Is the Atkins Diet Safe?

bacon and eggs People go on a diet primarily because they want to lose some weight. Not everyone will take the time to find out if the diet they have selected is actually safe to try. What about the Atkins diet? Is is safe for most people to use? Or, is it just another fad diet?

There are plenty of diets to choose from. Every year, in January, you will find displays of diet books in every book store you walk into. This is because a lot of people decide that their New Year’s Resolution will be that they are finally going to lose some weight this year. In the first week of January, they go out and select a diet. Another group of people will start a diet right before Summer, so they will look great in a swimsuit.

The fad diets tend to attract people with their claims of quick weight loss with no effort involved. I think most people realize that a diet that involves drinking a mixture of maple syrup, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper, (and not eating any real food), is a bad idea. Yet, every year, people try diets like these anyway.

What about the Atkins diet? Is is safe? There are some websites that attempt to answer that question. The first resource I looked at was the Atkins website, which, as you would expect, insists that the Atkins diet is safe.

They have a page that describes “truths and myths” about the Atkins diet. One of the “myths” listed there is: “The Atkins Diet promotes a liberal intake of high-fat meats and dairy products that raise cholesterol levels, ultimately leading to heart disease”. In response, the Atkins website writer emphasizes that the above statement is nothing more than a myth.

It goes on to say that the facts are quite different. The Atkins diet recommends that people consume healthy protein choices, (such as fish, poultry, meats, eggs/egg whites and dairy products), along with olive oil, and “plant based food choices”. It also says something about if you follow the diet correctly that you will not have any of the cardiovascular risk factors that people claim are associated with saturated fat.

The Mayo Clinic has an article about the Atkins diet. In this article, it states that there are risks that come from drastically cutting carbs in the way that people who are just starting the Atkins diet do. These risks include: headache, dizziness, weakness, fatigue, and constipation. It also notes that there can be side effects that include diarrhea and nausea, (and that the Atkins diet recommends that people take supplements to prevent these problems).

One thing that the Mayo Clinic points out is that people who eat less than 20 carbs per day can go into ketosis. It says that ketosis is what happens when the body doesn’t have enough glucose for energy, so the body starts breaking down fat. This causes ketones to build up in a person’s body, which can have the side effects of nausea, headache, mental fatigue, and bad breath.

People who have kidney disease shouldn’t do the Atkins diet, according to the Mayo Clinic. Neither should women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The Mayo Clinic points out that the Atkins diet suggests that you consult with your doctor about if the Atkins diet is safe for you to try. It seems that it isn’t for everyone.

Image by Will Merydith on Flickr