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A List of Popular Low-Carb Diet Plans

written by: Nichole Bolton • edited by: Tania Cowling • updated: 12/19/2010

The Atkins Diet and the South Beach Diet are two popular low carb diet plans. Each one has phases, which include foods that should be consumed and foods that should be avoided.

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    Popular Low Carb Diet Plans, Image Credit: Cam Switzer Low carb diets gained popularity around 2003 and 2004, with the main focus on the Atkins Diet. There are two popular low carb diet plans that are very well known and have similar designed as an attempt to lose weight and learn a new way of eating. These are the Atkins Diet and the South Beach Diet. While similar in that they both involve reduced carbs, each diet has its own phases and requirements that dieters must meet.

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    The Atkins Diet

    The Atkins diet is a book by Robert Atkins that was first published in the 1970s and gained popularity around 2003 and 2004. The Atkins diet is one which involves eating very low amounts of carbohydrates to achieve a state of ketosis - where the body burns fat instead of carbs for fuel. Ketosis is thought to increase energy and lead to faster weight loss by followers of the Atkins way of eating. This state is achieved by eating 20 or less net carbs each day. Net carbs is the amount of total carbohydrates in a serving, minus the fiber.

    The Atkins diet has four phases that dieters must work their way through. The first phase, induction, lasts two weeks. This is the period of ketosis where only 20 grams of net carbs are allowed in a day. During induction is when most people see the fastest weight loss on the diet. Phase two is the ongoing weight loss phase, where dieters increase daily carbs by five net carbs each week until they reach a point where they are still able to eat carbs while losing weight slowly. This phase last until the dieter is ten pounds from their goal weight.

    Phase three is the pre-maintenance phase. This phase involves increasing the daily carbs by ten grams each week until the dieter is able to eat carbs and maintain their weight without gaining or losing. The last phase is lifetime maintenance, which involves eating the amount of daily carbs that has been determined to allow a maintenance of one's weight.

    The benefits of the Atkins diet include fast weight loss, reduced hunger, increased energy and lowered cholesterol. Despite this, many people believe that the diet is unhealthy and can cause negative effects on one's health. Most people feel poor health effects when beginning the Atkins diet, including low energy, headaches and sometimes illness. Some people believe that this diet is too high in saturated fats to be healthy for a dieter's heart.

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    The South Beach Diet

    The South Beach Diet was created by dietitian Marie Almon and cardiologist Arthur Agatston, as a diet meant to help prevent heart disease. This diet involves replacing bad carbs with good carbs and bad fats with good fats, instead of completely reducing or removing carbohydrates from the diet. Arthur Agatston believes that bad, or simple, carbs increase hunger and food cravings. Bad carbs are foods that are processed, or high in sugar and low in nutritional value. By replacing these carbohydrates with complex carb such as fibrous fruits and vegetables, hunger and cravings can be reduced due to slowed digestion and a longer lasting full feeling.

    This diet is divided into three phases, starting with phase one that eliminates sugars, processed foods, fruits and starchy vegetables. This phase lasts for two weeks and allows the body to detoxify from eating unhealthy, processed foods. Weight loss is fastest during phase one of the diet. Phase two lasts until the dieter has reached their desired weight. During phase two, all fruits and vegetables are re-introduced into the diet, along with some whole grains. When the ideal weight is reached, the dieter begins phase three which is the maintenance phase. This phase is supposed to last for life and involves adopting a healthy way of eating and avoiding processed foods.

    The South Beach Diet is generally looked down upon due to being grouped together with other low carb diets. Although the diet does involve eating minimal carbs in the beginning, the idea of the plan is to learn a healthy way of eating and replace unhealthy carbohydrates with whole grains and fiber. This diet may be better for the heart than the Atkins diet, due to the use of healthy fats instead of saturated fats.

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    These are the popular low carb diet plans that are often followed today. While these diets can lead to quick weight loss and maintenance of one's ideal weight, it is always best to consult with a family doctor before beginning any new diet. The benefits and disadvantages to a diet should be considered before beginning, whether choosing the Atkins or South Beach Diet.

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    References

    The Atkins Website - http://www.atkins.com/

    The South Beach Diet Website - http://www.southbeachdiet.com/

    LowCarb.ca - http://www.lowcarb.ca/

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    Photo Credit

    Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/camswitzer/3292254672/.