The Atkins diet is nothing new, having been designed by cardiologist Robert Atkins in the 1960s (via Mayo Clinic). Most people are familiar with the general idea behind the program — you eat high-protein foods, and limit your intake of carbs. For many, the Atkins diet leads to weight loss and overall improved health. In fact, the plan is designed for those who have at least 40 pounds to shed, although various versions of the Atkins diet have evolved over time, including “keto the Atkins way.”
Looking more specifically at how Atkins purports to help a person lose weight, basically the diet is followed in steps, the first of which is called induction. During this phase, a person’s carbs are almost completely restricted. According to Healthline, cutting out carbs lowers insulin levels and leads to less hunger, thus, weight loss. But it’s worth noting restricting carbs is a controversial diet method, with some experts claiming cutting anything out of your diet completely leads to nutrient deficiencies (via CNet).
Meanwhile, with Atkins, you will gradually add carbs back into your diet, but ultimately, this is a low carb approach to weight loss. So, what happens to your body when you stick to a restrictive plan like this?
You may see positive results with Atkins, but there are some risks
As Mayo Clinic notes, any diet will likely lead to weight loss, as a person is cutting out or limiting certain foods and consuming less calories in most cases. If you stick to an Atkins diet, you may lose weight. You may also cut your risk for developing diabetes since you are counting carbs and sugar and ultimately reducing or eliminating processed foods (via Everyday Health). Still, it’s worth noting Atkins is not a long term plan for many people, who instead employ its principles to lose weight, not maintain a certain weight.
Many risks have been noted with Atkins, given that again, an adherent will be restricting their carb intake. Some people may notice dizziness, weakness, nausea, constipation, and bad breath (via US News). These are similar side effects followers of the keto diet notice when their bodies go into what is called ketosis, since ultimately you may cut out so much sugar, your body does not have anything to use for energy. Headaches are another possible side effect of following Atkins, which does not allow caffeine.
Sticking to an Atkins diet can be very bad for your health
Neal Barnard, MD, president of the Physicians Commission for Responsible Medicine, points out even worse possible side effects of sticking to the Atkins diet to WebMD, noting, “Low-carb diets have been linked to increased frequency of colon cancer, formation of kidney stones, kidney disease, and even osteoporosis.” This may be due to the fact that devotees of Atkins are more likely to consume high-fat meats, which are linked not only to colon cancer, but to heart disease as well, while osteoporosis can result from nutrition deficiencies.
The National Institutes of Health also note that following a diet high in fat can lead to heart problems, with the agency ultimately advising that following a more balanced diet that does not risk putting strain on organs like the heart and kidney, the function of which could suffer with a high-protein regimen, would be far more desirable for overall health.
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