What is Atkins Diet?
In 1972 a cardiologist by the name Robert C. Atkins wrote a book about Atkins Diet or Atkins’ nutritional approach. This nutritional approach is recommended for weight loss and has accepted an effective way to deal with the issue.
Over the years, human beings have tried many methods of reducing weight for a number of reasons. These reasons range from health issues to basic fitness and accomplishing goals. Whatever reasons one may have, it is always a good feeling to lose weight and maintain the kind of weight you may want for life.
Atkins diet is known to recommend the restriction of carbohydrates and emphasize on fat and proteins.
Is the Atkins diet effective?
One of the things that make it an effective method is that lowering carbohydrate intake consequently lowers the appetite. The body also switches to fat as a source of energy other than using glucose which is normally the main source of energy.
Our insulin controls everything. The insulin in our body is responsible for the storage of fat. It is the one medium that tells the body to store fat.
Once we eat food high in carbohydrates, insulin levels spike, therefore the body not only stores more fat, but the insulin prevents the use of fat as a form of energy for our bodies. Reducing the intake of carbohydrates consequently reduces the levels of insulin, therefore, the body is able to break down fat into energy… we end up losing weight. This is what is called the Atkins’ nutritional approach.
Atkins diet is divided into four phases. This article is going to list those four phases and what each phase entails for easier management of this nutritional approach. Most people opt to follow through all the phases while some opt to skip some and compensate using other means. Here are all the phases and everything you should know about them:
- The Induction Phase
This is the very first phase and it involves massive reduction of carbohydrates for about two weeks. During this period, one is recommended to take under 20 grams of carbohydrates per day. This is the first step towards loss of weight.
- The Balancing Phase
This second phase includes slowly increasing the amount of low carbohydrate vegetables, nuts and fruits back into one’s diet.
- Fine tuning phase
At this point, weight loss is at a progressive stage. The addition of more carbohydrates should commence slowing weight loss. This helps one attain the weight he or she desires.
- Maintenance phase
During this final phase, an individual is now expected to maintain their desired weight. There are no restrictions as to the amount of carbohydrates that can be taken during this phase as long as the desired weight is maintained.
As mentioned before, people can opt to skip out on the induction phase by increasing their intake of vegetables and fruits from the start.
This is not an easy process. A lot is needed to achieve the desired effects.
Below are some of the foods to avoid for great results:
Foods to avoid:
- Sugar– Sugars such as candy, soft drinks, cakes, should be avoided as they are high in carbohydrates.
- Grains – These includes wheat , barley and rice.
- Vegetable oils– Such as corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil.
- Legumes* – Such as beans, lentils, chickpeas etc.
- Starches* – This includes potatoes and sweet potatoes.
- High carbohydrate vegetables– Such as turnips, carrots, etc.
- High carbohydrate fruits– These include fruits as grapes, oranges, apples, pears, and bananas.
*(These will only be avoided during the induction phase.)
Foods you can Eat:
There are also types of food that can be eaten during this dietary period that will help one achieve their objectives. As mentioned before, food high in protein and fat will substitute carbohydrates. So the list of foods that one should eat looks like:
- Meat, such as beef, pork, and chicken.
- Fatty fish and mutton.
- Low carbohydrate vegetables such as broccoli,spinach , kale etc.
- Full-fat dairy products such as butter, cream, yoghurt and cheese.
- Nuts and seeds such as macadamia nuts, walnuts and almond seeds.
- Healthy fats such as avocados, coconut oil and avocado oil.
What to Drink?
Fluids are a very important part of the diet. Not only do they help in the hydration process, but there are certain drinks that contain electrolytes that are good for the body. Drinks can also be a source of vitamins in the body.
Water – this is the best drink you will have any time. Not only does it hydrate one’s body, but it also aids in cleaning.
Coffee – Despite the negative hearsay that coffee is not good for one’s body and health, coffee does actually have some benefits. It is full of antioxidants for your body. Studies have actually suggested that coffee contains more antioxidants than some fruits.
Green tea – While debates rage over which is the healthiest beverage on earth, between coffee and green tea, this beverage sure does have some awesome benefits. Packed with antioxidants and bioactive materials, you are guaranteed to a healthy drink.
