The Atkins diet is a low-carbohydrate high-protein diet. It primarily seeks to eliminate carbohydrates with a high glycemic index
. This goal is similar to other low-carbohydrate diets
; however, the Atkins diet is considered to be more carbohydrate restrictive than other low-carbohydrate diets such as the South Beach diet
High glycemic index carbohydrates raise blood glucose
levels quickly after consumption. It is theorized that high glycemic foods results in excessive insulin
secretion resulting in fat accumulation, obesity
, cardiovascular disease, and other adverse outcomes. However, there continues to be significant debate and research to determine if a low glycemic index diet can actually prevent these outcomes.
The Atkins diet consists of four phases. The first phase, called induction, lasts for 2 weeks and is the most restrictive. During this phase lean, high protein foods are consumed such as beef, chicken, fish, shellfish, eggs, and chesses. Cured meats are discouraged during this phase. Carbohydrate consumption is limited to 20 grams during this phase.
Phase 2, called ongoing weight loss, still focuses on lean, high protein foods, but allows 25 grams of carbohydrates initially. This increases slowly in 5 gram increments.
Phase 3 is called pre-maintenance. It allows increasing carbohydrate intake by 10 grams a week. This phase is entered into once the target weight is within 5-10 pounds and continues until target weight is reached.
Phase 4, or lifetime maintenance, is the final phase. The goal of this phase is a diet with a carbohydrate equilibrium that results in maintaining the target weight.
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