Dr. Robert Atkins created the Atkins Diet because he understood that most overweight people eat too many carbohydrates. This diet is also known as the Atkins Nutritional Approach. Their site has evolved into a huge seller of Atkins products like their low carb candy bars and weight loss shakes. Dr. Atkins knew that humans burn carbohydrates for energy. IF the carbs are depleted, then our body switches and burns fat for energy. By restricting carbs and eating more protein and fat, our bodies will lose weight by burning fat for energy.
When we restrict our diet and limit our carbs to 10-15 per day, our body will quickly deplete the available carbs in the body and enter into a state of ketosis. While in ketosis, your body changes from a carbohydrate burning system to a fat-burning system.
An important term in the Atkins diet is “Net Carbs”. Net carbs are determined by subtracting the fiber (non-digestible carbs) in the carbohydrates from the digestible carbohydrates. Total net carbohydrates can be calculated from the food labels by subtracting fiber and sugar from total carbohydrates. It is important to know that sugar alcohols can affect your ability to get into ketosis.
From experience, ketosis is harder to get into than it is to stay in ketosis. Once your body enters the ketosis stage, you will find you can easily lose 2-3 lbs every week. Below, the importance of ketone strips is discussed.
Phases of the Atkins Diet
The Atkins Diet consists of 4 phases. The phases of this low carb diet are induction, ongoing weight loss, pre-maintenance and lifetime maintenance.
The first phase and the phase where you are limited the most in your food choices is the Induction phase. It is also the most difficult phase of the Atkins Diet. This phase will last a minimum of 2 weeks. In this phase, restrict your total net carbs to 10-20 so you can enter into ketosis fairly quickly. Personally, I have found it can take 1-2 weeks to get into ketosis which is the fat burning phase. Stop by your local drug store and purchase some ketone strips. These ketone strips will react to your urine and change color if your body is in ketosis. It is imperative that you do this step. You may feel you are in ketosis but in reality you may not be. This will eliminate any guess-work. While in this phase, you need to drink up to 8 glasses of water.
Ongoing Weight Loss
The Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL) is the second phase of the diet. During this phase you will slowly increase your carbohydrate consumption, but remain at levels where you still lose weight. This will take some trial and error to determine your optimal level. This optimum level is called the “Critical Carbohydrate Level” or CCL. This Ongoing Weight Loss phase continues until your weight loss is within 10 pounds of your desired weight.
The next phase is called Pre-maintenance. Once again you increase your net carb intake slowly by 10 grams per week. Your goal is to determine your optimum level where you do not gain or lose weight. This is called the “Critical Carbohydrate Level for Maintenance”.
This fourth and final phase was designed so the dieter can follow through on the good eating habits established in the earlier phases. If you start to gain weight, you can move back into an earlier phase. Once you go through each phases, you learn something more about yourself and how your body metabolizes food. You can determine what foods work for you and which foods you need to avoid. If you follow these rules, then you can have success on the low carb Atkins Diet.
This is a good diet where you can easily lose weight but you need to stay disciplined in the induction phase or it will not work. The key is to severely limit your carbs during this phase. If your looking for a less restrictive low carb diet, then consider the South Beach Diet.