The New Atkins for a New You Diet: Healthy or Unhealthy?

The Atkins Diet is one of the most well-recognized, yet controversial, diet plans. Started in 1972 by Dr. Robert Atkins, the Atkins Diet is credited for starting the low-carb craze that has helped thousands lose weight, only to stuff themselves with bagels, fettuccine Alfredo and Krispy Kremes once they completed the pre-maintenance phase and unfortunately gain all the weight back.

While there is no denying that the Atkins approach, which is modeled on the ketogenic diet, will strip away pounds, its high fat content and potential to increase cardiovascular disease and kidney stones has made it a target for health and nutrition experts. But in an attempt to polish its tarnished image, and provide dieters with a more flexible Atkins eating plan, The New Atkins for a New You was created.

Written by Dr. Eric C. Westman, an associate professor of medicine at Duke University Health System and director of the Duke Lifestyle Medicine Clinic, this new book, which was released in March 2010, still adheres to the same low-carb principles of the original Atkins Diet. But it also includes new research that highlights the benefits of lower carb diets as well as new recipes and a more adaptable eating plan.

Here are some of the basic concepts of the New Atkins for a New You diet:

The Basics: It may be billed as a new Atkins Diet, but this latest book is still a very low-carb, high-protein and high-fat diet plan. The difference with New Atkins for a New You is that there is more of a focus on eating nutrient-rich low carbohydrate foods. So greens, low-glycemic veggies, omega-3 fats, certain kinds of dairy and antioxidant-packed low-sugar fruits are strongly encouraged. In addition, there is a vegetarian-friendly program, although it is very heavy on soy and soy-based products.

The book outlines the four Atkins phases: Induction, Ongoing Weight Loss, Pre-Maintenance and Lifetime Maintenance. In each phase, carbs are limited, with the Induction phase being the strictest, allowing for only about 20 grams a day. In addition, carbs are counted based on the net carb measurement, which subtracts fiber grams from the overall carb count.

Meal plans, snack options and tips for eating out, dealing with carb cravings, managing food-filled social situations and traveling are all addressed in each phase.

Foods to eat: All meats, with a preference to lean cuts rather than fattier ones, fish, seafood, low-glycemic vegetables, low-sugar fruits, greens, nuts, avocados, olive oil, olives and carb-free snacks like pork rinds, and beef jerky. In addition, certain kinds of alcohol, like white wine, are allowed in the later phases.

Foods to avoid: Most grains, dried fruits, foods with added sugar, refined carbs, juices, most snacks and sweets are forbidden. Alcohol is not allowed during the Induction phase.

What the research says: While there haven’t been any longitudinal studies yet done on this new Atkins Diet, previous scientific studies have yielded inconclusive data on the benefits and risks of the Atkins Diet. A few studies have suggested that the low-carb, high protein approach can improve HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), while also improving insulin resistance. And on the opposite side of the spectrum, an increase in overall cholesterol levels and an increase in cardiovascular complications have also been observed.

Long-term potential: The big question with the New Atkins for a New You Diet is not whether you’ll lose weight; with any low-carb, high-protein diet, immediate weight loss is a given as long as the plan is followed correctly. But rather, the question is can you keep it off?

Long-term weight loss is going to depend upon how able the individual is at maintaining the lifestyle of eating only certain foods? Luckily though, this new Atkins Diet does allow for some carb-rich indulgences once you have met your goal weight.

Here is DietsInReview’s complete review of the New Atkins for a New You book.

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