Few diets cause more controversy than the Atkins Diet and diabetes. The book, Atkins Diabetes Revolution, caused quiet a stir. It seems you’re either for it or against it, no middle ground when it comes to your views on Atkins and diabetes. It is hard not to be at least curious about the diet as it touts you can lose up to 15 pounds during the first 2 weeks! You may even be asking yourself: Does the Atkins diet really work? Let’s take a look.
The basic Atkins premise is that people eat too many carbohydrates, especially processed sugars, breads and pastas (e.g., high fructose corn syrup, white sugar and flour). Most people use carbohydrates as their primary source of energy, storing any unused portions as fat. Atkins seeks to shift your body’s metabolism from burning carbohydrates as its primary energy source to burning fat and protein as the primary energy source
HOW THE ATKINS DIET AND DIABETES WORK IN PRACTICE
The most common question people have about the diet is: What foods can I eat on the Atkins diet? Well, the answer depends on what “stage” you are in. There are four stages to the Atkins diet.
Stage 1: Induction
- This period last approximately two weeks and seeks to drastically alter your metabolism.
- Significantly reduces carbohydrate intake to 20 grams or less per day.
- Exercise moderately.
- Eat a high protein diet including chicken, fish, lean beef, eggs and selected vegetables.
- Do not eat most carbohydrate types, especially sugars, breads and pastas.
- Temporarily refrain from eating fruit or nuts during this period.
Stage 2: Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL)
- This stage slowly introduces select foods (vegetables, fruits and nuts) into the diet, while continuing to achieve weight loss.
- Ongoing education of Atkins principles.
- Continues until person is within 10 pounds of weight loss goals.
Stage 3: Pre-Maintenance
- “Carbohydrate Equilibrium” is sought, the point where you reach your natural weight.
- This stage can take several months.
Stage 4: Lifetime Maintenance.
How long should you stay on the atkins diet? Many people use the diet to lose some pre-set amount of weight, then never use it again. However, the diet is really designed to be followed forever. Dr. Atkins believed that a high carbohydrate diet is bad short term and long term. He termed this lifetime commitment as:
- Living life at your ideal weight.
WHY THE IS ADVOCATED FOR DIABETICS
Dr. Atkins believed that overeating carbohydrates, particularly sugars and white flour (non-whole grain), ultimately leads to diabetes. As we get older, our bodies cannot process the excess carbohydrates, flooding our blood with glucose (i.e., high blood sugar).
In response, the pancreas generates a huge amount of insulin to process the higher glucose levels. This in turn lowers your blood sugar, and then the cycle repeats itself as you continue to ingest large amounts of carbohydrates.
According to Atkins, this imbalance leads to insulin resistance, resulting in diabetes, because your body is now unable to deal with the excess glucose. One key sign along the way that this is occurring is excess weight, if not obesity.
Atkins believes that its diet solution is vital in preventing diabetes and managing diabetes if you already have the disease. In fact, the Atkins Diet and diabetes link is quite strong, as it was developed, at least in part, to help prevent and manage diabetes.
THE EXERCISE COMPONENT
Moderate exercise is recommended.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY ABOUT THE ATKINS DIET AND DIABETICS?
Clearly, life would be too easy if everyone always agreed. Criticism of the diet varies but centers on the following:
- Diet can be hard to follow. Radical Change in eating behavior.
- Kidney Stress. Processing high amounts of protein can cause stress on the kidneys. Diabetics, in particular, are prone to kidney failure, thus some believe it is unwise to unduly tax them
- Potential bone loss
- Low levels of vitamins and minerals.
- Decreased Performance. Some argue that energy conversion from fat and protein is not as good as from carbohydrates, causing fatigue, weakness, etc.
- May increase LDL (Bad) Cholesterol.
An ultra low carbohydrate diet is not advocated by the bulk of the research I have read. The ADA does support a low carb/high protein diet for short term weight loss in its 2012 treatment guidelines. However, it does not endorse it for long term use.
I acknowledge the popularity and support of the diet amongst its many users. Nonetheless, there is considerable evidence that diets high in animal protein can lead to kidney issues and cardiovascular disease. I would rather see readers try the whole food plant based diet.
Other choices include the Mediterranean Diet or the South Beach Diet.
The cost can be what you make of it. Buying one of the books explaining the diet and possibly a recipe book is recommended, as most people will be unfamiliar with eating the recommended way. You can also buy prepared meals in most grocery stores. There are also several services that help people with implementing and keeping the diet.
This is the latest incarnation of the Atkins Diet. It is the main guide for using and understanding the diet since Dr. Atkins past away. It provides a very good overview of the diet and the process you will need to follow.
THE ATKINS SHOPPING GUIDE:INDISPENSABLE TIPS AND GUIDELINES FOR SUCESSFULLY STOCKING YOUR-CARB KITCHEN
Anyone who has had to radically depart from there normal diet will know immediately how valuable a shopping guide can be. That first trip to the grocery store will be vastly simpler with this guide than trying to go it alone. Trust me on this one!
If you have been following the diet for years, you don’t need this handy journal. If you are just starting out, this guide will do you a lot of good. You never really stop and think about what your eating. But, when you write it down, all of the sudden you develop a great awareness of what you are eating and where you need to improve. This item costs about $10, but it is well worth it.