Following on from last week’s article about high protein diets, I thought we’d take a look at The Atkins Diet this week. The plan has received a lot of publicity over the 50 years that it has been available, but does it really work in helping with weight loss.?
The Atkins Diet concept is that if we are overweight, then it is probably because we consume too many carbohydrates. Our metabolic functions burn carbohydrates for energy before fats, so it follows that if we reduce our carbohydrate intake, then the body will turn to fat for energy and burn that instead, hence losing weight. This process is called ketosis. This is the basis for a lot of controversial discussion surrounding the Atkins Diet as many doctors believe that the regimen promotes heart disease, cancer and stroke.
The diet plan allows for meat, fish, chicken and many other high protein sources as food items but forbids pasta, rice, sugar, bread and other carbohydrates, not just for the duration of the diet, but off the table for ever. The success of the program depends on the body being able to “kick-start” the ketosis process by reducing carbohydrate intake down to as much as 40g per day. This has to be done over a two week period. Unfortunately, according to the medical profession, the body needs 150g of carbohydrates per day just to maintain normal bodily functions. Hence the conflicting opinions. Additionally, there are other unpleasant side effects such as abnormal smelling breath and constipation caused by the ketosis process.
Claims that the Atkins Diet also reduces appetite have been made which is a crucial step in the right direction as again, we’ve tried to focus on this blog on changing our attitudes as well as our food habits. This would be a huge help to that thought process. The success of the plan has been increased by its attraction to dieters who may have lost interest in food because of unimaginative meal plans when on other weight loss programs. In 2003 and 2004, the diet reached the pinnacle of its popularity as high level publicity and a sudden realization that we all were slowly eating ourselves to death, pushed the good Dr Atkins front and center. Some experts say that the diet was directly responsible for the 8-10% decline in sales of the pasta and rice industry during those years.
The Atkins Diet has evolved over the years to include a more balanced diet of meat and fruit in order to alleviate some of the adverse publicity that some experts have thrown its way. However, it has become one of the standard bearers of the multi-billion dieting industry in the US today and there is always one glaring fact that is common to all successful business ventures that survive for the long term. The product must work, and obviously, the Atkins Diet does do that.
At the end of the day though, to my ever increasingly cynical mind, it’s all about the calories, food intake, and burning up fat with exercise. The Atkins Diet has developed a plan of weight reduction that has proven successful for many people, but the health issues are a worry. My own philosophy is that a person can develop their own dieting program, based around an Atkins Diet principle, without stretching the limits to an extent where the body’s health suffers damage.
At the end of the day, I’d say the Atkins Diet works. Would I use it? Probably some of the concepts but I feel i can lose weight the conventional way but like anything else, if you choose the way of Dr Atkins, be careful and use in moderation only.