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Atkins Diet

Atkins diet

Definition

The Atkins diet is a high-protein, high-fat, very low-carbohydrate regimen. It emphasizes meat, cheese, and eggs, while discouraging foods such as bread, pasta, fruit, and sugar. It is a form of ketogenic diet.

Origins

Robert C. Atkins, a cardiologist and internist, developed the diet in the early 1970s. It first came to public attention in 1972 with the publication of Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution. It quickly became a bestseller but unlike most other fad diets , has remained popular. At last count, it had sold more than 15 million copies worldwide. Since then, Atkins authored a number of other books on his diet theme before his accidental death in 2003.

Benefits

The primary benefit of the diet is rapid and substantial weight loss. By restricting carbohydrate intake, the body will burn more fat stored in the body. Since there are no limits on the amount of calories or quantities of foods allowed on the diet, there is little hunger between meals. According to Atkins, the diet can alleviate symptoms of conditions such as fatigue , irritability, headaches, depression , and some types of joint and muscle pain .

Description

The regimen is a low-carbohydrate, or ketogenic diet, characterized by initial rapid weight loss, usually due to water loss. Drastically reducing the amount of carbohydrate intake causes liver and muscle glycogen loss, which has a strong but temporary diuretic effect. Long-term weight loss is said to occur because with a low amount of carbohydrate intake, the body burns stored fat for energy.

The four-step diet starts with a two-week induction program designed to rebalance an individual's metabolism. Unlimited amounts of fat and protein are allowed but carbohydrate intake is restricted to 15-20 grams per day. Foods allowed include butter, oil, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, and cream. The daily amount of carbohydrates allowed equals about three cups of salad vegetables, such as lettuce, cucumbers, and celery.

The second stage is for ongoing weight loss. It allows 15-40 grams of carbohydrates a day. When the individual is about 10 pounds from their desired weight, they begin the pre-maintenance phase. This gradually adds one to three servings a week of high carbohydrate foods, such as a piece of fruit or slice of whole-wheat bread. When the desired weight is reached, the maintenance stage begins. It allows 40-60 grams of carbohydrates per day.

Preparations

No advance preparation is needed to go on the diet. However, as with most diets, it is generally considered appropriate to consult with a physician and to have a physical evaluation before starting such a nutritional regimen. The evaluation should include blood tests to determine levels of cholesterol , triglycerides, glucose, insulin, and uric acid. A glucose tolerance test also is recommended.

Precautions

Adherence to the Atkins diet can result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies. In his books, Atkins recommends a wide range of nutritional supplements, including a multi-vitamin. Among his recommendations, Atkins suggests the following daily dosages: 300-600 micrograms (mcg) of chromium picolinate, 100-400 milligrams (mg) of pantetheine, 200 mcg of selenium , and 450-675 mcg of biotin .

The diet is not recommended for lacto-ovo vegetarians, since it cannot be done as successfully without protein derived from animal products. Also, vegans cannot follow this diet, since a vegan diet is too high in carbohydrates, according to Atkins. Instead, he recommends vegetarians with a serious weight problem give up vegetarianism , or at least include fish in their diet. In 2003, a physicians group warned that high-protein diets may cause permanent kidney loss in anyone with reduced kidney function. They also can increase people's risk of colon cancer and osteoporosis .

Side effects

According to Atkins, the diet causes no adverse side effects. Many health care professionals disagree. In a fact sheet for the Healthcare Reality Check Web site (http://www.hcrc.org), Ellen Coleman, a registered dietician and author, said the diet may have serious side effects for some people. She said complications associated with the diet include ketosis, dehydration, electrolyte loss, calcium depletion, weakness, nausea , and kidney problems. "It is certainly riskier for overweight individuals with medical problems such as heart disease, hypertension , kidney disease, and diabetes than it is for over-weight people with no health problems," she said.

People with diabetes taking insulin are at risk of becoming hypoglycemic if they do not eat appropriate carbohydrates. Also, persons who exercise regularly may experience low energy levels and muscle fatigue from low carbohydrate intake.

