The best advice you can give your patients is to have no set expectations for their first week on Atkins in terms of weight loss. Here’s what they’re likely to experience when they start Phase 1, Induction:
- Loss of water weight. Most people lose a couple of pounds of water weight in the first few days, but the actual amount varies.
- Then fat pounds will disappear. By the end of the first week, weight loss could total from 2 to 6 pounds, but advise patients not to get hung up on the scale. They should take baseline measurements of their chest, upper arms, waist, hips and thighs. Lost inches are just as significant as lost pounds. If their clothes feel looser, even if weight is constant, they’re on the right track. It’s perfectly normal for weight to vary from day to day, so we recommend weighing—and measuring—just once or twice a week at roughly the same time of day. Better yet, advise weight averaging, produces more positive and meaningful results.
- Certain symptoms may occur. The diet has a diuretic effect. When water and electrolytes are flushed from the body, possible effects include fatigue, light-headedness upon standing up or with exposure to heat, weakness, constipation, chronic headaches and/or leg cramps. It’s easy to minimize the chance of experiencing these discomforts with a little salt and adequate fluid.
- Energy level may be low for a few days. If so, it’s essential to stay hydrated and add a little salt. It’s also a good idea to let the body acclimate to this new way of eating before starting or intensifying activity.
- Hunger or cravings for high-carb foods may persist for the first couple of days. A high-protein snack, such as sliced roast beef, a chicken breast or some cheese should nip these in the bud.
- Energy level improves along with a sense of well-being. This dramatic shift, usually occurs somewhere toward the end of the first or even into the second week. This is a clear signal that the transition to primarily burning fat for energy has occurred.
Your patients can find online support and answers to specific questions on the Atkins Community Forums during this transition (as well as at any other time).