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colette_heimowitz's Blog
Atkins Myths vs. Facts

The truth behind five low-carb diet myths.

Whether you are new to Atkins or have been following it for some time, no doubt you may have dealt with your share of diet naysayers who are determined to undermine your hard-earned results with multiple reasons why low-carb diets are unhealthy or unrealistic to follow for the long term. It’s time to arm yourself with the facts! Read on for my responses to five of these popular low-carb myths.

1) Myth: The Atkins Diet contains too much saturated fats, and saturated fats are to blame for a host of health problems, including heart disease.

Fact: Saturated fats, which are typically solid at room temperature and are found in meat, poultry, dairy products and palm and coconut oils, may be beneficial when consumed as part of a balanced intake of natural fats. When you restrict your carbs, your body makes less saturated fat while burning more of it. Research also shows that during weight loss phases of Atkins, if you eat saturated fats, the fewer carbs you eat and the more you reduce saturated fat levels in your blood. When it comes to Atkins, the only dietary fat you should truly avoid are trans fats. An increased intake of trans fats is associated with an increased heart attack risk, and most recently has been show to increase the body’s level of inflammation. Trans fats are typically found in foods you should be avoiding already, including fried foods, baked goods, cookies, crackers, candies, snack foods, icings and vegetable shortenings. As long as a product contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, a manufacturer can claim its product is free of trans fats. To be sure there are no trans fats in a product, check the list of ingredients, where trans fats are listed as “shortening” or “hydrogenated vegetable oil” or a “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.” If you see any of these words in the ingredients list, just say no. You should also avoid deep-fried foods in fast-food and other restaurants.

2) Myth: Atkins is a high-protein diet, and too much protein causes kidney problems.

Fact: While you’ll be eating plenty of protein, Atkins’ typical intake of 12 to 18 ounces of protein a day is not considered a high-protein diet. And most concerns about eating too much protein are unfounded in that they are based on limited or flawed research. For example, the myth that a high protein intake can damage kidneys probably arose from the fact that people who already have advanced kidney disease can’t clear away the waste from even moderate protein intake. There’s absolutely no evidence that any healthy person has experienced kidney damage from eating the amount of protein consumed on Atkins. And, researchers have shown, that, in fact, eating more protein results in increased weight loss and fat loss compared to diets lower in protein. This is most likely the result of increased calorie burn and satiety (fullness) after eating protein compared to eating carbs. Based on most heights and gender, it’s recommended that you consume 4 to 6 ounces of protein at each of your meals each day. If you are a tall male, you might want to go with 8 ounces of protein, but the 4- to 6-ounce range should work for the majority of folks. The ideal amount of protein should make you full after your meal (not uncomfortably stuffed, though), but hungry in time for your next scheduled meal.

3) Myth: You don’t eat any vegetables on Atkins.

Fact: Atkins followers actually eat more servings of vegetables at every phase of the program than do most other Americans. In addition to protein and healthy natural fats, certain vegetables are the foundation of the Atkins way of eating. Vegetables do contain carbohydrates but, in most cases, these are exactly the kinds of carbs you should be consuming. But the key word is "most."
 
Rather than promoting the standard dietary fiction that all vegetables are equally healthful and should be consumed in unlimited servings, the Atkins way draws distinctions: A serving of spinach is better than a serving of peas; broccoli is more health-protective than potatoes.
 
Because controlling carbs will stabilize blood sugar, most people doing Atkins limit the amount of vegetables they eat. Eating too many veggies, especially starchy ones such as corn and potatoes, can undermine your weight-loss and weight-maintenance efforts. To spend your carbohydrate grams wisely, choose vegetables that provide the most antioxidant protection in combination with the fewest grams of carbs.
 
During Phase 1, you'll eat 12 to 15 net carbs coming in the form of vegetables. Depending on which vegetables you choose, that can translate into 5 to 8 servings of certain vegetables each day, primarily salad greens and other raw salad ingredients. Here's where you'll find kale; Swiss chard; cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts; beta-carotene-rich peppers and pumpkin; and lycopene-dense tomatoes, which help protect against prostate cancer.
 
Vegetables are an important and tasty part of Atkins. As you gradually increase the amount of allowable carbs and discover your personal carb balance during the next three phases, your veggie intake can continue to increase. In fact, you will even be able to start incorporating nuts, berries and certain fruits and grains in later phases as well. So go ahead and enjoy the rich diversity of vegetables. And tell all of those naysayers that this is one eating program that doesn't make you choose between a healthy body and a shapely physique. With Atkins, you can have both!