Research & general acceptance

Opinion from the general medical community remains mixed on the Atkins diet, but is generally unfavorable. There have been no significant long-term scientific studies on the diet. A number of leading medical and health organizations, including the American Medical Association, American Dietetic Association (ADA), and the American Heart Association oppose it. It is drastically different than the dietary intakes recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institutes of Health. Much of the opposition is because the diet lacks some vitamins and nutrients, and because it is high in fat. In a hearing before the U.S. Congress on February 24, 2000, an ADA representative called the Atkins diet "hazardous" and said it lacked scientific credibility.

Just a month after Dr. Atkins' death, two studies offering scientific support of the diet's claims emerged. The research found that people lost weight without raising their cholesterol. However, one of the studies showed that at the end of one year, dieters regained much of the weight.

DR. ROBERT C. ATKINS 19302003


Dr. Robert C. Atkins graduated from the University of Michigan in 1951 and received his medical degree from Cornell University Medical School in 1955 with a specialty in cardiology. As an internist and cardiologist he developed the Atkins diet in the early 1970s. The diet is a ketogenic dieta high protein, high fat, and very low carbohydrate regimen resulting in ketosis. It emphasizes meat, cheese, and eggs, while discouraging foods such as bread, pasta, fruit, and sugar. It first came to public attention in 1972 with the publication of Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution. The book quickly became a bestseller but unlike most other fad diet books, this one has remained popular. At last count, it had been reprinted 28 times and sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. Since then, Atkins has authored a number of other books on his diet theme, including Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution (1992), Dr. Atkins' Quick and Easy New Diet Cookbook (1997), and The Vita-Nutrient Solution: Nature's Answer to Drugs (1998).

During his life, Atkins saw about 60,000 patients in his more than 30 years of practice. He also appeared on numerous radio and television talk shows, had his own syndicated radio program, Your Health Choices, and authored the monthly newsletter Dr. Atkins' Health Revelations. Atkins received the World Organization of Alternative Medicine's Recognition of Achievement Award and was named the National Health Federation's Man of the Year. He was the director of the Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine which he founded in the early 1980s until his death in 2003. The center is located at 152 E. 55th St., New York, NY 10022.

Ken R. Wells

Training & certification

There is no formal training or certification required.

Resources

BOOKS

Atkins, Dr. Robert C. Dr. Atkins'Age-Defying Diet Revolution. New York: St. Martin's Press. 1999.

Atkins, Dr. Robert C. Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution: The High Calorie Way to Stay Thin Forever. New York: Bantam Books. 1989.

Atkins, Dr. Robert C. Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution. New York City: Avon Books. 1992.

Atkins, Dr. Robert C. Dr. Atkins' Health Revolution: How Complementary Medicine Can Extend Your Life. New York: Bantam Books. 1990.

Atkins, Dr. Robert C. Dr. Atkins'Vita-Nutrient Solution: Nature's Answer to Drugs. New York: Simon & Schuster. 1998.

PERIODICALS

Alger, Alexandra. "Meat's Neat." Forbes (August 11, 1997): 129.

"Atkins Diet Vindicated But Long-term Success Questionable." Obesity, Fitness and Wellness Week (June 14, 2003): 25.

Carroll, Joanne. "The Ketogenic Diet: A Practical Guide for Caregivers." Journal of the American Dietetic Association (March 1998): 316-321.

Cray, Dan, et al. "The Low-Carb Diet Craze." Time (November 1, 1999): 72-79.

"Doctor Group Describes Dangers of Atkins Diet." Obesity, Fitness and Wellness Week (August 9, 2003): 33.

Gotthardt, Melissa Meyers. "The New Low-Carb Diet Craze." Cosmopolitan (February 2000): 148.

Hammock, Delia. "Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution." Good Housekeeping (June 1997): 127.

Howe, Maggy. "Excess Pounds." Country Living (November 1995): 60-61.

Merrell, Woodson. "How I Became a Low-Carb Believer." Time (November 1, 1999): 80.

