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How Does the Dr Atkins Low Carb Diet Work?

How Does the Dr Atkins Low Carb Diet Work?

It wasn't that long ago when the Atkins Diet was the biggest "fad" in the US. With America being known for it's large percentage of people who are obese and overweight, many dieters following the Atkins diet showed how they lost weight through low carbs. Next thing you know, many restaurants, food and beverage companies were promoting low-carb foods and beverages.

The Atkins Diet was created by Dr. Robert Atkins back in the early 70's. Where many diets focus on metabolic theories, the Atkins Diet believes that obesity is caused by refined carbohydrates such as sugar, flour and high-fructose corn syrup. The second is due to saturated fat and trans fats.

In this diet, there are four phases of the Atkins diet:


The first phase is the strict phase of the diet where there is a severe cutback of carbohydrates (20 grams) for two weeks. Only a list of acceptable foods are allowed and must be followed. This is where the majority of the people lose the most weight.

Foods that are allowed in phase 1 are low carb vegetables, low-fat cottage cheese, cold water fish, extra virgin olive oil. It's also recommended that you drink 8 cups of water a day.

The goals of this first phase is to induce "benign dietary ketosis", this is when fat metabolites show up in the urine where they can be detected with Ketostix. When people are in the state of ketosis, their appetite cravings are diminished. The second goal is to stabilize blood sugar and the third and final goal is to have rapid weight loss.


After the first two weeks, carbohydrates are slowly added to the diet and weight loss drops to 1-2 pounds per week. In this point, Dr. Atkins provides a list of foods in 5 gram increments and pushes more vegetables in this phase. Phase two is continued until the person on the diet is 5-10 pounds from their goal weight.

The goals of the second phase is to determine the "Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing" (CCLL) which is literally how many carbs a person can eat and lose weight. The second goal is to expand food choices allowed in the Atkins Diet. The third goal is weight loss at a safe rate and the final goal is to eat carbs with lower levels to limit cravings and appetite.


As dieters near their goals, weight loss slows even more. More carbs are added and people must follow Dr. Atkin's carbohydrate ladder. 10 grams of carbs can be added per day. This phase lasts about 2-3 months.

The goals of this phase is to find out the amount of carbs that can be eaten without gaining weight. The second goal is to continually lose weight and the third is to maintain weight using Dr. Atkins approach.


Once a person's body responds to the carbs and have a knowledge of what foods to eat and what works for them to maintain their weight, people have found their carbohydrate level balance. Dr. Atkins provides an eating guide for Phase IV. The length of this phase is forever unless one gains weight. The goal is to maintain the targeted weight for the rest of one's life.

For many people who have followed this diet and completed the phases, many were successful in losing weight through the Atkins Diet.

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