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Atkins diet reexamined

by Lea Ka'ai, staff writer

It is all over town. Everywhere you go someone somewhere is talking about the Atkins Diet. You may hear them boast, “a low carb, high protein diet is the key to success.” A diet consisting of bacon cheeseburgers without the bun, how can that be? What is the premise that makes Americans have so much faith in Atkins?


The man behind the diet, Dr. Robert C. Atkins, concluded that carbohydrates, which include sugars, starches, cellulose and gum, are to blame for weight gain. Carbohydrates are the body’s primary energy source, and fats are its secondary energy source. Cutting the intake of carbohydrates forces the body to switch from a carbohydrate-burning metabolism to a fat-burning metabolism, thus shedding accumulated pounds of stored fat.

The diet has become so popular, it has created a brand of its own. “Atkins” sells books, food products, vitamins as well as wrap sandwiches at “Subway.” The Atkins buzz is so prominent it is hitting consumers’ everyday through advertising, the talk show circuit, and the news.

Many American dieters have taken the challenge of the Atkins Diet. Consumers have found that, in its beginning stages, by maintaining a low carb diet the pounds really start to shed. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has proven that the dieters on the Atkins plan slimmed down significantly faster then those on the traditional low-fat, low calorie plan. However, after one year, there was no weight difference between the two groups.

Unfortunately, while this high fat diet may promote faster weight loss, it is creating unhealthy eating habits. A study of sample Atkins meals found the diet was very high in saturated fat and cholesterol, very low in fiber, and below the recommended daily values for several vitamins and minerals. These are leading causes of osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, and renal disease. And, following the Atkins diet long term can greatly increase your cholesterol.

Not to worry, there are some alternatives to this extreme diet. The Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston recommends a “modified Atkins” diet plan. This plan concentrates on fish and chicken as a staple instead of beef and pork.

Another alternative is substituting simple carbohydrates with complex carbohydrates. noted that Americans do eat too many sugars and simple carbohydrates such as white flour and white rice. The body quickly absorbs simple carbohydrates, which causes an increase in blood sugar. The insulin then reacts to the increase in blood sugar levels speeding up the process of converting calories to fat. recommends that while reducing the intake of sugar and processed grains can increase weight loss, replacing the simple carbohydrates with complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat, brown rice, fruits and vegetables provides high fiber balance and a healthier lifestyle.




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