Atkins recommends restriction of the intake of carbohydrates in order to switch the body metabolism from using glucose as the fuel to burning fat (both dietary and stored fat). This process of lipolysis begins when the body enters the state of ketosis as a consequence of running out of carbohydrates to burn.
For the first two weeks of the Atkins diet plan, carbohydrate intake is limited to 20-60 grams a day, meaning that protein and fat will, by necessity, form the bulk of the diet. In order to avoid health problems caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies during this period, vitamin and mineral supplements form an essential part of this phase of the diet. After the initial two week period, carbohydrate is gradually re-introduced into the diet until it reaches a level at which the dieter loses weight slowly and can reduce or eliminate the supplements. Once the target weight is reached, carbohydrate levels are again gradually increased until the dieter's weight becomes stable. Each of these carbohydrate levels varies from person to person. Dr. Atkins argues that many eating disorders are the result of hyperinsulinism, or excessive secretion of insulin, which, according to Atkins, causes food cravings and unstable blood sugar levels. Atkins claims that his diet stabilizes insulin and blood sugar levels, eliminating cravings and often reducing appetite.
A research study carried out by the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania, reported in May 2003 that the Atkins diet raised levels of HDL (or "good") cholesterol by an average of 11% and slashed the amount of triglycerides in the bloodstream by 17%. In the study, conventional dieters' HDL cholesterol raised by only 1.6% while their triglyceride levels did not improve significantly. Weight loss was also statistically greater in the Atkins dieters after three and six months compared with the conventional dieters (although this did not remain statistically significant after a year). The study followed the diets of 63 obese men and women. (See New Scientist, May 21 2003)
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Low-carbohydrate diets have been the subject of heated debate in medical circles for three decades.  The Atkins diet has generally been considered by most medical and nutritional experts to be unsound, even bogus, so much so that until recently no serious research has been done on it or other low carbohydrate diets. However a few small research projects, as well as a great deal of anecdotal evidence, have shown such diets to help participants lose weight. Two large-scale studies are planned, one funded by Atkins's nonprofit foundation. There is often a initial weight loss upon starting on this diet; however, this is due to reduction in stored glycogen and related water in muscles, not fat loss. No evidence has surfaced that any diet will cause weight loss unless it reduces calories below the maintenance level.
Newer studies show that the Atkins Diet can decrease the level of the bad LDL cholesterin and increase the level of the High density lipoprotein (good cholesterin). Studies also showed that there are benefits for heartstroke as well as diabetic patients. Right now many experts are already discussing a low carb nutrition for diabetic patients who may then be able to live their lifes without any insulin. The latest information and recipes about Atkins Diet can be found in German on www.lowcarbforum.de  Like any diet, the health effects will depend a great deal on the food choices one makes to meet the macronutrient requirements specified by the diet.
Dr. Robert Eckel of the American Heart Association says that high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets put people at risk for heart disease. 
See: Diet, Dieting, List of diets, Quackery