The Atkins diet restricts processed/refined carbohydrates (which make up over 50% of many people's diets), such as high-sugar foods, breads, pasta, cereal, and starchy vegetables. Core vita-nutrient supplementation includes a full-spectrum multi-vitamin … see full wiki
Hey, it works for me!*REVISED*It nearly killed me!
Nov 15, 2001
Pros: No calorie counting, more energy, not hungry*REVISED 11/16* PLEASE READ
Cons: Restrictive in many ways
The Bottom Line: I wrote a glowing report after 39 days on the diet. 5 months into it, I nearly collapsed. I have amended my opinion to reflect what happened.
*** Please read this before the next part. This was updated November 15, 2001 and is VERY important!!!***
I was on the Atkins Diet for 5 months. I only lost 15 pounds but for the first 2 months, I was energized, feeling great and doing something I felt was positive for my body. The report below was written when I was just starting the diet. Now that I have MUCH more experience about it, I MUST caution you all about it. I swore in the first opinion rating that I would admit if I was wrong with the diet and I am here to do just that. I WAS WRONG about the diet! I was on the diet for about 2 1/2 months when I started to feel a little more tired than usual. Nothing major, just a little worn out. I stuck strictly to the diet, never having more than 15-19 grams of carbs per day (I should have been up to about 25 or 30 but because I hardly lost any weight, I had to stay as low as possible for any results) and my weight loss was pretty minimal even at that low rate but I saw it come off so I continued on. My cholesterol had fallen from 211 to 199 so I saw that as a positive step.
In late July, I had a horrible attack of heart racing, feeling faint, being so hot I could hardly breath, and just general all over feelings of malaise. It lasted about 4 hours and I didn't know what was happening. I thought maybe my sugar was low so I drank some orange juice and eventually, the spell passed. I saw my doctor about a week later and he did an EKG and it was normal. Essentially the blood work was OK. He passed it off as anxiety.
A few times during exercise, I felt dizzy or my heart raced too much but I didn't think much of it.
I started having more anxiety in general. Most people noticed this before I did. I would be nervous in crowds or feel weak and my pulse would be rapid when out shopping.
Still, I continued on.
On October 1, 2001, I was sleeping. I woke up about 2 a.m. and felt "funny." I was still groggy so I wasn't quite sure what woke me up -- I am a very sound sleeper and rarely wake up in the middle of the night -- so I got up and went downstairs to the living room. When I reached the bottom of the stairs, my heart just started pounding and racing so hard and fast that I was taken aback. I wasn't nervous, I hadn't had a bad dream...I sat down and tried to breathe slowly waiting out whatever was happening. I felt faint and very hot, and I was shaking. I tried to call my husband who was upstairs sleeping but he didn't hear me. For some reason, I waited the spell out again, this time for about 2 1/2 hours. I tried everything. I tried to read. I tried to watch TV. I even tried to pick up the house because my heart was racing and I had so much adrenaline surging through me. Finally, I think I wore myself out and I ended up back in bed, scared and bewildered but feeling a little better.
The next morning I called my doctor who had me come right in. This time, my EKG was abnormal. I didn't know what was happening but that scared me. Blood was taken and I was referred to a cardiologist. That day, I was told to GET OFF THE ATKINS DIET ASAP. I did just that. I went home and had two pieces of pizza. I had not had bread in any shape or form (or dough or flour, etc.) in over 5 months. I felt terribly guilty but I did what I was told.
I went right to Weight Watchers online and signed up. I was terrified that the 5 long months of crazy eating to lose 15 pounds would be for nothing and I would blow up with weight again if I didn't watch out.
The cardiologist did another EKG -- abnormal still, 4 days after the spell. It looked like I had some sort of heart disorder and it looked like I would need surgery!! I was TOTALLY freaked. I had never had anything wrong with my heart! I was put on an "event monitor" which, when the button is pressed, recorded episodes like a mini EKG so that they can be downloaded by phone to a place for analysis. I also was told to rush to the ER if I had another spell. After I was able to capture a spell on the EKG, the doctor would know where to go in and "clip off" the part of my heart that was causing trouble. I was shocked and more than a little dismayed.
I began a TOTALLY different eating style. I stayed on the low side of the carb count but ate whole grains, some fruits (had not eaten a fruit in over 5 months), vegetables, lean meats, flax, soy, and all sorts of healthy and low fat foods and stayed within a reasonable level of calories. I lost about 4 pounds in two weeks but still wasn't eating many carbs. I was too afraid.
