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ATKINS DIET

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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 two decades.

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 cardiovascular disease.

Atkins Diet Books

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