Weight Loss Support - do you think.........

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06-11-2011, 06:37 PM
Atkins diet is healthy? im just unsure because of all the fat and red meat that you are allowed to eat, any thoughts?

AZ Sunrises
06-11-2011, 06:51 PM
It can be healthy or incredibly unhealthy dependent upon how you choose to eat. :)

Lots of lettuce, bleu cheese, onion, roasted red pepper, sliced steak, olives, and Italian dressing makes a rather tasty dinner, and I may have it tonight. I'm not on Atkins, but it used to be one of my favorite meals when I was.

On the other hand, bacon added to cream cheese, onion, cream, spices and used as a dip for pork rinds would also be technically acceptable.

06-11-2011, 06:52 PM
Why exactly do you think fat and red meat are unhealthy?

06-11-2011, 07:02 PM
I think it can be.

Atkins is a bit like most other diets, including calorie counting. It can be as healthy or as unhealthy as you make it.

If you choose to interpret Atkins as the all-bacon diet, or the all-anything diet, it's probably not going to be very healthy. But if you eat a variety of allowed foods, and use common sense, I think it can be quite healthy.

There's conflicting evidence against red meat and animal fat. But even if you do believe red meat and animal fat are unhealthy (which by the way, I don't - at least not unless it's paired with high carbohydrates), you don't have to eat red meat or animal fat to follow Atkins. Lean meats (chicken, fish, shellfish, lean cuts of red meat) and plant fats (olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, canola oil, eventually nuts...) are ok too.

A lot of the research though has found that red meat and animal fat aren't unhealthy within the context of low-carb diets. Researchers trying to prove Atkins unhealthy didn't find the health problems they expected. It makes me suspect that the combination of animal fat and carbohydrates work together to be unhealthy. It's not the steak and the butter alone, it's the steak, butter, and potato. And it's definitely not the salad and vegetables (in fact, I think Atkins could be a little more generous with the green vegetables even from inducdtion, but that's my issue, not Atkins. And it's an issue only with induction, because in 2 weeks you can start adding in more vegetables and fruits and other healthy carbs).

Of course, I'm only guessing, but I've read a lot of the research, and I don't think Atkins is unhealthy, at least not if you're really following it as written and as long as you do progress to OWL fairly rapidly (I get sick on prolonged induction, and I think many people do).

Dr. Atkins warns people against the nitrates and nitrates in bacon and other smoked meats and coldcuts, but most people don't seek out the nitrate/nitrite free versions he recommends (probably because they're harder to find and much more expensive).

I think the best thing to do is to get a check up every three to six months with the routine blood tests that go with it. That way you can see for yourself if your diet is improving your health, or not.

You might want to read up on Omega 3 fats, because to me, the evidence is fairly persuasive that the omega 3 shortage in our diet may be the bigger health concern .

You can eat more foods with omega 3 fats (such as fatty fish, grass-fed beef and bison, flax seed/canola oil...), and/or you can take a fish oil supplement.

06-11-2011, 07:07 PM
I just did a quick 2 week look at my diet and I eat consistently about 60 grams of fat a day (ranging from 40-120, but usually around 60), carbs around 100 grams and protein around 80 grams. I'm actually trying to up the fat a bit more. But muc of it are nut and avocado and olive oil fats.

I eat nuts and dairy and meats and beans, but lean meat and only dairy I eat are mozzarella sticks. I eat apples, green veggies and blueberries. I do not eat bread, grains, pasta and I go light on potatoes and rarely.

I'm not on an atkins diet as I don't believe in following diets. I'm just trying to keep my net carbs below 100 to help with my blood sugar issues and to keep the carb cravings away. I want more fat than protein because fat is easier for the body to process than protein.

Before I ate this way - when I was eating very little protein and moderate fats, my cholesterol was 233. I eat way more fat and meat and my cholesterol after 3 months dropped to 190.

