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Yes You Can Lose Weight But Does It Promote Heart Disease?

The Atkins diet is one of the most popular and recognizable diets around, despite its ongoing controversy. The diet was developed by Robert Atkins based on a research paper that he studied from the Journal of the American Medical Association. He used the principles on this research paper and applied them to his own diet in order to lose weight. He then proceeded to develop a diet program based on his experience, starting with the book Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution which was released in 1972. From then on, the brand grew and an empire based on the Atkins diet has since been around.
The Atkins diet’s main principle is the limited consumption of carbohydrates in the diet. Atkins believed that people who were overweight consumed too much carbohydrate and as a result, there is too much fat deposit in their bodies. The Atkins diet claims to help people lose weight without being hungry or feeling deprived since many types of food can still be eaten (mayonnaise, eggs, cheese) minus the carbohydrates and sugar.

The Atkins diet encourages the consumption of proteins and fats to act as the main sources of energy instead of carbohydrates. Atkins believed that this substitution will prompt a reaction in the body known as ketosis, wherein the body uses up its own fat as a source of energy in the absence of an external source. When this happens, hunger gradually diminishes as well which leads to a lower appetite and therefore less weight gain. The Atkins diet sets the maximum carbohydrate consumption at 20 grams a day in the critical first two weeks.  This is significantly lower than the little over 200 grams RDA for carbohydrates.

Here are some guidelines on the Atkins diet food list for the first two weeks:

  • Carbohydrates must be strictly monitored during the first two weeks
  • No refined sugars are allowed along with milk, white rice or white flour
  • Meats, eggs, and cheeses are allowed because they contain very little amount of carbs and are high in proteins
  • Fats such as butters, olive oil, mayonnaise etc. (no trans fats) are encouraged. Fat-free or low fat versions are discouraged
  • Eating fruits are not allowed
  • Only a handful of green leafy vegetables are allowed

After two weeks, fruits, vegetables and whole grains can slowly be added under the Atkins diet. The original Atkins diet did not put stress on exercising as a part of the diet plan, but more recent versions have. Because the Atkins diet removes food products that would usually be part of a normal diet and even encourages copious fat consumption, experts remain wary of its long term benefits and effects.

Dr. Robert Eckel of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center says: “"Our worries over the Atkins diet go way past the question of whether it is effective for losing weight or even for keeping weight off. We worry that the diet promotes heart disease. ... We have concerns over whether this is a healthy diet for preventing heart disease, stroke, and cancer. There is also potential loss of bone and the potential for people with liver and kidney problems to have trouble with the high amounts of protein in these diets."