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Question
Posted by: Mellory | 2006/11/03

Why is this not a healthy eating plan?

I really think there is a scewed view of the high protein low carb eating plans. I've been following the Atkins concept for 17 months, lost 15 kg, and I've never felt so healthy. I definitely eat more healthily than before, and don't crave things like I did for many years. My daily eating plan would, for example beor the : for breakfast: 40g high fibre bran, 100 ml full cream milk, one cup of decaf coffee with 1 teaspoon of cream & 1 artificial sweetener. Snack: 1 stick of dry sausage or small cube of cheese or 6 olives. Lunch: Salad made of 1 cup of cabbage/lettuce/tomatoes/cucumber with olive oil/red vinegar dressing, with 2 eggs or one tin of tuna or 1 tin of salmon or 1 tin of sardines or 1-2 lamb chops. If hungry, chew on dry sausage or cheese in the afternoon. Dinner, depending on what was eaten for lunch: 2-egg omelette with feta cheese or 1 tin tuna or 150g chicken with skin, mixed salad or creamed mushrooms, and 1 cup of greenbeans or onion-tomato or eggplant or zucchinis or butternut (the list is quite long to choose from). Three times a week I would replace the salad with a bowl of berries and cream or eat a peach. Before bedtime, sometimes enjoy handful of almonds/macadamias and rooibos flavoured tea with no milk or sugar. Drink about 3 glasses of water per day, in addition to coffee.Take calsium supplement. I avoid sugar and bread/rice/potatoes/pasta, etc. I never feel hungry and never crave anything, and can eat out much more easily than ever before on a low-fat diet. And I lost 15kg and I'm still maintaining my weight.

The above eating plan is exactly what the Atkins diet recommends after its induction phase. Please do tell me why this is not a healthy eating plan.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDietDoc

Dear Mellory
the reason why I and my dietetic colleagues have a problem with high-protein diets is that such diets automatically will expose you to high levels of fat, saturated fat and cholesterol because all animal protein foods such as meat, eggs and poultry contain animal fats which in turn contain these 'bad' fats which in turn can exacerbate high blood cholesterol and lipid levels predisposing to heart disease and certain cancers. A high protein intake may also have a negative effect on kidney function and leach calcium out of the body. There is also not yet sufficient evidence that shows that these high-protein diets sustain weight loss in the long-term, which is after all the purpose of trying to lose weight. Then there is also the problem of a lack of protective nutrients (bioflavonoids, phytochemicals, etc which are mainly found in plant foods) and dietary fibre, so that using a high-protein diet for long periods can cause certain deficiencies and constipation. So, if it works for you and you don't use it for longer than about 2 weeks at a time, then that is fine. but please be aware of the potential dangers of such diets.
Best regards
DietDoc

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