Atkins Diet At A Glance
Atkins Diet At A Glance
Andrea Giancoli (Registered Dietician ) gives expert video advice on: What is the 'Atkins Diet'?; What is the philosophy behind the Atkins Diet?; What happens when I restrict carbohydrates? and more...
What is the 'Atkins Diet'?
The basic dietary principle behind the Atkins diet is to eat a high protein diet and a low carb diet, a very low carb diet. So you're eating a lot of meat, a lot of animal products and not a lot of grains, not a lot of fruit, and also not a lot of vegetables as well, in the very first part of the diet.
What is the philosophy behind the Atkins Diet?
The philosophy behind this is you want to be consuming low glycemic foods as well as consuming high protein, so it steers you away from some of the high glycemic foods. Some of the high glycemic foods are the no brainers like pastries and cookies and, you know, things that are high in sugar, you know, soda, that sort of thing. But it also steers you away from some very healthy foods that have a so called high glycemic index, like carrots, tropical fruits, those are full of nutrients. And in fact, carrots, when you look at them as part of a healthy diet they are actually low glycemic on the low glycemic index because they, on the glycemic index they test 50 grams of food and 50 grams of carrots is a lot of carrots, so they're actually low.
What happens when I restrict carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are your body's preferred fuel source. Glucose is a carbohydrate which our brain operates on. When we don't have any carbohydrates or we run out of carbohydrates, we start to convert protein to carbohydrates. That protein can come from the protein that we're getting from our diet. Our body has to mess around with that protein and take some parts of it off, so that it can convert it to glucose. If we're not getting enough protein from our diet, and if we're not getting enough calories, then we start to break down our body proteins to feed the brain with glucose. When we start to run out of that, and if we don't have enough calories, the body will start to slow down the breakdown of protein and the tissue will go into ketosis, which is the breaking down of fatty tissue, making ketone bodies that feed the brain.
What does 'ketosis' feel like?
Ketone bodies don't do as good a job as glucose does, so when we're in ketosis we might feel like we can't concentrate very well, or might feel dizzy, or just feel not good.
How many carbohydrates do I need before I go into ketosis?
In general, people need at least a hundred to a hundred and thirty carbohydrates, grams of carbohydrates, a day to feed the brain and use the carbohydrate for essential purposes. When we start going below that, that's when we're going to start either converting our protein calories into carbohydrate or converting our body proteins into carbohydrate, and then you go into ketosis. It happens over a couple of days.
Why is the Atkins Diet so popular?
The Adkins Diet is popular because you do lose weight in the short term. It restricts half of the foods that we eat, as we do consume a lot of carbohydrates in the form of fruits, vegetables, greens, and beans. By eliminating that huge category of food, that doesn't leave a whole lot left over, so your calories are going to be restricted and you're going to lose the weight. One of the reasons why Adkins does work is because protein is more satiating than carbohydrates, so it does seem to help control your appetite and help you feel full longer. There is that positive part of it, but we do need to incorporate healthy carbohydrates along with our protein.
How many people are on the Atkins Diet?
The Atkins Diet waxes and wanes. A few years ago, as many as 11% of people had tried it or were on it. It's now down to 1%. It's really losing its popularity right now, but it'll probably rear its ugly head in another five to ten years because its based around high-protein, low-carbohydrate. Those are the only two macronutrients that we're getting calories from, plus the fat. There's not a lot that we can do with those three macronutrients, so it will get recycled. You'll see it again.
Why is the Atkins Diet considered a fad diet?
Atkins is considered a fad diet because it severely restricts certain foods, namely carbohydrates. No breads, no pastas, or very little of it. In the sense that it's so restrictive of certain foods, it's considered a fad diet.