At the turn of the century, a newly developed diet described in Dr. Atkins" New Diet Revolution has become a phenomenal best seller. However, both in the United States and abroad, the Atkins diet remains highly controversial. The wellness benefits that come from the Atkins diet include better heart health and memory function, but the American Dietetic Association states, "The body needs a minimum of carbohydrates for efficient and healthy functioning, about 150 grams daily and the Atkins diet only allows the intake of 20 grams. Normal metabolic activity is disrupted if carbohydrate intake is below 150 grams daily" (Grayson, 2003, p.3).
The Atkins diet promises a loss of weight, without being hungry, based on a low-carbohydrate diet. The theory of the diet is based on the fact that overweight people eat too many carbohydrates, and our body's burn carbohydrates first for energy, followed by fat. By drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and getting more protein and fat, our bodies naturally lose weight by burning stored body fat more efficiently. The Atkins diet does well for weight maintenance, good health, and disease prevention.
The way the Atkins diet works is by restricting carbohydrates significantly to a mere fraction of that found in the typical American diet, "The body goes into a state of ketosis, which means it burns its own fat for fuel. When the body is in ketosis, you tend to feel less hungry, and thus you"re likely to eat less than you might otherwise" (Grayson, 2003, p. 3). As a result, your body changes from a carbohydrate burning engine into a fat burning engine.
The Atkins diet does not allow the intake of fruits and vegetables, which is recommended by most nutrition experts because of the numerous documented health benefits from these foods. Furthermore, the Atkins diet remains unproven, and most experts are concerned that a high-protein, high-fat diet can cause many problems, particularly for the large segment of the population that is at risk for heart disease.