Argumentative Paper: Atkins vs. Zone Diet

Argumentative Paper: Atkins vs. Zone Diet


            The Atkins Diet is high in protein and fat which can lead to cancer, heart disease, and additional health problems so dieters should consider the Zone Diet as a good method of losing weight. In the Atkins Diet, dieters are encouraged to eat what they want and when they want to eat it. Yet, this type of instruction does not really seem to make a division between what the individual was already eating and what will enable the individual to lose weight. Thus, the Atkins Diet is really about eating a lot of fatty foods and high protein type foods. In the Zone Diet, dieters are able to control their sugar intake. Therefore, dieters are able to get the balance needed to effectively lose weight. Do these statements hold true? Well, the purpose of this argument is to prove the Atkins Diet is a less effective method of healthy weight loss than the Zone Diet.


            The Atkins Diet is considered as a low carbohydrate diet that enables dieters to lose weight while eating a high level of carbohydrates. Yet, the diet is not new. In fact, William Harvey, who is an English surgeon, began the diet for obese people. The diet combined sweet and starchy foods and allowed the dieters to eat meat. William Banting, who was a patient of Harvey, insisted that the diet worked in a letter to the general public. Thus, over the past 20 years, many diets have followed the similar patterns of: (a) low levels of carbohydrate substance, (b) unlimited intake of protein and fat, and (c) unrestricted calories (Atkinsexposed.org¹ 2004). Significantly, the Atkins Diet is designed for the dieter to be satisfied with what he eats while losing weight.

            Remarkably, “The ADA has been warning Americans about the potential hazards of the Atkins Diet for almost 30 years now” (Atkinsexposed.org² 2004, Atkins “Nightmare” Diet, para.6). Consequently, there are many associations opposed to the Atkins Diet. For example, the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Dietetic Association (ADA), the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the Cleveland Clinic, John Hopkins, and the American Kidney Fund are all opposed to the idea of people eating anything they want to and losing weight (Atkinsexposed.org² 2004).  Thus, the Atkins Diet is well opposed.

            On the other hand, the Zone Diet is effective but complicated. First, Barry Sears created the Zone Diet. It is a diet with fewer dietary restrictions than other low-carb diets. Furthermore, the Zone Diet recommends more fruits and vegetables. In addition, the diet discourages junk food and low-nutrient carbs (such as those found in diet soft drinks). The Zone Diet also recommends eating fewer fatty foods as well as for the dieter to switch high saturated foods to those with monounsaturation (Kellow 2007). “The idea is that to each ‘The Zone’, every meal and snack should provide 40 percent of calories from carbohydrate, 30 per cent from protein and 30 per cent from fat.’ ‘that is what some zone fans call the 40:30:30 ratio’” (Kellow 2007, “What does the Zone diet involve”, para. 2). All these things suggest that the Zone Diet is healthier than the Atkins Diet. So where is the confirmation?


            Low-carbohydrate diets cause weight loss. However, a well-balanced diet with the same level of calories’ intake can lead to similar weight loss. Yet, a dieter may regain the weight loss from a low-carbohydrate diet due to the manner in which the dieting habits are formed (Atkinsexposed.org³ 2004). For example, the dieting habits do not change when a person is allowed to eat anything.

            Furthermore, “…no evidence is advanced that controlled studies were ever carried out to validate the observation that weight can be lost by sedentary subjects who consume a carbohydrate-poor diet 5,000 kcal/day” (Atkinsexposed.org¹ 2004, “Summary of Critique of Dr. Atkins Revolution”, #2). Therefore, the diet is not concrete. In addition, such an unbalanced diet as this can lead to anorexia and weight reduction. These things are largely due to the more than 45% of calories that are induced as carbohydrates (Atkinsexposed.org¹ 2004, “Summary of Critique of Dr. Atkins Revolution”, #4). In other words, the dieter may lose too much weight, providing that the diet works, and not know how to maintain a sufficient amount of body fat. Since “Researchers have confirmed that extra body fat leads to an estimated 90,000 cancer deaths each year” ( 2004ª, “Weighing in on…”, para. 2), retaining too much body fat may not be such a good idea.

            Yet, the Atkins Diet is not the key. An American Cancer Society (ACS) nutrition expert pointed out that “…a low-carb diet can be a high-risk option when it comes to health.’ ‘ACS nutrition expert Colleen Doyle, MS, RD, warns that low-carb dieters can fall into eating habits that may increase the risk of developing cancer later in life’” ( 2004ª, “Weighing in on…”, para. 3). Due to this factor, many major associations are against the Atkins Diet. “In fact, there does not seem to be a single major governmental or nonprofit medical, nutrition, or science-based organization in the world that supports the Atkins Diet” (Atkinsexposed.org² 2004, “Atkins ‘Nightmare’ Diet”, para. 8). Therefore, if a person is looking for approval from the government or some other entity, it will be difficult to find.

            In the same respect, the government will not necessarily back a dietary program which is very complicated, time consuming, eliminates some nutritious foods, and needs a diet book to follow. Those are things that do not make the Zone Diet look very appealing. Yet, many celebrities have followed the program since the mid-1990s (Kellow 2007). One reason is due to the first of two Zone Diet principles. Health Network (2005) informed,

Firstly, in Dr. Sears[’] opinion, weight gain is caused chiefly by fluctuations in levels of insulin, the hormone released by the body in response to rising blood sugar levels. These fluctuations are caused by eating high glycemic index carbohydrate, which have an effect similar to ‘fattening of cattle’ according to Dr. Sears. High levels of insulin not only cause hunger, which leads to excessive calorie intake, but also have wide ranging effects on the body’s metabolism, which in the long-term can cause diabetes and cardiovascular disease. (“The Zone Diet Plan”, para. 1)

Therefore, Dr. Sears suggests that the Zone Diet levels out the body’s balance and reduces the probability of disease. While the Atkins Diet suggests a dieter reducing calories, it does not help reduce the probability of disease. So, is it safe to say the Zone Diet is better?

Refutation and concession

            Well, a study included three diets to determine how the Atkins Diet staked up. Of the three, the Atkins Diet was the only one high in fat. The other two were the South Beach and Ornish diets which are low in fat. Twenty-six people were part of the study and eighteen participants completed the study. Out of the eighteen who completed the study, the ones on the Atkins Diet had high levels of cholesterol. In fact, the Atkins Diet raised the cholesterol level by 16 points. Furthermore, the participants had the symptoms of hardened arteries which can lead to strokes and heart attacks. Thus, “You might lose weight with the high-fat Atkins Diet of eggs, meat and cheese—but it could put you at risk of heart disease by raising your cholesterol and damaging your blood vessels…” ( 2007, “Study…”).

            The Atkins Diet also leads to a low calorie intake. Most of the products that can be purchased in stores have information that is based on a 2,000 calorie diet on their labels. So, the Atkins Diet does allow for a person to lose weight by the dieter inducing at least 500 calories lesser than the 2,000 calorie per day intake. Goodwin (2006) wrote,

A recent research study conducted by the North American Association for the Study of Obesity showed that Atkins dieters cut their normal daily caloric intake by 1,000 calories while following the Atkins plan. Additional research has shown that during the ongoing weight loss phase, Atkins dieters consumed only 1500 calories a day on average, much less than their pervious caloric intake. (“What about the Studies…” para. 3)

This may serve as good news for those considering the Atkins Diet.

            Moreover, a third attribute of the Atkins Diet is the fact men can lose weight by taking the diet. A study showed that the Atkins Diet helps men lose more weight around the trunk area than women. In fact, the diet is three times more effective in men than in women ( 2007, “Atkins diet…”). Men need to lose weight for a variety of reasons, including sports, modeling, making movies, etc. So, the Atkins Diet might work for those men seeking a more slim appearance. Yet, there are many diets which can help improve a person’s appearance. In fact, regular exercise and a sufficient amount of vegetables and vitamins can help a person lose weight.

            Then there is the second of Dr. Sears’ two principles. Health Network (2005) mentioned,

The second principle is that “you need fat to lose fat”. A certain amount of fat should be consumed at every meal, because this slows the rate of absorption of food, and helps to even out the blood sugar level. Not all types of fats are beneficial, however, and saturated fats are discouraged, while mono-unsaturated oils such as olive oil are used in moderation in the diet. Saturated fats increase production of ‘bad’ eicosanoids, hormones which cause inflammation and immune responses which can damage blood vessels, in Dr. Sears opinion, while use of omega-3 rich oils stimulate production of ‘good’ eiosanoids. (“The Zone Diet Plan”, para. 2)

Consequently, the Zone Diet takes the fat and helps the dieter lose weight in a healthy manner. The Atkins Diet encourages the dieter to eat more fat which can be stored and lead to health problems. So, does this mean the Zone Diet is the best diet program? When looking at the Atkins Diet versus the Zone Diet, the answer is yes.


            However, a dieter should consult with his physician before taking on any diet program. The main reason is because the individual who is about to diet may be allergic to certain types of foods. In addition, the dieter’s body may not be equipped to go through any type of diet program. Furthermore, the Atkins Diet calls for the dieter to increase protein and fat intake. As shown throughout this paper, such a diet can lead to diseases such as cancer, hardened arteries, high blood sugar, and so forth. On the other hand, while the Zone Diet was designed to create a balance in the body, the diet program is not without its flaws. For example, the Zone Diet is difficult to follow, requires time management, and calls for a Zone diet book. Yet, the Zone Diet makes the dieter have discipline over what he is eating. As a result, the Zone Diet is a more effective program choice than the Atkins Diet.


Atkinsexposed.org¹. “A Critique of Low-Carbohydrate Ketogenic Weight Reduction Regimens: A Review of Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution.” American Medical Association (AMA). 2004. 10 Nov 2007 <>.

Atkinsexposed.org². “Atkins ‘Nightmare’ Diet.” 2004. 10 Nov 2007 <>.

Atkinsexposed.org³. “Position Paper on Food and Nutrition Misinformation American Dietetic Association.” American Dietetic Association (ADA). 2004. 10 Nov 2007 <>.

Atkinsexposed.orgª. “Weighing in on Low-Carb Diets.” American Cancer Society. 2004. 10 Nov 2007 <>. “Study: Atkins Diet May Raise Risk of Heart Disease.” Fox News Network, LLC. 08 Nov 2007. 10 Nov 2007 <,2933,309516,00.html>.

Goodwin, Kathleen. “Atkins Diet: A Comprehensive Analysis.” The Diet Channel. 24 Oct 2006. 10 Nov 2007 <>.

Health Network. “The Zone Diet.” Health Network. 2005. 10 Nov 2007 <>.

Kellow, Juliette. “The Zone Diet Under the Spotlight.” Weight Loss Resources LTD. 20 Sep 2007. 10 Nov 2007. <>. “Atkins diet works better than low-fat diets, especially in men.” WebSeed CMS. 2007. 10 Nov 2007 <>.