In a nutshell, no. Here are some very good reasons why you need to consume fat on Atkins. First of all, fat is the mechanism that makes controlled carbohydrate weight loss work, and the Atkins Diet teaches you how to use fat to your advantage. When you are doing Atkins, fat is your friend, not only because it is satiating (keeps you full for longer) but because it slows down the release of glucose into the blood. By moderating blood sugar swings, fat reduces carbohydrate cravings. Dietary fat, in combination with controlled carbohydrate consumption, accelerates the burning of stored body fat. When your body uses fat, rather than glucose for fuel, the metabolic process is called lipolysis. Eating fat fuels a fat-burning metabolism and accelerates the burning of fat, both dietary (from the foods you eat) and stored (from the excess around your waist, hips and other areas).
However, you do want to eat good fat. Natural, healthy fat is found in olives and olive oil, avocado, seeds, nuts, seed and nut oils and butters, and oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel and butter. Saturated fat, found in meats, butter and coconut oil, poses no health risk when your carb intake is low enough, and you are burning fat for fuel. In fact, you will burn both dietary and body for energy.
Three types of fats (saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) are necessary and important to human health, and they should be incorporated into your diet in a balanced proportion. Saturated fat, particularly in the early phases of Atkins when carbohydrate intake is low, is not dangerous to human health. On the contrary, when balanced with mono- and polyunsaturated fats in a controlled carbohydrate dietary environment, saturated fat may actually have real and measurable benefits in a number of different arenas.
When you are no longer in a primarily fat-burning mode, it may be prudent to curtail the amount of total fat so you are not taking in an enormous amount of calories. Your dietary pattern should play seesaw with carbs and fat, while your protein intake remains constant. As long as you are consuming 50 grams of Net Carbs or less, there is no need to adjust fat intake. What you want to avoid is a high-fat AND a high-carbohydrate combination.
The kinds of fat you should avoid are chemically altered, processed hydrogenated oils, also known as trans fats. Look for cold-pressed or expeller-pressed oils, and store them in a dark, cool place to keep them from going rancid or oxidizing. High heat changes the molecular structure of the cell and will transform even a good fat into a bad fat, so be sure not to burn oil or allow it to smoke while cooking.
If you try to do your own low-fat version of Atkins, you will not only be hungry, but you also will not achieve the same weight loss results of people who consume healthy fats.
Research on nutrition and health always seems to be a non-linear fact-finding process—a work in progress. But when carefully conducted studies and well-researched data help fill in the blanks and connect the dots, a clear picture starts to emerge. In this case, it is that low-carb diets may be winning the weight loss race against low-fat diets.
The latest news come from a study just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Funded by the National Institutes of Health and authored by Lydia Bazzano, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., the study followed 148 obese men and women over a year. Half were randomly selected to follow a low-carb diet and the other half were selected to follow a low-fat diet. They weren’t asked to cut calories or change their activity level.
During this time, Bazzano and her team discovered that the low-carb group ended up losing more weight and body fat (about 8 pounds more) than the low-fat group. In addition, researchers found that levels of total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol did not increase for both groups, which is also great news, because in the past mainstream thinking assumed low-carb diets (and their higher level of fat intake) would raise cholesterol levels, leading to an increased risk of heart disease.
But here again is more conclusive evidence that demonstrates a low carb way of eating does not raise risk factors for heart disease, in fact the markers for heart health improve. The low-fat diet that had been touted for decades as the best way to lose weight and improve cardiovascular health may be on its way out in favor of a low-carb, high fat diet like Atkins.
If you’re on Atkins, you’re naturally including lots of vegetables, adequate (but not excessive amounts) of protein and healthy fats that contribute to heart health and weight loss. With its ability to help you lose weight, improve your lipid profile and blood pressure, increase your energy and reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and many other life-threatening conditions, a well-constructed low carbohydrate diet is indeed a healthier, more balanced way of eating and living whether it is for weight loss or improved general health and well-being.
If you are interested in reading the study abstract you can find it here:
There was also a good article written in NY Times
I write a lot about the many health benefits of low-carb diets and how to succeed while you’re doing Atkins. But what you do before you even start Atkins could very well be your best chance at losing weight (and keeping it off).
