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Diet Profiler: The Atkins Diet

How many diets do you think you’ve been on in your lifetime? One? Five? Twenty? Shedding unwanted weight is never easy, and many people turn to popular diets or weight-loss methods to try to reach their goal. But not every diet works for every person. So, which diet is the right one for you? Let’s examine one possibility in the Atkins Diet . . .

In dieting, Atkins is a household name. Popularized by Dr. Robert Atkins, it got its start in a medical publication called the Journal of the American Medical Association. Atkins took some of the ideas from the journal diet and worked on the plan to fit his own weight-loss goals. During 2003 and 2004, the Atkins diet reached its peak. However, it is still a valid weight-loss option today.

What does it do?

The Atkins diet advises low carbohydrate intake. This tactic is intended to make the body burn more calories as it loses the excess carbs and the energy that they contain. It also focuses on insulin; one of the functions of insulin is to turn leftover energy to fat. While on the Atkins diet, you will be encouraged to take multi-vitamins and exercise regularly in order to get the most from your plan.

What can I eat?

The Atkins diet is essentially a low-carb diet. This means avoiding foods that are high in starch, like bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, and other grains. You also will want to steer clear of corn syrups, which are found in most soft drinks and even in so-called fruit juices. You’ll be encouraged to eat whole foods that are not processed.

What’s this about phases?

The Atkins diet consists of four phases. The first is called the “induction phase” and it causes your body to run out of extra carbs. Once this energy source is depleted, your body will begin to burn calories, and you will start to see weight loss. The induction phase puts heavy emphasis on salads and green vegetables, but you are still allowed to eat good-sized amounts of meat. You can have eggs, cheese (except for hard cheese), butter, oils from vegetables, and vegetables that would normally go in a salad. If you enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, there is good news: you won’t have to give it up! Caffeine can be a small part of this diet. Some people have lost as many as 10 pounds per week in the induction phase.

The second phase is the “ongoing weight-loss phase” or OWL for short. This phase is just what it sounds like: you continue dropping pounds. Once you have reached this milestone, you can bring up your net carb amount to 25 net grams a day (net carbs are calculated as total carbohydrates minus fiber). The purpose of the OWL phase is to find out two things: how many calories you can eat and still shed weight, and how some foods affect your body and weight-loss plan. You’ll eat more of the same types of vegetables that you had during the induction phase. Dairy is also added during this stage. Dr. Atkins devised a rung system to help you add the right foods back into your diet at the right time.

The third phase is called “pre-maintenance” and serves to find out how many calories you can have without gaining weight. You’ll add 10 net grams daily per week until this is determined.

The final phase is called “lifetime maintenance” and consists of keeping in step with your new, healthier habits. If you find that the weight is coming back, you can go back to an earlier rung in order to lose it again.

So, is the Atkins Diet right for you? It just might be! But remember, before starting any diet with significant weight-loss goals, visit your primary care health provider in order to discuss and address any health concerns that might go along with those goals.

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August 28, 2008
Is restricting yourself from most vegetables and fruits really all that good for you? I understand that you limit yourself for the first couple of phases but not allowing the vitamins and minerals into your body and not to mention the fiber to help push all that bacon through sounds gross!