Dangers of Atkins

Nutrient Restrictions

As the Atkins diet relies heavily on restricting certain major groups of nutrients such as dairy products, grains and fruits, it is not suitable to be followed by some groups of people. People who are relying on good, well-balanced nutrition should avoid the Atkins diet. This includes children, pregnant women and women who are breast feeding. Some others may require certain specific nutritional needs. If this is the case you should seek medical advice before beginning the Atkins diet to make sure that it is suitable for you.

Similarly, athletes rely upon carbohydrates to reach their peak performance as carbohydrate is the recommended and most efficient energy source to develop and feed muscles. It is very unlikely that the Atkins diet will be appropriate for you if you exercise regularly and at a level of high intensity as it does not provide your body with the carbohydrates you need.

Given the increased levels of protein and fats that the Atkins diet promotes consuming, it is likely that, if you follow the diet for an extended period of time, you will be at risk from raised levels of blood cholesterol. This can be dangerous for those who suffer, or are likely to suffer, from cardiovascular disease. It may be that you are able to follow the Atkins diet for a short period of time safely, however you should consult with your doctor and a nutritionist before doing so to ensure that you do not impair your health by doing so.

Criticism of Atkins Diet

Critics claim that the diet raises the risks of heart disease and kidney stones because it relies too heavily on protein. Dieters may stay on the Atkins Plan longer precisely for this reason. More fats and proteins in the diet could serve to keep hunger low, and those who follow the diet may not feel as hungry as on other diets. However, it is widely accepted that protein and fat should also be taken from vegetable sources, which will reduce the risk of heart disease.

One drawback is that in the diet's fat burning phases of ketosis, ketone acetone is released from the body in urine and breath, causing breath for a period of time which smells like nail polish remover. This is not dangerous, however, the condition known as ketoacidosis is an exaggerated version of ketosis which may develop in people with Type 1 Diabetes. This is a serious health condition which  can be fatal. The Atkins Diet has not been recommended for treating diabetes and is not recommended for those with kidney disease or gout.

Dr. Atkins’ Death

Of course, there is the famous question of how Dr. Atkins died. There is a common myth that he died of a heart attack, an anecdote which would prove that his diet was too high in saturated fats with a higher risk for heart disease. Officially, Atkins died following head injuries from a fall outside of his clinic in New York. Controversy surrounds whether his fall was due to cardiac arrest. An autopsy was not performed on his body due to his family’s wishes. Atkins had suffered a heart attack once in his life, which he claimed was due to a heart infection due to a viral disease unrelated to diet. His calculated body mass index when he was admitted to hospital after his fall would have placed him at being slightly overweight but not obese.


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