Atkins Diet Pro and Cons: Let Them Eat Steak
by Amy Finley
Atkins Diet Pro and Cons: Things to Consider
Before beginning any weight loss or dieting program, there are a number of factors to consider. These include the amount of weight you need to lose, your current eating habits, the duration and frequency of physical exercise and activity, and your current physical health. While the Atkins diet has stemmed a lot of controversy over the last several years, the evidence on whether it is really a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ choice for dieters is inconclusive.
Although the jury’s still out on this one, there are certainly a number of Atkins diet pro and cons that should be considered when deciding on a dieting regimen.
Pros of the Atkins diet include:
- Rapid weight loss – most people find that they lose weight relatively quickly while on the Atkins diet.
- Lack of hunger – because the Atkins diet is based primarily on consumption of proteins such as meat products, which takes longer to digest, the Atkins diet follower may not be as hungry as on other diets (and therefore less likely to ‘cheat’).
- Lowering of cholesterol – surprisingly, some short term studies have shown that levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol were lower in those adhering to the Atkins diet.
- Living ‘proof’ it works: so many people have tried and gotten favorable results from the Atkins diet, it may seem crazy to even question its effectiveness.
- Easily available: the low-carb craze has swept the nation, so Atkins and a huge variety of other low-carb products are now available virtually anywhere.
- Gender neutral: while many diets are geared primarily toward women, the Atkins diet is geared towards both men and women.
- Type of foods – foods like bacon, typically a no-no on other diets, are allowed.
- May work well for those with diabetes as high-carb diets typically raise blood sugar levels.
Overall, there are many positive aspects in evaluating Atkins diet pro and cons. In order to present a balanced argument, however, we should look at the cons of the Atkins diet as well:
- Long-term weight loss inconclusive – some studies have shown that while many dieters lost weight rapidly in the beginning, they often gained weight back later on.
- Studies on cholesterol lowering are short term, no conclusive long-term studies regarding cholesterol.
- High in saturated fat – Atkins’ diets often contain as much as ¼ of the daily calorie intake from saturated fats.
- Potential digestive problems – constipation, dehydration, and nausea. Linked to this is that the recommendations for preventing colon cancer include a diet rich in whole grains (note that carbs, ideally whole grains, are introduced slowly back into the diet under the Atkins plan).
- Lack of energy, weakness, possibly ketosis (physical reaction linked to lack of calories, especially in people with diabetes).
- Headaches, possibility of not being able to concentrate.
- Expense – meat products and special Atkins products may run up a higher grocery bill.
- Not suitable for vegetarians or women who are nursing.
The Atkins diet pro and cons are about equal. So how do you make the choice?
Ultimately, it’s your body and your health. You can’t always have your cake (or should we say steak?) and eat it, too. Along with your doctor or healthcare professional, you should evaluate the risks and benefits of the various Atkins diet pro and cons and make a decision you are comfortable with.
In addition to being a freelance writer for Pulsemed International, Amy Finley is a graduate student working on her M. A. in English Literature at Cleveland State University, a creative writer, and an editor with Editfast. Ms. Finley is also the mother of three young children.