The Four Phases of the Atkins Diet

Some years ago Dr Robert Atkins released a brand new diet known as the Atkins diet. The Atkins diet plan went against all of the commonly accepted information about weight loss and healthy eating by promoting a low carbohydrate, high protein, high fat diet. In addition to this dramatic shift followers of the diet were also told to stop counting calories and start counting daily carbohydrate intake. To everyone’s surprise the diet really seemed to work with many people experiencing dramatic weight loss and improved health. What is the Atkins diet and does it still have a role for weight loss today.

The Atkins diet plan is essentially broken up into 4 distinct phases which all involve different levels of carbohydrate restriction.

Induction: The induction phase of the Atkins diet is the most extreme stage and generally only lasts for about 2 weeks. During this phase carbohydrate intake is restricted to 20 grams per day. The aim of this phase is to push your body into lipolysis (fat burning) as its main metabolic process by dramatically depriving it of glucose. Significant weight loss is generally seen during this phase but due to the extreme of carbohydrate restriction side effects such as constipation and ketone breath may occur. Supplements are recommended in particular during this phase to make up for lost nutrients from less intake of fruits and vegetables.

Ongoing weight loss: This phase is much less dramatic and you are encouraged to increase daily carbohydrate intake by 5 grams each week until you stop losing weight. This allows you to know your critical carbohydrate level for losing weight (CCLL) which is a valuable tool for maintaining your ideal weight.

Pre-Maintenance: This phase of the Atkins diet is all about stabilising your metabolism after ongoing weight loss and increasing your body’s carbohydrate tolerance. You should increase your carbohydrate intake by no more than 10 grams each week and also at the same time experiment with lots of different foods in a controlled manner to see which foods are best for you as an individual. You should reduce your carbohydrate intake gain weight but the ultimate goal of this phase is to discover your critical carbohydrate level for maintenance (CCLM).

Lifetime Maintenance: This phase is all about sticking to the pre-determined maintenance carbohydrate intake that you learned going through the last 3 phases. The main aim of this phase is to learn strategies to avoid temptation in order to stay at your ideal body weight.

That is a brief run down of the four phases of the Atkins diet. Though an effective diet for weight loss, its important that you know what you’re doing before embarking on the Atkins diet plan, and I would highly recommend reading into the topic further before starting. As with any new diet you should also visit your doctor first for advice and for baseline blood tests to ensure that the diet is working for the benefit of your health as well as your waistline.