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Atkins Diet: Overview


Updated April 10, 2014

Atkins New Diet Revolution Book

by Robert Atkins, MD

Image Courtesy Pricegrabber

Introduction to Atkins:

Put "Atkins" right up there with "Kleenex" and "Band-Aids" -- in the minds of many, the Atkins Diet IS low-carb dieting. Indeed, Atkins is often called the "Father of Modern Low-Carb Diets". The essence of the Atkins program is 1) a diet of lower carbohydrate intake to intervene into what Atkins reckoned to be the underlying causes of overweight and 2) mechanisms to tailor the diet to the individual.


Robert C. Atkins, M.D.

Main Atkins Books:

  • The New Atkins for a New You 2011Compare Prices

  • Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution 1992Compare Prices

  • Atkins for Life 2003Compare Prices

Restricted Foods on Atkins:

Total carbohydrate intake is counted, without much regard to where it comes from, though in Atkins for Life he had begun to talk more about advising less glycemic carbohydrate. Still, added sugars and refined grains are pretty much off the list for the rest of your life (which is the norm with low carb diets).

Amount of Restriction:

Starts out with a lot of restriction in the Induction phase. After that the amount of restriction is tailored to the individual, depending upon their response to the diet.

Amount of Structure:

The phases are quite structured, with detailed instructions on adding small amounts of carbohydrate. Within that structure, however, the dieter has a lot of choice about what to eat and how much.

Individual Variation:

The program focuses on helping people find their individual carbohydrate tolerance levels. Atkins also introduces a concept he called "metabolic resistance," which will partly determine this level.

Learning Curve:

The biggest hurdle is simply learning how many grams of carbohydrate are in each food you eat. Here are the carb counts of many common foods.

Diet Phases:

The Atkins diet has four phases: Induction, Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL), Pre-maintenance, and Maintenance. The length of these phases depends mainly upon how overweight a person is and how they respond to the diet. In his books, Atkins emphasizes the importance of each level, however, on the Atkins Web site it says, �Beginning with Induction is your choice -- you can begin Atkins at any of the four phases. However, Induction will jumpstart your weight loss as you cut back significantly on carb consumption.�

As dieters proceed through the phases, they add more carbs, focusing on nutrient-dense ones, and avoiding refined grains and sugars. All the while, they are monitoring their weight and staying at a carb level where they are still losing. Gradually, they transition to Maintenance, or �Atkins for Life,� the lifelong program. At this point, individuals are eating at a carb level, which allows them to maintain their weight. Emphasis is on wise carb choices, with sugar and refined grains remaining verboten.
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