We’ve all heard of the famous low-carb eating plan known as the Atkins Diet, and many of us have either attempted or considered this program at one time or another. While the Atkins Diet has proven to be an effective weight loss diet, the important question is: is it healthy? Since this is one of the most controversial diets around, there is no simple answer to this question. Many health experts question whether this weight loss plan does more harm than good.
How It Works
Dr. Atkins promises that his diet will promote weight loss, curb your appetite, and provide you with a host of other health benefits. His theory is that obesity is the result of excessive carbohydrate consumption. To produce energy, our bodies first burn carbs and then turn to fat. Therefore, if we cut back on the carbs and consume more protein and fat, our bodies will enter a state of ketosis, and efficiently burn fat for fuel. This will result in weight loss and a decreased appetite. And, without the excess sugar from carbs, it will also prevent our bodies from producing too much insulin.
What You Eat
During the first two weeks of the Atkins Diet, your carb consumption cannot exceed 20 grams a day. You are not allowed to eat fruit or starchy vegetables, but you can welcome meat, eggs, cheese, and even mayo and butter into your diet. You are forbidden to consume white bread, milk, white rice, potatoes, pasta or anything else that is made from the ultimate enemy…white flour! Overtime, you can slowly add some fruit, whole grains and veggies into your eating routine, but your carb consumption will remain low, while your protein and fat intake remains on the higher side.
Reasons the Diet May Not Be Healthy
Sure, this diet guarantees results regarding weight loss, but does this mean it is benefiting your health? Also, will you be able to keep up this eating style for life? Aside from maintenance concerns, many health experts worry that the saturated fats from meat and cheese can promote heart problems. This might not be the best plan to prevent disease or osteoporosis. Also, all the protein consumed on this diet could pose problems for people with liver and kidney problems.
There are also arguments that our bodies require a certain amount of carbohydrates—around 150 grams daily—to perform normal bodily functions. Without these essential carbs, our health can be compromised. Glucose from fruits, veggies and grains—foods that are restricted on this diet—can help our brains function properly and at an optimal level. And, with this restriction of fruits and veggies, we’re preventing our bodies from taking in important vitamins and nutrients.
Are all of these potential health risks worth the benefits you’ll gain from losing weight? You’ll have to decide for yourself. Talk to your doctor about whether or not you’re a suitable candidate for the Atkins Diet, and the two of you can devise a weight loss plan that’s appropriate for your health situation. Remember that typically, if you completely cut out a food group, you’re going to lose weight. However, a healthy eating plan includes whole grains, fruits, veggies, lean protein and a small amount of healthy fat.