Atkins – The Wonder Diet Plan
Would you believe if someone told you that you could lose 10 to 15 pounds in two weeks? Do you want to lose weight while still eating your favorite, lip smacking dishes? Then folks, this diet is just for you.
The Atkins diet can help you lose weight dramatically without giving up on your favorite foods. Atkins diet, officially called the Atkins Nutritional Approach, is a low carbohydrate diet created by Dr. Robert Atkins. It is also called the “Father of Modern Low-carb diet”. The diet was promoted in his book “Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution”, which was released in 1972. The second book Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, published in the year 2002, is a modified part of the original Atkins diet.
Atkins diet claims that the dieter can lose up to 15 pounds within two weeks of cutting back on carbohydrates, bread, potatoes and sweets.
How does the Atkins Diet Work?
The Atkins diet is based on limiting the carb consumption. Carbohydrates acts like basic fuel for the body. The simplest carb is glucose that flows in the bloodstream and is available to every cell in the body. Our cells absorb this glucose and turn it into energy to drive the cells. Limiting carbohydrate consumption will make the body utilize the stored fat for fuel. This will result in the releasing of a by-product called ketones, thereby burning the body fat.
The Atkins diet has four phases:
- Induction phase
- Ongoing Weight Loss
- Pre-maintenance and
The length of these phases depends entirely upon how overweight the person is.
The first phase of the plan is called the induction phase. This is the most restrictive phase of the diet. The phase usually lasts for two weeks, or can be extended according to the individual’s need. The phase is intended to lead the body enter the state of ketosis. In this phase, you cannot consume more than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day. The 12 to 15 grams of carbohydrates must come in the form of green salads and other vegetables like broccoli, pumpkin, cauliflower, tomatoes, asparagus and pumpkin. 54 vegetables are allowed in this diet. Protein and fat should be obtained from poultry, fish, red meat and vegetable oil. You can consume 4 ounces of meat daily. Only cream, butter and cheese can be consumed from the dairy group. High carbohydrate foods like grains, pastas, breads, fruits and starchy vegetables are strictly prohibited. The induction phase will jumpstart the weight loss process, as you cut back significantly on the carbohydrate consumption. You can lose around 5 to 10 pounds in this phase.
2. Ongoing weight loss stage:
The “Ongoing Weight Loss Phase” is based on making small and incremental increase in the carbohydrate intake. The carbohydrate intake should be increased by 5 grams per week. You can continue increasing the carbohydrate level until the body stops losing weight. During the first two weeks of this phase, the dieters are instructed to include a small serving of nuts and seeds. The next week you need to add berries. Alcohol is permitted in this phase, but in moderation. While adding more carbs, you need to focus on nutrient dense ones, while avoiding the refined grains and sugars. The phase also determines which foods an individual should include in his diet without triggering cravings. Drinking eight glasses of water is mandatory during this phase. Caffeine is allowed in moderation as long as it does not cause low blood sugar.
This is the transitional phase from weight loss to weight maintenance. In this phase, the carbohydrate intake is increased 10 grams by each week. The phase recommends that once the dieter reaches their goal weight and are able to maintain the level for a month, they can increase their daily carb consumption by another 10 grams. This is the maximum number of carbohydrates a dieter can have each day without gaining weight. This is to see if it is possible without any weight gain. The key goal of this phase is to find the “Critical Carbohydrate Level for Maintenance”. Dieters can also add some of the forbidden carbohydrates back in their diet once in a week. The body begins to lose the protection of ketosis as it prepares for the last phase- Lifetime Maintenance. The dieters are encouraged to continue drinking eight glasses of water per day.
4. Lifetime maintenance:
Lifetime maintenance phase helps to carry on the habits acquired in the previous phases. It allows you to select from a wide variety of foods. The whole and unprocessed food consumption is emphasized in this phase. The phase allows you to continue keeping your weight down while eating more food than in the previous phases. You can also drop down to any of the earlier phases if you begin to lose weight.
Unlike most of the diet programs, the Atkins diet places emphasis on protein sources as opposed to the whole grains foods and vegetables. It does not even require you to count calories. The newer version of Atkins diet is more popular today because it allows the dieters to eat more foods than most of the weight loss diets would ever allow. The diet does not set limits on the amount of foods to be consumed. It only sets limits on the kinds of food you should eat.
The Atkins diet has shown moderately successful results in weight loss, especially in the first couple of weeks. The diet has been studied longer than most of the other diet programs. Much of the weight loss is due to the diet’s diuretic effect.
A small number of studies have suggested that Atkins raises the high-density lipoprotein and lower blood pressure, thereby, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Atkins diet can also help lower blood glucose and insulin levels. The frequent spikes and dips in the blood glucose after a heavy carbohydrate meal can cause insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. Losing weight and keeping it off can go a long way in reducing the risk of diabetes.
Atkins diet provides meal recipes along with the ingredient lists and food carbohydrate count.
Alcoholic beverages are totally forbidden on this diet. Beer, wine and all other alcoholic beverages contain carbohydrates that add on to the calories. Even the carbohydrate free drinks slow down the fat burning process.
The diet can effectively keep you full for a longer time. The protein and fat content provided in this diet, takes longer than carbohydrates to digest, thereby keeping you feeling full for a longer time.
Exercise was not a crucial part of the old Atkins diet, but is strongly encouraged in the new Atkins diet. Studies have shown that physically active people have a better chance of maintaining their weight than people who are sedentary. Regular exercises also increase the fat burning process and boosts the daily energy use. The Atkins diet plan recommends at least 30 minutes of daily exercise.
The official Atkins diet website has online forums, meal plans, groups and weight loss tools to assist you in the diet program. You can also sign up for a welcome kit that includes information and three Atkins bars. The phases are quite structured, with detailed instruction on adding small amounts of carbohydrates. The dieter has a lot of choice about what to eat and how much to eat within the structure. The program also focuses on helping people find their individual carbohydrate tolerance levels.
The diet starts out with a lot of restrictions in the induction phase. After this phase the restriction is tailored to the individual, depending upon their response to the diet.
It is very important to plan the food ahead of time. Plan at least a week’s menu and have the foods ready in hand so that you can prepare the meals as and when required.
- Cutting on food groups, especially the whole segment of grains and dairy can lead to deficiency in nutrients like fiber, potassium, magnesium and calcium.
- The breath can have a distinct smell due to the ketones the body produces.
- The first phase of the diet can be challenging since only a limited amount of food is permitted. You may also need to skip your favorite foods and treats in this phase.
- Preparing a variety of meals at home can be tedious for some people.
The Atkins diet has so far reported no health risks but you might experience some reactions which include:
The Atkins diet is not recommended for people suffering with kidney problems. Adolescents and diabetics should consult their doctor before going ahead with this diet. Pregnant women should directly go to the phase 4 maintenance stage.
All diets have both pros and cons, but compared to others, Atkins is a very stable and thoroughly researched diet plan. We recommend this diet to all those people who want to get their health on track. Do share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.