive oil, canola and coconut oil, avocados and nuts and seeds are all good sources of these fats. Avoid trans fats, which are found in processed and fried food.

Finally, eating small, frequent meals (made up of all the healthy foods I just discussed) can help keep your blood sugar levels stable and give you a constant source of energy while keeping you satisfied, not hungry. Which is also good for your mood!

By now you should see a common theme: All of these good-mood-foods are important components of the Atkins Diet! In other words, a low-carb diet is good for your waistline and your mood.
  


 

The U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey has measured American’s caloric consumption and height and weight for over 50 years. A paper to be published in the journal Nutrition features the first comprehensive analysis of this data—it measured how macronutrient consumption patterns and weight and body mass index (BMI) of American adults have evolved since the 1960s.

In general, Americans have been following the nutrition advice issued for the last 40 years by the American Heart Association and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In other words, the infamous Food Pyramid that mandates less fat and more carbs. Here’s what the analysis showed:

• Fat consumption decreased from 45% to 34% between 1965 and 2011
• Carb consumption increased from 39% to 51% over this same period
• There is a big connection between this decrease in fat consumption and increase in carb consumption and the rise in obesity
• The percentage of overweight adults has increased from 42% to 66% since 1971

The conclusion? By following the nationally mandated dietary guidelines, eating more carbs and less fat has led to expanding waistlines and an obesity problem. This once again supports the research that shows that revising our dietary guidelines in the favor of increasing our intake of healthy fats and emphasizing carbs in the form of vegetables, low glycemic fruits,  and controlled portions of complex grains may be the solution to our growing obesity problem. In other words, the basic fundamentals of Atkins continue to be proven as a viable way to help you lose weight and improve your health.

The online journal Open Heart just published a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) available to the U.S. and U.K. regulatory committees when they were creating the guidelines for dietary fat intake in 1977 and 1983. And this analysis showed that there was no evidence to support the dietary fat guidelines that were put in place.

The Dietary Guidelines have wide ranging impact on US policies and programs, and can have serious environmental, political, business and socioeconomic consequences. At their core, these guidelines influence our national conversation about what we eat -- and why. However, what’s rarely discussed is the science on which the dietary guidelines decisions are supposed to be based.

These dietary fat guidelines recommended that we cut the fat to about 30% of our total daily calories, and reduce saturated fat, from red meat and dairy products like milk, egg and cheese, down to no more than 10% of total calories. Yet neither of these recommendations were ever tested or proven. The result? We started avoiding fat, all right—in favor of carbohydrates, which are broken down into sugars and triglycerides and cause more harm than the fat that comes from red meat and diary products. Consuming package after package of cookies because they were labeled “low-fat” was clearly not the solution.

The guidelines, intended to make Americans healthier, have done anything but. Adult obesity rates have doubled since 1980 when the guidelines were first released, and they’re set to increase another 50% by 2030. Meanwhile, childhood obesity and diabetes diagnoses have tripled.

The dietary guidelines are clearly not working towards their goal of improving public health and maintaining a healthy weight.  The definition of insanity is often said to be doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. While there is some evidence to support a link between dietary fat consumption and heart disease, so many other factors need to be taken into account. Dietary fat consumption has little to do with cholesterol levels as compared to the cholesterol circulating in our bodies that is produced by the liver. Even the American Heart Association has softened its stance on dietary fat consumption, and now focuses on the types of fat you should consume and the quality of your diet as a whole.

While researchers have not determined the optimal percentage of fat consumption, if you’re doing Atkins, study after study has shown that when we restrict or limit carbs (especially the simple carbs loaded with sugar) we are able to consume higher levels of fats  because they are being burned for fuel. In other words, you are on the right track if you’re consuming a diet rich in dairy, red meat, poultry, fish, healthy fats, fresh vegetables, and; in later Phases, (or if you’re doing Atkins 40™); fruits, legumes, starchy vegetables and whole grains.

 



 

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