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Atkins Diet: Pros and Cons Essay

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Updated: Oct 27th, 2020

Introduction

There is a great majority of diets and nutrition systems developed all over the world. It seems that thousands of doctors and nutritionists give completely different recommendations on how to comply with excessive weight or balanced nutrition. Atkins diet was first presented in the United States in 1972. After thirteen years, its creator, Doctor Atkins, was recognized as a Man of the Year. This system includes both a diet and nutrition peculiarities. First, the diet is carried out as such, and then the patient should preserve a low-carb diet for a long time. The latter is recommended to preserve and consolidate the result. Atkins nutrition system advantages refer to the fact that a person does not have to starve and feel a constant irritation due to the inability to eat enough. As for the disadvantages, negative manifestations may occur during the uncontrolled conduct of the diet.

Comparison of Atkins Diet with ABC-MV

Adequacy

Adequacy implies that a diet contains enough nutrients, fiber, and calories. To identify whether Atkins diet meets this characteristic, it is important to clarify the products allowed during the diet. Any sorts of meat are allowed in an unlimited amount, and the fatter, the more effective. It is expected that with the help of fats, a person will nourish the body. Seafood and eggs are also allowed as well as cabbage, cucumber, lettuce, and mushrooms. Among the forbidden products, there are absolutely all kinds of fruits, bread, and cereals, alcohol, sugar, fruits, and foods with high sugar. The consumption of onions, peas, sour cream, and tomatoes is limited (see Figure 1 for details).

Atkins Diet.
Figure 1. Atkins Diet (Vieira).

Such an approach to nutrition cannot be called adequate due to the lack of a balanced intake of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. This cannot have a positive effect on human health. For example, Atkins diet may provoke the appearance of stones in the kidney or gall bladder or increased the possibility of diabetes, thyroid problems, and cardiovascular system failure.

Balance

This characteristic means the balanced proportion of nutrients during the diet. Atkins diet states that the first two weeks is a reduction phase. In this period, one needs to reduce carbohydrate intake to twenty grams (for example, one apple contains about fifteen grams). Thus, the body receives energy not from carbohydrates as customary, but from fats and proteins to some extent, due to which the weight loss occurs. In the subsequent period, the number of carbohydrates maybe increase to one hundred grams. For comparison, modern medicine has proved that for normal functioning of the body, at least 400 grams of carbohydrates are needed daily (Wylie-Rosett et al. 275). Therefore, Atkins diet does not meet the criterion of balance.

Calorie Control

The proper selection of foods to control calorie intake is another characteristic of adequate dieting. Atkins diet encourages dieters to keep their usual rhythm of nutrition: the meals at the same hours as before the diet. If one starts to feel hungry, he or she can slightly snack between meals, but only allowed in the first phase of the diet. In other words, volume and calorie content of food are not limited. Since this diet aims at changing metabolism by the artificial decrease in the intake of carbohydrates into the body, fats become the only source of energy. As a result, it is possible to observe ketoacidosis – intensive decomposition of fats and the formation of ketone bodies (Paoli et al. 792). The level of insulin in the blood decreases, and the level of glucose increases in parallel, which is formed even from a meager amount of carbohydrates. The consumption of high-fat foods also promotes ketoacidosis. Calorie control characteristic seems to be not included in Atkins diet.

Moderation

Moderation may be defined as the consumption of food in reasonable portions. Atkins diet implies that a person may eat a limited number of products, yet in unlimited amounts. However, it is noted that a person should eat only while he or she feels hungry, thereby preventing food craving. What is important, the diet misses the fact that many overweight and obese people cannot control their appetite, especially those diagnosed with bulimia nervosa. In this regard, it is possible to conclude that Atkins diet partially meets the requirement of moderation.

Variety

The wide selection of foods that are allowed during the diet is another characteristic feature of proper nutrition. As it was mentioned earlier, the prohibited products are fruits, cereals, sugar, etc. However, limited carbohydrates are to be replaced by fat and protein. Such dieting leads to fast loss of extra kilograms while maintaining muscle mass, which cannot be said about many other diets. Relatively nourishing food (protein) makes it possible to easily withstand the diet for a long time. One more benefit of Atkins diet is the long-term preservation of the achieved results, which distinguishes this diet from most of the others. The mentioned advantages occur due to a rather sharp decrease in calorie content of food and its carbohydrate component. It is necessary to make a reservation: when people start to gradually expand their diet by introducing products that they used to eat before, the lost weight usually returns. It is possible to conclude that Atkins diet may only partially suit the criterion of variety. If initially it restricts carbohydrates intake, then this diet allows their limited increase, while fats and proteins are not prohibited.

Discussion

American Heart Association (Aha)

According to information provided on AHA’s website, Atkins diet may cause toxicity in the body due to the excess of protein. In its turn, it may negatively affect the cardiovascular system, since it is not a balanced diet (“Is My Fad Diet”). Scholars in the field of cardiology established that eating food rich in animal fats is a direct way to a heart attack. Since Atkins diet recommends such products, the body receives a large amount of fats, proteins, and cholesterol, which significantly increases the risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, AHA does not prohibit this diet, but cannot consider it a long-term nutrition option.

American Diabetes Association (Ada)

Reviewing apprehensions and reservations of ADA regarding Atkins diet, Vieira states that this organization is against the mentioned diet as well as against any diets. ADA argues that a diet cannot be healthy and balanced as it limits some important foods to help people in losing their weight. In fact, it is critical to eat healthily and maintain adequate physical activity, as noted by Vieira. It is especially important for people with diabetes to eat carbohydrates rich in fiber and low glycemic load.

American Kidney Association (Aka)

Due to high protein content in the food occurring as a result of low-carb diet and also ketone release by the kidneys, Atkins diet slightly increases the load on the kidneys. In this regard, this diet is not recommended to patients with impaired renal function. In a healthy person, the kidneys easily cope with such a load. Since the muscles are depleted of glycogen stores, people who have been using Atkins diet for a long time are not allowed to exercise. Categorically, pregnant and lactating women as well as people with kidney failure should not adhere to this diet.

American Cancer Society (Acs)

This organization focuses on eating guidelines for cancer prevention and claims that the consumption of enough carbohydrates is one of the key criteria. Even though low-carb diet seems to be an option to lose one’s weight, it is unacceptable for a lifelong nutrition. Eating fruits, vegetables, and cereals is linked to healthy nutrition that is critically important for cancer prevention. As noted by ACS, Atkins diet misses essential nutrients and creates a risk for misuse of saturated fat. The organization also noted that unlimited portions may promote overeating and the additional load on the body. Therefore, ACS recommends not to use Atkins diet.

Conclusion

To conclude, Atkins diet has both advantages and disadvantages. It partially meets the criteria of variety and moderation proposed by ABC-MV and fails to correspond to others. Among the advantages, one may note its ability to reduce weight and be quite nutritious, which makes it possible to follow the recommendations in the diet for a long time and after the completion of the diet the results can be kept for a long time. However, as noted by large health organizations, Atkins diet is not balanced and may cause kidney failure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and deteriorate the state of people with cancer. Likewise all diets, Adkins nutrition system needs to be monitored by specialists based on one’s medical indicators. It should be conducted under the supervision of a doctor and with constant monitoring of the results of relevant analyzes.

Works Cited

“Is My Fad Diet Good For My Heart?”, AHA, n.d., Web.

Paoli, Antonio, et al. “Beyond Weight Loss: A Review of the Therapeutic Uses of Very-Low-Carbohydrate (Ketogenic) Diets.” European Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 67, no. 8, 2013, pp. 789-796.

Vieira, Ginger., Diabetes Daily, n.d., Web.

Wylie-Rosett, Judith, et al. “Health Effects of Low-Carbohydrate Diets: Where Should New Research Go?.” Current Diabetes Reports, vol.13, no. 2, 2013, pp. 271-278.

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