October 26, 2010

The Kickoff

Author: Scott D. Irwin

In my last post I wrote that I had been dealing with chest pains and pressure in my chest, but I had other symptoms that concerned me.  A loss of appetite and light headed-ness.  While talking with the cardiologist after the stress test, I mentioned to him that my HDL/LDL cholesterol numbers were lower than normal and, as he guessed, my triglycerides were high.  Why is this important?  Well….

The cardiologist explained that HDL-cholesterol is good cholesterol that helps prevent heart disease while LDL-cholesterol is bad because it contributes to atherosclerosis.  He also stated that triglycerides are the chemical form of fat and a common problem.  The visible signs of triglycerides is a “pot belly.”  This was a big eye opener for me, but I was at a loss as to how I was going to limit my carbohydrate intake to 20 net grams of carbs a day.

I purchased New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great and learned what a “net carb” is.  To calculate “net carbs” one takes the carbohydrates and subtracts dietary fiber from that value, however, it becomes more complicated.  Some foods with little or no sugar use substitutes that take a long time to metabolize and do not affect blood sugar.  Some “net carb” calculations take this into consideration, while some do not.  Thus, there is no standard definition for “net carb” but at least it forces you to watch what you eat more closely.

You should keep a list of everything that you eat, and include net carb counts.  There are plenty of websites that can give you the net carb counts (Atkins.com) or nutrition information (USDA Nutrition Database) so that you can calculate it yourself.  You will also want to measure the foods you eat because your eyes will be bigger than your stomach! <grin> .

Here’s my “food journal” for day one:

  • McDonald’s Bacon Ranch Salad with Grilled Chicken and 1 tbsp. of Newman’s Own Ranch Dressing (12.5 net carbs)
  • Unsweetened Iced Tea (0 carbs)
  • Atkins Advantage Peanut Butter Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar (2 net carbs)
  • Grilled Chicken Breat w/1c. cauliflower and 3 spears grilled Asparagus (3.8 net carbs)

That made 18.3 net carbs for the day….although the carb counter program that was testing seems to think it’s approximately 29 net carbs.  I believe that it is because the Atkins bar is being calculated at 12 net carbs instead of 2….a prime example of how there is no standard for “net carb” and a great topic for the next post.

So, here are some tips for starting:

  • Go to the Atkins website and read the program overview along with the phase 1 information to make sure it’s right for you.  If you are starting a new job, quitting smoking, or have other stress in your life this is not the time to start…deal with these issues first.
  • If you decide Atkins is right for you, purchase New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great and read the first seven chapters.  It may seem like a lot, but the book tells you about the science behind Atkins and what to expect.
  • Plan the first two weeks of your meals.  It will be a huge help.

So….what are you waiting for?

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