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Diet and Nutrition

To Atkins or not???

01/21/2004

Question:

I`m hearing alot about the Atkins diet. My cousin wnats me to go on it with her. Neither of us are real overweight. We`d like to lose about 10 lbs. each. However, I do have high chlosterol and a strong family history of sudden heart attacks, and blood pressure issues. My question is: Is it "wise " for me to go on this diet? It seems many of the things my cousin is eating are said `no-nos` for high chlosterol. What do you think?

Answer:

The Atkins diet is an extremely low carbohydrate diet that excludes many nutritious foods such as milk, fruits, fruit juices, starchy vegetables, cereals, pastas, and breads. It allows as much meat, fish, poultry, eggs, certain cheeses, fats, and oils as you want. Although research shows that the Atkins diet is associated with weight loss in the short-term, we do not know if the diet is safe (that is, its effects on blood pressure, blood lipids, and insulin) in the long-term. Since your goal is to lose 10 pounds, the most sensible and safe way to reach that goal is by reducing your intake of low nutrient density foods (such as soft drinks, snack chips, desserts, and pastries) and fried foods, and increasing your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. Exercise helps to `burn` calories and to increase your lean body mass (which in turn will cause you to use more calories even at rest). So if you can increase your current level of exercise, you will lose weight more quickly. Hopefully, a healthy diet and exercise regimen can become part of your daily routine for a lifetime, so that you will be able to maintain your weight easier than if you were to follow a short-term fad diet.

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Response by:

Bonnie J Brehm, PhD, RD Bonnie J Brehm, PhD, RD
Professor of Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati