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Atkins Diet: All The Meat, You Can Eat?

Atkins Diet: An Overview

adkins dietThe Atkins Diet was developed based upon ideas originating from William Banting in the late 19th-century, which were then popularized by Dr. Robert C. Atkins in 1972, when he published his book the “Diet Revolution“. The Atkins diet is based upon the theory that you can eat all of proteins you want and still lose weight as long as you severely restrict your carbohydrates. At the time of its early development, the Atkins diet would not allow the eating of any

carbohydrates. Over the years however, Dr. Atkins modified his original position, with the Atkins diet now allowing some non-starchy vegetables and some unrefined fruits and grains. The diet continues to not allow sugar, simple carbohydrates or refined grains and starches.

The Atkins diet works by inducing a state of ketosis in the body. When your body is in a state of ketosis, you may eat as much food as you like, but the body believes it is starving. When it is deprived of carbohydrates to burn, it then turns to burning fat instead. There has been some dispute of whether or not ketosis is in fact damaging to the body, with some diet experts suggesting that it may damage the liver or that the body may burn lean muscle mass for fuel as well as fat. The Atkins diet is based upon the theory that over-consumption of and hypersensitivity to carbohydrates is at the root of many individual’s problem with being overweight. Dr. Atkins concluded that it is the way your body processes the carbohydrates which you eat and not the fat which causes you to gain weight.


The Atkins Diet Plan:

The Atkins diet consists of four stages, induction, ongoing weight loss, pre-maintenance and maintenance stages. The objective is to create the process of ketosis in which your body burns fat as fuel. Dr. Atkins concluded that ketosis may be produced by reducing your carbohydrate intake to less than 40 grams per day. The four stages of the Atkins diet begins with the induction stage.

(1) Induction Stage: The induction stage takes place in the first 14 days of the plan during which Dr. Atkins said that you can lose up to approximately 15 pounds. This rapid weight loss is due to limiting your carbohydrates to 20 grams per day. The only carbohydrates allowed by the Atkins diet are the low carbohydrate vegetables such as lettuce, broccoli and tomatoes. With these types of carbohydrates, you may be limited to 3 cups per day. Fruit and starchy vegetables such as potatoes are not allowed, and you are restricted from drinking alcohol or caffeine. Some diet experts have concluded that at least part of the initial weight loss may be mainly water weight loss.

(2) Ongoing Weight Loss Stage: After the first “induction” stage, you then begin a transition stage of weight loss which involves increasing the amount of carbohydrates in your diet until your body comes out of the state of ketosis.

During this stage of “ongoing weight loss”, you may then increase your carbohydrate intake by 5 grams. You will eventually hit a plateau, after which you will then have to restrict your carbohydrate intake once again.

(3) Pre-maintenance Stage: During the pre-maintenance stage, weight loss will happen more slowly and you will be able to “test” certain foods to see if they may be added back your diet without gaining weight.

(4) Maintenance Stage: The last stage of the Atkins diet is the “maintenance” stage, in which you may introduce more carbohydrates back in your diet, while continuing to be aware of the less healthy ones, which will result in your weight once again returning. At this stage you may be able to choose to eat healthy carbohydrates such as whole-wheat bread.

Atkins Diet-Final Comments:

Although the Atkins diet may seem counterintuitive in that you can eat large amounts of meat and fat, it has been demonstrated to be an effective diet for weight loss. Some of the best results have been when it has been utilized in the short-term. Some of it’s problems include that weight may return fairly rapidly when you stop the diet, and that it has a high dropout rate in the induction phase. Bad breath frequently is a side effect of this diet. Also, it may not be a healthy diet for the long-term because of the high amounts of cholesterol and saturated fats which are ingested. Some experts also conclude that it may be low in vitamins and minerals especially in the induction stage. Finally, my conclusion is that this diet does not promote healthy eating or a balanced diet, but has been demonstrated to have a relatively high level of effectiveness for many individuals as a short term solution to weight gain.

By Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist Ph.D Candidate (Health Psychology) 

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