Friday 30 January 2004

If you've ever read my rants, you know how I feel about fitness/health: you have to exercise and balance your diet, not just do one thing to a radical extent. One of the worst crazes out there, but one that's unfortunately caught fire in recent months, is the Atkins diet. I mean, there's a special Atkins section in the grocery store... special menu sections and "Atkins-friendly" items in a lot of major restaurants... Atkins books everywhere you look. It worries me.

Fact: Atkins is right about how excessive carbohydrates will cause you to gain weight.

Fact: Atkins is right that cutting these carbohydrates is healthy.

Fact: Cutting these carbohydrates severely, as Atkins suggests, will change the way your body processes nutrients and builds and burns fat. You'll lose some weight.

Fact: With little or no carbohydrates, your body won't have the stored fuel (glycogen) that it needs for long-term exercise or exertion, and possibly not even short-term exertion.

Fact: Eating excessive amounts of fat is bad for your heart.

Fact: Most people can't maintain a high-fat, high-protein, low-carbohydrate, high-water diet for a lifetime.

Fact: If you can't maintain something for a lifetime, then it's inherently failed.

Fact: All four people I personally know who tried the Atkins diet couldn't maintain it for long...tried it multiple times...never kept the weight off...and today are still fat...and not on the Atkins diet.

Challenge: Take a look at the sculpted physiques of people who exercise scientifically and eat well-planned, balanced diets. Now think: have you ever seen an Atkins diet follower who looks even remotely like that?

There is no easy way out, no one-step fat-loss solution, no magic pill. Extreme solutions - diet, exercise, drugs, whatever - may work but they aren't the best answer. Moderate everything - cut the carbs AND the fat. Do some research, figure out how the body works and what types of foods do what, and come up with a sensible, sustainable, healthy plan. Ditto on the exercise portion. For god's sake, think about what you're doing, instead of taking any easy way out.