The Basic Idea
According to Dr. Atkins, most people who are overweight do not metabolize carbohydrates properly because they are insulin resistant. He maintains that insulin overload in the blood promotes fat storage. The Atkins Diet, which advocates high fat and high protein intake while severely limiting carbohydrates, helps to correct this problem.
How it Works
By avoiding foods like pasta, bread and potatoes, your body will start to burn fat more efficiently. The Atkins Diet gives you what Dr. Atkins refers to as the “metabolic advantage”. Fat breakdown is the goal. When there are insufficient amounts of glucose in your system to be burned for energy (caused by limiting carbohydrates) the liver turns instead to fat stores.
The Diet Plan
The Atkins Diet consists of four phases:
- In the Induction phase, your daily intake of carbs is limited to 20grams (e.g. one cup of blueberries). It lasts from two to six weeks depending on the amount of weight you want to lose
- The Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL) phase lasts from two weeks to two months. This phase allows you to add five grams of carbs to your daily intake as long as you continue to lose weight. You stay in this phase until you have almost reached your weight loss goal.
- During the Pre-Maintenance phase, you can add ten grams of carbs to your daily intake until your weight loss slows down to a pound or less a week.
- Lifetime Maintenance, the final phase, begins when you have arrived at your weight loss goal.
Pros and Cons
The diet works, of that there can be no doubt. There are countless testimonials of individuals who followed the Atkins Diet to a slimmer, healthier life. However, doctors are still at odds over the long term health affects of this diet. Recently, CBC radio covered a report from doctors in the U.S. who issued a warning regarding the Atkins Diet. Although no causal link has been proven, these doctors alert the public that they are seeing a significant increase in serious health problems such as kidney and heart problems in individuals who are following the Atkins Diet.
Revision date: June 22, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD