10 Lies About The Atkins Diet and The
Surprising Truth That The By Tom
Venuto - author of
Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle
Low Carb Gurus Dont Want You To Know About
Low carbohydrate diets such as Atkins have
always been controversial, but with the recent wave of new research and
publicity, the controversy is now raging hotter than ever. One headline in the
San Francisco Chronicle said that the battle between the low and high carbers
had become so heated since mid 2002 that Knives had been drawn.
From my vantage point (as a health and
fitness professional down in the trenches), it looks more like tanks, artillery
and machine guns have been drawn! Tragically, the people being hurt the most by
these diet wars are not the experts, but the dieters.
After its original publication in 1972, The
Atkins Diet was regurgitated in 1992 as Dr. Atkins New Diet
Revolution, creating a new surge of interest in low carbohydrate dieting.
Then, in July of 2002, the controversy reached an all time high when the New
York Times Magazine published an essay by Gary Taubes titled, What if
its all been a big fat lie? The article suggested that new research
was now proving the late Dr. Atkins had been right all along.
More research in 2003 seemed to corroborate
the Taubes story: Two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine in May of
2003, and another in June 2003 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and
Metabolism, suggested that Atkins was equally, if not more effective for weight
loss than conventional diets at least in the short term.
With the publication of this new
information, Atkins supporters boasted, "See, I told you so, while their
opponents fired back in defense of their high carb, low fat positions.
Meanwhile, low carb foods and supplements became all the rage, bread and pasta
sales took a nosedive and the wheat industry cried the blues.
With differences in opinion as opposite as
the North and South Poles, its become unbearably confusing and
frustrating to know which weight loss method is best and safest. At the date of
this writing, in late 2003, obesity has reached an all time high AGAIN!
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 64% of Americans
are overweight and 31% are obese, and its only getting worse.
Obviously, the popular weight loss methods
today including the low carb diet are still missing
If youre confused by the whole high
carb, low carb thing and if youre frustrated with your attempts at trying
to lose weight and keep it off, then this may be the most important report you
will ever read. In the next few minutes, youll discover the real truth
about low carb diets and a real solution to the problem of excess body fat.
Read on to learn the 10 Lies about the Atkins diet and the truth that will set
your body free!
Lie #1: The Atkins and other low carb
diets dont work
If your definition of what "works" is quick
weight loss, then the Atkins Diet DOES work. Recent studies showed that the
Atkins Diet causes greater weight loss than the American Heart
Association-recommended high carb, low fat diet. In fact, for obese people with
disorders of carbohydrate metabolism (hyperinsulinemia, hypoglycemia, and
insulin resistance), Atkins-style diets have been shown to work especially
However, if your definition of what "works"
is permanent fat loss, then the Atkins diet doesnt fare so well... but
neither do any other diets. It seems that despite some encouraging initial
successes, Atkins dieters still face the same difficulties keeping off
the weight as everyone else. Some of the same studies showing rapid weight loss
on Atkins in the beginning also showed substantial weight gain as soon as the
Truth is, a growing body of evidence is
mounting that carbohydrate restriction can accelerate weight loss in the short
term, but it has yet to be proven that it keeps the fat off in the long
Which approach towards low carb dieting is
best is also up for debate: Not all low carb diets are high fat or ketogenic
and not all are ultra-low in carbs. A low carb diet can be low in
carbs and high in fat, it can be low in carbs and high in protein, or it can be
somewhere in the middle.
I predict that continued research will
discover that moderate carbohydrate restriction (especially in a cyclical
fashion) and careful selection of carbohydrates, will in fact assist with fat
loss via hormonal control, metabolic efficiency and appetite regulation. I
believe that neither extreme - the severely restricted low carb diet (ketogenic
diet) or the very high carb, low fat diet will emerge the victor.
Lie #2: Theres a ton of new
research proving the Atkins diet is effective
If you surf around the Internet for a while
searching for Atkins Diet, you are likely to see a lot of
advertisements and news briefs pointing to the new research proving
that Atkins is effective.
"New England Journal of Medicine
Vindicates Atkins diet."
