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Atkins-style high fat low carb ketogenic diet wins for weight loss

Get the skinny on the Atkins diet.
Atkins, republished with permission

Dr. Robert Atkins wrote his first weight loss book advocating high fat low carb diets in 1972. While dieters loved the message to enjoy their fill of formerly forbidden foods like butter, bacon and eggs, other physicians generally reacted with scorn and horror. Now, more than four decades later, a growing number of experts are admitting that Dr. Atkins was right, said low carb diet expert Gary Taubes in an Aug. 25 interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Taubes created his own carbohydrate controversy when he dared to challenge the low-fat diet guidelines from organizations such as the American Heart Association with two books citing research showing that a high fat low carb diet was a more effective way to lose weight. Get details about his books and his views on them by clicking here: "Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It” and “Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health."

He has become famous for taking clinical trials and boiling down the scientific jargon into consumer-friendly weight loss wisdom.

Recalling how it all began, Taubes describes how, in 2002, he discovered "five clinical trials that...this low-carbohydrate, high-fat, eat-as-much-as-you-want diet to low-fat, calorie-restricted diets that the American Heart Association wants us all to eat. In all five studies, the Atkins [-style] diet did much better -- better heart disease risk factors and better weight loss."

Although the research studies favoring Atkins-style low carb diets range from clinical trials on diabetes to meta-analyses of heart disease, Taubes says it boils down to one key message. "Refined grains and sugars are the cause of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and any diet that restricts them will be healthier," he summarizes.

Neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter agrees, but he takes the diet advice one step further: Eliminate grains and sugar completely. He contends that by eating a high fat low carb diet without grains and sugar, you can significantly reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, reported ABC News affiliate WWSB on Aug. 25.

"Your key to weight loss is to eat more fat. Eat fat, get thin!" he promises. Dr. Perlmutter echoes the Paleo diet message in recommending unprocessed foods as well. He is the author of “Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers.”

"For more than 99 percent of our time on this planet, we were on a high fat low carb, virtually gluten-free diet," he points out. Hence, he agrees with the Ancestral Health movement that returning to the diet of our prehistoric ancestors provides the key to weight loss and health.

Feeling hungry and coping with cravings rank as two of the most common complaints from dieters. But Linda O’Byrne, Atkins nutritionist, says that the high fat low carb diet eliminates those problems. It's based on the principles of nutritional ketosis.

By following a ketogenic diet, your body shifts to fat-burning mode. Although it might take a few days to adapt, the diet is safe to follow and highly effective for weight loss because it maintains muscle mass while burning fat, said Linda.

"Following Atkins eliminates hunger for two reasons," she said in an exclusive interview. "Reducing carb intake stabilizes blood sugar. Carbohydrates cause insulin spikes and then ultimately crashes, and this is what leads to cravings and hunger. Therefore, without carbs, dieters don't experience extreme changes in blood insulin levels and the cravings go away."

In addition, foods high in fat help dieters feel full for longer periods of time. Snacking is allowed, and Linda recommends consuming small protein-rich snacks between meals, such as turkey and cheese rolls.

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