Atkins Diet - What Is It?

Hello ladies! I guess that just like everyone else you will have heard about the atkins diet and other low carb weight loss programs. But - how much do you really know?

If you are looking for a quick and effective weight loss plan to help you achieve your weightloss goal, Health Womens Healthy Living Goals will bring you up to speed on one of the most popular diets, so you can make an informed decision!

The Atkins Nutritional Approach, more commonly referred to as the atkins diet is the creation of the late Dr Robert Atkins (1930 - 2003). The atkins diet, which is a low carb or (carbohydrate) eating program, is probably the most well known, in demand weight loss diet of all time. Its popularity exploded with the advent of the first of Dr Atkins’ best selling books ‘New Diet Revolution’ back in 1972, which gained widespread popularity in 2003/2004.

There has always been mixed views amongst many nutritionists and health experts, on low carb diets. Whilst many have been extremely critical of Atkins' claims, some have nevertheless conceded the legitimacy of carb low diets as a successful method for people to lose weight in the short-term.

What is atkins diet principles?

The atkins diet 'Nutritional Approach’ is a lifetime nutritional philosophy based on 4 broad principles. Atkins view is that living healthily requires very small amounts of simple carbohydrates, protein, calculated portions and exercise. Further, that you can lose weight by eating a high fat, high protein diet, to secure:

  • Weight loss,
  • Weight maintenance
  • Good health
  • Disease prevention.

    The diet's values springs from Dr Akins belief that a low fat diet is not the only option to lose weight and to living healthily. His view that consuming too much carbohydrate in your diet, for example, grains, fruits, potatoes and other starch, lead to your body storing fat and resulting in weight gain. These types of carbs are classified as 'simple carbohydrates', which are absorbed quickly by your body, causing an increase in insulin production that speeds up the process of turning calories into fat. By significantly reducing the amounts of your carb intake, you lose weight.

    what is atkins diet theory?

    According to Atkins the main factor leading to obesity in Westerners is their consumption of too much refined carbohydrates - i.e. sugar, flour and high-fructose syrups. He believed that an increase in intake of these sources of carbs is the cause of many metabolic disorders today. Dr Atkins also dismisses the commonly held belief that saturated fats are the chief cause of nutritional health problems.

    This stance openly rejected the the recommendations of the food pyramid, with Atkins arguing that focusing on the negative effects of dietary fats, has resulted in an increase in the amounts of insulin inducing foods in people's diets, which is effectively contributing to the larger obesity problem.

    From the atkins perspective, eating too many carbs, results in an over production of insulin, which in turn causes food cravings. This then leads to erratic blood sugar levels, which can affect moods, cause depression or even sleep disturbance. Further, that a carb diet low in carbohydrate on the other hand, would not only stabilise insulin and blood sugar levels but would also prevent food cravings/reduce appetite.

    Needless to say, the diet is low in unrefined carbohydrates. The sole purpose of this is to make the body burn mainly stored fat, thereby inducing a state of ketosis. click here to learn more about a 'ketosis state'. Dieters can monitor whether they have achieved a state of ketosis, by testing their urine with small ketosticks, similar to those used by people who are diabetic.

    There are four phases to the Atkins diet:

  • Induction phase
  • Ongoing Weight Loss phase
  • Pre-Maintenance phase
  • Lifetime Maintenance phase

    What is atkins diet Induction Stage?

    The induction phase of the diet is intended to make the body go quickly into a state of ketosis and is therefore the most restrictive phase of the low carb diet. It is at this stage that you will see your most significant weight loss. The amount of weight loss will vary from person to person. There have been resports of people losing weight of between six to eight pounds per week.

    What is the atkins diet allowable daily carb intake? Carbohydrate intake is limited to 20 net grams per day, which is eaten from sources such as salads and other non-starchy root vegetables. Other allowable foods include liberal amounts of most meats, generous helpings of cheese and creams etc.,.

    What is atkins diet dis-allowable foods?The diet restricts processed and refined carbohydrates and encourages elimination of sugar from your diet to aid faster metabolism. The diet does not permit alcoholic, hot or cold drinks which contain caffeine.

    What is atkins diet Ongoing Weight Loss Stage?

    At stage two - the ongoing weight loss phase, your carbohydrate intake of nutrient-dense and rich fibre foods will increase slightly during the first week, followed by a further slight increase the following week. This phase will last until your weight is within 10 pounds of your target weight loss.

    What is atkins diet Pre-Maintenance Stage?

