We all are familiar with the Atkins diet, which emphasizes on the elimination of carbohydrate rich foods from the diet. The vegetarian’s Atkins diet is called the Eco-Atkins diet. Unlike the traditional Atkins diet, Eco-Atkins is entirely vegan. A good news to all those who are devoid of many diets only because of their food choice!
The Eco-Atkins diet is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Most of the people prefer this version of the Atkins diet because it eliminates high fat animal products, thereby having a less negative ecological impact. The name Eco-Atkins diet has been made popular by the media. It was not created by the research authors and has still not received the approval of the Atkins yet.
The diet claims that you can drop 8 pounds in a month. Yes, and also you will notice improvement in the blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides while following this diet.
Low carbohydrate diet is believed to reduce the risk of death caused from heart disease and several other medical conditions. According to some studies, the original Atkins diet could reduce insulin resistance and raise good cholesterol, but it had a little impact on the bad cholesterol. An extensive research at the St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto came up with the idea of including plant based protein rich foods to promote weight loss along with reducing the bad cholesterol. The Eco-Atkins diet keeps the same ratio of protein and carbohydrates as the original diet, but replaces the high animal fat protein with vegetable protein.
Eco-Atkins Diet v/s Tradition Atkins Diet:
The traditional Atkins diet has been shown to be effective in temporary weight loss, but it did nothing to improve the heart problems like blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. Animal products are high in saturated fat and low in fiber, phytochemicals and many other nutrients. It may lead to urinary and kidney infection, besides having adverse effects on the cardiovascular systems. The vegan version of the Atkins diet aids in weight loss, without having the negative effects associated with high intake of the animal products.
Calories from Eco-Atkins Diet:
The Eco-Atkins diet prescribes a proportion of calories you can eat to lose weight by dividing your portions.
- 26% of your calories should come from carbohydrate rich foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid refined carbohydrates and processed foods.
- 31% of the calories should come from protein sources like soy, beans, nuts, seeds and lentils.
- 43% of the calories should come from vegetable fats like olive, coconut and canola oil.
How to Calculate the Calorie Intake:
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR):
Basal Metabolic Rate determines the minimum number of calories you need to consume every day to maintain the metabolic function.
Active metabolic rate (AMR):
The active metabolic rate determines the minimum calories you need to eat to maintain your current weight. The AMR varies according to the level of activity. You can use an online calculator to determine your BMR and AMR if you are unsure of the equations.
Maintain a journal of how many calories you need to eat each day. A calorie-counting book will come handy for this purpose. You can also use a paper journal or a mobile app.
Reduce the calorie intake:
Cut 500 calories from your diet to lose 1 pound a week. Do not eat less than 1200 calories a day as it can adversely affect the energy levels.
The Diet Plan:
The Eco-Atkins diet plan has the same proportions of protein and carbohydrate as the original Atkins diet, but the source of protein is different. Instead of the high fatty meat, the dieters have to include foods like soy, beans, seeds, nuts and non-starchy gluten products to get their daily dose of protein.
For protein sources, you need to focus on white, pinto, black and garbanzo beans. The other vegetarian sources of protein are vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and peal and couscous barley.
Saturated fats and trans fats present in whole milk, butter, fatty meat and hydrogenated oils can be very harmful to the heart. You need to swap unhealthy for healthy fats. Some options for healthy fats include canola oil, flaxseeds and walnut oil, avocados and olive oil.
The average daily intake of carbohydrates should be around 130 grams, the bare minimum needed by the brain to function properly. You have to choose carbohydrates wisely while following this diet. No starchy foods are permitted in the diet, so avoid foods like white bread, rice, potatoes and baked goods. Fruits, vegetables, oats, white grain cereals and whole grain bread are recommended.
In a trial conducted in the Eco-Atkins diet, 47 people were split into two groups. One group followed the Eco Atkins diet and the other followed a Lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet. Individuals in both the groups lost 8.8 pounds after 4 weeks of following the diet. They even showed a significant decrease in their blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, the people who followed the Eco-Atkins diet noticed a sharp reduction in their LDL levels and marked improvements in their ratio of high-density lipoprotein. It also showed beneficial changes in the levels and ranges of apolipoprotein, a protein that binds to fat in the body. The result was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in June 2009.