I’ve seen so many people jump right into their own personal version of what they think the Atkins Diet is—based on their opinion of what a low-carb diet is all about or outdated information about Atkins before it transitioned to its current form, thanks to new and evolving research. So, first of all, read the book. Or books. It won’t take long, but you will learn exactly how and why Atkins works, plus these books feature low-carb recipes and success stories to motivate and inspire you. You can learn about our latest books here: http://www.atkins.com/New-Book/New-Book.aspx
Next, take some time to explore www.atkins.com. You can learn more about the program, check out over 1,000 low-carb recipes and see what people are talking about in the Forums. Feel free to “lurk” as long as you’d like; you’ll learn what people experience in every Phase of Atkins. You can also post your own comments or ask for advice on how to get started. Be sure to check out the Free Tools at http://www.atkins.com/Free-Tools.aspx, where you can download our Mobile App, Carb Counter, Meal Planner and more.
Once you’ve gotten to know more about Atkins, it’s time to set some goals to help keep you stay focused during your weight-loss journey and beyond. Make sure your goals are realistic, yet still challenging enough so that you are actually making progress and seeing changes. For example, if you have 50 or more pounds to lose, it might be easier to break up your overall weight-loss goal into 10-pound increments. Average weight loss is typically 2.5 pounds a week, but depending on a variety of factors, including your age, activity level, sex, medications you are taking and metabolism, you may lose weight at a faster or slower rate.
Once you’ve set your goals, it’s time to decide which Phase to start in. You may choose to use Phase 1, Induction, as a brief weight-loss kick-start. Or you may want to stay in Induction and lose more weight before moving on. If you need to lose more weight or have certain health issues, start in Induction; otherwise you can start in Phase 2, Ongoing Weight Loss, or even Phase 3, Pre-Maintenance. Obviously, the more grams of Net Carbs you’re consuming—and you’ll add progressively more in each Phase—the more slowly you will lose the excess weight. But this also means you will have more variety and food options. Here’s a blog I wrote with more information on what Phase to start in: http://blogs.atkins.com/Blogs/colette_heimowitz/Archive/2014/6/5/264094.aspx
Once you’ve decided what Phase to start in, review the food list for that Phase. Next, clean out your pantry and kitchen of all the food that is not recommended for that Phase. This may not be realistic if you have family members who are not going to be eating low-carb with you, but you can keep their food in a separate spot so you aren’t tempted. And there are plenty of low-carb recipes and foods that your family probably will enjoy!
After you’ve cleaned out your pantry, plan out your first week’s worth of meals and snacks, make a shopping list and hit the store.
Once you’ve done all this, it’s time to start your Atkins journey!
You may have decided to start Atkins because you wanted to lose weight, but did you know that research has shown that a low-carb diet like Atkins has demonstrated to have many more “off label” benefits that just losing weight? Just to name a few, they include: epilepsy and related illnesses, acid reflux (GERD), acne, headaches, heart disease, cancer, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), diabetes/metabolic syndrome/insulin resistance, dementia and narcolepsy.
Here’s what the research says about a low-carb diet’s role in each of these conditions:
Epilepsy and Related Diseases
More than thirty studies from ranging from 2004 to 2014 support the use of a Modified Atkins Diet in helping ease the symptoms of epilepsy and related seizure disorders in adults and children . This was especially encouraging for children diagnosed with childhood epilepsy who are not responding to the seizure control medications. The Modified Atkins Diet is used by Dr Eric Kossoff at John Hopkins . Dr Kossoff has also published a book titled;
Ketogenic Diets treatments for Epilepsy and Other Disorders. Fifth Addition
With info on the Modified Atkins Diet
More info can be found at;
http://www.epilepsy.com/epilepsy/treatment_atkins_diet youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3tac5Gfd9Q
Preliminary findings based on five case studies show that a low-carb diet may help alleviate acid reflux. Typically foods with caffeine or that are high in fat have been shown to contribute to acid reflux, but this study shows that a low-carb diet may help prevent symptoms usually brought on by those foods. These initial studies suggests more research needs to be done examining the effect of low-carbohydrate diets on GERD.
There has been growing research on the effect nutrition has on skin health. In a 2012 review published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, the role of carbohydrates was examined on the development of acne, with the hypothesis that a very low carb diet could have a positive impact on the treatment of acne.
In a 2013 study in Functional Neurology, researchers report on the case of twin sisters who were following a high-fat, low-carb diet in order to lose weight. While they were on the diet, they noticed that their migraines improved as well, leading to the theory that this type of diet could help improve headache symptoms.
Twenty-one studies conducted between 2002 and 2014 examine the role of low-carb diets and how they may help decrease heart disease risk factors, as well as risks for hypertension and stroke. The use of a low-carb diet has been shown to not only help with weight loss, but also improve blood pressure, cholesterol levels and triglycerides, as well as decrease inflammation—all factors associated with heart disease.
Obesity is a factor associated with the increased risk for some cancers, so naturally if a low-carb diet is shown to help people lose weight and maintain their weight loss, the impact on decreasing the risk of some cancers is positive. Examples include findings from a 2012 study in the Journal of National Cancer Institute that show that a higher total carbohydrate intake and higher dietary glycemic load were associated with an increased risk of recurrence and mortality in stage III colon cancer, meaning that a low-carb diet (which is naturally low glycemic) could help in improving the survival rates in colon cancer. Another study in Nutrition and Cancer (2010) showed that a low-carb diet helped overweight women breast cancer survivors lose weight—decreasing their risk for heart disease and other obesity-related diseases, as well as a recurrence of breast cancer.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder affecting women of reproductive age and is associated with obesity, hyperinsulinemia, and insulin resistance. Because low carbohydrate diets have been shown to reduce insulin resistance, a pilot study (Nutrition and Metabolism, 2005) investigated the six-month metabolic and endocrine effects of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet (LCKD) on overweight and obese women with PCOS. In this pilot study, a LCKD led to significant improvement in weight, percent free testosterone, LH/FSH ratio, and fasting insulin in women with obesity and PCOS over a 24-week period. Another 2004 pilot study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine showed similar positive results.
Diabetes/Metabolic Syndrome/Insulin Resistance
Twenty-nine studies, dating as far back as 1998, show the positive impact low-carb diets have in decreasing symptoms and risks of diabetes, metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance.
A high-calorie diet is associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment. In a 2012 study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, it was shown that the risk of mild cognitive impairment or dementia was elevated in people who consumed a high-carb diet, leading to the conclusion that low-carb diet has a role in lowering the risk.
Last, but not least—In a 2004 study in Neurology, patients with narcolepsy experienced modest improvements in daytime sleepiness while on a low-carb diet.
Once again, there’s great news supporting a low-carb diet’s role in the fight against diabetes. A group of 26 physicians and nutrition researchers, in a review paper submitted to the journal Nutrition, listed 12 reasons, backed by clinical studies, why a low-carb diet is beneficial for managing Type-2 diabetes.
• High blood sugar is the most important feature of diabetes control. Decreasing carbohydrate intake has the greatest effect on blood sugar levels.
• Increase in calorie intake and obesity has been driven by increases in carbohydrate intake.
• Carbohydrate restriction provides benefits regardless of weight loss.
• Carb restriction is the most reliable dietary intervention for weight loss.
• Adherence to low-carb diets in Type-2 diabetes is as strong as other dietary interventions, and is often significantly stronger.
• Generally, replacing carbs with protein is beneficial.
• Increased total fat and saturated fat intake are not associated with increased heart disease risk.
• Carbohydrates—not dietary fats—control triglyceride levels.
• HbA1c—also known as glycated hemoglobin, and an indicator of blood sugar levels—is the greatest predictor of microvascular and macrovascular complications in patients with Type-2 diabetes.
• Lowering carb intake is the most effective method for decreasing triglyceride levels and raising levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.
• Patients with diabetes reduce their dependence on, or doses of, medication when following a low-carb diet.
• Intensive blood glucose reduction though carb restriction has negligible side effects compared with the use of medication for the same effect.
Diabetes is a disease involving the inability to process carbohydrates, therefore reducing carbohydrates would seem to be an obvious treatment, leading to the authors’ conclusion that the current recommendations of using a low-fat diet to control or manage diabetes need to be reevaluated—and more and more research shows that low-fat diets are failing to improve obesity, heart disease risk or even general health. Do you see the pattern here? More and more research continues to validate the fact that a low-carb diet is quite effective (and sustainable) when it comes to managing diabetes and a variety of other disease risk factors.