The Atkins Diet is probably the
most well publicized low carbohydrate diet. Dr. Robert
Atkins began popularizing the Atkins Diet with his
book, the Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution
in 1972. Dr. Atkins died in 2003, and in July, 2005
his company, Atkins Nutritionals, filed for bankruptcy
Dr. Atkins believed that refined
carbohydrates, such as sugar and flour, are converted
by the body into fat, which leads to weight gain and
eventually obesity. He believed that excessive carbohydrates
increases insulin levels, which causes food cravings
and unstable blood sugar levels, which can cause mood
swings, depression, and sleeping problems.
He believed that the Atkins Diet
of reduced carbohydrates stabilizes insulin and blood
sugar levels, eliminating cravings and often reducing
By restricting the intake of carbohydrates,
the body's metabolism switches from burning glucose
to burning stored fat. This process, called lipolysis,
begins when the body enters the state od ketosis,
because the body no longer has carbohydrates to burn.
Atkins restricts "net carbs", or carbs that have
an effect on blood sugar. (To calculate net carbs,
which Atkins believed are the only type of carbohydrates
to have an effect on blood sugar, you take total carbohydrates
and subtracts sugar alcohols and fiber).
In the first phase of the Atkins Diet,
called the Induction phase, net carbs
are limited to 20 grams per day, so that dieters eat
meat, cheese and salad vegetables. Caffeine and alcoholic
beverages are not allowed. During this phase weight
loss can be as high as six to eight pounds a week.
After the first two weeks, dieters increase their
net daily carbs by 5 grams per week, until they stop
losing weight. This allows the dieter to know at what
carb level they will no longer lose weight. Dieters
can then reduce carbs until they have reached their
weight loss goal.
Atkins Diet works, because if you are only eating
20 grams of net carbs per day, you will lose weight,
because you are also restricting the calories you
However, the Atkins Diet is expensive (since meat
is expensive), and it is important to eat a balanced
diet for long term health. The restrictive nature
of the diet make it hard for people to stick to long-term,
which is why in recent years the popularily of the
Atkins Diet has decreased.