Question: One of my friends has decided to do the Dr. Atkins diet. She's lost 25 lbs. in 3 months and eats only proteins -- including bacon cheeseburgers, pate and full-fat cheese. Apparently it works for her, but I'm worried about her cholesterol. Can you explain how it is that this program works on the body? Lisa in NY
Answer: Hi Lisa! The Atkins diet severely restricts carbohydrate intake. The body starts to behave like people's bodies that are starving to death. A condition called "ketosis" sets in, which can be extremely dangerous. It's a very complex process -- too complicated to cover here. Look for an article soon about the dangers of ketosis in this site's fitness articles section. On any extreme diet, the weight usually comes back quickly and at a higher percentage when pre-diet eating habits are resumed, because the dieter has changed the way his body responds to food. I don't like "diets" in general. The best bet is to change your general eating habits for the rest of your life, including consistent exercise and a moderate reduction of overall caloric intake (unless you're not eating enough, which is true of some people), along with the consumption of plenty of water. Although people eat way too many carbs on average, I don't recommend any eating plan which would so severely restrict their intake. A healthy balance and the principles outlined above have proven to be the most effective and lasting way to lose weight and be healthy while you do. It will take longer than a "diet", but you will be safer and have more permanent results if you don't rush it.
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