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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.

        Link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISB...

        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.

                  2. As the range of responses indicates, no one diet/eating plan works for everyone - metabolisms vary. From what I've read, a lower-carb diet works really well for something like 30% of the population. Do some experimenting and see what works for you - and keep us posted!

                    1. I couldn't answer the question about gaining the weight back after going off Atkins, but the father of a friend of mine (who is a physician) has frequently ranted about how many people seem to be buying into the diet, since the short term gains are so dramatic, people either don't know or don't care about the long term damage they are doing to their livers.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: Bunny-Bunny
                        Laughing Goddess

                        Can you elaborate on this, Bunny-Bunny? Why would this diet do damage to the liver? Sorry for the ignorance -- I took it that alcohol damaged the liver, but wasn't aware of anything else.

                        1. re: Laughing Goddess

                          This is anecdotal, but I have a good friend who had a terrible problem with kidney stones while on a low carb diet (the Atkins Diet, specifically). The problem went away completely when she stopped the diet (at her doctor's request).

                          Her doctor told her that extra protein in the diet is metabolized by the liver and then excreted by the kidneys. Too much protein can damage your organs, because it overtaxes them. The scary thing is that all of this happened to her within three months even though she had no prior kidney problems.

                          It seems to me that the people on these diets (or "ways of life") are acting as guinea pigs, since no one really knows enough about the long term effects.

                          1. re: butterfly

                            ...but the Atkins diet has been around for a few decades, and there is at least as much info available on its long-term effects as there is on the low-fat, hi-carb diets that official bodies have been advocating.

                            The safest diet, of course, is smaller portions of balanced food, plus exercise. But that's boring, and slow.

                          2. re: Laughing Goddess

                            It has to do with something about how your body starts cannibilizing itself in the absence of carbs for fuel. It begins breaking down organs and tisse first to get the fuel it needs to run. Apparently the lack of glucose, which your brain needs to function optimally, can also affect your cognitive abilities. It's worth looking into.

                            If you really want to lose weight, your best bet is portion control, exercise, and eating healthy, whole, lean foods. It's a slow process, it's not exciting, you'll be hungry for a while, but it's the only way to safely lose weight and maintain that in the long term. I don't know your story, but I do know that the average American has a painfully distorted idea of appropriate portion sizes, eats much too much salt, fat, and refined sugars, and doesn't get nearly the 3 hours of moderate to intense exercise a week we all need to stay fit and healthy.

                            It's hard. It took me 2 years to lose 70 pounds that way. It was NOT fun. It meant changing a lot of things about my life, but my grandmother is diabetic, and after watching what she's been going through for the last few years with that, I decided that I did not want diabetes and I wasn't going to just sit around and slowly kill myself by eating crap and watching television when I should be out getting some of exercise. I'm not perfect. I have my lapses. Haven't been to the gym in a week and ate a burger last week. But so long as those are the exceptions, and not the rule, you can change your life, adopt healthier practices, and not do longterm harm to your body in the process.

                            If you are serious about losing weight, I really do recommend Weight Watchers. The whole thing is really about learning what are appropriate portions, healthier foods to eat, and achieving a calorie intake/output balance. I always feel silly recommending it, like I've been brainwashed by a cult (oh, weight watchers, it'll save your soul, now drink this,uhm, Koolaid), but every time I've mentioned it to a doctor or therapist or trainer, they always say that their experience is that it works better than anything else because it's not about weird food combinations or tricking your body into fast weight loss but about learning and adopting long term strategies for living a healthier lifestyle.

                            And with that, I step off my soap box (and also suggest that you read Fast Food Nation, which is SOOOO helpful in killing burger and fries cravings).

                            1. re: Bunny-Bunny

                              I agree with you completely. I thought you and the Goddess might be interested in the attched link which is to a question asked in a mountain bike forum.

                              Link: http://forums13.consumerreview.com/cr...

                              1. re: Bunny-Bunny

                                learn some science and do research. The atkins in healthy. Sugar and white flour are not.

                                1. re: scott wallas

                                  Your comment is an unprovoked attack and very rude and ill mannered. Also not quite true. The atkins diet is just another slightly unhealthy fad diet. Exercise, portion control, and eating less fats are the way to lose weight and stay healthy. If you want to talk about foods that are unhealthy then wheat, dairy, and most especially any corn syrup based products are terrible. But it's the amounts and not the substance that is what is really bad for you. Also what is bad or unhealthy for one persons metabolism may not be for another person. Everyones body works and reacts differently.

