In 2004, after years of advertising an “all-you-can-eat” approach to steak and eggs, Atkins diet promoters began to advise that dieters limit the amount of red meat and saturated fat they eat. Despite this suggestion, the Atkins myth of limitless Rib-eyes endures.
Atkins Diet success stories extol the virtues of strict carbohydrate limitation and promise incredible results. After years of trying low-calorie, low-fat diets, many dieters are enticed by the Atkins mythology of bacon for breakfast and cheesesteak for dinner. In reality, the Atkins food pyramid is based on lean proteins, healthy oils, and leafy greens and other vegetables. The program operates in stages, and is most restrictive in Stage 1. During this stage, Atkins recommends a higher intake of so-called “good fats,” which are naturally occurring fats that are rich in essential omega-3s. As dieters progress, they can reintroduce fruit, nuts, legumes, dairy, and whole grains, and should reduce their fat intake to 30%-40% of calories from fat.
How Does The Atkins Diet Work?
The Atkins diet is based on the principle that a drastically reduced refined carbohydrate intake will cause the body to switch from burning carbs to burning fat. This metabolic state is referred to as ketosis. Instead of gleaning energy from carbohydrate energy, the body is fueled by tiny carbon fragments called ketones. While in this state, dieters may feel less hungry than usual and are in turn more likely to eat less. This principle was promoted and interpreted as a free pass for dieters: simply cut out foods with carbohydrates and replace them with unlimited low-carb and carb-free choices, regardless of fat content. But high-protein, high-fat diets can put dieters at risk for high cholesterol, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Low carb meal ideas that incorporate lean proteins like grilled chicken or fish are the more healthful choice.
Atkins Diet Side Effects
The Atkins ideology states that in addition to weight loss, this way of eating will increase overall wellness and body function and can mitigate risk factors for diseases like diabetes and heart disease. However, there are some risks involved. Ketosis can cause side effects like bad breath and nausea, and in some cases ketones can cause organ failure, gout, and kidney stones. These effects can be avoided by eating at least 100 grams of carbohydrates a day.
The Atkins myth of indulgent eating has generated massive amounts of press and continues to attract dieters. But studies have yet to prove any long-lasting weight loss from the diet, and many doctors have expressed lingering concerns over the lack of fresh fruit and essential nutrients from carbohydrate foods. Before beginning any weight-loss regiment, dieters should consult their doctors and strive to fully understand the rules and restrictions of the program.
- “Make That Steak a Bit Smaller, Atkins Advises Today’s Dieters,” Marian Burros, The New York Times
- Atkins Nutritionals Website, Atkins.com
- “High Protein, Low Carb Diets,” WebMD Women’s Health
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