The Atkins Diet involves the restriction of carbohydrates in order to switch the body’s metabolism from burning glucose (a simple sugar) to burning stored body fat. The process: when the body has no excess carbohydrates (its preferred fuel) to burn, it will burn protein for a few days instead. Since burning protein for very long is counter-productive to survival as it provides strength to our muscles, the body will switch to burning fat and weight loss happens.
Dr. Atkins says in his book, Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution (2002), that hunger is the number one reason why low-fat diets fail. He claims that it is easier to stay on the Atkins diet because dieters do not feel hungry or “deprived”. Why? Because this diet is a high protein diet and protein reduces hunger so you are satisfied with your meals and not tempted to eat more.
Atkins is popular because it’s a fast way to lose weight while eating bacon, eggs, chicken, pork, butter, cheese and cottage cheese. Restricted foods, however, include bread, pasta, sugar, and even fruit and vegetables for a while. Over time, complex carbs are reintroduced into the diet in small amounts.
Sample Daily Menu
Breakfast: Two-egg omelette with cubed ham and red pepper
Lunch: ½ lb. browned ground beef, shredded lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese and salsa; 2 cups salad greens
Snack: sugar-free Jello or 2 ounces of cheddar cheese
Dinner: chicken and vegetable stir-fry with onion, garlic, tomato, basil, broccoli and zucchini
Beverages: water, decaf coffee or tea
The downside to Atkins and other high-protein diets is that too much animal protein may lead to illness, especially heart disease and cancer. Animal meat is full of saturated fats that can spike blood cholesterol levels, has no fiber to aid digestion and is low in many essential plant-based nutrients.
Another problem is that protein is a very acidic substance. The body is always trying to maintain an acid/alkaline balance. If you eat a lot of protein, your body will try to create a more alkaline environment in your stomach by leaching calcium from your bones and teeth, which can contribute to bone loss and osteoporosis. Also, this diet has little fiber and many complained of being constipated.
When asked, many people said they definitely lost weight on the Atkins Diet, but ended up gaining it back.