Jan 292004
Authors: Taylour Nelson

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

insulin levels.

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.”

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