The NY Times story Adding a Big Dash of “Health” to Low-Carbohydrate Diets reports a study discussing a new diet buzz word: Eco-Atkins. The Eco-Atkins diet is one that emphasizes high protein, high fat and low carbohydrates. However, unlike the traditional Atkins diet-it is entirely vegan. Vegan sources of protein, carbs and fat. The study compared two groups of dieters: Eco-Atkins vs. Atkins (dairy and meat were eaten on the traditional Atkins diet). The study showed that both groups of dieters lost significant amounts of weight, however the vegan Eco-Atkins dieters LDL (bad) cholesterol went down 20 percent. While the Atkins group only went down 12 percent. Why this study makes sense and my first hand experience with the Atkins Diet….
Eco-Atkins vs. Traditional Atkins Diet. This study makes complete sense to those who are familiar with a vegan diet. Low-carbohydrate diets have long been shown to be an effective method of weight loss-when properly followed. But traditional low-carb diets are high in animal fats and protein. However, there have also been a wide range of health concerns surrounding a diet high in animal products. Animal products are higher in saturated fat, carry the risk of animal hormones, are low in fiber, phytochemicals and many nutrients. High protein diets and high intake of saturated (animal) fats can lead to health problems involving your urinary and cardiovascular systems. The more protein you eat the harder your kidneys have to work. And as was shown in the study, a diet high in saturated animal fats can lead to elevated LDL cholesterol. Thus, a vegan version of Atkins, would seem to hold the same positive effects on weight loss without all of the negative health effects associated with high intake of animal products. Eco-Atkins, a healthier Atkins diet. But why?…
Why is Vegan Better? The explanation is simple. You can easily eat a high protein vegan diet and reap the many benefits and weight loss outcomes without the negative effect on your health-especially when it comes to cholesterol. Vegan proteins like soy, pea, hemp, nut, grain and algae proteins are all relatively low or free of saturated fats. And plant-based foods are much higher in fiber, phytochemicals, enzymes and many nutrients that positively effect your health.
How to go Eco-Atkins. I don’t know the specifics of the Eco-Atkins diet that the study participants consumed. But I can imagine that many of the foods they ate were:
high-protein grains like quinoa
Those are just a few of the high fat or high protein vegan foods that they may have consumed.
So what is my experience with the traditional Atkins Diet?…
My thoughts and experience on the traditional Atkins Diet: I have to admit that my freshman year in college, there was a brief few months when I waffled in my vegetarian way of life and actually experimented with eating meat again. Only in college right? There I was at Boston University, filling my cafeteria tray with piles of lean white turkey meat and puddles of spicy mustard to dip it in. No bread. That wasn’t allowed the first phase of the diet. So much meat-it makes me queasy just thinking about it. But I was studying nutrition and was curious to explore all types of diets. So I bought the best-selling book. Read it cover to cover, and tried Atkins for about two weeks. I couldn’t go any longer than that. I did lose weight. But I also felt like crap. I was drooling at the sight of large green crunchy Granny Smith apples. Really. I daydreamed about apples and peaches and grapes-all carbs. The cereal station and self-serve frozen yogurt bar in my dorm dining hall would keep me up at night. It was kinda-no-really sad. I realized that starving myself from carbs was a really dumb choice for me. And after the Atkins diet experiment, the thought of people eating that much meat made me sick. I certainly could never do that. It went against everything I believed in and everything my heart, body and mind craved and felt was right. What is life without giant bowls of agave-syrup drizzled fruit salad, tall glasses of live fresh-pressed juice and high carbohydrate sweet potatoes? Nuts, to me. So after the Atkins diet experiment I went vegan and nearly raw for the rest of the semester. I was re-assured that I would never again eat meat and that a vegan diet was the healthiest and happiest diet choice for my body and my heart.
Read the complete New York Times study story here: Adding a Big Dash of “Health” to Low-Carbohydrate Diets