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Atkins and Reactive Hypoglycemia ?

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Reading Atkins New Diet Revolution, I found out that Dr. Atkins was among the few doctros that understood Reactive Hypoglycemia and how bad and even dangerous it can be. He knew that several people had an impaird sugar metabolism wich instead of resulting in diabetes resulted in hyperinsulinemia and blood sugar fluctionation and therefore fluctuating mood and energy. He didn't underestimate Reactive Hypoglycemia at all, considering it the facet of the same sugar problems that people with diabetes experience. He didn't call "reactive hypoglycemia" low-blood sugar, but unstable sugar, which shows an insight most don't have.

These are the questions he asked to predict Reactive Hypoglycemia:

How often do you:

Feel hungry between meals?
Eat soda, candies, sweets?
Drink more than three cups of coffe?
Faint if meals are delayed?
Crave sweets or sugar?
Feel irritable before a meal?
Feel shaky inside expecially before a meal?
Have issues with falling asleep?
Wake up during the night?
Feel tired all the time?
Feel depressed?
Have difficulty making decisions?
Have difficulty concentrating?
Feel fearful without a reaon?
Have difficulty remembering things?
Worry a lot?
Feel insicure?
Have mood swings?
Feel like crying?
Have outburst of anger?
Make mountains out of molehills?
Feel a sense hopelessness?
Have bad dreams?
Feel bored?
Experience phobias?
Feel you can't work under pressure?
Feel slow starting in the morning?
Feel sleepy after eating?
Have headaches and migraine?
Feel sleepiness during the day?
Have poor motivation?
Eat when you're nervous?
Feel like your fatigue is relieved by food?
Feel excessively thirsty
Experience sinus and allergy problems?
Have difficulty feeling your heart beat?
Experience gastrict reflux?
Have cold hands and feet?
Notice abdominal bloating?
Have blurred vision?
Experience lightheadedness and dizzyness?
Experience lack of coordination?
Sweat excessively
Urinate too frequently

Quite an insight indeed.
He even mentioned symptoms that most authors dealing with RH forget about.
I even found out that he published a book many decades ago called "The High Energy Diet" which is mostly about Reactive Hypoglycemia and unstable blood sugar.
It seems Dr. Robert Atkins was an ally of our cause, among the few not dismissive of our sufference and a very insightful writer.

What about his diet?

Atkins suggests elimination of refined carbs and a decrease in natural sugars and starches. This is actually consistent with what work for us hypoglycemics; unlike certain diets suggesting cereals and banana at breakfast, sandwich at lunch and rice at dinner and toast and skim milk for snack.

The Atkins diet includes an early phase, called induction, were carbs are restricted as low as 30 grams a day. This phase is short and suggested to people who wants to lose way. The maintenance diet has enough carbs to prevent ketosis.

By getting to know lately people who benefit from the Atkins Diet I discovered four interesting things:

1) Several people with hypoglycemia are feeling great on the diet and had a total improvement of symptoms within a week, although they felt a bit worse the first days.

2) Lot of people having undiagnosed Reactive Hypoglycemia (they clearly had it but didn't know about it) have improved their symptoms. On the Atkins forum there are lot of members explaining how their anxiety disappeared, how they didn't experience a panick attack even since on the diet, how they weaned themselves from antidepressent, how their energy increased or cold hand and feet disappeared, how they became more calm and less irritable or how they don't have mood swings anymore. In my opinion they all suffered from hyperinsulinemia and unstable blood sugar and were attracted to the diet because of not feeling good.

3) Lot of people doing Atkins are health conscious people, with an holistic mind and an alternative point of view about illnesses; in other words they beleive that most modern diseases are caused by what we do not by ill-fate holy doctors and drug are there to defeat. All of them are interested in their health and take and/or publish their blood test results to show their health is improving rather then worsening on the diet. This is such a different picture compared to the myth that people on Atkins Diet are just chubby ignorant who don't care about health and want just to fit into their summer bikini and keep eating the unhealhy foods they like. In fact, the people on Atkins are not individuals who enjoyed Atkins food and followed the diet to be able to keep eating the things they liked. They were sugar addicted, which hated what they eat on Atkins and which struggled with a great effort and will power to eat bacon and eggs instead of cereals and jam.

4) According to a researcher the more glucose tolerant a person is (i.e. doesn't have a predisposition to hypoglycemia, diabetes, syndrome X, doesn't hve unstable blood sugar, doesn't have abdominal fat problems, can remain thin and well-shaped on a high carb diet) the worse he/she will feel on a very low carb diet or ketosis. On the other hand the more glucose intolerance a person is (i.e. us) the better he/she should feel on a very low carb diet.

Surprisingly I found an impressive concentration of people diagnosed with Reactive Hypoglycemia on the Atkins forums. Before finding this forum, I thought there was no forum on hypoglycemia but it seems like I might have found most "siteless" hypoglycemics on the Atkins sites.

