I think a lot of people here don't really know what Atkins entails.
Low-carb diets are all about controlling ones Insulin hormone. Some basic research on Insulin reveals that it is the hormone that controls if your body is in fat-storage mode or fat-burning mode. Insulin is the hormone that gets secreted by the pancreases to control blood sugar levels. Many overweight people eventually become what is known as Insulin Resistant which basically means that the body doesn't respond to insulin properly which in turn causes the pancreas to release even more insulin until blood sugar drops down to a normal level, which can take hours. When the pancreatic insulin production burns out is when one becomes a type 2 diabetic. A T2D is someone whose body cannot produce enough insulin to reduce blood sugar levels, chronic high levels of blood sugar can result in a coma or death… hence the insulin shots a T2D needs.
As long as ones insulin levels are elevated the body will not turn to its fat stores for energy. The body would rather send hunger signals than deplete its fat stores. Quick rise & drops in blood sugar levels is what causes people to get ravenous hunger pangs, sharp mood swings, and fatigue.
So the first main point of Atkins is to reduce the foods that have negative impacts on blood sugar. Easily digested carbohydrates. These are the foods that spike blood sugar and put people on the insulin rollercoaster. I firmly believe that refined flour & sugar are slow poisons.
The other main point of Atkins is that fat has been unjustly maligned by dietary 'experts'. Atkins is NOT a high protin diet like most people think but rather a high fat diet. Fat not only keeps one full much, much, longer than carbs but, as it turns out, fat is also essential for the body's breakdown and rebuild cycles. This is why people on low fat diets often have problems with depression, fertility, skin irritation, menstrual cycles for women, hair loss, etc.
Dietary fat (and cholesterol for that matter) are critical for these bodily functions.
As far as cardiovascular disease is concerned, it has been shown that high levels of total cholesterol are not an indicator of CVD. Neither are high levels of LDL. Rather the best indicator, so far, is the ratio of HDL to Triglycerides. The Atkins diet is notorious for raising HDL and lowering Triglycerides.
And actually cutting edge research is pointing to increased inflammation as to being an even better indicator of heart disease. Inflammation is what causes oxidative stress in the body which is what initiates plaque buildup in arteries. This is why antioxidants are all the rage these days. What causes increased inflammation? A high ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3s in our blood and eating unhealthy fats like trans fats, hydrogenated fats, and easily damaged fats (typically seed oil).
So, no, I do not think Atkins is an unhealthy diet and is probably closer to the diet we were designed to eat. Dr. Atkins also promoted eating quality meat & vegetables due to problems associated with poor farming practices that are all too common these days.
I think the whole concept of a calorie is detrimental to our relationship with food. Food is not meant to fuel the energy expenditure our bodies but rather nourish our bodies in every way. If your sole focus is on calories then you fail in the long run. Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible and you’ll be miles ahead of most people.
"Eat as if your life depends on it!"