The Atkins Diet was developed by cardiologist Robert Atkins in the 1970’s and has recently been revived, due to his recent book, Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution. The basic diet claim is that only carbohydrates make a person fat, and strict limitations on carbohydrates of all types help the body to burn fat.
To accomplish this, you must eat a diet that is high in total fat and saturated fat. Foods included are meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, high fat dairy products like cheese, butter, and cream, oils, nuts, and artificial sweeteners.
To avoid carbohydrates, the diet is extremely limited in fruits and vegetables, grains, beans, and breads, as well as sugar of any type.
Recently, The Atkins Diet has been getting more attention because it is being studied for validation of its diet claims. Like many diets, the Atkins Diet claims that their approach will improve overall health, including heart health. This runs counter to the large body of evidence that shows that diets like this that are high in animal foods and saturated fat raise blood cholesterol and increase atherosclerosis.
Confused about what kind of diet to follow ?
Consider these key points:
1. The Atkins Diet is promoted as a weight loss plan. It is reduced in calories, so people lose weight, just like any other weight loss plan.
2. When a person loses weight, these things tend to happen: blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels improve, high blood pressure is reduced, blood sugar levels improve because insulin resistance improves, and people feel better. These improvements have been shown to occur on most weight loss diets, regardless of the type of diet!
3. For weight loss to be a permanent success, people need to learn how to make better food choices and eat within their calorie needs for their body weight and physical activity needs.
4. The problem with diets like the Atkins approach that are very high in saturated fat, or very high in total fat or protein is that they don't teach a way of eating that will lead to long term health benefits and a healthy balanced diet with a variety of all types of nutritious foods. What happens to high fat or high protein diets once the calories are increased to maintenance? This is the real question that will decide whether a diet is "heart healthy" or a good option for lifelong eating. Once the beneficial effects of weight loss stops, one is left with a diet that has been shown to be associated with increased risk of heart disease, high blood cholesterol, stroke, and certain types of cancer.
5. Diets high in saturated fat have been linked to other diseases, including most recently, Alzheimer's disease.
If you are considering a high fat, high protein diet, find about the effects of these diets from multiple professional sources. Remember, you can lose weight on just about any diet that is reduced in calories. The reason I do not advocate high fat or very low carbohydrate diets like the Atkins diet is because they do not promote a healthy, lifelong pattern of eating, and they teach people to choose foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol and to eat calorically dense foods.
It is well established that once a person reaches a healthy body weight, the best way to stay there and not re-gain the weight they fought hard to lose is to follow a balanced diet that includes healthy portions of nutritious carbohydrates and proteins, and a reasonable amount of “good” fats, not saturated animal fats.
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