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author:  Margie Culbertson

February/March 2006 Humor Contest Winner
Best Very Short Humor!

Moving On After Atkins: 
The Latest Breakthrough in Weight Loss Research


Marsha Roberts

I don't know about you, but when I heard the recent bankruptcy news about Atkins Nutritionals, I felt like a long time partner had dumped me. It was tough to let go. I found myself melancholically calculating the "net carbs" on menu and grocery shelf items even though I knew they were history. I'd automatically tell waiters to hold the pasta and potatoes until I realized it wasn't cheating any more – I was free to give in to those urges without guilt. Still, after a couple months of wantonly going with any carb that looked the least bit appealing, I was ready for commitment again. But how to find the right one after Atkins left me in the lurch? I needed one that would stick by me from thick to thin – one that would let me be me and not expect perfection.

Not surprisingly, the answer to my prayers came straight from the same scientist who came up with the notion of "net carbs". In case you haven't heard, the guy who discovered that some carbohydrates aren't really carbs at all has now has proof positive that you don't have to actually get off your couch to burn calories. This latest discovery is called "gross burn". In order to understand the gross burn theory, it's helpful to know how the concept of "net carbs" works.

If you are a female between the ages of 4 and 104, a gay man or a metrosexual, you are familiar with the term "net carbs", on which the Atkins diet was based. For the rest of you who favor elastic waistbands, I will explain. A carbohydrate, as everyone knows, is what makes you fat – as opposed to your lack of willpower. There are two kinds of carbs, bad carbs and good carbs. Bad carbs are found in food that tastes good, like French fries, ice cream, pasta, and garlic mashed potatoes. Good carbs are found on the plates of people who wear Birkenstocks, live in a commune and make their own toilet paper out of leaves they've raked up in the yard.

When you eat food with bad carbs in it, the carbs automatically turn into globs of body fat. If you're a woman, the fat lands directly on your hips. If you're a man, it goes straight to your gut. (For gay men and metrosexuals, I think it's somewhere in between.) "Net carbs" are kind of like carbs without the guilt. The theory is that the amount of energy expended in consuming the bad carbs absorbs a large portion of them, leaving you with just the "net carbs" adhering to your body.

For example, if you are a believer in "net carbs" and, say, you eat a double whopper with cheese with a side order of large fries and a chocolate shake, the total amount of gross carbs in your meal (in more ways than one) is about 1,000 grams, but the "net carbs" –if you're a believer – is about 6 grams – roughly the equivalent of the amount of gross carbs in an oak leaf. According to this theory, the guy in "Super Size Me" could have maintained his normal weight after eating three meals a day at McDonalds, had he only understood the concept of net carbs.

Well, it seems that people aren't buying this theory any more, so the same scientist who developed the concept of "net carbs", has now discovered "gross burn", or, to use the technical term, "gross lipid obsessive burn" – or GLOB. Dr. Swami Krishna–krishna–arama–dama, headed up a pivotal study on GLOBS at the Center for Transfatty Acids in Houston, Texas, tubbo capital of the world. Apparently, Dr. KK. has found that you can actually burn calories by just thinking about physical activity – without having to actually perform the activity … a belief many of us have lived by all along, but it's never been scientifically proven until now. This is great validation for those of us who have always felt we should get weight loss credit for shopping at Whole Foods or living near a biking trail.

According to the research, joining a gym, for example, shaves about 5 pounds off your weight, or the equivalent of one small love handle. That leaves the other love handle. Not to worry. Studying the equipment in the gym and knowing what it will do for you is worth some GLOBS, too. Visiting the "gut blaster ab sling" machine, for example, and reading the instructions on how to use it translates to 5 GLOBS off your abs, or the equivalent of ten snickers bars eaten over a two–day period. Buying dumbbells and keeping them near the TV will counteract hours spent on the couch watching football. Keeping your gym clothes close at hand in the trunk of your car as you go through the fast food "drive thru" counteracts most of the calories consumed when eating the food in your car. Placing exercise videotapes among your movie collection trims about 3 inches off your waist and hips. If you shuffle them around and put them at the top of the stack every so often, you'll achieve even greater results.

Nike has already capitalized on this theory by coming up with a "GPD", or "GLOBS per dollar" ratio for their running shoes. they've affixed a small GLOB chart to the bottom of each pair of athletic shoes, much like the mini–nutritional charts on food products, that indicates precisely how many GLOBS are in each pair. The formula is too complicated to explain here, but essentially, the more expensive the running shoe, the more GLOBS you get, whether or not you ever actually wear them.

And that's not all – more good news from Dr. KK – the same theory applies to the food you wished you ate. Dr. KK has coined the term "virtual nutritional value", meaning the health benefits realized from purchasing food that tastes like used socks. Buying grains from the bins at Whole Foods, for instance, lowers cholesterol. The darker the grain, the better. The stuff that looks like little mouse droppings, for instance, is the best for you. Particularly if mixed with all natural, tasteless real food impostors, like carob. Carob, it turns out, is really short for "carbo robber". Each carob bar you buy will absorb 17.9 grams of carbohydrates – as long as you put it on the shelf next to the Oreos.

Keep those low–fat, low–carb, low sugar energy bars in your purse or glove compartment for those days when you're on the go and just too busy to cook yourself that fennel, oat and tofu casserole for a snack. You'll have a quick, nutritious alternative available to the Mrs. Fields cookies you crave – and even if Mrs. Fields wins, the bar doubles as a patch for your tire, in case you get a flat.

Those of you who have read through to the end of this article will be pleased to know that just reading about this new discovery has burned about 2 GLOBS off your body – enough to allow you to stop at Ben and Jerry's on the way home for a double scoop of Chunky Monkey ice cream, with a grand total of only 2 net carbs.

As for me, who's Atkins? I've so moved on.

©Marsha Roberts

Marsha Roberts is a closet writer who lives in Marin County, California. By day, she works in the business world, where she has held a series of increasingly impressive jobs for over 20 years. At least her mother thinks so. When not fighting for corporate truth, justice, and whatever the third thing is, she drops her disguise and writes from the comfort of her hot tub. She has yet to be described as mild–mannered.

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