The Atkins diet relies on high-protein foods, such as meat, fish and shellfish, poultry, eggs and cheese. Dieters can have as much oil and fat as they want. Carbohydrates in the Atkins diet come mostly from vegetables, such as broccoli, celery, asparagus, green beans and peppers.
Cardiologist Robert C. Atkins introduced the Atkins diet in 1972. His purpose was helping people change eating habits so that they could lose weight and keep it off. His plan emphasizes cutting out carbohydrates. The idea is to force the body into ketosis, a state in which it burns the body's fat reserves for fuel.
The Atkins diet requires keeping track of net carbohydrates consumed, which is the carbohydrate content of a food in grams minus the grams of fiber it contains. However, it does not require caloric restriction or portion control. It also doesn't require special foods, although dieters can buy Atkins products.
Dieters go through four phases. In the first, induction, they eat no more than 20 grams of net carbohydrates per day for a minimum of two weeks. In the second, balancing, they slowly add carbohydrates with high nutritional content, such as vegetables, berries, nuts and seeds. The third phase, pre-maintenance, begins when the dieter is 10 pounds away from his goal weight and adds up to 10 grams of net carbohydrates per week. If weight loss stops, the dieter reduces carbohydrates again. The maintenance phase is lifelong, allowing the amount of carbohydrates for maintaining a healthy weight.