You may have heard about a recent study that came to the
conclusion that high protein diets like Atkins may inhibit chances
The mainstream media picked right up this story and spread the
word: Women who follow the Atkins plan may not conceive as
easily as women who consume low amounts of protein.
Those who gave this story just a little attention may have made
passing note of the fact that the study was conducted on mice. No
problem there. Lots of mouse studies produce revealing results.
But this mouse study has a catch.
The research is based on the fact that ammonium levels in the
female reproductive system can be boosted by protein intake. In
herbivores – such as cows and mice – this can create problems in
reproduction. And that’s exactly what happened in this mouse
But humans aren’t herbivores. We’re omnivores. And one of the
authors of the study even admitted that most Atkins dieters don’t
have elevated ammonium levels.
So the researchers fed a high-protein diet to an animal that doesn’t
ingest high protein, and they conclude that the results may apply to
That’s what you call a leap of faith. Or more like a pole vault of
And the clincher: The mouse reproductive system is substantially
different from the human reproductive system. For instance: Mice
embryos can be produced from a single parent.
As we’ve seen many times, when you come across something
negative about Atkins in the mainstream media, it’s important to
check the little details. That’s usually where the logic tends to go
“Atkins ‘May Cut Chances of Pregnancy'” Rhiannon Edward, The
Scotsman, 6/29/04, news.Scotsman.com