The Atkins diet is one of the most well-known diets in the world. First gaining popularity in the early 2000s, the diet was denounced as unhealthy by mainstream health authorities.
However, many studies have been conducted since then that suggest that the Atkins diet actually might help improve people's health. It is also known to be quite effective in the effort towards losing weight.
Are you wondering what you should know about the Atkins diet? Is it the right choice for you?
Let's take a look at what you need to know.
History of the Atkins Diet
Dr. Robert Atkins first published his ideas in 1972 in the book Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution: The High Calorie Way to Stay Thin Forever.
However, it wasn't until 2003 and 2004 that the diet gained widespread popularity. When it was at its most popular, one out of every eleven adults in North America subscribed to a low-carb diet.
What is the Atkins Diet?
The Atkins diet is a diet that focuses on reducing your intake of carbohydrates. Typically recommended to help people lose weight, the diet proposes that you can eat as much fat and protein as you want and still lose weight as long as you avoid high-carb foods.
There have been more than twenty studies in the past twelve years that have suggested that an Atkins-style diet can be used to lose weight and improve health.
The Four Phases of Atkins
There are four different phases to the Atkins diet. These are known as induction, balancing, fine-tuning, and maintenance.
This two-week period is intended to kick-start weight loss. During this time, dieters eat under 20 grams of carbs each day. Their diet consists of high-protein and high-fat foods as well as low-carb vegetables.
At this time, dieters can start adding small amounts of fruit back into their diet. They can also slowly add more low-carb vegetables and nuts.
Dieters can use this period to add more carbs to their diet until the point where weight loss starts to slow down. This is done when they are very close to their goal weight.
This is the phase dieters hope to stay in for the foreseeable future. They can eat as many healthy carbs as they'd like so long as it doesn't lead to regaining weight.
What are the Health Benefits of the Atkins Diet?
There are a number of health benefits that have been ascribed to the Atkins Diet.
A review of six popular diets found that Atkins resulted in the most weight loss after six months. This study compared Atkins to Jenny Craig, the Zone diet, the Ornish diet, and two others.
Can Prevent or Improve Serious Medical Conditions
Studies have found that people who follow this diet had better heart health due to improved triglycerides. It can also lead to improvements in other health markers such as improvements in blood sugar and good cholesterol. Health markers like high blood sugar are linked to a number of chronic diseases.
The diet is also thought to help prevent or improve conditions such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure.
Who Can the Atkins Diet Help?
The Atkins diet might not be for everyone, but for certain individuals, it could lead to weight loss and help reduce or even prevent serious medical conditions. Anyone who is thinking about making a radical change to their diet should consult a medical professional before doing so.
People Wanting to Lose Weight
Since Atkins became popular in the early 2000s, a number of studies have been done looking at whether or not the diet can really help people lose weight. According to a number of studies, this low-carb diet can be more effective than other popular weight-loss diets.
Another diet that is known to help with weight loss and other health conditions is the Mediterranean diet.
In Canada, one in three residents is either living with diabetes or currently prediabetic. With so many people at risk for diabetes, this issues must be taken seriously. Weight loss is one of the most important factors in treating diabetes, so the Atkins diet can be helpful in improving the health of those with diabetes.
This diet can also be used by individuals who aren't diabetic to help prevent getting the disease down the road. It is also thought to help treat diabetes, as it seems to improve blood lipids and blood glucose control.
People with Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic Syndrome is actually a collection of symptoms that puts an individual at an increased risk for diabetes and heart disease. These symptoms include high blood pressure, high triglycerides, abdominal obesity, and more. Many of the symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome are favorably affected by carbohydrate restriction.
People with High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a serious health condition that is linked to a number of chronic diseases. The leading risk factor for hypertension is obesity, so losing weight through methods like Atkins can help improve high blood pressure.
People with Heart Disease
The research of the last few decades has shown that following a controlled-carb, higher-fat diet leads to a number of positive heart health signifiers. These include lower levels of triglycerides and better levels of good cholesterol. Both of these reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Atkins vs Keto
Both Atkins and keto are diets focused on reducing carb intake. While the Atkins diet focuses on gradually increasing the number of carbs you eat as you get closer to your goal weight, keto is more restrictive and doesn't let you slowly incorporate carbs into your diet.
You can learn more about the keto diet here.
Foods to Eat
There are many healthy foods to enjoy while maintaining the Atkins Diet. Here are a few examples of healthy foods and how they can benefit you.
One of the important components of the Atkins diet is eating high-protein foods. These include meats such as pork, beef, lamb, bacon, and chicken.
