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Understanding the Atkins Diet Plan

By Expert HERWriter
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Obesity related image Photo: Getty Images

As I continue to look at widely-publicized dietary plans in preparation for the many questions that people ask starting in January, I turn to the Atkins plan for weight loss.

This plan was created in 1963 by Dr. Atkins to find a way to help his overweight and obese patients find a way to lose weight and regain their health. The basis of the plan is that participants will severely restrict the amount of refined or simple carbohydrates and concentrate on eating high-fat, high-protein foods with a few complex carbohydrates -- mostly vegetables.

There is a very restrictive period in the first two weeks called the Induction Phase. The next phase, Ongoing Weight Loss, allows you to add more complex carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables, until you find a balance where you will continue to lose between 1-3 pounds per week.

The Pre-Maintenance Phase starts when you have almost reached your weight loss goal by again adding more carbohydrates to your diet, unless you are losing no more than 1 pound per week. This is like leveling off to your ideal weight.

The fourth and final phase is the maintenance phase, where you add in more carbohydrate. However the amount is generally less than what other people eat on a regular basis. One of the biggest claims of the Atkins plan is that the participants will not be hungry while they are on this dietary restricted plan.

The Atkins system is based on changing the way the body uses energy. The easiest way for your body to utilize energy is by taking glucose directly out of your blood. Simple carbohydrates, that come from foods like white bread, pasta, sugary foods, candies, cakes and the like, break down after digestion into glucose that gets released into the bloodstream.

Once the glucose gets into the bloodstream the body's cells use them for energy. If there is left-over glucose in the bloodstream the body will store the extra in the liver and muscles first and then store any excess glucose as fat.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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