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Atkins Versus Kimkins: Learning to Tweak My Low Carb Diet

Posted Mar 22 2012 9:18am
(This is part 3 of a multi-part series on How to Tweak a LowCarb Diet . If you didn’t read part 1, you can do so by clicking on the how-to link. For part 2, see My First Attempt at Tweaking .)

In 2007, I was not gluten free, dairy free, or corn free. I didn’t know about the Celiac Disease or other food sensitivities back then, so I was working with what I did know.

Looking back now, I can see why a very low carb or no carb diet did not work for me. Untreated Celiac Disease and food sensitivities keep your intestinal tract inflamed. An inflamed digestive system interferes with the way the body absorbs dietary fats and other nutrients. In addition, corn allergies and sensitivities can be especially problematic for low carb dieters because most of the meats, poultry, and fish at the supermarket are contaminated with corn. Plus, many fresh vegetables (including organic varieties) are waxed or gassed.

Around this time, there was a rise in interest surrounding a low carb diet that went by the name of Kimkins. The woman who designed the diet was a member of the Low Carb Friends forum at one time, and there was an extremely long thread (as well as many others) devoted to her thoughts, beliefs, and ideas. I began reading that lengthy thread out of curiosity. I’m what you would call a researchaholic. I read all sorts of things I don’t intend on following, looking for gems of insight or information. I never know where I’m going to find the pearl I’m searching for.

Kimmer was the screen name the author of that diet went by. She took Atkins, combined it with the Stillman diet, and then added a few of her own tweaks. What she told the members of Low Carb Friends was that this was how she had lost her own weight. Eventually, she started her own website and forum, and disappeared from Low Carb Friends due to some type of slight she believed she suffered from the members and management there. I don’t really remember the particulars.

The threads were still in the archives and easily accessible back then, so I began reading. It quickly became apparent why there was so much controversy surrounding this woman. Her ideas went against the current norm. She wasn’t preaching a high fat low carb diet. She was suggesting a diet that was low in fat and low in calories. She was suggesting a diet that was free of dairy products and free of low carb processed foods. She was suggesting a diet that only allowed 20 full carbs per day, rather than net carbs. And she used Dr. Atkins’ and Dr. Stillman’s books to support her ideas.   

Now, some of the things she said were way out in left field and, therefore, brought condemnation upon her, which cast shadows of doubt upon her other dietary suggestions. But not in my own mind, because a lot of what she said rang true for me – especially, when I went back and actually read Dr. Atkins’ 1992 book. While Atkins was preaching a luxurious, “don’t be afraid of fat” diet in 1972, he wasn’t doing that two decades later. In 1992 and 1999, Atkins was cautioning people to be realistic with their dieting attempts, similar to how Dr. Eades has been trying to tell folks for several years now that calories do matter.

You can’t eat a stick of butter or half a can of nuts every day and expect to reach goal weight. For most folks, that isn’t going to happen.

The first idea that struck home with me was that if you are not losing weight, then your carbohydrate intake, your dietary fat intake, or your overall calories are too high. At first glance, that sounds like typical low calorie talk, but the examples she used were the amount of butter, cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, heavy cream, and salad dressings that most low carb dieters use because they only have a negligible amount of carbs. These foods are loaded with calories. Plus, most individuals who use online carbohydrate and calorie calculators aren’t measuring their foods, and are not selecting the right item from the listings, so the numbers are not coming back accurate.

In our super-sized society, most of us have lost sight of what a two-thirds cup of vegetables even is. That is what was considered an Atkins’ vegetable serving in 1992. In 1972, it was only one-half of a cup, and the type of vegetables allowed was extremely limited. In 2002, that serving increased to one cup and the list of vegetables had grown quite lengthy, but I’d be willing to bet that no one was actually measuring out their loosely packed single cup of salad, let alone their other veggies at each meal.

By default, the earlier Atkins’ diets were lower in fat and calories than an average Atkins Diet is today because there wasn’t enough vegetable matter allowed to hold all of those extra goodies. If you get two loosely packed cups of salad per day and one-half to two-thirds cup of vegetables, measured out accurately, what are you going to put your sour cream and butter on? A serving of pork rinds was a single ounce, heavy cream was limited to 4 teaspoons per day, and fats and oils were permitted in “moderate” portions only.

Somewhere along the way, the Atkins Diet got twisted into a different plan. Low Carb products hit the marketplace, enticing dieters to partake, and reaching goal weight fell by the wayside because that wasn’t good for business. That’s the bottom line. Increased carb intakes on Induction and throughout Ongoing Weight Loss slow down weight loss. Slow weight loss is good for business. What’s good for manufacturers, however, isn’t good for our waistlines.

So the challenge given to Kimmer’s readers was to go back to 20 full carbs per day, because the net formulas were designed to exclude carbohydrates that manufacturers didn’t want you to count, use lean meats, and a limited amount of fat – just enough to make your diet work. Eat only when hungry, and just enough to keep your hunger away. No cheese or other dairy products except for a little cream in your coffee, no nuts, and no low carb products at all. That was the basics of her theory, but she didn’t ask her followers to jump into the fire cold turkey. She first asked them to try a little experiment.

Most of the low carb dieters back then were heavily into Carbquick and bake mixes, low carb tortillas and wraps, and had a tendency to drench everything in sour cream and cheese. They used gobs of mayo in their tuna, fried their eggs in several tablespoons of butter, ate platefuls of bacon or drank egg cream shakes for snacks, and used Atkins’ bars and carb protected pasta because they trusted manufacturers to be truthful about their carb count. They had very similar tendencies of a typical low carb dieter today.

So Kimmer’s Experiment was born. Now, this experiment lasted for one week. In essence, this phase of the diet was a zero carb diet that got you into ketosis quickly and easily. It burned away the glycogen stores created from low carb products and other carbohydrate deceptions. It improved food sensitivities and thereby insulin resistance, because all you were allowed to eat was meat, fish, poultry and eggs. Granted, I had already tried a similar diet and found it didn’t work, but the purpose of this experiment wasn’t weight loss – although that would be a side effect if you had been overeating carbs.

The purpose of this experiment was to greatly reduce hunger and create a sense of well being. Fat was limited to only the amount you needed to make the diet work, and lean meats were recommended, but  not totally required for this first phase. Chicken wings were allowed for the experiment, but weight loss would be quicker with lean meats: chicken or turkey breast, lean beef, extra lean hamburger, and fish. Eggs could be scrambled or fried in a nonstick pan, or hard-boiled or deviled. A little heavy cream was allowed in your coffee. Sugar substitutes were fine, and so was diet soda and other sugar-free drinks. Diet jello was okay too.

In essence, what the experiment was doing was cutting out all of those uncounted carbohydrates, getting you into ketosis quickly, and showing you that you were eating far too many calories and carbohydrates to lose much weight, if at all. The bottom line was that if you are not currently losing weight, and just maintaining, then what you’re doing is maintenance. That can be good news, or that can be bad. It all depends on what you’re currently eating, and how much.

Since I fell into the group of a typical low carb dieter back then, Kimmer brought good news for me. She offered me a way to tweak my low carb diet and make it work. Since she had posted free sample menu templates and others had posted her Boot Camp templates within various threads and challenges at Low Carb Friends, I had everything I needed to go the distance without having to pay to join her website. So I decided to take the plunge. I reasoned that all I had to lose was a few days of dieting if it didn’t work out.

I began with Kimmer’s Experiment (today, among low carbers, this is called the Meat and Eggs diet).


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