Atkins Diet Glossary
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A Glossary of Atkins Diet Terms and Definitions – Eating Right and Staying Healthy

Diet plans can be so technical! How are you supposed to follow a plan that you don’t understand? All those medical terms – all that jargon. It can be very confusing and very frustrating. That’s why we’ve compiled this glossary of Atkins Diet terms and definitions – to help you understand the program. Then you’ll know why you’re doing what you’re doing in following the Atkins Diet. Read these terms carefully – understand them – and start losing weight!

  • Age-defying diet
    Age-defying diet is a term Dr. Atkins has used to refer to the controlled-carbohydrate Atkins Nutritional ApproachTM that is the foundation of his philosophy. By cutting down carbohydrate intake, you help minimize a biochemical reaction known as glycation, in which protein and glucose combine and decrease the elasticity of vessels and organs, thus aging our cells. However, by controlling blood sugar with a controlled-carbohydrate lifestyle, damage to cells can be minimized.

  • Antioxidant
    An antioxidant is a chemical or other agent that inhibits or retards oxidation, whose by-products can cause premature aging, cancer, heart disease, arthritis and other diseases.

  • Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium (ACE)
    ACE refers to the number of grams of net carbs you can eat without gaining or losing weight.

  • Atkins ratio
    The Atkins ratio represents the antioxidant content relative to the number of grams of carbohydrate present in foods, thereby allowing selection of the most antioxidant-rich, controlled carb food (the healthiest). The higher the ratio the better.

  • Basal metabolic rate (BMR)
    BMR refers to the rate of oxygen consumption by the body when it’s at complete rest or long after a meal.

  • Benign dietary ketosis (BDK)
    BDK is the process during which fat is burned for energy. First the fat is broken down into glycerol and free fatty acids, which are further broken down into ketone bodies. Ketone bodies are smaller fragments made of carbon that can be metabolized for fuel when there is little glucose (from carbohydrates) available. BDK is safe and allows the breakdown of body fat for fuel, resulting in weight loss. Most people can achieve BDK by consuming fewer than 40 grams of carbohydrates daily.

  • Body mass index (BMI)
    BMI measures a person's weight in relation to his or her height.

  • Calorie
    A calorie is a unit by which energy is measured.

  • Carbohydrate
    Carbohydrates are nutrients that supply calories to the body. Sources include grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and other plant foods. When completely broken down in the body, a gram of carbohydrate yields about 4 calories. The Atkins Nutritional ApproachTM advises low carbohydrate intake, and the more active an individual, the higher the tolerance.

  • Cholesterol
    Cholesterol is a compound composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms arranged in rings. It is found only in animal foods such as meat, eggs and dairy products, as well as shellfish. In the body, dietary cholesterol serves as a structural component of cell membranes and also contributes to other functions.

  • Complementary medicine
    Complementary, or alternative medicine is the best possible option chosen from all the healing arts, including both mainstream and alternative (or natural) therapies.

  • Controlled carbohydrate diet
    A controlled carbohydrate diet is included in a lifestyle that includes a limited intake of carbohydrates to lose and maintain weight by emphasizing whole, nutrient-dense foods.

  • Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CCLL)
    CCLL refers to the number of daily grams of carbohydrate intake at which weight loss occurs.

  • Critical Carbohydrate Level for Maintenance (CCLM)
    CCLM is the level of carbohydrate intake necessary to maintain weight while doing Atkins.

  • Enzyme
    An enzyme acts as a catalyst for a biological reaction, such as digestive enzymes facilitating the breakdown of food in digestion.

  • Essential fatty acids (EFAs)
    EFAs are polyunsaturated acids that are essential in the diet. Sources of EFAs are seeds (including flaxseed), oils (safflower, sunflower, corn) and deep-sea fish. They are necessary for normal functioning of the endocrine and reproductive systems and for breaking up cholesterol deposits on arterial walls. EFAs play an important role in fat transport and metabolism as well as maintaining the function and integrity of cellular membranes. A deficiency in EFAs causes decreased rate of growth, brittle and dull hair, nail problems, dandruff, allergic conditions and skin problems. Supplementation with EFAs has proven useful in treating high cholesterol, neurological disorders and other medical conditions, and also assisting in weight loss.

  • Essential Oils
    Essential Oils is an Atkins brand supplement formulation that contains essential fatty acids in addition to flaxseed and borage oils for optimal nutrition.

  • Fat
    Fat is a water-insoluble solid or semisolid compound that is one of the three sources of macro-nutrients (supplying calories) in food and essential for life. Fat insulates the body, ensuring temperature maintenance, supplies fatty acids and carries the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. When completely broken down in the body, a gram of fat yields about 9 calories.

  • Free radical
    Free radical refers to a highly reactive molecule that can bind to and destroy the body's cellular compounds. Most free radicals in the body are toxic forms of oxygen molecules. Similar to the formation of rust, oxygen in its toxic state can damage molecules in our bodies. The body tends to produce more free radicals with age, and they are believed to play a role in the onset of degenerative diseases, as well as heart disease and cancer.

