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The Atkins Diet

Note:  This is a review.  Click here to visit The Atkins Diet Site.

The Atkins Diet seemingly has been around forever. I’m sure you know someone who has tried it or perhaps you have tried it yourself. The thought of eating bacon, cheese, and pork rinds while losing weight appeals to a lot of people. The original high protein, low carbohydrate diet, this diet has been used by celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston and Renee Zellweger, as well as politicians, teachers, and blue collar workers.

Obviously, The Atkins Diet is not your typical weight loss program. Most diets focus on low-fat foods while this plan does the opposite. Ah, but like everything that seems too good to be true, here is the catch: You have to give up most carbs (the things that taste good) such as breads, potatoes, rice, fruit, and pasta to name a few.

The Atkins Diet has spawned more debate that any other eating plan in history. Is it healthy? Does it work? Let’s delve into the philosophy of this diet and see if we can’t discover the truth.

The PhilosophyDeveloped by the late Dr Robert Atkins, this is the original high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. Dr Atkins’ theory boils down to this: when you cut out carbs (the things that taste good), your body is forced into burning its fat stores to provide it with energy. This will result in blood sugar levels remaining more stable throughout the day, therefore preventing overeating, the main cause of obesity.

The Four Phases

The Atkins diet is composed of four phases. Let’s explore them one by one.

#1 InductionThe very first stage must be followed for at least two weeks, although this phase can be extended if your body can bear it!(I felt like I was wading underwater after two weeks!) During this phase, you must severely limit your intake of carbohydrate to a barely there 20g a day (we usually eat around 250g a day). This also means that you must eliminate many of your favorite foods including breads, potatoes, pasta, deserts, and fruits. However, you can eat unlimited amounts of red meat, chicken, fish, cheese, eggs, mayo, cream and butter. The Induction phase is when your body switches from burning carbs to burning fat and you blood sugar levels begin to stabilize.

#2 Ongoing Weight Loss

In this stage, you begin to slightly increase your carb intake (whew, thank goodness) by 5g daily for a week at a time until you find your Critical Carbohydrate Level for losing weight. What does that mean you ask? Well, it simply means the maximum amount of carbs that you can eat each day to lose between 1 and 3 pounds per week. This number will differ among dieters depending on body weight and metabolism. Regardless, it will be much lower than most of us are used to and really only allows for the introduction of a few more veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds. Bread, potatoes, rice, pasta and breakfast cereals are still off limits! (Boo!)

#3 Pre-maintenance

If you reach the point where you only have 5-10 pounds left to lose, you will enter the pre-maintenance phase. During this phase, you get to increase your carb intake (yes!) by 10g each day for a week at a time. The emphasis is on slowing down your weight loss to no more that 1 pound a week. This is to prepare your body for the final stage, weight maintenance. Here you actually get to include tiny amounts of starchy foods including breads and pasta, but when I say tiny, I mean tiny!

#4 Lifetime MaintenanceThe final phase is based on maintaining your new weight. Here you are allowed to vary your carbohydrate intake slightly, but you are expected to be on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet the remainder of your life.

Pros: 

  • Weight Loss-there is one positive that cannot be disputed: You will lose weight and it will be fast. While preparing for a field trip with a bunch of middle-schoolers to the Florida Keys, my vanity got the best of me as I wasn’t pleased with the fat on my abs. I tried The Atkins Diet Induction Phase for two weeks and lost 7 pounds! And I had very little to lose. And I wasn’t ashamed to take off my shirt!
  • Cost and Convenience-for the cost of a book, you have an eating plan for life. No prepackaged meals, or visits to counselors; you are on your own.
  • Health-this diet encourages the elimination of processed carbs (which we eat waaaaay too many of) and alcohol. (Wait, is that a positive or negative? Just kidding!!!)

Cons: 

  • Side Effects-there can be unpleasant side effects to The Atkins diet including dizziness, tiredness, weakness, insomnia and nausea. By the end of two weeks, I felt like I was moving underwater. However, others I spoke to never had any side effects!
  • Health-Many doctors think that the high fat intake on this diet may increase the risk of heart disease. There have also been suggestions by experts that high intake of protein may cause kidney problems or weaken bones.

Conclusion:

If you need to lose weight quickly, this may be the plan for you. However, I think it is just too tough to maintain The Atkins Diet for life. You will be craving bread and fruit after two weeks so badly that binge eating and gaining back more than you lost is a distinct possibility. Plus the health issues concern me greatly. That being said, give it a try if it sounds appealing but plan on only a few weeks. You will drop weight.

  Click here to visit The Atkins Diet Site.

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