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Atkins Diet

A highly popular diet regimen was introduced in the late1960s by Dr. Robert Atkins. It is a highly publicized, well known and well marketed Low-Carb diet and set the line for many such diets in the west. Deviating from the food pyramid popular at that time, of foods to eat sparingly, foods to be consumed in moderation and foods to eat plenty of, Dr Atkins examined the actual causes of obesity and declared that it was to do with the excessive consumption of carbohydrate rich foods like flour, sugar and corn syrups. He also alleged that saturated fats were not so wholly responsible for obesity and it was trans fats from hydrogenated oils that were to be feared and avoided.

Purpose of Atkins Diet

The Atkins diet attempts to cause weight loss by restricting the carbohydrates available to the body and thus forcing the body to switch to stored body fats for its energy requirements rather than glucose. Though diet is the main focus, the Atkins diet also stresses the importance of regular exercise and advices the use of nutritional supplements. Divided over four phases, the Atkins Diet proposes a life long system to stay healthy and fit. The Induction phase, the first and most restrictive phase also brings about maximum weight loss. In this difficult period, the dieter is allowed only 20 calories of carbohydrates, no alcohol is allowed and caffeine intake is also very minimal. This phase focuses on controlling food intake to cause weight loss.

In the second phase of the Atkins Diet, called the ongoing weight loss, the dieter gets introduced to additional carbohydrates in the form of vegetables, dairy products, nuts and grains. In a total of nine rungs, the dieter is introduced to a different food type depending on whether or not it will be part of his daily food routine. In this phase the focus is on determining the “Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing”. Though the level of carbohydrate intake is higher, it is still limited to levels where body continues to burn stored body fats for its energy requirements. In the third phase, called the pre-maintenance phase, the dieter is made to shift focus on determining the “Critical Carbohydrate Level for Maintenance”. This essentially means finding out how much carbohydrate you can consume without gaining weight. Thereafter comes the Lifetime maintenance phase where emphasis is laid on ensuring that the dieter does not slip back to old eating habits and regaining weight. The dieter is encouraged to actively select whole unprocessed foods and continue to consume just enough carbohydrates as to not gain weight. The dieter also has the option to slip back to the earlier diet stages if there is weight gain.

Appreciation and Criticism of Atkins Diet

The Atkins Diet is criticized as being too expensive and also faced heat about the effectiveness of low-carb diets in achieving long term weight loss. Critics argue that the dieter loses weight not because he burns up fat but because the tissues and muscles lose water. However, criticism notwithstanding, Atkins diet is a fairly popular low carb diet and still finds favor among many dieters attempting to lose excess weight.


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