  • High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL)
    HDL is considered the "good" cholesterol. It’s responsible for returning cholesterol and triglycerides (fats) from the cells and blood vessels to the liver. A high HDL blood level is associated with a lowered risk of heart attack.

  • Induction
    The initial phase of the Atkins Nutritional ApproachTM is called Induction. It lasts a minimum of two weeks, during which time it is recommended that carbohydrate consumption not exceed 20 grams a day. This will trigger a process called lipolysis/ketosis, in which the body burns its own fat for energy. After this phase, more grams of carbohydrate and a broader array of foods are gradually introduced, deliberately slowing the pace of weight loss.

  • Ketogenic diet
    A Ketogenic diet restricts carbohydrates, instead using stored body fat to provide fuel for the muscles, brain and other vital organs.

  • Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
    LDL is a carrier molecule that transports cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood from the liver to the body's cells. A high level of LDL is associated with a high risk of heart attack because it indicates there is too much artery-clogging cholesterol in the blood. Although long considered the "bad" cholesterol, recent research indicates that some sub-fractions of LDL are actually heart protective.

  • Lifetime Maintenance
    In the Atkins Nutritional ApproachTM, Lifetime Maintenance is the final phase in which desired weight loss has been attained and is sustained by ascertaining the individual's ACE.

  • Lipolysis
    Lipolysis is the natural process of burning fat for energy.

  • Metabolic advantage
    Metabolic advantage is gained by switching the body from a glucose metabolism to a fat metabolism, thereby allowing the consumption of a greater number of calories than is possible on low-fat weight-control programs.

  • Metabolism
    Metabolism transforms foods into basic elements that can be utilized by the body for energy or growth. It includes all the reactions by which the body obtains and spends the calories it gets from food.

  • Molecule
    A molecule is the smallest physical unit of an element or a compound.

  • Net Carbs
    Net Carbs are the carbohydrates that can be digested and processed by the body as dietary carbohydrate, so they directly impact blood sugar. The figure for Net Carbs represents the total grams of carbohydrate minus grams of fiber, glycerine and sugar alcohols. Net Carbs are the only carbs that you need to count when you do Atkins.

  • Nutrient density
    The nutrient density refers to the nutrients a food provides relative to the calories it dispenses. The more nutrients and the fewer calories, the higher its nutrient density.

  • Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL)
    OWL, in the Atkins Nutritional ApproachTM, is the dietary phase following the more stringent Induction phase. In this phase, individuals find the most liberal level of carb consumption that allows them to enjoy continued weight loss.

  • Polyunsaturated fat
    Polyunsaturated fat is a type of fatty acid with more than one double or triple bond per molecule. They’re found in fish, corn, walnuts, sunflower seeds, soybeans, cottonseed and safflower oil.

  • Pre-Maintenance
    Pre-Maintenance is the third phase of the Atkins Nutritional ApproachTM, when no more than 10 pounds remain to be lost. In this phase, carbohydrate intake is increased to the point where weight loss is deliberately slowed to a crawl. When goal weight has been sustained for at least a month, the individual then moves on to Lifetime Maintenance.

  • Protein
    Protein is one of three macronutrients that provide calories. It’s needed for the growth and repair of all human tissues. The body can make 13 of its 22 amino acids; the other 9, called essential amino acids, must be obtained in the diet. Protein provides the body with energy and heat, and is needed for the manufacture of hormones, antibodies and enzymes. It also maintains the body's acid/alkali balance.

  • Refined carbohydrates
    Refined carbohydrates refer to plant foods that have undergone a process by which their coarse parts are removed. For example, when wheat is refined into flour, the bran, germ and husk, all healthful components rich in vitamins or fiber, are taken away.

  • Serum cholesterol
    Serum cholesterol is a soft waxy substance present in all parts of the body including the nervous system, skin, muscle, liver, intestines and heart. It’s made by the body and obtained from fatty substances in the diet. Cholesterol is manufactured in the liver for normal body functions including the production of hormones, bile and vitamin D. It’s transported in the blood for use by all parts of the body.

  • Triglycerides
    Triglycerides are the chief form of fat in the diet and the major storage form of fat in the body. Serum levels of triglycerides indicate how much fat is moving through or clogging arteries.

So there you have it – a simple glossary of Atkins Diet terms and definitions. Not too technical – just enough to help you make an informed decision when choosing your diet plan. And the Atkins Diet is a simple plan. It’s a plan you can do. So if you want to lose weight, lose it the Atkins way. Right now, make that first move towards a feeling of confidence and self-joy, a feeling that comes naturally when you’re happy with your weight – and happy with your life!

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About The Author

Gareth Marples is a freelance writer providing valuable tips and advice to consumers about Dr. Robert Atkins and his sometimes controversial diet program, plus information on Atkins diet recipes and related food products. His numerous articles offer moneysaving tips and valuable insight on typically confusing topics.

This "Glossary of Atkin's Diet Terms & Definitions" reprinted with permission.

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