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The New Diet Book Disaster EOid==Evqo

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Old July 22nd 03, 01:37 AM
Fred Jones
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Default The New Diet Book Disaster EOid==Evqo

The New Diet Book Disaster

With the growing prevalence of obesity in America, it’s easy to see why diet
books such as “Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution” become bestsellers. Dr.
Atkins’ book claims to produce optimal health and total weight management
success. Unfortunately, Dr. Atkins’, diet which is high in fat and protein,
and low in carbohydrate, presents many problems. These problems are the
very reason I cannot recommend this diet to any of my clients! In this
article I will review the major shortcomings with this diet.

What You Really Need To Know

1. Dr. Atkins tells you what you want to hear not what you need to hear.
This method has been used for hundreds of years to sell consumers ideas that
are not scientifically based. In his book, Dr. Atkins makes repeated
references to how easy his diet is. He also says that the only diet that
can succeed is one that is effortless! While this may sound good on paper,
it just doesn’t work. Health and weight management success requires
consistent effort. The “no effort - achieve total success concept” is
simply a seductive ploy that sounds good. Don’t fall for it!

2. People aren’t truly satisfied when they consume tiny amounts of
carbohydrate, as Dr. Atkins repeatedly suggests in his book. The fact is,
food is one of the great pleasures of life. Any diet that significantly
restricts consumption of one food group or macro-nutrient, such as
carbohydrate, is destined to fail. Humans have evolved over thousands of
years to consume a varied diet that provides significant amounts of all
macro-nutrients (e.g. protein, fat, and carbohydrate). From an evolutionary
standpoint it is illogical to suggest that you can avoid carbohydrate rich
foods and be truly satisfied. In this example, Dr. Atkins demonstrates no
appreciation for the true joy of eating a variety of foods that contribute
both flavor and texture to the eating experience. I can’t imagine following
a diet that did not allow me the opportunity to consistently enjoy some of
my favorite high carbohydrate foods!

3. If Dr. Atkins is going to make claims that his diet leads to improved
weight and health management, he should be required to provide some
verifiable evidence that would support his theories. In fact, he should be
required to provide solid scientific evidence supporting his theories. As a
health professional with scientific training, that is the kind of proof that
I would want before I would believe his claims. This evidence could be
shown through follow-up studies published in professional, peer-reviewed,
scientific journals. It could even be shown through unpublished data that
Dr. Atkins has kept on his own patients over the years.

Unfortunately, there is no published data in support of the Atkins diet. In
fact, no other scientists have provided any clear data supporting the
long-term benefits of the Atkins diet. Even more significant is the fact
that Atkins himself has not generated unpublished data. In fact, there isn’
t even any historical evidence suggesting that people who follow this diet
stay lean and healthy over time. From a scientific perspective, this is
pitiful. Why would you follow a diet that has not been shown to be
effective long term?

4. The current evidence that does exist in scientific journals refutes
Atkins’ theories. One example would be The National Weight Control Registry
(NWCR). The NWCR is the world’s largest ongoing study of successful weight
loss maintainers. The NWCR represents a collaborative effort between the
University of Colorado Health Science Center, and the University of
Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Currently there are over 2000 subjects
enrolled in the study. The initial descriptive data on the first 1000
subjects was published in a 1997 issue of the American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition. While all the study participants reported making changes in
their diet to keep off weight, none reported following a ketogenic diet (the
same diet recommended in Dr. Atkins book).

5. There is strong evidence indicating that eating more vegetables and
fruits is the best way to stay lean over time. Yet, on the Atkins diet, you
are told to strictly limit your intake of various vegetables and fruits. In
1997, researchers from the American Cancer Society published the results of
a ten-year study in the American Journal of Public Health (Am J Pub Health
1997;87:747-754). Over the ten years, scientists tracked the dietary habits
and changes in weight in 79,236 men and women. The primary findings of this
study was that eating more than 20 servings of vegetables per week, and
being physically active (i.e., walking four or more hours a week), protected
against weight gain. Those who ate the most beef, pork, and lamb (more than
7 servings a week), were more likely to gain weight over the ten years.

