Is the Atkins Diet Right for You?
Last updated on : September 01 2018
Not All Diets Are Equal
From glowing skin to quick weight loss with some great texture thrown in - your food is supposed to jump-start your pursuit of a healthier more balanced lifestyle, something we continually strive for (and write about in this blog) at The Kewl Shop.
However, the truth is that some diets may work well for you, while some may end up being a total bust.
Diets are only successful if you put in the work, time, and effort. The key to results is total discipline and wise food choices.
We keep reading about fad diets which are here today and gone tomorrow.
However, there are a few diets that have stood the test of time reasonably well. The Atkins Diet is one of them.
Classified as a low-carbohydrate diet, Atkins is considered a way of eating for the rest of your life, and not just a fad to take up.
Let’s take a look at what this diet entails, and whether or not it is the right one for you.
History & Background
Formally known as the Atkins Nutritional Approach, Robert C. Atkins, an American cardiologist, created the Atkins Diet in 1972.
He developed this diet plan after reading a research paper titled "Weight Reduction" that was published in 1958 by Alfred W. Pennington.
Although Atkins became a popular diet that peaked in the early 2000s and even led to Atkins being named as one of the ten most influential people by Time magazine in 2002, it is not without its share of controversies and contrasting opinions.
The Atkins Diet is an eating plan that aims to help people lose weight by consuming a limited amount of carbohydrates (carbs) without having to give up the intake of fats and proteins.
According to the diet, this will help the human body’s metabolism switch from carbs to stored body fat to produce energy.
This way of eating helps shed up to 15 pounds within just two weeks (although results may vary). And it is also potentially useful for you, combatting specific health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
How It Works
The Atkins Diet holds the view that the intake of excessive carbs, particularly refined ones like sugar and white flour, leads to health problems such as weight gain, blood sugar imbalances, and cardiovascular issues.
To combat the health problems caused by the usual high-carbohydrate, low-fat American diet and to keep weight in check, Atkins suggests restricting the consumption of carbohydrates without having to avoid eating proteins and even fatty meats.
The foods you need to avoid or limit in the Atkins Diet include starchy and sugary food like potatoes, white bread, cookies or candy, chips, pasta, and white rice.
The diet instead encourages the consumption of foods that are rich in protein and fat, examples of which are poultry, meat, seafood, eggs, cheese, oils, and butter so that followers of this diet do not feel hungry or deprived.
The standard Atkins Diet, also known as Atkins 20, has four phases and you can start with any of the initial three depending on your weight-loss targets.
We've summarized the phases below.
Phase 1: Induction
Induction is a strict stage lasting for at least two weeks, in which you almost entirely cut out carbohydrates from your daily meals. Atkins recommends eating not more than 20 grams of carbs in a day during this phase.
To kick start the weight loss process, the diet advises you to get most of your daily calories from “foundation” vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, celery, peppers, asparagus, and cucumber.
These foods should account for at least 12-15 grams of your daily carbs.
Moreover, include protein such as poultry, red meats, seafood, and eggs in your regular diet. There is no need to avoid fats and oils but stay away from sweet baked goods, pasta, bread, and alcohol.
Induction is the phase in which you eat to help your body make the change from burning carbs (glucose) to stored fat—a process known as ketosis.
Phase 2: Balancing
In the second phase, you continue to consume foundation vegetables for the majority of everyday carbs and avoid sugary foods.
But you can start adding some fruits, berries, more vegetables, and nuts to your diet.
You should stay in this phase until you are about 10 pounds away from achieving your desired weight.
Phase 3: Pre-maintenance
With not too many pounds left to shed, your target weight is getting closer, and you will have discovered how to use the diet to your advantage.
In this phase, you can add more carbs to your diet and increase the range of foods you eat. But remember to cut back in case you stop losing weight.
Continue this phase till you reach your goal weight.
Phase 4: Maintenance
Now that you have achieved your desired weight, you continue to follow this way of eating for the rest of your life to maintain the ideal weight.
Keep in mind that you need to eat the right amount of healthy carbs depending on how much your body tolerates without regaining the weight that you lost.
The original Atkins Diet believed that activity was not a vital part of weight loss.
However, it now recognizes the role of regular exercising in losing weight as well as for other health benefits, especially in the last phase: maintenance of the diet.
If you are not someone who exercises regularly, it is a good idea to let your body get used to the new way of eating before starting a new exercise regimen.
It is recommended that you choose a mild to moderate exercise routine during the first and second phase of the diet such as walking, pilates, and yoga.
Pros and Cons
Before starting the Atkins Diet or any other diet for that matter, it is crucial that you evaluate all the factors, both for and against so that you can make the correct decisions.
Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the Atkins diet to consider.
Quick Weight Loss.
If you are looking for a rapid way to shed a few pounds, you may find Atkins useful. The earliest phase of the method sees a lot of followers lose weight much faster than other diets.
Variety of Foods Allowed.
Many people love the Atkins Diet because one can eat a full range of foods. Unlike other eating plans, you do not have to eliminate steaks, bacon, and many other foods while on this diet.
No Constant Calorie Counting.
This diet is the one for you if you hate counting calories for everything you eat. It emphasizes cutting unhealthy carbs rather than portioning foods and counting calories.
Some studies have found that despite its high-fat content, some followers have experienced improvements in their cholesterol levels.
No Hunger Pangs.
Since the diet allows consumption of meat and other proteins, followers tend not to experience hunger compared to followers different methods.
The lack of hunger reduces the chances of you ‘cheating’, making it easier to lose weight.
Achievable Long-term Weight Loss.
Although the final word on this is inconclusive, certain studies have found that following the Atkins Diet may help you rapidly lose weight in the beginning, but be ineffective later on.
Since the Atkins Diet cuts out carbs and calories, followers of this eating plan may experience fatigue or a significant decrease in their energy levels.
If you want to diet but love fruits or other foods that are rich in carbs, following the Atkins Diet may be a struggle in the initial stages of the plan.
Counting Net Carbs.
Although there is no calorie-counting in this diet, some dieters may find counting daily net carbs tedious and confusing.
Potential Physical Discomfort.
In some case, followers of the Atkins Diet have experienced digestive problems, headaches, dehydration, etc. because of the sudden, considerable change in eating habits.
Since the diet allows you to eat a lot of proteins, you may have higher grocery bills due to buying meat, dairy, and similar products.
The key focus of the Atkins Diet is to eat the right balance of proteins, healthy carbohydrates, and fats for weight loss and health benefits. It has worked for many in the past, but at the same time, it cannot truly be called a one-diet-fits-all solution for those wishing to lose weight.
The diet continues to evolve to suit contemporary eating habits, but may be difficult to follow (although not impossible) for vegetarians and vegans. If you are someone who prefers a structured diet plan, chances are that you will like the Atkins Diet.
But before you decide to start, weigh the pros and cons, and the feasibility of sticking to it as your daily meal plan carefully.
Remember, it is always the best idea to talk to a doctor or health expert before starting any new diet or exercise routine.
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