Atkins Diet, Is It For You?

A study recently released in the British Medical Journal concludes that women who regularly eat high amounts of protein and cut back on their carbohydrates are at increased risk for heart disease.

Researchers in Greece looked at the data from a food survey taken in Sweden by women who were between the ages of 30 and 49 during a 6 month period in 1991-1992. The women’s foods habits were not tracked long term, but they did look at the women’s health 15 years after the survey was taken.

The study found that the incidence of cardiovascular disease was 62% higher when women ate low carbohydrates (carbs) and high protein, versus the women who ate low protein, high carb diets. The researchers concluded that by eating a low carb, high protein diet, an additional 4 to 5 women per 10,000 will develop cardiovascular disease each year.

I have believed for a long time that a diet of high protein and low carbohydrates is not healthy. I know that the Atkins Diet has done a lot of good for a lot of people. And I know that you slowly re-introduce carbohydrates back into your diet, but I still think that you need some carbohydrates in your diet.

It just depends on which type of carbohydrates. You want to eat complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs are slow digesting, low glycemic carbs that won’t spike your blood sugar because it takes the body some time to break it down. They are most of the darker grains and breads. It is whole wheat only if “100% whole wheat” is listed as its first ingredient.

Versus simple carbohydrates which are usually all of the white breads and pastas and grains. These grains are digested and processed very quickly causing an insulin response, just like sugar in the body. They are very high glycemic.

Besides those negative effects of eating a low carb, high protein diet, if you do not take in enough carbs your body will start burning protein as fuel. Protein does not burn as cleanly as any carbs do, and it can send your body into a state of ketoacidosis. This means that your body is producing ketone bodies from burning the protein for fuel. Ketoacidosis is a state that is usually only associated with diabetics.

Ketones are a byproduct of fat and protein breakdown. Ketones can accumulate in the blood and lead to increased acid in the blood. This can lead to vomiting, loss of consciousness, coma or even death.

This is why I take a common sense approach to diet and exercise. I feel that if you eat sensibly most of the time, and exercise most of the time, you’ll feel good and be able to get most of the benefits from exercising and eating right. Taking a common sense approach will allow you to slowly incorporate small changes to your diet and your exercise routine. These small changes are easy to incorporate and easy to do consistently. And if you can make a few small changes you can stick consistently, then you will see a difference in your body. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

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2 thoughts on “Atkins Diet, Is It For You?”

    1. There are many complex carbohydrates that are gluten free. Long grain brown rice is a great example. All rice is gluten free. Beans will have some complex carbs in them as well. Along with some types of fruits and vegetables. Especially green leafy vegetables like collard greens, romaine lettuce, cale, and brocilli, to name a few. You just have to look a little harder to find gluten free complex carbs, but they are out there.

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