The Atkins diet is basically the polar opposite of the prevailing knowledge we have been taught about healthy eating since the word "calorie" was brought into vogue some 50 years ago.
For the past 30 plus years, however, this controversial diet has never been far from the spotlight, nor the bestseller list. Celebrities loved it. Health experts hated it. More than a few high profile, "beautiful people," support the Atkins theory of weight loss, not just in theory, but full frontal. And even more, they stand behind it.
What made the Dr. Atkins Diet so difficult for the medical and nutritional establishment to swallow, was his almost total repudiation of their unanimous conclusions on weight, health, fitness, and diet. After the years that the medical community spent building a solid consensus and the acceptance of the food pyramid, Atkins had the audacity to blame them for the failing physical health of the American people.
Atkins suggested that people who follow his diet should eat foods like cheese, steak, and sausageswhich are high in fatbut avoid that are high in carbohydrate, like pasta, breads, and cereals.
OUTRAGEOUS, claimed the so-called experts, DANGEROUS, was the clarion cry, and some went so far to suggest FATAL, could be the result. That was decades ago.
Legions of people say the fine doctor was right, and the so-called pros were WRONG!
Well, who is right, and which one needs to eat their words. Here are some facts that cannot be disputed.
Running parallel to the timeline of the growing health awareness campaign concerning the average American diet, a phenomenal weight gain has risen as the single most worrisome health concern.
It has to be said, however, the approximate starting point in the timeline coincides with the popularity of the TV, thus TV dinners and such activities as channel surfing in lieu of . . . well, you understand where this is going.
Further, the same period gave birth to the beginning of the famous fad diets that dominated the conversations, airwaves, and the marketplace. Each of these utopian gastronomic innovations promised Venus like results. Of course, none did. And that gave way to the DIET PILL. The various miracle pills promised . . . without changing our way of living that got us to where we were . . . they promised and promised . . . and finally just pooped out.
STAY AWAY FROM MEAT, stay away from milk, no eggs, apples, chicken, soda, just stay away from chips . . . well, just stay away from me! Eat fish and everything natural, the nanny crowd told us. Sure, easy to say . . . for those who lived by the swordfish can die by it, for all I care. But that ain't me, too many Moe said.
Desperate to fit into last years bathing suit, folks began pursuing crash diets in hopes of losing those unwanted pounds in a few days. Eat apples, bushels of them, chased with wine. California and Washington state's wallets bulged, but so did everyone's midsection. Broccoli, was the next panacea, but that caused gasterea. Followed by cabbage, grapes, watermelon, and then finally just water, gallons of it, and the unwanted pounds will just float away.
All during this tumultuous period, spanning over 40 years, the medical and diet constabulary kept preaching variety, balance, and building on blocks of food groups, recommended daily servings, counting, counting everything. And vitamins . . . blue ones, green ones, big ones, little ones, and oh yeah . . .exercise. We sure needed exercise, after taking exactly 77,000 milamorons of assorted vitamins.
Lest we forget EXERCISE! Health clubs popped up everywhere, and everyone was now sweating, jogging, pumping, cycling. The economy in the health and fitness industries grew and grew, but unfortunately so did the size of our collective gut! Exercised worked then and it works now, no argument, but most of the people living in our fast paced society simply wouldn't or can't devote that much time to their Stairmasters.
Labels, by golly, it was the labels, IF MANUFACTURERS WOULD JUST TELL US THE TRUTH. Put it on the box, package, bag, caneverything in black and white, each and every milimicrogram, and how many croscamelose sodiumdelcamicium are in it, so we can judge for ourselvesthe health nut crowds demanded, and everyone would manage their own weight.
After decades of gaining, and billions of dollars in labeling, counting, sweating, weighting, and popping, and after eating, lite, low, high, less, joining anything with a promising name . . . burp . . . we are fatter than ever, and dangerously ill, with obesity causing heart, lung, and diabetic seizures. It brings us to WHERE?
Were the experts wrong? Is balance, counting, and labels the only way to a healthy life? NO, attitude is. If you are really fat or getting that way and feeling the weight of it on your mind and body, you have to make a decision. You and only you can change your direction and your dress, or belt size. There can be no South Beach, Palm Beach, or beached whale that will make a difference without YOU demanding it of yourself.
The good news is Atkins, or modifications of it, works for most people. If you are truly serious about losing weight, there is now a way to do it that millions of people have proved, if you can believe millions of people. Even the naysayers have begun to come around, and have finally published the first real study of its kind. American scientists have now found that over 12 months, Atkins dieters lost more weight than those on a conventional low calorie diet, said the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. YIKES!
If you don't think that little tidbit choked as it came out, you have been sleeping over the past 30 years. Atkins has been saying this to anyone who would listen, and apparently millions have, that carbohydrates provide energy, and if carbohydrate intake is restricted, a body will get its energy by burning fat instead, which will result in weight loss. It's that simple!
Followers of the diet can't get enough of itthey say it works. But some medical experts have still raised serious concerns about the diet's long-term safety. Somewhere close is the real answer, and if you follow to the letter this learned Doctor's diet guidelines, as well as your own body clock, you will lose the weight you wish, and most of all, keep it off.
The Major Benefits of the Diet (in short).
Excerpts courtesy of The Atkins Center.
Diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates like bread, pasta, cereal, and other mainly "low-fat" processed foods increase your body's production of insulin. When insulin is at high levels in the body, the food you eat can get readily converted into body fat, in the form of triglycerides (to top it off, high triglyceride levels in the body are one of the greatest risk factors for heart disease).