I also found that many people with Reactive Hypoglycemia are doing great on Atkins diet with a quick remission of symptoms and having more energy than ever in their life. I used to dismiss Atkins diet as a fad but know I can see that I was wrong and even those who don't agree with the diet, should at least appreciate its science. I used to read of people who considered Atkins their "hero". I couldn't understand how someone promoting a glutton diet to make money for people who just want to look good for the beach season could be an hero. But Atkins has been probably the only person respecting the pain of many individuals with a faulty sugar metabolism, considered hypocondriac by whatever other doctors, and he has helped them with kindness and sweetness (he doesn't sound like a bitter harsh person at all) overcoming their carbohydrate addiction. So much for the Atkins diet being an easy way to make people eat what people crave. People on Atkins crave sugar and Atkins helped them to stop eating such addictive dangerous substance.

Lately I have better analyzed how I react to certain foods and so far the only carbs I don't react negatively to are veggies. I list vegetables according to their carb content. Vegetables with less than 6 grams of carbs are free, while others are counted as carbs.

I react negatively to fruits, legumes, grains, potatoes, yams.

My carb intake has been 70 grams lately and I felt better and better.
Going from 70 grams of carbs to 100 grams of carbs, still triggered old symptoms and lowered my well being. In the last days I have tried 50 grams of carbs and felt even better than when I was at 70 grams.

I tried in the past to do Atkins starting with induction but feel extremely unpleasant. But it seems that lowering my carbs gradually, I could even tolerate or feel better on Atkins induction. Of course induction is not forever but I wonder if a period on it could be beneficial to my reactive hypoglycemia. I understand that we're not suggested to ever going below 60 grams of carbs but the bad reaction to such low carb intake, for someone with reactive hypoglycemia, is momentary and due to adaptation.

Considering that we dont't have any problem maintaing blood sugar level while fasting or burning fat but we react to carbohydrate in our meal, a very low carb intake and burning more ketones (which are protective against hypoglycemia being not subject to fluctation) should be nothing but positive for someone with Reactive Hypoglycemia. Of course it won't be a good thing for someone with Fasting Hypoglycemia but we should have so far realized that Fasting Hypoglycemia and Reactive Hypoglycemia have nothing in common, except a misnomer.
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First Helper User Profile Niklas89

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replied May 7th, 2009
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My diet is essentially a refined and adjusted version of his plan. I discovered, through testing and also reading, that if we go lower than 60g of carbs per day, we get a very, very awful response. That is about as low as you can go.
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replied May 7th, 2009
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Stan what's your guess as to why we can't go below 60?

I have hypoglycemia because I have hyperinsulinemia caused by an overeactive pancreas and plain carbohydrate intolerance.

So the reason for my hypoglycemia is not my body inability to keep blood sugar at normal levels at fast or in between meal but my body bad reaction to carbs.

Theorically this should mean that we can go very low carb without problems because the more fatty acids and ketones we burn the better we are supposed to feel because they're an abundant resource of energy, non fluctuation and not predisposed to crashes.

Do you have a theory?

Anyway by what I have read and by my own expeience I would suggest people with reactive hypoglycemia to stay closer to the minimum amount of carb rather than the maximum. Just from going from 100 grams of carbs to 75 I improved a lot immediately. Pretty understandable since we're carb intolerant. Basically the only carb sources I tolerate now are veggies, nuts, avocados and dairy. Fruits, grains and legumes of any kind seems to be off limit.

Interesting enough this has made my antioxidant and micronutrients rich green and coloured stuff intake skyrocket. I'm eating unbelievable amount of greens, wild greens, peppers, zucchini, cabbages and having fun with making my own canned in oil veggies and pickles. The less carb I eat the more vegetables I eat. I was eating like 5% of the green stuff I'm eating now when I was on an high whole grain and legumes diet with 200 grams of carbs.
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replied May 7th, 2009
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I have no idea why, so unfortunately I don't have an answer for you. The only thing I can figure is that we need a little higher, base amount to keep things stable, any lower and it's just too low, that's all I can figure. Legumes generally seem to be a problem if they're not sprouted, I had the same experience with them.
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replied October 13th, 2009
I never had a problem with legumes. In fact, I find eating a lot of beans helps. I guess every body is different!
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replied May 15th, 2012
Why the Atkins Diet isn't good for reactive hypoglycemia
I stumbled across this post on a Google search for the Atkins diet and was dismayed that anyone is still recommending the Atkins diet for reactive hypoglycemia. There's so much research now that indicates the diet is completely ineffective in the long run for treating reactive hypoglycemia. I realize this thread is a little old, but with so many people looking for information ona reactive hypoglycemia diet, I think it's a good idea to update this post with current research.

The Atkins diet has never been clinically proven to stabilize blood sugar or lead to long term weight loss. In fact, it can lead to an increase risk of bone problems, cancer and heart disease.

If you Google "" Why Atkins Shouldn't be Part of Your Reactive Hypoglycemic Diet" you'll find links to the Mayo Clinic, McKinley and other resources that recommend you should stay away from the diet.
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replied August 16th, 2013
I don't care what the Mayo Clinic says about why Atkins isn't a good option for Hypoglycemia. The fact is 100% of my symptoms go away when on Atkins. No symptoms = 100% effective diet in my not so humble opinion.
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