There is an additional list of foods you can eat. They are normally considered fattening foods, but because we reducing the intake of carbohydrates, these foods will be used as sources of energy by the body. Such includes dark chocolate and cheese (as mentioned earlier).
What about Vegetarians?
Vegetarians might feel left out in this article because there is so much meat going around. However, there should be no cause to worry because there is also a plan for vegans. Considering Vegans do not eat meat, finding the right protein quantity could be a little tricky, especially to someone who does not know what they are doing.
It is, however, possible for a vegetarian to enjoy this Atkins’ nutritional approach if they just pay attention.
Soy-based foods can be used for proteins.
Examples of soy-based foods include:
- Soy milk, which is essentially strained soybeans that create a mild taste liquid
- Edamame (green soybeans)
- Soy sauces
- Soybean oil
Nuts and seeds are also recommended.
When it comes to plant-based fat sources, olive oil and coconut oil are good options. Both have versatile use in the kitchen and are really interesting to work with.
Now that we know what kind of food to take and why; our next step is to create a dietary plan that will work with the foods mentioned.
An example of a menu would be:
- Proteins for breakfast
- Fats for lunch
- Vegetables and proteins for dinner
This menu can be mixed at will, however much you want, with the types of foods that have been listed. A little research can also help with diversifying your type of foods.
A point to recall is that intake of carbohydrates is to be reduced during the induction phase. Maintaining your desired weight is going to take a lot of mastering and discipline once you reach your objective.
The Atkins diet reduces one’s appetite considerably. However, there are times when one feels the need to eat something in between meals. This can be achieved by eating a snack.
There is a variety of snacks to choose from. However, choosing the right snack in order to stay on course with your dietary plans can be a little frantic. Here is a list of some of the snacks you might want to have lying around in case of anything. They are not only healthy, but they will ensure that you do not veer from your plans.
Mixed Nuts– Mixed nuts are not only healthy, but they will keep you full and reduce your risk of getting heart diseases. They are high in fat, which is considered healthy enough.
Greek Yogurt– Greek yogurt is high in protein and is a great source of calcium and potassium.
Peanut butter– Rich in minerals and vitamins, peanut butter can be used with fruits even to make amazing snacks. One of the fruits is apple, which tastes very delicious with peanut butter. Peanut butter also contains proteins and is a safe bet for vegetarians.
Dark chocolate and almonds– Dark chocolate is not only delicious, but it reduced one’s risk of getting heart diseases, and may lower blood pressure. You will, however, have to make sure that it contains a high percentage of cocoa solid (70%).
Almonds, on the other hand, are great for reducing appetite and are therefore good when one is trying to lose weight. They are also known to control blood sugar, keeping you healthy.
Fruits– Not only are they easy to acquire, but most of them only need to be washed, sliced or cut and eaten. There are no complications with fruits.
Fruits are also rich sources of vitamins, and among the fruits that you can choose from are oranges, bananas, grapes, etc.
However, you have to be careful during the induction phase; Fruits that are high in carbohydrates are to be avoided as the goal is to reduce as many carbohydrates as possible during the induction Phase.
You can have a piece of meat– As discussed earlier; meat is high in protein which is what the Atkins diet is looking for.
One or two hard boiled eggs– They are a rich source of protein and vitamins. They give you a full feeling which keeps you off the food for hours, therefore reducing the numbers of calories taken in a day.
What if one is planning to eat out?
Going out, or eating out can be a little confusing. However, it is easy to stick to your Atkins diet in most restaurants. Just order extra vegetables instead of starch based foods. Knowing your meal plan well helps. Also, knowing the different categories of food could be beneficial.
You can also order fatty meat in restaurants or fatty fish.
Dr. Atkins gave us a foolproof method of cutting weight without having to use artificial means. It is easy to follow and only uses food, which we have been eating for thousands of years. The dietary plans have also shown how adaptable they can be. The diet is also cheap to maintain as it does not involve buying and or paying for expensive procedures. It doesn’t matter whether you are at home or in the restaurant, there is always an Atkins diet waiting for you.