Understanding The Atkins Diet

February 10, 2011

Diets & Nutrition

The Atkins Diet has gained considerable popularity since the 70s when it was introduced to the public by Dr. Robert Atkins. Since then, the Atkins Diet’s worlwide appeal and recognition has spawned two bestselling publications: Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution in 1972, as well as it’s updated 2002 version, Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, and has helped millions of people all over the world defeat obesity and win battles with the bulge. But how exactly does this diet work?

The Atkins Diet

The Atkins operate on the sytem that enables our body to lose weight in a natural way. This is done by inducing change in the metabolism, and because the body is capable of burning both fat and carbohydrates to provide energy, Dr. Atkins suggested that when people reduce their carbohydrate intake significantly, the body, instead of using carbohydrates as first fuel, will instead resort to burning fat for energy.

atkins-pyramid.gifWe call this process lipolysis. Lipo means fat and lysis means dissolution. When this occurs, ketosis happens, which describes how the body burns fat when carbohydrates isn’t available. Once an individual enters ketosis, the body will now efficiently use the fat as fuel and as time goes by and the body gets used from being a carbohydrate-burning engine to a fat-burning engine, the cravings for carbohydrates will soon subside.

 The Atkins Diet 4-Phase Approach

The Atkins Diet Plan is based around four important phases:

  • Phase I:   Induction
  • Phase II:  Ongoing Weight Loss
  • Phase III: Pre-Maintenance
  • Phase IV: Lifetime Maintenance

Each individual phase allows the person to knowledgeably select which foods to eat based on the need to achieve weight loss, maintaining good health and preventing diseases. Food selection will vary depending upon the phase you are in and the individual metabolism.

In Phase I: Induction, carbohydrate consumption is restricted severely. This goes on for two weeks, intended for the body to quickly enter a state of ketosis. Carbohydrate intake is limited to no more than 20 net grams per day, 12 to 15 grams of which must come in the form of salad greens and other veggies such as broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, turnips and tomatoes, to name a few of the 54 allowed by Atkins. The allowed foods also include a liberal amount of all meats, poultry, fish, butter and vegetable oils. Drinking eight glasses of water per day is a requirement during this phase, and alcoholic beverages, as well as caffeine is strongly contraindicated.

In Phase II: Ongoing Weight Loss, carbohydrate intake is slowly increased, but still remaining at levels where weight loss occurs. The target daily carbohydrate intake is increased each week by 5 grams per day, in the form of nutrient-dense and fiber-rich foods. This phase lasts until weight is within 10 pounds, or approximately 4.5 kg of the target weight.

Phase III: Pre-Maintenance calls for another increase in carbohydrates intake, this time adding 10 grams each week from the latter groupings, with the key goal of making the transition from weight loss to weight maintenance.

For the final Phase IV: Maintenance, the foundation for a lifetime of better health is intended to carry on. This phase allows the individual to select from a wide variety of foods ideal for weight maintenace while still controlling the carbohdyrate intake controlled.

The Skinny

The Atkins Diet promises not only weight loss, but also better health and memory function, as well as other wellness benefits. Although it’s undoubtedly the weight loss claims and success stories that are selling the eating plan, the Center for Complementary Medicine in New York also credits the Atkins Diet for overcoming health problems such as hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

" It’s so logical and simple. Fat is the fuel back-up system. The role it plays in the body is that when there’s no carbohydrate around, fat will become the primary energy fuel. That’s well known."

                                                                                      – Dr. Robert Atkins

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