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"The Atkins Diet is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate weight loss diet developed by Robert Atkins,
M.D., during the 1960s. In the early 1990s, Dr. Atkins brought his diet back into the nutrition
spotlight with the publication of his best-selling book "Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution".
The Atkins Diet severely restricts the consumption of carbohydrate-rich foods and encourages the
consumption of protein and fat. The diet is divided into four phases: Induction, Ongoing Weight
Loss, Pre-maintenance, and Maintenance. During the Induction phase (the first 14 days of the
diet), carbohydrate intake is limited to no more than 20 grams per day. No fruit, bread, grains,
starchy vegetables, or dairy products (except cheese, cream, and butter) are allowed during this
phase. During the Ongoing Weight Loss phase, dieters experiment with various levels of
carbohydrate consumption until they determine the most liberal level of carbohydrate intake that
allows them to continue to lose weight. Dieters are encouraged to maintain this level of
carbohydrate intake until their weight loss goals are met. During the Pre-maintenance and
Maintenance phases, dieters determine the level of carbohydrate consumption that allows them to
maintain their weight. To prevent weight regain, dieters are told to maintain this level of
carbohydrate consumption, perhaps for the rest of their lives. According to Dr. Atkins, most people
must limit their carbohydrate intake to no more than 60 grams per day to keep lost weight off. In
addition to the dietary restrictions discussed above, Dr. Atkins recommends regular exercise and
nutritional supplementation as part of his weight loss program.
Note: The dietary recommendations issued by various organizations, including the United States
Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health, and the American Heart Association,
encourage a daily carbohydrate intake of approximately 300 grams. To stay healthy, you will need
to consume five times more what Atkins prescribes in his diets. Can a human being last long
enough on this diet without experiencing any side effects? If the dieter dares to cheat on this
program, the result can be detrimental and the weight can be regained easily, twice as much as
what has been lost during the diet. The quick weight gain brings about eventual depression and
the dieter will eventually reach his original weight before the weight loss.
What is so attractive about the diet that so many individuals have taken the time and effort to
High-protein diets are the fad regimens of the moment. Their theory for weight loss consists of
eating lots of animal proteins and skipping carbohydrates such as breads, rice and pasta. The
theory behind these diets is that if you load up on animal proteins, you will feel fuller faster, so
you'll end up eating less.
The Atkins Diet is attractive to dieters who have tried unsuccessfully to lose weight on low-fat, lowcalorie diets. Atkins dieters can eat as many calories as desired from protein and fat, as long as
carbohydrate consumption is restricted. Consequently, many Atkins dieters are spared the feelings
of hunger and deprivation that accompany other weight loss regimens.
The underlying premise of the Atkins Diet is that diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates
cause weight gain, and ultimately lead to obesity. Such diets increase the production of insulin (a
hormone secreted by the pancreas). When insulin levels are high, the food we eat is quickly and
easily converted into fat, and stored in our cells. By restricting the consumption of carbohydrates,
the production of insulin is moderated. In addition, the lack of available carbohydrate (the body's
preferred fuel source) forces the body to burn stored fat as energy.
What do the critics say?
Many nutrition experts disagree with the basic premise of the Atkins Diet - the notion that highcarbohydrate, low-fat diets cause obesity. For evidence of the implausibility of the Atkins Diet,
some nutritionists point out that the traditional Japanese diet is very high in carbohydrates, low in
protein, and very low in fat; however, before the introduction of high-fat and high-protein Western
foods, being overweight was rare in Japan. Such findings make sense because ounce for ounce,
carbohydrates contain far fewer calories than fats (4 calories from carbohydrates versus 9 calories
from fat). These critics blame the over-consumption of calories (from any source) and lack of
physical activity as the primary causes of obesity.
One concern about a high-protein diet stems from all the saturated fats one eats - those fats that
we're told cause high cholesterol, clogged arteries and, eventually, heart disease. Critics also
express concern about the impact of the Atkins Diet on the overall health of the dieter. Depending
on the foods chosen by the dieter, the diet may contain a large amount of saturated fat and trans
fat, putting those at risk for heart disease in danger. Recent research has found that high-protein
diets speed up the progression of arteriosclerosis, the main cause of heart attacks. Moreover,
contrary to Atkins' claims, extremely low-fat diets have been found to reverse heart disease. In
addition, the lack of grains, fruits, and vegetables in the Atkins Diet may lead to deficiencies of key
nutrients, including dietary fiber, vitamin C, folic acid, and several minerals. Finally, high protein
diets may increase the risk of osteoporosis and accelerate the rate of deterioration in kidney
function associated with aging.
