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Atkins diet not worth the long term risks

Methods of weight management are constantly in the news. The Atkins diet in particular has been endorsed by many celebrities, yet has recently been condemned by nutritionists.

The concerns raised by, among others, The Food Standards Agency in the United Kingdom, should make any person contemplating the plan think twice.

As a result of the findings of the FSA, the UK government has released warnings that this diet is in fact dangerous. The FSA, the British government’s nutrition department, published the statement that the low-carb diet could potentially lead to heart disease, cancer, and ironically, obesity.

The late Dr. Robert Atkins invented the no-carbohydrate, high-protein diet that is based on eliminating carbohydrates from a person’s daily intake of food. This would then send the body into a state of ketosis, in which it will switch converting glucose to energy and rely on fat cells.

According to, ketosis is caused by an excess of ketones in the body, the result of excessive breakdown of fat cells when there is a lack of insulin. Insulin, derived from carbohydrates, is responsible for maintaining levels of blood sugar and metabolism. When the body’s metabolism slows it becomes harder to burn off unwanted fat.

Like any diet, 60 percent of the weight lost will be within the first two months of starting the diet. The weight lost initially is water weight, not fat. The Atkins official Web site,, admits that if you stop the diet, any weight lost will likely return so to be successful, the diet needs to be a long-term commitment.

But exclusively eating protein for life has serious long-term health effects. After prolonged periods of time, the state of ketosis will turn into ketoacidosis according to a news release from The Cleveland Clinic. Ketoacidosis has been known to lead to states of insulin shock and even death in the case of diabetics. High levels of saturated fat can lead to heart disease and high blood pressure as well.

According to The Daily Telegraph of London, nutritionists are concerned that high levels of protein present in the body could strain the kidneys and lead to a loss of calcium, essential to the body for bone strength and preventing diseases like osteoporosis.

There is, however, a newer version of the Atkins diet that has not been labeled as dangerous because it does not require the participant to eliminate carbohydrates completely. This version is less risky as it does not exclude any food group altogether.

Such extreme diets are rarely necessary since moderation, regular exercise and balanced eating habits can lead to a healthy lifestyle and weight. In the long run such lifestyle changes are not only healthier but also less risky.

As long as numerous celebrities and books are promoting Atkins and other low-carbohydrate diet plans, the U.S. administration should follow the example of the UK government and start educating citizens about the potential risks.