Why Did the Kimkins Diet Work Better Than Atkins?

Roasted Chicken Breast was a Kimkins Staple
Kimkins worked better than Atkins -- but WHY?

In the process of losing over 100 pounds, I discovered that the Kimkins Diet worked better than Atkins.

Using the principles that Kimmer originally set up at the Low Carb Friends forum, I was finally able to start losing weight. There's nothing wrong with the Atkins Diet, but it has evolved over the years into something that is not Atkins.

This post explains why.

The Kimkins Diet was a low-calorie diet that was very low in both carbs and fat. It was popular with a subset of low-carb dieters in 2007. Similar to a Protein-Sparing Modified Fast (PSMF) and a bit less restrictive than the popular HCG Diet that surfaced later on, Kimmer promised her followers a quicker and easier way to shed the pounds than Atkins did.

And she was right.

The Kimkins Diet worked faster than Atkins did.

At the time, the prevailing mantra among low-carb dieters was to "eat more fat." Whether you were brand new to low carb, holding water, or stalled, the advice was always the same: up your fat and keep your calories high, so you don't go into starvation mode.

When Kimmer suddenly appeared on the scene at the Low Carb Friends forum recommending you do the Meat-and-Egg Fast that Dr. Atkins created in 1992 to see if you were overeating carbs, people were ripe for a better way.

Dieters were frustrated and confused as to why the Atkins Diet had stopped working for them, and since Kimmer's initial suggestion was that they were probably overeating carbs, those who had been experiencing a weight-loss plateau were more than willing to give her low-calorie three-day experiment a try.

Including me.

Pinterest Image: Roasted Chicken Breast versus a T-Bone Steak

My Initial Results of the Meat-and-Egg Experiment

The Meat-and-Egg Fast is quite simple, really. For 3 to 7 days, you eat nothing but:
  • meat
  • fish
  • poultry
  • and eggs
In addition, you can include whatever amount of fat you need to cook the above protein foods. Some people also used fats to make a dip or sauce, but Kimmer didn't recommend doing that.

For my own 7-day introduction to the original Kimkins Diet, I ate chicken breast, ground turkey burgers, or lean pork chops with 2 eggs fried in butter, on the side.

Initial results at Low Carb Friends were quite remarkable.

People who hadn't lost weight in several weeks were suddenly losing pounds as easily as they did when they first went on Atkins Induction.

I wasn't as lucky as others.

I didn't lose as much weight that first week as others did, but I didn't stop trying. It wasn't the first time I'd tried to do a zero-carb diet, but it was the first time I didn't gain weight eating that way, so I was more than willing to give this new weight-loss diet a fair chance.

Kimkins Diet was Born at Low-Carb Friends

On the heels of the overwhelming success of the Three-Day Meat-and-Egg Diet, Kimmer next introduced her take on how to make a low-carb diet work better for those struggling on the 2002 version of the Atkins Diet.

She advised dieters to stop eating so much fat, shed the net-carb theory, and return to your Atkins roots where a carb-was-a-carb and fat was eaten a lot more moderately.

None of the ideas Kimmer presented about carbs, fat, and calories were new. She had simply lifted them right out of the metabolic resistance and fat-fast discussions found in the 1992 Atkins book.

Like today, most people in 2007 were not familiar with those prior 1992 discussions on calories, carbohydrates, dietary fats, and water fasting. This was pretty obvious by their misconceptions about calories and how they reacted to what Kimmer recommended.

The 2002 version of the Atkins Diet, coupled with the recommendations by the ANA and its vocal "eat more fat and calories" supporters, were all they knew.

Grilled Chicken Tenders
Atkins 92 provided most of the principles
that the Kimkins Diet originally used.

They had no clue what Dr. Atkins suggested in 1992 to those who thought they might be metabolic resistant to weight loss, or had gotten stuck part way to goal weight, because the 2002 version of the diet only gives the definition for metabolic resistance a slight nod.

It didn't go into detail like Dr. Atkins did in 1992.

Although, the 1992 book was still easily available at Amazon back then, few took advantage of the opportunity to pick up a copy and read the discussions for themselves. Instead, they relied on the opinions and hysteria of others.

What was the Original Kimkins Diet?

The Kimkins Diet evolved much quicker than its predecessor Atkins did, but I have no personal experience with, nor knowledge of what happened at the Kimkins website and forum. 