06-11-2011, 09:41 PM
Hey! :wave: The Atkins forum here on 3FC has a Sticky called "Common Misconceptions..." You might want to see what it has to say:



06-11-2011, 09:59 PM
I know this isn't what you asked, but I think any diet that restricts a food group is unhealthy - unless of course you have a specific medical condition.

I'm a HUGE believer in moderation and a BALANCED diet. That said I think you should choose your fats, carbs, protiens, etc. wisely.

06-11-2011, 10:12 PM
I think it is what you make it. I tried Atkins back in 2003. I lost ALOT FAST maybe 30 pounds in 2-3 weeks. But I ate pork rinds all day, eggs, bacon, lots of high fat meat and got sick. Went off of it and gained all of the weight back plus 10 pounds.
I tried South Beach and liked it much better than the Atkins approach for myself. I think Atkins can be healthy if you make a concentrated effort to make it healthy.

06-11-2011, 10:30 PM
I think it depends on who you ask. LOL! I myself have been on Atkins since mid-Feb and have lost 33lbs. I feel so much better now than I did before. My body and carbs just do not get along. This diet for me allows me to fill up on foods that are 'allowed' and that helps me stick with it. I do feel like this way of eating is one I can stick to for the long term. I know eventually I will have more carbs than I do now but I will never go back to eating carbs like I was before. There is no telling how many I was eating daily...every meal that I ate revolved around pasta, rice or potatoes! Good Luck and I hope you find the answers you are looking for!

06-12-2011, 09:20 PM
I know this isn't what you asked, but I think any diet that restricts a food group is unhealthy - unless of course you have a specific medical condition.

If you're not eating animal bones, crustacean shells, organ meats, and insects, I could argue that you are eliminating a food group or three. They're not food groups that are currently being commonly utilized in the USA, but they are food groups from other cultures and time periods.

This is actually from a 2009 thread (Reason to Avoid Grains?) with but's very pertinent on the subject of food groups. I've made some minor grammatical and content modifications from my post in that thread:

I know cutting out grains is often thought of as cutting out a food group, I would argue that it is not.

The "food groups" to a degree are arbitrary, even "fictional" constructs (fictional in terms of being invented by humans to classify the unclassifiable).

For example, the "dairy" group - All other mammals do perfectly fine drinking only their own mother's milk only until weaned in early childhood. So why do humans "need" dairy. The fact is they do not, as long as they get sufficient calcium in other foods. Dairy is another food that we managed to do without until modern agriculture was invented. So for 95% or more of our species existence, we did ok without dairy. Many cultures do without adult-dairy, and seem to do fine, even today. So, why do Americans need it now (if indeed we do - it's because we're avoiding "food groups" we once included regularly - such as bone and insect foods). In the USA, dairy is probalby considered an "essential" food group only because we've eliminated the insect/bone group (which many cultures have not).

There's some pretty compelling evidence that homo-sapiens have been eating a significant amount of grains (and dairy) for only about 10,000 years (with the transition to agriculture), while our species has been around 195,000 years or more. So if we've gone virtually grainless for 95% of our known history, I think calling grain foods a "required food group," doesn't seem to hold much water.

There are also food sources that many modern humans avoid, that primitive peoples (and even modern civilizations in other parts of the world) take advantage of - such as insects.

Insects contain so many nutrients, that to some peoples, it is entirely appropriate to classify insects and insect eggs as a food group (argueably separate from other proteins, because of the many unique micronutrients they contain, including mineral content including calcium. So maybe insects belong in the dairy food group - or does milk belong to the insect group?) And unlike grains, humans have been eating insects, for as long as humans have existed.

Yet no one (well, virtually no one) in the USA is being criticised for eliminating the "entire food group" of insects.

There are other "food groups" that we ignore in the US, because we find them unpalatable (but that our ancestors ate regularly, and many modern peoples still do) - animal and fish bones, skin, organ meats, egg shells, insects...

We don't "group" these foods, only because we don't eat them.

