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Atkins Article - Fact vs. Fallacy Part 3: The Atkins Nutritional Approach is Unbalanced

Atkins Article - Fact vs. Fallacy Part 3:  The Atkins Nutritional Approach is Unbalanced
Although its critics like to say that the Atkins Nutritional ApproachTM is unbalanced, if followed properly it actually provides more vitamins and minerals than the typical American diet.

Fallacy: The Atkins Nutritional ApproachTM is unbalanced and deficient in basic nutrition.

Fact: Atkins deliberately rebalances your way of eating. It is probable that the eating pattern that led to your weight gain was improperly balanced in the first place. The evidence showing that overproduction of insulin is responsible for most weight gain is quite impressive, and the best way to correct an insulin disorder is to avoid foods that stimulate insulin activity—that is, foods high in carbohydrates.

However, the Atkins plan does not exclude these foods (fruits, vegetables and grains). The Induction phase of Atkins—which people often mistake for the entire program—is the most strict, permitting only 20 grams of carbohydrates each day. Those 20 grams come in the form of green, leafy vegetables and can also include nutrient-dense, high-fiber, low-carbohydrate vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, eggplant and spinach—foods that are hardly lacking in nutrients.

A sample Induction menu containing 2,000 calories and 20 grams of carbohydrate was analyzed using the highly regarded Nutritionist V (the computer program used by nutritionists worldwide). Results of the analysis found the menu to meet or exceed Recommended Daily Intake requirements of 19 of the 24 vitamins, minerals and trace elements. The remaining few Pantothenic acid, sodium, magnesium, copper, chromium and molybdenum) can easily be replaced with a supplement

Once you complete Induction and begin the next phase of the program, you raise your carbohydrate gram count. This phase prescribes even more nutrient-dense, green, leafy vegetables and fruits such as strawberries. With these additions, the plan far exceeds requirements for fiber. The second part of this criticism is more thought-provoking. Dr. Atkins is deeply committed to finding a vitanutrient solution for most health problems and believes that no eating pattern contains optimal nutrition. As a result, we can all improve our health by taking vitanutrients that are targeted to our individual health problems, disease risks and nutrient deficiencies. Moreover, low-fat diets are typically deficient in foods that are high in the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and the essential fatty acids (EFA). The EFAs are, in fact, our number one deficiency in this country. Low-fat adherents also may be low in the nutrients we get from meat, such as vitamin B12 and carnitine. And if people overeat foods made from white flour—which is often the case on low-fat diets—they will be low in half the B-complex nutrients (the half that isn’t included in the mandatory enrichment) and most of the essential minerals. People on a low-fat diet need supplementation desperately.

Fallacy: The Atkins approach is the most severe of the controlled carbohydrate plans and is most likely to have immediate adverse effects.

Fact: Since there’s nothing harmful about a controlled carbohydrate nutritional approach, the concept of severity isn’t especially meaningful. In any case, the very low level of carbohydrate consumption prevails only during the Induction phase. Induction’s purpose is to jump-start the body chemistry into fat mobilization. Throughout the other phases of Atkins, each individual seeks the most permissive level of carbohydrate intake that still results in weight loss or weight maintenance. Rather than being severe, Atkins can be tailored to each individual's metabolism.

Our thanks to the Atkins Center for this article. This article will give you some basic information about the Atkins Diet Approach for Weight Loss and Good Health, but is not a substitute for reading the books for the details of this plan (or the book for whatever low carb plan you choose to follow.)