Things to think about before staying on the Atkins diet for very long

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1. The Atkins plan encourages people to restrict the foods which have been proven to (significantly) cut the risks of cancer (like veggies and fruits) but has no restriction on the foods which have been proven in over 3500 studies to raise cancer risks.

2. Cholesterol is how your body absorbs fat. The reason we have too much of it, is either more saturated fat than our bodies can use or TRANSFAT which combines with cholesterol but then the body cannot use it so it stays in the bloodstream and clogs up the blood. The Atkins plan does NOT limit trans fatty acids nor does it limit saturated fat (although they suggest it might be good to somewhat limit fatty foods).

3. Your brain requires over 200 g of carbohydrates to function normally.  The Atkins plan only allows you 30-60 g of carbohydrates.   (Dr Phil)

4. Every cardiologist I've ever talked to has several Patients on the Atkins diet whose cholesterol is so high that they've had to prescribe the Statin drugs (cholesterol lowering drugs) for these patients.

5. A group of physicians have put out a warning against the Atkins diet to other physicians explaining that if they encourage their patients to embark on the Atkins Plan, they might be in danger of lawsuit. Everyone should read the medical repercussions of the Atkins Plan before embarking on this diet.

6. The heart assn, the ADA and the CSPI have all written extensively, of the health hazards of the Atkins diet.

Article on heart assn website - High Protein/low carb diets

7. The CSPI (and many others) wrote that the main reason people lose weight on the Atkins Plan is because they tend to consume less calories. The CSPI also wrote that the reason more people don't get ill from the Atkins Plan is because most people cannot stay on this plan for long periods of time.

8. The Atkins high protein/high fat plan was shown to decrease blood flow to the heart by as much as 40 percent in an independent study (not financed by the Atkins Corp). Of course this study was not carried by the popular media. [1]

9. High Protein diets are hard on the kidneys - also some studies have shown that the Atkins diet may raise the risk of kidney stones. Finally the kidneys must remove the ketone bodies from the blood - this again overworks them and can cause kidney damage.

10. A survey run by the Chicago Sun Times of 100 dieticians and nutritionists rated the Atkins diet as the least effective way to lose weight. NONE of those polled had ever seen a long term success on the Atkins plan. The lowest rating possible was 5. Weight Watchers received a rating of "20". The Atkins Plan received a "7.5".  A recent survey of physicians and nutritionists by US World report found similarly - Atkins scored the lowest in weight loss as well as diabetes management and health.

11. Higher protein requires more calcium or it poses a risk of osteoporosis to the bones. Most people on high protein diets do not consume products providing goodly amounts of calcium because these products are also "high in carbs".

12. Robert Atkins had a serious heart condition - which he claimed had, (of course) nothing to do with his diet.  In the last edition of his book, "Diet Revolution", he admitted that people should practice portion control because whether it was too much chicken or bread, it could still stop weight loss.

13. The Atkins diet is big business. The Atkins corporation continues to grow with its own line of foods and recently has partnered with the restaurant chain, "TGIF" to offer foods which are Atkins-friendly. The sell on the Atkins Plan is definitely a hard sell in the popular media which tells the story so differently from what the medical data states.

The bottom line is the Atkins Plan offers us the ability to eat unlimited amounts of an American favorite, high fat foods, gives us an excuse to restrict foods most of us don't especially enjoy i.e. veggies and fruit and with all of this, STILL lose weight. What American wouldn't find that very enticing (and perhaps ignor the medical warnings about it). It, in fact, seems almost too good to be true. And maybe it is... too good to be true.


[1] Fleming RM. The effect of high-protein diets on coronary blood flow. Angiology 2000;51(10):817-826.