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Atkins Diet(19 posts)

Atkins Dietempacher6seat
Sep 2, 2002 8:53 AM
The thread below reminded me to post this.
I have a friend who's mom just started the atkins diet. She was fuzzy on the details of the diet, but the way she described it... it didn't sound that healthy! Can anyone fill me in on how it's supposed to work, or post a link to a webpage where I can find more info? I'm very curious to see what this is all about.
re: Atkins Dietmerckx56
Sep 2, 2002 9:07 AM
the link to their site is . it works for some, but i just can't see how it's healthy! almost no carbs, but you eat all the fat and protein you want!?! sounds more like the elvis presley plan to me! priscilla, make me a peanut butter omelette!
re: Atkins DietSpunout
Sep 2, 2002 9:33 AM
Why are cyclists looking at these diets? Craaazzzy!!! Our respective countries have food guides that offer a balanced diet to most.

It is easy to see that all these 'fad' diets do not compare with a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle(uhh, ride 150 miles a week too!).

But of the above, which is more difficult?
re: Atkins Dietmerckx56
Sep 2, 2002 12:06 PM
i've always adhered to the belief that if you watch what you eat (limited crap and fried stuff!) and limit your beer intake, and ride your bike, the weight will come off!
re: Atkins Diettao
Sep 2, 2002 9:29 AM
Here's what I know, and in no way am I endorsing it, in fact, I highly discourage such nonsense.

1) Begin phase of 2-3 weeks consisting of no carbohydrates whatsoever. The idea here is to permanently bonk, i.e., completely deplete blood glucose and muscle and liver glycogen. The theory is that one can't usually eat more than 2,000 or 2,500 Calories of pure fat and protein each day. So since you're overweight, no other reason to subject yourself to this, you're eating fewer Calories, but more importantly you're always and only burning fat. You also see immediately weight loss because each gram of carb is stored with 3 grams of water, so in the first couple days you can easily loose five pounds or so as all this exits your body. But try cycling at over 70% max VO2 for more than 10 minutes and see what happens.

2) Steady phase until target weight is reached consists of very low carbs. I don't know what the percentage is but you can't get the required vegetable or fruit servings during this phase. I never said anything about healthy. You're still burning primarily fat and not allowed to restore any of the carb stores. You might be able to cycle up to an hour at close to 70% max VO2 if you go 90 minutes or so after you eat your allotted carbs.

3) I don't know anyone who's reached target weight on this insanity so I don't know anything about the management phase.
re: Atkins DietZyzbot
Sep 2, 2002 10:35 AM
I lost about 20 pounds on this diet a couple of years ago but I see no way to keep it up if you are going to be serious about cycling.
re: Atkins Dietmrfizzy
Sep 2, 2002 11:23 AM
Please remember one very important element to this:

Fat burns in a carbohydrate flame. You need carbs to burn fat.
re: Atkins Dietempacher6seat
Sep 2, 2002 11:17 AM
Thanks for the information. I wasn't planning on trying anything myself, I just find it interesting to learn about these things, and why they're supposed to work. I think I'll stick to my whole grains, fruits and veggies, though. :)
In defense of somethatsmybush
Sep 2, 2002 11:41 AM
One of the major spokespersons for this diet is a veteran of many kona ironmans. The recognized food pyamid is taking some very serious hits including some in the AMA. The fact is that pyramid was invented before anyone knew what nutrition really was all about. I myself have been on a paleoesque type diet (do triathalons, adventure racing and bike racing) and have done it to control my weight as I found myself way to carb addicted. It is difficult to call the Atkins diet a fad at this point since it has been around for decades. Just for clarification the paleo diet is not low low carb, as it allows fruits and veggies into your diet.
re: Atkins Dietpina
Sep 2, 2002 11:53 AM
That kind of diet puts more stress on your kidneys because of the high fat and protein part of it.
Sep 2, 2002 12:28 PM
the depletion of all carbs is designed to throw your body into ketosis, where your kidneys are dumping ketones and you are going into a state of mild malnutrition/starvation, that then causes your body to eat its own fat stores. The "eat fat and protein" is just to help you stay full... they aren't really pretending that you get proper nutrition from those items and thus encourage you to add multivitamins.

If you cheat at ALL (by eating, say, an apple), then your body will burn those carbs first, you may go OUT of ketosis, and all the bacon and eggs will turn to fat.

Or so goes the theory. It is not compatible with endurance oriented athletic endeavors, but there is no question that people lose weight on it.
re: Atkins Dietbianchi boy
Sep 2, 2002 1:26 PM
I tried the Atkins diet a couple years ago and lost about 20 lbs. in a little over a month. I was able to keep the weight off by limiting, but not eliminating carbs. You can eat fairly healthy on the Atkins diet if you are careful. E.g., the diet allows certain vegetables that are low in carbs, such as broccoli, cabbage, green beans. You also can eat lots of cheese and nuts instead of loading up on fats and meat. That said, I think the risk of kidney problems is real. I developed a kidney stone after being on the modified Atkins diet for a while, and I'm the only one in a family of 8 children to have such problems. I think it is highly likely I developed the kidney stone as a result of the diet -- and not drinking enough fluids. Atkins, himself, recommends that you drink A LOT of water if you follow his diet, and I apparently didn't drink enough. Another problems with the diet is that it is very hard to participate in endurance sports like cycling while severely limiting your carbs, which is one of the reasons why I quit the diet.
Protein Power DietLone Gunman
Sep 2, 2002 4:14 PM
Sort of like Atkins, however I don't like the term diet. The idea is to change the balance of the amount of carbs you intake and replace them with fat and proteins. IT WILL BE DIFFERENT FOR EVERY PERSON. The percentages are not off the scale as some have described. I believe they run something like 30/40/40 carbs/fat/protein. I went on it a few years ago, dropped 30 lb, went off of it over a few years and gained back about 15 and am now in the process of dropping weight to get to a target weight. After I went on the plan a few years back I ran across an article in a cycle mag that basically mirrored the Protein Power plan. It was described as a European Cycling Coaches diet that had been in use for about 30 years. In general, we consume too many carbs and as a result you end up overweight. Most of those carbs come in the form of what we drink and what we eat particularly at breakfast. If you can get out of breakfast with less than 20 grams of carb, if you can be consistant with what you drink the rest of the day as in no carb intake by way of drinking (diet soda, water, unsweetened tea, etc is the way to avoid carbs) you should lose weight. Another example: bread, if at lunch or dinner you decide to have a big sloppy hamburger, take half of the bun away and eat the burger with a fork. What opened my eyes when I did the assessment before starting the plan is that 1 can of regular coke = about 1/2 to 2/3 of your daily required intake of carbo.

Anyone who says that you should completely delete carbs from diet or reduce them to the degree that you are craving food and feel like you are hung over does not understand an eating plan. My plan had me reducing weight at a rate of about 1.5lb a week over a period of about 8 weeks, then I added in some things that I eliminated in that time period like pizza or ice cream once a week. These additions like everything else are in moderation.

One thing that I have found is when I replace the carbs with proteins and fat, my mild cravings for something sweet reduce and I don't feel the need to snack.
carbs ...tarwheel
Sep 3, 2002 6:54 AM
I think moderation is the key. The problem is that many dietary experts for years have been recommending diets totally loaded with carbs. The problem with eating tons of carbs is that it is nearly impossible to burn them all up, plus you are hungry all the time. The biggest thing I learned from following the Atkins diet is that I was eating too many carbs and not enough protein. I started cutting down on meat in my diet and eating more carbs about 20 years ago, and that is about the time I started putting on weight. Although I no longer follow the Atkins diet, as I don't think it's good to overload on protein either, I have found that eating moderate amounts of meat and other protein really curbs my appetite. If I eat mostly carbs, I am hungry all the time and overeat.
"Fuel Up" - buy the book270bullet
Sep 2, 2002 5:52 PM
re: Atkins DietCFBlue
Sep 3, 2002 6:48 AM

it is proof of marketing "Orweillian 1984" style that a diet invented by politician and supported by Big Business has become considered healthy and normal, when in fact, it is an unhealthy diet that supports cancer, diabetes, MS and yada yada yada.

From the second link:

Science by committee
Like the flourishing American affinity for alternative medicine, an antifat movement evolved independently of science in the 1960s. It was fed by distrust of the establishment--in this case, both the medical establishment and the food industry--and by counterculture attacks on excessive consumption, whether manifested in gas-guzzling cars or the classic American cuisine of bacon and eggs and marbled steaks. And while the data on fat and health remained ambiguous and the scientific community polarized, the deadlock was broken not by any new science, but by politicians. It was Senator George McGovern's bipartisan, nonlegislative Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs--and, to be precise, a handful of McGovern's staff members--that almost single-handedly changed nutritional policy in this country and initiated the process of turning the dietary fat hypothesis into dogma"

A high carb diet is a rare thing indeed in 'uncivilized' societies, where these disease are rare. Fortunately for our health as a society, some MD's are becoming aware of the food/disease connection and the pendulum is turning back to a more traditional diet high in animal fats.

