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Rating the Atkins Diet: Advantages and Disadvantages

(c) Immuno Laboratories

Possibly one of the most controversial fad diets around, the Atkins Diet is famous for its carbohydrate-restricting rules.

Developed by the late Dr. Robert C. Atkins, this diet is a very high-protein one and allows virtually no carbohydrate, particularly during the initial stages. By cutting our carbohydrates dieters' bodies will go into ketosis - a state where the body begins to burn off its stores of fat because it thinks that it is being starved. As the initial two weeks of the diet are very restrictive where carbs are concerned, dieters will find that the initial weight loss can be very rapid.

Click here for a symptom self test see if any of your symptoms are linked to reactions to foods toxic to your system - they may be foods on the Atkins diet!

start quoteThe diet works on the notion that weight gain is caused, not by fat intake or food portions, but by the way our bodies deal with the breakdown of carbohydrates, in particular processed and starchy carbs such as bread, potatoes or pasta. end quote
The diet works on the notion that weight gain is caused, not by fat intake or food portions, but by the way our bodies deal with the breakdown of carbohydrates, in particular processed and starchy carbs such as bread, potatoes or pasta.

After the first couple of weeks, the Atkins Diet provides a maintenance program, which involves gradual re-introduction of some carbohydrates into the diet in order to maintain the weight loss. The carb intake, even at this stage, is much lower than most people are accustomed to.

During the initial period, this diet can be very difficult - particularly for people that are used to large quantities of carbohydrate in their daily diets. The sudden drop in carb intake can have a variety of side effects. Common ones during the first few days are: dizziness, nausea, headaches, and faintness. Another, rather unpleasant, side-effect is bad breath, which is caused by the body going into ketosis.

The Atkins Diet is great for those that love the thought of a fry-up every morning. Bacon, eggs, sausage ... fried, baked, grilled ... it doesn't matter - they are all recommended on this diet. Cheese, butter and cream are also very low or no carb products and they are also recommended on this diet. But what do all of these things have in common? They are all high in saturated fat.

Although this condoning of saturated fat-laden foods is, for many people, the equivalent of a child being given the free run of the local sweetshop, dieters are often wary about whether it is wise to pump their bodies full of so much saturated fatty food.

As with all diets, there are both advantages and disadvantages to the Atkins Diet. These include:

  • This diet promotes rapid weight loss
  • The diet enables dieters to eat unlimited protein-rich and fatty foods
  • The Atkins Diet has been proven
  • This diet is not as time-consuming and expensive as some of the other popular diets

    Disadvantages include:

  • The diet is very restrictive in nature
  • The diet condones high consumption of saturated fats
  • This diet can cause bad breath, nausea headaches (particularly in the initial period)
  • The diet, by default, cuts out many valuable nutrients Another disadvantage is that this diet relies heavily upon proteins from meat, fish and dairy products. It is therefore a no-go area for vegetarians. There are also concerns about the effect of such high levels of protein and fat upon vital organs such as the heart and the kidneys.

    The Atkins Diet, and others like it, goes against the nutritional advice and information that has been pumped out over the years: the thought of a diet so rich in fat and so low in carbs has horrified many nutritionists and yet it has been proven to work. However, there are still concerns amongst professionals about the long-term effect that diets like this may have.

    This diet has been around for quite some years, although its popularity has soared in the past decade. Thirty years ago, when Atkins first published his diet book, the American Medical Association stated that it was "...potentially dangerous" and "...biochemically incorrect." However, according to Dr. Kevin O'Brien, a cardiologist at the University of Washington, "...people lose more weight on an Atkins diet, and their cardiovascular risk factors, if anything, get better."

    The Atkins Diet has become a hot topic worldwide over the past few years, and there are many resources and support groups available over the internet where dieters can seek advice about various issues relating to the diet.

    With its massive celebrity following and frequent presence in the news, the diet will probably continue to be a controversial issue for years to come. Any dieters that have any concerns at all about following such a strict eating plan should always consult their doctor beforehand.

    Dieters who have allergies or sensitivities to grains, wheat and yeast could do very well on this diet as it is extremely restrictive with carbohydrates and does not accommodate much in the way of bread or pasta, especially during the crucial initial period.

    However, some of the main sources of protein in this diet are eggs and fish, both of which are commonly related to food allergies. Dieters should therefore ensure that they have no adverse reaction to foods such as these before embarking upon this diet. This will increase the effectiveness of the diet as well as reduce any health risks.

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