I went on the Atkins Diet in the mid-90’s. I read five books on it before I decided to try it. It seemed safe enough and I was in excellent health – just a few more pounds that I wanted to wear.
I followed the intent to the letter. I averaged less than ten grams of carbohydrates a day for six years. I lost weight and enjoyed life. The only thing I could not do as well was to run. Before Atkins, I could easily run five or six miles in an hour without a lot of effort. Fully entrenched in Atkins, I found that I was unable to do the same.
I chose to eat a lot of meat and fat and abstain from sugar and any grains. I did eat dairy and enjoyed a glass of wine often. My last two years of active duty with the military was in Stuttgart, Germany. Periodically, I would drive down to Italy and splurge on pasta and bread. I would gain twelve pounds in a weekend. It took two weeks for me to lose those extra pounds. This happened several times.
After the military I took a physical and decided to have a bone density test included for the first time. I felt it would just reinforce my mind that I had strong bones. However, it proved me wrong. The test revealed that I had osteopenia. I could not believe it. I had been lifting weights for years and running nearly every day (except for the past two years).
It wasn’t long after that test I discovered that our bodies will do anything to maintain the proper pH of the blood – around 7.4. pH is the measure of acid and alkalinity. Below seven is acidic and above seven is alkaline. My body had been stealing calcium from my bones to keep the blood pH in the proper range. I have never read that in Atkins books.
I did some further research and checked out the newer Atkins books and they did not mention the chance of acidosis if you didn’t eat properly. I had been eating foods that produced an acid environment in my body. I had chosen not to eat more fruits and vegetables compared to dairy, meat and fat. The result was that my body was constantly acidic and it poached calcium to balance more important functions in my body.
I know today that when I eat a lot of vegetables and fruits (primarily berries) and a little protein and fat that I can live in an alkaline body. I measure my saliva pH often. I can tell when my body gets out of balance.
Disease cannot live in an alkaline environment in our bodies. However, disease can live in an acidic environment. I didn’t choose the right foods on Atkins and learned the hard way that all is not roses.