"Studies suggest Atkins diet is safe."
"New research challenges 30 years of
Truth is, these headlines are not giving you
the full picture.
Until and unless you have closely examined
these studies and the researchers interpretation of the results,
dont be so quick to believe the hearsay.
The general conclusion of nearly all these
studies is that Atkins IS equally if not more effective for short term weight
loss than conventional diets. However, nearly all the researchers also conclude
with remarks such as:
"The results are very preliminary,"
"The take-home message is that this diet deserves further study." "More
research is needed."
Furthermore, consider what the Atkins
diet was being compared to in these studies: The traditional food
pyramid diet with 60-65% carbs including plenty of pasta, cereals and
What if the traditional high carb diet is
Dont write off carb restriction
completely, but dont ditch all your carbs yet either.
Lie #3: The new studies prove that the
Atkins diet is healthy and doesnt raise cholesterol as previously
In a May of 2003, the results of a 12-month
study on the Atkins diet were reported in the New England Journal of Medicine
(NEJM). One group followed the traditional food pyramid with 60% of the
calories from carbohydrates while the second group followed the Atkins diet.
After one year, Atkins participants had a
greater increase in the good HDL cholesterol and a larger drop in triglyceride
than the high carb group. Gary Foster, the leader of the study said, "Our
initial findings suggest that low carb diets may not have the adverse effects
Conventional wisdom has dictated for years
that saturated fat and cholesterol were dangerous and unhealthy, contributing
to coronary heart disease. This led most health professionals to condemn low
carb diets that allowed large amounts of saturated fat.
This belief is now being questioned. Many
authors such as Mary Enig and Uffe Rashnkov have presented compelling cases
that dietary cholesterol and saturated fat do not cause heart disease. The
latest research seems to confirm this. However, many factors affected the
results of these new studies.
In some studies, the subjects did not follow
the Atkins Diet to exact specifications and never entered ketosis, so
conclusions about The Atkins Diet, ketosis and coronary health cannot be
drawn yet. In other studies, cholesterol-lowering drugs were used. And in still
others, some subjects actually showed increases in total cholesterol. Those who
did show improvements may have previously been on a high refined sugar, high
saturated fat diet and dropping the sugar was one step in the right direction.
Furthermore, some of the drop in blood cholesterol could be attributed to the
decrease in body weight.
Clearly, you cant lump all dietary
fats into the same category. Processed and chemically altered trans fats have
been condemned by virtually every health and nutrition expert on the planet.
Other fats, like salmon and fatty fish, are among the healthiest and
cardio-protective foods you can eat. Much evidence is showing that reasonable
amounts of naturally occurring saturated fats such as those found in whole eggs
and red meat also need not be feared (especially in the absence of sugars).
Truth is, all the information we have
available at this time indicates the fat phobia and fat makes
you fat scare has been unfounded because not all fat is the same.
However, claims that diets very high in overall and saturated fat are healthy
and safe for long term use are still premature.
Lie #4: The Atkins diet will help you
keep fat off for good
Dr. Atkins writes that his diet "Is so
perfectly adapted to use as a lifetime diet that, unlike most diets, the weight
wont come back."
Its a weight loss axiom that the more
extreme a diet and the faster the weight loss, the more difficult it is to
maintain the results. Slow, steady and balanced seems to win the race when it
comes to weight control.
Unfortunately this isnt what most
people want to hear. The four pounds per week and up to 15 pounds in the first
two weeks that Atkins promises sounds much more impressive.
There are two things you really need to know
about rapid weight loss:
(1) What kind of weight was lost? How much
of it was body fat and how much was water, glycogen and lean tissue?
(2) Are you going to you keep the weight off
Most low carbers wont keep the weight
off for more than a year, and many will fall off the wagon long before
Keith Ayoob, a spokesperson for the American
Dietetic Association (ADA), said in an official ADA statement about the 2003
NEJM studies: "Twelve months is an equalizer; you hit a wall. Your lifestyle
starts to be affected and you get bored. A high dropout rate is a sign that
extreme diets can be difficult to maintain.
