The Atkins Diet

Are your jeans feeling a little tighter in the waist then usual? Noticing some cellulite here and there? If so, then you may be thinking about dropping a few pounds to help trim your waistline and improve your overall health. Though you can lose weight effectively by maintaining a healthy diet and a regular fitness routine, many of us find that we need a little more help when it comes to weight loss. This is why thousands of people every year turn to weight loss programs like the Atkins diet. The Atkins diet is one of the most popular diets in Hollywood, and many American men and women swear by it. But what does the Atkins diet entail? And is it really a safe form of weight loss?

What is the Atkins Diet?
The Atkins diet is known as the world’s first low-carb diet. Introduced in the 1970s by Dr. Robert Atkins, an American cardiologist, the Atkins diet has been experiencing renewed popularity as the low-carb craze once again hits American men and women. The Atkins diet is designed to help people reduce and maintain their weight at optimal levels by increasing protein and fat intake while decreasing carbohydrate intake. The Atkins diet is intended to be used as a long-term method of weight management, and is more of a lifestyle change than a temporary diet.

What is the Atkins Diet Based On?
The Atkins diet is based on the premise that men and women were designed to eat mostly meats and fats, and not large amounts of carbohydrate-rich products. Dr. Atkins believed that eating too many carbohydrates actually prevents the body from burning stored fat as an energy source, resulting in an increase in overall body weight. When your body absorbs carbohydrates, it breaks these carbs down into glucose, which is then used for energy to run your body. Dr. Atkins theorized that, by reducing your intake of carbs, you could actually force your body to burn fat stores for energy, promoting weight loss. This state is known as “ketosis” and is the optimal state for your body to be in during the Atkins weight loss program.

What Can You Eat On The Atkins Diet?
When following the Atkins diet plan you are encouraged to eat whenever you feel hungry. The Atkins diet plan consists of food choices that are primarily protein or fat heavy. All products high in carbohydrates, including breads, cereals, pastas, and fruit must be limited. Instead, your meals will mainly consist of:

  • red meats
  • poultry
  • fish
  • eggs
  • low-carb vegetables

How Do You Do The Atkins Diet?
The Atkins diet consists of four stages:

  • Induction: Induction is the first stage of the Atkins diet and lasts for two weeks. During induction, participants are to limit their carbohydrate intake to just 20grams every day. This can include low-carb vegetables, such as broccoli and lettuce, but should not include pastas, rice, cereals, breads, or fruit. The rest of your meals will consist of protein products and fats. During induction, you could lose up to 15 pounds.
  • Ongoing Weight Loss: This stage of the diet lasts until you near your target weight. Participants are allowed to increase their carb intake by five grams. Weight loss will continue.
  • Pre-Maintenance: Throughout pre-maintenance, you may continue to lose weight, but it will be slow. During this time, you can increase your carb intake by five grams each week. You are expected to add more carbs to your diet, and test the results.
  • Maintenance: This stage is intended to help you maintain your new weight. During this period, you can eat between 40 and 90 grams of carbs every day. However, these carbs should be “healthy” carbs, which means that you should stay away from processed and prepared foods.

Advantages of the Atkins Diet
The Atkins diet does have its advantages, including:

  • quick weight loss, particularly during the induction phase
  • unlimited intake of proteins and fats
  • no calorie counting

Disadvantages of the Atkins Diet
The Atkins diet also comes with a number of drawbacks, including:

  • side effects, including nausea, bad breath, and headaches, particularly during the first two weeks
  • intense restriction
  • limited food choices
  • high consumption of saturated fats

Is the Atkins Diet Safe?
The debate over the safety of the Atkins diet has been ongoing. Many worry about the long term effects that a low carb, high-protein, and high-fat diet could have on your system, particularly when it comes to heart disease. Two separate studies have been performed on the Atkins diet in recent years. Both of these studies confirm that participants did lose weight on the diet. Surprisingly, participants also seemed to exhibit a drop in their levels of HDL cholesterol and triglycerides, both of which are risk factors for heart disease. However, both of these studies were small and had a high dropout rate.

Concerns have been raised over the possibilities that the Atkins diet could increase your risk for other illness, including osteoporosis and kidney disease. The Atkins diet does increase the acidity of urine, which causes calcium to leach out of the body, making bones brittle. The diet also increases your chances for developing kidney stones and other kidney complications. For these reasons, it is recommended that anyone thinking about following the Atkins diet consult with their health care practitioner first.

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