Atkins Diet Essay, Research Paper
The purpose of the article was to examine the effectiveness of the high-protein Atkins diet while taking into account all of its possible side effects. The whole idea of the diet is that by eating whatever high-protein or high-fat food you like, while simultaneously limiting your carbohydrate intake to 20 grams per day, for an initial 2 week period after which you gradually increase to 75 grams, you will trigger ketosis as well as lower your levels of insulin. If insulin levels are lowered, glucose is less readily brought to the muscles for energy expenditure. This is an important part of the diet as Dr. Adkins refers to insulin as the fattening hormone.
The issue is relevant because there are several potential side effects to this diet that could be detrimental to the dieter. This diet could have several harmful affects on the users performance. Dean Ornish, M.D., says ketosis could lead to heart beat irregularities. David Ludwig, M.D., agrees, by claiming the excess amount of ketones cause acidic buildup of the bloodstream, leading to problems in the heartbeat. The diet itself encourages eating whatever is desired, leading to excess amounts of fat intake, which we all know can lead to heart disease. What s even worse is that the diminished blood flow could also affect the ability to get an erection, as stated by Dr. Ornish, definitely a negative. Louis Aronne, M.D., adds that the lack of carbohydrates leads to a reduced amount of B vitamins, fiber, and serotonin, which could lead to depression. By limiting the carbohydrates, the muscles are depleted of glycogen, which causes the athlete to hit the wall much sooner. Obviously, there seem to be a number of down sides to this diet.
This article does not really provide references to scientific research, however throughout the article there are several quotes by various M.D. s relating to the numerous side effects of the Atkins diet. There is no bibliography containing references for this article. They relied on opinions and quotes from M.D. s as the prime sources of support.
In terms of exercise fitness and training, the article does not cover this topic. However, as stated by Dr. Atkins in his book, exercise can only be beneficial for an individual on the diet. Though he stated many of his patients really did not need to exercise because the diet itself was sufficient, he claimed, All of them would have been much better off if they had been willing to incorporate a reasonable amount of healthy exercise into their lives. He goes on to talk about benefits to exercise, including it will make you look and feel better as well as reduce the output of insulin, the fattening hormone.
In reference to the validity of the article, and the diet for this matter, there is a major contradiction. Dr. Adkins claims that being in ketosis means that one is burning fats and using them as the source of fuel they were meant to be. He adds that ketosis is the most efficient path one could follow in trying to become slim. One releases ketones through the breath and urine, a sign that fat is being burned. Contradicting this view is the author of Anatomy & Physiology, Kenneth S. Saladin. He says, Rapid fat catabolism elevates blood concentrations of free fatty acids and their breakdown products, the ketones. Furthermore, ketones in the urine contribute to osmotic diuresis as well as electrolyte deficiencies that cause irregular heartbeat and nervous system disorders. As ketoacidosis sets in, the nervous system is depressed and can lead to coma or even death. As Saladin clearly states, this reliance on ketones may not be as healthy as thought by Dr. Adkins. Referring to insulin, Dr. Adkins feels that the levels must be lowered because a carbohydrate-insulin boost causes you to store more fat and have a bigger appetite. As stated by Jack H. Wilmore and David L Costill, the main function of insulin is to reduce the amount of glucose circulating in the blood. Therefore, by following Dr. Adkins s recommendations and decreasing one s carbohydrate intake, this will also decrease the amount of glucose entering the body, therefore limiting the role of insulin. This aspect of the diet is valid and logical. However, the backbone of the diet, the role of ketosis in burning fat is questionable.
The article goes on to give recommendations to a better diet, as shared by Dr. Ludwig. He states that similar weight loss results can be obtained by eating carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index. A low index will have a small effect on insulin levels, therefore reducing the amount of potentially stored fats. Dr. Ludwig believes this type of diet is ideal for weight loss. A diet resembling the one recommended by Dr. Ludwig seems much safer and healthier than the Adkins diet. By altering levels of hormones in the body and causing chemical imbalances, several harmful side effects seem to occur. It is much safer to stick to the food pyramid, and exercise on a regular basis if weight loss is desired.