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For years now, the Atkins Diet has stood eminently over many other eating programs. But for as long as it enthroned animal protein, the Atkins Diet has always been off-limits to vegetarians and vegans.

Not today.

Eco Atkins Diet PlanNow there is an alternative plan fit for herbivores: the Eco Atkins Diet, born of a study at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. The researchers sought to test if a high-protein vegetarian diet can cause both weight reduction and a decrease in bad cholesterol (LDL). Towards that end, they designed a diet with the same proportion of carbs and protein as the Atkins diet, only that it uses protein from vegetable (gluten and soy) instead of meat.

That’s right: Dr. Robert Atkins, the creator of the original diet, had no hand whatsoever in this new eating plan. Dr. Atkins’ diet is already beneficial by itself, able to reduce the body’s incapability to react to insulin and increase levels of good cholesterol (HDL). But it could not affect bad cholesterol, hence the research.

Forty-seven people participated in the Toronto research. They were divided into two groups, one following the Eco Atkins Diet, the other one a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet. Either diet was low-calorie. In the course of four weeks, both groups slimmed down by an average of 8.8 lbs. Both groups also reported improvement in levels of cholesterol, blood pressure and triglycerides. But the Eco Atkins Diet participants reported a higher decrease in LDL levels, as much as 0.6 percent. The results have since been released to the public by the Archives of Internal Medicine. In the meantime, Eco Atkins has made rounds in mainstream media.

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How the Eco-Atkins Diet works

This diet’s lofty fiber content could account for its reductive effect on bad cholesterol. An increase in intake of soluble fiber effectively lowers LDL levels, especially if you always exercise, eat fewer fried foods, and avoid healthy fats.

You would certainly hang on to this diet for a long time because of the fiber from vegetable protein. This kind of nutrient is known to quickly quench your hunger. This could be the reason why the research participants put up with Eco Atkins for four straight weeks.

What you can eat on the Eco-Atkins Diet

Don’t look for lamb chops and grilled chicken in this diet. You are only to derive your protein from plant proteins. Good sources of plant protein are soy burgers and beverages; gluten; tofu; nuts; veggie bacon; veggie breakfast links; and so on.

You should also reserve a good part of your calorie allowance to vegetable oils, otherwise known as healthy fats. Good examples include olive oil, canola oil, and avocado.

As with the original Atkins Diet, this diet limits your intake of carbs. Get most of your carbs from fruits and viscous vegetables, e.g. eggplant and okra. Avoid rice; white bread; potatoes; most baked goods; and starchy food. Eat barley and oats moderately.

Experts weigh in the Eco-Atkins Diet

Cardiologists may as well be in raptures to hear about a genuinely better alternative to the Atkins Diet. But they also note that the Eco Atkins Diet only outdoes many other kinds of diet by a small margin, in terms of cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglyceride level improvements. The weight loss caused by Eco Atkins Diet is not that impressive too, given the whopping 40 percent drop in calorie intake it requires. Anyone would lose lots of weight with such a low-calorie diet, regardless of the kind of food it suggests.

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Compared to the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet in the research, Eco Atkins is only better in terms of LDL reduction, not weight loss. Both participant groups reduced the same amount of pounds.

Cholesterol of the “bad” variety can go down without having to eat vegetarian protein, experts add. You can lower bad cholesterol simply by incorporating more physical activity in your life and trading trans fats and saturated fats for good fats.

Carbohydrates should not have to be drastically reduced in your diet. According to the Institute of Medicine, you must wrest 45-65 percent of your everyday calories from carbs to refuel and energize your body.

Concerned experts worry that the lack of dairy in the diet would lead to deficiency in calcium and vitamin D.

Conclusion

You could only get used to a diet of plant proteins for so long. If you have been accustomed to meat-based proteins for the longest time, you are going to have a difficult time sustaining the Eco Atkins Diet. Talk to a licensed dietitian before embarking on this diet, just so you would not accumulate nutritional deficit.

Customize the Eco Atkins Diet according to your taste and needs if you want it so bad. Continue eating meat but choose the lean or low-fat variety. Increase the amount of veggie proteins, non-starchy carbs, and healthy oils. Never neglect exercising regularly. Take safe diet supplements such as Proactol, as an option.

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