Sharon Osbourne credits the low carb, high-fat Atkins diet for her recent 30-pound weight loss in six weeks.
In an exclusive interview, Atkins chief nutritionist, Linda O’Byrne, told me Sharon does not count calories, but focuses on consuming healthy fats and keeping daily carb intake to less than 25 grams. Osbourne also eats plenty of vegetables, emphasizing those that are low-starch.
Osbourne's diet is a low carb, high-fat (LCHF) ketogenic-style Atkins diet that has been shown to promote rapid weight loss and prevent diabetes and heart disease.
The 5-foot-2 Sharon, who once weighed 230 pounds, said Atkins is the only diet plan that has enabled her to easily maintain her weight loss. In 1999, Osbourne lost over 100 pounds after undergoing lap-band surgery. She then regained 45 pounds after getting the band removed after the procedure left her weak and sick.
Sharon's weight fluctuated for years until she adopted a high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein eating plan. Osbourne, a rep for Atkins, said the best part of her LCHF diet is being able to stay slim without feeling deprived.
"It has been life-changing," she said. "It's not a diet. It's a lifestyle change."
Sharon's Atkins Meal Plan:
- Breakfast: 30g of spinach sautéed in one teaspoon of olive oil and topped with a fried egg
- Mid-morning snack: Atkins Daybreak Cappuccino Nut Bar. Or sugar free jelly topped with one tablespoon of whipped cream
- Lunch: A tin of salmon served with a large green salad of Romaine lettuce, 1/4 of a cucumber, 1/3 of an avocado and chopped celery
- Afternoon snack: Atkins Advantage Chocolate Decadence Bar
- Dinner: Grilled lamb chops served with spring greens and a side of mashed cauliflower, topped with parmesan cheese
New research also indicates the LCHF Atkins and ketogenic diets can alleviate depression and bipolar disorder.
"Low-carb diets keep blood sugar levels stable and prevent food cravings, which helps with mental clarity and boosts mood," said O'Byrne. "The intake of natural fats, especially foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, is also increased, which are linked with improved mood and reduced risk of depression."
The research supporting the mental-health benefits of the Atkins and ketogenic diets is a no-brainer to Dr. Jeff Volek, a registered dietitian and professor at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Volek told me a LCHF diet has several health benefits aside from rapid weight loss, including reversing diabetes and heart disease, and enhancing mood.
This is because drastically reducing carbs prevents the blood-sugar spikes that fuel mood swings, inflammation, and weight gain, he said.
"For about 98% of human history, we've been eating low-carb," said Dr. Volek, author of The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living. "We evolved in a state of nutritional ketosis."
Dr. Volek discovered the transformative effects of the ketogenic diet after switching to the LCHF eating plan 20 years ago. "It was nothing short of an epiphany when I changed to a ketogenic diet," said Volek, who also wrote A New Atkins for a New You.
"I felt better, more satiated, and had more consistent energy. There are very few people that a ketogenic diet could not help."
Cancer scientist Dr. Dominic D'Agostino recently told me the LCHF ketogenic diet has proven more effective than drugs at managing epilepsy-induced seizures.
What's more, the ketogenic diet can prevent and manage cancer because cancer is a metabolic disease, and cancer cells thrive on sugar.
"Most cancer scientists have historically thought cancer was a genetic disease, but only 5-10% of cancer is hereditary," said D'Agostino, who has a Ph.D. in physiology and neuroscience. "When we restrict carbs in our diet, we can prevent pro-inflammatory spikes in blood glucose and blood insulin. Suppression of blood glucose and insulin spikes can be very helpful when managing many chronic diseases."
Dr. D'Agostino joins a growing number of cancer researchers who say the ketogenic diet is an effective cancer fighter. This is because nearly all the healthy cells in our body have the metabolic flexibility to use fat, glucose and ketones to survive, but cancer cells lack this metabolic flexibility and require large amounts of glucose and cannot survive on ketones.
So by limiting carbohydrates we can reduce glucose (and insulin) and thus restrict the primary fuel for cancer cell growth.
Ketogenic Diet Starves Cancer Because Cancer Thrives on Sugar
Interestingly, this phenomenon was first observed in the 1920s by German physiologist Otto Warburg, who won a Nobel Prize in 1931 for discovering that cancer cells have defective mitochondria and thrive on sugar.
The “Warburg effect” can be exploited by the ketogenic diet, but this approach has not been used to fight cancer, partly due to the entrenched government-sanctioned low-fat diet dogma that has historically promoted a high-carb diet.
For healthy individuals, achieving nutritional ketosis with the ketogenic diet or ketone supplementation may be the most effective and practical way to prevent cancer. For people with cancer, nutritional ketosis can suppress tumor growth so the cancer does not spread.
Dr. D'Agostino has worked with cancer patients who have successfully used the ketogenic diet to manage their illness. Dr. Fred Hatfield, a former power-lifting champion and founder of the International Sports Sciences Association, has beaten cancer with the ketogenic diet.
When Dr. Hatfield was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009, he treated it with surgery and radiation, which is the common standard of care. Like other cancer patients, he got violently ill and weak from his treatment.
In 2010, when Dr. Hatfield was diagnosed with metastatic bone cancer, he contacted Dr. D'Agostino's laboratory to get more information on the metabolic therapies that were under investigation. Now, four years later, Dr. Hatfield remains in remission and leads a very active lifestyle. He credits the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet for his miraculous recovery.
"Not only is Dr. Hatfield's cancer gone, but he's in excellent health," said Dr. D'Agostino. "He works out every day and enjoys his life at 71."