Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Outline of the Atkins Diet

The Atkins Diet is arguably one of the most talked about diets of recent times. Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution was published in 1972, and soon sold millions of copies. Those who follow it often claim huge weight losses while eating the types of foods normally banned on a diet. So how is this possible?

What Sort of Diet is it?

The Atkins Diet is a carbohydrate restrictive diet, so if you’re a bread addict, this will be tough. It’s hard to follow because so many foods contain carbs, even foods you may not have realized like milk, yogurts and cottage cheese. But it’s the foods you can eat which gets many dieters interested in the first place. For example, meat, eggs, butter and cream are all allowed on this diet.

How Does it Work?

The diet was devised by Dr Atkins, now deceased, who claimed that fat loss occurs when the body goes into a state called ‘ketosis’. This can happen when the body runs so low on carbohydrates, that it needs to find other sources of energy, so takes it from the body’s fat reserves instead. By drastically limiting carbohydrates, the body is encouraged to become ketotic and use ketones for energy.

The first two weeks are the hardest, but it is this phase which triggers the initial large weight loss, thus encouraging and motivating dieters. Fewer than 20g of carbs are allowed each day, which is tough, but the calorie count allowed is anywhere between 1500-3500 per day, which is often higher than other diets would allow.

What Can You Eat?

Although it is claimed you can eat as much as you like on the diet, in reality, this isn’t easy with so few carbohydrates allowed. For example, you can eat a burger, but without the bun. You can pile your plate high with chicken, cheese or eggs, but no potatoes, rice, bread or pasta. Even fruit has to be limited as they also contain quite a few carbs. It can actually be difficult eating enough calories when carbs are restricted in this way. After the first couple of weeks, carbohydrates are gradually increased over time until you reach the maintenance stage.

Are There Side Effects?

As well as the difficulty in limiting carbohydrates, negative side effects can include bad breath due to the excessive production of ketones and with lack of fiber, constipation may also be a problem. Some people suffer from blood pressure problems and restriction of dairy products can mean losing out of valuable nutrients. As such, Dr Atkins recommends taking specific supplements from his website.

Easier Atkins Diet

There is a more lenient version of the Atkins Diet available – ‘New Atkins For A New You’ which is probably as a result of waning interest in the more extreme Atkins Diet. This one allows more carbohydrates in your diet and greater flexibility in what you can eat. It also provides more vegetarian options which is welcome news for veggies, since the original Atkins diet is heavily centred on eating meat and fish.

Here is a selection of the Atkins diet products which you'll find useful to get you started.


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