With the rising dilemma of obesity around the globe, concerned people have started becoming conscious of their dietary intake. Obesity and high cholesterol lead to fatal illnesses such as heart diseases, diabetes, and hypertension. What is confusing the general health-conscious populace, is whether to stick to a low-fat diet in order to lose weight and maintain overall bodily health, or to switch to the now-famous Dr. Atkin’s low carbohydrate diet.
A low-carb diet is one that has reduced amounts of carbohydrate intake during the day, and all the calories that are taken in are from proteins, fats, and other nutrients. Research has shown that a diet that is low in carbohydrates helps lose weight, and does not affect cholesterol levels. Recent studies have shown that the high-protein, high-fat diet plan which restricts carbohydrate intake is beneficial to those who are on a diet regimen (Pallarito, 2004).
According to two studies carried out which show that low carb diets are as effective as low-fat diets, in a span of six months, the low carb candidates showed more weight loss as compared to the low-fat dieters. A reduction in weight signifies lower calorie intake, and when studies are carried out, other factors such as triglyceride level, and high-density lipoproteins (HDL) are also looked into. A low carb diet showed people with lower triglyceride level results, as well as an increase in the HDL levels, which proves that the low carb diet is beneficial for health. The benefits are two-fold, one, a reduction in weight, and second, a favor for the heart, due to the high HDL and low triglycerides.
The Atkins diet also includes multivitamins and essential oil supplement tablets, which help in keeping the heart healthy. This may also be the reason for the improved levels of HDL and triglycerides, that the diet includes supplements that keep the body healthy, alongside reducing weight. This aspect makes us think as to whether a high protein, high fat diet actually causes reduction in the triglyceride readings, or is it the supplements that are taken with the Atkins diet that produce favorable results.
High protein and high fat intake will automatically cause health problems, by raising the cholesterol levels, then how is it that this diet is recommended for weight reduction? If on one hand weight is reduced, then will there not be other risks to such a diet plan? Won’t the person suffer from high cholesterol because of the high fat intakes? This is a contradictory element, and needs further research; also because the studies that are currently being reviewed have been carried out in very short time spans, thus the lifelong effects of the low carb diet on the heart cannot be evaluated.
Another aspect of a low carb diet that has been studied is that during an exercise session, fatigue is caused sooner than normal, due to the low intake of carbohydrates and high protein and fat levels (Lofshult). It has been stated that a low carbohydrate diet will cause low glycogen storage in tissues, which result in fatigue. Even if a low carb diet helps in weight reduction, during exercise such physical fatigue is caused, that it becomes a hindrance to continuous physical movement, and lethargy results. Therefore, for a low carb diet to be employed, more research and studies need to be carried out in order to see if in the long run it is actually benefiting us, or harming the body.
Lofshult, D. Do Low-carb Diets Affect Exercise Fatigue?.
Pallarito, K. Studies Bolster Case for Atkins Diet.