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The Benefits And Risks Of The Atkins Diet

Apr 7, 2008
The Atkins Diet became a phenomenon by encouraging people all over the world to go low-carb. In the eyes of Atkins' followers, eating too many carbohydrates keeps the body from burning fat. Instead, the body burns carbs for energy. This leaves the fat to accumulate. By reducing the amount of carbs the body can burn, it is forced to burn fat.

There are four phases to the Atkins diet. These include induction, continued weight loss, pre-maintenance, and life maintenance. The first phase is the most difficult. It is meant to shock the body. As the most restrictive period, many people quickly become unhappy with the diet. The intake of carbs is lowered dramatically. Instead, dieters eat meats, fish, eggs, cheese and vegetables. Once the body reaches a condition called Ketosis, this phase is over. Ketosis is when the body changes from burning carbs to burning fat for energy. People often report a metallic taste at this time.

The second phase is known as OWL (ongoing weight loss). Dieters increase the carbohydrates they eat. Foods are added according to a 'carbohydrate ladder.' First allowed are vegetables, then fresh dairy, nuts and berries. Eventually, fruits and starches can be added. Dieters are in this phase of the diet until they are within ten pounds of their desired weight.

The pre-maintenance phase involves again increasing carbs. The goal here is for the dieter to find out just how many carbohydrates he can have daily. Without gaining weight, of course. The final phase is life maintenance. This is just how dieters follow through with the diet. They continue to eat responsibly. They make it a point not to return to their old habits. If they begin to falter, they must revert to an earlier stage.

There are some obvious concerns with the Atkins diet. First is the body going through "Ketosis." Anytime the body is pushed to change its chemistry, you have to worry about the effects of this change. Some people will have an unpleasant or dangerous reaction. Another concern is the increase in fats consumed. The diet encourages dieters to eat fatty meats. It allows the use of butter when cooking. And mayo on sandwiches. Even cheese is allowed. What isn't allowed are refined sugar, milk, white flour and white rice. In the first two weeks, dieters cannot eat fruit either. While fruits can be added later in the diet, the other foods are not allowed. Ever. No more potatoes, rice, or pasta (if made with white flour).

Of course, the Atkins diet isn't just about eating different foods. As with other diets, it encourages exercise. The diet also includes using common sense to decide how much to eat. Dieters are expected to follow the basic rules of consumption: eat when you're hungry. Stop eating when you're full. Don't fill your plate with more than you can eat. As simple as these guidelines are, people often stumble on them. Dieters just can't wrap their minds around the basic concept of eating whenever they are hungry. But it is through eating responsibly, not eating less, that people will successfully lose weight.
About the Author
Jason Hulott is Director at UK Diets Online, a service that provides information about all the major UK diets systems available, healthy eating and diet information. Visit now and take advantage of our special deals with Weightwatchers
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