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The Controversial Atkins Diet

You don't have to search far to find negative comments regarding the Atkins Diet by Dr. Atkins. Now, I'm of the opinion that if you're going to criticize something, you should really know about it first... and I'll be the first to tell you, I don't have first hand experience with the Atkins Diet. I'd rather quote the professional sources and let you be the judge of what they say.

What Is The Atkins Diet?

But first, what is the Atkins Diet? Very briefly (and I know it doesn't do it fair justice by putting it this briefly but you can always get the book from your local library) ... the Atkins diet is a low-carbohyrdrates high-protein diet, and for many it includes taking Atkins supplements. Now, let's move on to the experts...

What The Experts Are Saying About The Atkins Diet

PDRhealth - How to Pick a Nutritional Plan
Warning Signs of Fads and Gimmickry: Low- or no-carbohydrate diets, such as the Dr. Robert C. Atkins' plan.

Without carbohydrates, your body may begin burning protein, producing toxic waste products called ketones. In large amounts, these wastes can cause brain, liver, and kidney damage; nausea; fatigue; lethargy; and, over time, heart problems. When protein must be used for energy, it cannot build and replace tissues as it should. These diets are also too high in saturated fat and too low in fiber and essential vitamins and minerals.

WebMD - The Atkins Diet
What Experts Say

...Foster, like other experts, remains concerned about the long-term safety of the diet. Robert H. Eckel, MD, director of the general clinical research center at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver agrees. He tells WebMD, "Our worries over the Atkins diet go way past the question of whether it is effective for losing weight or even for keeping weight off. We worry that the diet promotes heart disease. ... We have concerns over whether this is a healthy diet for preventing heart disease, stroke, and cancer. There is also potential loss of bone, and the potential for people with liver and kidney problems to have trouble with the high amounts of protein in these diets." The American Dietetic Association also has concerns about the Atkins diet. Gail Frank, PhD, spokeswoman for the organization and professor of nutrition at California State University in Long Beach, says, "The body needs a minimum of carbohydrates for efficient and healthy functioning -- about 150 grams daily." Below that, normal metabolic activity is disrupted. [There's a whole lot more from the experts on this web page.]

Quackwatch - Low-Carbohydrate Diets
by Stephen Barrett, M.D.

The AMA Council on Foods and Nutrition [2], Consumer Reports [3], and many individual experts have warned that the unlimited intake of saturated fats under Atkins' food plan can increase the dieter's risk of heart disease... ...Although the diet can produce short-term weight loss, long-term use is likely to increase the risk of both cardiovascular disease and cancer [4].... The nutrition committee of the American Heart Association has issued a science advisory warning that high-protein diets have not been proven effective and pose health risks. The report covered the Atkins, Zone, Protein Power, Sugar Busters, and Stillman diets.

More On The Atkins Diet - And Others

In Feb. 2000, the USDA held an interesting meeting called "The Great Nutrition Debate" for which it invited several originators of popular diets, including Dr. Atkins himself, as well as the originator of the Zone Diet, Sugar Busters, and more. You can watch and listen to the entire debate online - but I warn you, it's almost 3 full hours long! If you have the time, here's your chance to see how each of the popular diets were presented and the debates which followed. Click here to view The Great Nutrition Debate. (RealMedia Format. RealPlayer required.)

Well, there you have it... or at least part of it... the controversy surrounding the Atkins Diet. If you are currently on the Atkins diet, or considering it, please make sure you click on the links provided above in this article to get a better understanding of the pros and cons. (Each link above opens in a separate browser window.) We hope this article has been helpful for you.

PS: Since this article was written, we stumbled across some additional information. According to the "Physicians Committe For Responsible Medicine"(2), after Dr. Atkins' death, his widow and his personal physician revealed that Dr. Atkins had indeed had coronary artery blockages, although they have maintained that these blockages had nothing to do with his death. Was it a "ticking time bomb" just waiting to explode? I guess we will never know for certain.

Additional Sources and Resources on the Atkins Diet

You Are What You Eat? Well, Maybe...