    At the pre-maintenance phase, your carbohydrate intake will again be increased. The objective at this stage is to establish the level of carbohydrate you could eat daily without, gaining any weight. Thereafter, you decrease your daily carb intake by approximately 5 grams. This is intended to maintain ongoing weight loss, by establishing the the optimum level of carb intake, required to achieve this.

    what is the atkins diet Lifetime Maintenance Stage?

    Lifetime maintenance means exactly that. Having achieved your target weight loss goal, it is expected that you will continue with sensible eating and not revert back to former unhealthy eating habits. You are free to choose from a wide variety of foods and the advice given is that you consume whole and unprocessed foods to maintain your weight. However, there is the option of simply reverting back to an earlier phase of the diet, should you start to regain weight.

    what is atkins diet risk factors?

    The American Heart Association (AHA) are critical of this low carb diet's high protein content and its emphasis on foods such as meat and eggs, which also contain high cholesterol, fat and low fibre intake. They argue that the diet is not only restrictive of healthy nutrient-rich foods but that since most people already eat more protein and fat than they need, users of the diet run the risk of exposure to many types of diseases. Perhaps the most serious criticism levelled against the diet is its potential to induce coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, stroke, liver disorders, diabetes and a pre-disposition to kidney stones.

    A further criticism comes from The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. They make the comparison between the atkins diet claims and the observations of the dietary lifestyle of people in East Asian countries such as Thailand and Japan, where diets consists of carbohydrates such as rice and noodles, yet these people have very low rates of obesity. The average Asian person is also perceived thinner and slimmer than the average Westerner, which would appear to contradict the diet's claim that a carb low diet will help to lose weight.

    Some critics also contend that the diet can lead to harmful side effects. A study undertaken by (Internal Medicine: Annals - May 2004) showed that people on atkins experienced significantly more diarrhea, weakness, rashes and muscle cramps. In addition, concerns have been raised over the induced metabolic state of 'ketosis', which leads to further side effects such as headaches, tiredness, nausea, dehydration and dizziness. A further concern over constipation - during the induction stage of the diet, has also been an issue - namely that the diet was not been adequately supplimented with fibre; a concern which has since been addressed by atkins, by way of recommending fibre suppliments during the induction stage.

    Despite a revision of his book - Dr Atkins' New Diet Revolution, in which he modified some of his theories, Atkins remained steadfast in his convictions over his original concepts.

    Other criticisms of the atkins diet:

    The diet has been criticised for not catering for the needs of vegetarians' or vegans, due to its heavy emphasis on meat protein.

    Another side effect reported is extremely bad breath

    Concerns about nutrition levels which falls below the recommended daily values for several vitamins and minerals - e.g. calcium, potassium and magnesium>P> Lack of emphasis on exercise

    "An analysis conducted by Forbes magazine found that the Atkins Nutritional Approach is one of the five most expensive diet plans of the ten plans Forbes analyzed. Although Forbes found that Atkins diet was significantly less expensive than Jenny Craig and only slightly more expensive than Weight Watchers, the Atkins diet nevertheless involved more than an 80% premium over average American food expenses."

    what is atkins diet strong point?

    Low carb diets have long been the subject of much heated debate amongst health professionals. While the debate continues, more recently research findings have gone some way to support some of Atkins' claims. Namely, in relation to the short-term weight loss potential of low carb diets. Yet, while it has been asserted that it is too early to promote low carbohydrate or carb low diets, there is a general acceptance amongst health professionals that further research is warranted.

    It would appear that more longer term studies are needed in order to determine the effectiveness and safety of the low carb diets. Two published studies (The New England Journal of Medicine) comparing standard low fat diets to low carbohydrate diets such as the atkins, showed that participants lost more weight on the low carb diet plans at the 6 month mark but not at l year.

    Supporters of atkins and other carb low diets argue that critics often fail to consider that since people are built differently, as with any weight loss plan, the atkins diet may not be as effective for everyone. Nonetheless, carb low diets are perceived by many as a healthy and effective alternative for some people for whom low fat diets have not worked. While for other dieters, it is viewed as an option for maintaining ongoing healthy weight. It has proved particularly effective should you want to lose weight in the short-term, i.e 3-6 months, however, the evidence suggest it is less so beyond that timeframe.

    Self Help: what is atkins diet?

    If atkins is for you, why not set your weight loss goal now, using the free guidance and goal setting tools at personal goal setting. Been there! Done that! Got the Teeshirt! Then check out this excellent guidance for writing your weightloss goal Alternatively, you can opt for the convenience of receiving your own free 5 part personal goal setting mini course via email.

    In any event and to give you a head start, you can access a list of 1000 free atkins recipe, atkins allowable foods, atkins dessert and a carb gram counter here.

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