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Mar 15, 2003 04:12 PM

Atkins diet? Yes or No?

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I've been considering doing the Atkins diet for some time. I have two friends who have done well on it, but gained it all right back when they stopped. And I met one guy that told me he lost 50 pounds and is doing fine. But I'm worried about trying it -- others have told me that people will gain weight twofold when they stop Atkins.

Are there particular websites you would point me to? I know I could google this, but I wanted opinions from people who have *been* there.

And how do you live without carbs, anyway? This chowgirl loves her bread and pasta. :-)

Thanks, anyone who can help.

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  1. From what I can tell, it's just like any other diet. If you don't get more exercise and make it a consistent part of your life, you're going to gain the weight back if you go off the diet.

    My chowhound SO recently lost over 30 pounds, by mildly cutting back his portions and walking more. We stopped taking public transportation and started walking everywhere and it really seemed to kickstart his metabolism (of course I'm still as sluggish as I've always been...).

    6 Replies
    1. re: butterfly

      Ahmen. Moderation and exercise.

      1. re: SLRossi

        Atkins works for a lot of people. I've known great success stories not just with weightloss, but with blood pressure and cholesterol.

        A few years back I did a modified low-carb program called "Lean for Life" (which is not the same as Fit for Life or Body for Life). This system advocated 100 grams of carbs or less per day. I have to say it was hard hard hard hard hard for me to do it, but I lost the 20 pounds I wanted to in a very short period of time (7 weeks).

        I also had headaches and dizzy spells. I also did not remember things as well, and got crabby very often. I didn't perform well with complicated mental tasks at work.

        When I quit the plan, some of the weight came back. I had to be Draconian in my portion control in order to just avoid gaining weight, much less trying to lose it! It was a long hard struggle indeed.

        I will never limit carbs, personally, again -- other than simple portion control. I found it had a bad affect on my brain. I've known other people it hasn't affected, however, and who swear by it. As with everything, I think that it depends on the person. For some people it's a godsend -- for the rest of us, it's portion control and exercise which have to do it.

        Carefully study the plan before you embark upon it -- I find Atkins far more radical than Lean for Life and positively scary in the preliminary stages. I would never subject myself to it -- but people differ.

        Also, the old mantra of moderation, and eating as many "whole foods" as possible always helps.

        Two distinctly American foods that you can eliminate from your diet completely are high-fructose corn syrup (in my beloved Coca-cola, alas) and hydrogenated fats. There is no reason for your body to be consuming these, and there is a lot of research claiming that these can contribute to obesity. Since they contain no important nutrients to our body, and there is nothing in them that we need, just eliminate them from your diet to be safe.

        But that's easier said than done -- hydrogenated fat is in like 40% of the stuff on grocery shelves. HFC is everywhere -- you have to buy drinks that are specifically formulated with cane sugar (like at Whole Foods) in order to avoid it in non-diet soft drinks. It's a pain, but read every stupid lable. HFC is in inane things like spaghetti sauce, and hydrogenated fat is even in low-fat foods like crackers. Everywhere, everwhere!

        If Atkins works for your health and weight control, I wish you all the luck in the world. I'm not willing to risk my own bad side affects again, and would rather temper my indulgences instead.

        And I know this sounds like a stupid, public-service announcement thing, but talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to tell you what would be best for you, considering your family history of medical problems or any current medical conditions you may have. Different people need to control different things in order to maintain healthy weight, and your MD is better at assessing that then you are.

        I've also known people who have used the resources of their local hospitals, with steady and safe, healthy weight loss. Many hospitals have weight-control plans (some are free or very low cost!) and the services of a dietician. This kind of specialized attention has got to be at least a little more personalized than just buying a best-selling book and winging it on your own.

        All this said -- my sister has lost well over 50 pounds on Weight Watchers. She is happy with the points program, and has consistently lost weight without eliminating carbohydrates. That might be another option for you, if you decide not to go the low-carb route.

        Good luck!

        1. re: Mrs. Smith

          I've lost close to 30lbs on Weight Watchers. It's slow going, not an "I lost 30lbs in 3 weeks!" thing at all. But it works. It's all about portion control and eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. For me, it's a healthy way to eat, period. Not just for losing weight.

          1. re: manraysky

            AMEN! I've been on ww since February and I've lost almost 50lbs so far. the thing about ww is that's it is a lifestyle change, not a diet. you can continue your success forever by continuing the habits you have learned. :)

            our ww leader did atkins and lost 30 something lbs, but gained it all back and then some. she says it is because atkins is not something most people can continue long term.

      2. re: butterfly
        JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

        The reducing portions and exercising has been working for me... 20 pounds in the last two months, and it feels wonderful. There's a link below to the book I'm using, and of course it helps out Chowhound.

        My opinion on the Atkins diet is that it's not all it's cracked up to be. I see all of these low-carb, high-protein baking mixes and breads, and can't help but think that if The Powers That Be wanted bagels to be high in protein, we would have been able to lop them off an animal much like you would a steak.


        1. re: JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

          I recommend looking at the books written by Diana Schwartzbein (I may have misspelled it) which present a less radical and seemingly more thought through version of the low carb program.

          I have found these regimes very helpful though as a chowhound it is difficult to limit carbs so closely indefinitely.

      3. Hi. First of all, Atkins is not a diet. It's an eating plan for life. Anyone who has gone on a "diet", lost weight then goes back to their old eating habits will gain weight back. It's the old habits that got them to the point of needing to lose weight in the first place.

