I’ve literally heard of dozens – if not hundreds – of different diet plans. But the diet plan that was the most frequent topic of conversation – for years – was unquestionably the Atkins Diet. And it’s still amazing to me that so few people, even people who followed the diet, actually know what it is.
In a nutshell, the Atkins Diet requires strict limitations on all carbohydrates and allows for consumption of large amounts of protein – up to 50% of your daily calories.
Those are essentially the hard and fast rules of the Atkins diet: more protein, less carbs. The strict limitation of carbohydrates the diet calls for means your body has to search for another fuel source. In lieu of carbs, your body begins a process called ketosis, in which the body converts fat – rather than carbs – into energy.
The Atkins diet has been around for 40 years, and it’s certainly achieved remarkable results. Millions of people have tried it, and a decent percentage of them have lost weight. More importantly, Dr. Atkins was one of the first people arguing that low-fat wasn’t always the way to go. However, there are still a host of factors to consider before undertaking the Atkins diet, and several very good reasons to avoid it completely.
- It doesn’t take metabolism type into account: The Atkins diet may work for protein-types, but it would be an absolute disaster for anyone with a carb-type metabolism.
- The severe carb restrictions can cause vitamin, mineral and antioxidant deficiencies: One of the enduringly hilarious realities of a low-carb diet is that it basically forces you to abandon fruits and vegetables. Beyond being silly, not getting a decent daily serving of fruits and vegetables can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. And the loss of the antioxidants found in the same fruits and veggies may leave you more susceptible to cancer.
- High fat content: Fat is not "bad" as many people once thought, but many Atkins followers may not be getting their fat from the right sources. Good sources of healthy fat like grass fed meat, butter from grass fed cows, and coconut oil and olive oil are all wonderful additions to a healthy plan. Conventional meats and cheeses are not the best sources and can lead to increased cholesterol and heart disease. Grass-fed, hormone-free, and pastured meats and eggs are not causing the same problems as conventional.
- It’s a temporary fix: Quite simply, it’s close to impossible to follow the Atkins diet – long term – with the kind of rigidity it demands. Every carb must be accounted for, and programs that forbid certain kinds of foods have remarkable relapse rates. Additionally, studies have found that, a year after entering the "maintenance phase" of the Atkins diet, most dieters have regained the weight they originally lost, and many gained even more.
The Atkins diet was, as advertised, a revolution. Dr. Atkins was among the first to put the lie to the "carbs are bad" craze that dominated nutritional research. But the simple fact remains that you don’t want to be on a diet for the rest of your life. Atkins offers a quick solution to lose weight in a hurry. The goal is to learn to make healthy choices in your life every day. This approach can be more gradual, yet it is a healthier way to lose weight and much easier to keep the weight off.