Nature does not divide foods into food groups, humans do that - and since we've been doing it (only about 100 years in the USA), we've done and do it many different ways (so who and when is "right?"). Depending on the time and place, there have and can be three groups, four groups, five groups, six groups, seven groups, sixteen food groups, thirty-two food groups (I didn't make this up, these have all been used, and many are still in use today).

While food groups are a convenient way to look at nutrition - it's more psuedo--science than science, as the divisions are rather arbitrary. While it's true that foods are lumped together based on similar micro- and macro-nutrient profiles, many foods overlap groups or fit into multiple groups, or don't fit well into any group.

06-12-2011, 09:38 PM
So very well said Kaplods. Ironically, I eat VERY little dairy - VERY little, yet I can see with tracking my foods, I actually get enough calcium every day in my other foods. I've spent my entire life thinking I was probably going to end up with bad osteoporosis because of my dislike of dairy and now I can be a bit relieved. I am eating just fine to satisfy most needs - including calcium.

Just wanted to add, most grains in our American diets are for filler. Most of the nutrients in food come from the greens/fruits and proteins, natural fats. What nutrients do we get from rice? Oats? Wheat flour? Even if it is whole grain. What nutrients we DO get from cereals, breads and pastas are ADDED nutrients - they aren't there naturally. So, why do we need them?

And when you up the number of greens you eat and up 'a bit' the meats/proteins you eat, you don't feel you are missing the rice/potato/pasta filler. At least I don't.

06-12-2011, 09:39 PM
I'm not an atkins expert. Kaplods - is there anything in Atkins to limit saturated fat intake? I ask because I believe too much saturated fat in an inactive person can become a problem over time.

As for limiting a single food group as being unhealthy ... it doesn't really matter. What matters to your body are nutrients. If you get all your nutrients ... who cares if you miss a food group.

April Snow
06-12-2011, 10:04 PM
Not what you asked, but I am doing the Dukan Diet, which is a fairly strict low carb diet but it's also low fat. You can have low/no fat dairy (fat free greek yogurt is a LIFESAVER!) and you also have some oat bran every day, and some veggies depending on where you are in the plan.

Personally, Atkins never worked for me because I felt awful on it. I feel great on Dukan, and have lost over 11 lbs in 3 weeks while never being hungry. Might be worth checking out if you are interested in low carb but prefer to stay low(er) fat as well.

06-13-2011, 10:00 PM
I'm not an atkins expert. Kaplods - is there anything in Atkins to limit saturated fat intake? I ask because I believe too much saturated fat in an inactive person can become a problem over time.

As for limiting a single food group as being unhealthy ... it doesn't really matter. What matters to your body are nutrients. If you get all your nutrients ... who cares if you miss a food group.

I'm not an Atkins expert either, and I know the "new" program is significantly different than Dr. Atkins' version. I don't know if the new program sets limits on saturatede fat intake, I know the older plan did not, because Dr. Atkins didn't believe saturated animal fat was a problem (there's some research support for this, but there's also quite a bit against).

There's also research that suggests that animal saturated fat, seems to be different than the saturated in tropical oils. Coconut oil for example may improve cholesterol levels (increasing HDL and decreasing or at leat not changing LDL).

One of the reasons I switched from Atkins to a low-carb exchange plan was so that I could decide how to spend my fats, and I do try to focus on the fats that are most commonly thought of as healthier. I'm not as afraid of animal fats as I was before I started reading low-carb research (because the research doesn't seem to warrant it), but I think the "tons of eggs, red meat, annimal fat and a tiny bit of lettuce" diet that Atkins has become in urban legend is not healhty or supported in the research either.

I think (and many of the people more versed in Atkins, disagree) that if you're going to do Atkins in a healthy manner, then eating leaner meats and more mono and poly unsaturated vegetable fats and omega3 fats makes a lot more sense. But that's not a required component (to the best of my knowledge) of Atkins.

Personally, I consider it a weakness. And yet other people see it as a strength. Just like calorie counters who argue that "getting to eat whatever you want" is an advantage of calorie counting. Yes, it's an advantage, and it's also a disadvantage.

