The Dr. Atkins, New Diet Revolution
Article by Matt Davis
Robert Atkins, M. D., Specialized in cardiology and developed “The Atkins Diet”. He wrote his first book “Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution” in 1972. His book was one of the first weight loss books to espouse low carbohydrate eating. His next book, “Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution” was published in 1992 and spent the more than three years in the New York Times bestseller list. The book was once again updated in 2009.
The basic concept of The Atkins Diet
Dr. Atkins believes that obesity is due to a malfunctioning metabolism. His belief is that overweight people are unable to metabolize carbohydrates properly because of insulin resistance. Atkins states that you can’t cure your faulty metabolism, but you can manage it by eating a very low carbohydrate diet.
It is Dr. Atkins belief that the high carbohydrate (at least 50% of carbohydrates), low-fat diet promoted by health officials is the reason that Americans are rapidly becoming so unhealthy. The national twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes are the result of chronically elevated insulin levels. Atkins maintains that insulin overload in the blood promotes fat storage and encourages the development of type II diabetes. Atkins states that the “typical” American diet not only promotes obesity but also encourages irritability, fatigue, and sleeplessness. He directs dieters, and anyone interested in protecting their health, to switch from a diet dominated by carbohydrate to a regiment that’s comprised largely of fat and protein. In fact, he states that you must eat fat as the predominant calorie source, at least initially, because protein-carbohydrate provokes insulin release while fat has no effect on insulin levels.
Avoiding foods such as bread, rice, potatoes, and fruit will cause your body to become a fat burning machine, using fat rather than carbohydrates for energy. This is the state that Dr. Atkins calls the “metabolic advantage.” For Dr. Atkins, lipolysis, or fat breakdown, is the goal. When there are insufficient amounts of glucose in the body to be burned for energy, the liver turns to fat stores instead. It converts these fat stores to acidic substances called ketones. Lipolysis then results in ketosis, and abnormal metabolic condition caused by burning mostly fat to meet your energy needs. According to Atkins, stimulating lipolysis on a very low carbohydrate diet suppresses your appetite and break the cycle of excess insulin in the bloodstream that in turn promotes fat storage. He believes the medical profession concerns about the danger of ketosis in healthy people are overblown. To be sure you’re burning fat, Dr. Atkins recommends testing urine for ketones, the byproducts of fat breakdown.
How The Atkins Diet works
The Atkins nutritional approach requires no calorie counting or portion control. The philosophy is that as long as you choose from the acceptable foods, steering clear of most carbohydrates; you will lose weight no matter how much you eat.
The diet is composed of four phases:
The induction phase lasts from two weeks to six months, depending on how much weight you want to lose. You’re initially limited to 20 g of carbohydrates a day.
The next phase is the ongoing weight loss (OWL) phase which lasts for two weeks to two months and allows you to add 5 g of carbohydrates to your daily intake each week as long as you can continue to lose weight. Weight loss during this stage is more gradual, but if your weight plateaus, you must stop adding carbs, and you may even have to cut back. The goal for the OWL stage is to find your critical carbohydrate level for losing, the maximum out of carbs you can eat and still lose weight. With this diet, you stay in the OWL phase until you have just 5 to 10 pounds left to lose.
The next phase is the pre-maintenance phase, which lasts a few weeks or a couple of months, you had 10 g of carbohydrates to your daily intake each week until your weight loss slows to 1 pound per week or less. During this pre-maintenance phase, your job is to discover your critical carbohydrate level for maintenance, which is the amount of carbohydrates you can eat and maintain your present weight.
The last phase or the lifetime maintenance phase is when you have arrived at your weight goal.
How the Atkins Diet is unique
Dr. Atkins nutritional approach is very low in carbohydrates (estimated range: 20 to 90 g, or less than 10% of your daily diet). (The average American diet includes about 50 to 60% of calories from carbohydrates, which amounts to at least 250 g of carbohydrates a day.) After you initially drop carbohydrate intake to 20 g a day, you gradually increase carbohydrate intake until you reach your weight loss goal and discover the amount of carbohydrates you can eat every day without gaining weight. Ketosis is encouraged and seen as a sign of fat burning success.
As in any weight loss program, Dr. Atkins states that exercise is essential to weight loss and optimum health he strongly encourages regular exercise.
Also, Atkins recommends taking many nutritional supplements, especially from his line.
Carbohydrate, protein, and fat allowances
Carbohydrates: 20 g a day in the induction phase, gradually increasing to a maximum 90 g as long as weight loss is maintained.
Protein: no set protein allowances.
Fat: no set fat allowances.
Dr. Atkins book provides more than 100 low-carb recipes and one sample meal plan for each phase of the diet.
You can find his book “Dr. Atkins new diet Revolution” in any bookstore and online in both paperback and digital form. Also available are “The New Atkins for a New You,” an essential guide, is $16. There’s also a workbook for $12. “New Atkins Made Easy,” the most updated version of the Atkins book, is $10.
Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution conclusion:
An interesting part of the book is the section on heart health/cholesterol. This is an area that has garnered a lot of controversies. In the book, he demonstrates how the mainstream guidelines are being dis-proven by more and more studies. The conclusion quite simply is that fat is not the enemy; sugar and high carbs, especially refined carbs, are.
One area of controversy in the book is the danger of consuming so much animal products given the amounts of toxic chemicals pumped into commercially raised livestock (growth hormones, antibiotics, etc.) Dr. Atkins was one of the first voices, at least 15 years ago, in this country to advocate ORGANIC meat and poultry. At that time, this idea was largely unknown. Today it is commonplace.