Will Atkins (or any diet) Trim my Waist?
Considering a low carbohydrate diet such as Atkins?
“Simple” carbohydrates are found in grains, nuts & seeds, milk, fruits, and some starchy vegetables. Many processed foods have complex carbohydrates added in the manufacturing process. By limiting your intake of carbohydrates, you'll increase the relative amount of protein and fat in your diet. To reduce your carbohydrate intake, begin by eliminating complex carbs found in processed foods such as refined grains and snack foods (chips, pretzels, crackers, etc). If you crave carbs, the simple carbs found in whole grains, nuts & seeds, milk, fruits, and vegetables are a healthier choice.
But what's the point of limiting your carbohydrate intake? After all, carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy. The problem is that carbs become blood sugar after being broken down during digestion. Some of that energy is used to fuel all your activities, from breathing to exercising. Unfortunately, if any of that energy remains unused, it's converted to fat. The theory is that by reducing your carbohydrate intake, your body will begin consuming the fat it stored for days when you didn't eat enough. As the fat disappears, so do pounds and inches. That's the secret of Atkins diets.
If your goal is to lose weight (or inches), congratulations – you can name that tune with Atkins. Keep in mind that there's a fly in the ointment, however, as studies have shown that it's not uncommon to regain that lost weight. What happens?
Your body burns a certain amount of energy all the time, even when at rest. The amount of energy burned is dictated by your muscle mass, which is somewhat tied to your weight. By that I mean that as you move your 165 pound body around throughout the day, you burn a certain amount of energy. Once you've lost 15 pounds, your musculature will no longer feel the stresses associated with a 165 pound body, and (over time) some of your muscle mass will disappear. Without that extra muscle mass, the amount of energy burned by your body each day drops, and more of your daily caloric intake goes back into the creation of fat once again. This causes the weight fluctuation that so many dieters are familiar with.
What to do? It's time to begin some kind of exercise program – even if it's just taking regular walks. Keep building muscle mass and toning the muscles you have – and those muscles will help burn excess energy to prevent the weight gain so common to those who simply diet.