4) Myth: Low-fat diets are better than low-carb diets like Atkins.

Fact: Not so fast. Research continues to show that a low-carb diet like Atkins is more effective for long-term weight loss (after the one- and two-year mark) than a conventional low-fat diet. In addition, it showed that a low-carb diet is beneficial and safe for people who are highly insulin resistant and have a higher intolerance to carbs. This is great news, because these are the people who need to keep carb consumption low for the long term to control the insulin resistance and carb intolerance. In addition, 13 randomized controlled trials showed significantly improved good “HDL” cholesterol, triglycerides and diastolic blood pressure over the low-fat diet. This meta-analysis supports previous findings showing low-carb diets are more effective than low-fat diets, but what’s even more important is that this meta-analysis showcases the efficacy of a diet like Atkins over time.
I am always pleased when new research comes out that supports the efficacy, safety and long-term sustainability of Atkins. So many of you have already experienced these positive benefits; when science continues to show that Atkins is a viable solution for reversing obesity and the risk factors associated with heart disease, hopefully health professionals will see this as a serious option to offer their obese patients as well.

5) Myth: The weight you lose on Atkins is all water weight, not fat.

Fact: Typically on any weight loss plan, including Phase 1 of Atkins, the weight you lose is primarily water (diuresis) during the first few days or even the first week. However, on a controlled carbohydrate plan with adequate dietary fat, after diuresis, your body switches from burning carbohydrates to primarily burning stored body fat—along with dietary fat—for energy, which results in weight loss. Moreover, the weight lost is mainly fat, not lean body mass. It’s worth repeating that studies have shown that despite the fact that more calories were consumed on a controlled carbohydrate program than on a low-fat program, the carb-controlled subjects lost more weight than did those on a low-fat program.

