The Atkins Method: Is it Right for You? Over the years, the Atkins plan has become synonymous with weight loss. Fans of the program say that it has proven to be instrumental in helping them to shed unwanted pounds. They talk of improved overall health and greater energy as a result of the Atkins program. However, critics maintain that Atkins could lead to heart damage, making it an unhealthy diet. Supporters of Atkins say just about anyone can slim down using their program. However, there are certain people that are most likely to benefit from the Atkins plan. These include yo-yo dieters, who find themselves losing weight, only to gain it back again; dieters who feel constantly hungry; and those who eat for emotional reasons. Binge eaters and constant snackers can also benefit from the Atkins program. In addition, those who suffer from a food addiction are prime candidates for Atkins. Atkins relies heavily on proteins and fats, along with carbohydrates that are rich in nutrients. The idea is to strictly reduce the amount of non-nutritious carbohydrates you consume. The theory behind this is that, when carbs are restricted, you end up burning fat rather than glucose. In addition, it has been shown that, all things being equal, you will lose more fat with Atkins than with other types of weight loss plans. The Atkins plan is divided into four stages. During the initial stage, your body moves from burning carbohydrates to burning fats. You should also be able to kick the sugar habit during this stage. During the second stage, your weight loss will accelerate, but you will also be able to eat larger portions of vegetables. In the third stage, known as pre-maintenance, you will continue to add more foods to the mix. The final stage involves lifetime maintenance. During this phase, you can continue to fight food addictions, maintain your goal weight, and decrease the chance that you will suffer from diabetes. However, it can be difficult to stick with the Atkins plan. This is because the temptation to eat carbohydrates and sweets is so great. Friends and relatives can become diet saboteurs, preventing you from achieving the results you’re looking for. In this case, the best defense is a good offense. This means telling your significant others in advance that you’re determined to complete the Atkins program. Inform them that you don’t want to even be offered French fries and potato chips. The Journal of the American Medical Association has suggested that the Atkins plan can be dangerous for children. This is not surprising, considering that young people are still growing and need all the nutrients they can get, whether the vitamins and minerals are from carbohydrates or other sources. Supporters of Atkins say that, while children may not benefit from a restriction of vegetables and fruits, they could consume fewer potatoes and breads and still remain healthy. Some medical experts say that the Atkins approach is not appropriate for people who already suffer from kidney or liver trouble. Also, because Atkins reduces the amount of fruits and vegetables an individual consumes, the diet can leave people at greater risk for such problems as cancer and heart disease. As a result, you should probably check with your family physician before resorting to the Atkins plan, or any other low-carb, high-protein diet. It is likely that the Atkins plan will remain controversial for the foreseeable future. While it has been proven effective in helping people lose weight, it may also place individuals at a higher risk for serious diseases. A great deal of additional research needs to be conducted in order to determine if Atkins is a miracle cure or a medical nightmare. Once more studies are conducted, the long-term effects of Atkins on the human body may be easier to determine. If you are generally in good health and have a normal energy level, you might give Atkins a try. If, however, you suffer from any serious diseases, or are experiencing symptoms such as high blood pressure, you might consider an alternative diet plan. In the end, you, in consultation with your doctor, will have to determine the diet program that’s appropriate in your particular case.