Atkins Diet: The Four Core Phases

By Jennylyn P Pereira

Weight loss is an issue among many people nowadays. Health concerns among the middle-aged people and the fitness trend among the young are two of the most common reasons why many are embarking on different methods of losing weight and maintaining a physically fit body. For many years, many weight loss diets centered on the low-calorie intake principle where the diet consists of 55% carbohydrates, 15% protein and 30% fats were less than 10% of total fat are in saturated form. Although this is basically a very sound and balanced diet for weight loss, the amount of fat and protein limits the intake of meat. This is not appealing to many people from countries where meat is eaten in abundance.

In the early 70’s Dr. Robert C. Atkins, A cardiologist from Ohio, introduced a diet plan he developed based on the research of Dr. Alfred W. Pennington published in 1963 entitled “A New Concept in the Treatment of Obesity” advocating the removal of starch and sugar from the diet and increasing the protein and fat intake. Dr. Atkins himself suffered from overweight problems and succeeded in losing weight through the program. His diet plan which he called “Atkins Nutritional Approach” caught fire among many and came to be known as the Atkins Diet.


The main idea in Atkins Diet is losing weight by eating the right amount of protein and vegetables where starch and sugar from carbohydrates are limited so the body gets its fuel from the fats instead of from the carbohydrates. By burning the fats, the body becomes leaner and healthier. Weight loss is achieved and by sticking to the diet, the body maintains its good physical state boosting the body’s energy and metabolism thereby preventing some of the health problems like heart disease, hypertension and complications from diabetes.

The Atkins Diet has four phases:

Phase 1 –this is the strictest phase and is called the Induction. This 2-week phase can generate a weight loss of up to 15 lbs. Carbohydrate intake is limited to 20 g per day and introduces the body into the state of KETOSIS where the body turns to fat for energy. Meals consist mostly of protein from fish, poultry, beef and sea foods with vegetables and fats. Fruits, fruit juices or sauces containing sugars like teriyaki, salsa and ketchup sauce are not allowed. Salad greens, bread and pastry, nuts, cheese and eggs can be eaten, as well as herbs and spices and condiments like mustard, mayonnaise, butter and oils. Alcohol is also a big no-no.

Phase 2 –this is where weight loss is in its continuing process. In this phase, which is the longest phase in the process, nutrient-rich carbs are slowly and gradually added into the diet. Nuts, berries, more veggies, cream and some fruits and juices are eaten in limited amounts. The focus though is still in the protein and fat intake. The idea is to reach at least 10% of the targeted weight. When this has been achieved, the program enters its third phase.


Phase 3 –this called the Pre-Maintenance phase. Here, more carbohydrates are incorporated in the diet. Starchy foods like root crops, grains, legumes and more fruits are allowed. About 50 to 70 g of carbs are added in this phase until the desired weight is achieved.

Phase 4 –the Maintenance Phase. In this phase the weight target has been achieved. The Atkins Diet eating habit has been established in this stage. The other foods were completely taken out when the plan was started can be reintroduced in this phase but in a very limited amount or as simply just a treat. Here discipline comes into the picture. If the person who has taken the program cannot control the craving for sweets and other carbs once these foods are reintroduced into the system, it is best to not incorporate them into the plan and just stick to what has been programmed at the start.

The Atkins Diet is a good weight loss plan because the protein and fats in the body make you feel fuller and unscheduled hunger does not become a problem. The variety of foods that were introduced in the diet, once you get accustomed to them, limits your choices and therefore increases the odds of maintaining the desired weight. Overall the Atkins Diet is an effective weight loss system but as in all other effective diet plans, discipline and self-control are still factors that will determine the results of the program.

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