Atkins Diet Plan – What’s it All About?
A typical breakfast consists of 3 or 4 strips of bacon, two or more eggs and coffee. A snack would maybe be chunks of cheese and a cup of coffee with cream. Dinner might be a huge steak fried in butter. Sounds really good right? It sounds so tempting but there is a trade-off. You will have to give up carbs such as breads, potatoes, pasta, rice, and other things like chocolate, cake, some fruits, veggies, and milk at least in the beginning.
The theory is that when you cut out carbs your body are forced into burning fat that your body has stored to give it energy. Your body burns more calories when burning fat than when it is burning carbohydrates and you will lose weight more quickly. Your blood sugars stabilize which prevents overeating.
The first phase of the Atkins Diet Plan is the Introduction Phase and must be followed for at least two weeks. You are only allowed to consume 20 grams of carbs a day. You can load up on as much red meat, chicken, fish, cheese, eggs, mayo, cream, and butter. It is during this phase that your body switches from the burning fat to burning carbs.
The second phase is the ongoing weight loss phase. During this phase you increase your carb intake by about 5 grams daily until you find your critical carbohydrate level for losing weight. The most carbs that you can eat and still lose between 1 and 3 pounds a week. Breads, pasta, potatoes, and rice are still off limits.
The third phase is the pre-maintenance phase that you enter when you have only five to ten pounds to go to meet your goal weight. Your carb intake increases by ten grams each day for a week in order to help your body adjust to the addition of carbs and the final phase of maintenance.
The fourth phase is called lifetime maintenance and intended to help you keep your motivation. Carbs are limited to less than 90 grams a day. Get used to it though because you will be on a low carb diet for the rest of your life.
There are some concerns about the long-term effects of the Atkins Diet Plan and other low carb plans. There is such a high consumption of fat, particularly saturated fats and this can cause an increase risk of heart disease.
The Atkins diet eliminates some nutrients and this could cause deficiencies and other health problems in the future. Since there is a limited intake of bone building calcium you could be at increased risk of Osteoporosis. A very limited intake of antioxidant nutrients could cause problems such as heart disease, cancer, and premature aging.
One drawback of the Atkins Diet is that it can become boring. Vegetarians have difficulty with this diet because veggies, seeds, and nuts are off limits in the first stages. The diet does present a view of healthy eater, which keeps us healthy and free from disease.
Other concerns are that the initial weight loss comes back quickly when you go off the Atkins plan and a lot of people drop out in the induction phase. The carbs are very low and ketosis can result which is dangerous for a diabetic or anyone else for that matter.
This diet is high in cholesterol and you can develop constipation and/or heart disease because of the high fat content. Since the diet is low in fruits and vegetables, it also lacks cancer-fighting antioxidants. The most serious drawbacks to the Atkins plan are that it is not intended for long term use and there are unsafe if not downright dangerous side effects.
A few positive notes about the Atkins Plan are that it works! You lose a lot of weight quickly and you can eat as much as you want of certain foods especially protein and fat.
The Atkins Diet eliminates to a great degree carbs from rice, pasta, potatoes, breads, some fruits and veggies. It also eliminates cancer-fighting antioxidants. It is a high fat and high protein diet that can increase the risk for certain diseases like high cholesterol and heart disease.
On the upside, this is one diet that actually works but it is not a diet that you can be on for an indefinite period of time. Once you go off the program and resume more ‘normal’ eating the initial weight loss will come back. Also, as with any diet plan check with your doctor to be sure you can safely do it.
To conclude let me give you a reminder. The Atkins diet is not for long term use and it has inherent health risks. If you need to lose weight you may already be at risk for heart disease and high cholesterol, the Atkins plan has the potential of actually increasing those risks.
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