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Dr. Robert Atkins first wrote about the Atkins diet in the 1981, in his book The New Diet Revolution.
Over the last 2 decades, the Atkins diet plan has become one of the most popular diet plans – with Time Magazine naming it “The most popular diet program”.
In response to the negative press some aspects of the Atkins program received, the people at Atkins have revamped their program in 2010 so that it lined up with a healthier way of eating called The New Atkins for a New You. At the end of 2013 Atkins revamped their diet once again with their new book, The New Atkins Made Easy.
Original Atkins Diet (1981)
Atkins has four phases – all with a carefully controlled level of carbohydrate intake.
The restrictive induction phases lasts for a minimum of two weeks and calls for a maximum of 20 grams of carbohydrate intake (no starchy vegetables, fruits, grains, bread).
Weight loss on the Atkins diet is based on the process of Ketosis:
“First, the main source of energy for our bodies is carbohydrates. When we have fewer carbs in our body, it must look elsewhere for another source of energy. Next in line is stored body fat. So reducing carbs forces the body to burn fat. This process is called Ketosis. Secondly, carbs stimulate the creation of insulin. Insulin is what converts excess carbs to fat. So when you have less carbs you have less insulin and therefore create less new fat.”
The Ongoing Weight Loss phase involves adding more fibrous vegetables (carbohydrates) until the “Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing” is reached. The small increases in carbohydrates are carefully managed on a week-by-week basis.
Phase 3 and 4
These phases are maintenance phases – where carbohydrate intake can be increased – but only until the point that weight is maintained (Critical Carbohydrate Level for Maintenance). Any food that may lead to weight gain should be avoided.
Atkins recommends choosing unrefined or unprocessed carbohydrates.
The New Atkins For a New You (2010)
The New Atkins For a New You is designed to reflect a greater emphasis on healthy, nutritionally dense foods along with portion control. Atkins has recently strengthened their online diet program and is in the process of making their services international.
The New Atkins for a New You differs from the original in the following ways:
- More of an emphasis on wholesome foods.
- Stresses the importance of healthy fats.
- More focused on nutrition from fresh vegetables, lean protein, fruits, and whole grains.
- More flexible to appeal to people with busy lifestyles.
- More emphasis on portion and Calorie control.
- Special attention given to those who are diabetic as well as vegetarians.
- More emphasis on being active and exercise.
New Atkins Made Easy (2013)
One of the problems with the older versions of the Atkins Diet was all the guess work involved in following the plan. The New Atkins Made Easy seeks to remove all of the guess work.
It gives dieters step by step instructions on exactly how to follow the diet in the easiest way possible, including how and when to reintroduce carbs, which has often been a difficulty with previous versions.
Also Included in The New Atkins Made Easy in the following features:
- Shopping lists including exactly which foods to buy for each phase.
- New and improved recipes, plus quick snack ideas and quick meal options.
- Diet tracking, meal planning, and carb counting apps to remove the guess work.
- Backed by now decades of research regarding low carb diets and how to make Atkins the most effective.
New Atkins Made Easy was written by Atkins Vice President of Nutrition Education, Colette Heimowitz.
- Many have experienced success following the Atkins Plan.
- Quick results can be experienced.
- Many restaurants have adopted low-carb options on their menus.
- The New Atkins has been adapted to a broader range of dieters with special dietary considerations.
- Many Atkins approved snacks are available in the grocery store.
- One of the most controversial issues with Atkins is that it is high-fat diet. Most government health agencies recommend no more than 30% fat in our diet – yet with Atkins you can easily consume more fat than this. However, the new Atkins has lined up with this percentage and recommends healthy fats.
- One must question how healthy the process of Ketosis is. In the short term it may have the desired effect – but in the long term? Some suggest that certain organs may be overworked to sustain the process of Ketosis.
- Promotion of their own line of processed meals and snacks.
Low Carb Diets Do Work
Atkins has been very successful for many people and has resulted in not only significant weight loss – but also health improvement.
Many people do find the diet demanding at first and need to make significant behavior modification to get the best out of Atkins.
If you are thinking of beginning this diet, we strongly encourage you to research and read as much as possible before beginning the diet and consult with your health professional.
By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
- Astrup, A., Larsen, T. M., Harper, A. (2004). Atkins and other low-carbohydrate diets: hoax or an effective tool for weight loss?. The Lancet, 364(9437), 897-899. link
- Beisswenger, B. G., Delucia, E. M., Lapoint, N., Sanford, R. J., Beisswenger, P. J. (2005). Ketosis leads to increased methylglyoxal production on the Atkins diet. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1043(1), 201-210. link
- Stephenson, J. (2003). Low-carb, low-fat diet gurus face off. JAMA, 289(14), 1767-1773. link
Last Reviewed: May 24, 2018