In any walk of life, be it gardening or teaching or politics you will get some mis-information or myths. But when you speak to someone who knows what they are talking about you tend to find out the truth.
Like the above example, the subject of diet, nutrition and the human body’s reaction to food isn’t one that everyone is expert in, and this may include your GP. So, when it comes to a specific way of consuming food and getting nutrition into the body via the Atkins Nutritional Approach, then a lot of conjecture, hear-say and third hand information can get mixed up with the truth.
To help you along, here are five commonly held myths about the Atkins Nutritional Approach. Hopefully, this knowledge will benefit you and give you confidence in following and talking about the Atkins Nutritional Approach.
MYTH #1: Is Lipolysis/Ketosis dangerous?
Your Answer: Many doctors believe this, but it’s not true. What is dangerous is a life-threatening condition known as Ketoacidosis, which affects insulin dependent diabetics or alcoholics. The two terms sound similar, but that’s where it ends. Ketosis is a short hand way to say your body is burning stored fat instead of glucose for its primary source of fuel. This is desirable and it is a perfectly natural process of turning to fat instead of glucose to fuel your body. When following the Atkins Nutritional Approach ketosis happens in induction. By the time you reach the life time maintenance phase you will be burning both fat and carbs for fuel and you’ll no longer be in Lipolysis/ketosis.
MYTH #2: Will eating too much protein leach calcium from my bones?
Your Answer: It is true that you will excrete more calcium than usual in your urine when on the Induction Phase of the Atkins Nutritional Approach, but there have been studies that have looked at bone loss and found that there was no bone loss.1-2 After the first week on Induction, calcium excretion in the urine returns to normal with no long-term effects. Other research has found that older adults who consume higher amounts of protein in their diet can actually strengthen their bones when they take a calcium supplement also. 3
MYTH #3: Does Following Atkins Raise Your Cholesterol?
Your Answer: In fact the opposite is true. Almost every person that is or has followed the Atkins Nutritional Approach sees a drop in LDL Cholesterol and a rise in HDL, along with sharp drops in triglycerides, which is a type of blood fat that is a good indicator of heart health. Having your blood work done by a GP will show this, so the question shouldn’t really get asked in the first place. Here is some more reading on the subject of triglycerides and Atkins..
MYTH #4: Is the Amount of Protein in the Atkins Diet Bad for Your Kidneys?
Your Answer: This is the biggest myth of them all, because there is absolutely no evidence for it, not a single study shows that a high-protein, low carbohydrate diet damages normal kidneys. If you suffer from severe kidney disease presently, you should follow the advice of your physician and they may well advise to restrict your protein intake, increase your water intake and increase the intake of other nutrients. Kidney disease isn’t caused by eating protein.
MYTH #5: No one knows the long term results of eating a low carb way
Your Answer: Simply put, how can eating whole foods, healthy fats, vegetables, low glycemic fruits, seeds, nuts, berries some legumes and some whole grains be anything other than healthy? Also, people who follow a low carbohydrate diet find they have more energy, improve their blood pressure, reduce blood sugar, and improved cholesterol levels. Other benefits that have been noted include better sleep and improved skin quality to name but a few. A simple way to prove this, go to your GP, have your blood work done follow the Atkins Nutritional Approach for 6 months and return to your GP and get your blood work done again and ask him/her has there been an improvement in your general health markers.
Of course, clearing up the above myths is one thing. Now you need some evidence to support them. Below is a list of references that you can direct anyone to read, whether they are your GP or just a family member or friend. It’s not a complete list as there are over 60 scientifically backed studies showing the benefits of a low carbohydrate diet, but it is a good start.4-9
- Heaney, R.P., “Excess Dietary Protein May Not Adversely Affect Bone,” Journal of Nutrition, 128(6), 1998, pages 1054-1057.
- Spencer, H., Kramer, L., Osis, D., “Do Protein and Phosphorus Cause Calcium Loss?” Journal of Nutrition, 118(6), 1998, pages 657-660.
- Dawson-Hughes, B., Harris, S.S., “Calcium Intake Influences the Association of Protein Intake with Rates of Bone Loss in Elderly Men and Women,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2002, 75(4), pages 773-779.
- Liu, S., Willett, W.C., Stampfer, M.J., et al., “A Prospective Study of Dietary Glycemic Load, Carbohydrate Intake, and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in U.S Women,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 71, 2000, pages 1455-1461.
- Abassi, F., McLaughlin, T., Lamendola, C., et al., “High Carbohydrate Diet, Triglyceride-Rich Lipoproteins, and Coronary Heart Disease Risk,” American Journal of Cardiology, 85, 2000, pages 45-48.
- Sondike, S.B., Copperman, N.M., Jacobson, M.S., “Low Carbohydrate Dieting Increases Weight Loss but Not Cardiovascular Risk in Obese Adolescents: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Journal of Adolescent Health, 26,2000, page 91.
- McManus, K., Antinoro, L., Sacks,F., “A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Moderate-Fat, Low-Energy Diet Compared with a Low-Fat, Low-Energy Diet for Weight Loss in Overweight Adults,” International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 25(10), 2001, pages 1503-1511.
- Volek, J.S., Gómez, A.L., Kraemer, W.J., “Fasting Lipoprotein and Postprandial Triacylglycerol Responses to a Low-Carbohydrate Diet Supplemented with N-3 Fatty Acids,” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 19(3), 2000, pages 383-391.
- Stern, L., Iqbal, N., Chiceno, K., et al., “The V.A. Low Carbohydrate Intervention Diet (VALID) Study,” Journal of General Internal Medicine, 17(S1), 2002, pages 147-148.