Top 10 Questions and Answers on Atkins Diet
1. What is Atkins
Dr. Atkins diet, first introduced in 1972, is strictly focused on
limiting carbohydrate consumption.
That is why it is called a low-carb, high-protein diet or sometimes simply a
low-carb diet, together with other diets such as South Beach Diet, Power Protein
2. What are carbohydrates, and where can they be found?
provide your body with its basic fuel, very much like a car engine and gasoline.
Glucose goes directly into the cells, which convert it into the energy they
need. There are two types of carbohydrates:
Simple carbohydrates (also called “sugars” on food package
labels): glucose, fructose and galactose are referred to as monosaccharides.
Lactose, sucrose and maltose are called disaccharides (they contain two
Complex carbohydrates (“starches”), made up of chains of
glucose molecules, which is simply a way plants store glucose.
Starches can be found in great quantities in most grains (wheat, corn, oats,
rice) and things like potatoes and plantains.
Your digestive system breaks a starch back down into its component glucose
molecules so that the glucose can enter your bloodstream.
A complex carbohydrate is digested more slowly than simple carbohydrates because
it takes longer to break down a starch.
Complex carbs can be either high in fiber such as broccoli or low in fiber such
as bananas or potatoes.
But carbohydrates are not the only substances the body uses: it also needs
proteins and fats.
3. What are proteins and where can they be found?
protein is any chain of amino acids. Carbohydrates provide cells with energy,
proteins provide cells with the building material they need to grow and maintain
Protein can be found in both animal and vegetable foods. Most animal sources
(meat, milk, eggs) provide “complete protein”: they contain all of the essential
Vegetable foods usually have few or none of the essential amino acids. Example:
rice is low in isoleucine and lysine.
Some vegetable sources contain quite a bit of protein — things like nuts,
beans, soybeans, etc. are all high in protein.
4. What are fats and where
can they be found?
Fats are also an important part of our diet. Many foods
contain fat in different amounts. High-fat foods include dairy products like
butter and cream as well as mayonnaise and oils.
There are two kinds of fats: saturated and unsaturated.
Saturated fats are normally solid at room temperature, while unsaturated fats
are liquid at room temperature.
Vegetable oils are the best examples of unsaturated fats, while lard and
shortening (along with the animal fat you see in raw meat) are saturated fats.
We can further distinguish the unsaturated fats between polyunsaturated and
monounsaturated. Unsaturated fats are currently thought to be more healthy than
saturated fats, and monounsaturated fats (as found in olive oil and peanut oil)
are thought to be healthier than polyunsaturated fats.
Fat is necessary because: the only way to get certain fat-soluble vitamins is to
eat fat, your body has no way to make certain essential fats, so you must get
them in your food.
Another reason is that fat is a good source of energy, in fact it contains twice
as many calories per gram as do carbohydrates or proteins. Your body can burn
fat as fuel when necessary
5. How can I loose weight by reducing
Atkins diet and other low-carb diets are based on
the theory that certain carbohydrates have a greater impact on blood sugar
levels than others.
So you count these carbs. They are the ones that matter. To figure out the net
carb count of a food item, you need to identify the carbs that don’t have a high
impact — those from fiber and sugar alcohol, and subtract that total from the
overall carb count
Just regulate your blood sugar levels (from carbohydrates) and you’ll be able to
better regulate your appetite… and your weight.
Therefore, say Atkins diet proponents, the culprits are carbohydrates and there
is nothing wrong with eating as much meat as you want!
What you should do is restrict carbohydrate consumption, specially starchy
foods such as bread, rice, corn etc…, except for what they consider as “good
carbohydrates” such as high fiber vegetables (broccoli etc…)
According to them, the energy we need should be taken from proteins, and
sometimes fat, but as few carbohydrates as possible, hence the name: low
6 . What else does the human body need?
vitamins and minerals. These can be found in various foods, fruits, etc..It
seems the “Standard Western Diet” is deficient in vitamins and minerals. This
has led to the creation of vitamin and mineral supplements.
7. Is Atkins
Anybody can note the simple fact that cutting back on
carbohydrates works, at least for a quick drop in body fat and body water.
However, for most dieters the problem is the long-term effects on the body due
to such a drastic reduction in carbohydrates.
Whatever Atkins diet proponents have said, this remains a real problem and
people like those at South Beach Diet have tried to solve it by introducing
carbohyfrates after the 14 days initial phase.
8. What about the “fat makes
you fat” theory?
According to Anthony Colpo, one of the most articulate of
the Atkins diet defenders:
“Some folks have been so inculcated with the simplistic “fat makes you fat”
theory that they just cannot believe a diet high in fat can lead to a loss of
The fact is, high fat diets can result in spectacular fat loss – as long as
carbohydrate intake is kept low. Eat a diet that is high in both fat and
carbohydrate and your bodyfat percentages will head north real quick! ”
Does Atkins diet cause coronary heart disease (CHD)?
On May 26, 2004 A
Florida businessman filed suit against the makers of Atkins diet.
The man claimed as a consequence of following the low-carb diet, he suffers from
severe heart disease, necessitating angioplasty and a stent
One of the fiercest opponents of Atkins diet, the Physicians Committee for
Responsible Medicine (PCRM) President Neal Barnard, M.D, said that the diet
proponents “push dieters to avoid healthy foods, like rice, beans, and pasta,
while ignoring the risks of high-cholesterol, high-fat meat and cheese. The idea
that cholesterol and saturated fat don’t matter is a dangerous myth.”
But what does the other side say? As expected, we hear a totally different
Here is Anthony Colpo’s take on the CHD issue:
“A low carb diet based on paleolithic food choices, that is, a diet based on
free-range animal products and low carbohydrate, low-glycemic plant foods, fits
the bill quite nicely. So go ahead, eat your steak and salad!”
10. Are there
any other health risks?
In additon to CHD – coronary heart disease – Atkins
diet has also been blamed for a number of other “atrocities”, such as: colon
cancer, impaired kidney function, osteoporosis, complications of diabetes, and
to cap it all: constipation, headache, bad breath, muscle cramps, diarrhea,
A few quick answers to some of these accusations from Anthony Colpo:
Kidney disease: “Bodybuilders and strength athletes have been consuming high-
protein diets for decades. Given the widespread global participation in these
activities, if the claims of kidney damage were true, by now there would be an
enormous number of case studies of ex-bodybuilders and strength athletes
afflicted with kidney disease,” which is obviously not the case.
Osteoporosis: “a low-carbohydrate, high fat, high protein diet is a far better
choice for building strong bones than a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet.”