Today, the epidemic of obesity is more prevalent than ever, with the world health organization (WHO) stating that obesity-associated deaths surpass the number of deaths caused by famine. Fortunately, more media outlets are talking about this problem with a special focus on the complications of obesity, such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, chronic blood hypertension, and other ailments. In a way, this helped people become more conscious about their weight, and eventually, health status. One type of diet that gained massive popularity is the Atkins diet, as it counters the effect of obesity and induces weight loss. This way of eating focuses on reducing carbohydrate intake as much as possible. In this article, we will cover the major benefits of the Atkins diet, as well as its potential side effects.
The benefits of the Atkins diet
One of the top reasons people follow the Atkins diet is to lose weight. The physiology of this weight loss is diverse and include decreased appetite, accelerated metabolism, and caloric deficit. Perhaps the most influential factor in the weight loss associated with the Atkins diet is appetite suppression, which is believed to be the result of the stimulation to produce hunger-suppressing hormones, such as ghrelin and leptin. Regardless of the mechanism that mediates this benefit, weight loss is prominently noted in people on the Atkins diet.
A more balanced lipid panel
High LDL and triglycerides can put patients at a higher risk for a multitude of diseases, including coronary artery disease, blood hypertension, and cognitive maladies.
Fortunately, the Atkins diet reduces bad cholesterol and triglycerides while also increasing HDL levels. All in all, this results in improved vascular health.
Reduced blood sugar level
Similar to the ketogenic diet, the Atkins diet significantly decreases blood sugar levels, reducing your risk of diabetes mellitus. This effect is so powerful that in a 2008 study, patients with type two diabetes were able to reduce or eliminate their hypoglycemic medications within six months of starting a low-carb diet. The Atkins diet also reduces insulin spikes, which is believed to be the primary culprit in the pathogenesis of diabetes; as a result, this diet may prevent diabetes in high-risk patients.
Lower blood pressure
Chronic blood hypertension is a devastating disease that damages blood vessels all over the body. Eventually, this leads to thin, fibrotic, and weakened vessels, increasing the risk of a hemorrhagic stroke. Moreover, the heart must pump blood against a higher than normal pressure, which leads to cardiac issues, such as left ventricular heart failure. The Atkins diet has been shown to reduce both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Side effects of the Atkins diet
The Atkins diet is considered to be relatively safe; however, people often report unwanted adverse effects, especially in the early stages of this diet.
- Digestive symptoms (e.g. nausea, constipation)
Eventually, these symptoms disappear with time, as your body gets used to burning ketone bodies for energy instead of glucose.
The Atkins diet is a great tool to lose weight and adopt a healthier lifestyle; it is especially beneficial when combined with regular exercise.
Similar to other low carb diets, there is a lot of misconceptions roaming around the Atkins diet, so if you have any unanswered questions, feel free to ask in the comment section below.