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Weekly Diet News Digest

by John McGran, Columnist

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by John McGran
Diet.com Chief Editor

Like some sort of creature from a horror flick, the Atkins Nutritional Approach refuses to die. Not even a STEAK to the heart (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) can lay it low for long. The search term "Atkins" continues to register impressive clicks.

I hopped on the Atkins bandwagon a decade or so ago and I must say it was one of the most fulfilling diets I have ever undertaken. While pigging out and filling up on steak, pork chops, chicken - even bacon! - I dropped a cool 26 pounds.

Until my lust for bread, rolls and pizza kicked in, I was lovin’ life. I rarely felt hungry... and my extra pounds melted off me like a pat of butter in a hot frying pan.

By the way, the principles behind the Atkins plan DO NOT call for cutting all carbs from your diet. What happens is that you start with no more than 20 grams of carbs a day (two slices of bread can do you in quick) and then you add more into your diet until you discover your “tipping point” â€" the point where any more carbs will lead to weight gain.

There are Four Phases but I never got past the initial Induction phase of 20 grams of carbs or less per day. After my initial success (I lost 10 pounds in the first week), I developed a fear that any extra carbs would do me in. This isn’t good for your mind or your body.

More on the plan

According to Wikipedia.com, “The Atkins Nutritional Approach, popularly known as the Atkins Diet or just Atkins, is the most marketed and well-known low-carbohydrate diet. It was adapted by Dr. Robert Atkins in the 1960s from a diet he read about in the Journal of the American Medical Association and utilized to resolve his own overweight condition following medical school and graduate medical training.

“After successfully treating over 10,000 patients, he popularized the Atkins diet in a series of books, starting with Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution in 1972. In his revised book, Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution, Atkins updated some of his ideas, but remained faithful to the original concepts.”

If you do the plan right, you leave Induction and head into Ongoing Weight Loss. That is followed by the Pre-Maintenance and Maintenance phases. I know a lot of people who lost weight with Atkins; I don’t know anybody who stuck with it as a long-term lifestyle.

A common misconception

It is a common misconception that meat with high fat is a typical meal in the Atkins diet. The actual goal of Atkins dieters is to avoid high-glycemic index foods such as soft drinks, fruit juice and potatoes. Atkins dieters supposedly can still eat a variety of food such as salads, cheese, and lean meats.

There’s no denying the plan will take off weight. Whether it’s healthy weight loss has long been debated.

According to WebMD.com, “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.”

The American Dietetic Association notes, “Arguably one of the most famous fad diets, the Continue

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@ 12:13am ET on March 5, 2008
I lost 30 pounds in one month on Atkins a couple years ago. But I felt disgusting and was tired all the time even though I was losing weight. It is not something I could ever stick with long term. I stayed in the induction phase for the entire time I did atkins as I also was nervous about letting any carbs in. Ultimately I just couldnt go on without fruit, breads, etc. I think eating fewer bad carbs is certainly a great thing but Atkins is very extreme and a lot of people I know on that program eat a pound of bacon for breakfast and pounds of meat a day. While they are losing weight I still have a hard time thinking this diet is healthy.

@ 7:19pm ET on March 5, 2008
I lost 12 lbs on Atkins a few years ago. I can relate to what ShannonKristine stated. I was tired more often as well. Because of the amount of fat some of the foods have I find it hard to believe that it is a healthy diet. What about the arteries? Shouldnt' the heart be a concern?


@ 8:54pm ET on March 5, 2008
My neighbor did the Atkins and lost some MAD weight in no time. And then her husband did the diet too and lost so much weight, he looked toooooo thin. But, the cons seem to outweigh the pros. I suppose if someone needed to drop some weight really fast, they might want to do this one. But gosh, once you go back to eating normal, the weight comes back very quickly. I guess we could still stick with exercise and eating properly. The ol' tried and true way! (Darn it!)

Always good to keep us updated on these diets out there! Thank you John for posting this!

@ 8:11am ET on March 6, 2008
Hey Sandy, amazingly the studies I saw showed the Atkins plan actually helped with cholesterol! Strange but true.

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