The Atkins Diet is a diet plan for people looking for a low carbohydrate approach to weight loss. It emphasizes a high fat and high protein based approach to eating.
It’s currently one of the most popular choices for a low carbohydrate diet, and it started a new diet craze that other diet plans now use as a template.
You can find many different resources that offer support for using this diet properly. This includes:
Dr. Robert Atkins came up with this diet and published a best selling book in 1972. When it came out it was criticized as offering far too much saturated fat to be considered healthy.
Now the Atkins Diet has been popularized since many claim that reducing carbohydrates is a healthy approach to weight loss. This diet provides 4 different phases that is meant to slowly introduce people to this diet.
A lot of the foods that you’ll be eating include:
Though it’s easier to note what you’ll be avoiding. This includes foods like pasta, bread, candy, potatoes, and heavy grains.
The company does make low carbohydrate noodles as well.
A free guide is offered on the official website that provides a full list of acceptable foods, as well as their carbohydrate content. You’re meant to use this information to track all the carbohydrates you eat.
The company advises you work in this diet in 4 stages:
Since this plan is considered a lifestyle change, you’re advised to keep up with it for the rest of your life.
Another important point to consider is the quality of carbohydrates. You’ll have to read nutrition facts and research which foods you can eat. It’s also recommended to keep track of the carbohydrates eaten, so you don’t overeat. This can be hard to do especially when eating out, as there’s hidden amounts of carbohydrates even in healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
An easy way to determine the total amount of calories is by subtracting fiber from carbohydrates. This is known as net carbs.
For example, take one whole cucumber. It has around 11 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fiber. You subtract this total and determine that one medium cucumber provides 9 grams of net carbs.
This diet can be extremely restrictive and hard to maintain because you have to start with just 20 grams of carbohydrates a day. This limits virtually all fruits and grains.
Also, a study ran by QuackWatch reviewed Atkins and mentioned how it’s:
“not yet been determined whether such diets are safe for long-term usage”
The American Heart Association also has this to say:
“Scientific studies do not demonstrate (that Atkins style diets) without concomitant decreases in caloric intake result in sustained weight loss”
Therefore, continuing this style of diet may have unwanted long term complications. It’s also not proven to be effective for weight loss.
The Atkins Diet makers also admit that especially in the early stages, it’s possible to experience side effects such as:
This is referred to as the keto flu stage, and it happens as the body readjusts from using glucose as a primary fuel source to ketones.
It can also lead to an almost chemical like taste and breathe.
Mayo Clinic also mentions that research into this diet has revealed that:
“studies show that low-carb diets like Atkins are no better for weight loss than are standard weight-loss diets”
One other complication is determining whether or not you’re losing water weight or fat. Athletes looking to lose weight will often limit their carbohydrates. By not eating as much carbohydrates you can lose up to 20 pounds of pure water weight, but it’s not fat loss.
It’s for all these reasons that an Atkins style diet has yet to be proven as an effective solution to overall health and weight loss.
It’s claimed that within the first 2 weeks of starting this diet that you’ll be able to lose upwards of 15 pounds. However, it’s also explained that this isn’t typical to all.
This diet plan can be incredibly restrictive, as you’re only allowed a certain amount of carbohydrates. For some this diet was too much to handle, as it caused what’s referred to as keto flu. This is what happens when the body transitions from glucose as a primary fuel source to instead using ketone bodies made from a fat heavy diet.
There are also lots of free resources online such as groups, apps, books, and other media. The main issue with this is that the Atkins Diet is yet to be considered a long-term healthy diet. Some studies by groups such as the American Heart Association show that this plan has not been proven to be safe.
There are better diet plans available that aren’t as restrict and potentially dangerous.
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