So, i thought this diet had lost popularity, but more and more people are asking me about low carb eating and many people are still seeking this method of weight loss. I thought i would cover the topic and explain this diet more clearly.
The Atkins Diet is a fad diet that swept the nation in the 1990’s. People were claiming to lose all sorts of weight very quickly and effectively. Atkins meal replacement bars hit the shelf and soon they had a line of pastas and bread mixes. When taking a further look into this plan, you see that the reason people are losing weight so rapidly is because the body is entering Ketosis, a condition where the body enters a fat burning state rather than its normal carbohydrate burning state, which will later be discussed. I went to the Atkins website to do some further research on their diet, what was allowed and not allowed, and what their phases contained.
The Atkins diet, developed by Dr. Atkins, (there is no information about Dr. Atkins on the website) is a diet that causes rapid weight loss (with claims of up to 15lbs in two weeks) due to the restriction of carbohydrate and the increase of protein and fat. Our body runs off of burning carbohydrates, so when you severely limit their intake, your body has no choice than to burn another form of energy, in this case, fat. This made me a bit weary as to the fact you are forcing your body to do something it was not meant to do. The mission for this diet just seems to give people the instant gratification that they look for in weight loss. Most of the claims on the website just say they will help you lose weight incredibly fast and keep you in a fat burning mode all of the time. Looking at this statement from a person with no knowledge of health terms they see: “I will be able to burn fat forever”, when actually this quote is saying “We will keep your body in ketosis.” This was the first thing on the website I noticed was a little off.
Upon entering the website you are asked to calculate your BMI. Mine was 23.17, which is average for my height and weight, however when I said I want to lose 10 more pounds, I was put into phase 2 or “OWL” (Ongoing Weight Loss) of the diet. There are four phases of the Atkins diet. Phase one is Induction, where you “kick start” weight loss with up to 15lbs the first two weeks. This is where you “turn your body into a fat burning machine” by limiting your diet to 20 net carbohydrate per day with unlimited amounts of protein and fat, with the encouragement of high fat foods are encouraged such as cream and cheese. Phase two, the one I was selected for is Ongoing Weight Loss, which limits your consumption of carbohydrates to 25g of net carbohydrate per day. During this phase you are now allowed to consume some nuts and seeds, some berries, some legumes, and some tomato and vegetable juices. Phase 3 is pre maintenance. You can move to this goal once you have only 10lbs left to lose. You are encouraged to add ten grams of carbohydrate every week or two, until you notice cravings or hunger returns then you are supposed to step it back ten grams. You are allowed to eat squash, peas and carrots, some whole grains, and some fruits. Phase 4 is Lifetime Maintenance. This is when you are at your goal weight and you now know how many carbohydrates your body can tolerate before becoming hungry or gain weight. The guidelines are the same as Phase 3.
The first thing i noticed is that there is no limit on caloric intake listed anywhere on this site. I am in no way an advocate of counting calories, but when you are eating a diet so high in saturated fat it is not OK to consume endless amounts of calories as long as it is from animals. The diet plan makes it seem as if you could eat 5,000 calories a day if you wanted as long as you do not go over your carbohydrate limit for your phase. Protein is the second factor. This diet completely goes over the top with protein. Some of their meal recipes have 50 grams of protein in one serving. With no limits on intake a person can be consuming a meal that high 3 times a day plus the protein offered in their snack bars! When it comes to fat, it is highly promoted. Foods that are incredibly high in fat are pushed. “Safe” snack recipes consists things like “Chocolate Butter cream” that have 8 tablespoons of butter and 19g of fat. Meals include recipes like Cheddar Bacon Soup (51g of fat) and Deep Fried kale (56.5g of fat). If an individual was to consume those two meals and that dessert they have consumed 126.5g of fat, and this does not include their last meal or snacks. This is incredibly high, especially since it is mostly saturated fat. Getting GOOD, HEALTHY fats is important. To eat a diet so high in artery clogging fat scares me to death! When it comes to carbohydrates, the website seems to tell you to fear them. Limiting your fruit intake because fruit is “bad” just seems outrageous to me. Most fruit (except hybrid fruits–seedless ones) contain minerals and fiber essential to our well being. To completely cut out groups of food like this is insane (unless you have candida or another illness.) This diet also seems to be lacking in vitamins and minerals as well as variety. While the claims in the FAQ state that the diet does allow you to eat a variety, with such a limited list of foods you can consume there is no way this can be proved possible. Also, with the limitation of fruit and the small list of vegetables you are able to consume, and pretty much no grains in the beginning, there is going to be a severe lack of vitamins and minerals that the body needs to function.
I would in no way EVER recommend this diet to anyone. To limit intake on fruits and vegetables but eat endless amounts of saturated fats and proteins seems incredibly unsafe and irrational. There is no balance to this diet. You are putting your body in an unnatural, dangerous state just to loose a couple pounds. Is it worth it? I urge you, if you are considering this diet, to rethink it and research things such as ketosis before starting this diet.