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 Weight Control  Holistic-online.com

Atkins Advises to Limit Saturated Fat Intake In The Diets

According to a story in New York Times on January 18, 2004, Colette Heimowitz, the director of research and education for Atkins Nutritionals, is telling health professionals in seminars around the country that only 20 percent of a dieter's calories should come from saturated fat.

Dieters mistakenly believe that Atkins Diet advises them to satisfy their hunger with liberal amounts of steak, eggs and other saturated fats. The promoters of the Atkins diet now say that people on their plan should limit the amount of red meat and saturated fat they eat. They also clarified that "eat liberally" does not mean eat "till stuffed," but eat "till you are full."

Scientists had been criticizing the Atkins diet saying that its version of a low-carbohydrate, high-fat regimen might lead to heart disease and other health problems.

According to the New York Times, story, Atkins representatives say that Dr. Atkins always maintained that people should eat other food besides red meat, but had difficulty getting that message out.

The Atkins regimen remains a high-fat diet. But Atkins officials are specifying the amount that should be saturated (the kind that comes from meat, cheese and butter) and the amount that should be unsaturated (the kind that comes from most vegetable oils and fish). The revised Atkins diet places more emphasis on fish and chicken.

"Atkins for Life," Dr. Atkins's newest book, published a few months before his death, says: "You should always eat a balance of different types of natural fat." The precise proportion of saturated and unsaturated fat was unspecified, however.

However, total fat in the revised Atkins diet remains much higher than other diets recommend: 60 percent of the calories are still derived from fat, twice the level recommended by the US Agriculture Department. Of that, one-third can be saturated fat, also twice the level recommended by the USDA food pyramid. (See below.) The rest should be poly- and mono-unsaturated fats.

Comparison of Atkins Diet with the food pyramid recommendations

Parameter Goal Atkins
Fat <2 13.5
Meat <3 17.4
Milk 1–2 0.1
Starch >7 0.1
Fruit >2 0
Vegetable >3 2.9
Net Score 11 -22.9

Net Score is obtained by taking the sum of starch, fruit, vegetable servings in the diet and then subtracting the servings exceeding goal for fat and meat.

Source: James W. Anderson, MD, FACN, Elizabeth C. Konz, MS, RD and David J. A. Jenkins, PhD, MD, FACN: "Health Advantages and Disadvantages of Weight-Reducing Diets: A Computer Analysis and Critical Review," Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 19 (5): 578 (2000)

With the modified diet a person who eats 1,500 calories a day could still eat a 17-ounce strip steak every day, according to dietitians. After the diet's first phase, the amount of fat allowed drops to 55 percent, but the percentage of saturated fat stays the same. Although the revised recommendations are in the right direction, most of the medical establishment still scoffs at the high saturated intake of the Atkins diet. They say that high levels of saturated fats are dangerous, period.

Dr. Atkins said that carbohydrates caused obesity and eating fat helped regulate levels of insulin, which helps produce body fat. According to Atkins spokesperson "Saturated fat isn't as much of an issue when carbohydrates are controlled; it's only dangerous in excess when carbs are high." This is being challenged too.

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