It is always so easy to gain weight but a near impossible task to shed them! Losing weight straight away means that we have to go hungry, give up all tasty food and settle down for bland boiled veggies. But what if you were told that you can eat bacon, eggs, smoked salmon with cream cheese or even steak cooked in butter and still lose weight? Yes, this is indeed true! Thanks to Atkins Diet, you can gorge on meat and mayonnaise-laden sandwiches and still lose weight! Let’s walk through the ins and outs of this diet plan and get inspired for a healthier life!
What is the Atkins Diet?
Originally promoted by the Cardiologist Robert C. Atkins in his book, ‘Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution’, the diet plan is about cutting down the carbohydrate content from the diet to a negligible level and increasing the protein and fat portion. Also popularly referred to as the Atkins, Nutritional Approach, the diet plan was originally created for quick and effective weight loss. It is this diet plan which had started the trend of the low carb diet. Instead of a diet plan, it was considered as a healthy approach to eating.
The book’s second version was published in 2002. The plan is divided into four phases and has undergone healthier changes according to the latest knowledge and developments. Many health experts had considered the original plan as unhealthy due to the high content of saturated fats. The modern version is a much healthier take on the original version.
How Does the Atkins Diet Plan Work?
As a general rule, our food is turned into glycogen and released in the blood. Our body converts them into energy and uses it for all body requirements. The remaining glycogen is converted into fats and stored with the help of the insulin hormone. By following the Atkins diet, the body’s source of energy gets transferred from glycogen to stored fats. This state is referred to as the ketosis phase. This is achieved in four phase. The Atkins diet effectiveness in losing weight rapidly has been remarkable.
The Four Phases of the Atkins Diet
As already discussed, the Atkins diet is conducted in four phases which are as below:
Phase 1: Induction Phase
This is the first phase of the diet plan where one is supposed to follow some dietary rules like:
- The carbohydrate intake per day should not exceed 20g of net carbohydrates. This comes mostly from certainly specified vegetables for this phase.
- Your protein intake comes mostly from poultry, eggs, cheese and red meat.
- Freely allowed fat sources are fats, margarine, cream and vegetable oils
- You cannot have refined carbohydrate sources like pasta, bread, grains, starchy vegetables, fruits, and yogurt.
- You cannot have any nuts, seeds, legumes like peas, beans or lentils.
- No caffeine or alcohol is allowed
- You must at least have 8 drinks of 228 ml of which two can be coffee or tea.
- Calorie free sweeteners can be taken in place of sugars.
This phase should ideally last for about two weeks in which you can expect to be around 7 kgs short of your desired weight goal. In case, you have more weight to lose, this time frame can be extended.
Phase 2: Balancing Phase
In this stage, you are adding some nutrient dense and fiber rich foods are added back to the diet like nuts, seeds, some more vegetables, fruits etc. as more carbohydrate sources. Here the net carb can go up to 50 gm per day but gradually. The first week the net carbohydrate amount is 25 g per day and then 5 gm more is added each week though it must not exceed 50 gm net per day. After it, if the person on the diet plan has stopped losing weight, he/she would again reduce the carb by 5 mg per day per week till they slowly start losing weight again.
Phase 3: Fine-Tuning or Pre-Maintenance
The carbohydrate content is further increased here to get 80 gm per week while the rate of increase is 10 gm per day gradually in the same manner as it was increased in phase 2.
Phase 4: Lifetime Maintenance
This is the lifetime phase in which wider range of carbohydrates is added which stress on healthy eating such that you do not increase your weight but maintain it at a static level.
Atkins Diet Food List
While planning your menu or shopping for food items, the agenda with Atkins diet is to opt for fatty protein source with some vegetables, nuts and some healthy fats. We would thus list out foods that we can eat and food items to avoid. Check out:
Foods to Eat on the Atkins Diet
- Meats like beef, lamb, pork, chicken, bacon etc.
- Fatty fish and seafood like sardines, trout, salmon etc.
- Normal eggs or Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs.
- Low carb vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli
- Full-fat dairy like butter, cheese, yogurt, cream etc.
- Healthy fats like virgin oil, coconut oil, avocados etc.
- Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds etc.
- Beverages like green tea, coffee without sugar, water etc.
- Alcohol can be taken in small amounts. Preferred are dry wine and low carb alcohols.
Foods to Avoid on the Atkins Diet
- Grains like wheat, rice, rye, barley etc.
- Sugar and sugar additives like fruit juices, soft drinks, cakes, candies, chocolates, ice-creams etc.
- Vegetable oils like soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil etc.
- Trans fat like in processed food and anything with the term ‘hydrogenated’ in its ingredient list.
- High carb vegetables like carrots, turnips etc. ( not allowed only in induction phase)
- Diet and ‘low-fat foods’ as they have high sugar content.
- High carb fruits like banana, pear, oranges, apples, etc. (not allowed only in induction phase)
- Starches like sweet potatoes, potatoes etc. (not allowed only in induction phase)
- Legumes like lentils, beans, chickpeas etc. (not allowed only in induction phase)
To help you understand how to create your meal plan, you can refer to this easy sample weekly menu plan below as your guide. The plan is for the induction phase.
Benefits of the Atkins Diet
Atkins diet is perhaps one of the most successful diet plans available today which has helped many health buffs reap numerous advantage by sticking to its guidelines. Let’s throw light on some of the key advantages of following this diet.
- Weight Loss
The major reason the Atkins diet became popular was that of the tremendous weight loss results it gave without any hunger pangs. It gives you rapid weight loss especially during the first phase which can be a source of pure joy for anybody seriously interested in losing weight. While results may vary, you can lose up to 15 pounds of weight in the first two weeks of the first phase.
