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What is The Atkins Diet?A lifetime nutritional philosophy, focusing on the consumption of nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods and vita-nutrient supplementation. The Atkins diet restricts processed/refined carbohydrates (which make up over 50% of many people's diets), such as high-sugar foods, breads, pasta, cereal, and starchy vegetables. Core vita-nutrient supplementation includes a full-spectrum multi-vitamin and an essential oils/fatty acid formula.
A lifetime nutritional philosophy that has been embraced by an estimated 20 million people worldwide since the release of Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution in the 1970s.
The cornerstone of the treatment protocols for over 60,000 patients of The Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine in New York City. The Major Benefits of the Diet, In Short
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 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:
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.
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.
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-being-- something 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-cousin, almost as bad. When you partner the two together, flour and sugar, it 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 weather, you'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 Cases 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.
Scientific References Related to a Low-Carbohydrate Eating Philosophy (such as the Atkins Diet):
ON CANCER:'Saturated fat was not associated with the risk of breast cancer'& 'we found no positive association between intake of total fat and risk of invasive breast cancer'. **Reference: Wolk, A. et al, Archives of Internal Medicine 1998; 158:41-45
'We found no evidence of a positive association between total dietary fat intake and the risk of breast cancer. There was no reduction in risk even among women whose energy intake from fat was less than 20 percent of total energy intake. In the context of the Western lifestyle, lowering the total intake of fat in midlife is unlikely to reduce the risk of breast cancer substantially.'**Reference: Hunter D. et al, New England Journal of Medicine, 1996; 334:356-61
'The risk of breast cancer decreased with increasing total fat intake (trend p0.01) whereas the risk increase with increasing intake of available carbohydrates (trend p=0.002)'& 'The findings also suggest a possible risk, in southern European populations, of reliance on a diet largely based on starch.'**Reference: Franceschi S. et al, Lancet 1996; 347: 1351-56
'Sugar consumption is positively associated with cancer in humans and test animals.* Tumors are know to be enormous sugar absorbers.' Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions 1995 Promotion Publishing*Reference: Beasley, Joseph D, MD and Jerry J Swift, MA The Kellogg Report, 1989 The Institute of Health Policy and Practice, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, 129.
'Johns Hopkins researchers have found evidence that some cancer cells are such incredible sugar junkies that they'll self-destruct when deprived of glucose, their biological sweet of choice'...'Scientists have long suspected that the cancer cell's heavy reliance on glucose, its main source of strength and vitality, also could be one of its great weaknesses, and Dang's new results are among the most direct proofs yet of the idea.'* Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions' news release*Reference: Shim H, Dang C, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 1998 Feb 17; 95(4): 1511-1516.
ON CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE:
'Hence, many observations indicating reductions in plasma lipid levels when people are on low-fat diets may be due to changes in the fatty acid composition of the diet, not the reduction of fat calories.'**Reference: Nelson, GJ, et al, Lipids, 'Low-Fat Diets do not Lower Plasma Cholesterol Levels in Healthy Men Compared to High-Fat Diets With Similar Fatty Acid Composition at Constant Caloric Intake' 1995 Nov; 30(11): 969-76.
'In Framingham, Mass, the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower the person's serum cholesterol& we found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, ate the most calories, weighed the least and were the most physically active.'**Reference: Castelli, William, Archives of Internal Medicine, 1992 Jul; 152(7): 1371-1372
'Abnormalities in glucose and insulin metabolism are commonly found in patients with high blood pressure [1-9]'& 'there is evidence suggesting that defects in glucose and insulin metabolism may play a role in both the origin and the natural history of high blood pressure.'**Reference: Reaven G. et al, The American Journal of Medicine 1989; 87(supp 6A):6A-2S
'If, as we had been told, heart disease results from the consumption of saturated fats, one would expect to find a corresponding increase in animal fat in the American diet. Actually the reverse is true. During the sixty year period from 1910 to 1970, the proportion of traditional animal fat in the American diet plummeted from 83% to 62%, the proportion of butter consumption from 18 pounds per person per year to 4. During the past eighty years dietary vegetable fat in the form of margarine, shortening and refined oils increase about 400% and the consumption of sugar and processed foods increase about 60%.'* Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions 1995 Promotion Publishing*Reference: US Department of Agriculture statistics quoted in Douglass, William Campbell, MD The Milk of Human Kindness is Not Pasteurized, 1985 Copple House Books, Lakemont, Georgia, 184; and in Beasley, Joseph D, MD and Jerry J Swift, MA The Kellogg Report, 1989 The Institute of Health Policy and Practice, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, 144.
