Thursday, August 09, 2007

Rules to Drink it Up!

Three rules specify the importance of adequate hydration and choosing beverages wisely.

Rule 9:
  • Avoid foods or drinks sweetened with aspartame. Instead, use sucralose or saccharin. Be sure to count each packet of any of these as 1 gram of carbs.

Rule 10:

  • Avoid coffee, tea and soft drinks that contain caffeine. Excessive caffeine has been shown to cause low blood sugar, which can make you crave sugar.

Rule 11:

  • Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day to hydrate your body, avoid constipation and flush out the by-products of burning fat.

Starting with the last one, drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water, provides direction to make sure we consume enough fluids each day.

It's universally accepted that water is important; with disagreement as to whether fluid intake must be water itself or any beverage that helps provide hydration. I tend toward the belief that all fluids count toward water intake - if someone wants to drink water, great!; if someone wants to consume iced tea with lemon or a diet beverage, great! It's all good as long as we also are mindful of the other rules which have important considerations when choosing what to drink.

Rule nine limits consumption of artificial sweeteners and specifically suggests that we avoid aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) because evidence suggests it stimulates insulin and may cause lowering of blood sugars. This in turn would trigger hunger and leave one open to eating more than desired. Else where in Atkins book he provides an allowance of three packets of articifical sweetener each day of the two he recommends. This limit isn't to say you can't have something sweet, but rather forces selection and limitation as you're starting a low-carb diet.

That one must count each packet of any artificial sweetener as 1g of carbs - this alone places a limit on how much you can have in a day, without stating it, if you're following rule three and getting the majority of your carbs from vegetables and salads. Long-term, into maintenance, this is an excellent rule - it limits your exposure to chemical sweeteners and lessens the chance you'll use them in excess if you continue to follow this rule for the rest of your life.

The potential of caffeine to affect insulin and blood sugars is also included in the rules. Each time you have caffeine, your body has an insulin response and the potential for cravings to be triggered. In addition to the potential for cravings being induced by caffeine, there is also the risk of feeling more hungry and eating more than you would had you not had the caffeine. While initially caffeine may supress the appetite, later after its effects are waning, you may actually feel more hungry than you would have had you not had the caffeine.

It is especially important in the first two weeks to do all you can to limit your cravings; as you can see from the above rules that are in place, many of them aid in limiting the cravings to keep you on track. It is also important to begin to fully understand "hunger" and how much sates your appetite rather than leaving you stuffed. By avoiding caffeine, limiting artificial sweeteners and keeping yourself hydrated you're accomplishing this goal.

Dehydration when following a low-carb diet, due to ketosis, is to be avoided. It will increase the concentration of ketones in your body and the result is less efficient buring of fat for energy. You'll also run a greater risk of getting constipated, as well as, a greater risk of painful headaches. Proper hydration while you're in ketosis will help to eliminate the ketones from your body in your sweat, urine and respiration - you need the water intake to accomplish this each day.

As an aside, I've found caffeine has little effect on me. Over the years I've noted that it's a "your mileage may vary" type thing and usually recommend an individual see how they feel with and without caffeine in their daily menu.


  1. Anonymous7:51 AM

    Coffee puts the system under the strain of metabolizing a deadly acid-forming drug, depositing its insoluble cellulose, which cements the wall of the liver, causing this vital organ to swell to twice its proper size. In addition, coffee is heavily sprayed. (Ninety-two pesticides are applied to its leaves.) Diuretic properties of caffeine cause potassium and other minerals to be flushed from the body.

    Get the real scoop on coffee at
    And if you drink decaf you wont want to miss this special FREE report on the Dangers of Decaf available at

  2. I just read through DANDR last week and found that much of the information you discussed just now isn't in the book. For example, he recommends 8 glasses of pure water, not water alternatives. He lists the reasons for only using Splenda because of health risks.

    Since much of this article doesn't fit with the book, linking to studies or articles related to this information would be a huge help.

  3. I just read through DANDR last week and found that much of the information you discussed just now isn't in the book.

    Which year copyright edition do you have? I used the 2002 copyright edition for this series, and if I remember correctly, the 1999 edition and 1992 editions are similar except for the sucralose?

  4. 2002. But I'll further clarify what I'm asking.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that many of your previous articles tied in nicely with the book, but there are statements in this one that introduce some speculation or interpretation about what Dr. Atkins might have meant by these rules.

    You mention the disagreement about water vs. liquids. Dr. Atkins always uses the term "water" and in the chapter entitled "A Regiment to Jump-Start Weight Loss", says "You must drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of pure water daily." (I understand of course, that this chapter is emphasizing a more dedicated weight loss, but it seemed worth noting). It would be nice to have seen some substantiating links concerning this disagreement, because I've always felt that Dr. Atkins was clear about water being water.

    Also, his statements in the book concerning aspartame (and Stevia) are along the lines of lack of clear scientific backing, the one exception I could find was in "Engine Stalled? How to Get Past a Plateau" where Dr. Atkins says "Although the cause is yet unknown, clinical obvervations show that certain individuals find weight loss slows with excessive aspartame." You say rule 9 is important because of its associations with insulin, but from reading the book, it seems like the reason is because of health risks. Once again, references to substantiating links would have been extremely helpful to me.

    I'm not aiming to put down your articles, I have found them incredibly informative. I am more curious about the culture surrounding Atkins that is implied in this article, where the rules that Dr. Atkins presented have been given more meaning due to further discussion and research.