Does the Atkins Diet Really Work?

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For a country where adult obesity rates peak at nearly 35% (the US), the fitness industry is doing surprisingly well. As of 2015, the fitness industry represents about $85 billion in annual sales, and that figure is only expected to keep going up. With the market being what it is, many entrepreneurs are trying to take advantage of it and make a few bucks. Because of this, many new diets have been invented, bringing promises of “six pack abs,” and quick “beach-ready bodies.”

As far as diets go, the Atkins diet is probably one of the best known regimens out there. It’s been around for more than 40 years, and everyone and their mother has either heard of someone doing it, or has done it themselves. The diet was invented by Dr. Atkins, a well-known cardiologist that set out to reduce obesity, while at the same time fattening up his wallet.

For those not familiar with the Atkins diet – here is a quick breakdown. In short, the Atkins nutritional approach focuses on limiting net daily carbohydrate intake (especially of simple sugars). The idea behind the diet is that limiting your carbohydrate intake will shift the body into ketosis – a metabolic process of using ketones for energy instead of stored glucose. Dr. Atkins claims that this nutritional approach produces a metabolic advantage, as using ketones instead of glucose is less energy efficient, meaning you will burn more calories.

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At first glance, the diet of fried eggs, bacon, smoked salmon, cream cheese and all the avocado you can eat, might seem appealing, but original studies have found only weak evidence of the efficacy of the diet. There have been many studies done on the Atkins diet since its rise to mainstream popularity, but most classify it as a fad diet. That said, new research suggests that there might be some truth to what doctor Atkins has been preaching all of these years.

New wisdom has debunked the “fat makes you fat” scare, and shows that lower carb diets do in fact help with the weight loss process. That said, the Atkins diet takes low carb to the next level. In order to actually enter ketosis, you need to consume less than 20 grams of carbohydrates a day. To put that into perspective, a single serving of pasta is more than twice that (44 grams per cup).

What this means is that you’ll have to make some serious sacrifices to get the body that you want. Anyone following the Atkins diet must learn to say no to delicious foods like: baked goods, pasta, fruit, starchy veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, and even alcohol. That said, there is a lot of freedom outside of that. Since the Atkins approach focusses on heavily reducing carbohydrate consumption, your nutrition has a lot of room for protein and fats – meaning you can feast on all the butter fried steaks that you want.

No single diet is a silver bullet, and if you intend to lose (and keep off) those extra pounds, you need a shift in your mentality. Getting and staying fit is a careful game of balance between a good diet, and an active lifestyle. There are no shortcuts, but if you need a diet to get you going – the Atkins approach is about as good as any other mainstream regimen.

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