Truth is, despite Dr. Atkins claims
and the new research apparently supporting them, we still dont know what
will happen in the long run. Based on the results of the recent three, six, and
twelve month studies, researchers have begun to organize longer trials. One of
them will be five years in length.
What you will probably see in long term
studies is that Atkins and other very low carb diets, while effective for
weight loss in the short term, will be found no more effective for long term
fat loss than any other restrictive diet (and thats NOT very
Lie #5: Calories dont count and you
can eat as much as you want while on the Atkins diet.
Dr. Atkins proposed that calories dont
count and he advised his clients to eat as much as they want while on his
program. Atkins wrote, "The so called calorie theory has been a millstone
around the necks of dieters and a miserable and malign influence on their
efforts to lose."
Heres the truth about calories and low
When you go on a very low carb (ketogenic)
diet with more fat, your appetite is diminished and you feel fuller. Appetite
control may be a legitimate benefit of the Atkins diet, especially for
individuals who struggle with hypoglycemia, hunger and cravings. As Dr. Atkins
points out, "Our physical urges are hard to combat."
However, this does not mean you can eat as
much as you want. It means that your hunger may be blunted on Atkins
plan, causing you to automatically eat less without counting calories or even
thinking about calories.
People on the Atkins diet who lose weight
are not eating more than they burn and losing fat in spite of it. Whether you
count calories and consciously eat fewer than you burn, or you dont count
them and unconsciously eat fewer than you burn, either way, the end result is
While counting calories in the literal sense
is clearly not always necessary, you always have to be aware of calories and
portions. No diet or special combination of foods can override the law of
Anyone who believes that you can eat as much
as you want and still lose weight is living in a dream world.
Lie #6: A brand new study just proved
that the Atkins diet gives you a metabolic advantage so you really can eat as
much as you want
A 12 week study conducted by the Harvard
School of Public Health and presented in October 2003 to the North American
Association for the Study of Obesity found that subjects on a low carb regimen
lost just as much weight as those on a standard high carb, low fat diet.
The shocking part was that the group on the
Atkins diet could eat 300 more calories than the group eating the conventional
high carb food pyramid diet. This left researchers scratching their heads
"It doesnt make sense - it defies
the laws of thermodynamics." "A lot of our assumptions about a calorie is a
calorie are being challenged."
Unfortunately, some of the Atkins troops
were quick to interpret the results as meaning, See, I told you calories
Actually, calories do count and the
explanation for these results is quite simple.
A calorie is NOT just a calorie. If all
calories were created equal then a 2000 calorie diet of Krispy crème
doughnuts would have the same effect as a 2000 calorie diet of chicken breast
and green vegetables. Do you really think these two diets will have the same
effects on your health and body composition?
Certain foods and certain diets DO give you
a metabolic advantage. One advantage is the effect of a diets composition
on your hormones; namely insulin and glucagon.
A second advantage is called the thermic
effect of food. The thermic effect of food means that a certain number of
calories are used just to digest and absorb the food, leaving a net calorie
value substantially less than the total amount of caloric energy that was
contained in the food.
For example, a lean protein food such as
chicken breast has a thermic effect of around 20-30%. This means that for every
100 calories of chicken breast consumed, the NET energy utilized by the body is
only 70-80 calories. (Some people call this negative calories.)
Stated differently, this means you really
CAN lose weight on a higher calorie intake if you eat foods with a high thermic
Whats especially interesting
giving confirmation of the metabolic advantage of a high protein diet is
that the foods provided in this particular study were low carb, but NOT typical
Atkins fare. Instead of lots of red meat and saturated fat, the subjects ate
mostly fish, chicken, salads, vegetables and unsaturated oils.
I think studys director, Penelope
Green, hit the nail on the head when she said, "Maybe they (the low carb,
high protein group) burned up more calories digesting their food."
Truth is, not one study has ever proven that
you can eat as much as you want on Atkins or any diet. Even when a
diet provides a metabolic advantage, AFTER that advantage is factored in and
you look at NET calorie utilization, you are still left with the calories in
versus calories out equation.