- No Calorie Count or Hunger Pangs
We inadvertently associate cut off of all fatty foods and hunger pangs with any diet plans. But with Atkins diet, you can actually have your fill of protein rich and good fats rich food. Moreover, with cutting down on carbs, you tend to lose out on your hunger pangs and thus you tend to eat less overall. Moreover, proteins and fats take much longer time to digest thereby keeping you satiated for longer hours.
- Improvement and Control of CardiovascularDdiseases
Studies have shown that the Atkins diet can improve the good triglyceride levels in the blood while decreasing the unhealthy cholesterol content of LDL. This prevents the hardening of the arterial walls and thus helps in keeping a healthy heart and keeping various heart diseases like heart attacks, hypertension etc. at bay.
- Reduced Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels
It is very easy for the body to break down carbohydrates into simple sugars and release them into the blood. Thus, blood sugar levels can spike easily and can prove toxic. In response, the body starts releasing the hormone insulin which converts the blood sugars into energy as well as fat for storing. However, this leads to a body to a condition called ‘insulin resistance’ wherein the body starts failing to bring the blood sugar level down. This leads to type 2 Diabetes. However, when you remove carbohydrate from your diet; the need for insulin decreases. This is because the fats and proteins take much longer time to be digested and they are released as ketones in the blood. Thus, the diet is very effective for diabetes patients.
- Highly Effective Against Metabolic Syndrome
The metabolic syndrome is nothing but a collection of symptoms like abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, high triglycerides and low HDL levels. The Atkins diet can reverse all the five symptoms and thus leaves you healthier as well as more energized.
- Epilepsy and Related Diseases
Between 2004 and 2014, about thirty studies were conducted using the Modified Atkins Diet and it was proved that the diet was highly effective in reducing symptoms of epilepsy and its related seizure in both adults and children.
- Helps in Preventing Cancer and Various other Diseases including Mental Ones
The Atkins diet has proved highly effective in fighting many diseases including cancer. The diet is also highly effective in combating many brains’ disorder like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease etc. It is also effective in fighting the endocrine disorder disease PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) found mostly in women and triggered by obesity, hyperinsulinemia, and insulin resistance. Thus, the diet can help you fight various grave diseases.
Disadvantages of the Atkins Diet
Undoubtedly, the Atkins diet offers many advantages but its disadvantages and side effects cannot be ignored as well. Few of its major side effects are:-
- Very Restrictive in Nature
This is perhaps the biggest drawback of the diet plan. The diet seriously restricts the carbohydrate intake which reduces your fiber intake as well as makes your diet have several nutritional deficiencies like that of calcium, potassium, magnesium etc. This can cause various health problems like constipation, nausea, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, weakness fatigue etc. The deficiency can be balanced with intake of oral supplements. Sometimes, people also complain of leg cramps.
- Causes Bad Breath
The Atkins diet leads to the formation of ketones instead of glucose in the body. Ketones have an acetone-like a smell. This manifests as bad breath. To counteract it, one needs to intensify their oral hygiene as well as use mouth freshener regularly.
- Trifle Difficult for Vegetarians
Though vegetarians too can opt for this diet their choice gets severely limited. The diet relies heavily on proteins from meat, fish and dairy products. Thus the diet plan is not really ideal for them.
- Health Hazards
The excess ketone production due to high protein and fat intake is also frowned upon by the health experts as it can be dangerous for the heart and other body organs especially the kidneys. It can cause kidney stones and even osteoporosis. The lack of fruits and vitamins can cause chronic bowel diseases.
The diet is also known to naturally cause constipation, headache etc. Increasing intake of water, relaxing, meditating etc. can help ebb down the symptoms.
- Keeping a Tab on Carbohydrates
The diet requires you to forever count your carbohydrate intake, especially in the first phase. This becomes especially difficult especially if carbs and high sugars is an integral part of your diet.
- An Imbalanced Diet
The diet severely lacks in minerals, vitamins fibers etc. Due to less consumption of fruits and vegetables, you are by default ingesting fewer amounts of vitamins and minerals. This leads to a nutritional deficiency in the body which needs to be balanced with oral supplements.
- Medical Restrictions
The diet is not recommended for everyone. Pregnant and nursing mothers are not advised to follow it. Simultaneously, people with kidney problems and high uric acid levels are strictly advised not to follow the diet plan. Moreover, people on any kind of medication like that of diabetes; diuretics, hypertension etc. must only follow the diet plan with the consent of their doctor and under their constant monitoring.
Atkins Diet Reviews
The Atkins Diet Plan has been amidst some of the biggest debatable topics amongst the health experts. The diet plan is the father of all low carb diet and especially the ketogenic diet. The diet plan takes away the staple food like grains, bread, pasta etc. This can lead to a seriously dissatisfied feeling and may make it difficult for a person to stick to this diet plan. It has been found that on an average, no person can continue with this diet plan beyond 2 to 3 years. Moreover, once you start taking in carbohydrates, the likeliness of weight gain increases. The diet plan also fails to meet the parameters of a well-balanced nutrition diet. However, its weight loss results cannot be denied either. The diet has helped many lose weight successfully. One can read many success stories online even of before and after. What we feel is that the diet plan is terrific to kick-start your weight loss endeavor and reach your target goal. Once there, one needs to get back to a well-balanced diet and incorporate an exercise regimen into their life which is absent in the diet plan. This will help you lead a more fulfilling and healthier life. You will not feel deprived of any class of food. Success Story Atkins Diet 2