Dr Aidin Rawshani

Atkins Diet (low carbohydrate diet): how to, why, benefits, risks


Brief introduction about the Atkins diet

The Atkins diet is a world-renowned dietary plan originally developed by Dr. Robert Atkins who wrote the best-selling book in 1972. Since then, the Atkins diet has been popular all over the world with many more books have been written. The Atkins diet is a special variant of the low-carbohydrate diet that is usually recommended for weight loss.

The diet was originally considered unhealthy and demonized by the usual health authorities, mainly because of its high saturated fat content. However, recent studies suggest that saturated fat is harmless.

Since then, the diet has been carefully studied and shown to lead to more weight loss and greater improvements in blood sugar, “good” HDL cholesterol, triglycerides and other health markers, compared to low-fat diets.

Proponents of this diet argue that you can lose weight while eating as much protein and fat as you want, as long as you avoid foods that contain a lot of carbohydrates.

Over the past 12 years, over 20 studies have shown that diet plans based on low carbohydrate intake are effective for weight loss and can lead to various health improvements. Atkins diet is very effective for people with obesity, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Different phases of the Atkins diet

Atkins diet is divided into 4 different phases

  • Phase 1 (induction): Less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day for 2 weeks. Eat foods high in fat, protein content, foods with low carbohydrate intake, such as vegetables. This kick-starts weight loss. Phase 1 should not last more than 2 weeks. This phase is very similar to another known low-carbohydrate diet called ketogenic diet.
  • Phase 2 (balancing): Slowly add more nuts, more vegetables and small amounts of fruit to your diet. During Phase 2, increase the intake of carbohydrates by 5 grams per week, every week until you no longer lose weight, then start Phase 3 and 4.
  • Phase 3 (fine tuning): When you are very close to your target weight, add more carbohydrates to your diet until weight loss slows down. During phase 3, increase carbohydrate intake by about 10 grams per week until you notice that you are starting to gain a little weight, this way you will find out how much carbohydrates you should eat per day to maintain your target weight. When you find the optimal carbohydrate intake per day.
  • Phase 4 begins: Here you can eat as many healthy carbohydrates as your body can tolerate without regaining weight.

However, these phases are somewhat complicated and are not necessary for losing weight. You should be able to lose weight and keep your new target weight as long as you stick to the meal schedule below. Approximately 30% of the nutrition should come from different sources of protein.

Some choose to skip the induction phase altogether and include plenty of vegetables and fruits from scratch. This approach can also be very effective. After induction is over, you can slowly add back healthier carbohydrates. Despite what you may have heard, the Atkins diet is quite flexible. It is only for two weeks (induction phase) that you need to minimize your carbohydrate intake.

Others prefer to stay in the induction phase only indefinitely. This is an extremely effective yet demanding diet plan which is also known as very low carbohydrate diet (ketogenic diet).

Atkins diet and low carbohydrate intake

Atkins diet, ketogenic diet and low carbohydrate diet are all very similar to the low-carb high fat diet (LCHF) which is one of the most popular diets in the world for individuals with overweight and diabetes.

When you drastically reduce the carbohydrates in your diet, your body will turn to burn fat instead of carbohydrates as energy. High intake of carbohydrates leads to an increase in blood sugar, which in turn leads to increased need and release of insulin. Remember that high levels of insulin in the blood lead to lower fat burning. Thus, low carbohydrate intake leads to low insulin levels, which stimulates increased fat burning and weight loss.

Examples of foods that you should avoid

  • Sugar: Soft drinks, fruit juices, cakes, sweets, ice cream, etc.
  • Grains: Wheat, spelt, rye, barley, rice.
  • Vegetable oils: Soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, rapeseed oil and some others.
  • Trans fats: Usually found in processed foods with the word “hydrogenated” on the ingredient list.
  • Vegetables with high carbohydrate content: Carrots, corn rops, etc. (induction only).
  • Fruits with a high carbohydrate content: bananas, apples, oranges, pears, grapes (only induction).
  • Starch: Potatoes, sweet potatoes (only induction).
  • Legumes: lentils, beans, chickpeas, etc. (induction only).

It is strongly recommended to clear your pantry of all unhealthy foods and ingredients. This includes ice cream, soft drinks, breakfast cereals, bread, juice and baking ingredients such as sugar and wheat flour.

Examples of foods that you should eat

Examples of foods that you should eat

  • Meat: Beef, pork, lamb, chicken, bacon and others.
  • Fatty seafood: Salmon, trout, sardines etc.
  • Eggs: The healthiest eggs are omega-3 enriched or picked.
  • Vegetables with low carbohydrate content: kale, spinach, broccoli, asparagus and others.
  • Full-fat dairy: Butter, cheese, cream, full fat content yoghurt.
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • Healthy fats: Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado and avocado oil.
  • Spices: Sea salt, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, parsley, etc.

As long as you base your meals around a healthy protein source with vegetables or nuts and some healthy fats, you will lose weight. Pretty simple.

Drinks that are acceptable for the Atkins diet.

  • Water: As always, water should be your go-to drink.
  • Coffee: Many studies show that coffee contains a lot of antioxidants and little carbohydrates.
  • Green tea: A very healthy drink
  • Alcohol is also good in small amounts. Adhere to dry wines without added sugar and avoid alcoholic beverages with a high carbohydrate content, such as beer.

Vegetarians who want to try the Atkins diet

It is possible to start the Atkins diet as a vegetarian (and even vegan), but difficult.

You can use soy-based foods for protein and eat a lot of nuts and seeds. Olive oil and coconut oil are excellent herbal sources of fat. Lacto-ovo-vegetarians can also eat eggs, cheese, butter, cream and other low-fat dairy products.

If you feel hungry between meals, there are some quick healthy snacks that are recommended.

  • One hard-boiled egg or two.
  • A piece of cheese.
  • A piece of meat.
  • A handful of nuts.
  • Greek yogurt.
  • Berries and whipped cream.
  • Baby carrots (careful during induction).
  • Fruit (after induction).

Atkins diet when eating out at restaurant

In fact, it is very easy to follow the Atkins diet in most restaurants. To eat organically it is not necessary, but try to strive for foods that are least processed.

  • Ask for extra vegetables instead of bread, potatoes or rice.
  • Order a meal based on low-fat meat or fatty fish.
  • Get some extra sauce, butter or olive oil for your meal.
5/5 (2 Reviews)