                          3. I have read some of the responses and there are a few things that should be clarified. Yes, doing the Atkins diet can damage your liver, if done improperly. I spoke to my doctor before I started and he went over some of the issues people can have with Atkins. Induction is the first part of Atkins. You are only allowed up to 20g of Carbs a day. Most people do induction for a few weeks, I only did it for about a week and a half. The problem, is that some people will stay on if for months, and that is when you will start damaging your liver. After induction, you will start adding more and more carbs back in until you get to the fourth and final stage of Atkins. Atkins stresses the importance of portion control, as well as exercise. The point of this diet is to get people eating better, and when we do eat carbs, to eat the right ones. I have learned more about food, and how my body will tolerate it. I've been on it now for a few months, and I'm up to about 60 carbs a day and still maintaining my weight. Another issue my doctor discussed is fiber. When some people do Atkins, they think that since they can have up to 20g of carbs a day, that means they can have a small bag of popcorn, or a few chips. But those 20g of carbs are suppose to be for fiber, ie. salad, green vegetables. If you don't get enough fiber you can get "backed up" which can lead to other health problems. I have heard a lot of horror stories about Atkins, however, I have yet to hear one from a single person who did it correctly. I would buy the book, consult your physician, and go to the Atkins web site which is www.Atkins.com. If you are prepared to follow the diet accurately, you will see the benefits. I've seen so many. I'm not bloated, I generally feel better, I now know what its like to be hungry and satisfied, I know what to eat, whats in it, and how it will effect me, and I've lost about 20lbs.

                            1. Over the last four years I have successfully lost weight (60 pounds) using the Atkins way of eating 3 times. I am currently down 21 pounds six weeks after starting it again for the 4th time without a single minute of excercise outside of light gardening. Over the course of two years I manged to get almost back to my original weight.
                              There are a few misconceptions about the program based on misinformation. First, it is only during induction that one really eats large amounts of meat, cheese, etc. There is a 2 to 5 day period during which your body undergoes withdrawal pains from the lack of sugar and simple carbs. This manifests as headaches and general lethargy. Second, once you are in Ketosis your energy level increases and your appetite decreases. It actually becomes difficult to eat more than playing card sized portions of meat. Third, my blood sugar has normalized. My HDL cholesteral has gone up my LDL has gone down. I have finally kicked a persistant fungal infection. The list of benifits goes on and on. I strongly suggest reading the book.

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: winkchow

                                Why aren't there a whole load of books about how to treat appendicitis? Because (almost) everyone agrees that the way that works is an appendectomy.

                                Thus, it seems to me that if any one of these diets really were so great, there wouldn't be so many differing books on the subject.

                                1. re: winkchow

                                  i'm confused...does this mean that you've had to go back on it 3 times because you regained the weight each time?

                                  regardless, diet alone is not a sufficient and appropriate way to manage weight OR stay healthy. you need to exercise as well, even if it's just a bare minimum of walking for 30 minutes several days each week. it's not just about losing weight, it's about living a healthy lifestyle and keeping your cardiovascular and skeletal systems [and even your immune response] strong - things that can only be achieved with physical activity. part of the reason so many in this country are overweight and have resorted to adopting these ridiculous dietary restrictions is because people have gotten LAZY.

                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    No, it's not just about being lazy. There are complex physiological, biochemical and genetic factors that lead to overweight. Calling such people lazy is something akin to blaming the victim.

                                    1. re: ekammin

                                      i KNOW there are other factors, the biggest ones being the QUALITY and PORTION SIZES of food americans choose to consume. but people who struggle with overweight & obesity due to specific genetic and biochemical factors are in the minority. the majority simply have poor eating habits and/or don't exercise, whether by choice, or due to environmental/lifestyle conflicts, restrictions, etc.

                                      i'm not just talking out of my a** here. i've given graduate-level university presentations on these issues, and my master's thesis was an examination of the effect of portion size on the u.s. obesity epidemic.

                                      numbers don't lie. statistics show that americans of all ages - children AND adults - are less active than ever before. adults now spend more time in the car, and sitting at a desk and/or in front of a computer...and children rarely even play outside anymore - they're too busy sitting in front of the television, playing video games, and surfing the web.

