Promoting a revamped Atkins diet, this four-phase program begins by restricting participants to consuming just 20 grams of carbohydrates daily for the first phase, then gradually increasing carbs in small increments until participants reach their weight-loss goals.
Dieters following this plan are encouraged to eat three meals and two snacks per day (vegetarian and vegan meal plans also are included). Charts show the daily recommended amounts of protein for both men and women. While few parameters are given for exactly how much fat to eat daily, the authors encourage fat intake — mostly healthy fats — to provide calories, satiety and taste. The authors tell readers what to expect in each phase and give advice for coping with binging, reacting to trigger foods, plateauing, eating out and diabetes.
The authors state that some people may need to stay below a net 50 grams of carbs for maintenance. This is less than half the established minimum level of 120 grams of carbohydrates required for adequate brain function and daily energy. In fact, this carbohydrate level doesn’t support good health or energy needs for regular physical activity and may actually slow down metabolism.
Though the book touts more than 60 scientific studies that back low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss and weight maintenance, this diet is restrictive and difficult to follow long term. The program doesn’t prioritize regular exercise until the lifetime maintenance phase of the program, perhaps because the very-low-carbohydrate intake may not provide enough energy to support regular exercise. This is not a sustainable lifestyle approach, nor is it a diet I would recommend for modest weight loss. That said, these diets do induce weight loss as effectively as traditional calorie-restricted diets and have been shown in studies to improve cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar control.