In my last column I reviewed the Horizon programme on the Atkins Diet. Although the programme clearly showed that people on the diet do indeed lose weight, (by simply consuming less calories) it was not able to give answers to some important questions: Is the diet good for you? What are the health effects in the long term? What about consuming all those fats that doctors say are bad for you?
Why do people lose weight on the Atkins Diet?
The Horizon programme broke new ground by finally demonstrating why people on the diet lose weight. Although they are permitted to eat as much protein as they wish, a study showed that they do not choose to do this. But why don’t they? That is the crucial question. In order to attempt to answer this question we need to look at an important process going on in the bodies of people on the Atkins diet. This process is called ketosis..
To produce usable energy the body prefers carbohydrates. It utilizes insulin to convert them quickly into energy. However if you deprive your body of carbohydrates or reduce them radically as you are requested to do on the Atkins diet, the body can still produce energy. It can do this but with far from the ease it can utilize carbohydrates for the same purpose. It can convert protein and fat into energy by breaking down ketones in both of these foodstuffs. The process of producing energy in this way is called ketosis. Ketones can be found in the urine of some people on the Atkins diet (as demonstrated on Horizon) and is responsible for the notorious ‘Atkins breath.’ Opponents of the diet reckon that when the body has to break protein for energy in this way, it will also digest muscle (composed mainly of protein) and this is very unhealthy.
So why do we eat less on the Atkins diet?
This is the question nobody can answer! People on the diet consume less calories. Here is my personal theory why. When ketosis occurs in your body, it suppresses appetite. This may occur because you feel slightly toxic inside. When you feel ill or toxic your appetite is suppressed. I think people on the Atkins diet may be losing weight for this reason.
Why we need unrefined carbohydrates
All athletes understand the importance of getting energy from carbohydrates. That’s why they eat bananas or glucose drinks during a sporting contest and not sirloin steak – which would surely slow them down. However, and here is the rub, you do need to use the energy provided by the carbohydrates otherwise they will be stored as fat. In my opinion unrefined carbohydrates are a vital ingredient of our diet as long as we do moderate exercise. The emergence of a diet like the Atkins may have everything to do with our lack of physical activity. If we exercise we need energy and carbohydrates are ace at providing it.
So how should we eat?
A balance of carbohydrates fats and protein is the ideal. And exercise!
Homeopathic Tip of the Week: Toxic or overeaten?
When you feel toxic or have overeaten try a few doses of homeopathic Nux vomica 6. It is also the homeopathic remedy for a hangover.