The Atkins Nutritional Approach, as the Atkins diet is commonly known, has worked for several people with weight problems, although the opinion about its efficacy, especially in the long term, is divided among the medical community. Considerable controversy surrounds the program. Most other diets, and there are numberless of them out there, follow the principle of avoiding high-fat foods. But the Atkins diet allows things like red meat, bacon, butter, cheese, eggs and so on, which are all high in fat. Yet, to the utter surprise of everyone who repose their trust in the tried and tested low-fat diets, the Atkins diet works.
The reason is rather simple. The Atkins diet limits the consumption of foods containing large amounts of carbohydrates, such as rice, pasta, white bread, cereal and sugar. Your body burns its excess fat during a process consisting of four phases, which the late Dr. Robert Atkins developed. In his book Dr.Atkins New Diet Revolution, published in 1972, he advised dieters to cut down on only carbohydrates, not both fats and carbohydrates as had been the practice followed until then.
During the first phase of Atkins diet, the dieter is allowed to eat only very small quantities of carbohydrates. The carbohydrates allowed are limited to a maximum of 20 grams per day, in the form of salads, or vegetables without starch.
The second phase allows the dieter to progressively increase the amount of carbohydrates by 5 grams (from the initial 0 – 20 grams in the first phase to 25 grams in the first week of the second phase) a day. Thereafter, as long as the dieter loses weight, the weekly increase of 5 grams of carbohydrates continues. Once the dieter reaches a stable weight, he has to reduce the carb-intake by 5 grams, so that he remains at the weight reached.
The purpose of the third phase is to help the dieter to maintain the weight reached at a steady level, if necessary, by increasing the intake of carbohydrates at the rate of 10 grams per week.
The fourth and final phase allows consumption of more foods of a wider variety, even though the carbohydrate consumption remains restricted. The idea is to maintain over a long period of time the weight reached in the earlier phases.
The question about how exactly the Atkins diet works for weight loss can be answered either by referring to complex scientific processes like lipolysis and gluconeogenesis and so on or by using simple and direct explanation that may be easier to appreciate. When the body is starved of carbohydrates, which provide quite a bit of the energy required to run its various systems, it turns to its stored fat and burns it to replenish the energy deficit. As more and more of the stored fat is burnt to supply energy to the body, more and more weight is lost. Another thing is that by controlling the amount of carbohydrate-intake in the body, the Atkins diet controls the quantity of insulin in the body. Being a storage hormone, insulin converts carbohydrates into sugar and stores it as fat in the body, in the normal circumstances. However, when the quantity of carbohydrates is lower than normal, the sugar in the body is not stored in the shape of fat, but burnt instead. Again, the result is weight loss.
Atkins has become popular for two reasons. One is that it works, especially when exercise goes with it. Two, it gives the dieters the freedom to eat the foods that are prohibited in other diet programs.