Turner, Richard. "The Trendy Diet That Sizzles." Newsweek September 6, 1999): 60.

OTHER

Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine. 152 E. 55th St., New York, NY 10022. 212-758-2110. http://www.atkinscenter.com.

Ken R. Wells

Teresa G. Odle

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Atkins Diet

Atkins Diet

Definition

The Atkins diet is a high-protein, high-fat, and very low-carbohydrate regimen. It emphasizes meat, cheese, and eggs, while discouraging foods such as bread, pasta, fruit, and sugar. It is a form of ketogenic diet.

Purpose

The primary benefit of the diet is rapid and substantial weight loss. By restricting carbohydrate intake, the body will burn more fat stored in the body. Since there are no limits on the amount of calories or quantities of foods allowed on the diet, there is little hunger between meals. According to Atkins, the diet can alleviate symptoms of conditions such as fatigue, irritability, headaches, depression, and some types of joint and muscle pain.

Description

The regimen is a low-carbohydrate, or ketogenic diet, characterized by initial rapid weight loss, usually due to water loss. Drastically reducing the amount of carbohydrate intake causes liver and muscle glycogen loss, which has a strong but temporary diuretic effect. Long-term weight loss occurs because with a low amount of carbohydrate intake, the body burns stored fat for energy.

The four-step diet starts with a two-week induction program designed to rebalance an individual's metabolism. Unlimited amounts of fat and protein are allowed but carbohydrate intake is restricted to 20 grams per day. Foods allowed include butter, oil, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, and cream. The daily amount of carbohydrates allowed equals about three cups of salad vegetables, such as lettuce, cucumbers, and celery.

The second stage is for ongoing weight loss. It allows 20-40 grams of carbohydrates a day. When the individual is about 10 pounds from their desired weight, they begin the pre-maintenance phase. This gradually adds one to three servings a week of high carbohydrate foods, such as a piece of fruit or slice of whole-wheat bread. When the desired weight is reached, the maintenance stage begins. It allows 40-60 grams of carbohydrates per day.

Opinion from the general medical community remains mixed on the Atkins diet. There have been no significant long-term scientific studies on the diet. A number of leading medical and health organizations, including the American Medical Association, American Dietetic Association (ADA), and the American Heart Association oppose it. It is drastically different than the dietary intakes recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institutes of Health. Much of the opposition is because the diet is lacking in some vitamins and nutrients, and because it is high in fat. In a hearing before the U.S. Congress on February 24, 2000, an ADA representative called the Atkins diet "hazardous" and said it lacked scientific credibility.

Preparations

No advance preparation is needed to go on the diet. However, as with most diets, it is generally considered appropriate to consult with a physician and to have a physical evaluation before starting such a nutritional regimen. The evaluation should include blood tests to determine levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, insulin, and uric acid. A glucose tolerance test is also recommended.

Precautions

Adherence to the Atkins diet can result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies. In his books, Atkins recommends a wide-range of nutritional supplements, including a multi-vitamin. Among his recommendations, Atkins suggests the following daily dosages: 300-600 micrograms (mcg) of chromium picolinate, 100-400 milligrams (mg) of pantetheine, 200 mcg of selenium, and 450-675 mcg of biotin.

The diet is not recommended for lacto-ovo vegetarians, since it cannot be done as successfully without protein derived from animal products. Also, vegans cannot follow this diet, since a vegan diet is too high in carbohydrates, according to Atkins. Instead, he recommends vegetarians with a serious weight problem give up vegetarianism, or at least include fish in their diet.

Side effects

According to Atkins, the diet causes no adverse side effects. Many health care professionals disagree. In a fact sheet for the Healthcare Reality Check Web site (http://www.hcrc.org), Ellen Coleman, a registered dietician and author, said the diet may have serious side effects for some people. She said complications associated with the diet include ketosis, dehydration, electrolyte loss, calcium depletion, weakness, nausea, and kidney problems. "It is certainly riskier for overweight individuals with medical problems such as heart disease, hypertension, kidney disease, and diabetes than it is for overweight people with no health problems," she said.

