Heart Palpitations on low carbohydrate (Atkins Diet)

Patient

Q: A couple of months ago I went on the atkins diet. I am 24 and suffered heart palpitations on m 3rd week. I weighed 224lbs and lost 10 pounds during the 3 weeks. At first on the diet I had so much energy and was working out 6 days a week for 30mins to an hour. It was incredible. I wasn't taking a multi-vitamin and started on the 3rd week. I suddenly lost my appetite. I don't think I was eating enough carbs. While lying in bed at night was when the heart palpitations were at it's worst. I felt dizzy too. Maybe it was anxiety because of the palpitations. Now I am on low cal diet and I'm just not getting the results I want. I really want to start the NEW Atkins diet, but I am afraid that the heart palpitations will start again. Should I go to a doctor and get blood work and his approval to start the diet again? I've never had an heart problems. I've always been healthy.

Doctor

A:   Low and very low-carbohydrate diets (e.g. The Atkins Diet) are more effective for short-term weight loss than low-fat diets, although probably not for long-term weight loss. An analysis of five trials found that the difference in weight loss at six months, favoring the low carbohydrate over low fat diet, was not sustained at 12 months. Therefore in reality they are only a short-term weight loss method. Some people describe the sensation of heart palpitations while lying down, especially in bed at night, often when they lie on their left side, which is the same side as the heart. These palpitations you describe may be your normal heart beat between 70-80 beats per minute. However if these symptoms are causing excessive anxiety, then I would advise attending your family doctor for an electrocardiogram (electrical trace of the heart) and a 24 hour Holter (heart) monitor, to check that your heart is beating in a normal rhythm (sinus rhythm) during these episodes, prior to starting a new weight loss regimen.

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