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Getting Through The Atkins Induction Flu

I wish I had a dollar everytime I heard one of the following:

“Why do I feel so rundown on the Atkins diet?

“Why did I get this massive headache starting low-carb?

“Why can’t I feel good during the Induction phase of Atkins?”

“Will I ever feel ‘normal’ again being on low-carb?”

“Is the low-carb lifestyle worth all this pain?”

I suppose if you go on a low-carb diet for two days and suddenly quit, then you probably have fallen prey to the notion that how you feel early on in the beginning stages of livin’ la vida low-carb is how you will ALWAYS feel eating this way. Take it from someone who has been through that difficult aspect of the Atkins diet, it doesn’t last very long at all.

If you have read my book about my 180-pound low-carb weight loss in 2004, then you know what life was like for me in the first few days of this new lifestyle change. Especially on day one when I quite literally wanted to kill myself that’s how bad I felt, I didn’t know if I was going to make it. Headaches, body aches, shivers, cold sweating, dizziness, nausea…sound familiar anyone?

Just like a drug addict who is taken off of the culprit in their addiction, so too must a carbohydrate and sugar addict be weaned off of unnecessary carbs. It’s a necessary step for anyone who wants to lose weight and get healthy the low-carb way. Best of all is that it is only a temporary feeling that quickly gets better once the Atkins Induction flu passes.

My friend Kent Altena who, like me, used to weigh over 400 pounds and lost 200 pounds on the Atkins diet has been sharing videos about this way of life to help educate people. His videos so far include “How to do Induction,” “What You Can Eat on Induction,” and “What About Loose Skin After Atkins Weight Loss?”

This latest video addresses the issue of the Atkins Induction flu:

INDUCTION FLU: SIGNS OF PROBLEMS OR PROGRESS?

Kent said his Atkins Induction flu lasted an unusually long 3 1/2 weeks, but that’s not typical. Mine, for example, was about three days before I started feeling like my old self again. Once you get past this minor bump in the road at the beginning of low-carb living, the rest is a breeze in comparison. And it is ALL WORTH IT to get through this temporary discomfort. The proof is in the results that both Kent and I have experienced.

I get amused when people tell me that people who eat low-carb are always angry and fly in a rage. LOL! No, I think that would be the people who eat a low-fat diet because they’re STARVING! Hee hee! Na na na na na, I get to eat this steak while you’re stuck sucking on carrot sticks with fat-free dip. Mmmmm…NOT!

No, as Kent so beautifully illustrates in his video, other than the first few days or weeks, low-carb is not that bad. But you will go through the pain up front, so BE READY FOR IT! Don’t let it knock you off course because this is arguably the most important part of livin’ la vida low-carb you will go through. Be tough and make it through. You WILL survive and be successful on the Atkins diet if you simply persevere in the early days.

I was just talking with a friend of mine last night at dinner and he was simply amazed by the paradigm shift that has happened to me. As I was describing to him my former eating habits compared to what I do now, he was captivated. How in the world do you go from eating a whole box of Little Debbie snack cakes in one sitting to refusing to eat ANY sugar? How can you drink upwards of 16-20 cans of Coca-Cola per day and change that to water and diet soda? That’s the miraculous changes that happen both physically and mentally when you start livin’ la vida low-carb.

Kent admits eating this way “is a dramatic change, and some people resist change” because they are unwilling to go through what it takes to become the success that will inevitably come to anyone willing to put forth the effort. Get through those first few days of Induction to get your body into fat-burning mode and the pages of your low-carb weight loss success story will begin in earnest.

Be sure to leave any feedback regarding this video at Kent’s blog so he can address any questions or concerns you may have about what he said. THANKS again, Kent! ANOTHER great video my friend! Keep ‘em rolling!

  • diamondwife

    There are some who have almost no problems with “induction flu”. My husband and I had only slight fatique and an occasional headache. This was easily ignored once we looked at the fact that we could have steak and full fat salad dressing on our salad.

  • Jimmy Moore

    Amen, Rob! It’s another constant reminder of just how far we’ve come, isn’t it? THANKS for writing!

  • Storm

    Well, it’s been two full weeks now – no cheating, no fooling around. I exercise daily, weights and cardio.
    I don’t know how much longer I can sustain this intense weakness, nausea and migraine. I have to do everything I can to not vomit up my breakfast. I’ve lost about 7 lbs. My goal was to lose 17lbs (I currently am 6’1″ and weigh 160.

    I’m not planning on adding more carb… I just need some help.

  • Jimmy Moore

    THANKS for writing, Storm! My advice would be to STOP the exercise until you start to feel better. It makes no sense to force yourself to exert energy when you ain’t got none. :)

    If you are doing the low-carb plan as you should (and I believe you are), then the Induction flu symptoms will subside. They REALLY will!

    Hang in there and don’t focus too much on weight loss during Induction. That’s not the purpose of this phase of the diet. You are simply changing the way your body fuels itself–from carbs to stored fat.

    You’re gonna do GREAT! Feel free to contact me anytime with questions or if you need some encouragement. Hang in there!