People with diabetes taking insulin are at risk of becoming hypoglycemic if they do not eat appropriate carbohydrates. Also, persons who exercise regularly may experience low energy levels and muscle fatigue from low carbohydrate intake.

DR.ROBERT C. ATKINS (19302003)

Dr. Robert C. Atkins graduated from the University of Michigan in 1951 and received his medical degree from Cornell University Medical School in 1955 with a specialty in cardiology. As an internist and cardiologist he developed the Atkins Diet in the early 1970s. The diet is a ketogenic dieta high protein, high fat, and very low carbohydrate regimen resulting in ketosis. It emphasizes meat, cheese, and eggs, while discouraging foods such as bread, pasta, fruit, and sugar. It first came to public attention in 1972 with the publication of Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution. The book quickly became a bestseller but unlike most other fad diet books, this one has remained popular. At last count, it had been reprinted 28 times and sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. Since then, Atkins has authored a number of other books on his diet theme, including Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution (1992), Dr. Atkins' Quick and Easy New Diet Cookbook (1997), and The Vita-Nutrient Solution: Nature's Answer to Drugs (1998).

Atkins has seen about 60,000 patients in his more than 30 years of practice. He has also appeared on numerous radio and television talk shows, has his own syndicated radio program, Your Health Choices, and authors the monthly newsletter Dr. Atkins' Health Revelations. Atkins has received the World Organization of Alternative Medicine's Recognition of Achievement Award and been named the National Health Federation's Man of the Year. He was the director of the Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine which he founded in the early 1980s until his death. The center is located at 152 E. 55th St., New York, NY 10022.

KEY TERMS

Biotin A B complex vitamin, found naturally in yeast, liver, and egg yolks.

Carbohydrates Neutral compounds of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen found in sugar, starches, and cellulose.

Hypertension Abnormally high arterial blood pressure, which if left untreated can lead to heart disease and stroke.

Ketogenic diet A diet that supplies an abnormally high amount of fat, and small amounts of carbohydrates and protein.

Ketosis An abnormal increase in ketones in the body, usually found in people with uncontrolled diabetes mellitus.

Pantetheine A growth factor substance essential in humans, and a constituent of coenzyme A.

Triglycerides A blood fat lipid that increases the risk for heart disease.

Resources

BOOKS

Atkins, Dr. Robert C. Dr. Atkins' Age-Defying Diet Revolution. New York: St. Martin's Press. 1999.

PERIODICALS

Cray, Dan, et al. "The Low-Carb Diet Craze." Time November 1, 1999: 72-79.

Gotthardt, Melissa Meyers. "The New Low-Carb Diet Craze." Cosmopolitan February 2000: 148.

Merrell, Woodson. "How I Became a Low-Carb Believer." Time November 1, 1999: 80.

Turner, Richard. "The Trendy Diet That Sizzles." Newsweek September 6, 1999: 60.

OTHER

Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine. 152 E. 55th St., New York, NY 10022. 212-758-2110. http://www.atkinscenter.com.

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Atkins diet

Atkins diet Weight reducing diet originally proposed in 1972; a ketogenic diet in which carbohydrate intake is strictly limited but fat and protein are permitted in unlimited amounts. It is effective for weight loss, since ketonaemia reduces appetite, and protein appears to reduce appetite, but it runs counter to modern advice on a prudent diet.

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Atkins diet

At·kins di·et / ˈatkinz/ • n. a diet high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates, prescribed for weight loss.

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Atkins diet

Atkins diet

Definition

Origins

Description

Function

Benefits

Precautions

Risks

Research and general acceptance

Resources

Definition

The Atkins diet is named for Robert C. Atkins, M.D., the diet’s founder. It is based on restrictions of carbohydrates and focuses on eating mostly protein and fat, along with use of vitamin and mineral supplements.

The Atkins diet has been one of the most popular fad diets in the United States. It started a “low-carb revolution,” leading to development of low carbohydrate choices in grocery stores and restaurants around the world. The diet’s founder, Robert C. Atkins, died in February 2003.