Lie #7: The Atkins diet causes faster and
greater FAT loss than conventional diets
Most health, medical and nutrition
organizations recommend that you lose weight (body fat) at a rate of no more
than 2 pounds per week. In his book, Dr. Atkins says that the average weight
loss in the first two weeks on his plan is 8 to 15 pounds.
Like many diets, Atkins overstresses total
weight loss (and quick weight loss), while not stressing enough the difference
between body weight, body water, body fat and lean body mass.
Truth is, low carb diets definitely cause
greater weight loss, especially in the initial phases. But this is mostly due
to a large drop in water weight and glycogen (stored carbohydrate), not
necessarily increased fat loss.
Weight loss is the wrong goal! Your goal
should be permanent fat loss and you should be measuring and tracking your body
fat percentage and lean body mass on a regular basis.
Dont gloat over large, rapid
it might be mostly water and muscle.
Lie #8: Carbohydrates make you
Dr. Atkins wrote, and I quote,
"Carbohydrates are the very food that makes you fat." He also wrote,
"Diets high in carbohydrates are precisely what most overweight people
dont need and cant become slim on."
These are very misleading statements of
The carbs make you fat myth is
probably the most pervasive and damaging lie about weight control ever told.
Its caused tremendous confusion and frustration to already confused and
First, focusing primarily on any
macronutrient (protein, carbs or fat) or macronutrient ratio should be
secondary to energy balance. What makes you fat is eating too many calories.
Truth is, you cant blame all
carbohydrates as a group for why we are getting fatter. What type
of carbohydrates are we talking about? There are good carbs and bad carbs. The
bad carbs are the refined ones; white flour and white sugar
products like white bread, white pasta, sugar sweetened cereals, candy and soft
To avoid confusion, I would suggest never
using the word carbohydrate without putting the adjective
refined or natural in front of it.
Ironically, Dr. Atkins did make this
distinction in his book, yet he still chose to recommend removal of almost ALL
carbs during the induction and weight loss phases of his diet - even the
healthy and nutrient-dense good (natural) carbs. This creates rapid weight loss
and the appearance of a hugely successful diet right from the first week.
Again, the real questions are: What kind of
weight was lost and can you keep the weight off for good?
A healthy, maintainable fat burning diet
should be centered on natural foods and for most people, that includes
natural carbs in moderation - not the total removal and demonizing of all
Lie #9: Ketosis makes you feel better and
doesnt affect your performance
The human organism is neither pure
carnivore, nor pure vegetarian. Your body is a remarkable machine that is fully
capable of adapting to whatever fuel is provided in predominance. You can burn
protein, fat, or carbs for energy and most people can adapt well to using
dietary fat for energy after a short adjustment period. However, carbohydrates
are your bodys preferred and most efficient - fuel source for
strength training and vigorous physical activity.
Many low carbers believe that fat is a more
efficient energy source than carbohydrates, but this is not true. Fat is not a
more efficient energy source, it is only a more concentrated energy source.
Since the fuel for muscular contraction is
carbs (glycogen) a high fat, low carb diet is not the best approach to fat loss
for athletes, bodybuilders or highly active individuals. These diets simply
dont support high intensity training.
Very low carb diets might be a temporary
quick fix for the sedentary, severely overweight, or those with orthopedic
conditions that prevent any exercise. It seems that ketogenic diets take off
weight even with little or no exercise (although the weight loss wont be
pure fat and you may not keep it off). Some Atkins dieters even report feeling
more energetic after adapting to the low carbs and high fat. Its likely,
however, that most of them were relatively inactive. Low carbs and high
activity dont go well together.
Truth is, a more balanced diet of natural
foods combined with exercise is a much better way to take off pure fat for
Anyone who CAN exercise SHOULD exercise! Of
the two methods for creating a calorie deficit burning more, or eating
less the former is the superior method with far fewer downsides. Any fat
loss program that does not make exercise the centerpiece is ultimately destined
Lie #10: Ketogenic diets (very low carb)
are the secret to fat loss
The term low carb is used very
broadly. To some, a diet like the Zone, which consists of 40% carbs is
low carbs. To others, low carb is more extreme. A
ketogenic diet is a VERY low carb diet, usually between 40-70 grams of carbs
per day or less. The induction phase of the Atkins diet is limited to only 20
grams per day.
