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Atkins Diet Review
by Justin Leonard
UPDATED January 25, 2004
Written on January 20, 2002

The Atkins diet is by far one of, if not the most popular fad diets ever invented. With more than six million copies sold, Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution is still making history with a controversial way of dieting.

The Atkins Diet involves eating foods which are high in protein, while limiting foods which are high in carbohydrates; or foods which generally tend to raise blood sugar levels. The diet works on the principle of ketosis; a process by which excess bodyfat is burned as fuel, resulting in a rapid weight reduction.

Sounds like a great way to lose weight, but is the Atkins Diet too good to be true?

As previously stated, the Atkins Diet encourages a drastic reduction of carbohydrates, while maintaining moderate intake of high protein foods such as eggs, cheese, hamburger (without the bun), steak, and fats to name a few. This is what was previously known as the high protein, low carbohydrate diet. Similar diet, new name...

The Atkins Diet definitely works and is extremely effective for temporary weight loss. Here's why: We know that about 60% of our daily caloric intake comes from carbohydrates. So if we were to eliminate or drastically reduce our primarily consumed nutrient, there would be a significant weight loss, especially in the first couple of weeks of using the program. But there are several health related problems that can occur while on, or as a result of using the Atkins principles.

If someone were to be consistent with the Atkins Diet, they may run into the following problems: acetone breath, gout (painful inflammation of the joints), high cholesterol (LDL = bad), kidney damage, weakness, bad (acne) or dry skin, thinning hair, increased risk of heart attack, yellowish instead of white eye balls, set back or sunken eye balls, catabolism (muscle loss), frequent urination, vitamin and mineral loss, mood swings, headaches, dizzy spells, and other health related problems due to improper nutrition balance.

Nutritionally, the Atkins Diet is terrible. It's an unhealthy way to lose weight. It's not uncommon for someone to lose a significant amount of weight within days after beginning the Atkins nutrition regimen. But in fact, what you're losing is muscle glycogen (stored energy within the muscles) and body water. The minute you go back to eating regular meals that contain carbohydrates, you'll gain double the weight you were before you started the program.

How would the human body react to a workout while on the Atkins Diet?

For intense or endurance training, the Atkins Diet is not ideal. Because 1) you're depleting your body's primary source of energy used during a workout, and 2) everything else will literally shut down over the long haul as a direct result of depleted carb levels. Your energy and strength levels while training will suffer.

Why do some doctors approve of the Atkins Diet?

There are differences of opinion when it comes to the effectiveness of the Atkins Diet. But you have to pay attention to the context in which the opinion was given. For example, "Does the Atkins Diet work?" is different from, "Is the Atkins Diet safe?" Many doctors would say, "Yes, it works." But at the same time many would say, "No, it isn't safe."

How would the Atkins Diet hold up long-term?

It is unrealistic to assume that anyone could stay on the Atkins regimen for any significant amount of time, given the drawbacks of the popular diet. It wouldn't take long for someone to realize that they literally couldn't live long without the consumption of carbohydrates.

Learn more about the Atkins Diet here:

American Heart Association


American Dietetic Association


ABC News.com

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