The Atkins Diet and Diabetes
Since the sixties,
the Atkins Diet has gained worldwide attention as a way to eat a
lot of food, not be hungry, and still lose weight. The Atkins Diet
works on the theory that carbohydrates cause you to gain weight,
and by eliminating or strictly limiting carbohydrates, it is possible
to eat a lot of protein and fat while your weight decreases. How
does this work? Scientifically speaking, your body must have carbohydrates
to survive. When you do not consume carbohydrates, your body is
forced to convert fat stores into carbohydrates, which is an inefficient
process. Thus, your body uses its fat stores at a faster rate and
you lose weight. This theory seems beneficial to dieters, especially
for overweight diabetics who need a special diabetes
diet because they have trouble metabolizing carbohydrates due
to insulin problems.
Sure enough, the
Atkins company did release a book called “Atkins Diabetes
Revolution” which outlines an Atkins diet specifically for
diabetes patients. In the book, diabetes and pre-diabetes patients
are encouraged to eat as few as 20 grams of carbohydrate a day for
successful diabetes weight loss.
There is no limitation on protein and fat consumption.
Using the Atkins
diet for diabetes has generated its share of criticism. First, the
Atkins diet recommends eating a lot of animal protein and fat, and
these foods cause people to lose a lot of water from their bodies.
This can put extra strain on the kidneys which are usually weakened
in people with diabetes. Due to the heavy consumption of meat, the
Atkins diet is also thought to increase the chance for heart disease,
another major bodily organ that is damaged by diabetes. Finally,
the Atkins diet can lead to dangerously low blood sugar levels,
or hypoglycemia. For a
person with diabetes, extremely low blood sugar can lead to a coma.
Most health experts agree that using the Atkins diet for diabetes
can be risky and should not be attempted without medical permission