        I've been doing Atkins for over three years. My very high cholesterol dropped dramatically, my high blood pressure stabilized and I don't have the arthritis flare ups I used to painfully experience. My energy level tripled.

        I suggest you read the Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution book before making up your mind. It helps to understand the reasons behind the plan. There are also some very good low-carb cookbooks available. I love the Fran McCullough books "Low Carb Cookbook" and "Living Low Carb." Prevention magazine also published the "Lose Weight the Smart Low Carb Way" that is a modified version of a low carb eating plan. It allows whole grains and legumes.

        When I first started doing the Atkins plan, I received a lot of criticism and ridicule from some co-workers who didn't understand the concept. They tagged it the "high fat" diet. This was not the case at all. While you are allowed to eat foods that low fat diets restrict, you are not going to find yourself cutting the fat off of a steak to eat and leaving the meat. You can have real butter (which is better for you than margerine)real cream and real mayonaise. And remember this, you are on the very restricted phase for a short time then you gradually add to each phase until you reach your desired weight. Then you can add almost anything back into your diet in moderation. You will then have learned how to eat a reasonable amount without over indulging which caused the weight gain in the first place.

        Needless to say, exercise is important to everyone, not just people trying to lower their weight. This is truly advocated by Dr. Atkins.

        There are also some very good websites available for support and information. Low Carb Luxury is a very informative place to go. Truly Low Carb is another. There are legions of people out there like myself.
        Check these sites out and visit the chat rooms for more information before you decide. And, good luck.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Neta

          Just curious, how did you lower your cholesterol eating meat, eggs and cheese? Or did you eat leaner stuff, like chicken breast and fish?

          1. re: Tatyana

            If you look at the arguments in the Schwartzbein books it appears that high blood cholesterol levels are not caused by eating high cholesterol foods - life - nutrition and metabolism just arent that simple.

            1. re: jen kalb

              You're right. I was a vegetarian/low dairy/low fat for 20 yrs and still had high cholesterol, courtesy of my gene pool. My doctor said I still needed to watch my intake of fats, though, sigh...

            2. re: Tatyana

              I haven't read the Schwartzbein books, but the best explanation I have read is in Protein Power by the Drs. Eades. They say most of blood cholesterol is manufactured by the body (specifically the liver) in response to high insulin levels which are due to too much sugar/carbs in the diet.

              1. re: Tatyana

                I do eat eggs, meat (red) and cheese. I also eat fish and chicken. It's the sugar which comes in many forms including some vegetables and fruits that is the culprit. Sugar is far worse for us than fat. Once I eliminated the sugar, flour and starches, my cholesterol plummeted. The same thing happened to my husband as we do this together. By eliminating the large amounts of carbs from my diet, I also got rid of the cravings and the enormous appetite for things that were bad for me. You find yourself eating healthy portions of the right foods. That's the whole key.

                1. re: Neta

                  I am also doing a "Low-Carb" lifestyle, and I think the single-most interesting thing is that my cravings for starches and sugars has diminished.

                  The other key change I see in myself is that I'm just far more aware of what I put into my body. I eat only when I'm hungry, and don't "graze" all day like I used to. I also don't overeat the way I used to. And I think twice before reaching for a sugar or carb heavy snack - and I'll grab a handful of veggies or a slice of cheese instead.

            3. I lost 50 on it, but went off due to spending months sitting in a hospital with a dying parent and not taking care of myself, and am looking forward to getting back on. The weight never entirely came back. (and I was commuting 3 hours a day, zero exercise, eating fast food and out of vending machines)

              I gained the 50 on low-fat high-carb Weight Watchers - before they started their new "point" system). When I am seriously low-carbing I feel absolutely great, my skin and hair are much healthier, I need no antacids, I sleep better.

              I love quality meats and I love vegetables, and you can gradually add back a reasonable amount of pastas and breads.

              In addition to the Atkins book, I recommend reading anything you can find about the dramatic increase over the past century in the amount of sugar Americans consume. It is now like 65 pounds a year, and used to be somewhere around ten.

              1. I have one key piece of advice:

                Limit the SATURATED fat. Even Atkins himself seems lately to be hedging his old "eat all the steak and cheese you want" advice. There are many, many, many studies showing that while simple carbs are "bad" (and thus should be eliminated), saturated fats are at least as bad. Thus, try to make almost all of your fats the "healthy" variety.

                1. n
                  Natalie in Los Angeles

                  I would suggest taking a look at the "Sugarbuster's" book. It's a "way of life" (as opposed to diet) that also limits carbohydrates but doesn't restrict them completely. You can have bread, pasta, etc. as long as they are whole wheat. You can have almost all fruits and vegetables. I found it very easy to follow, and have incorporated a lot of its basic eating ideals into my regular life.

                  FYI : I only had about 10 pounds to lose and found it very difficult to do. Exercise and eating low fat wasn't working. When I started the Sugarbusters way of eating, I lost the weight in 3 weeks! I couldn't believe it. Now, 4 months since doing Sugarbusters very strictly, I've maintained the weight loss.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Natalie in Los Angeles

                    I think you're on to something...

                    I can stay 5-10 lbs overweight with basically no effort. I don't really crave most fatty foods, so by just holding back on the pizza and full fat ice cream, I can "amaze my friends" by being a size 2 even though they know all I ever think about is food. However, those last few pounds(which I usually drop in the summer) require eliminating dessert. Sad but true.

                    So that's my theory...cut out the fat to be a healthy weight...cut out refined sugar if you want to see your abs.