Atkins Low Carb Diets

The Atkins Diet is a meal plan approach to dieting that is based on reducing the daily intake of carbohydrates. Created by Dr. Robert Atkins, it became popular initially through a series of books he published; the first, entitled Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution, was released in 1972. The Atkins Diet involves reducing carbohydrates in the diet so as to lower insulin secretions and switch the body’s processes from burning glucose to burning stored fat. In the initial two-week phase of the diet, net carbohydrates are reduced to an intake of 20 grams a day (as opposed to some medical recommendations that 60 percent of the daily intake of calories should come from carbohydrates). The initial phase also requires the complete restriction on the intake of caffeinated beverages, and emphasizes the importance of nutritional supplements and exercise. After the initial two week phase is completed, carbohydrates are re-introduced into the diet by five grams for one week. This process of reintroducing net carbs continues until the "Critical Carbohydrate Level for Maintenance” is reached. This is the level where the weight goal can be maintained while still eating an increased amount of carbohydrates.

At times, the Atkins approach has been under fire, due to claims that a high protein/low carbohydrate diet can raise the risk for heart disease, as well as the fact the diet recommendations go against the food pyramid. Also, many express disbelief that a diet that allows followers to freely consume cream, meat, and cheese cannot be healthy in the long run. This is a common misconception about the diet, as there are restrictions on food intake. Although the diet is based on a heavier protein intake, it does recommend lean meat consumption, and the first two weeks are the only phase where carbohydrate intake is severely restricted. However, the diet never allows the reintroduction of white flour pastas, breads, rice, or potatoes.

For a review of this diet and 3 other diets by the American Cancer Institute see the following article by TheDietChannel: Popular Diets Versus Dietary Guidelines.