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THE ATKINS DIET
Reviewed By Jack A. Medina, M.A., President
Designs For Fitness

A number of Quick Fix Diets have been pushed on the public recently. Perhaps one of the most popular ones is the “Atkins Diet.” This diet first made its appearance in 1972 saying “eat all the hamburger, bacon and other meats you want and cut down on such things as bread, pasta, etc.” The question then becomes: Can a person eat unlimited calories and still lose weight, as long as carbohydrates are severely restricted? The answer is NO! Certainly not without great risk. The chief danger is a condition called ketosis in which the body lacks carbohydrates as its primary source of energy. As a result, the liver is forced to make sugar (carbohydrate) out of whatever protein is available; since every cell in the body is composed of some form of protein, this is scary. The body can literally eat itself inside out, including muscle, which is 22% protein. Since carbohydrates are limited in this kind of diet, intake of fat usually increases which causes Ketosis (increased blood ketones, which are acids, from fat breakdown) which helps suppress hunger and aid in caloric restriction.

This low carbohydrate diet is characterized by rapid initial weight loss due primarily to water loss. Restricting carbohydrates also reduces the kidney’s ability to concentrate urine, leading to increased excretion of sodium. You may be losing weight but at the same time you may be dramatically increasing your risk of heart disease because of all the saturated fats you are getting from high protein. The Atkins Diet is also deficient in fiber and calcium which can cause additional problems.

Dieters are overjoyed at the rapid weight loss that occurs during this diet and assume it represents fat loss. WRONG! The body’s fat stores are virtually untouched as the body tries to save itself by storing even more fat.

There are many negative things associated with this kind of diet: ketosis, dehydration, electrolyte (sodium) loss, calcium depletion, weakness (due to inadequate dietary carbohydrate), nausea, irritability, lightheadedness, bad breath, constipation and potential kidney problems. Recent research has now linked high protein diets to increases in prostate cancer.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are another problem in this unbalanced crash diet regimen; in fact Dr. Atkins, the author of both the old and news versions of the Diet Revolution, admitted that this diet doesn’t supply enough vitamins and minerals; he recommended that people take supplements. This is very troublesome since isolated vitamins and minerals have now been proven to rarely, if ever work, isolated by themselves.

After many years of advising dieters to satisfy their hunger with liberal amounts of steak, eggs and other foods with saturated fats, the promoters of the Atkins diet now say that people on their plan should limit the amount of red meat and saturated fat they eat. This is in response to criticism from scientists that the Atkins version of a low-carbohydrate, high-fat regimen might lead to heart disease and other health problems. The director of research and education for Atkins Nutritionals is now telling health professionals in seminars around th country that only 20% of a dieter’s calories should come from saturated fat. Atkins Nutritionals was set up by Dr. Robert C. Atkins to sell Atkins products and promote the diet.

Atkins representatives say Atkins, who died in 2003, always maintained that people should eat other foods besides red meat, but had difficulty getting that message across. They say there has been a revision in expressing how to follow the diet, not in the diet itself. However, officials have not made the revision clear to consumers, and the Atkins diet is widely know for letting you eat all the meat you want.

There are two other articles on High protein/Low Carbohydrate Diets on this website. I suggest you review these before making any decision relative to starting this type of dietary program.

This kind of diet is very deceptive and is potentially very dangerous to your health. I could never, in good conscience, recommend a high protein, low carbohydrate to anyone. I personally recommend you check out the “Nutripoints” program for optimum nutrition at www.nutripoints.com.


Author/speaker and an expert in ”Sports Performance Enhancement”. Jack Medina is available for speaking engagements, consultation and personal training of athletes in various sports, professional and amateur. Jack has written a new book, “The Winning Edge: Fueling & Training The Body For Peak Performance” with Dr. Roy Vartabedian, an internationally known New York Times Best Selling Author of the “Nutripoints” program for optimal nutrition. Both books are available online at www.jackmedina.com. Jack also has a monthly ezine (newsletter) available free which can be subscribed to on his website. All subscriber’s addresses will be confidential and not sold or given to any other organization or group.

This article contains copyrighted material. Copies of this article may be reprinted without permission of the author only when this bi-line is included with each copy. Jack can be reached at jack@jackmedina.com