Atkins Diet: an Editorial

Many Americans may become fatter--from a diet.  Some who seek a thinner body will be met with an increased waistline and a regrettably truthful scale.  Those who purchase specialty foods may succumb to the convenience of fast food restaurants.  Many who monitor their food intake will be met with time constraints of life.  These extra pounds can offer their thanks to failed attempts at the Atkins diet.  The sad truth is that few individuals have the time, the money or the motivation to maintain the tight regimen that the Atkins diet requires.  To their immediate benefit (initial weight loss) yet ultimate detriment (failure to adhere to the diet), millions of Americans are rejecting a diet of carbohydrates in order to embrace the belief that a fad diet can solve their weight problems.

    Let's face it.  We are living in the age of the diet craze.  No one can deny this.  From Weight Watchers to the South Beach diet, people are desperately looking for weight loss answers.  And this is the call that Atkins has sought to answer.

    With its rejection of all good things in the world, the Atkins diet substantially reduces the intake of carbohydrates, including breads, pastas, sugars, fruits, caffeine, etc.  One's diet then mainly consists of "fat and protein in the form of poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs and red meat," according to atkins.com. 

    This carbohydrate denial is based on the fact that, when burning calories, the body first uses carbohydrates, then fats.  With a diet high in meat and protein, however, the body will immediately burn fat, resulting in weight loss. 

    The Atkins diet works in four stages.  The first stage allows a daily dose of only 20 grams of carbohydrates for a minimum of 14 days.  This will "switch your body from a carbohydrate-burning metabolism to a primarily fat-burning metabolism," according to atkins.com.  As weight loss begins, dieters will progress through the remaining stages by gradually adding carbohydrates into their diets until they reach the "Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing."  Different for everyone, this is the amount of carbohydrate consumption at which one stops losing weight and may even begin to gain weight.  Dieters can choose to maintain their weight at this point or to slightly reduce carbohydrate intake when additional weight loss is desired. 

    This diet is intended to be a lifestyle change.  Therefore, one is not expected to "go off" the diet and regain the lost weight.  Atkins.com acknowledges that this diet does not help one win "the battle of the bulge," but that it is an ongoing battle.  In other words, any deviation from the plan results in detrimental weight gain. 

    In a society driven by schedules, obligations and time constraints, only the dead-set and determined will prevail in a diet with very specific rules.  And these individuals are not the majority.  Many doctors have even advised patients not to begin the diet if they will not commit to the tight guidelines. 

    Nonetheless, our quick-fix society has dived into the Atkins diet head-first.  Individuals are training their bodies to function with minimal carbohydrates and are eating large amounts of fat and protein.  The first five pounds are lost while adhering to the diet guidelines.  Then the deterioration begins.  A businessman will be in a hurry and pick up a hamburger "just this once."  A teenager will be at a party with no Atkins-friendly food options.  A mother will become distracted and forget to record the grams of carbohydrates she consumed. 

    Today's world of convenience does not allow for diets.  That's why few actually work.  But it's not the diet ... it's the people who don't stick with them. 

    And why should they have to?  Good food is one of the greatest joys in life.  Why deprive ourselves?  We may not have the greatest bodies, but is it really worth it in the long run?  The best option is clearly just to eat what you like in smaller portions and to enjoy the buffet line of life.  Then you can have your cake and eat it, too.