Thinking of trying the Atkins Diet? Then here’s a breakdown of what you’re getting into, and everything you need to know before getting started!
The Atkins Diet is a low-carb diet which is often recommended for weight loss. It requires reducing the intake of carbs and consuming more protein. This diet was proposed by Dr. Robert C. Atkins, a physician, who also wrote a best-selling book on it in 1972.
Dr. Atkins had theorized that excess consumption of carbohydrates is the main cause of weight gain. Hence, in this diet, you can eat as much fat and protein as you want, while avoiding foods with high carbohydrates. Due to the high saturated fat consumption, the diet was originally considered as unhealthy for the body. But new research has shown that saturated fat is not harmful as they are ‘good’ fats. You can read more about the health tip myths that are more harmful than helpful in this article.
The Atkins diet has been studied thoroughly over the years. It has been found that it leads to more weight loss and a greater improvement in blood sugar, triglycerides, good cholesterol and other health markers than low-fat diets. The reason why low-carb diets bring about significant weight loss is that when you eat fewer carbs and more protein, you automatically have a reduced appetite. Hence, you consume fewer calories.
There are 4 different phases in the Atkins diet:
- Phase 1 – Induction: You start this diet by consuming less than 20 grams of carbs per day for 2 weeks. You should eat food high in fat and protein and low-carb foods such as leafy green vegetables. According to Atkins, you can lose up to 15 pounds in this phase.
- Phase 2 – Balancing: You can slowly add more low-carb vegetables, nuts, and fruits back into your diet.
- Phase 3 – Fine Tuning: You can start consuming more carbs when you feel you are closer to goal weight. This will slow down the weight loss process.
- Phase 4 – Maintenance: In this phase, you can add healthy carbs back to your diet, but the quantity should be such that your body should not start gaining weight again.
Atkins diet plan:
The Atkins diet categorizes foods as ‘to eat’, ‘to avoid, and ‘may or may not consume’.
Foods to eat
Your meals should mainly comprise of these foods:
- Healthy fats such as avocados, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil
- Eggs, ideally omega-3 enriched or pastured ones
- Meats such as lamb, chicken, beef, and others
- Seeds and nuts including sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts
- Low carb vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, kale and spinach
- Full-fat dairy including butter, cheese, full-fat yogurt and cream
- Seafood and fatty fish such as sardines, trout, and salmon
Foods that may be consumed:
Certain foods that may be consumed on this diet include dark chocolate, heavy cream, and cheese. These foods are considered as fattening as they contain high fat and calories. But since the body burns fat in the absence of carbs, these foods may safely be consumed in small amounts without gaining weight.
Foods to avoid
These foods should be avoided when on an Atkins diet.
- High carb fruits such as pears, grapes, apples, bananas and oranges (in the induction phase only)
- High carb vegetables such as turnips and carrots (in the induction phase only)
- Grains including rice, barley, rye and wheat
- Sugary foods such as cakes, candy and ice cream and sweetened beverages including soft drinks and fruit juice
- ‘Diet’ and ‘low-fat’ foods which are available at supermarkets. These are processed and contain a lot of added sugar
- Starchy foods including potatoes and sweet potatoes (in the induction phase only)
- Foods are high in trans-fat. They are usually processed foods which contain the word ‘hydrogenated’ in the ingredients lists
- Vegetable oils including corn oil, canola oil, and soybean oil
Beverages that can be consumed:
Some of the drinks that can be consumed on an Atkins diet include:
- Green tea, which is extremely healthy for digestion and metabolism
- Coffee, which according to studies contains antioxidants and is quite healthy
Healthy snacks with low-carbs
If you feel hungry between meals, there are a few healthy snacks that can be eaten on an Atkins diet. They include:
- 1-2 hardboiled eggs
- Some nuts
- Greek yogurt
- Baby carrots
- Fruits (after the induction phase)
- Some meat
Advantages of the Atkins diet
- There is no calorie counting, which can be quite time-consuming, involved in this diet. You need to monitor your carb intake while following this diet.
- The Atkins diet proposes an eating plan that is very healthy, and it does not restrict the quantity of food which can be eaten.
- You start eating healthy carbs when following this diet plan. Refined carbs such as white bread and cakes are quite unhealthy for your bodies.
- This diet can improve cholesterol and sugar levels in the body.
- The Atkins diet has brought about significant weight loss in a lot of people. Many have even lost weight of 80 pounds or more when on this diet.
- If you cannot prepare low carb meals all the time, special Atkins snack bars and meal replacements are available in most stores.
- Resources for this diet, including food guides and meal plans, are easily available on the internet. Moreover, Atkins books are also available online and in bookstores.
Disadvantages of the Atkins diet
There are some drawbacks of this diet too.
- Those people who love eating fruit may struggle in keeping up with this diet, especially in the early phases.
- Following this diet means not eating many common and popular foods such as pasta, chips, and bread.
- This diet is also considered as being too strict by some people.
- This strictness can also cause episodes of food binges. If these occur frequently then weight gain may occur.
- This diet plan can cause constipation, halitosis, and dehydration.
- Carbohydrates provide instant energy to our bodies. But since this is a low carb diet, people start feeling tired.
Many people feel that the Atkins diet suits them very well and brings about the desired weight loss. You should try out this diet for a few weeks and assess whether or not it is effective for you.