What Is The Atkins Diet?
The Atkins Diet has been promoted as a long-term weight loss solution, which follows a low carbohydrate eating method. Followers of the diet, focus on eating protein, fats and low starch vegetables. The Atkins diet highly restricts the consumption of simple carbohydrates, such as sugar and flour.
In essence, the Atkins diet is a high fat, high protein, low carbohydrate diet.
The Atkins diet was originally created by Robert Atkins, a cardiologist. He argued that the fat that we consume isn’t what makes us overweight, but instead placed the blame on our carbohydrate intake. Through carbohydrate restriction, people can still enjoy the foods that they love and still lose weight.
So How Does It Work?
Dr Atkins argues that blood sugar levels spike when carbohydrates are consumed and that these spikes cause the body to store fat. Dr Atkins posits that by limiting your carbohydrate intake, you force your body to burn stored body fat and have better control over your blood sugar levels.
The Atkins diet consists of four stages:
- Phase 1: You are limited to 20 grams of carbohydrates per day. Dieters often experience the most amount of weight loss during this phase.
- Phase 2: You may eat slightly more carbs during this phase. Dieters can introduce certain berries, vegetables nuts and seeds back into their diets. This slight increase in carbohydrates does not stop weight loss. Phase 2 is the longest stage of the diet where dieters remain until they are 10 pounds from their desired weight loss goal.
- Phase 3: This phase is known as the pre-maintenance stage in which you are allowed to add 10 grams of carbohydrates to your diet each week. The sources of carbohydrates added includes some whole grains and starchy vegetables. If your weight loss stops during any point of this phase, you must cut your carbohydrate intake again, just enough so that you maintain a pattern of steady weight loss, until you reach your desired goal.
- Phase 4: This is the maintenance stage which you remain on indefinitely, where you target carbohydrate intake is between 45 and 100 grams a day.
Advantages Of The Atkins Diet
The Atkins diet aims to help dieters lose weight through controlling their intake of carbohydrates. The idea is that, by limiting your carbs you will burn more fat and also have more control over your blood sugar levels. Dr Atkins diet also promises to be a lifetime solution to weight issues, not a temporary one.
Dr Atkins and his followers all say that the four stage diet makes losing weight easy and simple. The first few stages of the diet promise fast fat loss without deprivation.
Disadvantages Of The Atkins Diet
Low carbohydrate diets are proven to be effective for weight loss in the short-term. In the early days, the Atkins diet became very popular as followers were allowed to consume large amounts of fat and still lose weight. However, the consumption of large quantities of dietary fat can have some serious adverse health effects such as heightened risks of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. Due to this, some parts of the Atkins plan have been revised and now a higher protein, lower fat diet with wider quantities of fruits and vegetables is advised.
Whilst this promotion of a more balanced version of the diet is great, the Atkins diet is still a low carbohydrate diet which can be difficult for dieters to stick to in the long-term. With a lot of foods practically banned from the diet, it can quickly get boring following the plan.
A number of unpleasant side effects have also been reported by followers of the Atkins diet, including:
- Bad Breath
Whilst these potential side effects may be tolerable during the initial weight loss phase, they can become increasingly more troublesome if they begin to affect your ability to exercise.