Atkins Diet & The Low-Carb Mania: Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last year, you’ve probably noticed that low-carb mania keeps on sweeping the nation. Food manufacturers are in a heated race to see who can get the most low-carb fare into the grocery stores, and every advertiser worth their salt is emphasizing the low-carb message. Popularized by the late Dr. Atkins back in 1972, the low-carb diet keeps taking the nation by storm and promises to also be the biggest trend of 2018 … again.
So, does the low-carb diet work? Anecdotal evidence and recent studies both conclude that following a strict low-carb diet will in fact help you lose weight. Serious questions remain, however, and must be addressed before fully embracing the low-carb lifestyle. SOME of these questions include:
First of all, you should make changes to your diet that you can STICK WITH FOR THE LONG TERM. All too often, people start on a new “diet” and willpower their way to weight loss. They don’t enjoy it, mainly because their “diet” is telling them they can’t eat the foods they love. BOOM They’re off the diet. Perhaps a few months later they try another diet, just to find that it is also too restrictive and BOOM they’re off again. This yo-yo dieting takes a toll on the body, often leading to lost muscle mass and even worse a feeling of failure.
For ANY “diet” to work, it has to be created in such a way THAT YOU CAN LIVE WITH IT. Life is simply too short to be absolutely miserable, and trying to willpower yourself into a “diet” that you can’t stick with is a sure path to misery.
So, should you start a low-carb diet? That’s the million-pound question! And the answer is…..drum roll please…..MAYBE! If you think you can stick with it, AND if you take the time to read about it and get the facts, AND if you discuss it with your doctor, AND if you know what you are getting into, AND if you have the support of your family, then MAYBE the low-carb diet is right for you.
Why not just a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’? Because EVERYBODY IS DIFFERENT AND NO SINGLE PLAN IS GOING TO WORK FOR EVERYONE. Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Slim-Fast, the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet, and hundreds of other plans have all helped people, but not one of them has helped EVERYONE.
What’s important to realize is that you must discover your own nutritional plan: one that works for YOU.
And finally, a reminder to EXERCISE must be shouted from the gym floor! No matter what nutritional approach you take, ALL of the experts recommend that you exercise on a regular basis. Think about it: there are hundreds of diet plans out there in the world today, and many of them offer conflicting information, BUT THE ONE THING THAT THEY ALL HAVE IN COMMON IS THAT THEY STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO EXERCISE. So although the experts may disagree on what you should eat, they do agree on what you should do: exercise!
So far we talked about the low-carb diet, and whether or not we can stick with it for life. In this installment we’re still going to talk about carb control, but from a slightly different perspective. Let’s take a look at WHO is endorsing which diet plan, and what is their motivation?
Without a doubt, the most popular low-carb plan is the Atkins diet. Atkins is the fuel in the rocket, so to speak, that has put the low-carb phenomenon into orbit. Prior to Atkins, few (if any) of us had considered low-carbing as a weight loss plan. Of course, carb control as a concept existed long before Atkins; we called it the glycemic index!
Since the birth of the Atkins Diet, many have followed. The South Beach Diet is probably the most successful derivative of Atkins. South Beach teaches a more balanced approach to carb-control eating, pointing out the difference between “good” carbs and “bad” carbs. Yes, there is a difference! South Beach doesn’t advocate eliminating ALL carbohydrates from your diet, just some.
Along with these two low-carb heavy-hitters, there are hundreds (even thousands?) of companies out there making a living off the low-carb mania. There’s even a new magazine dedicated to low-carb living. Should we believe what THEY say? Why or why not?
What do all of these people and/or organizations have in common? Well, most of them are trying to sell us something. Atkins, of course, has books and a growing line of food products. The South Beach folks are following that retail recipe for success as quickly as they can. Just because they’re making money off the low-carb diet, does that automatically discredit what they’re saying? Of course not! But, it should be enough to make us dig a little deeper, to seek out more facts.
How about the federal government…..one of the reasons we have a government is to protect us from fraudulent claims and give us the TRUTH. Right? Well, hold on a minute: for decades the government has told us that a high-carbohydrate diet is the sure road to weight management (remember the food pyramid?). Now, all of a sudden, we’re not so sure about that.
So in whom do we place our trust? On the one hand, most of us DO trust the FDA to give us the straight-scoop about health and nutrition, so we should have 6-11 servings of carbohydrates per day. On the other hand, most of us know someone who has lost 25-50 pounds on a low-carb diet. Who’s right? Who do we trust?
Your best bet is to trust the most unbiased source available: YOUR DOCTOR. Not only will your doctor have the most knowledge to answer your questions, but perhaps more importantly your doctor HAS NO VESTED INTEREST IN PUSHING ANY PARTICULAR DIETARY PLAN.
Think about it. If you’re planning to buy a new car, who’s word are you going to trust more: the car salesman or the automotive expert at Consumer Reports? The car salesman has a vested interest in what you hear, while the Consumer Reports expert (probably) doesn’t care what kind of car you buy!
Many of us seek out fair, impartial resources when we’re making a major purchase (car, boat, house, etc.). SHOULDN’T WE DO THE SAME WHEN WE’RE INVESTING IN OUR OWN BODY?!?!?!
Please understand that we’re NOT saying you should ignore everything from low-carb promoters. We’re not saying that at all. Companies and corporations play an important role in educating the public. What we are saying, however, is that it’s critical to consult with your physician before starting on the low-carb diet…..or on ANY diet for that matter. As we discussed in the last article in this series, low-carb plans are not right for everyone. Your doctor is in the best position to tell if it’s right for you.
Once again, we must include a reminder to EXERCISE! No matter what nutritional approach you take, ALL of the experts recommend that you exercise on a regular basis. Think about it: there are hundreds of diet plans out there in the world today, and many of them offer conflicting information, BUT THE ONE THING THAT THEY ALL HAVE IN COMMON IS THAT THEY STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO EXERCISE. So although the experts may disagree on what you should eat, they do agree on what you should do: exercise!
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