Because they allow virtually no
carbohydrate, ketogenic diets, by definition, are extremely strict and
nutritionally unbalanced. Its an irrevocable law that the more
extreme a nutrition program is, the greater the side effects and
the more difficult the diet will be to stay on.
Dr. Atkins claimed, "Ketosis is the
secret weapon of super effective dieting."
Truth is, while some recent studies have
suggested low carb diets do work, not a single study has proven that its
necessary to restrict carbs so severely that you go into ketosis.
The benefits of reduced carbs and more
protein/fat include a higher thermic effect, appetite regulation and hormonal
control. What the low carb folks dont want you to know is that a moderate
reduction in carbohydrates (and/or removal of processed carbs) is often all it
takes to get these benefits, while being much easier to maintain for the long
So if ketogenic and very low carb diets
arent the best way to achieve permanent fat loss, then what is the best
Dr Atkins made many excellent points about
weight control in his book. He spoke out on the evils of processed
carbohydrates. He identified carbohydrate sensitivity and hyperinsulinemia as
contributing factors in obesity. He spoke of the metabolic advantage of high
protein. He pointed out that there may not be a direct one to one correlation
between saturated fat, dietary cholesterol and heart disease.
To his credit, Dr. Atkins had discovered
some important facts about weight control, and had the courage to publish and
stand by them long before anyone else did. In the end, unfortunately, he drew
some questionable conclusions from this information and, like so many other
diet gurus, he left out some large and important pieces to the puzzle.
If permanent fat loss were as simple as
removing carbohydrates from your diet, then why has obesity surged to an
all-new high in 2003 and why are there so many Atkins failures?
Could it be possible that the conventional
high carb, low fat food pyramid approach and the Atkins diet approach have BOTH
missed the mark, and that the optimum diet for permanent fat loss is somewhere
in the middle?
Could it be possible that dieting is the
absolute worst way to lose body fat and that the proper type of exercise
program combined with a more balanced approach to nutrition is the answer?
One of the biggest errors weight loss
seekers make today is to accept one philosophy completely or reject it
completely. They take a side and take up arms to defend their
position without considering the merit of each individual piece of the
philosophy. Most of the weight loss programs being promoted today contain
perfectly valid points, but as a whole, are a total mish mash of truth,
half-truths and lies.
Thats why, for over 20 years, I have
literally turned myself into a human guinea pig in my search for a sensible and
healthy method of permanent fat loss. I studied and then personally tested the
low carb diet, the high carb diet, and nearly every other diet in between. I
found good points and bad points in all of them, many of which I have already
revealed to you in this report.
I then compiled all the positive points of
each fat loss method into a structured format, while discarding all the
negatives. What emerged was nothing short of remarkable: An all-natural system
that has allowed me to peak at a body fat level of 3.4% and to maintain my body
fat at 9% or less all year round, for the last 15 years
extreme diets, or unnecessary supplements. Its worked for thousands of
other people too.
If you would like to learn exactly what I
discovered about permanent, natural fat loss from two decades of study and
experimentation... and if youd like to learn how it can help you escape
the diet wars for good, and finally achieve the body youve always wanted,
I encourage you to visit my fat loss web page at
www.burnthefat.com and take a look for yourself.
| Author Tom Venuto
Venuto is a bodybuilder, gym owner, freelance writer, success coach and author
of "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle" (BFFM): Fat Burning Secrets of the World's
Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models. Tom has written over 150 articles and has
been featured in IRONMAN magazine, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development,
Muscle-Zine, Exercise for Men and Mens Exercise. Tom's inspiring and
informative articles on bodybuilding, weight loss and motivation are featured
regularly on dozens of websites worldwide. For information on Tom's "Burn The
For more great articles like this one, go to
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