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Safe & Quick Diet Information
The following review examines the advantages and disadvantages of several popular diet plans. Most of the diets are based on low-carbohydrate approaches. These hotly debated low-carbohydrate diets were subject of a recent study in the "Journal of the American Medical Association" that found more research is needed on the safety and efficacy of such plans. The article analyzed hundreds of published studies about low-carbohydrate plans and found a lack of scientific evidence for or against the diets. "It is also important to note that in most of the studies contained in the analysis, weight loss occurred when study participants were on diets for longer periods, and when they ate fewer calories," according to a statement by Robert H. Eckel, a physician and chair of the American Heart Association's Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism Council.
Keeping that in mind, let's look at a few popular diets, and go through some of the pros and cons, and the theory behind their potential effects.

The Atkins Die (Robert C. Atkins, M.D.)


The Diet Plan Theory:

The Atkins diet is a high-protein, high-fat, low-carbohydrate plan. The diet allows for unrestricted amounts of meat, cheese and eggs while severely restricting carbohydrates, including sugar, bread, pasta, milk, fruits and vegetables. Atkins' diet is based on the theory that eating carbohydrates creates a production of insulin, a hormone secreted from the pancreas, leading to increased weight gain and hunger, which is a true physiologic response. When converting to this approach, the plan holds that dieters will experience reduced appetite and their bodies will use stored fat for energy versus burning glucose from carbohydrate digestion. Burning fat for energy will supposedly lead to weight loss.


Disadvantages:

The medical community continues to debate the potential damaging effects of long-term, high-protein diets on kidney function, cholesterol levels, and possible increased risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and cancer. The Atkins diet restricts carbohydrates and limits the amounts of fruits, vegetables, milk and other high-fiber foods. These foods naturally provide essential vitamin and minerals to maintain health. Atkins diet followers may have difficulty maintaining this diet long term. The problem is taste. The only way to really satisfy taste without carbohydrate is by increasing fat. And this is another concern with the Atkins plan. Weight loss occurs predominately through a process called ketosis, and a majority of it (at least initially) is fluid loss. There have been no long-term randomized studies to support the safety of this diet.

Advantages:

People like eating high amounts of protein foods that are often restricted on other diets. Those who have been unsuccessful on other low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets will often lose weight with this plan. The diet is easy to follow; no point system, calorie counting or complicated meal plans are involved.


The Carbohydrate's Addict's Diet (Richard Heller, M.D. and Rachael Heller, M.D.)


The Diet Plan Theory:

The Carbohydrates Addict's diet is a low-carbohydrate eating plan. The diet recommends eating low-carbohydrate meals and one "reward meal" daily. The reward meal combines carbohydrates, protein and vegetables. It must be eaten within an hour from start to finish. The Hellers' diet is based on the theory that many overweight people are carbohydrate addicts; they suffer from a biological condition caused by a hormonal imbalance. Excess insulin is produced after eating carbohydrates, resulting in all-day food cravings and a willingness in the body to store fat. The plan holds that converting to this low-carbohydrate plan reverses such biological conditions, reducing appetite and body fat storage. The body will convert to burning fat for energy versus burning glucose from carbohydrate digestion. In general, although the finer points may differ, this can be viewed as a modified Atkins plan.


Disadvantages:

There are no long-term randomized studies to support the theory of carbohydrate addiction. Enjoying carbohydrate foods is not enough for an addiction diagnosis. Also, there are no long-term randomized studies to support the safety of this diet. Eating a low-carbohydrate diet leads to consuming larger amounts of fat and protein. Although debated by the medical community, long-term low-carbohydrate diets are believed to increase risk for colon cancer and osteoporosis. High-fat and high-protein diets could cause kidney function loss, elevate cholesterol levels and increase risk of heart disease. Following this diet long term will be a challenge for many.

Advantages:

Weight loss may occur with this diet. It provides a comprehensive list of foods to consume. It encourages drinking plenty of water daily. It is less restrictive than the Atkins' diet.
The Pritikin Principle (Created by Nathan Pritikin, Revised by Robert Pritikin)

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