When it comes to diet plans, one of the most popular and widely subscribed to program is probably the Atkins Diet. A low-carbohydrate program, the Atkins Diet helps people to lose weight while eating as much protein and fat as you want as long as food products that are high in carbs are avoided. The diet program was put together by Dr. Robert C. Atkins in 1972 and promoted heavily through a book published in the same year. Since then, the Atkins Diet gained incredible popularity and is backed by over 20 studies attesting its effectivity and thousands of proponents.
How Does It Work?
The Atkins Diet is best explained as an eating plan that includes four phases. The first phase is called the induction. During this stage, you will reduce your carbohydrate intake to under 20 grams per day for two weeks. While in this phase, you can eat as much low-carb vegetables (such as leafy greens) as you want in addition to high-fat and high-protein food products. It is this first phase that actually jumpstarts the weight loss process. Phase 2 is called balancing and reintroduces more nuts, low-carb vegetables as well as small amounts of fruit back into your diet.
The third phase is called fine-tuning. This phase can only be started when you are close to your goal weight. You will need to add more carbohydrates to your diet during this time to the point that your weight loss begins to slow down. The fourth and final phase is the maintenance phase. At this point, you can fully reintroduce healthy carbohydrates into your diet, bearing in mind that the amount of carbs you can eat depends on how much you can consume without gaining the weight back.
What Kind of Foods Can I Eat?
The simplest way to remember what you’re permitted to eat while on the Atkins Diet is to base your meals around fatty protein sources with vegetables, nuts and healthy fats. For example, meat products like beef, pork, lamb, and chicken are perfectly acceptable. Any fatty fish and seafood are also permitted just as with eggs. When it comes to vegetables, stick to low-carb greens such as kale, spinach, asparagus or broccoli while nuts and seeds that can be consumed include macadamia nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds and almonds. Healthy fats like avocados, coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil are also great options for those on the Atkins Diet. The best part? You can eat bacon. Lots of it.
What Kinds of Foods Should I Avoid?
While on the Atkins Diet, there are certain kinds of food that you need to avoid completely to ensure that your program is a success. The number one enemy on this diet is sugar. This means you must absolutely avoid soft drinks, fruit juices, candy, ice cream or any form of sugar. Grains like wheat, spelt and rice should also be avoided. When it comes to starches and legumes, they are not allowed during the induction phase but can be consumed in the later phases. Interestingly enough, there are also fruits and vegetables on the don’t eat list. These are high-carb vegetables and fruits like bananas, apples, oranges, carrots, turnips and grapes. However, similar to starches and legumes, these fruits and veggies can be re-introduced to your diet in small quantities once you pass the induction phase.
Isn’t This Diet Dangerous?
In its early years, the Atkins Diet was often demonized and portrayed as unhealthy by the health authorities of the time. This response to the diet was thanks in most part to the fact that the program encourages the high consumption of saturated fat. Since these negative claims came out, multiple studies were conducted on the Atkins Diet to check on it’s real health benefits. After numerous tests and experiments, scientists concluded that the diet has shown to lead to more weight dropped than low-fat diets. In fact, the Atkins regimen also improves blood sugar levels, HDL levels, triglycerides and more. Some new studies have even started showing that saturated fat may not be as harmful as people make it out to be.
What Makes It Effective?
At the end of the day, the Atkins Diet helps hundreds and thousands of people lose weight through the reduction of carbohydrate intake. The principle here is that when your carbohydrate consumption decreases and your protein consumption increases, your appetite will lessen. Hence, you consume fewer calories. Not only is protein lower in calories, it’s also much denser, so consuming a high-protein diet will actually keep you fuller for much longer. Being able to eat fewer calories without having to think about your meals too much is a huge plus so you can focus on other things while still making sure you’re as successful as possible in your weight loss journey. If you’re afraid of ditching carbs, don’t worry. You’ll start reintroducing them to your diet after the induction phase and the diet plan is actually much more flexible than haters make it out to be.
Additional Tips for Success
Kick starting the weight loss process is never easy. There will be hurdles, roadblocks, stumbles and all other kinds of issues along the way, but as long as you refocus yourself after the troubles arise, we have no doubt that you’ll make it out of phase 4 feeling incredible. A great way to make sure you stay on track is to have healthy low-carb snacks on hand for when the hunger pangs come crashing in. For example, a hard-boiled egg or two could easily do the trick while other folks on the program like to have a piece of cheese, a handful of nuts, Greek yogurt or even a piece of meat. If you have leftovers from a previous meal, that also makes a fantastic and satiating snack. For those who find themselves having to eat out, some tricks would be to ask for extra vegetables instead of ordering starches or carbohydrates. It’s also a great idea to choose meals that are based on fatty meat or fatty fish like steaks or salmon.