Monday, June 1, 2009

Truth about the Atkins diet...



Would you like to be able to eat dishes such as the one above, and get thin at the same time? According to Robert Atkins, the man behind the infamous "Atkins diet", you can. I have quite a few acquaintances who have tried the Atkins diet and quite a few of those say that it has worked rather well for them. I also know of people on whom the diet did not have a huge effect, but perhaps they have not been very disciplined?


By nature I am skeptical of anything that sounds extraordinary, and when someone comes and claims that you can eat as much meat,fat sauce, cream, chicken etc etc as you like, AND lose weight, that, to me, is an extraordinary claim! Sometimes such radical claims turn out to be right, however most of the time they are wrong...


The bottom line of the Atkins diet is quite simple: avoid carbohydrates, especially fast carbohydrates, anything else is pretty much alright. To be a bit more precise you are supposed to avoid foods that have a high "glycemic index" or GI. Products that increase your blood sugar fast have high GI (examples would be sugar, white rice, pasta, beer, etc).


According to Atkins (see picture below), his diet works because the body requires carbojydrates to store fat, in other words, if there are no carbohydrates the fat will go right through the body. This is also why, according to Atkins and his followers, you can eat as much as you like, be it the ordinary 2000 calories or even 4000 calories in one day, and you will still loose weight.


So what is the truth here? I am of course no expert on these matters, but it seems to me that accumulating evidence clearly suggests that although the Atkins diet may work, it doesn`t do it the way Robert Atkins thought it did. Rather, the Atkins diet works because you eat less when you are on it. It turns out that when the brain decides whether we are hungry or not, and in extension whether we should crawl over to the fridge and get a slice of pizza, one factor that is taken into account is peptide YY. If there is a lot of peptide YY in the body then you are full, if there is little you should eat. What causes the release of peptide YY? You guessed it, proteins does, but not carbohydrates. This means that if you eat say 1500 calories of protein then you get a lot of peptide YY and therefore you feel full and stop eating. However, if on the other hand you eat 1500 calories worth of potatoes, little peptide YY is released and therefore will still feel hungry and unless you are one of those people with amazing self control, you will keep eating... Read more about this in this article from the economist.


The conclusion that the Atkins diet works because you eat less and not because you stop storing fat has been further confirmed by a recent large Harvard study. In this study they had their subjects eat the same amount of calories, but varied the source of those calories. Some subjects were given mostly carbohydrates, some were given mostly fats, and some were given mostly protein - but all got the same number of calories. Who lost most weight? According to Atkins theory, the fewer carbohydrates you eat, the more you should loose in weight, but this was not the case. The results showed that all the different groups lost equal amounts of weight.


So the bottom line of all this is that if you want to loose weight, eat less calories. One way to achieve this is to eat a lot of protein and little carbohydrates, because you will not be as hungry...

11 comments:

Terra said...

As someone who have tried out lowcarb, GI, that is basically Atkins I can confirm its efficiency. Ive lost 11 kgs in two months. Ok, Ive also started to exercise some, but that alone has never made me loose weight before. One must control those calories as well - and low carb does just that.

The reason is quite simple - no sugar fullgrain bread with lots of high fat cheese or another rich topping makes you feel filled longer than light bread. Proteins and fat makes you feel fuller faster and longer than carbohydrates.

Theres not much to be sceptical about. Its really simply a case of the fact that you eat less with this diet, therefor eat less calories.

One other good thing about it is you never feel tired after a meal the same way as a high carb-high fat diet wood. No more sleepy afternoons after lunch. The bloodsugar stays more even.

All diets that cuts down your intake on calories will make you loose weight of course. This one just happens to be one of the more efficient ones because you dont have to cut down on all good things.

And no, Im no fanatic - I do eat white bread, potatoes, pasta, pizza and candy still, just not as often. And yes, Im aware of the lacking research on how this diet might affect my health - but I know one thing, my health before the diet was horrible - and now, Iwhats it worth atleast feel much better for .

Anonymous said...

You misrepresent what doing Atkins is about!

Atkins is really about the vegetables ...

Somehow you must have missed that part in your reading of Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution (2002) ... or even from reading information at www.atkins.com.

So ... before you think you have the "truth", perhaps you should do some more homework!

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Atkinsova Dieta said...

Atkins diet really works for people who are disciplined.