In modern times many of us have been following several kinds of diet and food plan to be healthy and fit in shape. Whether you are following a fat-free diet or keto diet, its all is quite related to our health. It might be possible that you know about the Atkins diet as well. Yes.. its another form of a diet plan followed by many people in the world. So in this post we will learn & explore much about the Atkins diet plan, its basics, why, and who to follow the Atkins diet? What a person can eat in this diet plan & what he/she can’t eat? What are the four phases of the Atkins diet? what are the benefits of this specific diet plan? and what are the disadvantages of the Atkins diet plan if it has any? and so on…
What is Atkins Diet?
The Atkins diet is a low-carbohydrate fad diet which aims to help a person lose weight by limiting carbohydrates and controlling insulin levels.Dr. Robert C. Atkins, an American cardiologist, formulated the diet in the early 1970s. Since then, the Atkins diet has been popular all over the world. Proponents of this diet claim that you can lose weight while eating as much protein and fat as you want, as long as you avoid foods high in carbs.
According to Dr. Atkins, the main reason for weight gain is the consumption of refined carbohydrates, or carbs, especially sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and flour.
The diet was inspired by a low-carbohydrate approach. In his early books such as Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, Atkins made the controversial argument that the low-carbohydrate diet produces a metabolic advantage because “burning fat takes more calories so you expend more calories”; the Atkins diet was claimed to be “a high-calorie way to stay thin forever”.
The diet was originally considered unhealthy and demonized by the mainstream health authorities, mostly due to its high saturated fat content but now new studies suggested that saturated fat is harmless. Now, this diet plan has evolved over time and encourages people to eat more high fiber vegetables and do more exercise than it did in the past.
The diet has been studied thoroughly and shown to lead to more weight loss and greater improvements in blood sugar, “good” HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and other health markers than low-fat diets. Despite being high in fat, it does not raise “bad” LDL cholesterol on average, though this does happen in a subset of individuals.
The Promise Of Atkins Diet
Atkins diet promises that You can lose weight while you eat a diet rich in protein and fat, and very low in carbs, and you shouldn’t feel hungry or deprived. Today’s Atkins focuses more on lean proteins, healthy fats, and high-fiber vegetables as part of the plans.
Millions of people have lost weight on Atkins. So in simple words, this specific diet can be followed by those people who are having issues with their overweight want to reduce their weight.
The Purpose Of Atkins Diet
The purpose of this diet is to change your eating habits to help you lose weight and keep it off. The Atkins Diet also says it’s a healthy lifelong approach to eating, whether you want to lose weight, boost your energy or help improve certain health problems, such as high blood pressure or metabolic syndrome.
How Does It Work?
When a person follows the Atkins Diet, their body’s metabolism switches from burning glucose, or sugar, as fuel to burning stored body fat. This switch is called ketosis.
When glucose levels are low, insulin levels are also low, and ketosis occurs. In other words, when glucose levels are low, the body switches to using its fat stores, as well as dietary fat, for energy. In theory, this can help a person lose body fat and weight.
Fruits and grains are high in carbs, and a person on the Atkins diet restricts these, especially in the early stages. However, these foods are also good sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.
To make up for the lack of nutrient-rich foods, the Atkins diet encourages people to use vitamin and mineral supplements. This diet is a low carb diet where the body burns more calories than on other diets because ketosis occurs. It is a kind of ketogenic diet, though protein intake is typically higher, and fat is lower in comparison to a traditional ketogenic diet.
Why & Who Should Follow The Atkins Diet?
You might choose to follow the Atkins Diet if you:
- If you want to lose weight.
- Want a diet that restricts certain carbs to help you lose weight.
- Have medical concerns you think the diet can help you to improve that condition.
- Enjoy the types and amounts of food featured in the diet.
- Want to change your overall eating habits.
- Like the related Atkins Diet products, such as shakes and bars, etc.
What you can eat?
There are four phases to the standard Atkins diet, which is also called as Atkins 20. It focuses on proteins and fats like:
- Meats- Beef, pork, bacon, chicken, lamb, and others.
- Fatty fish and Seafood like- Trout, salmon, sardines, etc.
- Oils like- Extra virgin olive oil, avocados and avocado oil, coconut oil
- Full-fat dairy products like- Butter, cream, cheese, and full-fat yogurt.
- Nuts and seeds like- Almond, walnuts, macadamia nuts, and sunflower seeds, etc.
- Low-carb vegetables- Kale, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and others.
Beverages (you can drink)
Here are some drinks that are acceptable on the Atkins diet and you can take these:
- Water – As always, water is that liquid which you can drink as much as you want.
- Coffee – Many studies show that coffee is high in antioxidants and quite healthy.
- Green tea – A very healthy beverage of all time.
- Alcohol – It is also fine in small amounts. Try to stick to dry wines with no added sugars and avoid high-carb drinks like beer.
What foods you should avoid?
A person who is following the Atkins diet should have to stay away from starchy and sugary carbs, including:
- Starches – Potatoes, sweet potatoes (induction phase only)
- Sugar – Cookies, candies, soft drinks, fruit juices, ice cream, etc.
- Grains like – Wheat, spelt, rye, barley, rice.
- Vegetable oils – Soybean oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, and a few others.
