The Atkins diet is the focus of these comments from the American Heart Association:
"The Atkins diet holds the controversial belief that low fat is not the only way to go for a healthier lifestyle and weight control. Dr. Atkins blamed carbohydrates (grains, pastas, fruits, potatoes) for weight gain. He believed that if you reduced your carbohydrate intake then you would lose weight. Too many carbohydrates in your diet encourage your body to retain fat."
When the body absorbs simple carbohydrates quickly, it causes an insulin response that speeds the conversion of calories to fat. The plan focuses on the consumption of nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods and vita-nutrient supplementation. It also restricts processed and refined carbohydrates (which make up to approximately more then 50 per cent of people's diets). It encourages you to eliminate sugar from your diet as this contributes to a slower metabolism. The Atkins diet is designed to be a program on which you can maintain a healthy weight for a lifetime and it is highly suitable (but not restricted) to those who prefer eating animal protein. The diet offers people who have failed on a low-fat diet a healthy, effective and safe alternative. Instead of carbs and sugar, eaters are allowed plenty of fat and protein.
There are four phases to the Atkins diet, they are; 1) Induction, 2) Ongoing Weight Loss, 3) Pre-Maintenance and 4) Lifetime Maintenance.
During Phase 1 (Induction), you restrict carbohydrate consumption to 20 grams each day, obtaining carbohydrate primarily from salad and other non-starchy vegetables.
In Phase 2 (Ongoing Weight Loss), you increase carbohydrate in the form of nutrient-dense and fibre-rich foods by 20 grams daily in the first week and then 30 grams daily in the next week until you gradually lose weight. Then you subtract 5 grams of carbohydrate from your daily intake so that you continue sustained weight loss.
In Phase 3, known as ‘Pre-Maintenance', you make the transition from weight loss to weight maintenance by increasing the daily carbohydrate intake in 10 gram increments each week.
In the last phase of the Atkins plan (Lifetime Maintenance), you select from a wide variety of foods while controlling carbohydrate intake to ensure weight maintenance.
There are mixed views on the Atkins diet amongst health experts and dieticians. Many experts are critical of low-carb diets but have not totally discounted the Atkins diet as an effective method of losing weight. Although they do assert that it is too early to adopt the low-carb diet, health experts do concede that it is worth exploring. One main criticism of the Atkins diet is that it does entail frequent meat consumption.
However, followers argue that the program can be tailored for different preferences and metabolisms. After the first phase (known as the ‘Induction phase') the Atkins diet plan can be modified. Despite the immense popularity of the diet, the Atkins diet plan continues to have many skeptics. Another criticism of the diet purports that a person is unlikely to keep the weight off over the long term. However, this claim could just as easily be applied to many low-fat or low-calorie weight loss plans, on which dieters are likely to feel hungry.