Atkins Nutritional Approach, popularly known as
the Atkins Diet or just 'Atkins', is a well-known low-carbohydrate diet.
Dr.Robert Atkins from a diet he read in the Journal of the American Medical
Association and utilized to resolve his own overweight condition following
medical school and graduate medical training. He later popularized the
Atkins diet in a series of books, starting with Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution
in 1972. In his revised book, Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution, some of his
ideas, but remained faithful to the original concepts.
The Atkins franchise, a business formed to provide products to those
individuals on the diet, was highly successful due to the popularity of the
diet, and is considered the driving entity of the larger "low-carb craze".
However, various factors led to its dwindling success and the company
founded by Dr. Atkins in 1989, Atkins Nutritionals of Ronkonkoma, New York,
filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July of 2005, two years after the death
of Dr. Atkins. The company re-emerged in January 2006, and the Atkins logo
is still highly visible through licensed-proprietary branding for food
products and related merchandise.
The Atkins Diet represents a departure from
prevailing theories. Atkins claimed there are two main unrecognized factors
about Western eating habits, arguing firstly that the main cause of obesity
is eating refined carbohydrates, particularly sugar, flour, and
high-fructose corn syrups; and secondly, that saturated fat is overrated as
a nutritional problem, and that only trans fats from sources such as
hydrogenated oils need to be avoided. Consequently, Dr. Atkins rejected the
advice of the food pyramid, instead asserting that the tremendous increase
in refined carbohydrates is responsible for the rise in metabolic disorders
of the 20th century, and that the focus on the detrimental effects of
dietary fat has actually contributed to the obesity problem by increasing
the proportion of insulin-inducing foods in the diet. While most of the
emphasis in Atkins is on the diet, nutritional supplements and exercise are
considered equally important elements.
Atkins involves the restriction of carbohydrates in order to switch the
body's metabolism from burning glucose to burning stored body fat. This
process (called lipolysis) begins when the body enters the state of ketosis
as a consequence of running out of excess carbohydrates to burn. Dr. Atkins
in his book New Diet Revolution claimed that the low-carbohydrate diet
produces a "metabolic advantage" where the body burns more calories,
overall, than on normal diets, and also expels some unused calories. He
cited one study where he estimated this advantage to be 950 calories (4.0 MJ)
a day. However, a review study in the Lancet (see below) concluded that
there was no metabolic advantage and dieters were simply eating fewer
calories due to boredom. Professor Astru stating that "The monotony and
simplicity of the diet could inhibit appetite and food intake.", or possibly
protein inducing a satiating effect.
The Atkins diet restricts "net carbs" (carbohydrates that have an effect on
blood sugar). The effect is to decrease the onset of hunger from low blood
sugar. Dr. Atkins says in Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution (2002) that hunger
is the number one reason why low-fat diets fail. Though studies show the
efficacy of the Atkins approach after one year is the same as a low-fat
diet, Dr. Atkins claimed that it was easier to stay on the Atkins diet
because dieters did not feel hungry or "deprived". Other studies have cited
that the 'low fat' trend which portrays the myth that fat in the food
somehow transfers to fat in the body, do not mention the essential
amino-acids which are essential in brain function and precursors to
serotonin and other neurotransmitters. One study goes as far as comparing
the low fat trend with the increase in diagnosed depression over the last
Net carbohydrates can be calculated from a food source by subtracting sugar
alcohols and fiber (which are shown to have a negligible effect on blood
sugar levels) from total carbohydrates. Sugar alcohols need to be treated
with caution, because while they may be slower to convert to glucose, they
can be a significant source of glycemic load and can stall weight loss.
Fructose (eg, as found in many industrial sweeteners) also contributes to
caloric intake, though outside of the glucose-insulin control loop.
Preferred foods in all categories are whole, unprocessed foods with a low
glycemic load. Atkins Nutritionals, the company responsible for marketing
the Atkins Diet, recommends that no more than 20% of calories eaten while on
the diet come from saturated fat.
According to his book Atkins Diabetes Revolution, for people whose blood
sugar is abnormally high or who have type-2 diabetes, this diet decreases or
eliminates the need for drugs to treat these conditions. The Atkins Blood
Sugar Control Program (ABSCP) is an individualized approach to weight
control and permanent management of the risk factors for diabetes and
Atkins Diet Books