The Pros and Cons of the Atkins Diet

The Atkins diet is one of the most famous diets around and a huge hype. If you’re living in any Western world country, chances are good that you’ve heard of the famous Atkins diet and its miraculous results. Whether this is the most successful diet ever or not it’s still up for debate, but it certainly is the more advertised one. 

The Atkins diet has been for a while the most hyped eating plan and millions of people have tried it at some point or another. This is not an exaggeration. It was estimated that more than 3 million people in the United Kingdom alone have tried the Atkins diet at the peak of the hype in 2003. You can imagine how many more millions went on the Atkins diet around the world.

The basic idea behind this diet, and one of the reasons why it was so popular, is that you can lose weight by cutting down on the carbohydrates, while still eating high-fat food. The major selling point of the Atkins diet, aside from testimonies regarding its effectiveness, was the fact that it allowed people to eat eggs and cheese and steaks. It sounds like a dream diet actually.

Who’d pass up the chance of losing weight while still being allowed to enjoy a good breakfast of ham and scrambled eggs? Well, the downside to this is that you get no bread or salad with that steak. None whatsoever. That tends to become a real problem after a week or so because you can eat only so much steak before you feel you’d do anything for a salad or a slice of bread.

According to the theory developed by Doctor Atkins, the body can be forced to use the stored fat in order to obtain the energy needed through the day by cutting the carbohydrates out of the daily food intake. This means that you get to eat no bread and pastries, potatoes, pasta, milk, rice, fruit, vegetables (well, there are a couple you can still eat) and, obviously, no junk food or soft drinks.

On the other hand, you are allowed to eat red meat, fish, chicken, cheese, mayonnaise, cream, butter and eggs. This is going to be your only food for the first two weeks, which are known as the Induction Phase. The second phase of the diet is called Ongoing Weight Loss and it lets you increase the intake of carbohydrates by 5 grams per day, starting from the basic 20 grams per day stipulated by the Induction Phase.

It’s up to the user to find how far the amount of carbohydrates can be increased before the body is unable to maintain the required weight loss pace of between 1 and 3 pounds per week. This is called the Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing Weight and when you’ve reached it, you stop increasing the amount of carbs in your food. This phase is supposed to last until you almost reach the desired weight.

With 5 to 10 pounds left to shed it’s time to enter the third stage of the diet. This one is called Pre-Maintenance and it’s supposed to increase the carbs intake by 10 grams a day in order to slow down the weight loss process and prepare you for the end of the diet. Actually it’s sort of a “Welcome to the wonderful world of 30 grams of pasta per day” because that’s how much you’re going to get.

The final phase is called Lifetime Maintenance and it means a lifetime of eating around 90 grams of carbs per day. I’m not sure how many people can stick to eating less than 100 grams for the rest of their lives given the fact that normal amount of carbs eaten per day is 250 grams or more.

The side effects of the Atkins diet depend on the user. Some people did fine on this diet, but some got nasty kidneys infections due to the high-protein content. Others complained of heart problems caused by all the fat food they had to eat. Dizziness and general weakness are also to be expected as the body goes into starvation mode when denied carbohydrates.

With high-fiber fruit and vegetables out of your diet you can also expect constipation to become a problem. Also, the lack of many dairy products leads to a significant drop in the amount of calcium absorbed by the body and may cause osteoporosis or other bone conditions later on.

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