Understanding the Atkins Diet Guidelines

The Atkins Diet guidelines are often misunderstood by people who aren’t familiar with how the program works as a whole. You may be one of those people who aren’t sure if it’s a good idea to try the Atkins program because the traditional American dietary guidelines and the Atkins diet seem to be opposites.

In fact, the Atkins diet’s guidelines do suggest turning the food pyramid on its head (or at the very least, tips it sideways). It doesn’t, however, promote eating patterns that are unhealthy or dangerous. In fact, many health groups and doctors have applauded the case for less sugar and refined starches that is key to the Dr. Atkins Diet plan.

Jump-Start Your Metabolism and Ketosis

You’re probably asking, “Then why do some people criticize the diet while other people praise it?” It’s partly because anything that isn’t clearly understood is easier to find fault with. Critics will say that the Induction Phase of the Atkins diet is unhealthy for long-term use and severely restrictive. Both of these are true – and that’s why you aren’t in the Induction Phase for more than fourteen days. It’s long enough to jump-start your metabolism and ketosisbut not long enough to deprive you of the nutrients you need.

The Guidelines are Simple - Cut Down on Carbs and Sugars

The guidelines of the Atkins diet are actually quite simple once you understand the basis behind them. It’s simple – you don’t want to eat too many simple carbohydrates and sugars. By restricting your carb intake, you encourage ketosis and use more of your body’s own fat stores as fuel.

The Induction Phase

During the Induction Phase, you shouldn’t eat more than 20 grams of carbs a day, which is very low. Fortunately this only lasts for a short time, then during the Weight Loss and Maintenance Phases you can gradually increase the amount of carbohydrates you can eat.

What About Calories?

There are some arguments about how well the Atkins Diet works and if it’s actually because of the low carbs. More than one study has shown that, because the list of approved foods is so limited, people following the Atkins Diet guidelines actually consumed between 800 and 1,200 calories less than others not because of what they were eating, but because the options were limited.

Concerns of the American Heart Association

Some groups, including the American Heart Association, are most concerned with the wide gap between the Food Pyramid’s suggestions for daily intake of fiber and carbohydrates. They also don’t like the quantity of fats eaten on the Atkins Diet, which can lead to coronary artery disease. A recent study also showed that eating a diet too high in proteins can cause calcium to leach from the bones, leading to osteoporosis.

Talk to Your Doctor First

I know, it sounds like you’ll never know whether the Atkins Diet guidelines are right for you! The best thing to do is talk to your doctor. If he gives you a clean bill of health and tells you that the Atkins program can help you lose weight, give it a try.

Induction and Weight Loss Phases

To make sure you don’t fall victim of any of the problems some critics have of the diet, be sure you stay in the Induction and Weight Loss phases only as long as you need to. Review the Atkins diet guidelines frequently and be sure you choose a variety of foods from the lists – don’t eat too much meat and not enough of the leafy greens, for instance.

Taking Supplements to Stay Healthy

Finally, Dr. Atkins advocated supplementing your diet with nutritional and fiber supplements in order to make sure you get everything your body needs to stay healthy. Remember, the final goal of the Atkins diet is simply to adjust your eating habits – fewer sugars, fewer refined white flour products and more freshly prepared foods and raw vegetables. If you look at the whole picture and keep in mind the end goal, you can stay healthy by following the Atkins Diet guidelines.