Origins

Dr. Atkins introduced his Diet Revolution in 1972. From the beginning, Dr. Atkins, a cardiologist, said that limiting intake of carbohydrates (sugars and starches) would improve health and aid in weight control. The original premise for developing the diet came about because of Atkins’ frustration with the increasing rates of obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Description

Throughout the diet, Dr. Atkins recommended drinking at least eight 8-oz. glasses of water each day to avoid dehydration and constipation He also recommended daily intake of nutrients through a good multi-vitamin supplement. Finally, Dr. Atkins mentioned getting plenty of exercise to speed weight loss. The Atkins diet consists of four distinct phases that participants should go through to achieve and maintain weight loss.

Induction

The induction phase is not required, but that doing so jump starts weight loss as dieters cut back significantly on carbohydrate consumption. According to Atkins Advantage notes, the induction phase can make people feel revitalized, since carbohydrates cause blood sugar spikes that lead to fatigue and other symptoms. The diet also claims that the induction phase will help dieters see the benefits of fat-burning and strengthen their immune systems.

This is by far the most restrictive of the four phases, allowing no more than 20 net carbohydrates per day. This equals roughly three cups of salad greens or other non-starchy vegetables. Participants can eat

Phases of the Atkins Diet

Induction—At least two weeks

No more than 20 net carbohydrates per day

Liberal amounts of protein, including meats, fish, poultry, and eggs, as well as healthy fats

Fatty condiments (mayonnaise, sour cream, guacamole, and butter) are allowed in unlimited quantities

Weight loss during the induction phase may be significant

Ongoing weight loss—Begin after two weeks

Slow introduction of foods with carbohydrates that are considered nutrient dense (green beans, Brazil nuts, avocados, berries, and whole grains)

In week one, add 25 grams of carbohydrates per day

In week two, 30 grams of carbohydrates are allowed

The addition of five grams per week continues until weight loss stalls, then drop back to the previous gram level

Pre-maintenance goal—Begin when within 5 to 10 pounds of weight-loss goal

Gradually increase carbohydrate intake by 10 grams per week until weight is gained, then drop back to the previous carbohydrate gram level

Level weight loss to less than one pound per week

Lifetime maintenance—Begin one month after weight-loss goal is achieved

May be able to consume from 90 to 120 grams of carbohydrates a day, depending on age, gender, and activity level

Maintaining weight goal is more likely if carbohydrate intake remains at the level discovered in pre-maintenance

(Illustration by GGS Information Services/Thomson Gale.)

liberal amounts of protein, including meats, fish, poultry, and eggs, as well as healthy fats. Healthy fats include vegetable and seed oils. High fat condiments such as mayonnaise, sour cream, guacamole, and butter are allowed in virtually unlimited quantities. The Atkins theory is that these high fat foods enhance the flavor of meals, making the Atkins diet easier to maintain. Atkins has reminded dieters that while unlimited quantities of fats and proteins are allowed, the advice is not a license to gorge. Dieters are said to feel hungry for the first 48 hours as their bodies adjust to the abrupt reduction in carbohydrates. Weight loss during the induction phase is said to be significant. The phase is recommended to last at least two weeks.

Ongoing weight loss

The second phase of the Atkins diet moves into ongoing weight loss. It involves slow introduction of foods with carbohydrates that also are considered nutrient dense. Most of the carbohydrate calories come from vegetables. Atkins dieters still eat a higher proportion of proteins and fat, but they gradually add more carbohydrates into the diet. According to Atkins, the purpose of the phase is to continue to burn and dissolve fat while maintaining appetite and craving control. This phase also introduces the dieter.

KEY TERMS

Ketoacidosis— An imbalance in the makeup of body fluids caused by the increased production of ketone bodies. Ketones are caused by fat breakdown.

to a broader range of foods and helps to determine the dieter’s threshold level of carbohydrate consumption. It is the intention of this phase to deliberately slow weight loss.