                                      few people are willing to make a commitment to put in the time and effort required to take proper care of their health and control their weight the safe and appropriate way. everything is about speed, convenience, and value. fast food, super-sized meals, drive-thrus, '30-minute meals,' even entire gyms designed around 30-minute workouts! there's a perpetual search for a shortcut, or the magic bullet [i.e. diet pills, fasts, restrictive eating plans] that will reverse the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle.

                                      oh, and for the record, calling someone who is overweight or obese a 'victim' not only excuses them from any responsibility for their health, but it encourages powerlessness and perpetuates despair and hopelessness. to take charge of one's wellness and/or future requires at least a hint of empowerment or drive...not an excuse to wallow in self-pity or blame factors that are beyond one's control. [i'm obviously speaking of those whose weight struggles are NOT due to medical or genetic conditions.]

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        I think there is a reasonable median here that you are ignoring. Anyone with any degree of intelligence should be able to realize what is within his control, and what is not, and not blame himself for the latter. Stress, though guilt or whatever, can be as much of a killer as anything else.

                                        Take, as an analogy, people with unusually brittle bones (seniors, for instance) Of course, they have a responsibility to avoid falls, injuring themselves, and so on. However, you can't expect them (to continue the analogy) to spend their whole lives in bed. And, if after taking reasonable precautions they still end up in the emergency room more often than average, it is just plain malicious to sugegst they should not be there.

                                        As well, I have had experience, while travelling in the U.S., with American-size portions. i just don't finish it all.

                                        1. re: ekammin

                                          I have been living the low carb life for 4 years and I swear by it. I went on the Fat Flush Plan-very similar to Atkins. I have lost weight very easily. When I do slip up a bit and eat more carbs I start gaining weight. I weigh every day and when I see that I am gaining weight I pull back on the carbs and I lose again. After the initial start of the program you get to add more fruits and veggies and it still works great.

                                          1. re: ekammin

                                            that analogy doesn't really make sense...the equivalent of 'taking reasonable precautions' in the case of overweight/obesity would be eating a healthy, balanced diet, and engaging in moderate exercise [health-permitting, of course]. at which point it would be safe to say that there's obviously some other factor contributing to the problem, and the patient could clearly benefit from additional intervention. if a person HAS made the effort and taken the appropriate steps, no one [including me] would [or should] say they don't deserve the extra help...or sympathy. if you're implying that i suggested anyone with a real problem didn't DESERVE help, treatment, or attention, i resent the implication. i never said anything of the sort.

                                            to each his own. let's just agree to disagree.

                                      2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        goodhealth, I usually appreciate your well-researched posts, but I don't think blaming "LAZY" people for an increase in obesity is either scientific or useful. It fails to recognise serious social problems such as urban form (suburban sprawl) or the explosion in toxic food substances such as modified fructose and transfats.

                                        As for Atkins, it doesn't strike me as balanced or healthy in the long run; sure carbs must be limited but there is a hell of a lot of difference between the impact of bad (white flour, white sugar, that awful modified fructose stuff) and whole grains... A low-GI diet will provide the same benefits as Atkins without the health risks.

                                        1. re: lagatta

                                          oy, i think everyone's misinterpreting what i said.

                                          i hope this will set the record straight...

                                          all i meant was that too many people jump on the latest "diet" bandwagon thinking it's going to solve all their weight problems and magically melt away the pounds. however, [relatively] healthy adults who have the emotional and physical capacity to [at least initially] accept responsibility for their own health and well-being need to do so. those people would benefit far more from increasing their activity and eating smaller portions of healthier foods than from following a restrictive plan that requires drastic reduction or elimination of entire food groups or macronutrients.

                                          i hope my intended message is a bit more clear now. i was actually just responding to winkchow's statement about having lost weight by following the atkins plan..."without a single minute of excercise outside of light gardening."

                                          it was never my intention to pass judgement or administer unduly harsh criticism of people who are suffering. while it may not appear this way, i feel a surprising amount of sympathy AND empathy for those who struggle with this issue...i used to be among them...and the majority of my immediate and extended family still are.

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            I think what we need here is a degree of moderation, or balance.

                                            Most people want to be healthy, and this includes sensible eating, exercise, getting enough sleep, stress avoidance, etc. But how far should this go? There are times when one would rather sit on a sofa and watch TV than go for a walk or swim, and this, too should be part of a healthy, balanced life. Likewise, tofu and bean sprouts are good, but so, occasionally, is a big, juicy steak.