My personal experience with the Kimkins Diet started with the posts at Low Carb Friends and ended with a Yahoo Egroup called Kimkinschat.

Since the 1992 version of the Atkins Diet backed up Kimmer's overall dieting philosophy for quicker weight loss, I used the following basic Kimkins requirements to create my own personalized Protein Sparing Modified Fast (PSMF) Diet:
  • Minimum of 72 to 90 grams of protein per day
  • Up to 20 total carbohydrates (not net)
  • Choose lean meats over fatty cuts
  • No dairy products, such as cheese
  • Non-fat or low-fat condiments okay in moderation
  • Only as much fat as you needed to make the diet work
As you can see by the above instructions, the Original Kimkins Diet was open to a lot of personal interpretation.

What I particular liked about the plan:

It recommended a decent amount of protein, 72 to 90 grams a day, and no calorie restrictions, which made it extremely adaptable to fit my personal situation. Since I'm post-menopause and only 5-feet tall, I need fewer calories per day than other dieters.

I also liked the way dietary fat was handled: use as little or as much as you need to guarantee compliance. This made it easy to personalize the diet plan and convert it into something most people could live with.

As time went on, however, things got more extreme with the Kimkins groupies, but the Kimkins Diet is like any other weight-loss diet.

Look at those going on 30-day water fasts, when Dr. Fung recommends only 24 to 48 hours.

Look at the people eating low-carb diets that contain 80 percent fat, even though Dr. Phinney (the author of the LCHF Nutritional Ketosis Diet) says that level of fat intake is maintenance.

It is human nature to pick out what you like and want to hear, and ditch the rest.

Herd of Sheep on a Hillside
Although you hear what you want to hear,
people also tend to follow each other.

But it's also human nature to follow the herd.

One person starts doing a weight-loss diet in a particular way and another quickly follows. A few more see the results and decide they want those results for themselves, too. Before you know it, everyone is doing it that way and claiming the tweaked version is the only way to do it.

What I Did to Lose Over 100 Pounds in 2007 and 2008

I totally wasted the first half of 2007 trying to do a high-fat Atkins Diet. That didn't work well at all. For me, switching to Kimkins was a necessity, and one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Through the help of Fitday.com, where I was able to track my daily food intake and play around with the various amounts of protein, carbohydrate, fats, and calories I was eating, I learned through trial-and-error that my own personal sweet spot was:
  • 72 to 90 grams of protein
  • 60 grams of fat
  • 20 total carbs
  • 900 to 950 calories a day
If I hit those targets consistently, I was able to shed 2 to 3 pounds of body fat per week. If I ate less fat than 60 grams, I didn't lose that week. If I ate more than 60 grams of fat, I didn't lose that week, either.
Best Amount of Fat Grams for Me was 60 Grams a Day
I had to hit the target right on the head for best results.

The only macro I didn't play around with at the time was the carbs because in 2007 and 2008, I still believed in low-carb magic. Letting go of the low-carb dream took time, and the Kimkins Diet helped me do that, but only after I had successfully lost weight on that low-carb, low-fat, low-calorie program.

Woman's World Magazine Explosion

In June of 2007, I joined a Yahoo Group called Kimkinschat.

It had only been up and running a few days but already had over 80 members when I joined. The greater majority of those members had seen the recent article in Woman's World Magazine, boasting how:

"You can lose 10 pounds a week with 'Kimkins', the breakthrough new alternative Atkins!"

The magazine article gave lots of examples, including Kimmer (who claimed to have lost 200 pounds in 11 months) and a member of the Kimkins website, Christin, who really did lose 100 pounds in 5 months.

However, with promised weight losses like that on the magazine's front cover, the members of the new egroup wanted to give the Kimkins Diet a whirl. These were people who couldn't afford to join Kimmer's new website because it was an expensive paid-membership site.

Most of the people in the Egroup were brand new to a low-carb diet. They were not what Dr. Atkins would call metabolic resistant. Nor were they slow losers. They were simply chasing the promise of faster weight loss, so the results people saw following the Kimkins Diet were mixed.

One of the reasons had to do with the way the Kimkins Diet had evolved due to the population explosion.

What started out as a list of recommendations soon became a specific diet with a specific calorie count to keep the pounds coming off fast and stricter rules. Quicker diets, such as a 500-Calorie Boot Camp or an all weight-loss shake plan, were created to suit those looking for a super-fast way to shed the pounds than even the original recommendations.

