The Atkins diet was developed by a cardiologist, and embraces the idea of following a low carbohydrate intake. The theory is that lowering carbohydrate intake will lower insulin levels which will cause the body to burn stored fat which, in turn, will cause weight loss. The Atkins diet sounds like a good diet, but as I have said previously, a good diet is the diet that you are able to sustain indefinitely. Unfortunately, for many of us, we start a diet which we follow for a short time, but are unable to sustain for any length of time. We lose weight initially, but we gain the weight back again after we stop the diet.
I consider the Atkins diet to be a fad diet which means that it is precisely the type of diet which you will not maintain indefinitely. Therefore, it may be better not to start the diet at all. I understand that millions of people have initially lost weight on the Atkins diet, but besides being a fad, the diet may not be good for you medically speaking either.
Besides this diet, there are several techniques that you can use to help you eat less, and lose weight without having to engage in low carbohydrate intake. One idea is to eat plenty of vegetables. This is very important, and I have mentioned this in previous posts. The vegetables will help fill you up and decrease your desire to overeat. Drinking plenty of water is also a mainstay of successful diet modification. Skipping meals is discouraged as this will just make you hungrier when you finally decide to eat. Minimizing the number of foods with a high glycemic index, which will cause an insulin spike, is also beneficial. I have covered high glycemic foods elsewhere, but some examples of these foods are bananas, and watermelon. You can research the glycemic index of any food on the internet for further clarification on any food that you are thinking of eating.
With the Atkins diet, you are encouraged to eat protein foods like eggs and meat. These foods are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Therefore, your LDL cholesterol is raised theoretically increasing your chances of heart disease. Interestingly, some studies show that people on a low carbohydrate/high protein diet actually have decreased cholesterol levels initially after following the Atkins diet. I don’t, however, know of any long term studies that have addressed this issue.
Eating large amounts of protein can worsen kidney function. If you already have compromised kidneys, I would advise you not to follow a low carbohydrate/high protein diet.
Eating a high protein diet can cause you to urinate increased amounts of calcium. This extra calcium in your urine can lead to urinary tract stones plus the continued calcium loss can lead to osteoporosis (thinning of the bones).
Other potential side effects include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, constipation, bad breath and skin rashes.
Avoiding carbohydrates altogether may not be the best way to go. You can eat carbohydrates and still lose weight. Carbohydrates are divided into two types. One type is the simple carbohydrates which are quickly metabolized into sugar after ingestion. You want to eat less of the simple carbohydrates if you are interested in weight loss. The other type is complex carbohydrates. This is the type of carbohydrate which is better to eat. There are exceptions to the rule.
Bread, for example, has complex carbohydrates, but some breads are better for you than others. Bread made with whole grains like oats, whole wheat, rye and barley are preferable. Try to avoid white bread.
Fruits have simple carbohydrates, but are still good for you. Fruit has fiber in it so the sugar breakdown is slowed. Fruits where you can eat the skin are especially high in fiber like apples. Again, be wary of the high glycemic foods like watermelon and bananas.
Sweeteners are a source of simple carbohydrates. Examples of these are brown sugar, agave nectar, honey, maple syrup, and molasses. I won’t even go into the white sugar because you already know that white sugar is bad.
Vegetables like sweet potatoes,squash, pumpkin, and peas are good sources of complex carbohydrates.
Popcorn (without butter or salt), quinoa, and brown rice round out the list of foods with healthy carbohydrates.
Remember that eating a low carbohydrate meal, whether it has simple or complex carbohydrates, can be bad for you if it comes in the form of packaged, already prepared food as these foods are full of preservatives, and processed ingredients.
You don’t have to avoid carbohydrates to lose weight. Eat the right type of carbohydrates along with your protein, and you should lose weight. Lifestyle modification, instead of stringent diets, is the ultimate answer.