How the Atkins Diet Works
By restricting carbohydrates drastically to a mere fraction of that found in the typical American diet, the body goes into a state of ketosis, which means it burns its own fat for fuel. A person in ketosis is getting energy from ketones, little carbon fragments that are the fuel created by the breakdown of fat stores. When the body is in ketosis, you tend to feel less hungry, and thus you’re likely to eat less than you might otherwise. However, ketosis can also cause a variety of unpleasant effects (such as unusual breath odor and constipation) in a small number of people.
As a result, your body changes from a carbohydrate-burning engine into a fat-burning engine. So instead of relying on the carbohydrate-rich items you might typically consume for energy, and leaving your fat stores just where they were before (alas, the hips, belly, and thunder thighs are popular fat-gathering spots), your fat stores become a primary energy source. The purported result: weight loss.
- There is no need to cut out the food you like best like meat, cream, cheese and other high fat foods.
- Because you can eat as much as you like of the permitted foods, you don’t get hungry.
- Because so many foods are permitted, there is greater variety on the Atkins Diet than on low calorie diets so the risk of cheating is small.
- Not all carbohydrates count in the total allowance. Those rich in dietary fibre can be eaten more freely because fibre is not digested. This allows even more latitude in food eaten.
- It is argued that a low carbohydrate diet is more natural for the human body because grains in the form of wheat, rice, etc, only became a regular part of our diet 10,000 years ago so our bodies have not had time to evolve to cope with them satisfactorily.
- Some reseach indicates that people with type 2 diabetes have better insulin function and better blood sugar control on a low carbohydrate diet.
- Although a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine is sometimes cited as providing evidence that the Atkins Diet works, in fact its conclusion is that although more weight was lost at the end of 6 months on the Atkins Diet than on a low calorie diet, after one year, the difference was insignificant.
- The same study found that both types of diet, Atkins and low calorie, had a large drop out rate so it seems the apparent choice of food on the Atkins Diet is not a sufficient inducement to keep people on it.
- The metabolic processes involved in using fat for energy instead of carbohydrates can lead to increased uric acid and ketones which can cause kidney problems, gout and headaches.
- There can be low amounts of dietary fibre on the Atkins Diet leading to constipation and chronic bowel disease.
- Some experts believe that the high amounts of animal fat eaten on the Atkins Diet can have a bad effect on cholesterol levels and can lead to cardiac disease.
- There is some argument that a reduction in carbohydrates automatically leads to a reduction in calories because many high fat foods are unpalatable in large quantities without carbohydrates. For example, many people would not want to eat an egg without bread either fresh or toasted, or a burger without the bun or at least potatoes.
- The Atkins diet doesn’t conform to the American Heart Association’s dietary guidelines for a healthy heart