Review Your Medications
With that sobering thought in mind, let’s look at those medical steps you should take before you begin to change your eating habits. First, you will need to stop taking unnecessary over-the-counter medications, such as cough syrup or cough drops, antacids, sleep aids, antihistamines, or laxatives. Many prescription medications also inhibit weight loss. If you take one or more of the drugs listed, you may be disappointed in your weight loss results. Talk to your doctor to see if an alternative can be found. You can also refer to Dr. Atkins’ Vita-Nutrient Solution for more natural approaches to deal with your symptoms.
Several categories of drugs can cause adverse effects when taken while on a controlled carbohydrate eating plan. First are the diuretics because reducing your carbohydrate intake alone can have a dramatic diuretic effect. Second, since Atkins is so effective at lowering high blood sugar, people who take insulin or oral diabetes medications that stimulate insulin can have dangerously low blood sugar levels. Third, Atkins has a robust blood pressure-lowering effect and easily converts blood pressure medications into overdoses. If you are currently taking any of these medications, you will need your doctor’s help to adjust your dosages.
Checkup and Blood Work
Before you start the program, when you go to your doctor, I recommend that you get your blood chemistries and lipid levels measured- quite possibly the glucose-tolerance test (with insulin levels drawn at fasting and one- and two-hour intervals). Lipid levels will reveal your total cholesterol, HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides. These indicators often change with drastic dietary intervention. The blood chemistries will measure baseline glucose kidney and liver function. Be sure your doctor also measures your uric acid levels. Since many people wrongly believe that these indicators are negatively affected by doing Atkins, you may later regret not having a “before” baseline to compare with your “after” results.
If you choose to keep track of those hidden physical changes that are measured in your blood, you’ll find that, after you start Atkins, they should begin improving steadily (see “Before and After Tests,” opposite). It would help if you didn’t wait to have your initial lab work done until after you start Atkins because then you may think any abnormalities are the result of your new way of eating. You may well have had even higher cholesterol and triglycerides before you began.
The Blood-Sugar Test
Let’s talk about the laboratory test most relevant to people starting Atkins- The five-hour glucose-tolerance test (GTT). After reading the last few chapters, if you suspect you may have a blood sugar or insulin imbalance that is contributing to your weight problems, discuss it with your doctor and request a five-hour GTT with insulin levels. Since the onset of diabetes is insidious and damage to the body can occur even before full-blown diabetes is first discovered, it is vitally important to be aware of the possibility you have pre-diabetes. This is because of the degree of risk you may already suffer.
Take your measurements
Before doing Atkins, use a tape measure to record some vital statistics. Measure your chest, waist, hips, upper arms, and thighs, and write down those numbers! Then, when you measure yourself again in a couple of weeks, you’ll be happy you did; the more ways you have of gauging your success, the more encouraged you’ll be.
Consider adopting an exercise plan
If you aren’t already exercising, I strongly urge you to do so now. Even a half-hour of brisk walking four times a week will make a big difference, especially if you are almost entirely inactive now. Exercise has enormous benefits for your health and will speed up your weight loss! It’s a critical element of the healthy new you, and its importance cannot be underestimated.
Have the right food on hand
Stock the refrigerator and the cupboards with the food you’re going to eat, including plenty of your favorite protein goodies. The next chapter will give you complete lists of acceptable and unacceptable foods specified for the Induction phase of Atkins. Avoid the aisles where the high carbohydrate temptations are found when you go to the supermarket or health food store. Whenever I give this advice, I think of John Connor. He was a 19-year-old, six-foot four-inch patient who dropped his weight from 290 pounds to 209 in six months by doing Atkins. He told me he’d often go to the supermarket to buy legitimate food, get sucked into one of the sugar-saturated aisles, and end up walking out of the store with a package of candy bars. Self-control would reassert itself during his drive home, and he’d lower the car window and throw the container into the street!
It is often easier to try something new if you have a partner to share your experience with. But, if you don’t have one, come to our website at www.atkinscenter.com. We’ll serve as your surrogate partner and help reinforce that your efforts will provide you with a healthier life. Or find a friend or co-worker to support each other’s efforts.