Article Summary: The popular Atkins diet severely restricts the intake of carbohydrates to encourage the body to use stored fat for energy. Dieters lose weight when the body burns these stores. Although the medical community has many concerns about the Atkins method, it still remains a popular choice for dieters today.
Since its creation in the mid-1970s, the Atkins diet has promised to help people conquer hunger and lose weight. The low-carbohydrate diet also purports to increase heart health and improve memory. Named after its inventor, Robert Atkins, the diet has become more popular in recent years and has sparked many weight loss success stories. The diet is founded on the significant restriction of carbohydrates. By drastically reducing the amount of carbohydrates consumed, the diet causes the body to go into a ketosis state. In this state, the body burns its own fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. Stored fat becomes the body’s primary source of fuel. People in the state of ketosis also generally feel less hunger and are less likely to overeat, leading to increased weight loss on the Atkins diet.
Dieters on this plan may consume no more than 40 grams per day of carbohydrates. They must also abstain from consuming white flour, milk, white rice and refined sugar. Meat, fish, full-fat cheeses, butter and fowl are all permissible under the Atkins diet. Carbs are most restricted during the first two weeks, when dieters can eat only 20 grams each day. Even leafy green vegetables and fruits should be avoided at this time in order to jump-start weight loss and coax the body into the state of ketosis. Following this introductory period, it is permissible to consume up to 40 grams of carbohydrates per day. The Atkins diet has been criticized for its strict approach regarding carbohydrates. Many medical associations maintain that at least 150 grams of carbs are needed per day to keep the body healthy. Others are concerned that the diet actually promotes heart disease, certain types of cancer and strokes. The general consensus is that this diet is not appropriate for long-term health and that it is a reduction of calories in general, not grams of carbohydrates, that leads to weight loss on the Atkins diet. Regardless of these medical opinions, the Atkins diet remains one of the most popular diets today.