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TheDailyBeast: Most Effective Diets for 2012

5. Atkins Diet

The Trick: Strict limits on all carbohydrates

Dr. Robert Atkins published "Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution" in 1972, establishing what became one of the most popular diet franchises of the last decade. While the diet's popularity has waxed and waned throughout the last four decades, a generic low-carb diet has been proven to help keep the flab off once weight has been lost. The program limits dietary intake of net carbohydrates (total carbohydrates minus dietary fiber), which Atkins theorized increases one's metabolism and burns stored body fat. "When fat is used as fuel, as it is on a low-carbohydrate diet, it gets mobilized. It does not accumulate, so weight and cholesterol drop," Atkins said in 2000. (Washington Times, July 2 2000). Dr. Atkins started Atkins Nutritionals in 1989, producing low-carb food products for dieters and published "Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution" three years later. The book and its predecessor sold a combined 18 million copies in the U.S. By 2004, a year after Atkins death, more than 9 percent of the U.S. population was on a low-carb diet and pasta sales declined 10 percent. But by the end of 2005, the fad faded and Atkins Nutritionals declared bankruptcy (it reopened in 2006).

Breakdown:
6-month mean attrition rate (7%)
6-month mean weight loss (12.1 lbs.)
12-month mean attrition rate (11%)
12-month mean weight loss (10.7 lbs.)
12-month BMI loss (1.7)
Nutrition score (42.3 out of 70 (post-induction phase)

Clinical studies: The Journal of American Medical Association, March 2007, Annals of Internal Medicine, August 2010

(AP Photo/Atkins Center)
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