1. What is Atkins Diet?
Dr. Atkins diet, first introduced in 1972, is strictly
focused on limiting carbohydrate consumption.
That is why it is called a low-carb, high-protein diet or
sometimes simply a low-carb diet, together with other
diets such as South Beach Diet, Power Protein Diet etc...
2. What are carbohydrates, and where can they be found?
Carbohydrates provide your body with its basic fuel, very
much like a car engine and gasoline. Glucose goes directly
into the cells, which convert it into the energy they need.
There are two types of carbohydrates:
Simple carbohydrates (also called "sugars" on food
package labels): glucose, fructose and galactose are
referred to as monosaccharides. Lactose, sucrose and
maltose are called disaccharides (they contain two
Complex carbohydrates ("starches"), made up of chains
of glucose molecules, which is simply a way plants store
Starches can be found in great quantities in most
grains (wheat, corn, oats, rice) and things like potatoes
Your digestive system breaks a starch back down into
its component glucose molecules so that the glucose
can enter your bloodstream.
A complex carbohydrate is digested more slowly than
simple carbohydrates because it takes longer to break
down a starch.
Complex carbs can be either high in fiber such as
broccoli or low in fiber such as bananas or potatoes.
But carbohydrates are not the only substances the body
uses: it also needs proteins and fats.
3. What are proteins and where can they be found?
A protein is any chain of amino acids. Carbohydrates
provide cells with energy, proteins provide cells with the
building material they need to grow and maintain
Protein can be found in both animal and vegetable foods.
Most animal sources (meat, milk, eggs) provide "complete
protein": they contain all of the essential amino acids.
Vegetable foods usually have few or none of the essential
amino acids. Example: rice is low in isoleucine and lysine.
Some vegetable sources contain quite a bit of protein --
things like nuts, beans, soybeans, etc. are all high in protein.
4. What are fats and where can they be found?
Fats are also an important part of our diet. Many foods
contain fat in different amounts. High-fat foods include
dairy products like butter and cream as well as mayonnaise
There are two kinds of fats: saturated and unsaturated.
Saturated fats are normally solid at room temperature,
while unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature.
Vegetable oils are the best examples of unsaturated fats,
while lard and shortening (along with the animal fat you
see in raw meat) are saturated fats.
We can further distinguish the unsaturated fats between
polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Unsaturated fats
are currently thought to be more healthy than saturated fats,
and monounsaturated fats (as found in olive oil and peanut oil)
are thought to be healthier than polyunsaturated fats.
Fat is necessary because: the only way to get certain
fat-soluble vitamins is to eat fat, your body has no way to
make certain essential fats, so you must get them in your
Another reason is that fat is a good source of energy,
in fact it contains twice as many calories per gram as
do carbohydrates or proteins. Your body can burn fat as
fuel when necessary
5. and how can I loose weight by reducing carbohydrate
Atkins diet and other low-carb diets are based on the theory
that certain carbohydrates have a greater impact on blood
sugar levels than others.
So you count these carbs. They are the ones that matter.
To figure out the net carb count of a food item, you need to
identify the carbs that don't have a high impact -- those from
fiber and sugar alcohol, and subtract that total from the
overall carb count
Just regulate your blood sugar levels (from carbohydrates)
and you'll be able to better regulate your appetite... and
Therefore, say Atkins diet proponents, the culprits are
carbohydrates and there is nothing wrong with eating as
much meat as you want!
What you should do is restrict carbohydrate consumption,
specially starchy foods such as bread, rice, corn etc...,
except for what they consider as "good carbohydrates"
such as high fiber vegetables (broccoli etc...)
According to them, the energy we need should be taken
from proteins, and sometimes fat, but as few carbohydrates
as possible, hence the name: low carbohydrate diet..
6 . What else does the human body need?
Mainly vitamins and minerals. These can be found in various
foods, fruits, etc..It seems the "Standard Western Diet" is
deficient in vitamins and minerals. This has led to the
creation of vitamin and mineral supplements.
7. Is Atkins diet efficient?
Anybody can note the simple fact that cutting back on
carbohydrates works, at least for a quick drop in body fat
and body water.
However, for most dieters the problem is the long-term
effects on the body due to such a drastic reduction in
Whatever Atkins diet proponents have said, this remains a
real problem and people like those at South Beach Diet have
tried to solve it by introducing carbohyfrates after the 14 days
8. What about the "fat makes you fat" theory?
According to Anthony Colpo, one of the most articulate of the
Atkins diet defenders:
"Some folks have been so inculcated with the simplistic
"fat makes you fat" theory that they just cannot believe
a diet high in fat can lead to a loss of bodyfat.
The fact is, high fat diets can result in spectacular fat loss
- as long as carbohydrate intake is kept low. Eat a diet that
is high in both fat and carbohydrate and your bodyfat
percentages will head north real quick! "
9. Does Atkins diet cause coronary heart disease (CHD)?
On May 26, 2004 A Florida businessman filed suit against
the makers of Atkins diet.
The man claimed as a consequence of following the low-carb
diet, he suffers from severe heart disease, necessitating
angioplasty and a stent
One of the fiercest opponents of Atkins diet, the Physicians
Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) President
Neal Barnard, M.D, said that the diet proponents "push dieters
to avoid healthy foods, like rice, beans, and pasta, while
ignoring the risks of high-cholesterol, high-fat meat and
cheese. The idea that cholesterol and saturated fat donít
matter is a dangerous myth.Ē
But what does the other side say? As expected, we hear
a totally different story.
Here is Anthony Colpo's take on the CHD issue:
"A low carb diet based on paleolithic food choices, that is,
a diet based on free-range animal products and low
carbohydrate, low-glycemic plant foods, fits the bill quite
nicely. So go ahead, eat your steak and salad!"
10. Are there any other health risks?
In additon to CHD - coronary heart disease - Atkins diet has
also been blamed for a number of other "atrocities", such as:
colon cancer, impaired kidney function, osteoporosis,
complications of diabetes, and to cap it all: constipation,
headache, bad breath, muscle cramps, diarrhea, general
A few quick answers to some of these accusations from
Kidney disease: "Bodybuilders and strength athletes have
been consuming high-protein diets for decades. Given the
widespread global participation in these activities, if the
claims of kidney damage were true, by now there would be
an enormous number of case studies of ex-bodybuilders
and strength athletes afflicted with kidney disease," which
is obviously not the case.
Osteoporosis: "a low-carbohydrate, high fat, high protein
diet is a far better choice for building strong bones than
a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet."
About the author:
Drawing from his 30-year experience as a medical translator, teacher, traveler, musician, writer, deep multicultural awareness plus worldwide ancient spiritual traditions, A.M.Sall helps people
"turn all their living days into quality time" in his self-development community at: http://www.health-beauty-wellness.com
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