ATKINS DIET Overview Information
How does it work?
The Atkins diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet. It focuses on eliminating carbohydrates with a “high glycemic index.” “High glycemic index” carbohydrates raise blood glucose levels quickly after they are eaten. Some people believe that high glycemic foods cause the body to excrete extra insulin and this results in fat accumulation, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Even if this is true, it doesn’t necessarily mean that low glycemic index foods can prevent these outcomes. There is lots of debate on this point, and researchers are trying to resolve the controversy.
There are several other low-carbohydrate diets. But the Atkins diet restricts more carbohydrates than other low-carbohydrate diets such as the South Beach diet.
The Atkins diet consists of four phases. The first phase, called “induction,” lasts for 2 weeks and is the most restrictive. During this phase, lean, high-protein foods such as beef, chicken, fish, shellfish, eggs, and chesses are eaten. Cured meats are discouraged during this phase. Carbohydrate consumption is limited to 20 grams.
Phase 2, called “ongoing weight loss,” still focuses on lean, high-protein foods, but allows 25 grams of carbohydrates at first. This allowance increases slowly, 5 grams at a time.
Phase 3 is called “pre-maintenance.” It allows increasing carbohydrate intake by 10 grams a week. Dieters enter this phase when they are 5-10 pounds away from their goal and stay in phase 3 until they reach their target weight.
Phase 4, or “lifetime maintenance,” is the final phase. The goal of this phase is a diet with a carbohydrate balance that allows the dieter to maintain his or her target weight.
Possibly Effective for:
- Weight loss. The Atkins diet can help produce modest weight loss when used for up to 12 months. After 6-12 months on the Atkins diet, weight loss averages 2-6 kilograms (or 4.4 to 13 pounds). Some research shows that weight loss on this diet is not significantly different than other diets such as Weight Watchers, Ornish, or the Zone diets. However, other research shows that the Atkins diet produces significantly higher average weight loss compared to the Zone diet, but not the Ornish or LEARN diets after 12 months. Other research shows that weight loss with the Atkins diet is greater in the first 4 weeks compared to other diets, but after 6 months there is no difference.
ATKINS DIET Side Effects & Safety
The Atkins diet is safe when used appropriately. Many experts have expressed concern that long-term use of the Atkins diet might raise levels of blood fats and increase the chance of developing heart disease. However, research shows that the Atkins diet decreases certain heart disease risk factors rather than increasing them.