Categorized | Diet & Nutrition

The Atkins Diet – Good For Your Heart?

The once popular Atkins  Diet , created by Dr. Robert Atkins, is built on the concept of eating large amounts of protein such as meat, fish and eggs, and little or no carbohydrates and proteins. Though the  diet  has proven to be effective in many cases, it is still controversial. Thousand of people have lost significant amounts of weight on the  diet , but many experts believe the Atkins  diet  is unhealthy, particularly for your heart.

Because the Atkins  Diet  doesn’t regulate the intake of proteins, it opens the possibility for a dieter to consume a large amount of saturated fat in the form of fatty meats, cheeses and other dairy and eggs. A study conducted by the University of Kansas of a week’s worth of recommended Atkins  Diet  meal choices found that the food was more than 50% fat. Because the  diet  severely restricts the consumption of carbohydrates, dieters can eat such fatty meals while still reducing the amount of calories they take in. The body needs 500 fewer calories than its regular intake to begin to shed weight. The Atkins  Diet  fulfills this requirement, and people who follow it do lose weight. The end concern is not that the  diet  won’t cause you to shed pounds, but that it can lead to heart disease.

The American Heart Association has publicly stated that the consumption of large amounts of saturated fats does indeed lead to heart disease and other health problems. That doesn’t mean that the  diet  is bad for everyone. People with heart problems, gout, or kidney disease shouldn’t go on the Atkins  Diet . Anyone considering a low-carbohydrate should consult with his or her doctor first. There are many people who would benefit from it.

If you do choose the Atkins  Diet , or other low-carb eating plans, you should carefully consider what type of proteins you choose to eat. Fatty cuts of meat, chicken skin, egg yolks, and most cheeses are acceptable choices under the  diet  plan, but they are very high in saturated fats. Any dietitian would tell you to avoid these foods.

But there are ways to follow the  diet  without eating such heart-harming foods. You can choose low-fat dairy like yogurt, cottage cheese and low-fat cheese, egg whites, lean chicken and turkey, non-fatty cuts of beef, and low-fat forms of vegetable protein such as tofu, tempeh or textured vegetable protein.

Another consideration is the length of time you choose to follow the  diet . Eating an abnormally high amount of saturated fats and cholesterol is more unhealthy when you do it for long periods of time. It is far healthier to follow a low-carb  diet  for a short period of time and then switch to a maintenance plan base on balanced eating and consistent exercise than it is to permanently eliminate carbohydrates from your  diet .

Those of us who choose the Atkins  Diet  should only do so after careful consideration and consultation with a doctor. They should choose healthy, low-fat proteins and continue to monitor their health as the  diet  progresses.

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