With more than 25% of the adult population obese and astonishing 60% of adults who are overweight, it is small wonder that Britain is the fat man of Europe. A person is clinically obese when their body mass index is more 30. A body mass index of 25-29 means that the person is overweight but short of obese. It also seems that almost every month a different dietitian rediscovers the fact that it is an excessive intake of carbohydrates not fat which causes obesity. A new diet is born. A new book is published.
The original reduced-carbohydrate diet was invented by American cardiologist Dr Robert Atkins and introduced to the world through his 1972 best-seller Dr Atkins’ Diet Revolution – and reissued 20 years later as Dr Atkins’ New Diet Revolution. Atkins challenged existing dietary advice linking calorie intake with weight gain. He argued instead that the real culprit was carbohydrates and in particular, sugar, and sugar directives. Consumption of fat, he said, was a natural part of human diet. It followed that the natural way to lose weight was to cut out sugary products and replace them with a protein rich diet, which also reduces food cravings because they create a feeling of fullness. Bread and potatoes also out, because they contain starch, which breaks down into sugar. By cutting out easy-burn carbohydrates, the body begins to burn fat. It has no choice. Without carbs, there is nothing else to burn. The weight begins to fall away. For the same reason beer wine and spirits are also out, because alcohol is also a fuel. In place of alcohol, drink water. That will increase metabolism, flush out the system and add to the feeling of fullness.
Atkins is not a crash diet. It is about a change in eating habits. Crash diets are bad because the body fights back. When famine strikes, metabolism slows down and the body goes into storage mode. Even worse is yo- yo dieting, when weight actually increases because the body has adapted to a reduced diet. Atkins is not about forcing starvation rations onto an unwilling body. It is about replacing modern over processed foods with something closer to the natural foods which our ancestors ate. In fact one of the earliest proponents of the Atkins diet was King Henry VIII.
Henry ate a gut-busting 5,000 calories each day of a predominantly meat and poultry based diet. It was double an average man’s 2,500 daily calorie intake. The only sugars he consumed were the those occurring naturally in fruit and honey. Only peasants ate vegetables. And it would be another half a century before potatoes were discovered.
For most of his adult life Henry was not the obese, grim-faced, tyrant in a mini-skirt, portrayed by the painter Hans Holbein. He was tall (6’2”), slim, energetic and a ladies-man. He was fun to have around. How that changed on 24th January 1536 when Henry fell off his horse and was crushed in a jousting accident. The 43 year old was knocked unconscious and could not speak for two hours. He seemed to recover but was left with an ulcerated leg which never healed. It changed the course of England ‘s history.
He never jousted again. His lifestyle became sedentary. But what remained constant was his 5,000 daily calorie intake. Without exercise, his waistline ballooned to an eye watering 56”. With the weight gain came the impotence. It is said that what really caused Henry to divorce his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, was not her reputed ugliness but the fact that he could not consummate the marriage. Was it that same erectile dysfunction which led fifth wife Catherine Howard to seek lovers and eventually lose her head?
Atkins referred to the need to exercise as ‘non-negotiable’. In Henry‘s case it was not his daily 5,000 calorie intake which caused his latter-years obesity but his inability to burn off those calories, caused by the jousting accident.
Taken from ‘Erectile Dysfunction: Finding What’s Right for You’ by Vivian C Ward