Dr. Atkins diet, first introduced in 1972, is strictly focused on limiting carbohydrate consumption.
That is why it is called a low-carb, high-protein diet or sometimes simply a low-carb diet, together with other diets such as South Beach Diet, Power Protein Diet etc...
2. What are carbohydrates, and where can they be found?
Carbohydrates provide your body with its basic fuel, very much like a car engine and gasoline. Glucose goes directly into the cells, which convert it into the energy they need.
There are two types of carbohydrates:
Simple carbohydrates (also called "sugars" on food package labels): glucose, fructose and galactose are referred to as monosaccharides. Lactose, sucrose and maltose are called disaccharides (they contain two monosaccharides).
Complex carbohydrates ("starches"), made up of chains of glucose molecules, which is simply a way plants store glucose.
Starches can be found in great quantities in most grains (wheat, corn, oats, rice) and things like potatoes and plantains.
Your digestive system breaks a starch back down into its component glucose molecules so that the glucose can enter your bloodstream.
A complex carbohydrate is digested more slowly than simple carbohydrates because it takes longer to break down a starch.
Complex carbs can be either high in fiber such as broccoli or low in fiber such as bananas or potatoes.
But carbohydrates are not the only substances the body uses: it also needs proteins and fats.
RELATED: The Truth About Carbs and Fat Loss: Don't Be Fooled
3. What are proteins and where can they be found?
A protein is any chain of amino acids. Carbohydrates provide cells with energy, proteins provide cells with the building material they need to grow and maintain their structure.
Protein can be found in both animal and vegetable foods. Most animal sources (meat, milk, eggs) provide "complete protein": they contain all of the essential amino acids.
Vegetable foods usually have few or none of the essential amino acids. Example: rice is low in isoleucine and lysine.
Some vegetable sources contain quite a bit of protein --things like nuts, beans, soybeans, etc. are all high in protein.
RELATED: High Protein Foods List for Weight Loss
4. What are fats and where can they be found?
Fats are also an important part of our diet. Many foods contain fat in different amounts. High-fat foods include dairy products like butter and cream as well as mayonnaise and oils.
There are two kinds of fats: saturated and unsaturated. ( Do You Know the Type of Fat In Your Diet )
Saturated fats are normally solid at room temperature, while unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature.
Vegetable oils are the best examples of unsaturated fats, while lard and shortening (along with the animal fat you see in raw meat) are saturated fats.
We can further distinguish the unsaturated fats between polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Unsaturated fats are currently thought to be more healthy than saturated fats, and monounsaturated fats (as found in olive oil and peanut oil) are thought to be healthier than polyunsaturated fats.
Fat is necessary because: the only way to get certain fat-soluble vitamins is to eat fat, your body has no way to make certain essential fats, so you must get them in your food.
Another reason is that fat is a good source of energy, in fact it contains twice as many calories per gram as do carbohydrates or proteins. Your body can burn fat as fuel when necessary
5. and how can I loose weight by reducing carbohydrate consumption?
Atkins diet and other low-carb diets are based on the theory that certain carbohydrates have a greater impact on blood sugar levels than others.
So you count these carbs. They are the ones that matter. To figure out the net carb count of a food item, you need to identify the carbs that don't have a high impact -- those from fiber and sugar alcohol, and subtract that total from the overall carb count
Just regulate your blood sugar levels (from carbohydrates) and you'll be able to better regulate your appetite... and your weight.
Therefore, say Atkins diet proponents, the culprits are carbohydrates and there is nothing wrong with eating as much meat as you want!
What you should do is restrict carbohydrate consumption, specially starchy foods such as bread, rice, corn etc..., except for what they consider as "good carbohydrates" such as high fiber vegetables (broccoli etc...)
According to them, the energy we need should be taken from proteins, and sometimes fat, but as few carbohydrates as possible, hence the name: low carbohydrate diet..
6 . What else does the human body need?
Mainly vitamins and minerals. These can be found in various foods, fruits, etc..It seems the "Standard Western Diet" is deficient in vitamins and minerals. This has led to the creation of vitamin and mineral supplements.
7. Is Atkins diet efficient?
Anybody can note the simple fact that cutting back on carbohydrates works, at least for a quick drop in body fat and body water.
However, for most dieters the problem is the long-term effects on the body due to such a drastic reduction in carbohydrates.
Whatever Atkins diet proponents have said, this remains a real problem and people like those at South Beach Diet have tried to solve it by introducing carbohydrates after the 14 days initial phase.
8. What about the "fat makes you fat" theory?
According to Anthony Colpo, one of the most articulate of the Atkins diet defenders:
"Some folks have been so inculcated with the simplistic "fat makes you fat" theory that they just cannot believe a diet high in fat can lead to a loss of body fat.
The fact is, high fat diets can result in spectacular fat loss - as long as carbohydrate intake is kept low. Eat a diet that is high in both fat and carbohydrate and your body fat percentages will head north real quick! "
9. Does Atkins diet cause coronary heart disease (CHD)?
On May 26, 2004 A Florida businessman filed suit against the makers of Atkins diet.
The man claimed as a consequence of following the low-carb diet, he suffers from severe heart disease, necessitating angioplasty and a stent
One of the fiercest opponents of Atkins diet, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) President Neal Barnard, M.D, said that the diet proponents "push dieters to avoid healthy foods, like rice, beans, and pasta, while ignoring the risks of high-cholesterol, high-fat meat and cheese. The idea that cholesterol and saturated fat don't matter is a dangerous myth."
But what does the other side say? As expected, we hear a totally different story.
Here is Anthony Colpo's take on the CHD issue:
"A low carb diet based on paleolithic food choices, that is, a diet based on free-range animal products and low carbohydrate, low-glycemic plant foods, fits the bill quite nicely. So go ahead, eat your steak and salad!"
10. Are there any other health risks?
In additon to CHD - coronary heart disease - Atkins diet has also been blamed for a number of other "atrocities", such as: colon cancer, impaired kidney function, osteoporosis, complications of diabetes, and to cap it all: constipation, headache, bad breath, muscle cramps, diarrhea, general weakness.
A few quick answers to some of these accusations from Anthony Colpo:
Kidney disease: "Bodybuilders and strength athletes have been consuming high-protein diets for decades. Given the widespread global participation in these activities, if the claims of kidney damage were true, by now there would be an enormous number of case studies of ex-bodybuilders and strength athletes afflicted with kidney disease," which is obviously not the case.
Osteoporosis: "a low-carbohydrate, high fat, high protein diet is a far better choice for building strong bones than a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet."