What Dr. Atkins Had Right (And Wrong)
Health Alert #85
Can you lose weight on a diet of bacon, cheesecake and butter? You can. Paradoxically, some people lose weight dramatically on an Atkins-like high-fat diet. But, there are two very important points to know before you try it for yourself.
1. Atkins correctly diagnosed the cause of the modern epidemic of obesity.
2. He prescribed the wrong solution.
Today I want to show you where Dr. Atkins’ radical appearing view actually turned out to be right and where his dietary solution went awry.
* A Radical New Vision of Nutrition *
Dr. Robert Atkins died this spring from an accidental fall, but not before he changed the world of nutrition. His radical low-carb diet dared to confront conventional nutrition. His ensuing persecution exposed the medical profession’s close-minded intolerance of new ideas. Now after his death, independent and accredited research has finally proved what Atkins knew for nearly his entire life.
What did Dr. Atkins say that was so different? Since the 1960’s, he has been making two very contrarian claims.
• One, Americans are fat not because they eat too much fat and calories but because they eat too much carbohydrate.
• Two, the best way to lose weight was not a low fat diet but a low carb diet.
Nutritionists have always presumed that weight equaled calories consumed minus calories burned and the type of calories didn’t really matter. Nutritionists still have trouble accepting Atkins’ theory but new research has prompted even the staunchest critics to take notice. Here are some examples of evidence supporting Atkins’ theory.
• February 2003: A landmark study that compared the American Heart Association’s low fat diet to the Atkins’ diet. The Atkins’ diet caused greater weight loss and lowered cholesterol and triglycerides much more effectively than a low fat diet of equal calories.
• In May 2003: The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine published a study that found the Atkins approach beat out the American Heart Association’s low fat approach for both weight loss and blood fats improvement.
• Nutrition Week 2003: National meetings recently reported preliminary results of a study performed by Heritage Medical Center on patients with Metabolic Syndrome. Participants ate a low-carb diet for 18 months. Their LDL (“bad” cholesterol) reduced by an average of 82%. HDL (“good” cholesterol) scores increased by an average of 30%.
Atkins was right about the problem. Excess starches like potatoes and breads made Americans fat – not too much dietary fat. But, here’s where we part: I do not agree with his dietary solution.
It is true that fat is relatively inert at affecting the hormonal control of your metabolism. But I do not recommend you eat sausage, hot dogs, and spareribs for weight loss. Here’s why:
The unnatural living conditions of animals in the modern food industry. This produces diseased animal fat. Modern farming techniques prevent the animals from getting normal exercise and feed a diet of grains instead of grasses. This makes for an obese animal. Not only do these products of the modern slaughterhouse have inordinate quantities of fat but it is the wrong kind of fat. It has an unnatural and unhealthy concentration of omega-6 fatty acids that cause heart disease. Additionally, all of the herbicides, pesticides, toxins and hormones that the animal has been exposed to collect in the fat.
Manipulating macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrates) did not make Dr. Atkins a quack as conventional medicine insisted for decades. In fact, it is a sophisticated approach. The right balance of increased protein, decreased carbohydrate with the right healthy fats can effectively control aspects of your metabolism and weight. You can improve your energy and strength at the same time you lose body fat. It is also much easier to follow than the AHA’s low-fat approach. Here are the easy rules for your new approach:
1. Eat excess protein. Quality protein is the key to good nutrition. Protein promotes muscle growth and over all health. Eating more protein than you need for daily metabolism signals to your body that “the hunting is good” and liberalizes the burning of carbs and fat for energy. Fish, lean meats, eggs, dairy, beans and nuts are all good sources of protein. Eat
2. Limit processed carbs. Processed carbs make you fat and diseased. Starches in particular are the main cause of the American obesity epidemic. Limit consumption of anything made from grains or potatoes. Get your carbs from unprocessed vegetables that grow above ground.
3. Eat natural fats. Fat is neutral as a macronutrient but most modern fat is a health nightmare. Eat unprocessed vegetable fats like avocados, nuts and virgin olive oil. Avoid corn oil, all hydrogenated oils and margarine. Get your animal fat from wild fish, free range or grass fed animals. Read Health Alert 49 for some more tips on finding quality natural meat.
Al Sears MD
- 26th March 2021
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