'In the United States, 315 of every 100,000 middle aged men die of heart attacks each year; in France the rate is 145 per 100,000. In the Gascony region, where goose and duck liver form a staple of the diet, this rate is a remarkably low 80 per 100,000.' * Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions 1995 Promotion Publishing*Reference: The New York Times, November 17, 1991
'More plagues than heart disease can be laid at sugar's door. A survey of medical journals in the 1970's produced findings implicating sugar as a causative factor in kidney disease, liver disease, shortened life-span, increased desire for coffee and tobacco, as well as atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.*' Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions 1995 Promotion Publishing*Reference: Howell, Edward, MD Enzyme Nutrition 1985 Avery Publishing Group, Inc
'Medical Research Council survey showed that men eating butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those using margarine.'* Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions 1995 Promotion Publishing*Reference: Nutrition Week March 22, 1991 21:12:2-3
'A very high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet has been shown to have astounding effects in helping type 2 diabetics lose weight and improve their blood lipid profiles. The thing many diabetics coming into the office don t realize is that other forms of carbohydrates will increase their sugar, too. Dieticians will point toward complex carbohydrates & oatmeal and whole wheat bread, but we have to deliver the message that these are carbohydrates that increase blood sugars, too.'*
'These results suggest that a high protein, low-carbohydrate diet, with nutritional supplementation can be useful to reduce several cardiovascular risk factors in obese adult onset diabetic patients including weight, blood sugar and lipid parameters. There is also no evidence that the nutritional regimen adversely affects kidney function.'**Reference: Edman, JS et al. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, to be published in October 1998.
'it seems prudent to avoid the use of low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets containing moderate amounts of sucrose in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.' **Reference: Coulston, A.M. et al, American Journal of Medicine 1987 Feb; 82(2):213-220.
'As compared with the high-carbohydrate diet, the high-monounsaturated-fat diet resulted in lower mean plasma glucose levels and reduced insulin requirements, lower levels of plasma triglycerides and very low-density lipo-protein cholesterol , and higher levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL)(good) cholesterol. Levels of total cholesterol did not differ significantly in patients on the two diets.' **Reference: Garg, A. et. al, New England Journal of Medicine 1988; 319 (13): 829-34).
ON STROKE:'Intakes of fat, saturated fat, and monosaturated fat were associated with reduced risk of ischemic stroke in men.'* (design and setting from the Framingham Heart Study)*Reference: Gillman M. et al, Journal of the American Medical Association, 1997; 78(24): 2145-2150
ON THE LOW-FAT DIET:'Low-fat diets low in polyunsaturated fatty acids induce essential fatty acid (EFA) insufficiency, and can increase the biochemical risk factors for heart disease: they may also increase appetite.' **Reference: Siguel, E. BioMedicina, January 1998; 1(1): 9
'low-fat, high carbohydrate diets also reduce high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels and raise fasting levels of triglycerides.'**Reference: Mensink RP, et al, Arteriorscler Thromb 1992 Aug;12(8): 911-919
'Hence, many earlier observations indicating reductions in plasma lipid levels when people are on low-fat diets may be due to changes in the fatty acid composition of the diet, not the reduction in fat calories.' **Reference: Nelson, G.J. et al., Lipids 1995; 30(11): 969-976.
'The relative good health of the Japanese, who have the longest life-span in the world, is generally attributed to a low-fat diet'& 'Those who point to Japanese statistics to promote the low-fat diet fail to mention that the Swiss live almost as long on one of the fattiest diets in the world. Tied for third in the longevity are Austria and Greece both with high fat diets.'* Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions 1995 Promotion Publishing*Reference: Moore, Thomas J Lifespan: What Really Affects Human Longevity, 1990 Simon & Schuster, New York
'Mother's milk contains a higher portion of cholesterol than almost any other food. It also contains over 50% of its calories as fat, much of it saturated fat. Both cholesterol and saturated fat are essential for growth in babies and children, especially development of the brain.* Yet, the American Heart Association is now recommending a low-cholesterol, low-fat diet for children!' Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions 1995 Promotion Publishing*Reference:Alfin-Slater, RB and L Aftergood, 'Lipids', Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, Chapter 5, 6th ed, RS Goodhart and ME Shils, eds, Lea and Febiger, Philadelphia 1980, p. 31
'& there is still the potential for low-fat intakes to adversely affect the nutritional adequacy of the diet of children& Given the assumption that there are some potential nutritional dangers associated with the unsupervised use of such diets, with no proven benefits, this diet should definitely not be advocated for infants and young children.' **Reference: Zlotkin, SH Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151:962-963
'In 1821 the average sugar intake in America was 10 pounds per person per year; today it is 170 pounds per person, over one fourth the average caloric intake. Another large fraction of all calories comes from refined flour and refined vegetable oils.'* Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions 1995 Promotion Publishing*Reference: Beasley, Joseph D, MD and Jerry J Swift, MA The Kellogg Report, 1989 The Institute of Health Policy and Practice, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, 144-145
If you come across additional helpful research, please let us know! To e-mail us, click on the 'Atkins Diet E-Mail' link at the bottom of this page.
Vocal Supporters NeededWe receive letters each week from 'Atkins Supporters' alerting us to misinformation by the media about our work at The Atkins Center. This is especially true for The Atkins Diet. While our low carbohydrate eating philosophy has helped millions of people achieve long term health, and it is starting to be embraced by more and more independent thinkers in the medical profession, much of the media still relies on the 'one low-fat diet fits all' medical and nutritional establishment to shape their opinion of The Atkins Diet. While we do all we can at The Atkins Center to educate the media on the effectiveness of The Atkins Diet, we need your help. If you come across negative press on Dr. Atkins medical and nutritional philosophies that you disagree with, send the media source your comments and personal story. A flood of such letters from actual viewers/listeners/subscribers will do as much to get the media to 'sit up and take notice' of the good we are doing as our efforts here. Feel free to send us a copy of these letters, as well. Thanks in advance for your continued support.