diet & weight loss

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The much talked about Atkins Diet is a low-carb diet based on the theory that the consumption of carbohydrates, particularly those which are processed and refined, is directly related to weight gain. Created by Dr. Robert Atkins in 1972, the diet has helped many people lose weight but has drawn strong criticism for its dietary recommendations.

What does the plan involve?
The Atkins Diet plan involves heavily restricting the consumption of processed carbohydrates such as bread, grain, pasta and starchy vegetables. Foods high in sugar are also to be avoided. Depriving your body of these energy packed carbs forces it to burn your body fat for fuel. There are four different phases to the Atkins plan with the diet becoming gradually less severe.

Food and recipes
The first phase of the diet lasts for two weeks and allows just twenty grams of carbohydrates a day, mainly from vegetables. Fruit, bread, pasta, dairy products, coffee and alcohol are prohibited. The second phase continues until you have between 5-10 pounds still to lose. This stage allows you to eat more carbohydrates and offers a larger variety of foods to choose from. The third stage of the plan is pre-maintenance and continues until you lose those final 5-10 pounds. The final stage of the Atkins plan, called Lifetime Maintenance, is designed to maintain your goal weight.

Exercise
There are no strict guidelines concerning exercise on the program. However, you are encouraged to do something aerobic as well as something anaerobic on a daily basis.

Practicality
Eating out when on the Atkins diet can be challenging as you try to avoid certain food groups. Alcohol and caffeine are not permitted. Vegetarians are not suited to the plan.

Celebrity followers
The Atkins eating plan has allegedly been used by a large number of celebrities in the UK and the US. Stars such as Jennifer Aniston, Renée Zellwegger and Robbie Williams are rumoured to have lost weight with this slimming program.

Does the plan work?
The Atkins Diet plan will lead to weight loss, particularly in the first two weeks when your calorie intake will be very low. The program proves successful because compared to many diets it is relatively easy to follow, and there are no complicated meal plans.

However, this diet cannot be recommended for any substantial period of time. The potential health risks are simply not worth the loss of a few pounds. Heavily reducing the number of carbohydrates you eat can lead to a nutritional imbalance and key vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Whilst cutting back on processed and refined carbs is a positive step, you must replace these bad carbs with good carbs such as wholemeal bread and whole grain pasta.

And finally, a diet high in fat, which the Atkins plan ultimately leads to, is terribly unhealthy for the body, particularly the heart.

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Diet & Weight Loss