Diet books, reviewed: The All-New Atkins Advantage

We asked the experts to evaluate’and enhance’four popular diets. Here’s our assessment of diet book The All-New Atkins Advantage

Source: Best Health Magazine, September 2008

asdThe All-New Atkins Advantage

By Stuart L. Trager, an orthopedic surgeon and chief of hand surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia (with Colette Heimowitz; the original book was published in 1972 by Robert Atkins, a cardiologist who died in 2003.)

Basic premise

A low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet, including unsaturated and saturated fats, boosts your metabolic rate and fills you up more, so you eat less.

What’s different

This version includes new chapters on staying motivated and an exercise program that includes instructions and diagrams for different stretches and strength-training moves, such as calf lifts and bicep curls.

The pros

  • ‘The motivation exercises, such as journaling, can help build a feeling that you can accomplish your goals,’ says Joanne Hamilton, a registered dietitian and assistant professor in the faculty of medicine at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.
  • Planning tips, such as calling ahead to a restaurant to ask about food choices or checking the menu online, also get a thumbs-up.

The cons

  • ‘There are contradictions: [The book authors] say they believe in whole foods, but the program suggests supplements for fibre, as well as L-glutamine and chromium to regulate appetite, the latter two of which are unproven,’ says Hamilton. ‘Those supplements can be very expensive.’ It’s a very boring diet, making it potentially difficult to stick with. ‘In some of the meal plans, it seems like you eat eggs every day,’ she notes.

Latest findings

A study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition compared 29 overweight women who were put on either a low-carb or high-carb diet, which included a similar number of calories, for four weeks. It found that while the low-carb dieters lost more weight (8.3 pounds versus 5.7 pounds for the high-carb), they also had a 25 percent increase in a blood inflammation marker called C-reactive protein (CRP) that’s associated with an increased risk of heart disease. The CRP levels in the higher-carb diet group decreased by 43 percent.

Healthy boosts

  • Hamilton is not a fan of low-carb diets such as Atkins, and says they should be only used for the short term (six months at most) because they are low in fibre and calcium. ‘Long-term studies point to fibre as a tool in cancer prevention and managing blood fats and heart disease, while calcium plays an important role in bone health,’ she says. But if you’re going to try Atkins, skip the overly restrictive induction phase (Phase One). ‘The brain needs 120 to 140 grams of carbs daily to operate properly, and the induction phase has only 20 grams of digestible or ‘net’ carbs a day.’
  • Instead of bacon and eggs, eat a high-fibre cereal with skim milk and fruit for breakfast. Both will help fill you up.

Read our reviews of other diet books: The South Beach Diet Supercharged, The Best Life Diet and The G.I. Diet Clinic.

Don’t miss out! Sign up for our free weekly newsletters and get nutritious recipes, healthy weight-loss tips, easy ways to stay in shape and all the health news you need, delivered straight to your inbox.