Colette's Blog

November 20, 2014

Several weeks ago, I introduced the “metabolic bully” in this blog. The metabolic bully is a metaphor for the way your body responds when you overfeed it carbohydrates, particularly sugar, refined grains like white flour and other processed foods. In simple terms, too many carbs keep your body from burning your own body fat for energy. By referring to that concept as the metabolic bully, I was able to describe this result it in a way that people easily “got it.” One member summed it up, when she responded, “Fantastic. Thank you for writing in a way that we can understand.”

One of the greatest pleasures of my job is communicating with Atkins followers, whether you’re just starting Atkins or have made it your lifestyle. And I’ve found that although you’re eager to understand how and why Atkins works, you certainly don’t want to be talked down to. But nor do you want to feel that you need a Ph.D. in human metabolism to understand what I’m talking about. Yes, the subject is complicated, but I’ve found that if we can translate complex concepts into easily understood metaphors, it makes it so much easier. In case it’s been a while since you took freshman English, a metaphor is basically a comparison that makes it easier to understand an idea.

One of the most famous metaphors is based on the fable about the race between the hare and the tortoise. When you refer to the slow and steady tortoise winning the race, it’s shorthand for explaining that being fast isn’t everything; determination and the commitment to complete a task is just as important and may even win out in the end. Certainly, that metaphor applies to weight loss. You may lose a dramatic number of pounds in your first few weeks in Induction, but what’s really important is sticking to the program, moving through the phases and when you’ve reached your goal weight, continuing to follow the Atkins lifestyle.

Our brand new book, The New Atkins for a New You [http://www.atkins.com/Book.aspx], uses a number of metaphors to help make Atkins easily understandable and easy to follow. You’re probably already familiar with one: the blood sugar roller coaster. The interplay between glucose and insulin that occurs in your blood stream after you eat a lot of carbohydrates is complex, but if you think of it as a roller coaster of energy highs followed by energy lows that make you ravenous and stimulate your cravings, it’s pretty easy to understand the basic message: Don’t feed your body this way and you’ll find it easier to moderate your appetite and therefore lose weight.

Another metaphor—this one named by Dr. Stephen D. Phinney, one of the three authors of the book, who also dubbed the metabolic bully—is the Atkins Edge. If the metabolic bully is the bad guy in this scenario, the Atkins Edge is the hero, charging in to save the day. Edge has many meanings, but one of them refers to the advantage of an improved position, which is how we use it. When you eat the Atkins way, reducing your intake of carbs—particularly, those bad carbs I mentioned above, you can vanquish the metabolic bully. Why? Because your new way of eating forces your body to burn its own fat for energy. And it doesn’t stop there, once you’re burning primarily fat, other wonderful things happen, including natural appetite control. Most people find that their cravings for sugary, starchy foods vanish—or at least moderate—enabling them to exercise the self control that eluded them. Once you know your tolerance for carbs, you should be able to keep the Atkins Edge and kick the metabolic bully out of your life.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to make every effort to write in simple English. And if I occasionally forget, I know you’ll let me hear about it!

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