Low Carb

The Atkins Diet is a ketogenic diet. The basic scientific principles are as follows. Normally, the human uses glucose as cell fuel. To produce glucose, the body metabolizes carbohydrates. The body maintains a two-day store of glucose in muscle tissue, transports needed glucose to body cells through the bloodstream, and stores any excess glucose as body fat.

What many people do not know, however, is that the body can actually use two other sources for cell fuel - alcohol and ketones. The body uses alcohol without need for further metabolism, and metabolizes ketones from fat through the process of ketosis-lypolysis.

The "pecking order" for which source the body will use for cell fuel is: alcohol, glucose, ketones. Thus, in the absense of alcohol, the body will use glucose, and in the absense of both alcohol and glucose, the body will use ketones. Therefore, the basic premise of the Atkins Diet is, restrict in intake of carbohydrates into the body, and the body will be forced to metabolize its only available fuel source - body fat - to provide the cells with ketone fuel.

The actual Atkins Diet program consists of four parts - Induction, Ongoing Weight Loss, Transition, and Maintenance. Induction is the rigorous first two weeks, during which the body is limited to no more than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day. The purpose of this strict limitation is to ensure that the body enters the state of ketosis-lypolysis (or "ketosis"). The body must purge itself of its glucose stores before it will be forced into ketosis. This process is easier for some than others, and may be accompanied by some annoying, if minor, side-affects (headache, constipation, etc.). However, this process is entirely safe! The side-affects disappear after a few short days, and from then on, as long as the body is in ketosis, the body will experience an increased energy level. And unlike the metabolism of carbohydrates, which occurs periodically as a person eats, the metabolism of body fat occurs continuously.

After the initial Induction phase, the person moves into the Ongoing Weight-Loss phase, and may add in carbohydrates up to the individual's "ceiling" for keeping the body in ketosis, usually between 40 and 90 grams of carbs per day. The person will maintain this level of carbohydrate intake for the majority of his weight-loss experience. As the person nears his weight-loss goal, he will move into the Transition phase. During this phase, the person adds carbohydrates up to the individual's "ceiling" for maintaining his current body weight. This level varies widely according to the individual. Once the person has reached his weight-loss goal, he moves into the Maintenance phase, during which he keeps his carbohydrate at or below the maintenance ceiling found during the Transition phase.

Right now, I'm not going to address many of the bogus criticisms of this program, rather, I will move right into my personal experience with this program.

My Progress

January 2000
Chip Bennett January 2000

Weight: 275

Waist: 44 inches

Shirt: XXL

BP: 130/85

Cholesterol: 125


Before Atkins

Before trying a low-carb diet, I had tried everything: following the USDA "pyramid", slim-fast, several other diets. Nothing ever worked. Either I was hungry all the time, or else I never lost any weight. Being an active person, getting plenty of regular exercise, I could never figure out why I just couldn't lose weight.

July 2000
Chip Bennett July 2000

Weight: 195

Waist: 36 inches

Shirt: L

BP: 120/80

Cholesterol: 112



Initial Weight Loss

I began the program January 2000. I had so much success with the program that I stayed in
the Induction phase for about four months. In that time, I lost about 60 pounds! From there
since I was going through a major transitionary period in my life (graduating from College,
moving to a new city and state, moving into my first apartment, and starting a new job, I
decided to focus more on the other changes in my life, and went into the Transition phase.
In the following two months, I still lost an addtional 20 pounds, which I kept off for
six months or so, in the Maintenance phase.

September 2002

Chip Bennett September 2002


Weight: 265

Waist: 42 inches

Shirt: XXL

BP: 120/80

Cholesterol: ?




Unfortunately, disaster struck due to circumstances out of my control. I contracted mono the winter of 2000.
Being in a new city, knowing relatively few people, and being unable to get out to buy groceries for several
weeks led me to live off of delivery pizza for several weeks. Even after I was well enough to return to work,
I didn't regain enough energy/stamina to start exercising again for about six months. By that time, I had regained
a considerable amount of the weight I had lost.

August 2005
Chip Bennett August 2005

Weight: 240

Waist: 38 inches

Shirt: XL

BP: 120/80

Cholesterol: 134

HDL/LDL/TGL: 37/?/?


Resuming Weight Loss

After more transition (moving again to another new city, with a new job), life slowly began to normalize, and I
got things back on track. Without the advantage of 2 hours of college tennis practice daily, weight loss this
time around was much more slow and steady. But, though it was slower than the first time, it was also sure.

December 2005
Chip Bennett December 2005

Weight: 230

Waist: 36 inches

Shirt: L/XL

BP: 120/80

Cholesterol: 147

HDL/LDL/TGL: 40/95/61

Glucose: 69

Ongoing Weight Loss

Weight loss continues at a pace of 1-2 pounds per month, with hardly any exercise. I know I could lose faster
if I exercised more (and I do need to get back into weight lifting), but with my work demands and other
commitments, finding time to fit in a regular workout routine has proven difficult. Regardless, the weight
continues to come off, and that, ultimately, is what is important.

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