Atkins Diet Overview
Carbohydrate control is at the core of the Atkins Diet. Whenever you hear someone explain that they're "low-carbing," they're likely trying to follow some version of the Atkins Diet.
The Atkins Diet is based on the belief that consuming sugar and other refined carbohydrates increases insulin production in the body—a hormone that enables calories to be stored as fat. Restricting carbs should therefore force the body to enter a state of ketosis, where fat is metabolized instead of carbs.
Atkins quickly gained steam in the 90's for its promise of fast weight loss, though it has since earned both positive and negative feedback from the nutrition community. Phase 1, known as Induction, has the potential of a 15-pound weight loss in just a two week period—depending, of course, on how much excess weight there is to lose.
While carbohydrates are strictly verboten during the inaugural two stages, small amounts are slowly reintroduced as a dieter nears their target weight. The final stage is dedicated to maintenance, and is somewhat of a lifetime commitment.
When invented: The Atkins Diet was first developed in the 1960s. It first found widespread popularity in 1972, when Dr. Robert Atkins—the diet's creator—published his book, Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution. (The New Atkins for the New You is the most recent publication, released in 2010, though Dr. Atkins himself did not write it.) The books—and the diet—have been wildly popular for decades.
Who invented it: The Atkins Diet was formulated by Dr. Robert C. Atkins. Though he was best known for establishing the no-carb diet, Dr. Atkins actually started off his career as a cardiologist.
Length of diet plan: The Atkins Diet is a series of four stages, each which is maintained for a varied amount of time.
Phase 1: The first stage of the diet is called Induction, and according to Atkins, it may be possible to lose up to 15 pounds during this two week span of time.
Phase 2: Ongoing Weight Loss, or OWL, fluctuates based on the person. Dieters stay in this second stage until they are 10 pounds from their target weight loss goals.
Phase 3: The Pre-maintenance phase lasts for at least one month. At this time, starchy vegetables, whole grains and fruits may be reintroduced into the diet in small amounts. If weight loss ceases, cut back on the number of additional carbohydrates being consumed.
Phase 4: Excellent, you've reached your weight loss goals! Atkins dieters are encouraged to continue the final state of the diet, Maintenance, for life.
Renee Zellweger has Atkins to thank for her slim physique. Former Spice Girl (Ginger Spice) Geri Halliwell and Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall are fellow carb-avoiders.