Healthy Dieting Versus Atkins Diet
Obesity is currently one of the most serious health problems in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 33.3% of men and 35.3% of women in the U.S. were considered overweight between 2005 and 2006. Between 2003 and 2004, meanwhile, the prevalence of obesity among children aged 12-19 years was said to have increased from 5% to 17.4%. A person is said to be overweight if his or her Body Mass Index (BMI) is between 25 and 29.9 and obese if he or she has a BMI of 30 or higher (CDC, n. pag.).
As a result, many Americans suffer from or die of lifestyle-oriented ailments that are otherwise highly-preventable. According to the American Heart Association, 451,326 Americans died of heart attack in 2004. Stroke claimed the lives of 275,000 Americans in 2002 (Internet Stroke Center, n. pag.). In the same year, 224,092 Americans died of diabetes (CDC, 6). Doctors attributed these mortality rates to sedentary lifestyles and high consumption of processed foods.
These statistics prompted many Americans to assume various weight-loss regimens. The fitness industry in the U.S., in turn, capitalized on this need and offered a wide range of weight-loss strategies. From diet pills to liposuction, fitness centers throughout the country are making a killing out of making people thinner. The fitness industry was said to have earned $14.8 billion (2005) in the last ten years (Gold’s Gym, n. pag.).
One of the most popular fad diets nowadays is the Atkins diet. In this two-week diet, consumption of proteins and fats is allowed, but all forms of carbohydrates must be eliminated. Atkins operates on the premise that obesity is a result of excessive carbohydrate intake. Although the human body burns both carbohydrates and fat for energy, it uses carbohydrates first. The Atkins diet believes that should there be fewer carbohydrates in the body, it will burn fat more efficiently (WebMD, n. pag.).
But the Atkins diet is very controversial primarily because of its negative health effects. The lack of carbohydrates forces the body to go into a state of ketosis, wherein it generates energy by burning its own fat. Ketosis, in turn, results in weight loss through decreased appetite. However, ketosis may also cause bad breath and constipation in some people (WebMD, n. pag.).
Health and nutrition experts are concerned that Atkins will lead to more serious and long-term health problems. High intake of saturated fats may bring about higher risks of heart disease. Osteoporosis may likewise ensue due to low calcium consumption (dairy products are major sources of calcium). Nutritional deficiencies due to lack of vegetables and fruits in the diet may result in heart disease, cancer, premature aging and cataracts. Excessive consumption of protein may weaken bones or cause kidney ailments (Kellow, n. pag.).
The core flaws of the Atkins diet are its unrealistic goal when it comes to weight loss and its claims that clearly go against common logic. People subscribe to Atkins mainly because of celebrities who boast that it will make them “lose 13 pounds in just two weeks.” Furthermore, the argument that fried chicken is healthier than baked potato because the latter is rich in carbohydrates is just plain stupid. Many studies have already proven than animal fats are major causes of heart ailments. Those who want to lose weight must consult a doctor and or a nutritionist rather than listen to an actress who has no scientific integrity.
Dieters should instead follow a weight loss program that has realistic goals. A healthy weight loss regimen aims for slow and moderate weight loss rather than losing a large amount of weight in a short period of time. The loss of about 5% to 15% of one’s body weight within six months or more is safer and easier to maintain. Fitness experts say that shedding ½ to 2 pounds a week is the safe rate of weight loss (WIN, n. pag.).
In order to lose weight safely and effectively, dieters must have a well-balanced food intake made up of fruits, vegetables and lean parts of meat and fish. They must also integrate weight loss into their everyday life through the following tips:
a. Keep a food diary. A food diary lists the foods a dieter has eaten throughout the day, as well as what time these were eaten, the feelings the dieter had when eating them and how the dieter can improve on his or her eating habits (WIN, n. pag.).
b. Shop from a list and shop when not hungry (WIN, n. pag.).
c. Store foods out of sight, or do not keep many high-fat, high-sugar foods in your home (WIN, n. pag.).
d. Eat smaller servings of regular meals. When eating in a restaurant, eat only half of your meal and take the rest home (WIN, n. pag.).
e. Eat at the table and turn off the TV (WIN, n. pag.).
f. Be realistic about weight-loss goals. Aim for a slow, modest weight loss (WIN, n. pag.).
g. Seek support from family and friends (WIN, n. pag.).
h. Expect setbacks and forgive yourself if you regain a few pounds (WIN, n. pag.).
i. Add moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical intensity to your weight-loss plan. Doing regular physical activity may help you control your weight (WIN, n. pag.).
Attempting to lose weight, just like any endeavor, requires patience and realistic goals. Fad diets like Atkins may provide instant gratification to dieters, but at the expense of health problems with long-term effects. A healthy weight loss regimen may result in shedding fewer pounds at a longer period of time, but it will also bring about overall wellness. Thin is not in – fit is.
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