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|The Atkins Diet Reviewed|
|Written by Jeff Behar, MS, MBA|
Dr.Robert Atkins created a diet that changed the way millions of Americans ate, as well as how millions more thought about food. Often the diet is misquoted. Learn more about this diet from the nutrition and health experts at Muscle mag Fitness.
About Dr. Atkins
Dr.Robert Atkins addressed his own weight condition from a diet he read in the Journal of the American
Medical Association. Realizing the
benefits of the diet he followed Atkins later popularized the idea as The Atkins Diet in a series of books,
starting with Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution in 1972. The Atkins Diet
or just 'Atkins' is a well known low carbohydrate diet.
How Atkins Diet Works
The Atkins Diet states we can change our metabolism and lose weight easily simply by eating foods high in protein and fat and limiting foods high in carbohydrate. Consuming a high level of carbohydrates causes overproduction of insulin, leading to increased hunger and weight gain. The diet encourages the consumption of foods rich in protein.
The Four Stages of the Atkins Diet
The Induction phase is the first, and most restrictive, phase of the Atkins Nutritional Approach. It is intended to cause the body to quickly enter a state of ketosis. Carbohydrate intake is limited to 20 net grams per day.
Ongoing Weight Loss
The Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL) phase of Atkins consists of an increase in carbohydrate intake, but remaining at levels where weight loss occurs. The target daily carbohydrate intake increases each week by 5 net grams.
Carbohydrate intake is increased again this time by 10 net carbs a week from the ladder groupings, and the key goal in this phase is to find the "Critical Carbohydrate Level for Maintenance", this is the maximum number of carbohydrates you can eat each day without gaining weight.
This phase is intended to carry on the habits acquired in the previous phases, and avoid the common end-of-diet mindset that can return people to their previous habits and previous weight. Whole, unprocessed food choices are emphasized, with the option to drop back to an earlier phase if you begin to gain weight.
Each stage becomes progressively less restrictive and
gradually increases carbohydrates allowed.
What Food is Allowed in Atkins Diet
The allowed foods include a liberal amount of all meats, fish, shellfish, fowl, and eggs; up to 4 ounces (113 g) of soft or semi-soft cheese; salad vegetables; other low carbohydrate vegetables; and butter and vegetable oils.
Sample Menu Plan from the Atkins Diet
Italian sausage frittata
Cup of Herbal TeaLunch
Tuna salad with mixed leafy greens topped with bacon bits
Bacon cheeseburger with broccoli and cauliflower
Fresh fruit kebobs
What Food is Not Allowed in Atkins Diet
No bread, alcohol, or carbonated beverages, not even diet soda. Beverages are limited to water, and consumption of caffeine is not allowed. It May be difficult to eliminate breads and cereals, especially in families with children who love these types of foods.
Misconceptions about the Atkins Diet
Many people incorrectly believe that the Atkins Diet promotes eating unlimited amounts of fatty meats and cheeses. This is a key point of clarification that Dr. Atkins addressed in the more recent revisions of his book. Although the Atkins Diet does not impose limits on certain foods, or caloric restriction in general, Dr. Atkins points out in his book that this plan is "not a license to gorge.
Another common misconception arises from confusion between the Induction Phase and rest of the diet. The first two weeks of the Atkins Diet are strict, with only 20g of carbohydrates permitted per day. Atkins states that a dieter can safely stay at the Induction Phase for several months if the person has a lot of weight to lose. Once the weight-loss goal is reached, carbohydrate levels are raised gradually, though still significantly below USDA norms, and still within or slightly above the definition of ketosis.
Known Health Benefits of the Atkins Diet
There are over 50 studies that highlight the positive weight loss results and other health benefits associated with following the Atkins Diet. These benefits include weight loss, improvement in risk factors for heart disease, hypertension and diabetes, inflammation, benefits in treating epilepsy and decreasing obesity in children and adolescents.
Study out of University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and Washington University School of Medicine randomly assigned participants to a low-carbohydrate, high-protein, high-fat diet or a low-calorie, high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet. The low-carbohydrate diet produced a greater weight loss and was associated with a greater improvement in some risk factors for coronary heart disease.
Study out of Stanford University Medical School compared four weight-loss diets representing a spectrum of low to high carbohydrate intake for effects on weight loss and related metabolic variables. Participants assigned to follow the Atkins diet, which had the lowest carbohydrate intake, lost more than twice the weight and experienced favorable overall metabolic effects at 12 months than those assigned to follow the Zone, Ornish, or LEARN diets.
Additional Suggested Health Benefits of the Atkins Diet
For people who have tried a low-fat, high-carbohydrate weight loss plan without success, increasing protein in their diet often results in decreased food cravings and more rapid weight loss.
The diet is relatively easy to follow; there are no complicated meal plans.
Potential Risks of the Atkins Diet
Eating unlimited amounts of fat, especially saturated fat found in meat products, can lead to increased risk of heart disease. Extensive research on healthy populations tells us to eat more fruits,vegetables and whole grains. Restricting these foods in the name of weight loss may lead to long-term health problems.
Additionally any diet that limits carbohydrate causes the body to rely on fat or muscle for energy. When our body breaks down stored fat to supply energy, a byproduct called ketones is formed. Ketones suppress appetite, but they also cause fatigue, nausea, and a potentially dangerous fluid loss. Anyone with diabetes, heart, or kidney problems should check with their physician before following a low-carb diet.
Unpleasant side effects include constipation (caused by the low-fiber diet) and bad breath.
Impact of the Atkins Dieton Diet Culture
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