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One of the most popular diets of all time, Atkins promises you tens of pounds in lost weight by suggesting delicious food high in fat and protein. You heard it right; the Atkins Diet advocates a diet low in carbohydrates, while bringing traditionally rich food to the fore.

This diet was controversial then, and it certainly is controversial now. Publicized first in the 1972 book Dr. Atkin’s Diet Revolution, this regimen has divided public opinion due to its liberalness. If you were the type not to easily give up on a saucy steak or an oily lamb chop, then the Atkins Nutritional Approach is for you.

How the Atkins Diet works

Dr. Robert Atkins created this diet on the idea that the body burns carbohydrates before fats for its energy needs. Deprived of carbs, the body goes into ketosis, a condition wherein stored fats are burned for fuel. The body, with little carbs to use, then draws energy from ketones, which are derived from stored body fat.

This way, the Dr. Atkins diet turns your body into a fat-burning machine. Your body learns to turn on its own stubborn fats, usually stored around the belly, hips and thighs.

Ketosis is also claimed to lower appetite. By reducing carbs to an unrecognizable fraction of your average intake, you may just eat less than ever. Some people don’t take to ketosis smoothly however, since this condition is associated with bad breath, constipation, and other side effects.

Dr. Atkins would assure you: All that fat in his diet ultimately lowers bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Cholesterol levels rise only in the beginning stages of the Atkins diet, he would say.

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Proponents also go so far as to claim that Atkins gives your body its proper metabolic function. A high-carbohydrate diet, in contrast, would only give you diabetes, a metabolic disorder. They say the body becomes less receptive to insulin due to too much blood sugar derived from carbohydrates.

What you can eat in the Atkins diet

Essentially, Atkins meals indulge your dietary wants. They are full of sumptuous meat dishes and more. You would have to miss out on equally delicious carbohydrates though.

With the Atkins plan, you are free to eat many kinds of lean protein and fat. Spread huge dollops of mayonnaise thickly on your sandwich if you want. Pour heaps of dressing into your salad. Eat fatty fish, red meat, and regular cheese. Do not even bother counting calories because the protein and fat in this program run over the radar.

In turn, the Atkins program expressly forbids white rice, white flour (including pasta made with it), white bread, refined sugar, and white potatoes, among others, for life. As for the other kinds of carb, you are only allowed to take 20 grams of them daily for the first two weeks. Those are in net amount, i.e. total carbohydrates minus fiber.

Eventually, the program allows for more carb concessions. After the critical two-week phase, you may finally munch on whole-grain foods, plus a little fruit and vegetable here and there. In the run-up to the final phase of the program, which is weight maintenance, you increasingly eat carbs.

When it first came out, Dr. Atkin’s Diet Revolution did not place a heavy emphasis on exercise. A turnaround has since manifested in the sequels. Now Atkins books encourage exercise, especially for dieters whose bodies are not quickly responsive to ketosis.

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Critics weigh in

Still a flurry of fitness experts, nutritionists, and dietitians remain holdouts. For them, the Atkins diet needs to further bolster its veracity in terms of weight loss benefits.

Based on statements from the American Dietetic Association, the Atkins diet can even be hazardous. Carbohydrates, after all, are essential to health. American dietitians have estimated the body to require at least 150 grams of carbs every day. You must eat carbs then, lest you ruin your regular metabolic function.

More to the detail, the central nervous system requires glucose to work effectively. Such needs mirror humankind’s evolutionary heritage no less. In primordial times, men and women had gorged on fruits and veggies before they discovered meat. As it stands, glucose’s most convenient sources are vegetables, fruits, and grains, which the Atkins diet virtually condemns.

Safety-wise, the Atkins diet has also received a failing grade from health experts. According to them, there is no way a fatty, protein-rich diet could not be linked to heart conditions, cancer, or stroke. Many are also genuinely worried by the diet’s adverse effects on kidney and liver function. The diet has also been associated with bone loss.

Yet the people who have run the Atkins company since the founder’s death maintain that the diet is safe and effective as can be. Since 2002, they have vaunted several researches supporting the diet as harmless, if not beneficial to health. Some of these researches have been tied to institutions such as the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.

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It has been decades since the first book was published, yet the Atkins approach still has to gain full acceptance by experts. But millions of people are still talking about it, while the original Atkins book and its bestselling successors are still moving units. It may not be effective but the Atkins diet is already a household name.

To realize the full potential of the Atkins diet, consider taking proven to work weight loss supplements alongside it, preferably those with appetite suppressants. Follow the Atkins diet but make sure to take vitamin supplements because the diet severely restricts fruits and vegetables.

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