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Atkins Diet
May 2000

Q. I have heard that the Atkins diet can be very helpful with rapid weight loss. Do you recommend this diet?

A. There is usually more than one way to skin a cat. The Atkins diet is one that emphasizes very low carbohydrate intake, allowing a higher fat and protein diet. Many current traditional diets emphasize a low fat component, allowing a more liberal carbohydrate and protein intake. It is true that the Atkins diet does help lead to lower insulin levels in the body which does reduce salt and water retention and this in itself may help with initial weight reduction. Later Ketosis occurs as fat stores are burned and broken down to help produce carbohydrates.

The concern I have is how restrictive the carbohydrate intake is. One wants to get enough fiber for possible colon cancer prevention. This requires a certain amount of fruits, vegetables and whole grains (most of which contain carbohydrates and many natural phytovitamins). Atkins does recommend Vitamin supplements with his diet. All in all though, I believe if one sticks to either the Atkin's diet or a more traditional low fat diet, along with exercise, either may be successful. I have some patients who have had good success with either type of program.

Weight loss drugs such as Meridia or Xenical can add to the success of such a program. If you decide to do the Atkins diet, I would recommend Metamucil which is a natural fiber (the sugar free flavor of course!), one serving twice per day.

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