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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

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Exp 50 years

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Article Home Diet and Fitness Atkins Diet

Atkins Diet

Atkins diet one of the most popular of the low-carbohydrate diets. Favors consuming more protein-rich foods. Body enters into ketosis process. It consists of four phases, each having its own restrictions. Like all other diets, this too has its own advantages and disadvantages.


What is Atkins diet?


The Atkins diet is considered to be the most popular of the low-carbohydrate diets. It is based on the restriction of all processed and refined carbohydrates, limiting the consumption of the sugary foods, breads, pasta, and all starchy vegetables.

The Atkins Diet is a popular diet that focuses on reducing carbohydrate-intake in the favor of consuming more protein-rich foods. However it requires stringent attention to the amount of carbohydrate in the diet, particularly during the first few weeks.

How does this work?

By reducing the carbohydrate intake to less than 40 grams a day, one will cause the body to enter a process called ketosis. Ketosis is a state in which the body burns fat as fuel. This will also affect insulin production, which will prevent more fat from being formed. Once the body enters ketosis it begins to use fat efficiently as fuel, which will reduce the cravings for carbohydrates.

Four stages of Atkins diet:

There are four stages of Atkins diet: induction, ongoing weight loss, pre-maintenance and maintenance.


  1. Induction: It is the first 14 days of the plan, during which Atkins says one can lose up to 15 pounds. This rapid weight loss can be achieved by limiting carbohydrate intake to 20 grams a day. Here, the diet consists of nearly unlimited meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, cheeses, oils, butter, margarine, bacon, and sausages. The 20 gram carbohydrate diet limit is generally derived from the trace amounts of carbohydrates in sauces, dressings, cheeses and a couple cups of lettuce greens or vegetables daily. The only low-carbohydrate vegetables like lettuce, broccoli and tomatoes are allowed (about three cups per day). Even yogurt, fruit and starchy vegetables, milk, fruits, grains, cereals, breads or "high glycemic index " vegetables such as potatoes, peas, corn and carrots are to be avoided.
  2. Ongoing weight loss: Here one can increase the carbohydrate intake by five grams, but will eventually hit a plateau and will need to limit the carbohydrate intake once again.
  3. Pre-maintenance: Here the rate of weight-loss will slow down. And one will then be able to "test" certain foods to see if they can be safely added to the diet without resulting weight-gain. Again one can begin adding about 5 more grams of carbohydrates per week to their diet.
  4. Maintenance phase: This is a long term phase where the dieters have to stick to generally, a diet consisting of no more than 40-90 grams of carbohydrates.


Once the goal weight is reached, one can enter maintenance and may introduce more carbohydrates back into diet, but not the "bad" ones, as they will again result in weight-gain. Therefore one will need to choose healthy carbohydrates instead of refined carbohydrates (like white bread) from now on. If there is again a gain in weight, one can restart the Atkins plan again at any time.


Foods that can be used during this diet are: Steaks, roasts, Chicken, quail, Pheasant, turkey, all varieties of cheese, eggs, omelettes, pork, veal, seafood, fish, salad (two small green salads a day), and water, club soda, coffee (upto 6 cups per day).

 Foods to avoid:

Foods that have to be avoided during this diet are: breads, grains, pastas, sugary food, honey, beans, lentils, legumes, starchy vegetables, fruits, sweets and alcohol.

Advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages of Atkins diet include:


  • rapid weight loss
  • enables the dieters to eat unlimited protein-rich and fatty foods
  • it is not as time-consuming and expensive as some of the other popular diets



Disadvantages of Atkins diet include:


  • it is very restrictive in nature
  • it overlooks high consumption of saturated fats
  • it can cause bad breath, nausea headaches (specially in the initial period)
  • like all other weight loss diets, it cuts out many valuable nutrients
  • it relies heavily upon proteins from meat, fish and dairy products. Therefore it cannot be used for vegetarians.
  • also the effect of such high levels of protein and fat upon vital organs such as the heart and the kidneys are debatable.