The Hazards of High Protein, Low Carbohydrate Diets
A young, healthy teenage girl fell to her death after following a high-protein, low carbohydrate diet for no more than two weeks. The girl, having no identified sicknesses or medical conditions, exhibited "electrolyte imbalances" along with minimal levels of potassium and calcium, which appeared to be a result of the diet according to doctors at the University of Missouri Health Science Center. These irregularities upset the "normal electrical function of her heart" causing it to stop and her to collapse ("US teen . . ."). Based on this alone, it is evident that a high protein, low carbohydrate diet is not a safe and healthy long-term weight loss program.
High Protein diets are traced all the way back to the 1800s when William Banting produced a brochure including information and details surrounding the diet. He claimed the newfound diet, which consisted of meat and shockingly, sherry but no bread and very few vegetables, aided him in shedding his unwanted pounds. This is very similar to today's Atkins diet. Originally developed in the 1970s by Dr. Atkins, it, like Banting's idea, believes that carbohydrates are responsible for America's obese society (Applegate 26). Dr. Atkins claimed it was possible to change carbohydrate-burning bodies to fat burning by applying the concept of high protein and low carbohydrate eating. ("How does . . .?"). Nearly ten years later, Americans concluded "fat was . . . fattening," causing people to shift from proteins and fats to hefty serving of "fat-free and high-carbohydrate foods such as bagels and fat-free cookies." Still people continued to gain weight and in turn blamed it on carbohydrates. So again, in the nineties, the Atkins diet emerged. Dieters began losing weight due to a single crucial factor: by cutting carbohydrates, calorie intake is reduced, which results in weight loss (Applegate 26).
High protein or ketogenic diets, those like the well-known Atkins, are based solely on large consumptions of proteins and fats while they restrict carbohydrates to a nearly invisible amount. Although dieters are eating plenty of meat and getting their protein, possibly even an overload, they are receiving very little, if any, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other nutrient rich foods, which are essential to a well balanced diet ("High Protein Diets"). A study conducted on Atkins meals reveals that, along with having too much protein and too little carbohydrates, they are unusually high in saturated fat and cholesterol while minimal in fiber. The meals also fail to meet the "recommended daily values for several vitamins and minerals" ("How does . . .?"). Therefore, with this type of diet, it is vital to one's health that vitamins and minerals are consumed by means of supplements. There are some nutrients, though, that cannot be acquired any other way than directly from the source ("The Dangers . . ."). According to Ellen Coleman's article, "Even Dr....