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Atkins Diet

The Atkins diet seems to turn weight loss conventions on its head by allowing you to eat all the things that low fat programmes ban. Bacon and eggs, coffee with cream, steaks fried in butter - all are allowed as part of the diet meal plans on the Atkins diet. But as our diet plan review will show, the programme isn't about eating exactly what you like. Because what you're not allowed to eat is carbohydrates. This means giving up all the following foods:

  • Bread
  • Potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Chocolate
  • Crisps
  • Biscuits
  • Cake
In the first few weeks of the programme you'll even have to give up fruit, milk and some vegetables. This means recipes and shopping lists for anyone following the plan can be severely limited.

Despite these rigid constraints, the Atkins diet has enjoyed huge popularity - over three million people in the UK tried it in 2003. However, the programme is still the subject of heated debate among nutritionists and dietitians, who dispute whether it is effective, or even healthy.

The theory behind the programme is that when you stop eating carbohydrates, your body will be forced to burn its own fat stores to provide you with energy. However the unpleasant side effect of burning fat is a state called ketosis, which can cause the following symptoms:

  • Bad breath
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
Long-term side effects may include the following:
  • Heart disease (caused by high fat intake)
  • Osteoporosis (from poor calcium levels caused by low dairy intake)
  • Cancer, premature ageing and cataracts (caused by low intake of the antioxidants in fruit and vegetables)
  • Kidney problems and weak bones (caused by high protein intake)