What do you think about the Atkins Diet and other Low Carb diets? description, What do you think about the Atkins Diet and other Low Carb diets? side effects, What do you think about the Atkins Diet and other Low Carb diets? price, What do you think about the Atkins Diet and other Low Carb diets? substance
First of all diets are always temporary, so I do not even believe in "diets" per se. Dieting puts 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 diet year 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 work faster 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, this is 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 energy reserves called glycogen, when you restrict carb intake your body will deplete these stores. And if you are not feeding 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 deplete their 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 your work-outs to a grinding halt due to the lack of energy reserves. Soon enough you will be in a catabolic state where your body 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 months maximum 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 day and activity level. Typically, carb intake is highest in the first few meals of the day (especially breakfast), and then tapered off as the day progresses until the last two meal have very little carbs if any at all. This is a much healthier approach that a person can live with. My carb tapering method keeps your body fueled though out the day, keeps glycogen stores in tact and replenished, and will not hinder your work-outs and training. I use this method pre-contest, as well as through out the year. Another very important aspect of eating carbs in eating "good carbs", slow burning 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 are about 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 a banana I would highly suggest it be with your first meal of the day (breakfast). The types of carbs that you want to eat are 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:
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 offering dishes that are healthier and higher in protein, low in "bad carbs" which makes eating out much easier for 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)