Adverse Effects of the Atkins Diet

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Adverse Effects of the Atkins Diet

The Atkins diet prescribes a menu consisting of high-fat, high-protein foods that theoretically stimulate weight loss. However, excessive consumption of such foods is associated not only with weight loss, but also with several serious health problems. For example, heart disease and atherosclerosis have been linked to foods with high fat content. Further, replacing the carbohydrate component of one's diet with fat and protein stimulates a fat burning process called ketosis, which may adversely impact kidney and liver function; for some dieters, ketosis may result in dehydration and related symptoms, including muscle cramping and fatigue. Based upon the possible side effects of a high-fat,
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Additionally, recent studies have established a positive correlation between decreased levels of HDL cholesterol and the increased likelihood of heart disease5. Finally, although its sample was restricted to children, the aforementioned Journal of the American Medical Association study suggests that the unregulated consumption of high-fat food, as allowed by Atkins, may be expected to produce similar results in adult dieters6. Thus, by substituting high-fat foods for carbohydrates, the Atkins diet is inherently detrimental to heart health.

Additionally, significant reductions in carbohydrate intake, as prescribed by the Atkins diet, have been linked to unhealthy kidney function and muscle cramping. When insufficient amounts of carbohydrates are ingested, the kidneys are required to remove larger-than-normal amounts of water. As a result of this kidney hyperactivity, critical electrolytes, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, are flushed from the body7. Electrolytes are ionized minerals that carry electric charges throughout the body, and this disturbance in electrolyte levels and charge transfer is thought to elicit muscle cramping in carbohydrate-deficient individuals8. For this reason, the excessive carbohydrate consumption required by the Atkins diet causes kidney and muscular problems, hardly the expected or desired result of a healthy weight loss program.

Furthermore, there is a relationship between ketosis and the Atkins low-carbohydrate
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