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Atkins Diet - Health Warning

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Atkins Diet - Health Warning - Heart Conference

Doctors at a heart conference issued another health warning about the Atkins diet, (the best selling low-carb weight loss diet program) saying it might increase a dieter's chances of developing diabetes.

Risk of Higher Cholesterol and Diabetes

There was a grave risk that following the Atkins weight loss regime for a prolonged period could lead to higher blood cholesterol, which might then bring on the potentially life-threatening condition, they said.

Some Evidence High Protein Linked to Insulin Resistance and Higher Cholesterol

Hormone specialist Dr Jim Mann said he had some evidence that the high-protein diet creates a resistance to insulin which could spark diabetes. He said doctors should not recommend it because of the lack of long-term data. "I tell my patients under no circumstances do I recommend it."

Speaking at a heart specialists' conference in Vienna, Dr Mann admitted: "The majority of people lose weight on the Atkins diet and initially their cholesterol levels seem lower.

"But when the weight loss is maintained, we have observed that a lot of people experience a rise in their cholesterol levels to greater than when they started."

Dr Mann, of the University of Otago, New Zealand, specialises in treating people with diabetes and insulin resistance. This is a condition in which people develop an impaired tolerance to glucose, which can lead to diabetes unless they change their diet and exercise more.

Dr Mann said: "We advise people strongly against the Atkins diet. We believe it may have a powerful effect on increasing insulin resistance."

Atkins Diet and Carb Restriction

Invented 30 years ago by Dr Robert Atkins, the Atkins diet plan recommends eating vast amounts of protein and fat, and severely restricting carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and starchy vegetables.

Low Carb Diet Theory

The theory is that diets which are high in carbohydrate increase the body's production of insulin, and that encourages the cells to store fat, resulting in hunger and weight gain.

Cutting carbohydrates right down, Dr Atkins asserted, switches the body's chemistry from a carbohydrate-burning machine to one that burns fat.

But the American Heart Association has warned that diets rich in animal protein and saturated fat raise levels of so-called "bad" cholesterol, and that the effect is compounded by limiting high- carbohydrate, highfibre plant foods.

Long Term Diet Studies - Healthier Version of Atkins Diet

Dr Mann said his university was carrying out long-term studies to see what happened to people on a range of diets.

"We may be able to modify the Atkins diet to produce a healthier version," he said. "In particular, there are probably going to have to be modifications to the type of fat recommended - rather than greasy sausages, fried eggs and bacon, to a better mix of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

"It's also important to have the right kind of carbohydrates - whole grain cereals, legumes and some types of pasta, as well as an exercise programme."

Balanced Approach to Diet Nutrition and Weight Loss

Professor Sir Charles George, of the British Heart Foundation, said: "We don't like the Atkins diet because it is primarily about reducing calorie intake and we want to see a combination of a better balanced approach with exercise.

"Maintenance of weight loss is much more important than quick weight reduction."

Source: Vienna Heart Conference.

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