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British nutritionist says Atkins diet harmful in the heat

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London (dpa) - The Atkins diet, the current favourite among the Hollywood set, could be dangerous during the current heatwave, the Times reported Thursday, citing British nutritionists.

The advice came the day after London saw 35.7 degrees Celsius on Wednesday - an all-time record for the British capital.

Sarah Schenker, a dietician and spokesman for the British Nutrition Foundation told the newspaper the high-protein foods promoted in the diet, were harder to digest than carbohydrates, and that the body was forced to use up energy which would otherwise be used for keeping cool.

"We have respiratory quotas on food, so when a carbohydrate or protein or fat is being metabolized it generates its own heat. The body has to work harder to metabolize protein than other food types," she said.

"My advice would be avoid the Atkins diet in hot weather," Schenker said.

In June, two U.S. medical studies found the Atkins diet, which bans bread, fruit and potatoes in favour of meat, fish and cheese, was nutritionally safe.

Drawn up by Dr Robert Atkins 30 years ago, the diet has gained converts in recent years among film stars and models.

Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Renee Zellweger and Robbie Williams are among those who have adopted it, embracing its slimming effects and shrugging off the bad breath that is a concomitant, along with possible long-term health consequences.

Atkins' book, New Diet Revolution, is second on the British bestseller list and is outselling everything but Harry Potter by three to one.

Copyright 2003 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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