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Atkins diet

Atkins diet (officially called “Atkins Nutritional Approach”) was popularised by Dr Atkins in his book Dr Atkins’ Diet Revolution, first published in 1972. The book was revised and re-published in 2002, and again in 2010, although the main concepts remain unchanged. Out of all popular low-carbohydrate diets, Atkins Nutritional Approach is probably the best-known one. It has one of the longest track records of over 40 years. Although its popularity declined somewhat since the recent peak in early 2000s,  it remains one of the most famous diets ever, with over 20 million books sold worldwide.

In a nutshell

The diet consists of several phases and is focused on limiting the amount of net carbs consumed every day, with permitted amount starting at 20g a day in the first phase and then increasing gradually.

  • Phase 1 (“Induction”) restricts the amount of carbohydrates to just 20g a day, in order to “wean” the dieter from sugary and starchy foods, “reset” metabolism and induce ketosis. There is a list of foods allowed during the Induction, consisting primarily of protein-based foods and salad vegetables. The minimum amount of time allocated for this phase is two weeks, although you can choose to do it for longer. This is where the most intensive weight loss will occur, but the very low carb allowance can be tedious and thus difficult to sustain for long periods.
  • The carb allowance is then gradually increased during the next several phases, and more foods are re-introduced, in order to establish your own individual level of daily carbohydrate consumption that would allow you to maintain your perfect weight.
  • The final phase of Atkins – “Ongoing maintenance” – is basically a set of guidelines you can follow to keep your weight under control for the rest of your life. In this phase, most foods are back on the list, except for sugar and refined flour.

Pros

  • Atkins is very effective at weight loss, especially during initial stages – if you follow all guidelines precisely, you will lose fat quickly.
  • The diet takes individual differences into account, providing a method to establish carb allowance level that would work for your body in the long term.
  • Fat is not restricted on Atkins, so in combination with high amounts of protein, you can follow this diet without feeling hungry at all.
  • With over 40-years long track record and millions of followers around the world, Atkins approach proved its worthiness and long-term safety.

Cons

  • Induction represents a radical dietary change for most people, which some may find difficult to sustain even for a short time.
  • Some dieticians claim that Atkins does not rule out high consumption of saturated fats, which is believed by them to be unhealthy.

Supplementation

Dr Atkins himself strongly recommended using supplements to support Atkins diet, especially during the initial stages. In his original book, he dedicated a whole chapter to supplements, and also wrote a separate book on the subject. In addition to vitamins and minerals, he advised taking chromium and L-Carnitine to speed up transition to ketosis.

Check out Nutri-Align multivitamin/multimineral iron-free formula, which was designed specifically to support low-carb diets, and includes chromium and L-Carnitine.

Further information

Buy the latest edition of Atkins Diet book on Amazon | Visit the Atkins diet UK website

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Dessert ideas for Atkins Induction

What’s it like to go on Atkins

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