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New Diet Revolution Reviewed

June 04, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 176

In this book by the creator of the Atkins diet, the author claims that sugar, not fat, is the real culprit in obesity, and that carbohydrate avoidance is the ultimate solution for overweight individuals. Atkins writes that, apart from assisting weight loss, his eponymous diet has been used to help patients recover from a wide range of illnesses, including yeast infections, digestive disorders, oedema, hypertension and diabetes. Atkins dieters eat unlimited quantities of fats and of concentrated proteins like meat, eggs and cheeses, and cut down dramatically on carbohydrates. Junk carbohydrates like sugar, corn syrup, white flour and corn-starch are completely avoided.

The principle - junk carbohydrates, of which sugar is the most lethal, raise insulin levels in the blood inordinately, and thereby act as triggers of atherosclerosis, hypertension, diabetes and other diseases.

The programme - comprises the four stages of induction, ongoing weight loss (OWL), pre-maintenance and life-long maintenance. During induction and OWL, carbohydrate intake is limited to a maximum of 20 grams per day.

The biochemistry - once it runs out of carbohydrates, the body starts burning fat stores for energy, resulting in breakdown products (called ketone bodies) circulating in blood. As with fasting, this state of "benign dietary ketosis" causes weight loss and, after the first 48 hours, decreases hunger and appetite. However, unlike with fasting, ketosis burns fat preferentially (rather than muscle, for example), and is therefore safer, claims Atkins.

The book is well-written, and lists several case studies, as well as an extensive list of references, including books and scientific journal articles on the Atkins diet. Menus and recipes for the Atkins dieter are also included. Advantages of this dietary approach are enumerated, and include hunger elimination, appetite reduction and a steady weight loss. However, the reality seems to vary widely among different individuals, with many reported side effects of this high-protein diet including headaches, foul breath, constipation and fatigue, as well as weight plateaux and even weight gain. More worrying are the anecdotal accounts of increased blood pressure and raised cholesterol levels in people following this diet, as well as scientific evidence that a diet rich in animal protein, saturated fat and cholesterol - such as Atkins promotes - can cause osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and several types of cancer.

My visceral response to this approach is negative: the diet seems unnatural at best. What Atkins labels "benign dietary ketosis" (the physiological state resulting from a low-carbohydrate intake) seems anything but benign, promoting instead a derangement of acid-alkali balance in the body, and a long list of unpleasant side effects. Furthermore, the high-fat or high-meat intakes followed on the diet can independently cause degenerative diseases, so that dieters using the Atkins approach are risking a double whammy of ailments (see, for example, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17345967 and http://bit.ly/MpTNTD ). The Atkins programme is complicated, with its numerous acronyms and the need to monitor results constantly through blood tests, lipolysis strips and other measures. Extensive mineral and vitamin supplementation is essential with this program, an additional burden. Then again, there is no doubt that this approach has helped many obese people lose weight. Indeed, it is possible that for a subset of people - those genetically susceptible to carbohydrate imbalance disorders, for example - this is the only way to lose weight. Even in such cases, the consumption of large quantities of meat is best avoided. It would be interesting to see the results of a study on the effects of meat-eating vs. vegetarian versions of the Atkins diet.

In conclusion, "New Diet Revolution" is a well-researched book which gives meaningful insight into the causes of obesity and clearly marks out how to follow an eating programme that will enable rapid and sustained weight loss for many. This low-carbohydrate diet seems to have produced excellent results in helping obese people lose weight and keep off the lost weight for long periods of time. However, doubts remain about its effectiveness for non-obese people, and about the long-term health toll of any weight loss achieved by this method, whether undertaken by obese or non-obese individuals.

Source: EzineArticles
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Weight Loss

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Atkins Diet

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Obesity

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