Atkins Diet Plan
The Book: Dr Atkins' New Diet Revolution
By Robert C Atkins, M.D.Publication Date (this book) 1992. Original Publication Date (previous book, entitled "Dr Atkins' Diet Revolution") 1972
25,000 patients already treated. 60,000 patients registered at Atkins Center for Complimentary Medicine in New York City. 10 million copies of book sold. An estimated 20 million people have already embraced this diet.
It is wholly inappropriate to think of the Atkins Programme in terms of just one diet. The essence of the Atkins' system is to provide a series of dietary phases through which the majority will pass sequentially, as they successfully lose their excess weight. Additional diets are provided for people who cannot follow the majority route, such as those with a high metabolic resistance and those with food intolerances.
The stated aims of Atkins are to provide people with a lifetime nutritional philosophy which will (a) restrict their intake of processed and refined carbohydrates, such as sugar-rich food, bread, pasta, cereal, and starchy vegetables, (b) encourage consumption of nutrient-rich unprocessed foods such as animal flesh (meat, fish and poultry) and (c) promote the use of "vita-nutrient" supplements.
Indeed, there is a heavy emphasis on nutritional supplements, as there is on exercise and regular testing to monitor levels of Cholesterol, Insulin, Blood Pressure and Triglycerides. Uniquely, Atkins also involves his patients in the testing procedures, through their own use of lipolysis/ketosis detectors ("Ketostix", or LTS strips). The whole regime is also evaluated with regard to the Heart, Cancer, Hypoglycaemia and Diabetes, as well as other health issues. There is considerable practical detail, in the form of instructions, anecdotes, menus and a carbohydrate calculator. This is all underpinned by a very considerable quantity of theoretical and medical information. Unlike his critics, Atkins bases his pronouncements on sound evidence, observations, and a vast amount of personal experience.
By the numbers
Carbohydrates are restricted to around 20 grams per day in the first 2 weeks. A weekly 5 gramincrement is followed until you establish your Critical Carbohydrate level for Maintenance (i.e. the highest number of grams of carbohydrate per day which you can consume without starting to gain the weight back
Phase 1: Induction: 14 days
Purpose: To induce "Benign Dietary Ketosis", a condition whose presence can be detected by Ketostix, which is present when the body is producing Fat Mobilization Substance", a condition whose presence cannot be so detected. Once Fat Mobilizing Substance is being produced, the body is forced to disgorge and burn up deposited body fat. When this happens, you are quickly losing weight.
All fruit and most vegetables are excluded. Carbohydrates are restricted to around 20 grams per day. Unnecessary medications are to be abandoned, and medical assessment tests should be taken for the "before" picture.
Phase 2: Ongoing Weight Loss
(To be followed until target weight has been achieved)
Purpose: Once production of Fat Mobilizing Substance and weight loss have been triggered by the Induction phase, this phase is designed to allow continuing weight loss, while at the same time making the diet less restrictive and more palatable. This is done by increasing permitted vegetables, and raising carbohydrate levels to around 40g per day (exact figures vary, according to degree of metabolic resistance). This is when you set your own weight goal, and towards the end of this phase you establish your Critical Carbohydrate level for Maintenance (i.e. the highest number of grams of carbohydrate per day which you can consume without starting to gain the weight back).
Phase 3: Pre-Maintenance Diet
(Commencing 5-10 pounds away from reaching target weight.)
Purpose: To prepare for the last phase. At this point, the diet is changed, using the Critical Carbohydrate Level for Maintenance information gained in Phase 2, so that the final few pounds are lost more slowly than before. "The slower you lose the last 5 pounds, the better". This is achieved by increasing the carbohydrate intake till less than 1 pound of weight per week is being lost. Weight loss is "cruising to a halt".
Phase 4: Maintenance Diet
Purpose: To maintain Target Weight for life.
You are no longer protected by Fat Mobilizing Substance, and this phase exists to protect the newly-successful slimmer from thinking he or she can now eat anything, now that Target weight has been reached. It guards against inadvertent folly and recidivism (re-offending). This is achieved by setting a fairly strict diet that will forever keep off the lost weight. The person is urged to stick to the carbohydrate level they feel happiest on without gaining weight. Most choose not to eat the maximum possible, but choose themselves a fairly strict level of carbohydrate intake.