Weaknesses of Atkins

The Atkins Diet is the most famous low-carbohydrate dieting plan. The diet is based on the idea that carbohydrates raise blood sugar quickly. Raising blood sugar leads to a flood of insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin is a hormone which, among many functions, stores fat. According to this dietary theory, if raising insulin levels can be avoided then so can excess storage of fat. When insulin levels are low, the body switches from burning glucose for energy to ketones, or stored body fat. This process is called ketosis. This process is understood to reduce body fat and bring greater health.

The density of carbohydrates in a food is determined by its ratio to fibre and water. The more fibre and water there is in that food, the less carbohydrates are found. Carbohydrates are found in fruits and vegetables, nuts and grain.  High-carbohydrate foods such as bread, pasta, sugars and fruit juices are high in carbohydrates. The Atkins Diet places carbohydrates on a ladder, eliminating high-carbohydrate foods at the start and slowly allowing them back into the diet.

One of the biggest weaknesses of the Atkins Diet is often perceived to be its, as some believe, dangerous relationship with carbohydrates.

Avoiding Carbohydrates

While for some this is a definite weakness in itself, it is crucial that you avoid carbohydrates virtually entirely. If you consume any at all then Benign Dietary Ketosis (BDK) cannot occur and you will not lose weight. In fact, given the fact that you will not be watching your intake of other foods, you may well actually gain weight instead.

Because of this, if you are following the Atkins diet, you are recommended to use a urine-testing method using Lipolysis Testing Strips which confirm the presence of ketones in your urine to show that BDK is occurring. If this is the case the strip will turn purple. If not then you need to examine your diet and eliminate the cause of this, avoiding any carbohydrates even more.

Typical Carbohydrate Intake

Dr Atkins asserts that the majority of people should only consume 60 grams of carbohydrate a day at maximum to avoid putting their lost weight back on. To compare, the majority of health organisations (such as the National Institute of Health for example) recommend a carbohydrate intake of roughly 300 grams per day.

Going on the Atkins Diet therefore requires a drastic change in how you perceive carbohydrates and how much you should consume, in place of calorie-counting if you will.

Lack of Long Term Research

As the Atkins diet is a relatively new diet plan, there is limited research that has been conducted on it as a long term nutritional plan. It is therefore difficult to be certain of exactly what effect it will have on an individual’s long term health. This is of concern to many experts given that the Atkins diet limits the consumption of many types of nutrients. Not only this, but Atkins promotes the, frequently excessive, consumption of nutrients that are traditionally seen as ‘bad’ in more than minimal quantities. Examples of both of these are the limited intake of dietary fibre and excessive consumption of saturated fats that are standard on the Atkins diet. These are both typically believed to be linked to individuals being much more likely to suffer from heart disease and cancer. However, as previously stated, given the lack of solid, long term research nothing can be predicted exactly.

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