Eggs are another high-protein food that is acceptable on the Atkins diet. They contain very little carbohydrates and are incredibly nutrient-rich.
Fatty Fish and Seafood
Fatty fish and seafood are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Salmon, sardines, and trout are all good choices.
Say goodbye to skim milk! On Atkins, you can eat full-fat dairy like cheese, yogurt, cream, and butter.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are rich in healthy fats, proteins, fiber, and nutrients. You can add macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, and other nuts and seeds to your diet.
Some vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes have more carbs than you might expect. Stick to low-carb veggies like spinach, asparagus, kale, and broccoli.
There are lots of healthy fats out there that you can eat on the Atkins diet. These include coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and avocados.
The Atkins diet asks that you stop drinking sugary sodas and juices. However, there are still plenty of beverages you can enjoy on this diet.
Water should be the beverage you prioritize.
Green tea is high in antioxidants and can be enjoyed on the Atkins diet.
A number of studies point towards the fact that coffee can be beneficial to our health. However, you'll want to stay away from adding sweeteners. Check out this list of coffee alternatives if you're trying to stay away from the joe.
You can drink alcohol on the Atkins diet in small amounts. You'll want to avoid high-carb drinks like beer and stick to dry drinks that don't have any sugar added.
Foods to Rarely Eat
There are a number of foods you'll want to avoid on the Atkins diet.
Sugar is a carbohydrate, meaning you'll want to avoid sugary foods and drinks. These include fruit juices, candy, soft drinks, ice cream, and anything sweetened with sugar or artificial sweetener.
Grains should be avoided because they are a high-carb food. This includes barley, spelt, wheat, rye, and rice.
Atkins is a high-fat diet, but you want to prioritize healthy fats. Trans-fats are often found in processed foods.
During the induction phase, you want to avoid high-carb vegetables. This includes turnips, carrots, and beets.
Vegetable oils also don't fall under the healthy fat category. This means you'll want to avoid oils like corn oil, soybean oil, canola oil, and cottonseed oil.
During the induction period, you'll avoid high-carb fruits. This includes oranges, apples, bananas, pears, and grapes.
"Diet" and "Low-Fat" Foods
When you buy low-fat or diet foods, the producer typically adds sugar to improve the flavor. Avoid these products and opt for high-fat, low-carb foods instead.
During the induction period, you'll want to avoid legumes. This includes beans, lentils, and chickpeas.
You'll want to avoid starches during the induction period. This includes potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Adding Healthier Carbs Back Into Your Diet
However, you'll need to do this thoughtfully. Even if you reach your weight loss goals, there's a good chance that you will need to remain moderately low-carb for the rest of your life.
Sample Menu for the Atkins Diet
You might feel unsure of what you can eat without common foods like pasta, rice, and bread. Let's take a look at some sample menus for each meal for the induction phase.
For breakfast, you might have bacon and eggs or an omelet with veggies that you cook in butter.
Lunch meals could consist of leftovers from the night before, chicken salad, or shrimp salad.
For dinner, you have a lot of options. You could have steak with vegetables, a bun-less cheeseburger, or a ground beer stir fry with veggies.
It is common for people to feel less hungry on the Atkins diet. However, there are a number of healthy snacks you can enjoy while on the diet. These include:
- A handful of nuts
- A piece of meat
- A piece of cheese
- A hard-boiled egg
- Greek yogurt
- Berries and whipped cream
- Fruit (after induction)
- Baby carrots (only a few during induction)
These snacks can help keep you tied over in between meals.
Eating Out on the Atkins Diet
Eating out at restaurants isn't as hard as you might think on the Atkins diet. You will simply want to order something that is based on fatty fish or fatty meat and replace any carbs with extra vegetables. Getting some butter, olive oil, or extra sauce with your meal can help make it more flavorful and exciting.
Risks of the Atkins Diet
There are a number of risks associated with drastically cutting carbs when you start the diet. This can result in side effects such as:
Other issues can result from severely restricting carbs such as insufficient fiber or nutritional deficiencies.
It's also possible that your body will enter ketosis when you're in the first phase of the diet. While this can help you lose fat, it can also lead to side effects like mental fatigue, headache, nausea, and bad breath.
Adopt a Healthier Way of Life with the Atkins Diet
When the Atkins diet first came out, it was demonized by mainstream health authorities and considered unhealthy. However, as the decades have passed and more studies have been conducted, it appears that the Atkins diet is actually quite healthy and effective at helping people lose weight.
Atkins is less restrictive than another popular low-carb diet, keto. This makes it an appealing option for those who want to lose weight but don't want to so severely restrict their diet.
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