The Atkins Diet, also known as the Atkins Nutritional Approach, was created by Dr. Robert Atkins, an American cardiologist. The Atkins diet promises that you will lose weight without being hungry. You will also achieve better heart health and memory function.
The main idea of the diet is that carbohydrates are the reason why people get fat. By drastically reducing carbs and eating more protein and fat, the organism will go into the state of ketosis, which means it changes the carbohydrate-burning engine to a fat-burning engine. Your fat stores will become a primary source of energy and the result will be weight loss.
Dr. Atkins’ opinion is that, for most people, the carb consumption must be no more than 40 grams a day- a quantity enough for the biochemical mechanisms to occur. For vitamins and minerals, people should take supplements, because vegetables and fruits (sources of carbs) are, in general, forbidden in the Atkins diet.
During the four-phase eating program of the Atkins diet, you will be eating pure protein and fat, combined with vitamin and mineral supplements.
Phase 1: Induction- targeted weight loss: 15 pounds in 2 weeks
Calorie consumption from carbs is limited to 20 grams each day. Carb sources are mainly from salad and vegetables which are low in starch. Low-carb consumption is supposed to jump-start the weight-loss biochemical activity of the diet. You are not counting calories. You can eat red meat, fish, shellfish, fowl, eggs, mushrooms.
Phase 2: OWL (Ongoing Weight Loss)- targeted weight loss: 1-2 pounds in a week
Your objective in OWL is to find how many carbs you can consume while continuing to lose weight, keep your appetite under control and feel energized. This point is called Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CCLL). In this respect, OWL is the first step in discovering your tolerance for carbohydrates. During OWL, you add higher carb foods back into your diet – 5 daily Net Carbs per week. In the beginning, you will increased the rate of carbs to 25 grams for the first week, 30 grams for the second week, and 30 grams each subsequent week, until your weight stops going down. At that point – when weight loss stops – take away 5 grams of carbs from your daily intake until you are starting to lose weight slowly.
Phase Two is continued until you are 5-10 pounds away from your goal weight.
Phase 3: Pre-Maintenance
Increase your carb intake by 10 grams each week until your weight loss is very gradual. You have to discover your Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium (ACE), which is the number of grams of net carbs you can eat each day, while neither losing nor gaining weight.
Phase 3 bridges weight loss and weight maintenance. It’s where you will lose your last extra 5-10 pounds and establish a permanent way of eating. So if you start maintaining your weight in this phase, you need to move to Phase 4, Lifetime weight maintenance.
Phase 4: Lifetime Maintenance
In the previous phase, you have found your personal carb balance (Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium (ACE)). In Lifetime Maintenance, you’ll learn to stick to that special number as if it were second nature. If your weight starts to go up, ease back on two things – the amount of carbs you consume each day, and any of the new carbs you have been introducing.
Benefits of the Atkins Diet:
- Weight loss (even when not consciously restricting calories);
- Improved triglycerides;
- Reduced blood glucose for diabetics and pre-diabetics;
- Improved insulin sensitivity;
- Decreased blood pressure;
- Lower blood insulin level;
- Useful for treating seizure disorders;
- Increased energy;
- Cravings for sweets gone or much less;
- Better mental concentration;
- Improved mood; emotions more even.
Arguments against the Atkins diet and other low carb diets:
- Potential colon cancer – Long-term daily intake of meat, particularly red meat, such as beef, pork, or lamb, is associated with approximately a three-fold increased risk of colon cancer.
- Potential risk for heart diseases – In some studies, about 30% of people on low-carbohydrate diets showed an increase in cholesterol levels, despite their weight loss.
- Impaired kidney function. Usually, diets high in animal protein are associated with reduced kidney function over time.
- Complications of diabetes – Because controlling blood cholesterol levels and protecting kidney function are essential for individuals with diabetes, health authorities recommend choosing diets that are rich in vegetables and fruits, while limiting saturated fat, cholesterol, and animal protein.
- Osteoporosis. High intake of animal protein is known to encourage urinary calcium losses and has been shown to be associated with increased fracture risk in research studies involving various populations.
- · Other adverse effects
– Constipation 68%
– Headache 60%
– Bad breath 38%
– Muscle cramps 35%
– Diarrhea 23%
– General weakness 25%