The Atkins Diet

The Atkins Diet

The Atkins Diet, invented by Dr Robert Atkins, promotes dramatic weight loss. It has been made into a famous weight management and diet programme due to its use by many Hollywood celebrities and film stars who looked to the Atkins Diet to promote rapid weight loss for film roles and the red carpet season.

Famed for its fast results but controversial methods, the Atkins Diet has both its advocates and critics in equal numbers. Below we aim to give a non-baised look at the Atkins Diet; both its advantages and its disadvantages.

How does the Atkins Diet work?

The basic premise is that refined carbohydrates (think sugar and flour) are the root cause of Western obesity, and that the saturated fats we are so often told to avoid aren’t such a big problem after all.

This means you’ll enjoy a diet high in meat, fish, eggs and cheese and low-carb salad vegetables – but pasta, potatoes and rice are out.

Advantages of the Atkins Diet

By reducing the amount of sugar the body takes in via carbohydrates - yes even the energy in complex carbohydrates like potatoes and rice etc is converted into simple sugars inthe body - insulin levels are regulated. What does this mean? Well, high spikes in insulin, which occurs when the body takes on too much sugar, means these excess sugars are stored as body fat. Low levels of insulin, in theory, mean that insulin spikes won't occur - and hence neither will increases in fat stores.

The Atkins Diet also suggested digesting high levels of protein. By maintaining or increasing levels of protein within the diet, as means the dieter will lose little muscle mass. By not dropping muscle mass the dieter can maintain a good metabolism - the body's fuel burning capabilities.

Finally, eating fats and no (or very little carbohydrates) increases the amount of body fat the body will use for fuel. Burning body fat for energy is called ketosis - where the liver coverts stored fats into fatty acids to use as an alternative energy source to glucose.

Disadvantages of the Atkins Diet

The Atkins Diet asks the dieter to also gain the majority of their calories not from carbohydrates or protein but from fats - animal fats, dairy fats, fats from nuts and vegetable fats. This means that the risk of increasing of developing high levels of low density lipoproteins (LDL - cholesterol) exists. This can lead to chronic heart disease (CHD) and even weight gain if more calories are taken on board from fats than the body can burn.

It is also suggested that the dramatic weight loss when on the Atkins Diet is from water loss rather than body fat loss. Because the body isn't storing glucose in the muscles the body does store as much water in the muscles either. Could it be that as soon as normal carbohydrate consumption is resumed and water levels also increase that any lost weight will go back on.

The Aktins Diet - Conclusion

Their is no denying that the Atkins Diet does promote weight loss. However, it may not promote body fat loss - and it is this that every diet is striving for.

That said, the science behind ketosis does suggest that the best way to burn body fat from diet alone is to alter the amount of carbohydrates digested in the diet. Perhaps another way to look at this rather than to follow the Atkins Diet is to eat more complex carbohydrates in the morning and little less as lunch time and very little in the evening. This will give the body all the energy it needs when its needed (during a busy working day) rather than eating high levels in the evening when it is more likely to be stored as body fat.

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