The Atkins Diet - Everything You Need to Know

This might be a main course recommended in the Atkins diet Image: Pixabay

What is the Atkins diet, how does it work, and is it effective for weight loss? Bonus: plenty of recipes to choose from.

In 1972, a cardiologist named Robert Coleman Atkins wrote a best-selling book called Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution, to detail his findings on low-carb nutrition. Since then, many pieces of research and studies were made, in order to evaluate if the body could benefit more from a low carb diet than a diet low in fats and proteins.

Today, the Atkins Diet is still in the center of attention, considered a tough, but effective diet, that can help people lose weight. And we have plenty of Atkins recipes to inspire you.

What is the Atkins diet?

The Atkins Diet involves a higher consumption of proteins and fats while minimizing carbohydrate intake.

How does the Atkins diet work?

The human body burns both calories and carbs in order to obtain energy. By reducing the carbohydrates intake, the body begins to reduce existing fat deposits (it burns stored fat in the form of unsightly adipose tissue). Thus, whoever follows the Atkins diet, gets their energy from small pieces of carbon that result from the fragmentation of fat deposits.

In this period, people will feel less hungry, thus avoiding excessive food intake.

The Atkins diet has a 4-phase plan

Induction (phase 1): to kickstart the weight loss process, eat only 20g of carbs per day for 2 weeks. You’ll eat mostly meat with a small portion of salad or vegetables (2-3 tablespoons), a little cow cheese, or sour cream. Cut cereals, pasta, bread, alcohol, coffee, and sugar.

Ongoing weight loss (phase 2): it lasts until you reach the desired weight. You’ll lose 1kg/week, on average. Increase carbs intake with 5g and keep the same intake of vegetables. Add berries or apples (2-3 times per week), and also nuts and seeds (pekan, Brazilian, and macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews).

Pre-maintenance (phase 3): increase carbs intake with 5g each week, and also the vegetable intake with 1-2 tablespoons per week.

Lifetime maintenance (phase 4): gradually increase the carbs intake, up to a maximum of 80 g per day. Moderately increase the daily fruits and seeds intake. You can also eat 2-3 dark chocolate pieces, twice per week.

Shrimp in Spicy Tomato Sauce

The Atkins diet is based on 4 principles

Weight Loss. Both women and men benefit from following this diet by losing pounds and inches, even if they happen to have a hard-core metabolic resistance to weight loss.

Weight Maintenance. The foods allowed in this diet are satisfying, keeping the body full, thus preventing over-eating.

Good Health and Well-being. Most nutritional needs are covered by the Atkins diet, because the accent falls on wholesome foods, cutting the junk food out.

Disease prevention. Atkins is a customized eating plan that will match a person’s unique metabolism. In the long run, this diet may help stabilize blood sugar, lower insulin production, and prevent certain chronic illnesses.

What do you eat while on the Atkins diet?

Below is the list of foods to eat and foods to avoid in the Atkins diet, according to healthline.com.

Foods allowed in the Atkins diet

  • Meats: chicken, lamb, beef, pork, bacon
  • Fatty fish and seafood: sardines, salmon, trout
  • Eggs: omega-3 enriched or pastured
  • Low-carb vegetables: spinach, broccoli, kale, asparagus
  • Full-fat dairy: cheese, cream, butter, full-fat yogurt
  • Nuts and seeds: macadamia nuts, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • Healthy fats: avocados, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil

Creamy Mushroom-Barley Pilaf

Foods to avoid in the Atkins diet

  • Sugar: fruit juices, soft drinks, candy, ice cream, cakes
  • Grains: spelt, rye, wheat, rice, barley
  • Vegetable oils: corn oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, canola oil, and a few others
  • Trans fats: these are usually found in processed foods, the word "hydrogenated" appears on the ingredients list
  • "Diet" and "low-fat" foods: they are usually very high in sugar
  • High-carb vegetables: turnips, carrots, (during the induction phase only)
  • High-carb fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, pears (induction only)
  • Starches: sweet potatoes, potatoes (induction only)
  • Legumes: beans, chickpeas, lentils (induction only)

The Atkins diet pros and cons

Benefits:

  • Weight loss. Several studies confirmed that Atkins and other low-carb diets are effective in terms of weight loss. You can lose up to 7-8 kg in the first 2 weeks, without restricting lipids.
  • No feelings of guilt in case of consuming a lunch full of fats and proteins.
  • No need for calorie counting.
  • It’s a hearty eating plan, with protein-rich foods that tend to be satiating.
  • An eating plan with clearly defined stages.
  • This diet promotes eating healthy carbs and it eliminates the refined carbs from the daily menu.

Risks:

  • Certain food groups are excluded from the diet, such as bread, rice, potatoes, sweets.
  • It has a reduced fruit and grain intake.
  • It’s a nutritionally unbalanced diet, with severe carbohydrate deficiency. It may have short-term side effects, such as constipation, nausea, weakness, shortness of breath, or bad breath.
  • It’s restrictive and hard to maintain.

Now that you’re familiar with what the Atkins diet involves and what effects it has on the body, help yourself with a selection of tasty recipes based on its principles, worthy to try at home.

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