Lie #4: The Atkins diet will help you keep fat off for good

Dr. Atkins writes that his diet “Is so perfectly adapted to use as a lifetime diet that, unlike most diets, the weight won’t come back.”

It’s a weight loss axiom that the more extreme a diet and the faster the weight loss, the more difficult it usually is to maintain the results.  Slow, steady and balanced seems to win the race when it comes to weight control.

Unfortunately this isn’t what most people want to hear. The four pounds per week and up to 15 pounds in the first two weeks that Atkins promises sounds much more impressive. 

There are two things you really need to know about rapid weight loss:  

  • What kind of weight was lost? How much of it was body fat and how much was water, glycogen and lean tissue?
  • Are you going to you keep the weight off for good?

Most low carbers won’t keep the weight off for more than a year, and many will fall off the wagon long before that.

Keith Ayoob, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, said in an official ADA statement about the 2003 NEJM studies: “Twelve months is an equalizer; you hit a wall. Your lifestyle starts to be affected and you get bored. A high dropout rate is a sign that extreme diets can be difficult to maintain.

Truth is, despite Dr. Atkin’s claims and the new research apparently supporting them, we still don’t know what will happen in the long run. Based on the results of the recent three, six, and twelve month studies, researchers have begun to organize longer trials. One of them will be five years in length.  

What I believe you will see in long term studies is that Atkins and other low carb diets, while effective for weight loss in the short term, will be found no more effective for long term fat loss than any other restrictive diet (and that’s NOT very effective).

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