Atkins (in my opinion) is very much like calorie counting in that, you can choose to make it a healthy or an unhealthy diet. You can lose on a 1200 calorie snicker bar diet, but is it healthy? Probably not. Healthier than staying fat? Maybe that depends?

I think the same can be said as Atkins. The eggs, smoked pork and a lettuce leaf at every meal is not a healthy way to do Atkins (but I'm not sure there's anything in Atkins rules to prohibit it). However, in calorie counting, you could have the same meal (and it wouldn't be any more or less healthy).

I think most of the popular diets are riddled with holes in terms of nutritional awareness and healthfulness. Very few are optimal. For weight loss (if you have no other cares at all), you only have to create a calorie deficit.

For optimal health, you have to take into consideration a lot of other factors (not only the nutrient levels but also exercise, sleep, stress...)

If I had to choose one of the best "healthfulness built in" I think I would choose South Beach or some of the Primal diets.

Personally though, I like exchange plan diets, and that way can use everyting I learned to try to pick the best components to fit my exchanges - and yet there's the flexibility to sometimes choose not-the-best foods and still have a weight loss focus.

Ease of putting-into practice has to be considered too. I don't find any plan easy to put into practice. It's my personality and the way I'm wired. I'm an impulsive person who tends to think "wow that's not the best thing to eat" after I've swallowed, not before. I'm more the "ooh that looks good," and I've got it in my mouth before I've thought about whether it's something I SHOULD be eating.

Applying the knowledge is often a lot more difficult than the knowledge itself. I think that's why many popular plans simplify and even oversimplify, so that people find it easier to implement. I think the simplification process is both an advantage (easier to remember and follow) and a disadvantage (easy to make less healthy choices that fit the letter of the law).

It's clear that Dr. Atkins never intended the diet to be interpreted as the all pork-fat diet, and yet the fact that you can follow the letter of the plan and make it the all pork-fat diet (with a green salad), is a serious limitation.

Some people want and do well with super simple plans, and I'm not sure there's a way to make an optimally healthy plan that simple.

"Eat lots of different colors" is healthy advice is you mean vegetables and fruits, and not such healthy advice if you mean skittles.

I think these are simple questions with very difficult and complex answers.

06-14-2011, 11:16 AM
Im taking a nutrition class and it is very interesting. It seems like a low fiber, high animal protein/fat, low fruit diet wouldn't be good overall. Our bodies primary fuel is glucose but it can make due with protein and fat if it has to but it is more efficient using glucose. This is one reason Atkins 'works' because it utilizes less efficient pathways. Both of which actually cause minor toxicity in the body.

The antioxidants and phytochemicals in plants are important for a number of reasons. Animal protein requires calcium to metabolize which in a world of osteoporosis is definitely a concern. Incidence of colon cancer is low in those whose diet is naturally high in fiber but there is no proof that fiber supplements provide the same protections. If you do eat a low fiber diet though, I would definitely add some fiber even if there is no proof it is equivalent to a naturally high fiber diet.

One reason Atkins and other low carb diets have a lot of fans is there is a quick initial drop in weight as glycogen stores are depleted. It can certainly be motivational to see a 10 lb drop on the scale even without losing an ounce of fat.

Overall, I think you can lose weight on an Atkins diet but there are other ways to lose weight. If it was the only thing that worked for you and your options were eating Atkins and losing weight vs eating twinkles and gaining, then I'd say go with Atkins and tweak when you can. I don't think it is an optimal diet but neither is the standard american diet.

06-14-2011, 12:53 PM
Nelie - I'd be careful about what you learn in that nutrtion class.

Those classes are typically built around the ideas that gave us the old food pyramid - which is a total joke.

06-14-2011, 01:45 PM
It is more of a human biology class than a nutrition class although talks about nutrition needs based on biological understanding. I've been a lay person student of nutrition for a while so understanding the biology behind recommendations is interesting.