Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: San Francisco, CA
I agree that the Atkins is not a healthy diet plan over the long term, but only because it doesn't specifically eschew eating processed foods over whole, natural foods. However, I am worried that you are making the same mistake countless dieticians have made over this topic: ignoring/misunderstanding basic body chemistry.
The brain as well as most organ tissues of the body (such as the heart, liver, kidneys, GI organs) function perfectly well without glucose.
The structural tissues of the body (muscle, bone, skin, cartilage) burn predominantly sugar for their energy, and thus would be in danger from complete carb elimination. However, thanks to gluconeogenesis from amino acids and glycerol within the body, as well as judicious carb consumption (fewer than 100g/day max), these tissues can thrive as well in a ketotic environment.
In response to a low carbohydrate environment produce by diet, the liver begins to produce ketones right away — not after a "long period of lack of carbohydrates." As ketones build up in the blood stream, the brain gradually shifts from burning glucose to burning mainly ketones as fuel, thus eliminating them from the blood stream and keeping pH neutral. Thanks to this process, the body can avoid having to break down muscle tissue to supply the amino acids for gluconeogenesis because the brain is no longer eating through gratuitous amounts of glucose, which happen to be scarce during a low-carb diet.
In conjuntion with the above, muscle can also be spared by getting adequate protein in the diet, which contrary to popular belief, does not cause kidney dysfunction. A higher protein intake will severely tax the filtration systems of diabetes patients and others with nephropathy, but up to 1.5g/lb lean body mass are entirely safe in people with normal, healthy kidneys.
I should also point out that increased protein intake, combined with moderate exercises increases bone mass, not decreases it. Protein is as vital a component of bone as calcium, in that it helps the bone cells process calcium and phosphorous and plays a critical role in their metabolism.
Finally, the diet I follow is highly sustainable over the long term. Carbohydrates are implicated in chronic inflammation, and wheat itself has very strong correlations with heart disease and hypertension. Omega-6 oils derived from plant sources also lead to inflammation, and when cooked with readily transform into trans fats. I know correlations are not causations, but it is unfair to implicate animal product as the sole cause of diseases of civilization when there are plenty of plant products that fit the bill as well.
Just in case you're wondering, I choose to follow a low-carb, whole foods diet with plenty of grass-fed/free-range/wild-caught meat (variety of animals), dairy, and eggs, as well as plenty of leafy green and multi-colored vegetables, nuts and seeds, various oils, as well as the occasional fruit, beans, or grains (mostly barley and quinoa). I do a lot of cooking myself so I know exactly what's in my food.
1) eat real food - more vegetables, moderate meat, moderate fruits, less grains, less sugar, less vegetable oils.
2) exercise - moderate intensity cardio, sprinting, heavy lifting, dedicated stretching and mobility.
3) live - relax, de-stress, meditate.
Disclaimer: I'm not professionally qualified to make any formal recommendations. I've just done my homework and I'm my own guinea pig. All of my data, unless otherwise cited, comes from a sample size of n=1 (me).