Critics concede that Atkins dieters often experience significant weight loss during the initial stages
of the diet. However, these critics argue that the diet has a diuretic effect and that the initial weight
loss is due to water loss, not fat loss. Eventually the body restores its water and sodium balance,
and the rate of weight loss declines. Critics also note that there is no evidence showing that the
Atkins diet leads to greater weight loss than do other diets that provide more carbohydrates, yet
the same number of calories.Critics also note high-protein diets can lead to dangerous imbalances
- bone loss and kidney problems - because too much protein can overwork the kidneys.
Dr. Atkins was the first person who brought a low-carbohydrates diet to major prominence in the
U.S. and I credit him for defying "the system" and offering a weight loss plan that works for some
people. He presents scientific fact, but for the most part his recent book provides anecdotal
information from many of his patients.
Dr. Atkins claims that some people have a condition of "hyper-insulinism", in which they produce
excess amounts of insulin when they eat carbohydrates, which in turn causes fat storage,
diabetes, and a craving for more carbohydrates. This theory is scientifically logical but has not
been accepted as proven by the medical community.
In Dr. Atkins' "maintenance phase", he advises that persons increase their carbohydrate intake to
the point where they do not gain or lose weight.
All that is great, however, how can we understand the whole concept behind his diets and why do
people truly believe in it? How does it actually work?
Insulin is a hormone, which is a substance that travels through the body and stimulates chemical
reactions. The human body has mechanisms to regulate how much of each hormone is produced,
so that their effects can be controlled. With insulin, however, there is no "shut-off" switch as there
is with other hormones. The digestion of carbohydrates produces insulin, and there is no way to
stop its activity once it is present in the bloodstream. There is also no way to prevent it from being
produced when carbohydrates are consumed, even if these are in excess of what the body needs
So, the more carbohydrates you consume, the more insulin the pancreas will produce to help
digest the sugars of the carbohydrates. The more insulin that is being produced, the more stored
fat will be sent to the cells, especially to those around your waist.
I believe Dr. Atkins' diet may be useful for persons who are very sensitive to carbohydrates and
have extremely slow metabolic rates.
Dr. Atkins' diet does not restrict protein intake, which is the correct approach. However, his advice
to add carbohydrate grams for the maintenance phase so that continued weight loss does not
occur is not scientifically sound. There is no indication that a person will continue to lose weight
below his ideal bodyweight, taking in consideration his body type and metabolism. Your body is
predisposed to a certain weight, even though you interrupt carbohydrates consumption from your
diet, the body will still maintain the same weight. After that phase, you will simply need to maintain
it and be happy with it.
Extreme dieters will need to understand that all the information mentioned above and below these
lines is to make you realize some facts that you've never taken the time to research. When a diet
becomes popular, people jump on it without researching in more detail what it can do for their
bodies or if the diet fits their standard. It is not because "John Doe has lost some weight on this
specific diet" that you will have a similar result. The same goes for diet pills: be careful with them.
If they work temporarily for some people, it doesn't necessarily mean they will have the same
effect on you.
As for me, experiencing my own programs enabled me to lose weight, maintain it and still eat as
much as I want of the right foods. I eat and exercise plenty.
Remember that moderation is important. If you want to eat something that is not healthy, go ahead
and eat it. However, make sure to moderate the rest of the day with the right food. The following
information should be helpful when it comes to moderation regarding a well-balanced diet.
Here are some good reasons to avoid high-protein diets:
1. They violate almost every known fact about nutritionally balanced eating. For some dieters,
these diets can even be life threatening.
2. Popular high protein diet foods are high in cholesterol and saturated fat, which are now
established as major culprits in heart attacks and strokes.
3. They overload you with protein, which results in loss of calcium from your bones, which may
lead to osteoporosis. Protein overload also pressurizes your kidneys as they try to eliminate large
amounts of urea, a by-product of protein metabolism.
4. They forbid foods known to lower the risk of heart disease and many cancers.
5. They deprive you of carbohydrates, the nutrient group most readily converted to energy. Even
moderately active people will notice this lack during exercise.
6. They deprive your brain of glucose, which it needs for normal functioning. The result is a
slowdown in thinking and reaction time.
7. They deprive you of the enormous benefits of fiber, which is a form of carbohydrate (cellulose).
8. They are deficient in essential vitamins. Indeed, some high protein diets even require you to
take vitamin supplements for the sake of your health.
