The Atkins Diet
It’s still around. Should it be part of your life?
Want to lose weight? Can’t seem to get rid of that belly, hips, or thighs? How do eggs and bacon sound for breakfast? How about a cream-based soup for lunch and a steak for dinner? If this sounds like your kind of diet, maybe you should try the Atkins diet.
How It Works
This popular diet is based on the idea that many people are overweight because they eat too many carbohydrates. For energy, your body burns carbs and fat. But your burns up the carbs first. When you eat carbs, your body converts them to sugar. To maintain your blood sugar level, you body makes insulin and stores the extra sugar in the muscles or liver. When the stores are filled, the extra sugar is converted to body fat. The idea behind the Atkins diet is that if the body constantly has to make so much insulin to handle the excess sugar, the body may become less sensitive to insulin and develop diabetes.
Drastically lower the amount of carbs you normally eat – including grains, fruits, and starchy vegetables – and replace them with protein and fat, and Atkins says your body will burn stored body fat faster and you’ll lose weight quicker without being constantly hungry. Love carbs, fruits, and veggies? This diet will be tough to swallow.
Dr. Robert Atkins
What to Eat
The Atkins diet lets you eat about as much as you want, but does restrict what you can eat. No milk, white rice, refined sugar, or white flour is allowed. But you can eat all you want of meat, poultry, bacon, cheese, eggs, butter, olive oil, and even mayonnaise. During this phase of the diet, it is important to take vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure your body gets everything it needs to maintain good health.
After the first two weeks of this strict diet, you can slowly add in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. As you lose weight and begin to focus on weight management, you can slowly add more carbs.
Good For You?
Yes, you will lose pounds on the Atkins diet, but is it healthy? The long-term safety of this diet is controversial. You may wonder how a diet with so much fat could be good for your heart. And with good reason. The fat is likely to raise your cholesterol levels. But advocates of Atkins say the cholesterol increase only lasts until the weight loss begins. At this point, cholesterol and triglyceride levels are said to lower and even out again.
Additionally, there is valid concern over potential bone loss and liver and kidney problems from the high levels of protein. In addition, the brain uses glucose to function. As glucose is made more easily from carbohydrates than protein and fat, reducing your body’s access to glucose potentially puts it in harm’s way. Besides, limiting your consumption of grains, fruits, and vegetables deprives your body of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
But wait – there’s more! A sudden drastic reduction in the amount of carbs you eat can cause these temporary side effects. These include dizziness, weakness, headache, fatigue, constipation, nausea, and bad breath. On top of these issues, research has shown an increase in certain types of cancer and heart disease for those who consume high amounts of animal fats and protein.
Now that you’ve heard the pros and cons of the Atkins diet, you can decide for yourself if it’s a diet you’d like to try. Most likely, it will not cause damage to your body as long as you don’t make it a long-term solution. Use it to jumpstart a healthier life and it may pay dividends. Just make sure that healthier life includes plenty of Atkins-unfriendly fruits and vegetables.