Atkins diet


A graduate of the Cornell University Medical School, Dr. Robert C. Atkins created The Atkins Diet in 1972. Developed in the 1960s, his concept of a low-carb diet was a groundbreaking approach in the field of dietetics. Dr. Atkins, developed and used his program to overcome his own weight issues.

Even so dietitians remained skeptical of the success of a high protein, high fat diet. Meanwhile the popularity of the Atkins Diet spread rapidly as it allowed foods that were then considered taboo for dieters.

Basic Principles

The Atkins approach contains clear guidelines from beginning the program to maintaining your lifestyle. The program is divided into four distinct phases. While many diets focus on counting calories, this diet requires that you count net carbs. In fact, in each of the four phases, you must count and hit a required total of net carbs.

Phase one is considered the induction phase. In phase one you reduce your net carbs to twenty per day. The idea is that you are able to jump start your metabolism through this process. The Atkins approach forces your body to burn fat for energy rather than burning carbs for energy.

This process is called ketosis. The induction phase usually lasts two weeks, and the most significant weight loss is often seen in this phase. It is important to have between four to six ounces of protein at each meal.

Twelve to fifteen net carbs should come from fruits and vegetables including the following: alfalfa sprouts, chives, cucumber, peppers, and lettuce. One of the unique features of the Atkins Diet is that salad dressings, oils, butter, and mayonnaise are allowed. This is one reason that some dieters prefer the Atkins approach.

Phase two focuses on ongoing weight loss. In this phase, the goal is to increase net carbs each week from a variety of food groups to find your target amount of carbs. This phase lasts until you are within ten pounds of your goal weight.

For example, in the first week of phase two, you might have one serving of cauliflower. In the second week of phase two, you might also eat one serving of cheese. This phase is organized like steps where each week you are climbing up to a different level, or in other words, accumulating portions of food. The goal is to continue losing weight while avoiding cravings.

Phase three is known as pre-maintenance. In this stage you incorporate ten grams of carbs each week. The goal of this stage is to continually increase carb intake each week to find your ideal number of carbs.

Once you have maintained weight loss for a month, the Atkins approach recommends consuming ten more carbs. If you gain weight, you should fall back to the levels you were at previously. Within all of the stages, it is important to drink at least eight glasses of water each day and to avoid foods with extra sugar.

The final phase, phase four, is dedicated to lifetime maintenance. This stage is designed continue the positive work you accomplished in the previous three phases. You are encouraged to eat whole, unprocessed foods and to return to a previous stage if you begin to gain weight.


Since the Atkins Nutritional Approach was first introduced; it has been surrounded by a great deal of controversy. Some studies have indicated an increased risk of heart disease as a result of a low-carb diet. However other studies have indicated that women in particular benefit from high-protein diets.

While on this diet, some people have experienced diarrhea, rashes and general weakness. Conversely some dieters do not experience any side effects. Other studies suggest that the Atkins approach is beneficial for people who suffer from diabetes.

In fact, one study suggests that a low-fat diet has no advantage over a low-carb diet for diabetics. Although the lasting health effects are uncertain, one fact remains true. Compared to other methods, a low-carb approach seems to produce the most significant weight loss in the early stages of a diet.

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