Once MD's site:

"In medical training, I was taught that a low-fat diet high in complex carbohydrates prevented weight gain and disease. I believed what my professors said. Early on, I advocated low-fat diets. But this soon changed. I now teach my patients to balance their meals. Let me tell you how this all came about"

and finally, bad stuff about vegetables, omitting the fact that because of factory farming the produce you buy in the supermarket has significantly less nutrition than the same produce 50 years ago.

BTW, only grass fed meat should be eaten, the factory farms have made that food unsafe as well. Grass fed beef can sometimes be had from small local producers, it is also imported from NZ and Austrailia. Lamb is not usually factory farmed and is a lot healthier. Be aware that a lot of fish is factory farmed with the same doubts about its health qualities
it works short termDougSloan
Sep 3, 2002 7:07 AM
I have used it several times to drop 5-10 pounds. For it to work, though, you must follow it perfectly -- no cheating. It's sort of fun in that you can stuff yourself with steaks and butter, but lose weight. However, the novelty of that wears off in about 4 days, and all that bacon and eggs starts to sound yucky.

The diet is tough when you are training. I have been on it and then tried to do an easy century training ride, and bonked horribly before 50 miles. Whether that, in itself, is good for you or not, it certainly slowed me down. If you want to simulate what it feels like at the 400 mile mark of Furnace Creek 508, that gives you a glimpse. You will have no carb stores at all, and must really on "streaming" carbs to continue.

I also get light headed and stupid. Remember that glucose fuels the brain.

When I do this diet, I do not balloon back up right after, if I slowly re-introduced carbs while riding regularly. Any diet could be nullified by gourging yourself after reaching your goal.

About 7 years ago I got up to 190 pounds, eating out, drinking beer, basically being a total food heathen. I friend and I did a weight loss contest for incentive to work the pounds off. I dropped to 149 pound in 6 weeks, basically eliminating fat and sweets, focusing on only lean meat and complex carbs. It took a great deal of discipline, though.

For some, it does not matter whether the diet is healthy or not. Getting dropped on big climbs from carrying an extra 10 pounds of fat is not healthy, in my book. Heck, riding a double century is probably far worse on your body than a little dieting.

I don't think this diet works long term for people who exercise hard regularly. Your body needs carbs to go hard. But, for a quick loss now and then, it works. Just try to plan it for a time when you won't be attempting any long rides.

Also, before attempting it, buy the Atkins book. It gives exact recommendations on food; you'd be surpised what works and what does not. If you guess wrong, you'll be dissappointed and not lose weight. A friend tried it, but believed that he could drink all the grapefruit juice he wanted. While Atkins says no more than 20 grams of carbs per day, one glass of grapefruit juice alone, unsweetened, has about 25 grams. Naturally, the diet did not work for him while doing it all wrong.

Did a version of it (Stillman) 30 years ago, lostscottfree
Sep 3, 2002 8:06 AM
20 pounds, stumbled around bonked and miserable with bad breath and stinking pee (ketosis) for a month. Don't recommend it. If you want to lose weight, ride more and eat less. If you want to lose weight quickly, ride a lot more and eat a lot less. This weight thing -- we make it too complicated in our search for the magic bullet.
some science..dotkaye
Sep 3, 2002 10:25 AM
it's possible that a couch potato could survive the Atkins diet. Any kind of endurance athlete would be IMO crazy to try it. A half-hours' study of exercise physiology and energy metabolism should be enough to dissuade a sane person.

Briefly: in Atkins/any low carb diet, the body is forced to subsist on ketone bodies for its energy requirements. Carbohydrate is required to produce glucose and glycogen (by the liver), which is the primary energy source for muscles, brain, etc. Once glycogen stores are exhausted, the liver has to produce glucose from protein and fats, as a byproduct of which ketone bodies are produced and released into the bloodstream. The ketone bodies are used instead of the preferred energy sources by the muscles etc. Note that the brain is a glucose consumer, and normally fueled by glucose exclusively. It can use ketone bodies only in starvation conditions, such as those induced by this diet. Additionally, alcohol inhibits the liver's production of glucose from proteins, so a few drinks on the Atkins diet could produce a possibly fatal unconsciousness. Plus, expect your workouts to be painful and slow, since the muscles are forced to use the ketone bodies.
Check this link too:

All the evidence for Atkins is anecdotal. It does not make sense in terms of current scientific theories of energy metabolism. It especially does not make sense for athletes.

That said, there is a study that's just started on the Atkins diet, which will be the first actual scientific test (randomized controlled trial) of the theory in its twenty-odd years of existence. It was begun because of the large body of anecdotal evidence that does exist, saying that the diet works. See