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Get Fit While Following the Atkins Diet

From eDiets - The online diet, fitness, and healthy living resource

Whether you are an experienced athlete or just getting started with an exercise program, following the Atkins plan may be the ideal way to maximize your potential.

Weight management and exercise are two of the most important ingredients of a healthy lifestyle. Nearly every weight loss program advocates regular exercise; however, the Atkins plan may go one step further than other approaches. Following the Atkins Nutritional Approach may actually provide the ideal way to supplement your fitness program.

As we all know, the hardest part of any exercise program is getting started. The Atkins plan may give you the energy you need to take that crucial first step. "While doing Atkins, people tend to experience higher energy levels and feel better," says Dr. Stuart Trager, an orthopedic surgeon and consultant to Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. "This can make them more likely to stick to an exercise program."

Dr. Trager explains that many popular low-calorie and low-fat approaches to losing weight provide insufficient calories that rob you of energy and put your body at a disadvantage. "The challenge many people who want to lose weight face when they start an exercise program is that they are running an engine without much gas," he says. "So, when they begin to exercise, their tank is already on empty."

Dr. Trager says that in addition to feeling better and having more energy, Atkins followers will experience an increased incentive to keep exercising as they begin to take off those extra pounds. "I know that running became more enjoyable for me as I began to lose weight," says Dr. Trager, himself an accomplished endurance athlete. In addition to running marathons, he has competed in several Ironman triathlon competitions. Dr. Trager trains an average of 20 hours per week, all while continuing to follow the Lifetime Maintenance phase of the Atkins Nutritional Approach.

"Studies have shown that one of the advantages of training while following the Atkins plan is that your lean body mass is preserved," says Dr. Trager. He explains that your post-workout recovery is enhanced as a result of the amount of protein consumed, adding that the Atkins approach also improves the body’s utilization of its fat reserves.

"The Atkins plan increases the process of your liver converting stored body fat into glucose," says eDiets expert Raphael Calzadilla. According to the Atkins Web site, even the fittest and leanest of bodies contain enough stored fat to complete 10 or more consecutive marathons.

Following the Atkins plan along with your workout program may even increase your endurance. Yes, you read that correctly. "There is some literature published to suggest that your endurance is improved while following the Atkins plan," notes Dr. Trager.

How can this be? For years, conventional wisdom has told us that in order to increase endurance, it was necessary to follow a high carbohydrate diet. But, is this really true?

"I think the biggest misconception many people have is that you need a diet that is high in carbs in order to exercise," continues Dr. Trager. He says that an increasing number of amateur and professional athletes are beginning to discover that it is possible to enhance their performance levels by actually lowering the amount of carbohydrates in their daily diet. On www.atkins.com, Dr. Trager writes, "The emerging research regarding controlling carbohydrates is extremely exciting, empowering athletes of all abilities to effectively manage their weight with this innovative approach."

So, what about the idea of carb-loading adhered to by many athletes? While consuming a lot of carbohydrates can be useful before an event, Dr. Trager says that there is not sufficient research to suggest that loading up on carbohydrates is beneficial before each exercise session. Dr. Trager explains that it is only advisable to supplement your workout with a sports beverage when you engage in intensive and prolonged exercise; moreover, you must consume it during your workout. “After about an hour and a half of exercise, I’ll have a carbohydrate sports drink,” says Dr. Trager, “ because I burn up all the carbs as I work out.”

"The whole concept of carb loading has been extremely poorly implemented," says Raphael Calzadilla. "Some carb loading is necessary before competitive events, but it still isn’t as much as many people think. Most people carb dump instead of carb loading."

Calzadilla says that he has witnessed athletes increase both strength and endurance while following the Atkins approach. But, he says it is primarily a matter of biochemistry. "People respond differently," says Calzadilla. "No program is right for everyone."

If you think following the Atkins plan may be an ideal way to supplement your fitness program, this may be the perfect time to give it a try. Now that Atkins has teamed up with the world’s leading online weight-loss site, the program is easier than ever to follow. eDiets provides 24/7 support and allows you to personalize your program to suit your fitness and weight-loss needs.

"When you follow the Atkins plan in your eDiets program, you'll find that your weight loss will be consistent," says eDiets Director of Nutrition Services Susan Burke. "Your program is dynamic, not static, and responds to your progress and your needs. Your menu depends on your progress, your activity level and your goal. If you're trying to lose weight but training fairly hard, you'll get meals that contain calories to fuel your workouts but maintain your muscle strength and fitness."

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