Understanding the Atkins Diet

The Atkins diet is a meal plan that was developed in 1972 by Robert Atkins. The creator has revised the plan several times in subsequent books over the course of several decades. People who follow the Atkins diet plan eat primarily proteins with very little carbohydrate. It is not intended to be a way to lose weight quickly. The entire plan moves through a series of stages that are designed to make long-term weight loss and maintenance possible.

AtkinsThe Atkins diet plan is based on ketosis. Ketosis occurs when the body burns stored fat for energy instead of deriving energy from newly eaten foods. Restricting the intake of carbohydrates in a diet for an extended period of time causes the body to go into a state of ketosis. This results in weight loss in the initial stages of the diet. The Atkins diet foods that can be eaten include all proteins, fats, eggs, and some cheeses. The diet initially calls for a restricted amount of carbohydrates that come primarily from plant-based sources. Processed carbohydrates are strictly prohibited.

The Atkins diet plan takes place in four stages. The induction stage is a two-week period in which carbohydrates are tightly restricted. The Atkins diet recipes for the induction phase often include large amounts of meats that are accompanied by some salad greens. Induction is followed by the ongoing weight loss stage. This stage maintains a low-carbohydrate diet but allows the slow introduction of new carbohydrates each week. The idea is to start to normalize the functioning of the body so that it is not constantly in a state of ketosis. The pre-maintenance stage starts to introduce a wider range of carbohydrates into the diet since weight loss is complete. The final stage is lifetime maintenance. This stage allows dieters to eat a slightly larger amount of carbohydrates each week including processed and simple carbohydrates.

Understanding what the Atkins diet is and what it entails is not always easy. A person on the diet will be eating a very large amount of protein that might seem unhealthy. There is clear evidence that the diet will cause short-term and even long-term weight loss. The problem many dieters experience is that the monotony of eating primarily proteins after months or years becomes difficult to maintain. People on the Atkins diet plan that suddenly start to consume large amounts of carbohydrates tend to gain back much of the weight that was initially lost. There is inconclusive evidence about the long-term health effects of the diet.