The Atkins Diet
Watching your weight could be more harmful than you think
By Sarah Ellis
You walk into Subway thinking that you can’t go wrong ordering from the menu because everything is nutritious, yet you stare at it wondering if you are allowed to even eat the bread the sub is made with. You look for a meal with the least carbohydrates while skimming over Subway’s Atkins pamphlets, which Plattsburgh has been bombarded with lately. What once was an easy decision is now controlled by America’s most popular diet.
The fattest country in the world is watching its weight. Dr. Atkins Diet New Revolution sold over 6 million copies last year and took the nation by storm. Today people are bound to the book and all its rules to lose pounds fast. Plattsburgh is divided when it comes to the fad diet. For some, they’re satisfied by how quickly they’re losing weight. Unfortunately, many have never consulted their doctors first or didn’t research the dangers before dropping the pounds, and they now are paying for it.
Mike Diers, a college student at Plattsburgh State University (PSU), is one of many who never consulted his doctor before going on the Atkins. Although he hasn’t experienced any serious side effects, besides weight loss, he has found the diet fairly restrictive. He says his mom was his only doctor when he saw how it worked for her. His mom has lost 40 pounds and Mike has lost 22 pounds in two and a half months. He hasn’t followed all the rules of the diet, but he’s trying. “It’s good stuff,” he remarks. “I drink a lot of water, like a gallon a day, but I feel better all around.” He admits the diet is strict, but follows about 90 percent of it. “I love French toast and I can’t have it,” Diers frowns. “I can’t have candy either.”
Carbohydrates are responsible for about 60 percent of people’s daily calories, so when people cut them out, weight is going to be lost. What people don’t realize are the side effects that result from cutting such a large food and energy factor out of their diet. The number of side effects accompanying this diet is growing with every study. Dr. Shannon McMeekin of the Plattsburgh Health Center says, “Kidney damage is the biggest and most common risk because people aren’t drinking enough water.” Dry skin, weakness, acne, sunken eyes, frequent urination, headaches, dizzy spells, mood swings, and kidney damage are only the immediate reactions. McMeekin often hears complaints of diarrhea, constipation, and has already seen signs of colon disease relating to the diet. Serious side effects include high blood pressure, heart disease, high LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), and inflammation of joints, muscle loss, and cancer.
New research shows Atkins may be more harmful to women than men.
McMeekin says, “It’s more harmful to women because women have more fat composition than men; men have more muscle composition so they can consume more protein without facing serious risks.”
The Atkins diet limits carbohydrate intake, allowing so many grams at different stages. For example, during the first two weeks you are allowed to have 20 grams of carbs. However, a banana alone has 26 grams. The dilemma is obvious. Fruits and vegetables helping with the body’s immune system in fighting off diseases, even cancer, often can’t be eaten because the carbohydrate level is too high. Also, since people on the diet eat more proteins, they increase their risks of developing colon cancer.
Kehoe has lost 20 pounds in less than two months and thinks the diet is successful, but should probably only be a short-term diet. He agreed the diet is very strict and had to start it twice. He remarked there’s a list of things you’re not allowed to eat. “I eat a lot of fish and chicken and make a lot of stir-fry,” he said. He add that the diet left him hungry, but “lots of diets leave you hungry all the time.” Kehoe has heard some of the dangers in the diet and is cautious about making it a life long plan.
She believes diets are a matter of portion sizing, eating healthy, and exercising. She recommends Weight Watchers and L.A. Weight Loss over the Atkins diet. People on these diets can still have their piece of cake; they just make the piece smaller. McMeekin remarks, “The Atkins diet could be okay as a jump start to get people motivated, to see they can do it, but they should really carry on with their own personal diet and exercise.” McMeekin also recommends everyone getting a physical and a profession opinion before starting any kind of diet. She thinks eating more protein to eliminate carbohydrates is all right, but only up to a certain point because everyone needs a certain amount of carbohydrates for exercise. She believes the Atkins diet is letting Americans become even lazier because it restricts exercise.