How Easy is it to Follow?
Eco-Atkins diet can be difficult to follow, as it is extremely restrictive. People might find it difficult to go without meat and bread, potatoes and baked goods for a long period. If the Eco-Atkins diet is very difficult for you to follow, try the modified version of increasing the plant protein, good carbohydrates and healthy fats in the diet. Stick to low fat or lean meat and limit whole milk and its products.
Eco-Atkins diet is a dietary program. It does not emphasize much on exercises. However, regular physical activity is very essential for a healthy heart and weight control. 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercises are necessary to perform every 5 days a week.
Health Benefits of the Eco-Atkins Diet:
1. Weight Loss:
Eco-Atkins diet has been proven very effective in helping people lose weight. A high protein vegan diet helps you with weight loss, without causing any adverse effect on the heart. The high levels of fiber provide by whole grains, fruits and vegetables will fill you up quickly, preventing overeating. This further helps in weight management.
2. Cardiovascular Benefits:
According to several researches, Eco-Atkins can help to keep cholesterol and blood pressure levels in check. The diet recommends incorporating plant protein that is high in fiber and extremely low in cholesterol. As per a study, people following Eco-Atkins diet experienced a greater drop in their bad cholesterol than those following a high carbohydrate diet. It also improves the HDL levels in the blood, reducing the risk of death from heart diseases.
A low carbohydrate diet can help in lowering blood glucose and insulin levels. The Eco-Atkins diet is based on vegetables, fruits, grains and legume consumption that can help people with type 2 diabetes. It reduces insulin resistance, thus keeping the blood sugar levels stable.
The high fiber content emphasized in the diet is most likely to keep the dieters satiated for a longer time. Beans, vegetables, whole grains and other legumes take longer to digest in the system, keeping you full for longer time. You are also free to choose as many calories as you want to eat.
- The Eco-Atkins Diet is a healthier version of the original Atkins diet. The dieters can eat more carbohydrates and lose weight.
- The clinical trials and studies also support the claims made by the diet.
- Vegan products like soy, grain, hemp and algae products are free of saturated fats.
- The plant-based foods are high in fiber, phytochemicals, enzymes and many other nutrients that can have positive effects on your health.
- This strictly vegan diet does not allow consuming calcium rich foods. This could increase the risk of osteoporosis.
- The Eco-Atkins diet is not as restrictive as the original Atkins diet, but is strict enough and might not work for most people as a long-term possibility.
- People lose weight more slowly while following the Eco-Atkins diet.
What do Experts Say?
According to Robert Eckel, a professor at the Denver University, the Eco-Atkins diet is relatively better than the original Atkins diet. However, both can be quite difficult for the people to stick with it in the long run.
Eco- Atkins diet does not pose any health risks, but it is advisable to check with your doctor before you go ahead with the diet.
A Sample Diet Chart for the Eco-Atkins Diet:
Breakfast- 8 am
- 2 slices of whole wheat toast with peanut butter
- 1 cup of soymilk
- 1 medium sized apple
Lunch- 1 pm
- 1 bowl of tofu curry with 2 bran chapatis
- 1 cup of strawberries
Evening snack- 4 pm
- A handful of nuts like walnuts, almonds and pistachio
Dinner- 8 pm
- A bowl of moong dal
- 1 bowl of stir-fried broccoli
- 1 bowl of brown rice
To conclude, the Eco Atkins diet is a healthy weight loss program that is proven to help people lose weight, even though it may take a bit longer than the original Atkins diet. The body will not go into ketosis to burn fat for fuel, but will provide benefits like reduced bad cholesterol.
Take any diet, the eco-atkins or any other diet, be sensible in what you choose to eat. Stick to a complete tenure of the diet to see the best results. Feel free to share your thoughts and queries if any. We would love to hear from you.