The Atkins Diet was originally outlined in the 1972 book, Dr. Atkin’s Diet Revolution by Dr. Robert Atkins, and was brought to popularity in the revision, Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, in 1992. Since then there have been numerous follow-up books and websites devoted to The Atkins Diet.
The promise of The Atkins Diet is that you will drop pounds and do it without the pains of hunger. The Atkins Diet promises to do this by drastically lowering your carbohydrate intake. The Dr. Atkins book also claims that the diet will lead to a healthier heart, improved memory, and other health benefits.
The most recent version of The Atkins Diet is based on the belief that overweight individuals are simply consuming too many carbohydrates. While the human body does require a certain amount of carbohydrates to burn for energy, it also burns fat. Since the carbohydrates are burnt first, if a person consumes too many, the body is only burning them and not the fat for energy.
By lowering the amount of carbohydrates you consume considerably, and increasing the protein and fat, The Atkins Diet claims you will lose weight because your body will be forced to burn the fat it has stored to get its energy. Dr. Atkins also founded the Center for Complementary Medicine located in New York. The center claims that not only are people following The Atkins Diet to reach their weight-loss goals, but to have overall good health.
How the Atkins Diet Works
As stated above, the main premise of The Atkins Diet is to restrict the amount of carbohydrates you consume on a regular basis. Your carbohydrate intake will be taken down to just a fraction of the average person, sending your body into a state called ketosis.
Ketosis is when your body burns up the stored fat for fuel by releasing ketones, which are little fragments of carbon. When your body reaches the state of ketosis, you will not feel as hungry, making you consume less food of all kinds. All this results in the body changing from an engine that burns carbohydrates, to one that burns fat. Keep in mind though that ketosis also has some unpleasant side effects, such as bad breath and constipation.
What Experts Say about the Atkins Diet
The Atkins Diet has remained highly controversial all over the world with experts weighing in on both sides. Atkins spokespeople refer to the numerous studies that have been conducted since 2002 that support the benefit of the diet, especially for weight-loss, when compared to other diets. Some of these studies were conducted by such organizations as the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and the Philadelphia Veterans Administration.
Still many experts on health are still hesitant to back The Atkins Diet. One such expert is the University of Pennsylvania’s clinical director of weight and eating disorders, Dr. Gary D. Foster, who believes that while The Atkins Diet is a probable option, more testing is required. He does believe that The Atkins Diet can have weight-loss results and can even improve your HDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels. Foster, like many other experts, is still skeptical about the possible long term effects on the body that consuming large amounts of protein can have.
The University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver’s director of general clinical research, Dr. Robert H. Eckel agrees. Eckel’s thought is that it is not about whether The Atkins Diet is effective at causing a person to lose weight or keep it off. Eckel and other experts worry that The Atkins Diet could actually cause heart disease as well as other health issues. They believe the diet could lead to bone loss as well as have more potential dangers for those with kidney and liver problems because of the high level of protein.
Former spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and professor of nutrition at California State University in Long Beach, Dr. Gail Frank, believes that there is a minimum amount of carbohydrates your body needs to remain healthy, roughly 150 grams per day, and if you fall below that, your normal metabolic rates will be thrown off. This will cause you to have less glucose and affect the ability of your brain to function properly.
This is because it takes burnt fat and protein longer to fuel your brain than carbohydrates. The kinds of complex carbohydrates your brain needs like those in fruits, grains, and vegetables are most easily made into glucose. Frank says that eating them is more in tune with what early man ate and our bodies have not changed that much. Frank is concerned that The Atkins Diet limits these types of carbohydrate too much.
Sample Atkins Diet Meal Plan
- 3 Scrambled eggs with cream
- 4-6 Bacon Strips
- Coffee or tea with cream and sugar substitute
- Chicken Salad
- 6 oz. Grilled Chicken
- 2 cups dark salad greens
- 1T Romano Cheese
- 2T Ranch Dressing
- 1 hard boiled egg chopped
- Fried Fish (fillets of white fish dipped in egg and breaded with whey protein then fried vegetable oil)
- 1 cup salad greens
- Quarter of a medium tomato
- Red onion
- 1 cup steamed broccoli with butter