                                            Another question is, does anyone have a responsibility to others to be fit, healthy, or whatever?

                                            There was a recent obituary in the newspaper here in Toronto for a well-known physician who died at a comparatively early age. Little wonder - he weighed over 400 lbs. One problem that he had was that he was gay, but had no permanent partner. He felt that his weight probably made him unattractive to other gay men.

                                            Evidently he had tried rigorous dieting to control his weight, but made a decision that he would rather accept the consequences of overweight than undergo the discomfort and deprivation of dieting. As a physician, he certainly was aware of the consequences. I certainly would not want to emulate his actions, but I completely respect his right to do what he did.

                                    2. I've been lurking on Chowhound for a while now (my husband and I are foodies who are always looking for restaurant recommendations), but this is the first post that has inspired me to comment. I'm a Registered Dietitian by trade, so weight loss, good health, and diets are every day topics in my work life. I've researched this a lot and have learned in collaboration with other professionals. The issue of gaining weight back after dieting is not unique to Atkins--it's inherent to dieting itself. However, the idea that diets don't work is deflating unless we know what does work. When research observes those individuals who seem to "effortlessly" maintain a healthy weight, we find:
                                      --these individuals eat whatever foods they enjoy, without food rules or guilt
                                      --they eat because they are hungry (not because they're bored, anxious, need a break, it's dinnertime, etc)
                                      --they stop eating because they are comfortably full (not because the plate [or package] is empty or they feel stuffed)

                                      When you study what does work, you realize these individuals seek guidance from their inner cues. The nature of diets is to instruct followers to avoid or restrict certain foods or dictate when or how much to eat--therefore insisting dieters ignore their inner cues and follow external rules. Additionally, forbidding foods strengthens cravings for those foods, which can lead to binging (see my tip "The Danger of Forbidden Fruit" on www.Wellness-RD.com for more on this). Instead of figuring out which diet will work, individuals will benefit from turning inward to listen closely to their body's signals and honoring those signals. Next, consider allowing all foods into your eating world, and examine that motivates you when you find yourself eating when you aren't hungry.

                                      One last note: To the many out there who openly or privately stereotype individuals deemed overweight as lazy, lacking willpower, or indulgent, please realize you are passing judgment without understanding. Each of us struggles with something... those in glass houses should not throw stones.

                                      1. I haven't tried the actual "Atkins" diet, but I've gone low carb and hated it. Instead I choose carbs with whole grains in limited quantities. Plus I've heard if you don't mix carbs with other foods that helps....

                                        But carbs are essential for me. There is information that it increases your serotonin level and thus fights depression and even helps suppress your appetite! It is especially important for women. Here is an article about that:


                                        1. My humble thoughts:

                                          In college my nutrition professor recommended weight watchers as the best diet that one could go on. They provide a lot of nutrition knowledge, and a support group.

                                          Also it really is about what you eat and how active of a lifestyle you have. I have found if you alter your eating habits for a while to reflect healthier items, you tend to adapt and find those more appealing. If you really crave something though eat it, in a correct proportion size. Try adding some exercise anywhere you can fit it in. Every little bit helps.

                                          I think it really is just about paying attention. When I go to the grocery store I look at that nutrition label, I look at calories compared to portion size, I try to eat mostly fresh ingredients, and I don't buy stuff I shouldn't eat because if I don't but it I won't eat it. I consciously make decisions everyday to what I eat you just have to think about it. I normally go for the 80/20 rule. I eat healthy 80% of the time and let myself splurge a little 20%, but not in a gorging way correct proportions, etc. The bf may have cookies on the shelf, and other junk and whenever it looks tempting I think to myself do you really want that? Enough to justify the calories? Or would you rather have something else later. I eat a lot of really healthy lunches and pack my lunch so I can. I think it is all about paying attention.

                                          Also are you extremely overweight? If so then the bad effects of atkins may be subsided a bit by the amount of weight loss you will have. But you can't just eat meat and cheese and expect that to be good for you. The process it creates in the body is not neccessarily a healthy process, but it can be less damaging than obesity.

                                          Also are you male? The diet tends to work much better on males, from the people I have seen, but they all have gained it right back when they stopped.

                                          I would choose an alternative, I have choose an alternative, and it works well for me. I would never, ever do Atkins, but that is just me.

                                          1. I managed to do the Atkin's diet for 6 months and lost 30 lbs. Then I got sick and went off...and gained it all back ASAP. I found it very hard to re-start because it was a lot work to stay on it.
                                            That said...I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant (essentially, you have diabetes for the duration of your pregnancy only). So I had no choice but to follow a 'diabetes diet'. It was much, much easier and much more enjoyable to follow than the Atkin's...and, although pregnant and eating like a pig, I lost weight. (and yes, my OB/GYN was fine with the weight loss). It was about balance. Very little was excluded but you did have to make sure that you were always eating everything in the correct proportions. Yes, you can have that slice of bread...as long as you have some green veggies and some protien with it. And, of course, exercise helps.

                                            one caveat - while pregnant, changing habits for the benefit of my future child was the easiest thing in the whole world. Once he popped out...sigh.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: sebetti

                                              LOL! But the benefits don't have to stop there. When we adopted our daughter, I stopped eating candy and drinking soda so that I wouldn't be hypocritical, and all of us benefited.

                                              My 2 cents: Being healthy, fit, and not overweight is a constant battle, and takes eternal vigilance!

                                            2. My Parents have been doing South Beach for quiet some time. They have tried Atkins but it is very hard to keep up and yes, they did gain weight back faster than they lost it..... . The SB diet my mom lost about 45 lb and my dad about 55lb. They say it isn't a diet but a lifestyle and according to them very easy to keep up....

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: mariekeac

                                                The word "lifestyle" makes me grind my teeth. It conveys the image of a committee telling me what I should eat, where I should live, what I should do in my spare time . . .conform, conform, ugh!

                                                But, there is more to life than being fit and thin. In fact, the stress caused by this "constant battle" will probably do you in quicker than the occasional ice cream cone.

                                                1. re: ekammin

                                                  ekammin, did you read my post above on listening to internal information instead of external information (ie, committees and conforming and such ;o)

                                                  It is funny how so many diets tell you they're a 'lifestyle change'...as if any human being could realistically give up a food group or count calories for the rest of their life. A body could eat a whole package of oreos just thinking about something so stifling!

                                                  I agree that the stress from a "constant battle" (ie dieting) is harmful to our health, but I know we can be fit, firm, and healthy AND still eat ice cream sometimes. It's called Intuitive Eating!

                                                  1. re: NutritionistLindsay

                                                    Dr. Gabe Mirkin preaches high fiber, low fat, but it must be a life-style change. He also allows for two "anything goes" meals a week for sanity maintenance. When first diagnosed diabetic at age 46, I used his diet and lost 50 pounds in three months. All of my sugar and cholesterol numbers became good, and my diabetes went away. Sadly, I didn't stick to it, and the weight returned (but slowly over several years), as did the diabetes. There are just too many temptations in our society.

                                                    1. re: Mister Big

                                                      Mister Big- You mentioned the Mirkin diet worked, except you didn't stick to it. Guess what? Chances are 95% of the people who try that diet end up gaining the weight back. Is it a good diet then? Research shows this is true of any diet--95% of people end up gaining back any weight lost, and usually more. Why do we put ourselves through dieting (and the subsequent feelings of personal failure and damage to our metabolism), when research indicates that listening to our internal cues WORKS (see my post on Oct 8). And without the slowed metabolism or regained weight!

                                              2. I've tried Atkins, South Beach, Nutrisystem, low-fat, and because of my metabolism [never met a carb my system couldn't turn into 4] Atkins does best for me. I exercise. I limit portion size. I keep the fat as low as I can while eating a fairly high-fat diet; bread is a rare treat, every week, so I get the very best high-fiber, multigrain, hand-baked stuff, and have one slice. You have to LIKE meat, cheese and the like, and you have to be able to strongly limit your carb intake even after you get off the diet. You're always short of fruits, so you take vitamins and minerals. You avoid sugar like the plague, and even avoid artificial sweeteners [which cause your body to react]. Eventually your palate adjusts to less sugar [you hope] and you taste any more acutely. [I cannot drink a regular soft drink any more: it's just like syrup to me.] I've lost over 40 lbs and kept it off for 3 years, going off it in favor of other diets, gaining weight on some, holding steady on others, back on Atkins again to bust off another 40.
                                                I adore pasta. There is one that you can get on Atkins: Dreamfields, but only after you are through most of the diet.
                                                Mentally concentrate on the things you CAN have that are verboten on most diets. I happen to love bacon. Cheese. I can make some interesting things with sour cream added to highly spiced meat dishes. Read labels. Cook for yourself. Forget about potatoes, breads, most pastas, rice. Use very heavy bread as a treat. Have strawberries or blueberries for dessert---pile on the whipped cream, all ok [use Splenda, the one allowable sweetener.] No softdrinks, not even diet. Learn to like tea or coffee. You go through a brief few days of bad taste: then your body adjusts, and you begin to taste certain flavors very acutely. Cholesterol? No problem, actually improved, and this is under close medical supervision. Mind, this is us. Metabolisms vary.
                                                This is not a diet you WANT to cheat on. It takes a week of VERY high protein to get through ketosis [bodily switchover, and that nasty taste], and if you cheat, you will have to go through it again to get back into fat-burning mode...and that's just too much work.

