An Overview of the Atkins Diet

Celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Robbie Williams and Renee Zellwegger are all big fans of the Atkins diet. What’s the deal with this diet, though? Originally called the Atkins Nutritional Approach, this program was created by nutritionist, physician and cardiologist Robert Atkins while he was trying to resolve his own overweight problem. After several studies and researches, he created this unique method and popularized it in the book Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution, which was released in 1972.

Later on, in 2002, he released his second book, Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, in which the nutritionist modified a few parts of the diet. However, the concept remained the same. So, what’s the concept, then?

This plan is based on the principle that your metabolism can be switched to one that primarily burns body fat for energy. As body fat is being burned faster, you will start to easily lose weight if you limit high carb foods. Instead, you should eat foods that are high in protein and fat. According to Robert Atkins, people who eat high carb diets have further carb cravings. This leads to increased huger and weight gain, hence numerous weight problems.

Normally, the body metabolizes glucose as energy. The diet focuses on converting stored body fat into energy, this process being called ketosis. It also implies that the insulin level is at its lowest when blood glucose levels are low. The diet plan has 4 phases:

Induction, the first phase, limits the carbohydrates intake to only 20 grams per day. It encourages proteins and fats instead. While this is the most difficult and challenging stage, it is also the most rewarding. This phase should last for 2 weeks.

Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL) allows you to increase the daily intake of carbs by 5 grams per week. While this phase has no fixed time period, it is recommended to remain in it until you are within 4.5 kg withing your target weight.

Pre-Maintenance allows you to increase your carbohydrate intake by 10 grams a day until reaching the maximum level you can consume without gaining any more weight. This phase is also known as the Critical Carbohydrate Level for Maintenance and should last until you find your balance.

Lifetime Maintenance is the final phase of the diet and it implies carrying on with your new-found dietary habits. This phase guarantees that you will keep the weight off. It implies no more rules, but it is advised to steer clear of high carb levels and processed foods.

Atkins diet works perfectly for those who have unsuccessfully tried to approach low-fat diets. This is because many people want and like to be able to consume as much protein and fat as they want to. Since most diets restrict such foods, the plan will work perfectly for them. Also, this diet is very easy to follow and does not imply any complicated recipes or rules.

However, the program also has its cons. For instance, it may cause dehydration, because cutting back on carbs causes the body to rely on fat or muscle for energy. When this happens, the body creates by-products called ketones, which suppress appetite, but can also cause nausea and fatigue. People with kidney problems should not approach this diet, precisely because of these ketones. There is also the risk of heart disease, since Atkins dieters eat unlimited amounts of fat.

Here are some frequently asked questions on the Atkins diet.

Do I need to purchase special foods?

There is no need in doing so, especially since the Atkins products company offers numerous low-carb snacks and other products that will keep carb cravings away. Here is a common food list of the Atkins diet, try it as your eating.

Is it family friendly?

For families with kids, this meal plan is not that friendly. This is because the diet bans breads and cereals, which are necessary in order for children to develop properly.

What should I avoid?

Regardless of whether you eat homemade meals or are a fan of restaurants, you should stay away from potatoes, desserts, pasta, rice, and rolls.

Am I allowed to drink alcohol and coffee?

You should forget about alcoholic drinks. Regarding caffeine, you should only focus on decaffeinated drinks.

Is it OK for vegetarians?

The answer is definitely low, since the diet is based on higher amounts of protein and fat.