Then it happened. I had ANOTHER spell. I had just woken up from a nap (I was totally exhausted by this point and had been sleeping a LOT for the past 6 weeks or so) when the same thing happened with my heart. I pressed the button on the monitor and it recorded 90 seconds. I was able to record 3 90 second episodes on the monitor and then the pounding was so fierce that I rushed to the ER. There, I was sure I was going to die. My heart rate was 199 and there was no slowing it. The EKGs though this time were all normal though VERY rapid. I found I was low in potassium, my sugar level was slightly high (and I am hypoglycemic) and my magnesium level was also low. I was given huge potassium tablets to take in the ER and was given 4 more to take throughout the night. I was told the Atkins Diet causes this type of response in MANY people and that I was doing the right thing by reversing my eating habits but it would take a long time to get back to normal. I was to load up on potassium rich foods and to get a VERY potent multivitamin at a health food store as well as magnesium supplements.
The next day, I saw my cardiologist. He said that it looked as though I stopped the diet before I got permanent damage. The EKGs, while showing a VERY rapid heartbeat were normal this time, and that was an excellent sign. He suggested that I continue my current eating habits and to wait 1 month to see what happens. He said that many Atkins dieters have heart irregularities and I was one. He cautioned me to eat enough carbs to sustain energy and to stay out of ketosis.
I have been doing jsut that. I have lost 8 pounds since 10/1, about 6 weeks. (I only lost 15 in 23 weeks on Atkins!). I am no longer trying to lose, I have reached my goal - and then some. I am eating VERY healthy, no junk. I stay away from flour, sugar and all the additives but I eat carbs, proteins and fats. My cholesterol is now 164. I have not had any more spells like those big ones in a month. I now found out that my formerly normal thyroid is hypoactive and have to take thyroid supplements for it and that should help my energy levels which have been pretty low but better since I got off the Atkins Diet. I can't say for sure that the Atkins Diet caused me to become hyothyroiditic but it seems odd that I have been tested many times for thyroid problems and always was normal until I messed with my system.
My potassium and magnesium are back to normal and I am taking my vitamins and working on repairing the abuse I heaped on my system. My kidney function, which was slightly whacky while on the diet, is normal again.
I don't know what the final outcome of the heart spells will be. I am taking it day to day. However, I caution anyone going on the Atkins Diet that it is a SHORT TERM diet that should NOT be embarked on for a long time and that anyone who does try it, should be sure to get enough carbs in their system. You will feel pretty good for a while but if you start losing energy, having headaches or feeling weak, dizzy or have heart palpitations or a racing heart, PLEASE seek help and either up your carbs or change diets. My good friend collapsed at work just the other day. She lost 129 pounds on the diet in 6 months. Her body could not handle the rapid weight loss and she has a LONG way to go before she feels better. She also has spells of rapid heartbeat and weakness and is tired constantly. She held out because her weight loss was so dramatic. She was over 400 pounds when she started and was willing to do anything to lose those pounds. She is STILL on the diet but modified with more carbs. I think she is in for more problems but she would rather be sick than fat she says.
I am just glad to be alive.
I don't know if EVERYONE will experience problems on the Atkins Diet long term. But from what I was told in the hospital and from my doctors, it is very common to run into problems such as I did.
When I wrote the review below, I had been on the diet for 39 days. I was so excited about the renewed energy and the prospect of losing weight while eating cheese, bacon, mayo, butter, sausage and all the rest of the usual stuff we're told not to eat that I wrote a glowing report. I said at the end if I had health problems I would be back and I am here to eat crow (hope it is healthy!) and say to those who "told me so" that they were right.
No diet is perfect but the Atkins Diet is very, very dangerous. Take heed and be careful. Weight Watchers may not be perfect but it is sensible and I am eating nothing but good, healthy foods and adding some good fats in and using soy and other healthy things to try to change my health from horrible to good again. I am starting to feel better...It will take time.
By the way -- the one doctor who suggested I go on the Atkins Diet had to go off of it due to "problems with his health." He did not elaborate (he is not my regular medical doctor, I only see him when mine is unable to see me).
I felt I had to come here and share with you or I would be misleading people who read my opinion.
Thanks, Patty *** I have been on the Atkins Diet for 39 days. I was feeling sluggish and sort of down in the dumps, no energy etc. and I went to see my doctor thinking maybe I was depressed or had a slight medical illness. After a slew of tests, I found out I had high cholesterol, which wasn't the reason for my complaints but still good to know. My doctor noted that I had put on about 15 pounds over the past year and I had to admit I never exercised and I was just too tired to even start a program. I did say that the extra pounds bothered me and I was worried that I would continue putting on weight. I also admitted that I was not eating well ... fast foods, caffeine, and pizza were what I grabbed while writing or hanging around the house. My doctor suggested the Atkins Diet for me. He then revealed HE was on it and felt great and was monitoring his lipids and other things and he was much healthier on the diet than off. I looked at him with some trepidation.
