It seems many have been riding the new wave of low-carbohydrate
Consumers are encountering images of “Atkins approved,” while
even some beer and bread products are claiming to be low-carb.
Low-carb diets such as the Atkins diet and the South Beach Diet
have people cutting back on the number of carbohydrates in their
This includes all breads, potatoes, pasta, sugar and even fruit.
These strict eating habits are designed to cause weight loss and
lower the dieter’s cholesterol level, while allowing the person to
consume as much meat, cheese and vegetables as they can handle.
Shirley Perryman, extension specialist at the food science and
human nutrition department, said these diets cause rapid weight
loss because of the limitations on the types of foods people
“Even though these foods are high fat, in general, they’re
consuming fewer calories because the variety in the diet is so
limited,” Perryman said. “You can only eat so much meat and
Perryman attributes the rapid weight loss at the beginning of
the diet to water weight.
“When you eat carbohydrates, it’s part of the physiological
process to take in water. So when you don’t eat carbohydrates, then
there’s this water weight you’re not going to have,” she said.
The South Beach Diet says that phase one, a strict phase, is
crucial to ridding the body of its carbohydrate and sugar
addictions. In phase one the dieter is required to cut out all
sugar and carbohydrates.
The Atkins diet is similar.
It requires the induction diet, eliminating the intake of
certain milk products, carbohydrates, sugar and fruit, to
kick-start the body into digesting food slower and regulating
Lisa Malina, a junior biology major, works at a steakhouse in
Fort Collins and said she has noticed many of her customers have
asked her to send the breadbasket away.
“They’ll tell me they’re ‘doing the Atkins’ and then order extra
vegetables, with no potatoes,” she said. “It seems like a lot of
people are on it.”
Elizabeth Harless, a dietician and executive director for Meals
on Wheels in Fort Collins, is concerned about the long-term effects
these eating habits will have on a dieter.
“The concern is that there’s not a lot of research on the
long-term effects,” Harless said. “We know that too much red meat
can lead to certain cancers and lack of fiber in carbohydrates can
raise the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.”
Perryman agreed that because these diets are so new, the medical
world does not know what may happen to people’s cholesterol levels
in the future.
“People may think they are getting a quick fix for now, because
of the lower cholesterol, but we don’t know what this means
long-term,” Perryman said.
Lauren Fields, a junior merchandising major, doesn’t buy into
the glamour of these new diets.
“I think it’s just a fad. You can’t just cut things out,” Fields
said. “I know some people that have been on it and they do well for
the first week, but then go back to their old eating habits and
gain the weight back.”
Perryman said the second phase of the low-carb diets,
reintroducing the ‘good carbohydrates’ in smaller portions, is a
good suggestion. This includes eating the refined and complex
grains, such as whole grain pasta and bread.
“If you take away the first two weeks (of these diets) and the
gimmicks, then you’re really back to the same old message, follow
the food guide pyramid,” Perryman said. “You need to enjoy your
food, but eat less of it and really look at portion sizes.”