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The Atkins Diet, also known as the Atkins Nutritional Approach, is the most marketed and well-known of the low-carbohydrate diets on the market today.

The Atkins diet promises not only that a person will lose weight without being hungry, but he or she will also be on the right path to better heart health and memory function, as well as other wellness benefits. The Atkins Diet has been highly successful due to it’s popularity and is considered the iconic low-carb diet.

Beginnings, Dr. Robert Atkins

The Atkins diet was invented by Dr. Robert Atkins (1930-2003) in the 1960's and the first goal of this diet was to resolve his own weight problem. After successfully treating over 10 thousand patients, he popularized the Atkins diet in a series of books called “Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution”. For several years it was the most famous and most successful diet ever promoted in the US. However, different factors have led to its decreasing in success. The company Atkins Nutritionals of Ronkonkoma, New York, filed for bankruptcy in July 2005. But it still isn't forgotten and the Atkins logo is still visible on different food products and related merchandise.

The Atkins diet principles

The diet is based on the theory that overweight people eat too many carbohydrates. Human bodies burn both fat and carbohydrates for energy, but carbs are used first. By drastically reducing carbs and eating more protein and fat, our bodies should lose weight naturally by burning stored body fat more efficiently.

Atkins claimed there are two main factors in obesity:

  • The main cause of obesity is eating refined carbohydrates particularly sugar, flour, and high-fructose corn syrups;
  • Saturated fat is overrated as a nutritional problem, and only fats from hydrogenated oils need to be avoided. 

Exercise and foods you can eat

The diet plan allows a person to eat foods that many dieters only dream about.

There are some restrictions:

  • no refined sugar,
  • no milk,
  • no white rice,
  • no white flour

It generally allows a person to eat foods traditionally regarded as rich: meat, eggs, cheese, and more. The fact is that on the Atkins diet, you're eating almost pure protein and fat. You can consume red meat, fish, fowl, and regular cheese. 

Carbs are restricted!

On the other hand, carbs are restricted to about 20 grams of net carbs per day which translates to three cups of loosely packed salad or two cups of salad with two-thirds cup of certain cooked vegetables each day. However, this regimen is kept only in the first week of the diet. Then, over time, the transition from weight loss to weight maintenance is made by gradually increasing carbs so long as gradual weight loss is maintained.

Exercises are important!

Exercise in all phases as part of a healthy lifestyle is now emphasized more than when the diet was first introduced.


Atkins promotes high restriction of the intake of carbohydrates in order to switch the body's metabolism from burning glucose to burning fat. This process is called lipolysis and it normally begins when the body enters the state of ketosis. Ketosis is a state which begins as a consequence of running out of carbohydrates to burn. Ketosis is an entirely normal state but, research has proven that it can cause troubles if prolonged.

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