If weight loss continues, carbohydrate intake is gradually increased each week. In week one, the dieter can add 25 grams of carbohydrates per day. In week two, 30 grams of carbohydrates are allowed. This addition of five grams per week continues until weight loss stalls, then the dieter drops back to the previous gram level. Typical tolerance levels may range anywhere from 30 grams to 90 grams per day. Atkins literature says that the more a dieter exercises, the more carbohydrates he or she can tolerate. The Atkins diet recommends choosing carbohydrates first from vegetables that are low in carbohydrates, then from other sources that are fresh foods high in nutrients and fiber. Examples of low-carbohydrate vegetables are lettuce, raw celery, and cucumbers. Nutrient-rich carbohydrates are green beans, Brazil nuts, avocados, berries, and whole grains.

Pre-maintenance

The Atkins diet considers the third phase a practice for lifetime maintenance of goal weight and “healthy eating habits”. When the goal weight is within five to 10 pounds, the dieter gradually begins to increase carbohydrate intake by 10 grams per week until weight is gained, then drops back to the previous carbohydrate gram level. The purpose is to level weight loss to less than one pound per week. The dieter should continue at this rate until the goal weight is reached, then for one month past that time. The goal is to achieve a level at which weight is neither gained nor lost and to internalize the habits that become part of a permanent lifestyle.

Examples of vegetables that contain about 10 grams of carbohydrates are 3/4 c. of carrots, 1/2 c. of acorn squash, 1 c. of beets, and 1/4 c. of white potatoes. Legumes and fruit are the next preferred food groups for adding 10 grams daily. One-half apple contains 10 grams of carbohydrates, as does 1/3 c. of kidney beans.

Lifetime maintenance

This final phase of the Atkins diet occurs when a dieter reaches goal weight. Although an adult may be able to consume from 90 to 120 grams of carbohydrates a day, depending on age, gender, and activity level, maintaining goal weight is more likely if carbohydrate intake remains at the level discovered in pre-maintenance. The key, according to Atkins, is never letting weight vary by more than three to five pounds before making corrections.

Function

From the beginning, Dr. Atkins said that the traditional approach to weight loss of counting calories and cutting fat must not be working. He blamed carbohydrates for adding to the expanding waistlines and declining health of Americans. Through several updates of the Atkins diet, the same basic premise held with minor revisions. The function of the diet is to enjoy eating while severely limiting carbohydrates. Atkins Advantage mostly makes a distinction between trans fats and other fats. A more clear distinction also is made in the later version between carbohydrates in general and sugar in particular. All along, Atkins has emphasized that a focus on protein builds energy, repairs muscles and bones, and boosts the metabolism .

Benefits

Some dieters have had at least initial success with the diet and have found the liberal rules regarding protein and fats more tasteful and filling than other diets, Advice from the Atkins plan concerning behavioral changes can be helpful, such as shopping the perimeter of the grocery store, where the unprocessed foods are located. In recent years, the program has attempted to modify some of its advice to more closely fit traditional advice from registered dieticians. For example, more clearly defining the types of fats to emphasize in the diet may help avoid mistakes by some who follow the diet to overeat unhealthy fats and increase risk for heart disease. However, experts have said that the diet still contradicts mainstream views concerning health promotion and disease prevention.

Precautions

The average carbohydrate intake recommended by the Atkins diet is well below averages generally recommended by other experts. Studies have shown that even though people may lose weight on the Atkins plan, they do not necessarily keep the weight off longterm because the diet does not teach sustainable lifestyle changes.

Like many fad diets, the Atkins plan produces and promotes many food products associated with its diet plan. As of 2007, these products included bars, shakes, and candy. So although the plan argues against processed foods and snacking, the company also heavily promotes use of its nutritional products to support weight loss or maintenance.

Most importantly, followers of the Atkins diet have reported suffering from muscle cramps, diarrhea, general weakness, and rashes more frequently than people on low-fat diets. Others have reported constipation, bad breath, headache, and fatigue. The American Dietetic Association has warned that any diet that severely limits one food group should raise a red flag to dieters.

