Sunday, January 30, 2011
Common Patterns of Low Carb Weight Loss
From tracking a *lot* of people who
become assimilated into the lowcarb lifestyle (he he...resistance is
futile!) a pattern emerges....
the 2 week induction is pretty heady...weight lost just about every
single day, enormous and unbelievable amounts of weight loss are reported. This is often followed by complaints that weight loss "stalls" or that the rate drops to only 1 pound per week. (if that).
Many people just don't know that fat-loss ...the actual goal when on aweight-reduction" diet, is rate-limited. In other words, the human body has factors that prevent more than a certain amount of fatty-acid release from storage...and even more factors that prevent those released fatty acids from being used up instead of stored back into the fat cells.
A priority of the human body is survival. Anything that threatens its survival results in the cascade of events to maintain the previous status quo. Water fluctuations are one way the body does this. OK...so you done good on Atkins' during induction...lost 10 pounds the first 2 weeks. Maybe 7 the first week and 3 the second. But, whoa! Weeks 3 and 4 there is NO loss! And weeks 5 and 6 is only 1/2 pound. So... what gives?
Initially, the body jettisons the water attached to the glycogen stores that we diligently deplete to get into ketosis...this accounts for about 3-5 pounds of water. In addition, muscle stores of glycogen are not
being replaced when used...which will account for the rest. All in all...MAYBE 1/2 pound of fat was metabolized during the first week... and MAYBE 1/2 pound of fat was metabolized the 2nd week. Of that 10 initial pounds, only 1 pound was fat and 9 pounds water...
The body senses this lack and sirens start shrieking:
Warning! Warning! Losing water... new thing...got to get back to the status quo! Brain tells body to produce and release that vasopressin anti diuretic hormone....more water is retained, and no weight loss
noticed. Fat loss is still occurring, MAYBE even 2 pounds per week, because ketosis is firmly established and appetite suppression is in effect...but water retention is hiding that continuing fat loss.
The body is preventing dehydration with this mechanism, and that's a *good* thing.
From the perspective of the scale, it can be discouraging. Which is why the mantra: Water retention masks fat loss (repeated frequently to oneself ) is helpful.
Water retention will mask ongoing fat-loss for as long as the body retains the water. We can combat this by drinking more water...but we aren't going to totally overcome this mechanism during the initial
water-loss phase of the Atkins diet.
By weeks 5 and 6, things start to get back in balance, and the scale will begin to reflect the true fat-loss...which, as mentioned before is rate-limited.
Individuals vary, but max weight loss runs about 2 pounds per week...under extremely optimal conditions... or 1% of body weight.(whichever is the lower number)
Take-home message: Even when the scale is in a stall, fat loss can be occurring. Don't use the scale as an excuse to undermine your progress. Hope this can shed some light for you as well!"