A farewell to carbs

After seeing actual results from people I know — Cory, Doc, the older sister of my can’t-commit-to-a-damned-thing ex and Herb (a doctor friend who went to med school with my sister) and recommendations from my trainer Mike (who’s still missing in action) and my mom (who happens to be the Chief of Cardiology at St. Joseph’s Health Centre here in Accordion City), I have committed an act of nutritional sacrilege and hopped on the Atkins Diet.

The basic premise of the diet is that it’s not fat that makes you fat, but digestible carbohydrates. When you eat carbohydrates, your digestive system absorbs sugars from them, which get broken down into the basic sugar called glucose, which you use as fuel. Some of this fuel is used immediately, because your body is like an engine that runs all the time, even when you’re sleeping. Some of it is converted by your liver into glycogen and stored there and in your muscles for near-term use. The remainder gets converted into a form that packs lots of energy into a little space — fat — and gets put into long-term storage tanks on your belly, thighs, butt and eveywhere else that can get flabby.

The Atkins Diet takes this principle and applies this approach: if you cut out the carbs as completely as possible and limit your intake to just proteins and fats, you force your body to start tapping into those long-term storage tanks. As you drain these tanks, you get skinnier.

The Atkins Diet allows you to eat your fill of proteins and fat — steak and eggs, lobster broiled in butter, pork chops — and cut out all carbohydrates — potatoes, bread, foods with sugar, and worst of all, my beloved rice. The strange and counterintuitive approach — which turns the “Food Pyramid” upside-down — has been soundly condemned by the American Medical Association as a “bizarre regimen”; Dr. Atkins has even had to defend his diet at a congressional hearing. However, there’s been all kinds of evidence — anecdotal for years, and scientific — that seems to say that everything we knew about eating might actually be, as an article in the New York Times Magazine [free registration required] put it, “a big fat lie”.

The low-carbohydrate appraoch taken by Atkins seems to have other benefits as well — according to an article that appeared yesterday in Salon, it’s also good for controlling your cholestrol levels. There seems to be evidence that it’s also good for diabetics (very good for me — there’s diabetes on both sides of my family).

Since joining the gym earlier this year, I’ve lost ten pounds and fit in some of my old pants. The problem is that I haven’t been able to lose more than that over the past few months; it’s as if I were stuck. I’m giving Atkins a whirl and seeing what happens over the next three months.

I promise this won’t become some kind of diet-obsessed weblog. It’ll still be the same, fun-lovin’ Advertues of AccordionGuy that you’ve all come to know and love. The only real difference you should notice is that since beer is full of carbs, my drunken nights out will have to be fueled by rum, whiskey or vodka shots (which might make them even more interesting).

Now I just have to see if I can live without rice and beer…

Photo: Me cutting my birthday cake.

Mama didn’t raise no fools: I went on Atkins after the birthday party.

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