ULV students lose pounds with Atkins Diet

Campus Times
September 19, 2003


by Alejandra Molina
Staff Writer

In the fantasy world of dieters, it would be a dream come true to lose weight without eliminating favorite foods or limiting portion sizes.

As everyone who's tried to lose weight knows, it takes some measure of work and willpower. But some dieters on the ULV campus are finding that the 30-year-old Atkins Diet, the best known of the low carbohydrate diets, offers results with minimal hunger pains and suffering.

Kathy Carr, a junior at the University of La Verne, is living proof that this low-carbohydrate diet can work, even with the hectic schedule of busy students.

"You can go anywhere and stay on this diet," she said.

Carr has been on this diet for four-and-a-half months and has lost 30-35 pounds in the process, while still being able to go to her favorite fast food restaurants.

Carr said she can still eat her favorite fatty foods. Dieters on Atkins often increase their fat intake and still lose weight on the plan.

People on this diet can eat foods such as cheese, steak and sausages-which are high in protein and fat-but they cannot eat those high in carbohydrate, such as pasta, bread, potatoes or cereals.

Carr said her breakfast usually consists of eggs, bacon and sausage or a Dr. Atkins protein bar.

For lunch, she has a hamburger patty with cheese and salad, and for dinner, she eats fish or chicken.

The Atkins Diet is a four-phase eating plan that allows dieters to select what foods to eat based on their need to achieve weight loss and weight maintenance, enjoy good health and prevent disease, according to the Web site www.atkins.com.

During the first phase, dieters restrict carbohydrate consumption to 20 grams each day. For Carr, this was the most difficult phase.

"The first week, you are addicted to carbs," she said.

Because of this, Carr experienced what she described as withdrawal symptoms and headaches.

Some Atkins Dieters have experienced more severe symptoms, including constipation and kidney stones from the first week's high-fat, high-protein and low-fiber program.

But Carr said her negative side effects decreased in the second phase when she was allowed to add some high-fiber carbohydrates in the form of fiber-rich and nutrient dense foods.

On the Atkins plan, dieters can increase carbohydrates gradually until weight loss stops.

In the third phase, dieters increase the daily carbohydrate intake in 10-gram increments each week to make the transition from weight loss to weight maintenance.

The fourth phase basically allows dieters to select from a wide variety of foods to ensure weight maintenance, while still controlling carbohydrate intake.

To Carr, the Atkins Diet is not like any other diet she has tried.

"I have so much more energy because all I'm eating is protein," she said.

Since this diet is more attractive than many other diets, it is easier to stick with, according to the article "Atkins Diet on trial" featured on the website www.itv.com.

But aside from these positive outcomes, there are arguments against the Diet. Because it is considered an easy diet, people neglect to improve their health in other ways, such as regular exercise, according to the article.

Medical experts have also raised concerns about the Diet's long-term safety. Doctors say that a diet high in meat and saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease, certain cancers and hypertension, and shortens lifespan.

Still two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine found that in the short term, the Atkins Diet, compared to a low-fat, low-calorie diet works and does not contain heart disease risk factors.

While the Atkins Diet does help dieters lose weight, it offers no guarantee that dieters will not return to their old patterns after a few months, according to nutritionist Marion Nestle.

But Carr plans to continue the Atkins Diet.

"It's a lifetime way of living," she said.