Facts and Fallacies about the Atkins Nutritional Approach

Facts and Fallacies about the Atkins Nutritional Approach

Fact

Our bodies have only two fuel delivery systems to provide us with energy. Our primary fuel is based on carbohydrates and is delivered as glucose. People who eat three so-called “balanced” meals every day get virtually all their energy from glucose. But the alternate, back-up fuel is stored fat, and this fuel system delivers energy by way of ketones whenever our small supply of glucose is used up (in a maximum of two days). When a person doing Atkins releases ketones, he or she is in ketosis. Ketosis occurs when you are taking in a very low level of carbohydrate from the food you eat, as you will during much of the weight loss phases of Atkins. Ketones are secreted in the urine (and at times in one’s breath), a perfectly normal and natural function of the body. The more ketones you release, the more fat you have dissolved.

Fallacy

The Atkins Nutritional Approach is only effective for weight loss because calories are restricted.

Fact

While some people who follow the Atkins Nutritional Approach may eat fewer calories than before, it certainly is not because the program limits calorie intake. People doing Atkins may end up eating fewer calories because they are generally less hungry and no longer obsessed with food. This occurs for two reasons.

Fallacy

The weight lost on the Atkins Nutritional Approach is mostly water, not fat.

Fact

It is typical of any weight loss plan, including the Induction phase of Atkins, that during the first few days, or even the first week, some of the weight loss will be water loss. However, when you follow a controlled carbohydrate eating plan, your body switches from burning carbohydrates to burning stored fat for energy, resulting in the loss of stored fat. In fact, research shows that even when water is lost during the first few days on a controlled carbohydrate nutritional approach, the water balance soon returns to normal, and the weight loss comes from burning body fat for energy. The most dramatic sign of this loss is seeing the inches drop off your measurements.

Fallacy

The Atkins Nutritional Approach is unbalanced and deficient in basic nutrition.

Fact

The Atkins Nutritional Approach actually provides more nutrients than the typical American diet. It deliberately rebalances your way of eating. It is probable that the eating pattern that led to your weight gain was improperly balanced in the first place. The evidence showing that overproduction of insulin is responsible for most weight gain is quite impressive, and the best way to correct an insulin disorder is to avoid foods that stimulate insulin activity-that is, foods high in carbohydrates.

However, the Atkins Nutritional Approach does not exclude these foods (fruits, vegetables and grains). The Induction phase of Atkins, which people often mistake for the entire program, is the most strict, permitting only 20 grams of carbohydrates each day. Those 20 grams come in the form of green, leafy vegetables and also can include nutrient-dense, high fiber, and low-carbohydrate vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, eggplant and spinach. Hardly foods lacking in nutrients!

Fallacy

People doing Atkins may feel tired, weak and lacking in energy

Fact

Fatigue may occur during the first few days of doing Atkins, while the body adapts to the switch in metabolic pathways. It typically takes about three to four days for the body to convert from sugar metabolism to primarily fat metabolism. Your body can store carbohydrates for only up to forty-eight hours, so you can be confident that your metabolic switch will occur, as long as you are doing Atkins properly. After the transition, those people who were tired at first usually report high energy and clear thinking throughout the day. The explanation is simple: They have rebalanced their nutrition so that their blood sugar is stabilized. They avoid blood-sugar peaks and valleys throughout the day, putting an end to mood swings and periods of lethargy. And those people who consume a full vita nutrient program are much less likely to feel weak or tired even at the start of Atkins.

Fallacy

You eat too much protein when doing Atkins, which is bad for the kidneys.

Fact:

Too many people believe this untruth simply because it has been repeated so often that even intelligent health professionals assume it must have been reported somewhere. But the fact is that it has never been reported anywhere. I have yet to see someone produce a study for me to review, or even cite a specific case in which a protein-containing diet causes any form of kidney disorder.

Last word

We also can look at the research that’s come out of Framingham, Massachusetts-the community studied for fifty years by Harvard researchers-to glean meaningful information about the cause of heart disease. This research showed that the risk of heart disease increased both with high cholesterol levels and obesity, but their data showed that weight gain and cholesterol levels were inversely correlated with dietary fat and cholesterol intake! In other words, consuming less fat and cholesterol resulted in more weight gain and higher blood cholesterol.

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