No one seemed to care about nutrition or health, at all, even at Low Carb Friends. The only thing that mattered was getting the fat off right now!

Many started doing drastic things like dropping their fat intake to below 30 grams a day, which limited their protein to only chicken breast, and lowering their calories to 500 - 750 per day, depending on which Kimkins plan they were following.

At intakes that low, many stalled in their weight-loss progress, especially those who were heavily into exercise, but they just kept lowering their food intake instead of raising it up to a more appropriate level.

Rumor was that some of them were only eating 300 calories a day, or less.

Can You Really Lose Weight Quickly and Easily on Low Carb?

In 1972, Dr. Atkins stated that he had only seen a few lucky individuals who could lose weight quickly and easily on traditional low-calorie diets. In his professional experience, most overweight people have some degree of metabolic resistance.

However, keep in mind that Atkins was a high-end cardiologist, and health insurance didn't pay for weight-loss services in the 1960s. Most of those patients had lived their lives around a heartbreaking series of diets that didn't work for them. These were not your average yo-yo dieter you see today.

Many of the individuals went to Dr. Atkins after subsisting on 900 calories a day for months, maintaining or even gaining weight on that small calorie amount. 

Many had inflammatory bowel conditions, IBS, and other intestinal disorders that made it difficult to shed the pounds.

Today, we know that autoimmune disorders and food intolerance, anything that keeps the digestive track inflamed, will put you in starvation, due to malabsorption, and the lack of nutrients will make it difficult for you to lose weight, even on low-calorie diets.

So, these metabolic-resistant people paying Dr. Atkins thousands of dollars to help them lose weight were pretty sick, as well as desperate. They weren't interested in a get-thin-quick scheme.

No matter what diet you choose to follow, people will lose weight at different rates. Some people lose quickly and easily, without effort, while others lose more slowly. There is nothing magical about a low-carb diet.

At times, Dr. Atkins called the inability to lose weight easily -- metabolic resistance -- but he had a clearly defined definition he used to determine that condition. Not everyone who is seriously overweight or obese have metabolic resistance to weight loss.

So what makes the difference?

Are weight-loss difficulties a result of a wonky metabolism or does it actually have something to do with your food choices? Turns out, your ability to lose weight quickly and easy on any diet depends on if you're really metabolic resistant to weight loss, or not.

What is Metabolic Resistance to Weight Loss?

To understand why the Kimkins Diet worked quicker than Atkins, you first have to understand what causes metabolic resistance to weight loss. In Dr. Atkins experience, only two things completely interfere with weight loss:
  • medication
  • and thyroid problems
If neither of those two things fit your situation, and you've reached a point where your diet has stopped working, then you might have metabolic resistance. Dr. Atkins definition for metabolic resistance was as follows:

"The inability to lose weight, or to continue to lose weight until a reasonable goal weight is reached, on either a diet of 1,000 calories or on a 25 gram carb diet."

This definition completely destroys a lot of what the low-carb community wants to believe. They have it firmly rooted in their minds that calories have nothing to do with weight loss.

But that isn't what Dr. Atkins taught.

The Two Tests for Metabolic Resistance

In 1992, Dr. Atkins used a very low-calorie diet, less than a traditional 1,200 calorie diet, to define whether your body was defending its fat stores, or not.

A 1,000 calorie diet was the first test that Dr. Atkins recommended to determine if you are resistant to weight loss. If you started losing weight, then your weight-loss problem was simply overeating.

Kimmer started off her short-term career using test number two. This test was the Meat-and-Egg diet, described above, which cuts your carbohydrate level to the bone. If you started dropping weight quickly and easily on that diet, then you were not metabolically resistant, either.

You were simply eating too many carbs.

What Can You Do If You're Metabolic Resistant?

Dr. Atkins had two suggestions for those who are metabolic resistant:

1) Cut Calories

"You might study your response to eating less food, smaller portions, fewer calories, less caloric-dense foods (ex low fat). Perhaps you were seduced by the concept of eat all it takes, which you may have interpreted as eat all you want, and the two means of determining your optimal quantities may be quite different.

"For you, the most effective strategy might be to say to yourself 'I'll eat just enough that I'm physically free of intolerable hunger signals, and no more.' No question, for the person who is stuck, that's the first thing to try. So do that, and come back to this section after you've given your new quantity concept a fair try (several weeks perhaps).