I have never been very overweight -- in fact this extra 15 pounds was all I needed to lose -- and I had an awful experience on Jenny Craig (which you can read here). I was in no mood to start a radical diet like I thought I was about to embark upon. Plus what about my cholesterol? He suggested I start the diet and get tested after 4 and 8 weeks too see how my cholesterol levels responded.
I didn't. I waited a few weeks then I went to my endocrinologist for the very same woes deciding I had a metabolic disorder or something for always being soooo tired and soooo lacking in energy. Surprisingly when I told him my symptoms, and after reviewing all my blood work and tests, he suggested either a mild anti depressant or ... the Atkins diet! I don't like drugs and I didn't really want to start on any medication and I had done my share of complaining about the extra weight which made getting dressed in the morning (HA! Like I got dressed in the morning. Being a writer, I work from home and I didn't have to be fashion concious so I would hang out in sweats with a drawstring. No binding there!) a chore.
I left his office, bought the Atkins Revolution book and read it cover to cover. I absorbed all I could and, because I was not unfamiliar with ketosis -- my son was on the ketogenic diet for seizures when he was 4 and it saved his life -- I was not afraid of being in that state. After seeing the miracles that ketosis worked on my son and seeing how healthy and happy he was for 2 years in that state, I knew that I had nothing to fear.
I started the diet a couple days before Mother's Day and I have not cheated, not craved, nor felt ill once. It was a strange thing getting used to eating eggs and bacon again when I was used to all the low fat foods that are on the market. But once past that hurdle, at about day 6, I started to feel GOOD! I woke up in the morning feeling OK with the world rather than praying that the clock was wrong and I had more hours to sleep.
By the end of the first week, I started exercising. Because I wanted to. And I now exercise 6 times a week, sensibly. I love it. I actually see results.
About weight loss. I am not a fast loser. Because I only had 15 pounds to lose, it didn't "fall off me" like in some accounts you may read. I lost weight slowly. I have lost nearly 7 pounds in a month and am not even all that concerned with the other 8 right now. I am more concerned with my health. I recently had my cholesterol checked and lo and behold, my "good" cholesterol went up, my "bad" cholesterol went down, I am in the normal range again and my triglycerides are way down. Exercise certainly helps to control cholesterol levels and perhaps the exercise was the factor but I would never have had the energy to maintain any sort of exercise schedule had I not been on this diet.
Is it easy? Yes and no. You can't have bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, many fruits, and other carbs. Later, you add these things back into your diet slowly. But because you can eat all you want of other things, meat, fish, eggs, any protein and fat combo, you get full fast and stay full for hours! I also, as a side note, stopped drinking all caffeine and, after three head throbbing days (I was drinking about four 24 oz iced teas, Pepsi and hot tea as well every day!), I have not touched the stuff since. The caffeine contributed to so many of my ills but I NEEDED it to move! Now, I don't need it nor crave it.
I won't say my life is all better now that I started with this lifestyle. I will say that I do see results, I do feel better than ever, my state of mind is much better, I am exercising because I want to and seeing great results, and my health is not at all suffering. I am able to eat in restaurant and at cook outs, I don't have to eat prepackaged foods (although Atkins sells some of those, including pasta and bread if you want them). I take vitamins now for the first time in my life.
You may look at this and say well, exercise and vitamins and getting off the caffeine were what made her feel better. Maybe so! But the diet was what prompted all those changes in me and that can't be denied.
I know many of you out there have reservations about the diet and it isn't for everyone I am sure. Diabetics on insulin should never try this without a very understanding doctor to guide you. In fact, I would suggest to anyone who wants to try this diet to talk to your doctor about it. Some may be less willing to part with their traditional ways and will tell you not to do it but unless there is a specific medical reason why you should not at least try it, perhaps your doctor can give you the green light and then recheck you after a couple weeks or a month. By then it will be apparent if you are having ill affects that you don't know about.
I once considered this a fad diet like so many others. I read about the ones where you get to stuff yourself for an hour a day and I knew people who were on it and they were sick a lot; they gorged themselves during that hour and they ended up vomiting! I would say if you're going low carb, go Atkins. He wrote the book (literally) on low carb dieting and has been around for 25 years showing proof of why this diet works.
