Atkins-style diets

Seventy-one million people in America are dieting, and close to 30 million of these dieters use diets similar to the infamous Atkins diet to lose weight. But, a new study found that the risks associated with low-carbohydrate, high-protein, Atkins-style diets may not be worth the weight loss.

After completing the year-long study comparing Atkins-style diets to low-calorie, low-fat traditional diets, Arne Astrup of the Lancet Medical Journal and the Center of Advanced Food Research concluded that there was no significant weight loss difference in subjects after 12 months of dieting.

“Both trials showed that better weight loss (occurred) on the low-carbohydrate diet after 6 months, but no difference after 12 months,” Astrup said in his report.

The study found that when comparing 132 severely obese individuals on an Atkins-style diet to an equal amount of individuals on low-calorie traditional diets, those on the low-carbohydrate diet lost almost 9 pounds after 6 months, more than those on a low-fat diet. However, at 12 months the difference was only 5 pounds.

Therefore, weight watchers may initially lose weight quicker when on the Atkins diet, but long-term results are no different than a traditional diet.

The Astrup study also found that dieters might face serious consequences for the Atkins-style diets’ fast weight loss results.

The Astrup study also found that the long-term effects in some low-carbohydrate diets include: type-2 diabetes, constipation, headaches, halitosis, muscle cramps, diarrhea, general weakness, rashes and higher risks of cardiovascular disease due to the restriction of whole-grain breads and cereals.

Graphic designer Todd Stansbury, 37, said when he began the Atkins diet he quickly got ill.

“I was on the Atkins diet for a few weeks, and then I began having mono-like symptoms and extreme fatigue,” he said.

Other negative symptoms associated with Atkins-style diets are feeling faint, palpitations, cold sweats and ketosis.

Ketosis is the presence of high levels of acidic substances called ketones, which are produced as a result of extremely low glucose levels in the bloodstream and fats being burned as body fuel.

Fat burning may be the result that a dieter desires; however, high levels of ketones result in abnormal blood pH, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, mental confusion, a coma and even death.

Atkins officials say that ketosis is a “metabolic advantage” to weight loss because it teaches the body to utilize fat when body glucose levels are low.

They also claim that their diet is beneficial because dieters will never be plagued with hunger, can eat until they’re full, reduce their appetite by a natural metabolic function, enjoy enhanced energy, improve health and minimize risk factors for diseases.

Yet, with millions of people professing success from Atkins-style diets, Astrup said,

“Weight loss might be due to severe restriction of carbohydrate depleting glycogen stores, leading to the excretion of water…hence weight loss could predominately be fluid rather than fat loss.”

He also adds, “there is no solid evidence to support advising against the short term use of low-carbohydrate diets…but the safety of these diets cannot be scientifically guaranteed.”

Thus, Astrup recommends the old fashion way of dieting and keeping weight off with a combination of physical activity and a diet reduced in calories.

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