Vegan Health ArticlesThe Atkins Scientific Research – Deceit and Disappointment
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Ten Conclusions I Reached after Reviewing the Scientific Research Published on the Atkins Diet

1) Use of the Term “Low-fat” in the Comparisons Is Dishonest

Researchers have deceived the public by claiming they have compared the Atkins Diet with a “low-fat” diet. The truth is all of their comparisons are with a calorie-restricted (portion-controlled) version of the typical American diet, containing approximately 30% of the calories as fat.[1-9] The “dieting” (calorie-restricted, portion-controlled) approach to weight loss has a consistent history of failure; therefore, choosing this kind of diet for comparison greatly increases the odds that the Atkins Diet will appear favorable.

2) Long-Term Weight Loss Is Insignificant

Over the short-term (weeks), people on the Atkins Diet lose more weight than on the calorie-restricted diet, but this benefit does not last. After one year, the difference in weight lost between those following the Atkins Diet and those on the calorie-restricted diet was found to be statistically insignificant by the only two studies performed for this period of time.[1,2]

3) A Real Low-Fat Diet Is Far More Effective

Direct comparison of a truly low-fat diet (10% or less of the calories from fat) with the Atkins approach is long overdue. Available evidence supports superior benefits with a low-fat diet.[33-34] A low-fat diet (and exercise) is the only approach found to provide long-term successful weight loss (an average of more than 70 pounds of weight lost per person and maintained for more than 6 years, based on a population of over 4,000 people).[35-37]

4) The “Metabolic Advantage” Is Nothing to Brag About

Over the short-term, the Atkins Diet will cause more weight loss, for the same number of calories consumed, as a calorie-restricted diet. This is referred to as the “metabolic advantage” of the low-carbohydrate diet. When the body is burdened with the wrong fuel (a diet of fat and protein, and insufficient carbohydrate) it must make changes that are metabolically expensive, thus burning extra calories.[27] Better stated, the burden of the Atkins Diet requires the body to make adaptations originally intended for survival; in order to stay alive under this adversity.

5) The Atkins Diet Worsens Some Important Risk Factors for Heart Disease

The Atkins Diet consistently raises total and “bad “LDL-cholesterol, whereas, a calorie-restricted (30% fat) diet lowers these important predictors of future heart trouble.[1,2,18] A truly low-fat diet (10% or less of calories from fat) is even more effective at reducing these risk factors than the 30% fat diets used for these comparisons.[38-41]

6) The Atkins Diet Improves Some Less Important Risk Factors for Heart Disease

The Atkins Diet lowers triglycerides (a less important risk factor), but so does a healthfully designed low-fat diet. “Good” HDL-cholesterol is increased[1,2,4,7,8] on the Atkins Diet, but homocysteine (which predicts more heart disease) is also increased.17 When it comes to “heart health,” triglyceride and HDL-cholesterol values are of questionable importance and far less significant than total- and LDL-cholesterol.[42,43] But to read the research paid for by Atkins you would think otherwise.[4,6-8]

7) Atkins Is Harder to Follow Long-term

Dropout rates are very high with both the Atkins and calorie-restricted diets, because both programs are very hard to follow. The Atkins Diet causes people to become “sick” and the calorie-restricted diet causes them to suffer the pains of hunger. When comparing these two unpleasant living conditions, the authors of the most recent one-year study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine raised “the possibility that the Atkins Diet was less sustainable.”[2] In other words, constant sickness is more difficult to endure than the everyday pains of hunger.

8) Exercise Is Not an Easy Addition to the Atkins Program

Exercise is not a part of most of the research studies performed. [1-9] On a low-carbohydrate diet people are too fatigued to participate in increased physical activity.

9) Adverse Effects Are Common, Expected, and Sometimes Serious on Atkins

Most of the people following the Atkins Diet suffer adverse effects like constipation, fatigue, headaches, muscle cramps, diarrhea, and bad breath. Predictors of future health problems, such as elevated cholesterol, BUN, uric acid, and free fatty acids, are found with this diet.[1-20] Furthermore, people have been reported to suffer from serious complications, such as dehydration, cardiac arrhythmias, kidney damage, kidney stones, liver, brain, and eye damage and also death from following high protein and ketogenic diets.[2,4,14,18,44-55]

10) Atkins Is Not Accepted by the Scientific Community – for Good Reasons

Major health organizations, for example, the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee, warn the public that the kinds of foods encouraged by the Atkins Diet will increase their risk of health problems.[44]

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We began this archive as a means of assisting our visitors in answering many of their health and diet questions, and in encouraging them to take a pro-active part in their own health. We believe the articles and information contained herein are true, but are not presenting them as advice. We, personally, have found that a whole food vegan diet has helped our own health, and simply wish to share with others the things we have found. Each of us must make our own decisions, for it's our own body. If you have a health problem, see your own physician.