What is the Atkins Diet? | Your ultimate guide
So you’ve come around to kick starting your fitness regime; exercising, eating well and looking good has all become a priority. But, where do you decide to begin? That life-long question once again looms over us… Which diet best suits us?
Where does Atkins diet come from?
From all the stylish offerings of modern day diet fads, the one that never seems go out of fashion is the Atkins diet – a huge favourite amongst the celebrities. For decades celebrities have advocated, celebrated and broadcasted their daily weight-loss progression, hailing the Atkins diet as a miracle cure to losing that stubborn fat.
So how did the Atkins diet come about? The Atkins diet – otherwise known as the Atkins nutritional approach – was devised by physician Robert Atkins in 1972. He was inspired by a weight reduction article published in The Journal of the America, which brought him to his conclusion on how to lose weight effectively. And, not only did he insist he could help you lose weight, but his theory claimed this diet managed to keep it off. He suggested you could eat as much protein and fat as you wanted – without having to count calories – however, you needed to stay clear of the bad types of carbohydrates, and this enabled your body to burn fat.
This low-carbohydrate diet has long been a debate for those who considered the diet to be unhealthy and demonized. Demonized… Really? Can bread, pasta and potatoes be considered dangerous to our health – well, there’s a little more than bread, pasta and potatoes to factor in here. Health authorities were first concerned with the high saturated fat content in eating such a high-protein diet, which has since been proven to be harmless; but that hasn’t deterred those wanting to prove Mr Atkins wrong.
In fact, many studies have proven that the Atkins diet has led to greater improvement in weight loss compared to other low-fat diets; and the diet has proven to advance blood sugar, HDL and other health markers.
But, all this is still considered to be the tip of the iceberg. With a low-carb diet, every meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner – is important. Sometimes we’re tempted to skip breakfast – especially when in a hurry – and misplace our concerns in worrying about our lunch and dinner habits. Other times we’ve grabbed a cereal bar or a toast with a spread of jam for the go One toast won’t do any harm? Wrong! Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, kick-starting your body into burning fat from the moment you wake up.
These days with a variety of sugary cereals and bread on offer, just one wrong move/bite can hinder your body for the rest of the day… pretty much start our day on the wrong foot. It can only take eating that one jam toast, or sugary cereal bar to increase our blood sugar level which later will drop dramatically, and increase our craving for a sugary mid-morning snack – just to bring our sugar-levels back up. And, this is where we fall in to cycle of bad eating habits.
Morning breakfasts should be high-energy, and low-carb.
How does reducing your carbohydrates help lose weight?
Mr Atkins claimed by reducing your carbohydrate intake by down to 40 grams a day enables your body to enter a state which is known as Ketosis.
Ketosis is a biological state enabling your body to burn fat efficiently – speeding up your metabolism – which affects your insulin production – in a good way; meaning the ketosis will prevent more fat from being formed. And, here’s the even better bit – once your body efficiently uses fat as fuel, your craving for carbohydrates will subside all those foods you thought you missed, will be a thing of the past.
The 4 stages of the Atkins Diet
The Atkins Diet comes as a four-stage diet plan beginning with; induction, ongoing weight loss, pre-maintenance, and ending with maintenance.
The induction begins the Atkins Diet suggesting the dieter begins to consume under 20 grams of carbs per day, for the first two weeks. This means sticking to a strict diet of high-fat, high-protein, with low-carb vegetables and a green salad – or anything green; this will action your weight-loss and enable your body to fall into the ketosis state.
– This phase advises you to gently introduce more nuts, low-carb vegetables and small amounts of fruit back into your diet and enable your body to discover your carbohydrate tolerance.
Pre-maintenance – (Otherwise known as fine-tuning) When you near your target weight, and you’re become confident with your diet, slowly begin to introduce more of the good carbs into your meals. You’ll need to find a balance which enables you to maintain the weight loss.
Maintenance – This stage is about maintaining a healthy balance between your weight-loss and eating as many healthy carbs as your body can tolerate.
Foods to avoid in the Atkin’s Diet
- Fruits and vegetables
- Fruit juices, except lemon and lime
- Processed foods – Any foods containing added sugar.
Foods to eat in the Atkin’s Diet
- Low-carb vegetables (kale, asparagus, spinach and greens)
- Fatty fish and seafood
- Full-fat dairy – butter, cheese, cream, full-fat yogurt
- All fats and oils (olive, mayonnaise)
- Spice and herbs
- Artificial sweeteners
- All meats
- And liquids: Plenty of water, Coffee, Green Tea
A Sample of an Atkins menu
- Breakfast: Eggs benedict with Hollandaise sauce
- Lunch: Shrimp salad with greens drizzled with olive oil
- Dinner: Cheeseburger without the bun and vegetables
- Breakfast: Egg and vegetables fried in coconut oil
- Lunch: Chicken salad and a handful of nuts
- Dinner: Salmon with butter and low-carb vegetables
- Breakfast: Omelette with vegetables
- Lunch: Leftover salmon from the night before with a handful of nuts
- Dinner: Grilled chicken wings, with some salsa and green salad
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, bacon and coffee
- Lunch: A blue Cheese salad drizzled with chilli and pepper sauce
- Dinner: Cod with a lemon butter sauce
- Breakfast: Fried eggs in coconut oil
- Lunch: Leftover cod from the night before
- Dinner: Chicken breasts topped with pepperoni
- Breakfast: Classic Egg Benedict
- Lunch: Meatballs with a tomato and chilli sauce
- Dinner: Pork chops and a green salad
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and bacon
- Lunch: Green Thai curry
- Dinner: Steak with low-carb vegetables
Reasons for the Atkins Diet
- Atkins diet provides a flexible and balanced lifestyle with no drastic changes in the diet, it is a gradual change in eating habits. And, over time the diet has evolved and proven to transform health and wellbeing.
- This diet salutes those sugar cravings with a final farewell; meaning there will be no more fluctuating in blood sugar levels.
- You will begin to notice immediate change in mood, and an increase in your energy levels – with an added spring in your step.
- Improvements have been seen in metabolic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, inflammation and hypertension.
Evidence against the Atkins Diet
- The NHS advice for healthy eating suggesting have a combination of protein and carbohydrates diet. Starchy food such as potatoes, pasta and bread should make up for around one third of the food people eat.
- Some high-fat foods which are forbidden in most calorie-controlled diets, are encouraged by the Atkins Diet such as; butter, cream, steak and bacon.
- Although dieters have lost weight in the first phase of the Atkins diet – in the induction stage – there has been evidence published in the New England Journal of Medicine to support that this is only a short-term solution. After a year of the Atkins diet, the article indicates there was no significant weight-loss, and the likelihood of sticking to a low-carb diet will be challenging and over time diminish.
- And, lastly; whenever you consider starting any diet program – a change in your body – it is important to consult with your doctor.