Thursday, May 5, 2011

My thoughts on the Atkins diet

The Atkins diet has been a controversial diet. The effect of the Atkins diet on weight loss is positive, but its long term effects on the body itself can be detrimental. What is the Atkins diet? The Atkins diet is basically a diet that includes meats, cheeses (not low fat cheese), certain vegetables, and eggs. Its major point is that there is NO bread or fruits allowed! Now how are we obtaining are carbohydrates in this diet? We are not! I have worked as a nutritionist as well as done my B.S. in nutrition and I am completely against this diet because of the negative effects of not including fruits and grains in this diet. This diet can be debatable because it actually works. The weight does come off from eliminating the bread and fruits in the diet, but the lack of nutrients from the fruits and other vegetables that are forbidden on this diet can have negative effects on the body.

If we are limiting our carbohydrates our body is using our stored fat as fuels and this can lead to ketone bodies. Our brain relies on glucose to function not ketone bodies. It can function on these ketone bodies produced, but only on a limited basis. The Atkins diet restricts the body of carbohydrates to about 20g per day. The normal amount of carbohydrate recommendation is about 150g per day. The breakdown of carbohydrates to fuel the brain is a much quicker way to receive the glucose needed for the brain to function. The breakdown of fats and proteins is a much slower process. If we include good carbohydrates such as, fruits, grains and vegetables it will be beneficial and not promote weight gain. But the Atkins diet severely restricts in fruits, certain vegetables, and of course grains for the first two weeks. After 2 weeks certain fruits and grains are introduced gradually, but not enough to provide the nutrients and vitamins the body needs.

The Atkins diet focuses on high fat foods and low carbohydrate intake. High fat foods can have a huge impact on our cholesterol levels possibly leading to heart disease. All the cheeses are supposed to be regular cheese and not low fat!!! This does not sound healthy to me. There is no limit on eggs in this diet and eggs are very high in cholesterol. Although, I will not argue that eggs are a very good source of protein and iron, but 3-4 egg omelets a day is not healthy.

As a nutritionist I do not condone this type of dieting due to so much of the negative effects associated with it. Personally, I think that a diet that includes healthy carbohydrates and that is low in fat can provide a good weight loss and a healthy weight loss. The Atkins diet claims that it was designed for those with heart problems and obesity. However, the high fat content and high cholesterol content does not seem like it would be a good choice for those with heart problems.

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