The Atkins diet promises to turn your body into a fat-burning machine. The theory is that by starving yourself of carbohydrates, your body will start burning fat for energy. New Atkins is similar to the old Atkins, except it allows a wider variety of foods to make it more nutritionally balanced. During the first two weeks of the diet, designed for rapid weight loss, you’re on a protein-rich diet with no restrictions on fat and a daily carb allowance of just 20g. During the next three phases, the weight loss is likely to be more gradual and regular exercise is encouraged. More carbs are introduced to your diet – initially 5g and later 10g at a time – with the aim of working out what your ideal carb intake is to maintain a healthy weight for life. Phase one is designed to help you lose up to 15lb in two weeks, reducing to 2-3lb during phase two.
You can lose weight very quickly, which can be motivating. The diet also encourages people to cut out most processed carbs and alcohol. With its diet of red meat, butter, cream, cheese and mayonnaise, it’s one of the diets that appeals most to men.
Initial side effects can include bad breath, a dry mouth, tiredness, dizziness, insomnia, nausea and constipation from cutting out carbs, and potential for lower fibre intake. The high intake of saturated fat may increase your risk of heart disease, and there are concerns about the recommendation to add salt.
The New Atkins diet plan is almost the same as the original one, but includes more practical advice on how to implement the diet and variety to reduce boredom. The amount of processed meat, red meat and saturated fat is still an issue, as is the advice to add salt, which all contradict current health advice. Some could still find it complicated and time consuming, but the promise of initial rapid weight loss may appeal to and motivate some.