9. They cause potentially dangerous changes in your body chemistry.
10. They deliver temporary weight loss. However, a large part of it is water weight and lean muscle
mass - not fat. (You lose water because your kidneys try to get rid of the excess waste products of
protein and fat, called ketones, that your body makes.)
Note: Weight gain is usually rapid when you go off the diet.
11. Finally, it's worth knowing that while your body burns up 23 calories for every 10o
carbohydrate calories it digests, it only burns up 3 calories for every 100 "fat" calories it digests.
Therefore, a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet makes it easier for you to stay fat!
FYI (For Your Information):
The average Western diet contains TOO MUCH FAT.
That's why an estimated 1 in 3 American children are overweight!
That's why heart disease is the No. 1 killer in America and Europe.
We should be eating less fat, not more.
High protein diets encourage high-fat eating and - for this reason alone - should be avoided.
What are those medical miracles that are being publicized to consumers for their rapid weight loss
programs? The magazine Self, in March of 2002 investigated some of the programs that are
"Healthy weight loss" is not a particularly sexy marketing slogan. It is quite impossible to sell these
types of slogans to Americans: "Drop pounds by eating fewer calories and increasing physical
activity!" Instead, manufacturers of weight loss concoctions resort to selling their products with
dubious promises of magically speedy results. Thankfully, separating fact from fiction is easy.
Try to separate bogus slogan from reality:
o"Lose 30 pounds in just 30 days" - Very tempting, isn't it? However, it is physically impossible to
lose so much weight in such a short time. Moreover, it is not healthy. You could only hurt your
health throughout the process and I can reassure you, you will gain back the weight faster than a
o"Lose weight while you sleep" - Yeah! Heard that one before. If all you have to do is sip a magical
potion or swallow a miracle pill, the product is as likely to be as real as your "wet dreams" at night.
o"Lose weight and keep it off for good" - The only permanent weight loss plan involves changing
your diet and exercise regimen. It is all about burning more calories than you are consuming. It's
all about simple mathematics. You burn more than what you ingest.
o"John Doe lost 90 pounds in just six weeks". Yes, and I am Superman! As I said previously, it is
very dangerous to try to lose that much weight in such a short period. Let's analyze this slogan.
We'll have some fun!
One pound equals 3,500 calories. You will need to reduce your diet by over 315,000 calories (90
pounds x 3,500 calories) during that 6-week period. Now how is that going to happen? Let's say
your body needs 2,000/day calories to function. That equals 14,000 calories weekly, right? Multiply
that by 6 weeks. That equals 84,000 calories for 6 weeks. Now, I am not a rocket scientist, but do
you get my point? You will actually need to fast for 6 weeks in a row, and still have to burn an
extra 231,000 by exercising. What are these morons thinking when they try to advertise these
slogans to the American people? I would suggest that they go back to school and retake
elementary math. It seems they can't even do a simple calculation.
Bottom line, ladies and gentlemen. There is NO MIRACLE DIET. Quit being triggered to spend
your money by these bogus slogans.
Low Carbohydrate Diets
We all love carbohydrates. Pasta, bread, rice and potato are America favorite foods, to say the
least. However, we all know that they contain ingredients that can lead to what we are most afraid
of: being overweight. The problem with carbohydrates is that they cause the body to produce
insulin. However, insulin turns carbohydrates into sugar, and whatever sugar we don't use right
away gets stored in the body as fat.
On the other hand, a lack of carbohydrates tricks the body into thinking it's starving, at which point
it flicks on an internal switch that causes the body to burn its own fat. This is called ketosis. We did
mention that if the body doesn't use the extra sugar produced by the intake of carbohydrates, it
would be stored in fat. Hmmm, now what about exercise? Have we thought about that?
After studying in depth the way the human body's nutritional processes work, and considering the
type of diet these processes evolved with, I must conclude that consuming carbohydrates in
limited amounts (not eating a whole pizza, loaf of bread, or a pound of french fries) is the most
natural and healthy way for us to eat, not just for weight loss but for ongoing weight and health
maintenance - even for people who do not have a weight problem. The "low carb diet" has
become extremely popular in the United States in the past few years and continues to have a
large following despite the frequent criticisms by various diet experts. Although many of them are
without scientific validity, some of them are on target, especially when considering the calorie
intakes of some of the formulas presented.
There is a major issue here with all of these plans - that is whether the diet is being used merely
for weight loss, or for long-term weight maintenance. As a weight loss diet, any of these plans can
work. However, if they are then discarded and previous eating habits are restored, it is likely that
any weight lost will be regained, as with any short-term diet. Eventually, going off the low carb diet
can definitely promote weight gain in excess of that which was lost, due to metabolic changes that
occur. The only sensible way to use a low carb diet for weight loss is to remain on this type of diet
on an ongoing basis afterward. The question then asked, "Is it safe for weight loss" and "is it safe
for ongoing use as an eating plan?"