Risks

Beyond the reported side effects and concerns about the diet’s long-term effectiveness, some serious problems may arise for Atkins diet followers. One problem that has been documented is called ketoacidosis. This occurs when there is a buildup of the byproducts of fat breakdown because the body does not have enough glucose available. The condition can be dangerous, resulting in cell damage, severe illness, and even death. The low carbohydrates eaten by those on the diet are below those needed to supply the brain and muscles with sugar. Critics of the diet have also long focused on the risks of unlimited fat intake that the Atkins diet allows. Eating large amounts of saturated fat, even if weight is dropping, can lead to high levels of cholesterol and heart disease. However, this is not necessarily always the case. Cholesterol levels tend to decrease in many individuals when they lose weight, even if eating an unbalanced diet. Long-term research remains to be done in this area.

Research and general acceptance

Research results have varied over the years concerning the Atkins diet. The research has tended to support that Atkins followers have experienced comparable or higher weight loss than people on traditional low-fat diets with higher amounts of carbohydrates, but for only a six-month period. After 12 months, weight loss was about equal. Some research also has shown that the diet has not produced damaging cholesterol or heart effects, but these studies have not been large, long-term trials. For example, effects of increased fat consumption on diet followers’ hearts may take years to

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR DOCTOR

  • What aspects of the Atkins diet do you feel are appropriate for weight loss?
  • How often would I need to be seen by a physician or registered dietitian while following the atkins diet?

surface and in any medical research, large numbers of participants are needed to account for many variables.

In 2004, Jody Gorran, a 53-year-old businessman from Florida, sued the promoters of the Atkins diet, saying that the plan clogged his arteries and nearly killed him. Mr. Gorran claimed that he was seduced by the plan and that by eating the high levels of protein and fats touted by the plan, his cholesterol soared. His lawsuit was backed by the Washington-based advocacy group called Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Mr. Gorran sought damages and to seek an injunction preventing the sale of Atkins’ books and products without fair and adequate warnings about the dangers of the diet. The lawsuit was dismissed late in 2006 by a judge, but an appeals continue.

Atkins’ company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July 2005. The company completed its Chapter 11 reorganization by January 2006, having streamlined some operations, and continued to operate early in 2007, making Dr. Atkins’ diet run more than 35 years long.

Controversy even surrounded Atkins’ death in 2003. Though he died when he slipped on the ice outside his office in February 2003. He spent eight days in a coma before dying, and a copy of the medical examiner’s report showed that his weight upon death was 258 pounds. Critics of Atkins’s diet said that this was considered obese for a man who was six feet tall. His allies said that most of the pounds were gained in Atkins’ time in a coma because of fluid retention. But even while Atkins was alive, he had reportedproblems with his heart, though his physician’s council said the trouble was from an enlarged heart, which had stemmed from a viral infection, not from his diet.

Though Dr. Atkins added that numerous studies pointed to the fact that carbohydrates were to blame for weight gain, an explanation for how his diet program worked was never really offered by researchers. Numerous studies continued throughout the 1990s and even after Dr. Atkins’ death. Though some studies showed that people on the Atkins diet often lost weight faster in six months than those on other weight loss programs, the long-term effectiveness and possible harmful effects of the Atkins diet required more study.

In 1992, Dr. Atkins updated his Diet Revolution and by 2004 Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution had sold more than 45 million copies and been translated into 25 languages. The new plan was the same, but the maintenance portion of the diet was made a little more liberal. The diet was extremely popular, as were Atkins Nutritionals products, such as vitamin supplements and numerous food items. A later Web-based version called the Atkins Advantage emphasized the products of Atkins Nutritionals and offered additional books, software, and information on a company Website to support the program’s goals and products.

Resources

BOOKS

Atkins, Robert C. Atkins for Life M. Evans, 2003.

Atkins, Robert C. Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution St. Martin’s Paperbacks, 2004. 2003.

ORGANIZATIONS

Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. New York, NY. <http://www.atkins.com>

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. 5100 Wisconsin Ave NW, Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20016. 202-686-2210. <http://www.atkinsdietalert.org>

Teresa G. Odle

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder diet seeADHD diet

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