Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Atkins Diet

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As our society grows more and more obsessed with the concept of weight loss the question on many peoples minds seems to be Are these new miracle diets really worth trying or can they be detrimental to ones health? The most popular miracle diet of our time seems to be The Atkins Diet, which involves eating very few to no carbohydrates. One downfall to this method, as research is currently finding, is that people on this type of diet tend to increase their intake of high cholesterol and fat foods leading to as many medical problems as obesity may have caused them.

The Atkins diet is what is called a ketogenic diet. This genre of diet focuses on only protein consumption, meaning the dieter eats nothing with sugar or carbohydrates (i.e. no bread or fruit). These restrictions force a net reduction of calories and rapid weight loss soon follows. Most of the weight loss can be attributed to water loss. The water loss occurs because the severe restriction of carbohydrates caused liver and muscle glycogen depletion (Coleman, 1). This diet can also cause kidney damage because it is unable to concentrate urine (due to lack of water) and sodium excretion increases. After initial rapid weight loss the loss of pounds usually slows, and in fact the dieters fat reserve remains the same throughout the whole process.

Another huge downfall to this type of diet is the loss of valuable vitamins and minerals. The dieter relies on a diet of only meat, and non-starchy vegetables which do not provide all of the nutrients to stay healthy. Even the author of the book, The Diet Revolution, and inventor of the Atkins diet, Dr Atkins, suggest that the dieter must take supplements to remain healthy (Coleman, 1). Other side effects may include Gout (from high fat foods), and coronary heart disease. The diet originated as a method for those who needed to have a heart operation but first had to lose substantial amounts of weight, but in actuality it is very risky to those with conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

In conclusion, in our societys race to become more healthy and thin we may be causing ourselves a plethora of new problems. As with most diets those who wish to start a ketogenic diet must first consult with their doctor. When starting a diet of this kind one must evaluate whether it will be beneficial to them or not. As always, the best way to maintain ones weight is a healthy diet and routine exercise. Other diets will come and go, but a healthy life style will always remain effective.

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