Published Monday, August 26, 2013 02:13 PM by colette_heimowitz
Filed Under: Induction, Carb Balance/Carb Intolerance, Personal observations & lessons learned
Comments
JayhawkinMexico said:
Great blog! Thanks for refuting the most common myths about Atkins! I know the blog will be helpful to a lot of people.
August 26, 2013 03:44 PM EST
cpsuval said:
Thank goodness someone with a proven degree has finally put these 5 main points together. I have used Atkins for YEARS and had to refute these ridiculous accusations repeatedly. Now I have something to point to from an expert.
August 27, 2013 09:30 AM EST
ssmess01 said:
I find it odd that outsiders will jump to conclusions about the Atkins diet but will rave about South Beach. The ONLY differences between the two are that South Beach doesn't allow for saturated fats and allows the consumption of skim & 1% milk in the first phase. Other than that, the are both high(er) protein, low carb diets. Apparently your diet has to come from Florida to have a good reputation among the under educated public!
August 27, 2013 12:51 PM EST
lilybarry2468 said:
Thanks for this. It's great to get the facts together. I find many people who did Atkins years ago, lost weight, then quit Atkins and gained the weight back. They obviously didn't realize that this is a life-style change. I found Atkins hard at first, but lost weight and gained energy over several months. Am three pounds from my idea weight of 130 and look forward to staying slim and trim. Was happy to add exercise and joined a rowing team (I'm 69 years young). I row 3x/week and walk 3 or 4 days/week. Feel fantastic and now find it easy to track carbs. I'm also pleased to keep the carb-protein-fat ratios in mind throughout the day. What was cumbersome at first is now becoming second nature.
August 27, 2013 03:19 PM EST
CammyKin said:
I have been on the Atkin's diet now for a few months. I have been easily dissuaded from staying on the program as many people keep bringing up these problems...Now I can tell them that all of their myths are nonsense and thank them for their concern!
August 27, 2013 03:55 PM EST
donnienix said:
I love the one about "water weight". I've heard that a lot. Right, if I lost 54 lbs of nothing but water weight, I'd look like a raisin, wouldn't I? HA!
August 27, 2013 09:07 PM EST
ebonyblade said:
Yeah, when you lose 85 pounds, it's no longer water weight unless you're a human water balloon. LOL.
August 28, 2013 03:39 AM EST
bangorme said:
Thank you Collette. I've been doing Atkins for almost three year (now on maintenance) and have never had better blood test results during my yearly exams. I get a kick out of people still putting the myth out the Atkins raises bad cholesterol. It doesn't. So try it for a couple months, then have a blood test if you don't believe it. What have you got to lose... except weight. Another myth that Collette doesn't cover is the carbohydrate/exercise myth. Many people "believe" that we needs tons of carbos to exercise. That's not true. Your body is perfectly capable of turning your fat into energy on the go. I enjoy running and never run out of gas like I used to when I was eating high carbos and hit the "wall" because my body was conditioned into depending on carbos. Yeah, I get tired and have to stop eventually, but I don't get the "wall" effect. It's a completely different experience... try it!
August 28, 2013 08:54 AM EST
Anibeth said:
Thank you Collete, I've been dieting since I was born. Always no real result. I am on Atkins since April and I feel great, I haven't had any problem and my thyroids is controlled. Atkins is the best diet for your thyroid.
August 28, 2013 06:05 PM EST
lowcarbdoc said:
I've used Atkins to lose my "baby fat" after my second son was born 39 years ago. Gotta got away from it past several years with predictable weight gain, fatigue, etc. Happy to say back on Induction/Ongoing Wt Loss (I'm a little rusty about carb numbers so ate too many nuts and berries a couple of days in. BUT I'm not falling asleep driving any more and I have a lot more energy and have dropped 4.5 pounds in a week. (Only 7 more to goal). I too am happy to be able to point to this blog instead of trying to argue with the naysayers. ATKINS WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG!
August 29, 2013 02:54 PM EST
auddit said:
Thanks Collette - I think this should run on the spotlight of the homepage so that all the new people coming to the site for the first time can see all of the myths dispelled. I think it would help a lot of new people make the decision to start the program and do it correctly when they see the correct facts from the start and you have stated them so clearly here.
September 07, 2013 11:33 AM EST
Amy4a said:
My question is: Are carbs replenishable? If I burn 600 calories between cardio and strength training do I also burn carbs.
September 10, 2013 06:45 PM EST
KO11 said:
For those who want more of the science and research I would highly recommend the book "Why we Get Fat" by Gary Taubes. He is a writer for Science Magazine and the New York Times and he spent 10+ yrs researching and arrived at a similar conclusion to Atkins, that low-fat calorie restricted diets are completely backwards. It is sugar and carbs that make us fat. His book is why I started Atkins and I can't recommend it highly enough!
September 12, 2013 10:59 AM EST
yelliwsm903 said:
Thank you so much for all of your comments this just encourages me the more to get going again. I have been on and off for awhile now and the thing about it is I know better. What I need to do is to stay focus. MR.
September 27, 2013 08:56 PM EST
justmaxine said:
Thank you for the info! I had no fears but I now know what to say to the naysayers.
November 02, 2013 12:43 PM EST
Tlp1242 said:
Thank you for the great info. I'm going to continue this program has Only one where I've actually lost weight. Thank you thank you thank you
January 29, 2014 09:31 AM EST
CHIPITULCO said:
I just been on Atkins for 3 weeks and I lose 7 pounds but I got back 2...I just wonder to know if that happens for allow my first couple of atkins bars. I just got back, no bars of sugars at all.. If some one have a clue why is welcome!. Good luck everyone and keep going. Regars, A nice day!
April 14, 2014 01:41 PM EST
ParkerD. said:
Atkins is a lifestyle. I forgot about Atkins when I married a man who LOVES potatoes, breads and sweets and doesn't need to exercise. He's a lucky guy. A month or more ago, I announced my intention to change my lifestyle, so I cook two meals each evening which he usually helps with, serve plenty of salad makin's and let him enjoy his sweets (without envy) while I enjoy a nice cup of tea in the evening. Have been suffering from recurring winter weather blues, but maintaining a high protein and low carb routine--and I love how I feel. I walk when I can and will do more as the weather improves! Don't let anything get in your way!!! Make it work for you!
April 24, 2014 07:39 PM EST
honney67 said:
I agree Atkins is a life-style. For us who want to be thin and need this structure I agree. If the doctor told us we had to do this to save ours lives; we would be quite comfortable with this way of eating. I am 68 and this could be my last go round to be thin and healthy so I concede. I work make it work.
June 04, 2014 09:50 AM EST
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