Thursday, July 3, 2014

Troubleshooting Low Energy, Low Mood & Other Problems on Atkins Induction

Do Calories Matter on Atkins?
As the saying goes, just because you're not counting calories doesn't mean that calories don't count. Dr. Atkins wrote in Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution that you'll lose weight faster on fewer calories, but you won't necessarily have a sense of well-being. Most readers knows what he means: low mood and flagging energy.

Lack of Energy, Low Mood
This was how I felt Sunday afternoon and Monday. Part of my low mood was from having to fill out an application for Medicaid for both my parents, mostly so that my father can go live in a nursing home. It's too hard for my mother to take care of him and I can't be with them enough to help day-to-day.

I was thinking about my parents during yoga that evening and fighting tears. I didn't have a physical sense of well-being, either. The climb from the train station up to the street took more energy than it should have; so did the yoga class. I went back to the book for advice and read a chapter called "Why One Dieter in Ten Gets Stuck Temporarily."

The chapter offers many reasons why dieters can get stuck. Last month's diet pills (amphetamines) and diuretics? Never took them. Very strong tranquilizers and sex hormones? Never needed them. Thyroid deficiency? I've never had an abnormal thyroid test. Easily corrected problems that discourage dieters? "You may not be eating enough...or luxuriously enough." That sounded right. In the past, I've always felt better when I snacked, which I hadn't been doing since Atkins induction killed my desire to do so. Too few calories can make you tired and depressed. And I tend to lose my appetite when I'm sad or upset. Sunday, I had a late breakfast, dinner and no lunch. Monday, I didn't snack, but ate three meals that just made me not-hungry.

I read the rest of the chapter to make sure I wasn't missing anything.

"Salt deprivation and potassium deprivation are common and cause discomfort." Don't I know it. "Constipation is sometimes a problem." Not for me. "Rarely, low blood sugar symptoms continue." When my blood sugar gets low, you don't want to get between me and a snack. But since starting Atkins induction, my urge to snack has been extinguished. This diet is the only thing that has ever done this except for stress and illness (your blood sugar goes up a little when you're sick). If anything, my blood sugar is probably the most normal it's ever been.

"A tablespoon of potato salad can slow you down." Haven't had any--no chocolates, either. "Keep a written record of everything you eat--and count those grams." I haven't kept a written record, but I know I've followed the diet closely but not perfectly. I had too much cream in my coffee in social situations where the coffee needed something to make it tolerable. I've had a couple of half-glasses of red wine. I had some cheese that wasn't very hard or aged. I made some salad dressing with avocado that might not have been induction-kosher. That's it.

"It's possible to slow yourself down by eating too much salad." I don't think I'm that metabolically challenged. "Use Ketostix to check your progress." Yesterday, I turned one as purple as a pomegranate, meaning "large ketones." That means green salad and my niggling indulgences in wine, cream, avocado and squishy cheese weren't causing my problems. "Your attitude towards your own body makes a difference." I look at low-carb as a lifelong way of eating.

Since it looked like my problem was down to too little food, the next day and today I ate usual induction meals plus snacks, including the dreaded Atkins peanut butter chocolate bar, which I liked. Eating more lifted my spirits and made me more energetic. Atkins bars have added vitamins, which might have helped, too.  They were about the only thing that I could eat in the convenience store in the building where I work, since I don't care for canned tuna. I need to eat past the not-hungry stage to fullness to avoid low energy and mood. (I don't stuff myself since it gives me a stomach ache.) I'm still sad to see my parents declining, but I'm not overwrought with sadness anymore.

Good Vitamins, Bad Vitamins
Taking lesser quality magnesium over the weekend probably didn't help me. Regular readers know I suffered from mineral deficiencies at the beginning of the diet because I unfortunately started it right before oral surgery. Magnesium and potassium in particular need to be supplemented when starting a LC diet. Without enough magnesium, you won't absorb potassium, vitamin D, or calcium, involuntary muscles like the heart and digestive muscles won't work properly, and the hundreds of bodily functions that require magnesium will be off. The magnesium I keep at work and home are different--and the lesser quality pills at home might have accounted for some of my malaise. The first ingredient is magnesium oxide, which isn't absorbed as well as substances that end in -ate. When I got to work on Monday, I started taking the good stuff again. Even though a dose has less magnesium, the pills feel like they work better.

The difference between low-carb and very low-carb is like the difference between fall and winter. They're often lumped together, but they're different. Hunger, cravings, supplement needs and food choices change going from around 50-70g of carb per day to less than 20. Just as if you were going someplace where it was winter, you'd need to be better prepared than if it were fall.


Anonymous said...

Lori, you might look at the Lily's brand of chocolate bars if you want an alternative to the Atkins bar. (I realize you said you thought it was okay, but it's always nice to have other options.) These are sweetened with erythritol and they also contain inulin, so people with sensitivities to those are not going to be the ideal target audience. But those don't seem to bother me, and what I really like about them (I prefer the almond bar) is that I can eat a reasonable quantity of one (usually a third of a bar), feel like I had some chocolate, and I don't get all sped up like I would if I had that much 90% chocolate. I also like the way they taste, which is pretty important. The ingredients listing is interesting, if you want to look it up.

Just a thought.

Lori Miller said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Benboomed. I'm not sure what it is about chocolate bars that that makes me overeat them--maybe the combination of chocolate and sugar.

I've seen Lily's chocolate bars at Natural Grocers, but never tried one. I'm not fond of the taste of chocolate and stevia together, but I'll give one a try next time I shop there.

Anonymous said...

Whoops - that got posted as "benboomed"; your system won't let me post using my normal account name, but at least it is letting me post. I just have to remember to put my name on the end of every post here. Clumsy, but I guess it works.

I HATE stevia; that's why the Lily's bars intrigue me. Stevia has a weird, bitter taste to me. These don't taste like that at all.

-- Tyrannocaster

tess said...

great article, Lori! the more we report how we solve "common problems" for others to find, the better for EVERYONE! :-) happy Fourth!

Lori Miller said...

Lily bars list stevia as an ingredient, but it's far down on the list. I agree sugar alcohol is better, but too much gives me foul gas.

Anonymous said...

I think we should avoid sugar as much as possible, but I'm not ready to completely dump the occasional sweet treat, as long as it doesn't cause problems - either of the blood sugar kind, or the bad reaction kind you mentioned. For me, at least, the Lily bars (I like the almond the best, hands down) work well; they don't taste strange (I have had some very odd tasting "sweets"), they satisfy my chocolate craving (which is really a chocolate and sugar craving - when was the last time you actually craved some baking chocolate?), and none of the ingredients seem to pose a problem for me. The only downside is that they are spendy.


Lori Miller said...

Happy Fourth to you too, Tess! I was surprised at how different a VLC diet was from a regular, 50-70g LC diet and how much fine-tuning I needed.

Tyrannocaster, good food might be spendy, but I save money elsewhere.

Larcana said...

Happy 4th of July! I'm a long time VLC eater and really never had any problems along the way. I think it has to do with my 30 years of eating gluten free because of Celiac Disease.
When I went Gf in 1980 there wasn't all the high carb processed gf food there is today so gave up most carby stuff. I only ate potatoes and occasional rice.
Then gf pasta arrived and I gained 30 pounds eating what everyone else had been eating (starch). It was Atkins induction that turned me back around and I am still working on the last ten pounds.