For many dieters, holidays such as Memorial Day turn into a struggle between wanting to splurge on forbidden foods and trying to stick to a weight loss plan. But after losing more than 25 pounds on the high fat low carb ketogenic Atkins diet, Sharon Osbourne isn't worried. She's looking forward to eating an Atkins-approved burger for the holiday, Sharon wrote in a Friday blog.
"I cannot wait to celebrate Memorial Day this weekend," Sharon enthused. And she offered advice to those stressed about staying on their diets.
"Live your life! Have a burger! I’ll take one with lettuce, tomato, cheese, and bacon!" announced Sharon.
Although it might sound like a non-diet meal, a burger with the additions described by Sharon fits right into low-carb diet guidelines. Because hamburger, cheese and bacon have zero to two carbohydrates (depending on the type of cheese), only the lettuce and tomato would need to be measured.
With its emphasis on including a high percentage of fat in the diet, low carb ketogenic diets such as the Atkins plan have been criticized in the past. Those condemning the diet have expressed concern that foods such as bacon, butter and beef are linked to heart disease and high cholesterol.
However, several recent studies comparing low-fat diets to low carbohydrate diets showed that the latter can actually benefit the heart while improving overall cholesterol readings. One such study revealed that the low carb dieters in particular had higher levels of "good" cholesterol (HDL), discussed in The Annals of Internal Medicine.
"Atkins is a way of eating that promotes good, healthy whole foods," stated Dr. Eric C. Westman, associate professor of medicine at Duke University Health System, in an interview with the New York Times. He co-authored "New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great."
Dr. Westman points to the benefits of consuming fats and protein when it comes to blood sugar levels. "The science of it is that these are foods that don’t raise the blood sugar much," he explained. And his main message: "Atkins is healthy eating."
As Sharon notes in her blog, the high fat low carb diet originally prescribed by Dr. Atkins also encourages certain vegetables. "You have to have vegetables. The foundation of the diet is vegetables," emphasized Dr. Westman, author of "A Low Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet Manual: No Sugar, No Starch Diet."
However, the focus of the plan, in addition to protein and fats, is on non-starchy vegetables. Hence potatoes and corn are on the "avoid list," while veggies such as lettuce and broccoli are encouraged.
The Atkins diet consists of phases, with each phase allowing a specific range of carbohydrates. The initial phase, known as induction, limits carbohydrates to 18 to 22. That range is designed to shift the body to fat-burning mode and thus jump-start weight loss.
In addition to weight loss, the low carb high fat ketogenic diet serves the needs of those with high cholesterol, says Dr. Westman. He makes his case in "Cholesterol Clarity: What The HDL Is Wrong With My Numbers."
As for Sharon, she firmly believes that using the Atkins diet for weight loss provides her with a healthy way of life, she said in an interview with the Huffington Post. "I want to be healthy and enjoy life," she stated.
At 61, Sharon is in the age group shown to benefit from low carb high fat diets. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluated 235 postmenopausal women for three years. They concluded that the women benefited both from weight loss and reduced risk of heart disease when they consumed a higher percentage of fat.