The Atkins Diet
One of the most well known low-carbohydrate diets, the Atkins diet was created and promoted in 1958 by Robert Atkins, the concept taken from the journals of the American Medical Association with regards to weight loss. Using the study to solve his own weight problems, Robert Atkins used the low-carbohydrate diet to lose weight and published his success in his first book, written in 1972.
Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution became the base guidelines on what is more commonly know today, with only two revisions of the book, once in 2002 and again in 2010.
The base concept remaining the same however it follows the concept of limiting carbohydrates to the diet to the point of altering the body's metabolism into a ketogenic state, causing it to convert stored body fat into energy. Unlike nutritional diets that may incorporate healthier carbohydrates, ones high in fibre such as wholegrain bread or pasta, the Atkins diet limits intake of all carbohydrates to a maximum of 20 grams per day, which has provided some controversy in the diet industry. In his early books, Atkins claimed that the reduction of carbohydrates produces a metabolic advantage, that burning fat used more calories, however this was soon disproved and it was stated that "The monotony and simplicity of the diet could inhibit appetite."
Meaning people were more likely to consume fewer calories through boredom.
The diet itself is split into four stages, the goal of which is to reduce overall carbohydrate intake in the long run, though the effects of the diet are still very much in debate. Studies have concluded that the diet can aide in the reduction of cardiovascular diseases, because the body is producing less glucose it has also shown to reduce the likelihood of Diabetes and also shows promising results for reducing harmful cholesterol in the body. Other studies have shown that the diet could actually increase the chance of kidney stones and osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones.
The four stages...
1. Introduction - The start of the diet and where you will find the most restrictions, often making the fist hurdle the most difficult. The body is put on a two week regiment to quickly shift its metabolism into ketosis by drastically reducing the intake of carbohydrates. The participant limits their Net Grams of Carbohydrate (Carbohydrate less fibre, sugar, alcohol or glycerin) to 20 a day, out of this 20 Grams only 5-7 can be starchy carbohydrates from foods such as pasta and wheat, the rest must be taken from vegetables and fruits, with the exception of Legumes which are classified as too starchy. Other allowances include;
- 4 to 6 ounces per meal of all meats, including any seafood, poultry and eggs.
- 4 ounces of semi-soft to hard Cheese.
- The majority of salad vegetables are also included and any low-carbohydrate vegetables.
It is also required in the first stage of the diet to consume at least eight glasses of water per day along with daily multivitamin tablets with minerals, these must be regulated and avoided if containing Iron, which will be provided by the increased intake of salad vegetables. This stage will produce the fastest weight loss until the body shifts into a ketogenic state.
2. Ongoing weight loss - The second stage of the diet is a slow and steady reintroduction to the carbohydrates removed in the first stage, following specific lists of what is allowed. The diet will continue to hold at calorie intake levels that will still incur weight loss and will but will increase by 5 net grams per week, the aim of this is to determine the maximum allowance for carbohydrate where weight loss remains. The stage is continued until the participant is 10 pounds from their goal weight. During the weeks on this stage, the diet will open up to 9 different allowances for a permanent lifestyle choice, if an allowance is skipped, it is assumed it will not become part of the participants main diet.
During the weeks you will be given access to:
- An increase in acceptable vegetables.
- Soft Cheeses an other restrictions.
- Nuts and Seeds.
- Other Fruits.
- Starchy Vegetables.
- Whole Grains.
Though it should be noted that Legumes, Starchy vegetables and whole grains will be allowed until the fourth stage.
3. Pre-maintenance - Once the participant has reached 4.5 kgs above their goal weight they are then instructed to up their net gram intake by 10 every day until they reach and optimum level for maintaining that level of weight. By this point the body's blood sugar will be high enough to have started moving out of ketosis and will be the optimum stage where a dieter will neither lose of gain weight.
There is still encouragement to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day as they move closer to equilibrium, at this point the introduction of many forbidden carbohydrates taken into account over the following weeks until a tipping point is found. The dieters are encouraged to reach their goal weight and keep it for a month, then to increase net grams again by 10 to see if they are able to consume more without putting on weight.
4. Lifetime Maintenance - The final phase in the diet, which carries forth all the habits previously acquired and is effectively a continuation of the lifestyle, aiming to avoid the feeling of coming to an end, which many may see as a reason to lapse. At this point, healthy alternatives in unprocessed food choices are encouraged, however if weight begins to increase than participants are advised to drop back to earlier stages.
The scientific results of the diet are still very much in question, through its popularity and supporting experts, positive results have shown that it can be effective with weight loss and reducing coronary heart diseases, while other researchers have been lead to the conclusion that long-term implementation could be extremely harmful to ones health both physically and emotionally.