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Atkins Diet

The Atkins Diet Food Guide Pyramid, Part 4: The Importance of Exercise

Sunday, July 18, 2004
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com (See all articles...)
Tags: Atkins Diet, Food Guide Pyramid, low-carb diet


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The use of the exercise gradient on the Atkins pyramid is nothing less than brilliant. With the use of one vertical arrow, the pyramid clearly conveys the idea that increasing your level of physical exercise allows you to choose from an expanded list of foods. This one mechanism, if followed by everyone, would result in a tremendous improvement in the state of global health.

Why? Because the human body was designed to be put to daily use. Unlike automobile parts that wear out the more you use them, body parts get better the more you use them. By flexing muscles, massaging lymph nodes through movement, moving the walls of blood vessels, providing stresses to bones, and increasing the heart rate through exercise, a person unleashes a windfall of healthy biochemical and physical effects that are fundamental to achieving a state of optimum health. Without exercise, achieving lasting health is simply not possible.

And this is where many Atkins dieters make a wrong turn. Instead of making physical exercise part of their overall health strategy, they may tend to rely on food choices alone, thinking that if they just avoid dietary carbohydrates, they don't need to exercise! It's a distortion, of course, since physical exercise is essential for low-carb diet success. I explain why in great detail in the exercise and strength training section of Low-Carb Diet Warning. The Atkins pyramid clearly support the idea that carbs and grains can only be consumed by a person who engages in frequent exercise.

In this way, the Atkins pyramid is right on target: frequent exercise allows you the "luxury," if you will, of consuming additional carbohydrates. Yet the underlying physiological realities that support this notion go far beyond what most people realize. The general consensus is that more physical exercise allows you to eat more carbs simply because you've burned off that many calories during your exercise. But that's not the real reason at all.

Without exercise, the human body isn't biochemically configured to process carbohydrates. Clinical research shows that a sedentary body will have an exaggerated insulin response to even mild carbohydrates (such as a bowl of oatmeal), where a body subjected to regular exercise will easily and unnoticeably metabolize those carbohydrates without elevating insulin levels. In other words, frequent exercise "reprograms" your body's instructions on how to deal with dietary carbohydrates. A person who engages in regular exercise is truly able to consume more carbs than a person who avoids exercise, without showing any adverse insulin effects. The degree to which an individual response to exercise, of course, varies considerably, which is why the Atkins pyramid states, in the footnotes, "Everyone's metabolism and lifestyle are different. Discover your individual carb level to achieve and maintain a healthy weight."

Despite all this, the fact remains that most low-carb dieters continue to avoid physical exercise. I see this as a real problem based on all the email feedback I've received from readers. The strange thing is that most low-carb dieters realize they should exercise more, but they avoid it anyway. They intellectually agree with the "exercise more" philosophy, but can't seem to whip their hips into action and get the exercise done.

I've especially noticed a pattern of avoidance of strength training with women. Women need strength training more than men, by the way, and older women need it more yet. In fact, the Atkins diet typically results in a greatly increased need to engage in strength training in order to protect the bones against the highly acidic nature of heavy protein consumption. Without exercise, part of a low-carb dieter's weight loss may actually result from bone mass loss! This leads, of course, to osteoporosis. For a more detailed explanation, read the strength training and bone density section of Low-Carb Diet Warning.

Another place where people distort the true intention of the Atkins pyramid is by thinking that ten minutes of walking allows them to eat a jelly donut. This is a fairly typical distortion, actually, where the proportion of exercise to carbohydrates is wildly distorted in the minds of low-carb dieters who absolutely hate exercise and love jelly donuts! In reality, no amount of exercise justifies a jelly donut, and it would take a full hour of fast-paced walking to justify even a single slice of regular bread. It takes a lot more exercise to justify eating carbs than most people realize. So it's easy for people to incorrectly interpret this exercise component of the Atkins pyramid and end up engaging in bizarre dietary practices just because they walked up a few flights of stairs, for example.

Still, hats off to the Atkins team for adding this element. When properly understood and followed by Atkins dieters, it is nothing short of genius. As a low-carb dieter, just remember that the volume and frequency of exercise required to justify additional fruits, nuts and breads is probably much larger than you think. In my own experience, I wasn't able to eat breads without producing insulin spikes until I was engaging in a solid five hours a week of what most people would consider to be aggressive exercise: biking at 15 - 20 miles per hour, climbing the Stairmaster, and jogging. Even now, I don't dare touch bread unless it's that oh-so-chewy low-carb bread.

This article is reprinted from Analysis: The Atkins Lifestyle Food Guide Pyramid, a public education ebook provided free of charge by the non-profit Consumer Wellness Research Center.

Next: Part 5: Appetite Suppression Effects


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About the author:Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger") is a best selling author (#1 best selling science book on Amazon.com) and a globally recognized scientific researcher in clean foods. He serves as the founding editor of NaturalNews.com and the lab science director of an internationally accredited (ISO 17025) analytical laboratory known as CWC Labs. There, he was awarded a Certificate of Excellence for achieving extremely high accuracy in the analysis of toxic elements in unknown water samples using ICP-MS instrumentation. Adams is also highly proficient in running liquid chromatography, ion chromatography and mass spectrometry time-of-flight analytical instrumentation.

Adams is a person of color whose ancestors include Africans and Native American Indians. He's also of Native American heritage, which he credits as inspiring his "Health Ranger" passion for protecting life and nature against the destruction caused by chemicals, heavy metals and other forms of pollution.

Adams is the founder and publisher of the open source science journal Natural Science Journal, the author of numerous peer-reviewed science papers published by the journal, and the author of the world's first book that published ICP-MS heavy metals analysis results for foods, dietary supplements, pet food, spices and fast food. The book is entitled Food Forensics and is published by BenBella Books.

In his laboratory research, Adams has made numerous food safety breakthroughs such as revealing rice protein products imported from Asia to be contaminated with toxic heavy metals like lead, cadmium and tungsten. Adams was the first food science researcher to document high levels of tungsten in superfoods. He also discovered over 11 ppm lead in imported mangosteen powder, and led an industry-wide voluntary agreement to limit heavy metals in rice protein products.

In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Through the non-profit CWC, Adams also launched Nutrition Rescue, a program that donates essential vitamins to people in need. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.

With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource featuring over 10 million scientific studies.

Adams is well known for his incredibly popular consumer activism video blowing the lid on fake blueberries used throughout the food supply. He has also exposed "strange fibers" found in Chicken McNuggets, fake academic credentials of so-called health "gurus," dangerous "detox" products imported as battery acid and sold for oral consumption, fake acai berry scams, the California raw milk raids, the vaccine research fraud revealed by industry whistleblowers and many other topics.

Adams has also helped defend the rights of home gardeners and protect the medical freedom rights of parents. Adams is widely recognized to have made a remarkable global impact on issues like GMOs, vaccines, nutrition therapies, human consciousness.

In addition to his activism, Adams is an accomplished musician who has released over a dozen popular songs covering a variety of activism topics.

Click here to read a more detailed bio on Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, at HealthRanger.com.

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