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August 25, 2012
The Atkins diet is one of the most promoted and best known low-carb diets created by American cardiologist and health care expert Robert Atkins in early 1970s. The diet appeared as a result of extensive personal research and studies to solve his own overweight condition, and the approach created by Atkins was popularized through several books about the diet, as well as numerous publications and supporting scientific studies which are counted over 80. The diet is based on the assumption that consuming low-carb foods can give us a metabolic advantage since it takes more calories to burn fat compared to burning carbs. The Atkins diet foods include mainly some raw unprocessed foods, preferably natural, with a low glycemic index, but with certain exceptions (brown rice, white bread, pastas, grains, nuts, etc.). The most important effects of Atkins diet include faster metabolism, lower blood cholesterol levels, improved insulin resistance and reduced risks of suffering from type 2 diabetes, and so on.
The Atkins diet and his dieting approach are considered quite controversial and have been criticized quite massively by other expert nutritionists and scientists. Many specialists pointed at too simple understanding of metabolism and all related processes by Dr. Atkins, saying that this is one of the main disadvantages of the Atkins diet. Another controversial point is the value of physical exercises for more effective weight loss. Most of the diets, including low-calorie diets or crash diets should be used only in conjunction with plenty of physical exercises, but the Atkins diet did not give any serious importance to physical exercise support. Nevertheless, a great number of patients and people with extra weight managed to achieve their weight loss goals by using the Atkins diet foods and nutrition plans created by this specialist. According to the estimations published in Atkins’ books, by using this diet approach it is possible to lose up to 15 pounds for the first two weeks, and then weight loss will continue during so called ‘lifetime maintenance’ phase of the Atkins diet.
Nowadays, many studies are being published proving or contradicting with the effectiveness and safety of the Atkins diet for our health. This summer, a group of Swedish experts have reported about their new findings saying that using the Atkins or any low-carb diet diet in a long term perspective can be bad for our heart and cardiovascular system. Scientists from the University of Gothenburg analyzed the data on over 140,000 people of Sweden, collected for the last 25 years, when cardiovascular diseases in Sweden started becoming too common resulting in launching special social diet program including giving free diet consultation, cooking lessons, paying more attention on food labeling and other measures. As a result, the data has shown that by 1992 Swedish men had started consuming 2 per cent less carbs, at the same time carb consumption of Swedish women decreased by 4 per cent. Also, since the year 2005, fat consumption in Sweden slightly increased, causing increasing cholesterol levels and slightly higher risks of cardiovascular diseases, the scientists reported.
Ingegerd Johansson, one of the study leaders and Professor from the University of Gothenburg, commented on the findings of his colleagues as the following: “While low carbohydrate/high fat diets may help short term weight loss, these results of this Swedish study demonstrate that long term weight loss is not maintained and that this diet increases blood cholesterol which has a major impact on risk of cardiovascular disease.” He also pointed at the complexity of nutrition-health associations, which involve a great number of components, interactions, and specific personal factors like genetic predisposition, our personal needs, and others. The findings were published this June in Nutrition Journal and cause fierce criticism from the Atkins diet supporters. In particular, specialists from Atkins Nutritionals Inc criticize the approach and the population selection for the study, saying that Swedish people have quite specific diet, so the findings may not be applicable to other nations of the world practicing other types of traditional diet (like the Mediterranean diet, etc). Read more about the findings of Swedish specialists and the effects of Atkins diet foods in our cardiovascular health in a brief study overview here.Author Info: Hi! My name is Carla and I am a 5th year medical student at HYMS. I am interested in alternative medicine and I have done months researching the topic of herbal medicine. Besides, I like interviewing people and learning more about their experiences with one or another type of herbal treatments. I am willing to contribute to this site with my knowledge, and I would be happy to help you out to the best of my ability with any specific questions or problems related to alternative medicine.