                                                1. I'm starting a "lifestyle change" to lose weight and feel better. Here is what I've been told:

                                                  1) Start on Phase 2 of South Beach. Stay with it - it really is a sound nutritional diet. Ignore Phase 1.

                                                  2) Exercise. Every day. Vigorously. Walking won't cut it.

                                                  3) Stop drinking. Cut out alcohol.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: jim1126

                                                    Phase 1 is meant to change your metabolism and get your body 'ready' for you diet, only for a few days why not try it??

                                                  2. Any diet that advocates limiting fruit intake and eating bacon should be suspect. Really!? In a country where most people do not eat enough fruit and veggies, I detest the idea of a diet that tells you something that naturally grows from the earth is bad. Obviously, everyone must find what works for them but I think Atkins is not nutritionally sound. I have been within 5 pounds of the same weight since I was 18 and here is what works for me:
                                                    1. Eat 5-7 servings of fruits and veggies each day
                                                    2. Exercise every day- even if it is simply walking the dog around the block.
                                                    3. Break a good sweat at least 4 times a week.
                                                    4. Eat whatever you want, but not as much as you want. If it is something I really crave, then I allow myself 3-4 bites.
                                                    5. Never eat processed junk food.
                                                    6. Never turn down homeade desserts (I have a sweet tooth). Even if you only have a bite or two.
                                                    7. Don't drink your calories. Mostly water every day. A glass of wine once a week.
                                                    8. Every once in a while, have a meal where you eat whatever you want. Just stop when you are full.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Honey Bee

                                                      alas, honeybee, if I ate that, [and I have], I'd pack on pounds like crazy. I skate hard 2 1/2 hours a day, can gain weight on one whole orange or apple, never go back for seconds, limit myself to a modest serving, never have dessert except berries, never eat hamburgers/french fries/junk, and STILL gain weight if I don't keep my carbs under 30 for the day, under 20 if I want to lose anything. People are just that different, I think...and I don't doubt for a moment that's a healthy routine you have; but carrying 80 extra pounds'll kill you, so alas, no desserts for me, not for the last 40 years, just berries, salmon, lots of salmon, chops, and, yep, bacon when I want it. I tried all the healthy diets, gained back 10 of my 40 plus pounds while strictly adhering to the shipped food from Nutrisystem; went back on Atkins and lost the 10 plus a little. So I'm downward bound again....got some more to go.
                                                      What we'll all agree on, for sure, is a doctor's involvement: blood tests, cardiac tests, cholesterol tests, etc, and exercise as hard as you can. I'm lucky that I can skate a couple of hours a day. If you can't, it's so much harder. Brain work helps: the brain burns up more calories than one would guess...but if you can walk down the block and back, that's going to up the metabolism; and muscle is calorie-hungry, so that helps, even if you're breaking a sweat after 3 houses down the sidewalk.

                                                    2. Another resource to check out might be the website for the biggest loser I watch the show and I think they have a lot of weight loss tips and workouts on there, at least that is what they say, and after seeing the people go through that program they are doing something right!

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: ktmoomau

                                                        Bunch of Crap - I livd in Italy and watched all my healthy friends (male and female) liberally dose their pizzas and pasta with olive oil (gasp!)

                                                        But they also WALK and dont sit on their arses and watch tv all day...

                                                        Eat what you want and excersise!

                                                      2. It's not carbohydrates that are a problem. You need lots of carbs -- but complex ones -- like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

                                                        The problem with the American diet is all the processed carbs: white rice; white flour; refined sugar; and Gawd help us, all the corn syrup. Those things rev up your system and then leave you hungry for more of the same.

                                                        Eliminate them and your appetite will fall naturally and you will be consuming what your body needs.