6. There is overwhelming evidence demonstrating that people who shift to
eating more complex carbohydrates and less fat, lose weight and keep it off
over time. A study that illustrates this point was recently published in
the journal “Obesity Research” (Obes Res 1996;4:347-356). In this study,
people were instructed to increase carbohydrate to 56% of calorie intake,
and reduce fat to 28% of calorie intake. After 12 weeks, there was a
significant reduction in body fat. The average reduction was 9.6 pounds.
Even more dramatic is the fact that the weight, or fat, was being kept off
at 24 and 52 weeks’ follow up. The most important outcome of increasing
carbohydrate and reducing fat to appropriate levels is that people are much
more likely to keep off the weight. It is important to add the right type
of carbohydrate in the right amounts. Just as a reminder, you need to add
complex, not simple, carbohydrate. If you do this, you can be successful
with managing your health and weight on a high carbohydrate (approximately
55% of total calories) diet.

7. Eating more whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains prevents heart
disease. In the Atkins book they claim great health benefits, such as less
heart disease, are due to the lowered insulin levels. The fact is that you
don’t have to lower insulin to below normal to achieve significant metabolic
benefits. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is an
example of this. The results of the DASH trial were published in the New
England Journal of Medicine, 1997. This study found that emphasizing
fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and grains significantly improved blood
pressure in people with mildly elevated or normal values. In fact the data
was so convincing, that both the National Institutes of Health and the
American Heart Association have recommended that people with mild
hypertension (i.e. high blood pressure) follow the DASH diet before trying
medications, as a way to reduce blood pressure. The authors of this study
suggest that we could prevent roughly 250,000 heart attacks each year in
America if we could get Americans to adopt the DASH diet.

8. A diet that is high in plants (e.g. vegetables, fruits, whole grains,
tubers, and legumes) reduces cancer risk. This alone may be the best reason
for not following the Atkins diet. The Atkins diet limits your intake of
fruits, vegetables, whole grains, tubers (potatoes, and sweet potatoes), and
legumes (beans, peas and lentils). All of these foods have been linked to
lower rates of cancer. Plants are potent sources of nutrients, such as
vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and hundreds of other carotenoids, as
well as soluble and insoluble fibers. They are also great sources of
phyto-chemicals, such as indoles, isoflavones, polyphenols, phytosterols,
saponins, phenolic acids, phytic acids, and protease inhibitors, to name
just a few. These nutrients and phyto-chemicals have been shown to reduce
tumor development and growth when consumed in the context of whole foods.
In fact, the most compelling body of evidence comes from the American
Institute for Cancer Research - World Cancer Research Fund report - Food,
Nutrition, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective. This report
reviewed an impressive body of evidence (over 4500 studies from around the
world) and made recommendations for cancer prevention based on the data in
these studies. The number one recommendation for cancer prevention was to
consume a diet that is predominately plant based. This would include
vegetables, fruits, legumes, and minimally processed starchy foods. This
recommendation is the exact opposite of what the Atkins diet recommends. If
you follow the Atkins diet, you are basically on a cancer promotion diet!
And if you think you can take dietary supplements to beat the odds here,
think again. Even if you knew what to take, you can’t even get the majority
of those phyto-chemicals in supplemental form. Your best bet is to eat the
foods as they naturally occur.

9. Short-term results are not the same as long-term results. The fact that
people can lose weight on the Atkins diet is absolutely meaningless. This
does not provide me with any meaningful data suggesting they will keep
weight off and be healthy long term. You can also lose weight by under
eating on Twinkies and diet Coke! That doesn’t mean you should do it. The
good news here is that more and more health professionals are recognizing
the dangers of following the Atkins diet. A case in point is a workshop on
nutrition that I presented just a few months ago to a group of health and
fitness professionals on campus at the University of Pennsylvania. Ninety
nine percent of those attending my workshop that day agreed that this was
not a diet worth recommending.

In closing, there are many more reasons, both biological and behavioral, to
not follow the Atkins diet, or any diet that even resembles it.
Unfortunately, the length of this article prevents me from discussing them
all. Hopefully the evidence in this article will make you think seriously
before jumping into a new diet that has not been proven to be successful, or
even healthy!
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Old July 22nd 03, 03:19 AM
Chuck Mattsen
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Posts: n/a
Default The New Diet Book Disaster EOid==Evqo

On Mon, 21 Jul 2003 23:37:29 GMT
"Fred Jones" wrote:

Fred Unfortunately, there is no published data in support of the
Atkins diet.

Blatantly untrue, as are the other assertions in your diatribe, I'm
sorry to say. Just a few of the studies are listed at

But I'll be sure to tell the hundreds of Atkins (and other
low-carbohydrate way of eating) folks I know that their reports of
dramatic weight loss, lowered cholesterol levels and increased energy
-- myself included -- are false because you said so. :-)
Chuck Mattsen mattsen at mindspring dot com
Humanity prefers comfort over truth.


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