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  1. #1
    drgregellis is offline Member
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    Default Problems with the Atkins Diet

    Iíve been reading around and Iíve come across a lot of questions concerning the Atkins diet and how it differs from other low-carb diets. I wanted to address these questions with some of my own findings that Iíve gathered over the past 40 years.

    Dr. Atkinsís arguments are that calories donít count and that thereís a ďmetabolic advantageĒ to consuming a low-carbohydrate diet, leading to the wasting of energy (fat calories) through the urine and feces.

    Atkins is never able to support his argument that calories donít count by citing actual scientific studies showing that the unrestricted intake of carbohydraterestricted food is compatible with weight loss, rather than gain. All of the studies he discusses used a protocol that restricted calories making it impossible to test his claim. And the only study in which calories werenít restricted, Dr. John Yudkinís study, easily refuted Atkinsís claim.

    Dr. John Yudkin was the only scientist ever to test directly the whole matter of unrestricted food intake. His 1960 paper pre-dated Atkinsís publications by 12 years and concluded that a low-carbohydrate diet automatically reduced food intake and that calories do count.

    Without any scientific study to support his claim, Atkins is forced to support his argument by using the unscientific approach of discussing clients who, he claims, became fat on low-calorie diets. Placed on his version of the low-carbohydrate diet, with its purported higher calorie content, they lost weight, according to him.

    This is the ďfactĒ that he uses to justify his invalidation of the calorie theory. Atkinsís argument falls apart when we put-it-to-the-numbers, using standard nutritional calculations for metabolic rates. What becomes clear, from such calculations, is that his clients must have mis-reported their food intake. This fact is as undeniable as the fact that calories do count, as reliable as the rising and setting of the sun and the freezing of
    water at 32 degrees.

  2. #2
    CaptShady is offline Senior Member
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    Hmmm, it's been awhile since I've read the book, but remember, there are specific phases to the Atkin's diet. The first 2 phases which cause weight loss are brought on by ketosis, which is your body's reaction to such low carbs. You basically start peeing out fat. It's a chemical process/reaction, and THAT, is why calories supposedly don't matter. The book also addresses a glucose response to sugar, and grains, which he says you should never touch. You slowly approach that final phase, the maintenance phase of the diet by determining your exact PERSONAL carb level at which you're neither gaining, nor losing weight, and that by avoiding sugar and grains, you shouldn't be so hungry that you'll overeat, but even if you do, back off on your level of carbs, and lose the small amount of weight you've gained.

    IMO saying that Dr. Atkins said that calories don't count, is a bit of a stretch.

  3. #3
    wtbag is offline Member
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    I have some doubts about the validity of his science. However, I also question the eminent nutrition researchers in academia/government. There is a book, I want to say the title is "Good Calories, Bad Calories", forgive me I can't cite the author's name, but I think he is a reporter for a major newspaper. Regardless the book is outstanding tome on calories and weight loss/gain.
    I question the whole calorie in calorie out theory. I know it is anecdotal but I have just seen to many people who consume massive amounts of junk and don't gain weight. Conversely I have observed some people(women mainly) who starve and are fat.
    I don't want to sound like an Atkins apologist here, but on Atkins diet I got my body fat down to 7% and my resting heart rate was in 50's. Blood work was excellent(cholesterol etc.) I will admit it is hard to adhere to long term, but it I go above twelve percent body fat, Atkins will get it down FAST. Also many other variables that may skew my results, like KB workouts.
    All in all I think nutrition science is in dark ages.

  4. #4
    Dano3000 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by wtbag View Post
    All in all I think nutrition science is in dark ages.
    If this were at the head of every study, experiment, and recommendation, it would be so much easier.

  5. #5
    mrwhy is offline Senior Member
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    The whole calorie in - calorie out model is not as cut and dry as it would seem.

    There was this one dude - he was a dr. - he wrote this MASSIVE book called the ulitmate diet secret or something - I don't remember. It was his life story of everything he had learned regarding weightloss.

    At the end he had settled on a low carb diet and was trying to get to sub 5% bodyfat or something. I cannot quite remember, it has been so long.

    Anyways - I remember in his book he seemed to be a huge proponent of calorie in/calorie out. But at the end he talked about how in trying to get to this really low bodyfat, he had cut calories drastically and expected this huge weightloss but the weightloss did not match the calories cut. He felt that the body had some mechanism of adjusting metabolism that defied, at least as I understood it, calories in calories out.

    It was funny because then it seemed like a chapter later he was attacking all these diets that did not seem to acknowledge the superiority of calories in calories out. Which I found weird because his own experience showed that the body can adjust. It is not a static equation.

    I forget his name. Dr. Greg something. He used to post here quite a bit. Loony guy.

  6. #6
    mettleman is offline Banned
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    Dr. Greg Ellis

    He used to walk something like 8 miles every day with an 80# weight vest on.

  7. #7
    mrwhy is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by mettleman View Post
    Dr. Greg Ellis

    He used to walk something like 8 miles every day with an 80# weight vest on.
    I think that was the guy! And in his book he had these pictures with pants and suspenders but no shirt.

    Anyways - weird guy.

  8. #8
    drgregellis is offline Member
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    Not a stretch at all as this is what he writes.