There are four phases of the diet. The first is induction which is a two week stretch where you force your body into ketosis (the process of burning fat for energy rather than carbohydrates) by greatly limiting your carb intake and eating a lot of fatty food and protein, as much as you want. No sugar, no sweets, none of that. After the 2 weeks, if you have a lot to lose, you can stay on this phase or move your carb level up some until you are losing at a slow rate of speed. Unlike what some think, Atkins doesn't advocate very fast weight loss. The first two weeks, yes, you lose water and pounds. After that, he encourages you to find your Critical Carb Level, the amount you can eat and still lose weight SENSIBLY. You then go to pre maintenance and maintenance after that.
It is a fairly easy procedure, you learn fast and you just go with it. Some may not like the restrictions and they will have to decide how they feel vs the piece of cake or loaf of bread. It's a very personal choice and I am not here to say it is for everyone by any means.
I did help one obese friend who was so depressed about her weight that she nearly was suicidal to get on this diet and she has lost 47 pounds so far and is so upbeat that I cannot believe the change in her. Borderline diabetic going in, 100% normal sugar levels now. My good male friend also started the diet after laughing at me for a week or 10 days and he started at 323 pounds (very unhealthy pounds) and has hit his first goal: 299 after about 27 days. He is now pulling back to lose more slowly and his blood tests were noticeably better.
Again, I stress, this is not meant to take the place of a medical opinion and certainly may not be typical of all on this diet. I am just telling you my own personal experience with it which, after the disaster of Jenny Craig, and a few other starvation type diets, comes as a breath of fresh air to me.
Nothing beats waking up feeling good, and looking forward (LOOKING FORWARD!!!) to your work out. Trust me, I am a couch potato by nature, never liked exercise, am not athletic and got by somehow without exercise for a long time. Now, I feel myself getting stronger, getting leaner, getting more graceful (Tae Bo, Pilates Yoga, and a variety of toning and firming tapes to keep from getting bored do the trick!) and feeling positive for a change.
As long as my cholesterol and other heath issues stay good, I don't really care if the diet changed me or the other things I implemented due to the diet (getting off caffeine and high sugar foods, exercise, etc.).
Health is my #1 priority and I won't compromise it again on any diet. As long as I feel this great and my insides are working as well as they are now, I see no reason to ever start eating high carb foods again. I am sure the day will come when I will want a piece of pie or a pasta dinner (although so far, that has not happened and I am the queen of eating pasta. Grew up on it 3 times a week in my household!). When that day comes I will not deprive myself completely but I do know much more about what I am eating and will "cheat" in moderation. Later, after the last 8 pounds are gone, I will be able to eat a variety of foods on maintenance and I can eat some of the things that I haven't had in a while.
If you are thinking of this diet and you are getting scared by some of what you read (just as I was), please do two things: Read the book all the way through. Really read what Atkins has to say before making a decision. If you don't have time to read the book, it is available abridged on cassette tapes. Then see your doctor as Atkins suggests. Have your blood taken, know what you are going into the diet with. Talk to your doctor, get his opinions. And if you get the green light, then proceed. In two weeks if you hate it, get off it! It isn't a sin to try a diet and decide it isn't for you. It is almost a sin NOT to try something that could change your life if you are going simply on what others say. Everyone is different. What works for some may not work for you and vice a versa. My low calorie, sensible eating diet cost me my gallbladder and triggered a miscarriage as well as made me feel faint every day. This "whacky diet" makes me feel better than I ever have in my life. And I am healthier than I have been in years which is really the goal in my life.
I want to stress one point that kind of bothered me when skimming through some of the opinions here about this diet. I am, by no means, a follower. I do not believe everything I read (if anything, just the opposite) and I do not take anyone's word for things. I don't defend this diet because of some loyalty to Atkins (who is out to make money and he admits to it! But is also a very wise cardiologist.) or whatever. I am giving you an opinion based on research, on my personal experience when my son was on a similar form of this diet for seizure control (praise God for ketosis in that case), and my own day to day experience on the diet itself. If, next week, something should happen and my health becomes affected, I will come right back here and let you all know that and amend my opinion. I am very intelligent and I don't enter into anything lightly nor do I sugarcoat things. I just wanted to say that to offset some of the opinions here that people like myself are "loyal to Atkins" for some other reason than the diet works FOR ME. :-)
I found my lifestyle. It is up to you to consider all the options and find yours. Good luck in whatever you choose!! Patty
Approximate Monthly Cost (US$) $25 Food Variety Restrictions A somewhat varied menu Restrictiveness of Portions Several hearty portions