Americans now eat more carbohydrates than ever - 50 more pounds per person, per year, than a
decade ago (ABC.NEWS). Carbohydrate-related diseases have also reached a peak. After
decades of being warned away from fats, many people have turned to carbohydrates instead. At
the same time, obesity levels in the country are greater than ever.
Is there a connection? Do carbohydrates lead people to become obese? Experts in the field have
Biochemist Barry Sears, author of the best selling low-carbohydrate diet book The Zone, believes
carbohydrates do cause people to gain weight. He has developed a controversial theory that
suggests that people who eat a lot of carbohydrates get caught up in a cycle of overeating
because carbohydrates can be addictive in a way other foods are not. People who critique Sears'
theory have various problems with it, including some of his basic premises that carbohydrates lead
to weight gain or that carbohydrates are more addictive than other foods. Zone dieting is designed
to avoid ketosis, which the author claims causes one to lose muscle weight even with high protein
diets. The author also claims that high levels of protein in a meal cause high insulin levels, which
converts the protein into fat.
The concept of The Zone is that food should be treated like a prescription drug that is designed to
promote the desired hormonal response throughout the day. The hormones in question are insulin,
glucagon, and eicosanoids. Insulin and glucagon are well known hormones, and their functions
are described accurately.
Sears says eating lots of carbohydrates triggers a flood of insulin. Because there is so much
insulin, sugars are cleared from the blood so quickly that people feel hungry again after a very
short period. Therefore, carbohydrates drive the sugar level up and then the insulin drives it down.
The obesity crisis in America is a result of "carbohydrate hell." Sears suggests that eating a lot of
carbohydrates triggers a biological mechanism that lowers the blood sugar level and leads people
to need a sugar boost and therefore to crave more carbohydrates. He says the cycle of eating and
craving keeps them hooked on carbohydrates and causes overeating.
"You eat a big carbohydrates meal at 12. By 3 o'clock you're hungry again. You eat more
carbohydrates. By 7 you're hungry again," Sears says. His theory accepts some of the basic
principles about how the body processes carbohydrates and takes them a step further. The basic
principle is that carbohydrates turn into sugars that trigger the release of insulin. The insulin routes
the sugars to our muscles for energy and stores the rest as fat.
To reach the "Zone", one must consume foods in a protein-to-carbohydrate ratio of 0.75, which is
3 grams of protein for every 4 grams of carbohydrate, at every meal and snack, and without
allowing more than 5 hours between meals or snacks. The author converts grams into blocks of
protein and carbohydrate and provides food lists and meal plans for these. He distinguishes
between carbohydrates with high versus low glycemic indexes, which is a measure of how fast the
carbohydrate is digested for each food type. In addition, he adds fat "blocks" to his meal plans and
distinguishes between various types of fats, recommending against saturated fats and favoring
monounsaturated fats, due to their effect on eicosanoid production. Protein requirements in the
Zone are based on lean body mass and level of physical activity (the same method that is used in
Protein Power). Lean body mass is calculated using standardized charts that use height, hip, and
abdomen measurements in women and weight, wrist and waist measurements in men.
The calculated protein requirement is not to be exceeded, and is to be spread throughout the day
to avoid increased insulin levels caused by protein digestion. Therefore, a person would end up
with a calorie limit on their total daily intake, since protein has a maximum value, and carbohydrate
and fat intake are measured by protein intake.
The second half of the book is a description of how Zone dieting can improve numerous health
conditions, primarily based on the eicosanoid activities.
In this program, the author provides excellent scientific explanations for how too many
carbohydrates in a diet cause fat storage. The entire design of the Zone diet is also explained in a
very scientific fashion, however, it is greatly lacking in scientific evidence to support it. The concept
that providing higher levels of carbohydrates would avoid ketosis, which is a condition that may be
hazardous over the long term is correct, however, because of a restriction on the intake of protein,
carbohydrates, and fat, it is likely that insufficient calories and carbohydrates will be available for
most people to avoid ketosis. In other words, the ketosis that results from starvation - getting too
few calories to meet basic needs - can easily occur in many persons based on their calculations
for daily intakes. There may also not be enough protein in the diet to prevent loss of muscle mass.
Dan Amzallag Mission Possible: Eat MORE 2 LOSE more: Combating obesity epidemic in
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