The Atkins Diet
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The Atkins Diet

The Atkins Diet claims to help followers lose weight, feel less hunger and be more energetic. However, this diet may not be suitable for everyone due to potential side effects and reduced consumption of carbohydrates.

There are many diets that claim they will help you lose weight, but one that seems to remain popular is the Atkins Diet. This was supposedly created by Dr Robert Atkins in 1972 and is thought to have evolved in recent years. It is a well-known diet, but how effective is it for helping you slim down? It is important to examine what the Atkins Diet is, how it might aid in weight loss, associated clinical studies and look at any potential side effects to this diet in order to come to a conclusion on the effectiveness of the Atkins Diet for weight loss.

What is the Atkins Diet?


The Atkins Diet is a low carbohydrate diet that is said to help you lose weight. Also, it is believed it could help diabetes, high blood pressure and might help to prevent cardiovascular disease. It is said that the Atkins Diet is about lowering the amount of carbohydrates you consume, and apparently not about cutting calories. Dr Robert Atkins believed that when you cut down on carbohydrate consumption, your body will turn to burning fat stores for energy. This may mean you burn fat and lose weight. This diet is also marketed as helping you to feel less hungry and more energetic.

The Atkins Diet is thought to focus on reducing refined carbohydrates and sugars and to encourage the consumption of protein, vegetables and good fats. There are four phases to the Atkins Diet. The first phase is called the Induction, which is where you supposedly limit your intake of carbohydrates to only 20g a day. This must be followed for at least two weeks or longer if you desire. The second phases is called the Ongoing Weight Loss stage, which is where carbohydrates are increased 5g a day for a week at a time. The Pre-Maintenance stage and Maintenance stage are said to focus on gradually increasing carbohydrates back into the diet but still limiting them in a diet plan.

How does the Atkins Diet aid Weight Loss?


The Atkins Diet is advertised as a low carbohydrate diet that will help you to burn fat and lose weight. It is believed that cutting down carbohydrate consumption may mean the body use existing fat stores for fuel. Thus, instead of using glucose for energy, this diet is thought to encourage the body to use fat as energy. This process is called ketosis. A study on a long-term ketogenic diet found that it significantly reduced the body weight of obese patients.

The Atkins Diet is said to make you feel less hungry and more energetic, which may aid in weight loss efforts. By cutting down on carbohydrates, it is thought that more protein will be consumed, which is said to be the most filling macronutrient. This may help you to feel satisfied after meals and might allow you to control your appetite throughout the day.

Although this suggests that the Atkins Diet might be an effective way to lose weight, it is thought that initial weight loss may only be ‘water weight.’ It is believed that ketosis and low carbohydrate diets may have a diuretic effect, which might only cause a temporary weight loss on the scales. It was found that urinary volume was increased following a low-carbohydrate high protein diet. There is also the concern that this diet does not seem to suggest cutting calories. It is commonly thought that consuming fewer calories than your body needs in a day will lead to weight loss. The Atkins Diet appears to promote eating other foods until satisfied, which might jeopardise your weight loss goals.

Phase one of the Atkins Diet may not be easy for some people to follow. In this first phase, it is said that you can only eat 20g of carbohydrates a day. With the supposed recommended intake being 260g for an adult and the body being used to more carbohydrates, this may be hard to stick to. It might cause cravings and side effects such as weakness, irritability and headaches. Cutting out certain foods that are high in fibre and contain minerals might cause other side effects such as constipation and tiredness. These potential side effects might make this diet not as sustainable or healthy as it is advertised.

The Atkins Diet may also have the effect of making people think that all carbohydrates are bad. This might lead to consuming fewer healthy foods such as fruit, vegetables and grains. It is believed that the Atkins Diet may not be good for advocating a healthy and balanced diet, a lifestyle that might make it easier to gradually lose permanent weight.

Therefore, the Atkins diet may help you to lose weight if you are able to stick to a strict diet plan. The induction stage is only a temporary phase and it is said that carbohydrates are gradually increased back into the diet. However, carbohydrates will supposedly still be at a level below the recommended intake for adults. The potential side effects might make this diet not suitable for everyone. It may not be a way a healthy way to lose weight gradually and might give false perceptions about healthy carbohydrates.

Clinical Studies on the Atkins Diet

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The Atkins Diet claim their plan is backed by research and scientific evidence to help you to lose weight. Indeed, some studies suggest that the diet might aid in weight loss. A review of studies found that the combination of low carbohydrate and high protein diets can be more effective at six months than low fat diets in reducing body weight. Another study found that a six day low carbohydrate diet seems to affect a person’s metabolism far more than a low fat diet. It supposedly led to more calorie and fat burning via lower insulin levels. Although, it must be noted that it was only a small study with 19 people, which only lasted a few weeks.

One study found that a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet reduced symptoms of hunger compared to those following a low fat diet with another showing that a low carbohydate, high protein, low fat diet induced feelings of satiety, helped reserve lean body mass and reduced fat mass. Thus, following the Atkins Diet may help you lose weight and might help you to stay satisfied throughout the day.

However, a review of low carbohydrate diets found that the weight loss that was achieved from following this kind of diet was associated with the duration of the diet and restriction of energy intake, rather than with the restriction of carbohydrates. This may suggest that it is not the low carbohydrate element of the Atkins Diet that might be linked to weight loss. Further long term studies on the Atkins Diet are needed to evaluate how effective the diet is for those looking to lose weight.

Side Effects associated with the Atkins Diet


The Atkins Diet may have possible side effects, especially at the beginning of the diet. Low carbohydrate diets might make some people more irritable due to the change in food. It may result in constipation, as supposedly high fibre foods may be reduced or cut out of the diet that seem to help the digestive system. Ketosis is thought to have possible side effects of bad breath, tiredness, weakness and nausea. It is also thought to have a diuretic effect, which may increase the risk of dehydration and urinary calcium loss.

There are potential long-term side effects associated with the Atkins Diet, which might be a concern. It is thought that this unbalanced diet may lead to nutritional deficiencies. As it is thought that there could be a diuretic effect, this could lead to the loss of important minerals from the body. It is thought that calcium may increase the risk of osteoporosis. It is also said that high intakes of protein could increase the risk of kidney problems. Further long-term studies on the Atkins Diet are needed to address these concerns.


In conclusion, the Atkins Diet may be an effective way to lose weight and maintain muscle. Some studies seem to point to the effectiveness of low carbohydrate diets for burning fat and it may help you to stay satisfied during the day. However, the Atkins Diet may not be suitable for everyone to follow. Due to the drastic cut back in carbohydrates, it might be hard for some people to stick to and may have non-desirable side effects. This diet might benefit from further studies being conducted on its long-term effects.

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