The Atkins Diet: All You Need to Know

When it comes to losing weight, the first thing that comes to mind is going on a diet. And when you say diet, a lot of people associate it to hardly eating or not eating at all. Unfortunately, this is a wrong way to look at it. Diets are healthy ways that ensure you get the right vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs in order to function properly. And one of the most popular diets that people try out is the Atkins diet.

Currently, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of diets that exist today. Some are healthy, some are not. Some do help you lose weight for the long term, while some are just temporary fixes.

Welcome to the Atkins Diet

The Atkins diet, also known as the Atkins nutritional approach, is basically a low-carbohydrate diet. This diet was brought about by Robert Atkins. He was inspired by a research paper he read entitled “Weight Reduction” by Alfred W. Pennington.

So how does the Atkins diet work?

You are allowed limited consumption of carbohydrates in order to switch the body’s metabolism from metabolizing glucose as energy to converting stored body fat to energy.

Fans of the diet say you can lose weight and eat as much protein and fat as you desire. However, you have to make sure to simply avoid food that are high in carbohydrate content.

It’s classified as a fad diet, meaning a diet that promises quick weight loss, but usually through unhealthy ways and means. However, despite that classification, plenty of people swear by it. Famous actress Alyssa Milano is a fan of this diet and blogs about her success in weight loss on the Atkins diet website.

Phases of the Atkins Diet

You don’t necessarily have to follow the order of the phases religiously. Depending on your weight loss goals, you can start at any of the first three phases. But of course, make sure to consult with a nutritionist first before venturing out on your own.

Phase 1: Induction

This is a very strict phase, where you cut out almost all carbohydrates from your diet. This helps your body switch from burning carbs to fat. You are required to eat just 20 grams of net carbs in a day, and these should be mostly from vegetables.

Make sure to incorporate high-fat and high-protein food in your diet, along with low-carb vegetables, like leafy greens. “Foundation” vegetables work best. Some examples are broccoli, asparagus, celery, green beans, cucumber, and peppers. These should account for 12-15 grams of your daily net carbs.

In this phase, you only get about 10 percent of the daily recommended calories from carbohydrates instead of the normal 45-65 percent.

High-protein food examples include poultry, fish and shellfish, eggs, meat, and cheese. And this diet highly encourages you to drink plenty of water, around 8 glasses a day.

Make sure to stick to this phase for 2 weeks.

Phase 2: Balancing

Once you’ve gotten used to the eating habits of phase 1, in the next phase, you can go ahead and gradually add more low-carb veggies, nuts and seeds, and a small amount of fruit to the diet.

Maintain eating a minimum of 12-15 grams of net carbs, still from the foundation vegetables. Stay in this phase until you are around 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) from your ideal goal weight.

Phase 3: Pre-Maintenance

By this stage, you will already see a significant loss of weight. Continue slowly increasing the range of food you can eat. This includes fruits, starchy veggies, as well as whole grains.

You can also add around 10 grams of carbs to your diet each week. However, if you notice that weight loss stops, make sure to cut back. Take note that in this phase, weight loss will slow down, but you will still lose some fat.

Continue on this phase until you are able to reach your desired weight.

Phase 4: Lifetime Maintenance

The last phase in the Atkins diet plan means this should be how you eat for the rest of your life. This is in order to maintain the ideal weight that you’re in.

You can eat as many healthy carbs as your body can permit without regaining weight.

Benefits of the Atkins Diet

Going on this diet doesn’t require a whole lot of work. For one, you won’t have to waste time counting calories. You’re not required to go to weekly meetings. You also don’t have to only eat a specific type of food that’s hard to get or expensive.

Another advantage is that with the Atkins diet, you’re not required to exercise in order to lose weight (hallelujah!). But keep in mind, additional physical activity will help you lose weight faster.

It’s also safe for vegans or vegetarians to go on the Atkins diet.

A lot of healthy benefits have been associated with the Atkins diet as well. First, it’s an effective way to lose weight fast. It helps with reducing hunger or cravings, especially for sweets.

The Atkins diet also allows you better control over insulin and blood sugar spikes. Another advantage is it can improve brain health, decreasing brain fog and dips in energy.

And finally, going on the Atkins diet can lower the risk of heart diseases as well as developing certain cancers.

Cons of the Atkins Diet

Of course, as with anything in this world, there are always some negative effects on things. And this diet is no exception.

There are a number of negative side effects caused by this diet. Below are some examples:

  • Bad breath
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability or mood swings (due to the reduced carb intake)
  • Digestive problems (due to low fiber content)
  • Indigestion (due to eating too much fat)

Also, going on this diet is not a full-on guarantee that you lose weight forever. A number have reported of successful weight loss in the beginning, but then gaining the weight back on in a later time.

Another thing is that because the Atkins diet is a bit restrictive, it cuts out many valuable nutrients from your body.

Sample Menu

If you’re thinking about trying out the Atkins diet for yourself, here’s a little sneak peek of what meals are like. Take note that these meals are for the first phase (induction) of the diet.

Breakfast

Vegetable omelette cooked in coconut oil

Bacon and eggs

Lunch

Chef’s salad with chicken, bacon, and avocado dressing

Chicken salad with nuts drizzled in olive oil

Shrimp salad with olive oil

Meatballs with vegetables

Dinner

Steak with vegetables

Pork chop with vegetables

Ground beef stir-fry with vegetables

Salmon in butter sauce and vegetables

Snacks

Cheese slices

A cup of Greek yogurt

Pieces of fruit

Some raw nuts

Kate B. Forsyth is a writer for Be Healthy Today, who specializes in health and nutrition. Her passion is to help people get an overall transformation of health that lasts a lifetime. In her blog posts, she goes beyond research by providing health-concerned citizens doable and simple tricks to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

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