The Atkins Diet in Review
Fad diets often gain both good and bad publicity and this is especially true for the Atkins Diet. The original Atkins diet was introduced by Dr. Atkins as a nutritional approach to healthy, responsible eating. The diet was a hit in its early years and prompted the beginning of a diet revolution. It has since lost a little bit of momentum but the Atkins diet is still in use by dieters and can be a good tool to help you lose weight. In fact, the Atkins diet is currently undergoing a revival and some new changes have been made to improve upon it.
The original method of dieting created by Dr Atkins forces the body into a process called ketosis. During this process, the body is forced to use fat as its energy source instead of primarily using foods as soon as they are digested. Altering the body’s metabolism in this way is carried out by limiting carbohydrate intake. Since carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which is the body’s normal fuel source and must be used immediately or is stored as fat, limiting the intake of carbohydrates will force the body to break down fat for use as energy.
Following the phases of the Dr Atkins diet, the Induction phase, the Ongoing Weight Loss phase, the Pre-maintenance phase, and the Lifetime Maintenance phase, teaches you to minimize your carbohydrate intake while regulating your intake of good protein, fruits and vegetables. The diet begins with a drastic cut in your daily intake of carbohydrates which often results in rapid weight loss. As you continue following the phases of the diet, good carbs are slowly added back to your daily diet in a manner that still gives you the weight loss that you desire until you reach your goal and find the carb intake equilibrium that allows you to maintain a constant weight without a gain or loss. By the end of the diet, you have learned healthy eating habits for life that you can continue to follow and adjust as necessary.
It should be noted that several minor changes have been made to the original Atkins diet. Whereas, the old Atkins diet limited you to a total daily carb allowance, the new diet allows you to focus on net carbs instead. What this means is that you subtract the amount of dietary fiber you’ve eaten from the total carbs in order to calculate the net carbs. This is important because it allows you to eat more carbs that are high in dietary fiber such as vegetables and legumes, which of course, also happen to be good for you. Moreover, some other minor changes to the old Atkins diet have been made. For instance, the old Atkins diet didn’t place a limit on the amount of recommended protein you should eat, while the new Atkins diet recommends eating a maximum of only 6 ounces of protein with each meal. Another change in the new diet is that you’re allowed to eat large quantities of vegetables in the Induction phase, and you’re even allowed to drink small amounts of alcohol in the ongoing weight loss phase. Finally, with the new Atkins diet you can add wholegrain carbohydrates back to the menu in the Pre-Maintenance phase.
For many dieters, the Atkins diet has an appeal because only one type of food is limited instead of limiting everything you love to eat. A dieter following the Atkins diet plan can eat as much of the allowable foods as he or she wants so there is no limit on daily caloric intake. Foods like meat, cheese and other fatty foods are not cut out like in other diets. In this low carb diet, not all carbs are restricted. Those that are high in fiber often reduce the net carbohydrate content, making them a better choice than others that have less fiber. Moreover, since so many foods are on the allowed list, risks of diet cheating are minimized.
While some dieters love the Atkins diet plan, there are others who only see the disadvantages. Just like in low calorie diets, low-carb diets like this one often have a high drop out rate which suggests that the allowable food list simply does not allow enough. Another disadvantage includes increased uric acid production from using fat for energy which can cause kidney problems, gout and headaches. Moreover, constipation can also be encountered because of the low intake of dietary fiber that this diet plan allows. Another important observation is that the diet does not follow the healthy heart guidelines which have been set by the American Heart Association and others suggest that the allowable foods contribute to a development of high cholesterol levels. Whether the strengths of the Atkins diet outweigh the weaknesses is up to you.
While the diet plan offers a rapid weight loss, some people argue that this low carb diet is simply cutting calories in disguise, considering that cutting carbs will automatically cut caloric intake. Regardless, you should evaluate you own health and goals and make the decision for yourself.