The Atkins Diet – What You Need to Know

The original Atkins diet has become the go-to weight loss diet for millions of people. The thing that attracts so many people to it is its simplicity (along with the fact that it’s a low carb keto diet). 

Every human body with a limited carb intake to 20 grams per day, burns fat. Today, the fat that’s burned when the carb intake is low, is known as ketosis. 

People that support the diet say that you can lose weight while eating as much protein and fat as you want, so long as you keep away from foods high in carbs. 

Over the years, many studies have shown that low-carb diets without the need for calorie counting are successful weight loss channels that have various health improvements. 

Who Invented the Atkins Diet?

The Atkins diet was first introduced in a best-selling book by the physician Dr. Robert C. Atkins was promoted in 1972. 

Since then there are countless books written about the Atkins Diet. But the beginnings weren’t as smooth as you might think. The general public believed that this diet is unhealthy, due to the demonization by some health authorities. The main problem that they saw in the diet is the saturated fat content. 

However, new studies are breaking this stigma and are coming with proof that saturated fat is harmless. Since then, the diet is examined in great detail and the data has shown that the diet leads to improvement in blood sugar and fast weight loss. Additional benefits of the Atkins diet are the “good” cholesterol and triglycerides. Another important thing is the fact that besides being high in fat, for most people, it does not raise the “bad” LDL cholesterol. Before we go deeper, let’s do an Atkins diet food review.

What Do You Eat on the Atkins Diet?

The Atkins diet is a low carb diet consisted of foods such as meat, fatty fish and seafood, eggs, low-carb vegetables and full-fat dairies, such as cheese or full-fat-yogurt.

This diet is a flexible one. The initial two weeks or the so-called induction phase is the hardest part. This is where most people give up on their plans because they can’t stand the drastic minimization of carb intakes. 

In general, the effectiveness of low-carb diets is due to the reduction in carbs and increased protein intake is reducing our appetite. This means that you’re eating fewer calories without having to think about it. 

After the initial phase is over, you can slowly add back healthier carbs. This includes higher-carb vegetables, berries, fruits, legumes, potatoes, and healthier grains like oats and rice. 

Atkins Diet Phases

The Atkins diet has four phases:

Phase 1: Induction

As we mentioned before, the first phase of the Atkins is focused on reducing dramatically the carbohydrate intake. It’s the most restrictive phase of the whole program. It’s where the results are most obvious and people lose weight. This occurs because the body starts burning fat for energy when much-needed calories from carbohydrates are not available.

The induction phase has not been proven to be harmful. The duration of the phase varies from the minimum two weeks, up to a couple of months, depending on the weight you’re trying to lose. 

This is what you go into when you’re in the Induction phase:

  • The consumption of carbohydrates is limited to 20 grams per day coming primarily from carbohydrates for a minimum of two weeks. 
  • When you have those hard stomach-rumbling moments go for foods that combine fat and protein. Foods like poultry, lamb, limited amounts of hard cheeses, fish, eggs, pork, and beef. 
  • A healthy balance of natural fats such as polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fats is recommended. However, it’s forbidden to consume manufactured trans fats (e.g. hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils)
  • Drink at least eight glasses of water daily. 

However, not everyone who is on this diet is trying to lose weight. For some, the goal is to break addictions to junk food and sugar. In this case, calorie intake must be very high to avoid weight loss. 

Phase 2: Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL)

When you reach the second phase or, your weight loss rate will gradually slow down. The first week on Ongoing Weight Loss, you’ll increase your daily carb intake from 20 to 25 grams. In the following weeks you move on to 30 grams of Net Carbs, and so on. The increase should be done weekly until the weight loss reduces to one to two pounds each week. 

The Ongoing Weight Loss is the phase where you’ll realize how many grams of carbs you can consume and still lose weight. This is called your carb balance. 

In this phase, you are allowed to include nutrient-dense foods like more non-starchy veggies (broccoli and asparagus, to name a few), strawberries and raspberries, nuts and seeds like hazelnuts and almonds, and cottage cheese (soft cheese). 

The length of the second phase is up to you. Once you’re within 5 to 10 pounds of your weight goal, you can go on to the next phase. 

Phase 3: Pre-Maintenance

Welcome to the Pre-maintenance phase of the Atkins. Since your weight goal is in sight, you mustn’t let go. Lose the last few pounds very carefully to ease the transition to permanently change the way you eat. The pre-maintenance phase lasts until you hit your target weight and maintain it for a month. In every following week in this phase, you can add 10 more grams of Net Carbs to your daily allotment. As long as your weight loss continues, you can gradually include foods such as lentils and other legumes, fruits other than berries, whole grains and starchy vegetables. 

Once you maintain your weight goal for a whole month, it’s safe to say that you’ve found your carb tolerance level. At this optimal level of carb intake where you’re not gaining or losing weight, you’re ready for the final phase of the Atkins diet. 

Phase 4: Lifetime Maintenance

This is the final stage of the Atkins diet and the most crucial one. Here, the average number of daily grams of Net Carbs ranges from 40 to 120 per day, depending on your metabolism, gender, age, activity level, and other factors. If you’re a person that exercises regularly, you’ll probably have a higher carb tolerance level.

This phase is created to help you stay healthy throughout your life.

Atkins Diets Disadvantages 

The Atkins diet has admitted that the dramatic carb reduction in the early phase of the program has some side effects such as headache, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, and constipation.

Also, there are low carb diets that restrict carbohydrates so much that they make people end up with nutritional deficiencies or insufficient fiber. This can cause health problems like diarrhea, nausea or constipation. 

To Sum Up

If you’re seriously considering the Atkins diet, it’s best to talk to your doctor or an Atkins diet nutritionist. With that said, this diet isn’t for everyone. Also, people with severe kidney disease should not follow the diet. Additionally, critical weight loss phases aren’t suitable for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. 

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