Atkins Low Carbohydrate Diet Overview

Amontillado from fi [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Sample Atkins Meal. Credits: Amontillado from fi [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Atkins Diet, also called as the Atkins Nutritional Approach, is generally a low carbohydrate diet that is promoted by Dr. Robert Atkins from the Weill Cornell Medical College. Atkins stumbled upon a research paper in the 1958 Journal of the American Medical Association by Dr. Alfred Pennington entitled as “Weight Reduction” which he subsequently used to treat his own weight issue. Atkins then wrote several books starting with the Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution in 1972 which he later modified in his 2002 book.

The Atkins diet consists of consuming little carbohydrates to shift the body’s metabolism from converting glucose as energy to using body fat as an alternative energy source. The process, popularly known as ketosis, starts when a person’s insulin level is low which normally is when blood glucose levels are low. This usually around the time before one person eats a meal. A low insulin level stimulates the process called lipolysis which pushes fat to generate ketone bodies. Carbohydrates, as we all know, can cause an increase in blood sugar level which blocks the ketosis process from happening.

Dr. Atkins also proposed that his suggestion of a low carbohydrate diet has a metabolic advantage which has then become controversial. This is because he believes that burning fat sheds more calories which he even went as far to say to be 950 calories per day.

In theory, the Atkins diet work by limiting the amount of ‘net carbs’ which he mentions could limit the amount of times a person experiences hunger in a day. Since the Atkins diet focuses on sufficient amounts of protein, fat and calories, the body fails to be hungry as frequently compared before. It is worthy to note that proteins and fat take longer to digest than carbohydrates. According to Atkins, this is great since hunger is the most common reason why low carb diets fail to be effective.

Net Carbohydrates are computed by getting the amount of carbohydrates in the food and subtracting from it the amount of fiber and sugar alcohols. The Atkins Diet prefers the consumption of food with low glycemic index which are often those whole and unprocessed foods. Examples of food with high glycemic index that should be avoided include pastries, pasta, bread and sugar. The diet suggests that no more than 20% of calories in the food you take each day are from saturated fat.

Aside from being a weight loss strategy, Atkins in his 2002 book pointed out that people with high blood sugar level or with type 2 diabetes will not need to undergo regular insulin injections if they follow the Atkins Diet. The Atkins Diet, however, is not really a recognized or accepted form of treatment for diabetes.

During the height of its popularity between 2003 and 2004, roughly ten percent of Americans are under the diet regimen. It was so popular that manufacturers complained of low pasta and rice sales. The Atkins diets was even blamed for the decline of Krispy Kreme donut sales. The number of enthusiasts has since dwindled down but a lot of people still follow the diet for they find it effective and sustainable, albeit expensive.

Check out our very own carb management app that can help you keep track of the carbohydrates in your meals.