The Atkins Diet

The basic principle behind this diet is that the body burns carbohydrates, the simplest and quickest source of energy. But when there are no carbs (carbohydrates) in the system, the body triggers a process called lipolysis / ketosis, and starts burning fat.

The diet is divided into several phases. The first two weeks are the strictest, and dieters are warned that any lapse (yes, even that small plate of pasta) will compromise the results. Gradually you increase your daily carb intake in 10-gram increments, until you reach your desired weight. Then you move into a maintenance plan. The Atkins Diet is a lifetime commitment; you will still need to keep a cap on the carbs (what the diet calls critical carbohydrate level) or you will gain the weight back.

The Atkins diet demands a lot of discipline and planning, especially if you don’t prepare for your own food (like if you work at an office, or tend to eat out instead of cooking). At certain points, you will need to brownbag your lunch in case your company cafeteria’s menu doesn’t carry Atkins stamp of approval. Thankfully, the diet becomes less restrictive in its succeeding phases, allowing certain vegetables and increasing carb levels.

The good news is that Atkins lets you eat all the meat, cheese, eggs and fats (like butter and oils) that you like. Even if it is a plate of bacon gleaming with fat, as long as you don’t touch the bread, you’ll be fine. The bad news is that you’ll rarely be able to take cake, potatoes, pasta, pancakes and pie in fact, fruit and dairy are rare. Steak for dessert, anyone?

Research supporting the Atkins diet says that people tend to lose twice as much weight as those on a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, with the added benefits of better cholesterol levels, triglycerides and blood pressure.

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