The Atkins Diet is a low carbohydrate diet, typically used to aid weight loss and to maintain weight loss. On this diet, foods that should be avoided include sugar, grains, vegetable oils, trans fats, ‘diet’ and ‘low fat’ foods. These are replaced with foods that include meats, fish, eggs, full fat dairy, nuts, seeds and healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil, etc.). The Atkins diet involves several phases for weight loss and maintenance, beginning with a very low carbohydrate-diet eating plan. The diet works by boosting the body’s fat burning abilities; a severe reduction of glucose from carbohydrate sources results in the body burning fat for fuel. Calorie counting on the Atkins diet is unnecessary but tracking carbohydrates is essential.
The induction phase is where weight loss occurs at its fastest rate. During this phase only 20g of carbohydrates per day, over a 2 week period may be consumed, with 12-15g of the carbohydrate allowance coming from cooked vegetables or salad.
During the Induction phase either 3 full meals, or 4-6 smaller meals should be eaten daily, with each meal (based on 3 full meals a day) containing protein-rich food.
Participants are encouraged to eat when hungry, and not to go more than 6 hours without eating; whilst remembering to opt for a low carb snack rather than reaching for the biscuits!
This phase differs from phase 1 in that the object is for the participant to determine their own carbohydrate tolerance (the amount of carbs that can be eaten whilst still losing weight). Dieters are allowed to increase their carb intake by 5g a day per week starting with the reintroduction of nuts, seeds and berries as well as cheeses like cottage and mozzarella; the trick being, to keep carb intake low, below a maximum 80g. This means that the pace of weight loss, whilst less extreme than in phase 1, remains rapid.
Phase 3 begins when the participant is about 10lbs off their target weight. This phase is all about finding carb balance and slowly losing those final few pounds in a natural way; adding 10g of carbs to the daily diet a week to determine carb balance. This is when you are eating enough carbohydrates in your diet to neither lose nor gain weight. When this level has been found, carb intake can be reduced slightly to manage loss in weight at a slower pace. This phase is all about being slow and steady; and not being disheartened if losing as little as half a pound in weight a week.
In phase 3 carb balance is found, and phase 4 is all about keeping that balance up for life meaning that weight will remain stable; and is essentially committing to a low carb diet for life.
The Atkins Diet is great for anyone looking for fast weight loss and who enjoy eating the types of foods featured on the plan. Those with diabetes or at risk of diabetes may benefit from following a low carb diet such as The Atkins Diet. The diet may also suit those with large appetites; calories and portion sizes are unlimited so long as permitted foods only are eaten. A low carb diet may not be suitable for vegetarians or vegans, because they will be likely to struggle with sticking to the low amount of carbs; vegetarians are advised to skip phase 1 when following this diet and begin at phase 2.