The Atkins diet started the trend back in the early 70's towards the many "low carb" diets we see today. Over the years, I’ve gotten lots of questions about these diets in relation to good health.
My response is, nutritionally speaking, there are three glaring problems with Atkins "low carb" diet.
1. It’s too high in saturated and total fat. When you add up the numbers for sample menus in Atkins or any other "low carb" book, the fat is out of bounds. There’s no way you can make it okay for someone to eat all the saturated fat they want and justify it as a safe and sane approach to long-term health. Research indicates a high fat diet is a death warrant. Sure, people may lose some weight temporarily, but at what expense? When you put all the studies together, a high fat diet does not deliver sustainable good health. It’s the fast track to heart disease and other health problems.
2. Atkins and other low carb diets lump all carbohydrates together ("low carb") and give them a negative label. That's why you're asked to keep them "low". But all carbohydrates are not created equal. They should be viewed more as the “good”, the “bad” and the “ugly”. The trouble with “bad” carbohydrates is they wreak havoc with your blood sugar levels, causing an insulin or glycemic response in your body. The result is you feel “ugly” with irritable mood swings, fatigue and ravenous hunger, thus sabotaging your weight loss plans. So, it’s true that you would be better off to reduce or even eliminate “bad” carbohydrates. But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Keep the “good” ones consisting of most vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains.
3. Since the Atkins diet grossly limits your intake of all carbohydrates, it eliminates extremely important phytonutrients and robs you of the “good” carbohydrates essential for brain function and a myriad of other critical metabolic activities. Additionally, by restricting carbohydrate intake, and therefore vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains, it also severely limits the availability of protector nutrients such as heart healthy fiber, carotenoids, flavonoids, vitamins B, C, and E. So, just when your need for fiber and antioxidant protection against heart disease is at it's greatest (during a high fat diet), the natural heart health protector nutrients, found only in vegetables, fruits and other high fiber foods, are at their lowest.
On top of all these health concerns, The National Weight Control Registry, the only reliable record of people who have lost weight and kept it off for a good length of time, has a very low percentage (next to none) of "low carb" dieters listed. So, Atkins appears to rarely produce any long term success.
From a nutritional, a success ratio and a healthy weight loss viewpoint, the Atkins diet might be compared to taking a long walk on a short pier. You’re sure to be heading for trouble.
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Note: The information contained on this website is not intended to be prescriptive. Any attempt to diagnose or treat an illness should come under the direction of a physician who is familiar with nutritional therapy.