The Atkins Diet is a low-carb plan that reduces the intake of carbohydrates to make the body burn fat. A state of ketosis occurs whereby the body uses fat for energy.

Allowed and Restricted Foods

The plan highlights the importance of healthy weight loss. You don’t have to restrict your daily calorie intake to lose weight. Given that the goal of the plan is to burn fat deposits, the plan recommends limiting the consumption of carbohydrates. In this way, fat is used for fuel instead of carbohydrates. The list of allowed foods during the Induction Phase includes seafood and meat, oils and fats, cheeses, vegetables, and eggs.

Low-carb foods are a healthier choice. It is important to consume adequate amounts of fat and protein. A balanced menu of dietary fiber, protein rich-foods, fats, and low-carb products is the best option. Some foods are forbidden during the Induction Phase, including starchy vegetables, peas and legumes, and fruits. Dieters should avoid nuts, alcohol, and dairy products. As a rule, it is good to consume low-carb vegetables that are low in starch, including lettuce, cucumber, and broccoli.

4 Phases

The regime consists of 4 phases, from Induction to Lifetime Maintenance. The first phase, Induction, aims at a steady and quick weight loss. The intake of carbohydrates is restricted to 12 – 15 per day. Dieters are allowed to consume fish and shellfish, eggs and meat, oil and fats, vegetables, and cheeses such as Mozzarella and Gouda. The Induction Phase lasts two weeks. Ongoing Weight Loss is the next stage during which carbohydrates are added to the menu. Dieters lose between 0.5 and 1 kg a day. The main goal is to learn how to make smart food choices. Dieters first add carbohydrates in the form of vegetables and gradually broaden their choices. Foods to include in your daily menu are whole grains, legumes, and seeds and nuts. During the Pre-maintenance Phase, followers increase their intake by 10 grams each week. The goal is to lose 10 pounds and find what your carb threshold is. The phase lasts between 2 and 3 months, and dieters gradually lose weight. The last phase is Lifetime Maintenance and the goal is to maintain your healthy weight. This stage lasts for life. It is important to maintain a good balance between different food groups, and the Atkins Food Pyramid serves as a guide. Protein sources such as soy, beef, and fish are at the base of the pyramid. Vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli are on the next level. Level 3 is occupied by fruits such as avocado, blueberries, and pears and level 4 – by legumes, nuts, dairies, cheeses, and seed oils. Whole grain products are at the top of the pyramid. The plan restricts the consumption of foods that contain trans fats as well as products with added sugar. Dieters are encouraged to drink plenty of water. Carbonated water and soda with no added sugar are also acceptable. Dieters can have decaf and herbal teas. Small amounts of sugar substitutes are allowed. There are special low-carb bars and other convenience foods to try.

Health Benefits

The main goal is to lose and maintain healthy weight and eat a balanced diet. Some studies have shown that the plan helps control blood pressure and increases good cholesterol. Thus cholesterol levels increase, but only when it comes to HDL cholesterol. Some healthcare professionals also note that cholesterol levels increase when the body burns fat deposits. The levels drop within a period of 2 to 3 months.

Followers are at a lower risk for strokes and heart attacks. There is no evidence that the plan helps manage or prevent diabetes, however. On the positive side, dieters consume plenty of fruits and vegetables that are loaded with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.

One study conducted at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia proved that the Atkins diet helps people to lose weight without side effects such as increased blood sugar or fat levels. In addition, the study shows that followers see an improvement in their cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels. Another study conducted by researchers at Duke University followed 120 participants. Those who were on a low-carb diet lost more weight than participants on a low-fat plan. Their blood sugar and fat levels also improved. The study took place within a six-month period. According to the researchers, further studies are required to establish whether the diet is safe over the long term.

Atkins on Alcohol and Medications

Alcohol should be avoided while on a diet. The reason is that most drinks contain sugar. Thus, it will be the first fuel for the body to burn. If you must drink (at a party or cocktail, for example), try to avoid alcohol with a high sugar content. It is best to avoid over-the-counter medications such as laxatives, sleep aids, diuretics, and others. Avoid cough syrup as well. There are prescription medications that require close monitoring, including medications to manage hypertension. Your doctor may need to adjust the dosage, depending on your condition (for example, if you take insulin).

Health Issues and Considerations

Some dieticians argue that the regime is associated with health problems such as kidney stones, bone loss, and increased levels of bad cholesterol. In their view, this plan is not the best choice for first-time dieters.

Atkins and Meals

There are frozen meals as well as healthy recipes such as beet and tomato salad, tomato guacamole, low-carb cheesecake, and others.