The aim of the Atkins diet is to lose weight by avoiding carbohydrates and controlling insulin levels. Dieters can eat as much fat and protein as they want.
Dr. Robert Atkins, an American cardiologist, created the Atkins diet in the early 1970s. It has evolved over time and now encourages people to eat more high-fiber vegetables and do more exercise.
This article is also part of a series called What are the eight most popular diets today?
What is the Atkins Diet?
Meat and low-carb vegetables are allowed on the Atkins diet.
Dr. Atkins was a cardiologist. He designed a diet that aimed to reduce carbohydrate intake significantly.
The Atkins Diet has four core principles.
These state that the dieter will:
maintain weight loss
achieve good health
lay the permanent groundwork for disease prevention
According to Dr. Atkins, the main reason for putting on weight is the consumption of refined carbohydrates, especially sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and flour.
How does it work?
When a person is on the Atkins Diet, their body’s metabolism switches from burning glucose, or sugar, as fuel to burning its own stored body fat. This switching is called ketosis.
The Atkins diet avoids foods with a high glycemic load.
When glucose levels are low, insulin levels are also low. At this point, ketosis occurs. In other words, when glucose levels are low, the body switches to using its own stores of fat as a source of energy.
Before eating, a person’s glucose levels are low, so insulin levels are also low. When a person eats, their glucose levels rise. This triggers insulin levels to rise.
The glycemic index is a scale that ranks carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100, based on how quickly they increase blood sugar levels after eating, and by how much.
Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and candy, contain high levels of glucose. They are called high glycemic foods. The carbohydrates enter the blood rapidly, and they cause insulin levels to rise quickly.
Other types of carbohydrates, such as oats, do not affect blood glucose levels so quickly or so severely. They have a low glycemic load, and they appear lower down the glycemic index.
Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber and sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols have a minimal effect on blood sugar levels. According to Dr. Atkins, the best carbohydrates are those with a low glycemic load.
To make up for the lack of vitamin-rich foods, the diet encourages adherents to use vitamin and mineral supplements.
Using the fat in the body
If there is no glucose in the body, ketosis will occur. During ketosis, the body will transfer some of the fat stores in fat cells to the blood to be used as energy.
and low-carb vegetables are suitable on the Atkins diet.
The Atkins diet works on the basis that a diet that is low in carbohydrates. This causes the body to burn more calories than it would on other diets, because it encourages ketosis.
Dr. Atkins suggested that a person´s saturated fat intake should be kept to a maximum of 20 percent of all the calories they consume.
For people with type 2 diabetes, or metabolic syndrome, the Atkins diet claims to lower, and sometimes eliminate, the need for medications.
However, diabetes specialists warn that although watching carbohydrate and glucose intake are a vital part of diabetes care, the Atkins diet is not a simple solution for diabetes.
The Atkins diet has four phases:
Phase 1: Induction
Calorie consumption from carbohydrates is limited to less than 20 grams (g) each day. Carbohydrates come mainly from salad and vegetables, which are low in starch. The dieter eats high-fat, high-protein food with low-carbohydrate vegetables, such as leafy greens.
Phase 2: Balancing
Nutrient-dense and fiber rich foods are added as additional sources of carbohydrates. These include nuts, low-carb vegetables and small amounts of fruit.