Dr Atkins diet, a.k.a. Atkins Nutritional Approach is an unorthodox low carb, high fat diet made popular by celebs like Jennifer Aniston, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Demi Moore. The expensive diet which lost popularity after the demise of Dr. Atkins in 2003, was brought back to spotlight after Kim Kardashian disclosed she used it for a quick post-pregnancy weight loss.
The diet not only cuts inches fast, but also helps maintain the target weight much after the prescribed ‘diet period’ is over. This unique diet is based on a research titled “Weight Reduction” published in 1972 in JAMA, which was based on decades of research on relation between diet and mechanism of weight loss.
Keeping genetic factors aside, weight is a simple math of caloric intake and expenditure. The strategy behind Atkins diet is limiting carbohydrate consumption so one’s body is forced to metabolize glucose for energy reasons instead of storing it. As a result, blood insulin level drops which induces breakdown of stored fat to ketone bodies which further helps in melting down inches.
Its interesting to know that, though this diet limits carbohydrates to a great extent, the amount of intake of bulk food does not change significantly. This is done by replacing foods high in glycemic index with those high in fiber. Fiber rich diet not only fills up your tummy leaving you feeling full, lacks considerably in energy release department. That’s because these foods take a longer time to digest, and hence, delay the onset of hunger too. And we do know how difficult it is to fight hunger pangs and carb cravings while dieting.
The Four Phases of Atkins diet
The diet works in four phases – Induction phase, most restrictive and phase of maximum weight loss, Ongoing Weight Loss phase, where you reach your target weight, Pre-maintenance phase or phase of trials with weight and diet, and lastly phase of Lifetime maintenance, where you enjoy your body.
The initial two weeks of Atkins diet is a Ketogenic diet which lowers blood glucose levels to an extent of causing hypoglycemia. Now, in a condition of hyperglycemia, our body is well prepared with insulin to shuttle off glucose to peripheral tissues. But, in hypoglycemia, our stress hormone is released triggering a chain event where breakdown of stored fats begins to bring blood glucose level back to normal. With no outside help, the body begins to consume stored fat as the primary fuel source.
This is achieved by limiting carbohydrates to 20 grams net each day, 75% of which should come from salads and other greens. However, along with this the diet includes at least 100 grams of fat and 150 grams of protein. Moderate amounts of caffeine is also allowed.
Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL) phase
In this phase, 5 grams carbohydrate is added each week to your daily diet till you find your critical carbohydrate level for losing. This is carried out till one reaches 10 pounds of the target weight. During this period, the diet plan gradually includes other carb sources as well like cheese, alcohol, whole grains, legumes, etc. in moderate amounts of course.
The third phase adds 10 grams of carbs intending to achieve the critical carbohydrate level of maintenance. Once the dieter reaches his/her target weight, and maintains it for a month, they are asked to increase their carbohydrate intake by 10 grams for a month, and see if it contributes to weight gain. If it does, then the intake is discontinued. And if it doesn’t, then the dieter is advised to add 10 more grams and observe results for the next month.
Lifetime Maintenance Phase
This final phase is intended to terminate the mentality of ‘end of diet plan‘ which is often the culprit behind extensive weight gain after achievement of target weight through diet. Hence, the phase continues even after the diet period is over to maintain the habits adopted previously.
Benefits of Atkins Diet
Apart from being a quick weight loss recipe, Atkins Nutritional, the company created to promote this diet recommends it for type 2 diabetics and those with cardio vascular conditions. They even claim the diet can eliminate use of drugs in treatment of these problems.
It is noteworthy here that, according to a study conducted by A.Harper, most of the Atkins dieters reported increased concentration of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the good cholesterol, and an improvement in insulin resistance, in comparison to those on low-fat and calorie limited diet.
Apparently, the unique diet does bring in some great medical benefits along with shedding fat, and helping one achieve their target weight. However, one must never follow it without expert guidance. So, if you are thinking of taking it up, book an appointment with a nutritionist first.
With thousands of done-to-death approaches towards weight loss through exercise programs that claim to drive great results such as p90x workout, Insanity Workout, Aerobics, Pilates, Yoga, Atkins Diet and others, it is important to understand that “Diet Control” is the single and most crucial factor in all these weight loss programs. So no matter what weight loss program you choose, make sure that you control your diet as specified in the program for getting successful results.
Author Bio: Nitish Kumar is a diet and bodybuilding expert at WorkoutTrends.com who reviews the best fitness and weight loss programs online.