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TOPIC: Why the rapid weight loss on Low Carb ( Induction ) stops

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July 27, 2012 12:29 PM
The science behind rapid weight loss during the 1st week or so of Low Carb (i.e. Induction) and why it eventually slows down

This post is dedicated to explaining the title phenomenon and what you can expect to experience on a low Carb diet. I’m not a medical professional but I know some science and I’ve studied low carbing for some time.

I’ve see too many post from, mostly newbies, distressed over their rate of weight loss on a low Carb diet.
Here is the typical scenario:
Week 1, they see the scale move down a fraction of a pound or more every day. They are happy, they don’t feel hungry, and they think “Hey, this is easy”.

Somewhere during week 2 or 3 they have a day where the scale doesn’t present a new lower number. Horrors upon horrors, there might even be a day where the reading is higher than the day before. They scream, “I’ve kept my Carbs low. I’m not eating any more calories than the 1st week. I’ve been betrayed! I’ve failed! Low Carb diets don’t work! “ At best they are distressed. At worse they decide that Low Carb is not for them and they quit or move on to something else.

It doesn’t need to be like that. Here is some of the science that explains what is going on and why not only you should you your rate of weight loss to slow, it is actually essential that it does slow down in order for you to lose FAT.

Here is the science behind induction and the rapid loss you see in the 1st week. On a
Normal, high Carb diet your body stores glucose in your muscles and liver in the form of glycogen. Glycogen is a glucose molecule attached to several (3 to 7) molecules of water. Glucose is an easy to use source of energy for your body. All Carbs that you eat eventually get broken down into glucose and they your body uses that glucose for energy. When people speak of “blood sugar” glucose is the sugar that is being measured.

During induction you cut way down on Carbs (all Carbs get broken down into glucose) so your body starts using the glycogen stored in your muscles as a source of glucose for energy. Recall that glycogen is glucose and a bunch of water. As it uses glycogen all of those associated water molecules get released and excreted also. This is why you experience rapid weight loss which is mostly water and glucose during the 1st week of a very low Carb diet.

Many people are trying to “get into ketosis” a state where your body is burning fat for energy and in the process producing ketone bodies in the process. You can smell these on your breath, in your sweat, and they can be tested for in your urine. Under very high energy needs periods (intense exercise) your body will consume ketones for energy. During periods of lower energy demand excess amounts of ketones will be excreted in your urine and can be detected with a test strip. Ketones in your urine are a sign that you are burning a good amount of fat for your energy. That fat can be from your body’s storage or in can be from what you eat or a combination of both. Calories do count. If you eat way above your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) you will not be losing weight no matter what diet you are on. Lack of ketones in your urine is not a sign that you are not burning fat. You can be burning fat and consuming all of your ketones with intense exercise. Following a tennis match I’ll show no or only a trace amount of ketones in my urine but the odor or my shirt tells me that there were plenty of them in my sweat. A day or two later there will be high levels in my urine. You can also be burning fat as too slow a rate for ketones to build up in your bloodstream to the point where they will be excreted in your urine. Testing yourself really is not necessary, but if it gives you a send of reassurance then go ahead and test.

You will not enter ketosis until after the rapid weight loss stops. The rapid loss is a sign you are using up glycogen stores. When they are depleted your body will start using stored fat for energy. THIS IS YOUR GOAL right?

Why does my weight loss slow down? I haven’t changed anything!

1 lb of fat has 3500 calories. 1 lb of glycogen/water has 500 calories. Everything else being the same (calorie deficit wise) you'll be losing weight at 1/7th the rate while burning fat as when you were burning glycogen. If you lost 7 lbs in your 1st week on induction it is not a surprise at all that you'll lose 1 lb/week by your 2nd or 3rd week. ONE POUND A WEEK IS GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is not a failure. It is success.

Let me repeat and emphasize:
1 lb/week good rate of weight loss (500 calories/day deficit)
2 lb/week aggressive rate of weight loss (1000 calories/day deficit)
3 lb/week VERY aggressive rate of weight loss (1500 calories/day deficit) Without exercise you probably have to be on one of those medically supervised liquid diets. With exercise it can be done but you’ll probably not be able to perform at your peak levels.

So, you were happy with losing 5 or 10 lbs in the first week and now your rate of loss has slowed to just one lb/week. You think that somehow you have failed. You have not. The fact that your loss is slowing is success. It means that you kept your Carbs low enough to force your body to consume all of its glycogen stores. Now the good part comes where you are burning the fat stores. Because fat has so many more calories/lb than glycogen your weight loss will be slower, actually more reasonable. You probably didn’t put all of that fat on your body in 5 lb/week increments. It isn’t reasonable to think that it will come off that fast.

Just remember, as fast as the glycogen/water weight came off it will come right back on if you return to a high carbohydrate diet.

Recapping:
When people say that all the weight you lose on Low Carb is water weight they are partially correct. You do lose a lot of water weight that first week or so, you also lose real glucose weight. Then you move into the OWL (Ongoing Weight Loss) phase. Now there isn’t any more water weight left to lose. What you are losing is fat, but because fat is so calorically dense your rate of weight loss will be slower than the crazy high rate that you experience during the first week or so of induction.
  23343660
July 27, 2012 12:54 PM
Thank You! At last an explanation I can understand because I have been counting carbs from 50-99 and calories. I know there are some people on MFP I personally came into contact with who are low carbers and shun people like me who also know the importance of counting calories along with the carb count. I did the 20 carbs and less for 2 weeks and had the weight loss spurt without counting calories. Now the weight loss has slowed down to a crawl it seems at 1 lb a week so I upped my carbs and stay under 100 and still lose the same weight.

I do not understand how I have read testimonies where Jimmy Moore ate 3000 calories lots of full fat cream, cream cheese, etc and lost large amounts of weight on a continuing basis every week. I have read many such success stories, why do they not gain weight? I will gain weight if I do not count the calories along with the carbs
  22020307
July 27, 2012 1:06 PM
i am posting the link to this thread in my profile.

bravo!
  23299295
July 27, 2012 1:32 PM
Miracle:

I won't argue about where the calories come from. I do know that on low carb is is easier for me to eat less calories.
Do realize though that Jimmy Moore is a big guy. He was over 400 lbs. It takes a lot of energy (calories) every day for a man that big just to move about.

I don't know how many calories a day Jimmy was eating to get that big but if he was losing on 3000 calories a day then we was probably eating a lot more than that. As a woman who I'll wager is considerably smaller than Jimmy you daily caloric needs are probably much lower.
  23343660
July 27, 2012 7:11 PM
this was a huge help...thanks!!
  15348146
July 27, 2012 9:16 PM
What a great post Thank you
  13162848
July 27, 2012 9:55 PM
Thank you so much for posting this. I kinda knew this...sorta...but you explain it so well!
  24741272
July 27, 2012 10:31 PM
Nice post new York!!
July 28, 2012 9:44 AM
Love this!! I am living proof water rolls right back on as fast as it goes off. The good news is that enjoy low carbing... so getting back into it after a vaca is totally easy. Just like any "diet" I am not going to deprive myself on vacation the entire time.... this time i did a day or two on lc, then the last couple of days I wanted some ice cream I couldn't get anywhere else.

Just worked out today.... man I know I have some glycogen. Working out was easy peasy :)
July 28, 2012 9:04 PM
I really needed to hear this today... thank you for the detailed post!
  25749021
July 29, 2012 11:14 AM
Great post!! Thank you!
  18321317
July 30, 2012 5:26 AM
You should pop this into your blog for safe keeping!!
July 30, 2012 5:33 AM
I have in in a word doc. No one reads my blog < sniffle , sniffle> the personal blogs are so hard to get to.
  23343660
July 30, 2012 8:45 AM
I read it, but I go to your profile to see it!
July 30, 2012 11:16 PM
Laymans terms thanks
July 31, 2012 10:44 AM
Thank you! Finally I understand!!
  5750959
August 3, 2012 10:02 AM
I'm glad I decided to not chuck the way of eating when the loss slowed!! Must say, I feel smaller, not bloated anymore...so even if it's a slower loss it's worth it for me. My cravings have passed...with the help of the Atkins 2 net carb bars from Winco and Albertson's. Thanks for the explanation!
August 6, 2012 10:13 AM
Thank you for posting this!! I didn't even experience rapid weight loss in induction but it does help to hear about the slow loss.
August 6, 2012 2:48 PM
Thanks for posting this! Good information.
  26944308
August 6, 2012 2:49 PM
QUOTE:

I'm glad I decided to not chuck the way of eating when the loss slowed!! Must say, I feel smaller, not bloated anymore...so even if it's a slower loss it's worth it for me. My cravings have passed...with the help of the Atkins 2 net carb bars from Winco and Albertson's. Thanks for the explanation!


atkins bars aren't really good though. you shouldn't be eating 'frankenfoods'.. and definitely not til closer to your goal weight.
yea, they're marketed as low carb and have 'atkins' on them, but they're not 'good' for you
  23299295
August 7, 2012 3:18 AM
QUOTE:

you shouldn't be eating 'frankenfoods'.. and definitely not til closer to your goal weight.
yea, they're marketed as low carb and have 'atkins' on them, but they're not 'good' for you


I have lost my cup of coffee from LMAO...
  11372560
August 8, 2012 3:00 PM
YAY! oh thank you for posting this. i was thinking i was an anomally by not just shedding the weight off in the 4 weeks i've been low carb. :) great post!!!
August 9, 2012 5:32 PM
Thank you so much for this post. I was feeling really discouraged today, I've gained a pound and a half in the last couple of days and I've been really good. I know I need to stay on plan and will do that.

One thing I have to ask is I have used the Ketosticks several times and have never gone past trace in the level. Do some people just never register larger amounts of ketones and still remain in ketosis?
  26673062
August 23, 2012 8:13 AM
Thanks for putting this together. It's very informative and clears a few things up for me.
  1092918
August 23, 2012 9:31 AM
QUOTE:

Thank you so much for this post. I was feeling really discouraged today, I've gained a pound and a half in the last couple of days and I've been really good. I know I need to stay on plan and will do that.

One thing I have to ask is I have used the Ketosticks several times and have never gone past trace in the level. Do some people just never register larger amounts of ketones and still remain in ketosis?


If you register, you're in and that's all that matters. The darker the ketones doesn't mean you're extra in ketosis. The goal should be to make it as faint as possible due to ginormous water intake. If you're peeing purple, help your kidneys out and drink some water :)
  12909877

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