- High-carb vegetables – Carrots, turnips, etc. (induction phase only)
- High-carb fruits – Bananas, apples, oranges, pears, grapes ( induction phase only)
- Legumes – Lentils, beans, chickpeas, etc. (induction phase only).
Phases Of The Atkins Diet
Standard Atkins diet has four phases, also known as Atkins 20. Depending on your weight-loss goals, you can start at any of the first three phases.
In this strict phase, you cut out almost all carbohydrates from your diet, a person consumes less than 20 grams of net carbs a day, mainly from vegetables. This process is called ketosis, and you should notice weight loss quickly. The dieter eats high fat, high protein food with low carb vegetables, such as leafy greens. Basically, The goal of phase 1 is to stimulate your body’s ability to burn fat. And because you lose the most weight during this phase, it is designed to motivate you to stick with the diet.
Phase 2(Ongoing weight loss)
During this phase, people slowly and gradually add some nutrient-dense and fiber-rich foods as additional sources of carbs and whole-food carbohydrates back to their diet. These foods include nuts, seeds, low carb vegetables, and small amounts of berries. People can also add soft cheeses in this phase. In phase 2, a person can add:
- 20–25 g of carbs per day during the first week.
- 30 g of carbs during the second week.
- 30 g each subsequent week until weight loss slows to 1–2 pounds a week.
The aim of phase 2 is to find out how many carbs an individual can eat while continuing to lose weight. This phase continues until the individual is within 5–10 pounds of their target weight.
Phase 3(Pre maintenance)
When a dieter is very close to his/her goal weight, then he/she starts to add more carbs in the diet until the weight loss slows down. Dieters increase their carbs intake by 10 g each week. They can start introducing legumes, such as lentils and beans, fruit, starchy vegetables, and whole grains to the diet. Phase 3 lasts for at least a month after reaching your desired weight.
Phase 4(Lifetime maintenance)
Once you reach your ideal weight, you continue to eat a predominantly low-carbohydrate (80-100 Net Carbs per day) diet for life. You’ll follow this for the rest of your life, to ensure that you don’t gain back what you’ve lost.
A newer version of Atkins, called Atkins 40, has more relaxed rules and allows you to start with 40 grams of carbs in the daily diet. It doesn’t exclude any food groups at first, as Atkins 20 does.
There are limits to the amount of butter or fats that you should eat, but no strict guidelines for meats or other proteins.
Advantages Of Atkins Diet
Atkins is one of a number of diets that aims to help people manage their weight and prevent related health conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. When you’re overweight, shedding pounds can improve your health, and we know the Atkins diet works. A review found evidence that the Atkins diet followed for 12 months can be more effective for weight loss than other popular diets.
Recent research suggests that people on the Atkins diet who chose foods rich in plant fat and protein did better with their health than those who went with the diet rich in animal fat and protein. This makes sense, and the Atkins 20 and Atkins 40 diets reflect this idea. They focus more on getting fat and protein from heart-healthy choices like olive oil and protein like soy and lentils.
If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or high cholesterol, talk to your doctor before starting this diet to make sure the balance of carbs, fat, and protein is right for you.
Disadvantages Of Atkins Diet
Many people have reported the following adverse effects while following the Atkins diet plan, especially in the early stages:
- Unusual smelling breath.
When the body uses fat rather than glucose for energy, ketones can build up before the body uses them efficiently for fuel. This process increases the urinary excretion of electrolytes, which may contribute to these symptoms.
Take on exercise while following the Atkins diet?
Yes, you can exercise to double up the results. Supporters of the Atkins diet say that exercise is not essential for weight loss. However, they call it a “win-win” activity, as it can help boost energy and overall well-being. They advise dieters to –
- Get carbs from vegetables.
- Consume plenty of protein.
- Eat a high protein meal within 30 minutes of finishing.
- Eat a snack, for example, a hard-boiled egg, around an hour before exercising.
Is this diet Gluten-free?
It’s easy to stick to that eating plan when you’re on Atkins. Foods with gluten are high in carbs. People on Atkins eat less gluten than people who eat the standard (normal) diet.
Finding a support system
You can follow Atkins by reading a book, but if you want extra support, the Atkins website has support groups and chat rooms, where you can talk to others who are losing weight the same way you are. There are also free recipes, meal trackers, and apps to make it simple to count carbs, plan meals, and shop.
The Atkins diet may help a person lose weight. For the person who needs structure in their diet, limiting starchy, sugary carbs will help cut calories and allow for weight loss. And focusing on proteins and fats that are plant-based is the healthy and smart thing to do.
For many, losing weight will also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other aspects of metabolic syndrome. While a low carb approach may not work or be sustainable for everyone, clinical trials show that the Atkins diet results in similar or greater weight loss in those following it for at least 12 months compared to other options.
For your long-term health, you have to move on from the initial Atkins 20 diet. It’s the later phases of the diet, especially the Atkins 40, that give you the variety of foods that are important for health. You have to exercise and keep portions small while you start eating nuts, seeds, beans, fruits, starchy vegetables, and whole grains again.
Always check with your doctor before starting a weight loss program, especially if you have certain health problems or if you take medications.
At the end of the day, the Atkins diet is a healthy and very effective way to lose weight. You won’t be disappointed.