  • Storm

    Thanks for your quick reply J -

    I don’t feel quite comfortable cutting out exercise entirely – I want to preserve the muscle mass I’ve built up through daily exercise for the past few years. (The goal of this diet was to shed a stubborn 15-20 lbs that prevented me from getting as ‘cut’ as I would like to be.) ;-)

    Maybe just strength training? Not so much energy depleting cardio for a while?

    I’m going to try eating a bit more frequently as well to keep my blood sugar from hitting the floor.

    Thanks again – you’re a kind man. :)
    S

  • magiccarpetexpress

    I’ve been on Atkins about 4 times already. The first time it worked like a charm. I was never hungry, didn’t feel the craving to cheat, and lasted on induction faithfully for 3 months. I lost over 25 pounds that time. But then things happened in my personal life and I slowly slipped off the wagon. Then I tried it again a few more times for a month or so at a time, but didn’t lose much weight, plus I always had the urge to cheat every other day or so. Finally I just gave up, and gained a lot of weight very quickly. So here I am, trying it yet again. So this time i’d like some advice. What am I doing wrong? Why do I always need to eat that cinnimon roll or bagel when I see it. All I ever went into that store for was a black decaf? HELP ME, PLEASE! I need to make this work this time.

  • Jimmy Moore

    Controlling the compulsion to eat what you shouldn’t is one of the most fundamental elements of your success on any weight loss plan. My advice would be to not put yourself in a position to see that cinnamon roll or bagel if you can help it or tell yourself they are RAT POISON for your body (which they are!). It’s a process, but YOU CAN DO IT! E-mail me with more specifics if you need help with any other aspect of low-carbing!

  • marly

    I cannot even tell you how relieved I am from reading this.

    I started Atkins on the 4th of last month (June) and had been feeling GREAT the entire time. I never cheated, recorded what I ate in a food diary and for the entire month, felt completely awesome, energized and ready to rock.

    But just recently, on the 25th or so I suddenly felt like death. I’m so tired I can hardly keep my eyes open, I feel like I’m gonna lose my lunch everytime I try to eat.. and one morning I was so dizzy I collapsed on the floor. I’m going to keep on it but it’s so difficult… it’s not even food cravings or anything like that.. I actually don’t feel like eating much since I’m so nauseas and dizzy most of the day. I’m just so zapped I can’t stop yawning even at work ;____;

  • Angel

    I tried Atkins several years ago, and the carb cravings drove me off the diet after 3 weeks. I started a low-carb diet again about two months ago, but I didn’t take the carbs as low as induction. I was just looking to lower my blood sugar readings, which I did. I’ve also been losing a little weight, on average about a pound a week. I’d say I average about 40-60g carbs a day, with wild variations beyond those numbers too (above and below).

    For the last few weeks, though, I have been bothered by dizzy spells. They are: very brief; usually happen when I move too fast and am turning in some way; don’t bother me when I am still or when I am engaged in significant mental or physical activity; and not enough to impact my activity in any way. I don’t understand them … if I concentrate, they don’t bother me. Are they related to the low-carb diet? Not getting enough sleep? I previously had problems with dizzy spells when working rotating shift work (due to exhaustion/sleep loss), but I haven’t worked shift work in several years. My sleep schedule has not changed from before I started the low carb diet or started having the dizzy spells.

    Maybe it is a vitamin or other nutritional deficiency. I eat very few fruits or veggies. I take vitamins but only half the time (sometimes even less) than I should. Any ideas?

  • melissa

    i am so glad i found this info! i left work early today with fatigue and now have full on body aches!! it kind of hurts to type. i hope this goes away over the weekend, even better would be with a good nights sleep!!! feeling very weak and my joints are all killing me! i had the chills for hours now i am burning up! again, so glad to hear i am making progress though!

  • Lakelover8

    Hello Melissa,
    You may want to check this out with the experts here on this forum. A Metabolic Specialist diagnosed me with Insulin Resistance and prescribed a Protein Sparing Modified Fast ( only done with a doctor) which includes almost no carbs. Like you, I was on the Atkins once and got weak and dizzy. Mt doctor now tells me to drink bouillon for the salt (?) and the feelings will dissipate. I also need to take potassium, calcium and magnesium, drink extra water all day to flush the ketones.
    Perhaps one of these suggestions will help.
    Susan

  • Danette

    Good to hear I’m not the only one not feeling well. I’m on day 13 of atkins and lost 15lbs. Haven’t craved sugar but the last two days have been hell. I wake up in the morning and am very dizzy. I can’t stand and feel as though I’m going to pass out. I’m walking and doing ab lounger every day and drinking tons of water. What am I doing wrong?

  • Jimmy Moore

    Hey Danette, congrats on your weight loss and you’ve done nothing wrong. Your body is overcoming sugar addiction and this will pass. Hang in there! ;)

  • Shakespeare

    It’s Day 4 of induction for me and I feel like hell with severe palpitations and cold sweats since the past 36 hours. I know this is massive detox so Im going to stick to it. I just hope it passes soon. Knowing everyone goes through it makes it a lot easier and i can stop my whining now :)

    • http://www.livinlavidalowcarb.com Jimmy Moore

      Hang tough buddy! It will pass.