What do you think about the "Atkins Diet" and other "Low Carb" diets?

What do you think about the “Atkins Diet” and other “Low Carb” diets?

First of all diets are always temporary, so I do not even believe in “diets” per se. Dietingputs people into a viscous cycle of yo-yoing their weight, in which they gradually get fatter every year.If your goal is to change your body composition permanently, i.e. lose fat, you need to make a lifestyle change.Meaning, you need to get your diet and nutrition in order in a way that you can manage forever. Essentially,a lifestyle change is what needs to take place, one in which you make a commitment to eat a healthy dietyear around, not one in which you lose weight, then gain in back, etc.

Now, back to the question. It is true that a low carb diet will shed off body fat, and it will workfaster than other forms of dieting, that has been scientifically proven. So, for a short term diet,a low carb or “Atkins Diet” is effective. The problem is our bodies need carbohydrates for energy, thisis even more important if you are involved in weight training, or other strenuous physical activity. So,for an “athlete” to restrict their bodies from carbs is not the best approach. Our muscles have stored energyreserves called glycogen, when you restrict carb intake your body will deplete these stores. And if you are notfeeding your body carbs very little glycogen will be replenished in the muscles. In fact,this is why “dieters” see such a large inital weight loss when they start their low carb diets. They depletetheir glycogen stores, and lose water weight, so it’s common to see a 10 pound weight loss the first week.Unfortunately, very little of this weight loss will be actual body fat. If you weight train, this will bring yourwork-outs to a grinding halt due to the lack of energy reserves. Soon enough you will be in a catabolic state where yourbody is actually feeding on muscle tissue for energy and your metabolism will shut down.

So, even if a low carb diet is effective, how long will the average person stay on this diet? I would say 6-12 monthsmaximum and that is being optimistic. Forget all forms of dieting, in fact drop the word from your vocabulary right now!

Here is what I do believe in. I like to call it “carb tapering”, meaning you adjust your carb intake based on the time of dayand activity level. Typically, carb intake is highest in the first few meals of the day (especially breakfast), and then tapered off asthe day progresses until the last two meal have very little carbs if any at all. This is a much healthierapproach that a person can live with. My carb tapering method keeps your body fueled though out the day, keepsglycogen stores in tact and replenished, and will not hinder your work-outs and training. I use this methodpre-contest, as well as through out the year. Another very important aspect of eating carbs in eating “good carbs”, slowburning carbs that are low to medium on the glycemic index. Basicaly, stay away from anything white, i.e. white flour products, white potatoes,white rice, etc. Also, be careful of your sugars, certain fruits have different sugars in them, i.e. apples have fructose and areabout in the middle of the glycemic index, whereas a banana is primarily glucose and very high on the glycemic index. If you plan to eat abanana I would highly suggest it be with your first meal of the day (breakfast). The types of carbs that you want to eatare ones that are slower burning and have less effect on blood sugar levels., this keeps insulin in check.

Here are some examples of the types of carbs that you want to eat:

Complex Carbs:

Sweet Potatoes
Red Potatoes
Long Grain Brown Rice
Old Fashioned Oats
Fresh or Frozen berries
Fruit (be careful, check the GI)
Whole Grain Bread
All Bran w/ Extra Fiber
Whole Wheat Pasta

I will say one thing though, I like this new low carb craze for one reason, most restaurants are offeringdishes that are healthier and higher in protein, low in “bad carbs” which makes eating out much easierfor bodybuilders and fitness minded people!

For more in depth reading on diet & nutrition I highly recommend Tom Venuto’s ebook:Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle (BFFM)