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Atkins Diet - Review of Popular Low Carb High Protein Plan
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Atkins Diet

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Atkins Diet Review

Atkins Diet - Overview

The Atkins Diet is probably the most well known low-carb / high-protein diet. It first appeared back in the early 70’s. The Atkins Diet claims you can eat all the protein and fat that you care to and still lose weight. You just need to cut out the carbohydrates to become thin. It's all explained in: Dr Atkins New Diet Revolution, by Dr Robert C. Atkins.

Atkins Diet - Simple Introduction

When you first begin the Atkins Diet, you go on an Induction Phase – this is to put you into ketosis. You cut out almost all carbohydrates except for a few greens, but you can eat sour cream and steak and eggs. Many doctors say that ketosis is bad because it puts a strain on your kidneys and may be fatal.

After the first 2 weeks on the Atkins Diet, you are permitted to reintroduce a few carbohydrates into your diet - but very few. The diet states you add until you stop losing weight - that way you will know your limit in order to lose weight effectively.

In talking with people who have attempted the Atkins Diet, I found that many couldn’t even get through the induction phase because they didn’t feel well eating like that.

Also, while Dr. Atkins claims that your cholesterol will get better – there were several that had either no improvement or their numbers became worse.

Robert H. Eckel, MD, chair of the AHA's (American Heart Association's) Nutrition Committee, is unconvinced that Atkins Diet controls cholesterol in the long term and points out that the Atkins Diet has few published results and no long-term studies to back up his claims.

"Our [major] concern is the high-fat content of the diet and its overall effect on the cardiovascular system," Eckel says.

Atkins Diet - Family Eating

While there are a few success stories with those using the Atkins Diet, many people find it becomes a very unfriendly diet if you need to feed a family, especially children.

Atkins Diet - Claims

  • You will lose weight fast.
  • You can eat large amounts of protein and still lose weight.
  • You eat very little sugar and white flour.

Atkins Diet - Drawbacks

  • Initial weight loss may be quite fast, but is not always sustainable.
  • A ketosis-inducing diet may strain the kidneys.
  • As many foods high in animal protein may also be high in saturated fat, your saturated fat intake may be too high for comfort.
  • Giving up or severely restricting potatoes, corn, bread, fruits and vegetables and much more for as long as it takes to lose the weight, is not a user-friendly diet plan.

Atkins Diet - Our Opinion

  • We are not very keen about recommending more restrictive low-carb / high-protein diets, for weight loss, unless the individual is obese. Some of these diets restrict healthful foods that provide essential nutrients and don't provide the variety of foods needed to adequately meet nutritional needs. People who remain on these diets very long may be at risk for inadequate vitamin and mineral intake as well as more potential health risks.
  • For severely obese individuals, the cardiovascular risks of a high protein diet may be worth taking in order to reduce the extra, well-documented risks of severe or morbid obesity. However, this issue is outside the scope of this review and should be settled between yourself and your doctor. For individuals who are not seriously obese, we do not recommend the more restrictive type of low-carb / high-protein diet plan like Atkins Diet.
  • If clinical evidence emerges to demonstrate that an Atkins-type high protein diet offers long term healthy weight loss, we will be happy to recommend it.

FOOTNOTE:
American Heart Association Media Advisory (11/19/2002) - High Protein Diets

Here is a short extract from the recent American Heart Association statement on high protein, low carbohydrate study.

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Media reports about a small study funded by the Robert C. Atkins Foundation may have created the erroneous impression that the American Heart Association has revised its dietary guidelines. This is not the case.... Here are the American Heart Association’s concerns with the study:

  • The study is very small, with only 120 total participants and just 60 on the high-fat, low carbohydrate diet.
  • This is a short-term study, following participants for just 6 months. There is no evidence provided by this study that the weight loss produced could be maintained long term.
  • There is no evidence provided by the study that the diet is effective long term in improving health.
  • A high intake of saturated fats over time raises great concern about increased cardiovascular risk – the study did not follow participants long enough to evaluate this.

By way of contrast with this small study, a 12-year Harvard study funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute was also reported at this meeting. This study of 74,000 women showed that those who consumed more fruits and vegetables were 26 percent less likely to become obese than women who ate fewer fruits and vegetables over the same time period. “This is a much more compelling study regarding weight control, because it involved many more individuals over a much longer period,” says Bonow.

“Bottom line, the American Heart Association says that people who want to lose weight and keep it off need to make lifestyle changes for the long term – this means regular exercise and a balanced diet,” he says. “People should not change their eating patterns based on one very small, short-term study. Instead, we hope that the public will continue to rely on the guidance of organizations such as the American Heart Association which look at all the very best evidence before formulating recommendations.”

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Bookmark this page for more articles on low carb dieting - coming soon!

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Source: American Heart Association

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