Introduction to The Atkins Diet

The Atkins Diet, also known as the Atkins Nutritional Approach, is a low-carbohydrate diet promoted by Robert Atkins from a research paper he read in the Journal of the American Medical Association published by Dr. Alfred W. Pennington, titled “WEIGHT REDUCTION”, published in 1958.

Atkins used the study to resolve his own overweight condition. He later popularized the method in a series of books, starting with Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution in 1972. In his second book, Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution (2002), he modified parts of the diet but did not alter the original concepts. The most recent series of books was first published in 2010 in The New Atkins for a New You, which incorporates the most recent advances in science, was authored by Dr. Eric C. Westman, M.D.; Dr. Stephen D. Phinney, M.D. and Dr. Jeff S. Volek, Ph.D. The New Atkins for a New You (2010) is based upon a broad array of information gained over the last decade not covered in previous editions, including information optimal choices of nutrient-rich foods. The New Atkins for a New You Cookbook was released in 2011 by Colette Heimowitz to provide dieters with simple, low-carb recipes. Followed by Atkins Made Easy which was released in 2013 and simplifies the diet.

Phase 1: Induction

The Induction phase is the first phase of the Atkins Diet. It is intended to cause the body to enter a state of fat burning. Carbohydrate intake is limited to 20 net grams per day (net carbs are total carbs minus fiber). The allowed foods include 8 to 10 servings of colorful vegetables, 4 to 6 ounce servings of protein that include poultry, fish, meat,4 ounces of hard cheese, healthy fats such as olive oil and avocado, and three tablespoons of heavy cream for recipes and coffee. The Induction Phase is usually when many see the most significant weight loss – reports of losses up to six or eight pounds (3 or 4 kg) per week are not uncommon.

Phase 2: Ongoing weight loss

The Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL) phase of Atkins consists of an increase in carbohydrate intake, following the carbohydrate food ladder, but remaining at levels where weight loss occurs. The target daily carbohydrate intake increases each week by 5 grams. A goal in OWL is to find your individual “Carbohydrate Balance” which is your tolerance for carbohydrate that achieves weight loss. The OWL phase lasts until weight is within 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of the target weight.

Phase 3: Pre-maintenance

Carbohydrate intake is increased again in 10 gram increments each week. The key goal in this phase is to find the “Carbohydrate Level for Maintenance”; this is the maximum number of carbohydrates you can eat each day without gaining weight.

Phase 4: Lifetime maintenance

This phase is intended to carry on the habits acquired in the previous phases, and avoid the common end-of-diet mindset that can return people to their previous habits and previous weight. Whole, unprocessed food choices are emphasized, with the option to drop back to an earlier phase if you begin to gain weight.