The Atkins diet is formally called the Atkins Nutritional Approach. It was started by Dr. Robert Atkins, who actually used the diet himself. The Atkins diet is a low-carbohydrate diet. Dr. Atkins' two books; Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution, the original book from 1972, has been revised to be the newer Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution, which came out in 2001. The principles in the revised book remain true to the principles in the older version.
- Why no carbs? Dr. Atkins believes that refined carbohydrates (high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, flour) take the blame in the problem with obesity. The diet's purpose in limiting carbohydrates is to get the body to switch from burning energy from fat stores rather than burning energy from carbohydrates. Dr. Atkins (as well as many who have tried this diet) believe that dieters following a low-carbohydrate diet experience less hunger than those on a low-fat diet.
- Phases. The Atkins diet has four phases: induction, ongoing weight loss, pre-maintenance, and lifetime maintenance. Induction usually lasts two weeks and is usually the hardest part of the diet because the body has to drastically adjust, but also show the most weight loss. At the very most, 20 grams of carbohydrates are allowed each day, and most should be from vegetables. Foods that are allowed are poultry, fish, meat, eggs, and some cheese, butter, and vegetable oil. Drinking water and abstaining from alcohol are also required. For the on-going phase, more specific foods are assigned from the "carbohydrate ladder." Carbohydrate intake is increased in the pre-maintenance phase, with the lifetime goal being to make healthy choices about food.
- Controversy. Many experts claim that following a low-carbohydrate diet is not healthy for the body (think of the food pyramid with grains as the biggest section on the bottom). Another worry is that many people who try the diet claim that they gain the weight back (and more) as soon as they return to eating normal foods again. Although many people do lose weight from following this diet, some experts believe that it is only because the dieter eats less because they are bored of eating from the limited choices that they are given.
Remember to thoroughly research any diet plan before you begin it (and ask your doctor if it will be safe and effective for your body). Just because following a certain diet helps you to lose weight does not mean that it is healthy for your body.