    The principal claim made by Dr. Atkins is that one needs to set no limit to the amount of food he eats as long as those foods are restricted in carbohydrates. Obviously, this claim defies what every professional nutritionist accepts as the one fundamental truth in nutritional science: calories count. How is it, then, that Atkins came to disagree with this basic nutritional principle? Let’s see.

    Atkins published his first book in 1972, and his New Diet Revolution book in 1992, following up with a paperback version of the 1992 book, published in 1999. His 1992 and 1999 books are virtually identical.

    Atkins has, over the years, steadfastly maintained his position that the calorie theory is a myth. On page 16 of his 1992 book, Atkins’s has a subhead: Let’s Examine the Calorie Myth. He tells us that many doctors believe that the only way to lose weight is to strictly control one’s intake of calories. He further states: “Doctors brought up in this school of thought will tell their patients that all diets are basically equal in regard to their weight-loss potential. The only thing that matters is how many calories you take in!”

    Atkins disagrees with this school of thought and states: “This just isn’t so.” He tells us that a low-carbohydrate diet provides metabolic advantages that allow one to eat as many calories as one ate before starting the carbohydrate-restricted diet and lose weight at the same time. Some, indeed, he says, can eat even more calories and still lose weight. He states further that it’s not that “calories don’t count” (somewhat confusing us since he maintains that, in fact, they don’t count), it’s that you can just sneak the calories out of your body, unused or dissipated as heat. Atkins is a medical doctor, not a scientist, and as such, he rejects what every nutritional scientist knows as fact: the Laws of Thermodynamics.

    And to answer the last few posts

    That book is Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. The book is not an outstanding tome on calories, it's so far off the mark that it's not worth paying any attention to. Taubes is one of the modern-day believers in the idea that Calories Don't Count. Right after he published it a real scientist, not an untrained journalist published a paper proving, again, the validity of the calorie theory. And it doesn't make you sound like an apologist, be proud of what you've accomplished and by whichever means. I too agree that Nutritional Science is in the dark ages.

    And finally for the last post, that was me, Dr. Greg Ellis and I did get to 5% at the end of doing the book and you got the name right. And it's not that he felt the body had a mechanism of adaptation, it's a scientifc fact, and I described the whole process in detail. The calorie therory remains valid but calorie needs vary along the body-weight body-fat continuum. The calories in vs. the calories out can and does adjust. That in no way makes it invalid
    Last edited by drgregellis; 12-30-2010 at 07:18 AM. Reason: More info added

  9. #9
    mrwhy is offline Senior Member
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    So calorie "needs" can vary along the BW continuum. The lower your bodyfat gets, the harder it is to lose bodyfat, even when cutting calories. The body displays fat saving behavior. It no longer responds to a strict calorie in calorie out model.

    You agree with this. Science agrees with this.

    But then why can't it be the same for obese people? Why can't these same mechanisms these same mechanisms that made it dreadfully difficult for you to cut under 5%, even when "putting it to the numbers" said you should be losing x pounds, work against obese people? Why can't there be some mechanisms out of wack in their bodies that make losing fat as difficult at 300 pounds as you found it at sub 5%?

    And why wouldn't hormones be part of this?

    And why wouldn't a diet that changes the hormonal response to food change the weight loss equation? Same calories, different hormonal response = different weight loss experience?

    It looks to me like putting it to the numbers failed you at the end of your journey and it fails obese people at the beginning of theirs.
    Last edited by mrwhy; 12-30-2010 at 10:09 AM.

  10. #10
    mettleman is offline Banned
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    Dr. Ellis,
    I have no reason to doubt that you are who you say you are, so far. I read your UDS lite book and thought that it made a good deal of sense. I have also done telephone interviews with a friend of yours, Steve Maxwell, who corroborated on your advice - with the small difference that he liked to have a small amount more carbohydrate than you recommend right after a workout to aid in recovery. He told me that you didn't feel it to be necessary, although different things sometimes work better with different bodies...

    I remember, after reading UDS I posted a comment on this board that it may be more advantageous in some situations to focus more on the 'energy out' side of the equation when trying to get leaner and keep muscle, rather than only focus on the 'calories in' side. I got a ton of heat on here for suggesting that it may be better at times to try and lose fat by means of burning it off with exercise (while building muscle) rather than restricting intake alone (as long as you are eating reasonably). I found it laughable that people rejected on side of the thermodynamic coin and could only wrap their minds around the restriction side.

    I have made good gains at the same time as losing bodyfat by eating even more than I used to (protein and fat, and small amounts of carbs) and working out very hard with kettlebells, Jiu Jitsu, MMA, sprinting, bodyweight calisthenics, sandbags, and HIIT protocols. I have also noticed no lack in performance in any of these by eating less carbohydrate. In fact, I can still function at very high levels for longer amounts of time before I need to refuel and am less hungry during the day.

    I've also read quite a bit about the production of AGE particles (advanced glycation end products) through the eating of carbohydrates, and found it fascinating that, for as important as they are in terms of their destructiveness to health, they are not hardly mentioned in most dietary plans...

    **edit** just to be clear about what I've written above, I absolutely believe that calories do matter. I do eat more, but I also burn more. I believe that if you are already eating well, you get better benefits by training harder rather than restricting intake too drastically, which can lead to muscle loss and declines in performance at a certain point.

    thoughts?
    Last edited by mettleman; 12-30-2010 at 04:49 PM.

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