Even worse, high carbohydrate meals tend to leave you less satisfied than those that contain adequate fat levels; so you eat more and get hungrier sooner. If you find this hard to believe, think about how much pasta you can eat at lunch and then how hungry you are when running to the vending machine for another "carbo-fix" in the mid-afternoon. If the pasta you ate was really giving your body what it needed, you would stay full until dinner time. So the typical low-protein, low-fat meal leaves you eating more and hungry sooner.
So what should you do? Get off the insulin generating roller coaster of the low-fat diet and start cutting down on your carbohydrate consumption, especially the worst offenders: sugar, white flour, and other refined carbohydrate-based products. What can you expect from this? Three wonderful results:
1) You'll start to burn fat for energy: Since carbohydrates are the body's primary energy source, you'll rarely use your secondary energy source, you own body fat, for energy unless you restrict carbohydrate consumption. This offers a lifetime of body fat burning, which is the goal of most people trying to lose weight.
2) You won't feel hungry in between meals: The biggest battle that most people have with weight loss is the constant obsession with food (for example, if you've ever thought about dinner when you're eating lunch). Again, much of this is caused by blood sugar fluctuations that are aggravated by carbohydrate consumption (especially the refined kind). By cutting the carbs, you'll maintain a more even blood sugar level throughout the day. No more false hunger pains or mid-afternoon brain drains.
3) Your overall health will improve and you'll feel better: Many of the toxins you take into your body are stored in your fat cells. By getting your body to burn stored fat, you allow it to clean itself out. Combined with the benefits of stable blood sugar, the end result is that many common ailments you have been experiencing could well be alleviated. Fatigue, irritability, depression, headaches, and even many forms of joint and muscular pain simply go away. Furthermore, you should see a significant improvement in your blood profile (including cholesterol and blood pressure levels). All this leads to better health and well-beingsomething all of us strive to bring into our lives.
Key Information About Sugar
It contains no vitamins. No minerals. It is 100% carbohydrate. So it must be metabolized immediately. The stores of nutrients built up in your body are called out like militia men, to "charge" the sugar, and similar forms like glucose and fructose, and turn it into ready energy, depleting your body in the process. Sugar is an energy sucker: the Anti-Nutrient.
White flour is its second-cousinalmost as bad. When you partner the two togetherflour and sugarit spells disaster for anyone trying to maintain a healthy body, let alone someone who is fighting disease or trying to lose weight. If they are consumed on a regular basis, the body is in a constant state of nutritional deficiency. If you don't believe that sugar is an anti-nutrient, try having a rich dessert after dinner on a night you're feeling under the weatheryou'll be sure to wake up the next morning with a full-blown illness.
What's frightening is that in recent years, the government and other advisory groups like the American Medical Association have encouraged the consumption of flour by unveiling a new food pyramid that is based on grains and recommends six to eleven servings a day. And no distinction is made between white processed flour, which is stripped of the nutrients, especially important trace minerals, and the much more healthy whole grains (unless you have a food allergy). And the result? Americans now think they're making healthy choices by loading up on cereals, pasta, crackers, and breads. We even have products like Pop-Tarts®, with 39 grams of carbohydrate, 20 of which are sugar, carrying the American Heart Association Seal Of Approval. It is a travesty.
So how do we protect ourselves and stay healthy? One thing we can do is eat a healthy, balanced diet of low-carbohydrate foods. And when our foods fail us, as they often do after being picked, shipped, stripped, processed, and packaged, we can protect ourselves with solid vita-nutrient support. It is critical that you include this extra "insurance policy" to take you into the kind of healthy life we all want to lead.
(Pop-Tarts® is a registered trademark of Kellogg's USA, Inc.)
Answering The Critics
While mainstream medicine and nutrition have, on the whole, criticized the Atkins Diet, the facts speak for themselves:
Dr. Atkins and his colleagues at The Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine in New York have treated over 60,000 patients using the Atkins Diet as a primary protocol. These patients experience all the beneficial effects detailed above, as well as improved blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and a lower or completely eradicated dependence on prescription drugs.
While the mainstream critics continue to lament the consumption of fat as the root of America's weight problem, only carbohydrate consumption (mostly refined) has increased in the past few decades, while fat consumption has declined (as the "low-fat/high carb" diet has been promoted as the best nutritional option for every living person). During this time:
Obesity, which in the past had consistently applied to about 25% of the population, increased to 33% Heart disease now accounts for 50% of all deaths, up from 40% in the 1970s.
Incidences of diabetes are growing in near epidemic proportions (in fact, children are now contracting adult-onset diabetes).
Hypertension, chronic fatigue, and attention-deficit-disorder are now well recognized conditions.
All of these conditions are linked not by the amount of fat in ones diet, but by blood sugar disturbances and insulin disorders caused by excessive refined carbohydrate consumption. (FYI: The average person now consumes over 150 pounds of sugar a year, up from less then 10 pounds in the 19th century.)
While medical and nutritional journals are filled with studies documenting the body's requirement of essential fatty acids and essential amino acids (derived from protein), there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate. Why then does the FDA recommend an average of 16 servings a day?
The Atkins Diet is not a no-carbohydrate diet. The diet focuses on very limited consumption of the types of carbohydrates that tend to spike blood sugar levels the most, including non-whole grain bread, pastas, refined sugar products, juices, and high sugar/starchy fruits and vegetables. Atkins dieters learn to determine their personal sensitivity to carbohydrates, as a way to manage their weight and health for life.
Not everything works for everyone, and this is by far no exception, but without making up your mind and really trying this or something similar, time is truly ticking away on your quality of life. Why not join me on this journey, but hold on this ride has some bumps and turns.
The only part of this wonderful movement that is truly sad, Dr. Atkins died before these results were published.
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