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Atkins & Low-Carb - Part 1

By Tracie Johanson

Unless you've been living in a cave for the last year, you've probably noticed that low-carb mania is sweeping the nation. Food manufacturers are in a heated race to see who can get the most low-carb fare into the grocery stores, and every advertiser worth their salt is emphasizing the low-carb message. Popularized by the late Dr. Atkins, the low-carb diet has taken the nation by storm and promises to be the biggest trend of 2005.

So, does the low-carb diet work? Anecdotal evidence and recent studies both conclude that following a strict low-carb diet will in fact help you lose weight. Serious questions remain, however, and must be addressed before fully embracing the low-carb lifestyle. SOME of these questions include:

  • What are the long-term effects (10-20 years) of low-carb eating?

  • Can you stick with the low-carb diet, or will your love for carbohydrates keep you cheating and frustrated?

  • How does a low-carb diet mix with exercise? In particular, what impact does it have on your muscle?

  • Have you read the materials on the low-carb diet, or are you just following the second-hand information you heard from a co-worker?

In this series of articles we will attempt to address these issues.

First of all, you should make changes to your diet that you can STICK WITH FOR THE LONG TERM. All too often, people start on a new "diet" and willpower their way to weight loss. They don't enjoy it, mainly because their "diet" is telling them they can't eat the foods they love. BOOM They're off the diet. Perhaps a few months later they try another diet, just to find that it is also too restrictive and BOOM they're off again. This yo-yo dieting takes a toll on the body, often leading to lost muscle mass and even worse a feeling of failure.

For ANY "diet" to work, it has to be created in such a way THAT YOU CAN LIVE WITH IT. Life is simply too short to be absolutely miserable, and trying to willpower yourself into a "diet" that you can't stick with is a sure path to misery.

So, should you start a low-carb diet? That's the million-pound question! And the answer is.....drum roll please.....MAYBE! If you think you can stick with it, AND if you take the time to read about it and get the facts, AND if you discuss it with your doctor, AND if you know what you are getting into, AND if you have the support of your family, then MAYBE the low-carb diet is right for you.

Why not just a simple 'yes' or 'no'? Because EVERYBODY IS DIFFERENT AND NO SINGLE PLAN IS GOING TO WORK FOR EVERYONE. Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Slim-Fast, the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet, and hundreds of other plans have all helped people, but not one of them has helped EVERYONE.

What's important to realize is that you must discover your own nutritional plan: one that works for YOU.

And finally, a reminder to EXERCISE must be shouted from the gym floor! No matter what nutritional approach you take, ALL of the experts recommend that you exercise on a regular basis. Think about it: there are hundreds of diet plans out there in the world today, and many of them offer conflicting information, BUT THE ONE THING THAT THEY ALL HAVE IN COMMON IS THAT THEY STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO EXERCISE. So although the experts may disagree on what you should eat, they do agree on what you should do: exercise!

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