Say Hello to Eco-Atkins: the No-Meat, Veg-Friendly Diet!
Years ago, some time in the 90’s, I decided to give Atkins a try. Despite my delight in the downward-moving scale, I hated eating so much meat. At that time I wasn’t a vegetarian (yet), but I wasn’t a huge meat eater either. Since Atkins is synonymous with eating copious amounts of meat, I only lasted a couple of months before calling it quits and never revisited the diet again.
Recently I read an article that suggested there was a vegetarian variety of the Atkins diet. A vegetarian or vegan doing Atkins seems like an oxymoron. However, what I’ve found is the ‘Eco-vegan’ diet does just that, combines the two dieting concepts: plant-based and low carb. No meat involved!
This intrigued me, so I looked into it further. It seems to have originated not with Atkins, which I think would have been ironic, but with a group of scientists wondering if it would be possible to apply low carb eating to a vegetarian/vegan diet, and if they could, what would result. They conducted a study to find out.
The results are pretty impressive. In addition to losing 8 lbs in one month, there was a significant reduction in “bad” cholesterol (LDL) which lowers the risk for coronary heart disease (CHD).
We conclude that low-carbohydrate diets emphasizing vegetable sources of protein, such as gluten, soy, and nuts, together with vegetable oils can be used in weight reduction diets to improve serum lipid concentrations… (Click here to read more.)
However, lowering CHD risks are not the only health benefits. The research article also stated:
In addition to reduction in LDL-C concentration, lower saturated fat intake may have other advantages, including reduced insulin resistance, chronic inflammation, and improved endothelial function, all of which would contribute to the lower risk of CHD associated with reduced saturated fat intake. However, polyunsaturated fats and vegetable oils in general in epidemiological studies have been shown to be associated with a reduced risk of CHD as opposed to saturated and trans fats, which are associated with increased risks. Key characteristics of a plant-based diet include fiber, vegetable oils and vegetable proteins, and foods such as nuts and seeds. These foods and food components benefit CHD risk factors, and it is therefore not surprising that plant-based diets have been associated with reduced CHD events in epidemiological studies.
All this sounded great to me, but if I were to decide to take this diet on, what can I eat? According to the Atkins website:
The researchers put one group of participants on a vegan diet (which contains not a single animal product or by-product, including eggs), which met their definition of low-carb and high-protein. Protein (31% of total calories) came mainly from gluten, soy and nuts, with typical foods being soy burgers, veggie bacon and breakfast links. Most of the fat (43% of total calories) came from nuts, vegetable oils, soy products and avocado. The rest of the calories on this vegan low-carb diet were carbohydrates (26% of total calories, which translates to 130 grams of carbohydrates and is pretty high based on Atkins), mostly from fruits and vegetables and some cereals—but common starchy items like bread, rice, potatoes and baked goods were eliminated.
So there you have it… Move over Atkins, there’s a humane, healthier and better-for-the-Earth version for those who want to go low-carb. And it’s delicious!