"You now have to answer these questions. Is the newly modified diet working now? If so, am I as happy as I was on my Induction diet? Do I feel well? Can I do this for a lifetime? If the answers are yes, then do it -- you've found your answer."

2) Cut Carbs

"The second principle of weight loss we work with (and the number one principle overall) is carb restriction. I placed it second here merely because if you are on the Induction diet, you are already quite restricted in carbohydrate. Of course, you're not at absolute zero in carbohydrate -- there are veggies, the salad, the lemon juice, and the other low-but-not-zero-carbohydrate items that make this diet so livable.

"What would happen if you cut way down on them? Well try retreating to zero carbohydrate, and then ask yourself the same question. Does the diet now work, and do you feel well, and are you happy, and could you spend your life on it?"

The Kimkins Diet offered you BOTH of those alternatives to a high-fat Atkins Diet. Fewer calories, which included eating less fat, and fewer carbs combined into a single, powerful diet. It covered all of the bases, which is why it worked so well.

Dr. Atkins preference:

Eat only enough calories to keep you from being intolerably hungry, and pick less caloric-dense foods, which he himself defined as low fat. He even went so far as to suggest that if one of these two suggestions works for you, consider staying on what's working for the rest of your life!

Why Kimkins Worked Better Than Atkins

One of the examples that Dr. Atkins used in his original diet book to demonstrate someone who was able to lose weight easily and without effort on a low-carb diet was a woman who gave up sandwiches for lunch and replaced them with grilled meats and fish.

For Faster Weight Loss, Eat Shrimp Salad!
This woman lost faster on Atkins than other patients,
because she ate less fat and calories.

Grilled meats and fish are low-fat choices!

She wasn't eating fatty meats like ribs, ribeye steaks, and chicken thighs with crispy skin, as the low-carb community does today. She stuck to grilled lean meats and fish.

Her reward for eating fewer calories?

Quick and easy weight loss!

Another example, which Dr. Atkins labeled as having a great metabolic resistance to weight loss, was a man who stayed at the biologically zero-carb level for over a year, enabling him to shed 99 pounds.

His food choices were very different from the woman who lost weight easily. He ate no breakfast, due to overeating dinner the night before. Lunch was scrambled eggs and bacon. Dinner was:
  • 24 ounces of meat
  • a large salad or 1/2 cup veggies
  • sugar-free gelatin
He used sweetener and real heavy cream in his coffee, and sometimes ate full-fat cheese for snacks. Often, he ate again just before going bed.

T-Bone Steak is a Fatty Meat
This man didn't make lean choices, so he lost
weight slower because he ate more fat and calories.

Notice that he wasn't making lean choices.

His calorie count and fat intake was much higher than the woman eating grilled meats. Does that make his diet choices wrong?

No, of course not.

He was eating within the Atkins guidelines and was happy with his slow rate of weight loss. Luckily, he was still eating at a calorie deficit, but the slower pace said that his deficit was smaller than the woman's deficit was.

What's important here is that the choices each of them made played a direct role in the speed at which the fat came off. Even more important, when you consider that men tend to lose weight much faster and easier than women do.

The Take Away

Almost all weight-loss diets evolve. It is the only way to keep bringing in new dieters and to hang onto the dieters they have. Diets that don't evolve, eventually fade away and die once the yo-yo dieter crowd grow tired of that particular plan and become attracted to something new.

However, evolution isn't always a good thing.

Many times, trying to improve what works well simply backfires on you. In Kimmer's case, the recommendations she gave those who joined her forum was to eat fewer and fewer calories for faster and faster weight loss. That advice turned out to be dangerous because many forum participants were eating hardly anything at all. A few of those people were harmed.

As a result, the low-carb community rallied together and eventually got Kimmer convicted for fraud because she had never lost weight using her plan like she claimed, and the photos she posted on the internet were not her.

Despite the resentment of the low-carb community, the plan she posted to Low Carb Friends works much better than Atkins does because it keeps your calories, fats, and protein in check. You cannot eat all you want and end up at goal weight. That's simply a fantasy that needs to die.

While low-carb diets do work for those with insulin resistance, it is not the answer for most of us.

Most of us need a plan that is much lower in fat and calories than Atkins provides, which is the main reason why the Kimkins Diet worked better than Atkins did.