Is The Atkins Diet Healthy?
What is the Atkins Diet?
A cardiologist, Robert C. Atkins, developed a low-carbohydrate diet in the 1960s to focus on weight loss. The entire idea of the diet is to reduce carbohydrate consumption and increase the intake of protein and fats.
He believed that carbohydrates were the main culprit of weight gain in people. Atkins devised the diet around the idea that if the body had no carbohydrates to use for energy, it would burn the fats stored in the body instead of using them as energy.
Who is it for?
Being on a diet can be difficult for some people who do not want to give up a particular food. The Atkins Diet is easier to maintain and has much high protein and fat food that most people are used to eating, including meat, eggs, butter, etc. So if you are one of those people who simply can’t give up your life of meat and high-fat food but still want to lose weight, then you could try the Atkins Diet.
Breaking down the diet plans
The Atkins Diet has three plans under it. Each of the plans has different purposes for which you can use it depending on your situation.
Atkins 20: The Atkins 20 is the standard diet plan that almost anyone can follow to lose a considerable amount of weight. The plan restricts you to 20 grams of carbohydrates every day. People following this plan have been shown to lose more than 40 lbs in weight.
Atkins 40: The Atkins 40 is a plan for people who want to lose less weight than when following Atkins 20. It also has a broader food choice, and the plan restricts you to 40 grams of carbohydrates every day.
Atkins 100: The Atkins 100 is a plan that is essentially a diet lifestyle. As the name suggests, 100 grams of carbohydrates are limited to you per day. People who want to maintain their weight can follow this program.
Know the phases
The Atkins diet has 4 phases across its diet plans. Here we will discuss the phases of the standard Atkins 20 plan.
The first phase is the strictest, while the others get easier with each stage completed. It is believed that starting at the first phase is not entirely necessary, as one can begin at any phase and continue depending on the amount of weight loss they desire.
Phase 1, Induction: In this phase, you are limited to 20 grams of carbohydrates every day. Consumption of leafy green vegetables, which are low in carbohydrates, is started in this phase along with meat, eggs, fish, cheese, and others. This phase helps start the weight-loss process, and you will also notice a significant weight loss during this phase.
Phase 2, On-going weight loss (OWL): You are supposed to add carbohydrates to your diet in the second phase. In the first week, 25 grams are enough, and then you can add 5 grams each week as you progress into the plan until you discover how much carbohydrates you can consume and still lose weight. You move on to the next phase when you are about 10 pounds away from your weight goal.
Phase 3, Pre-maintenance: You will be about 10 pounds away from your desired weight after the last phase. In this phase, 10 grams are added until you find that your weight loss has stopped. A wide variety of food is added to help you increase your carbohydrate intake. The process continues until you reach your weight goal.
Phase 4, Lifetime Maintenance: The last phase is a plan that is supposed to be followed over a lifetime. After phase 3, you will have a good idea of how much carbohydrates your body can tolerate before gaining weight, and phase 4 helps you maintain that weight. You will continue to consume a low-carbohydrate diet at a maximum of 120 grams over your life period.
The food you should eat and avoid
Following the Atkins Diet can be easier for some people and harder for others. The general idea of what you should eat and not eat are high protein and fatty foods and high carbohydrate foods, respectively. Here are some examples:
Should eat –
Meat: Meat is high in protein and also fat. Pork, chicken, beef, and others are some meats you can consume.
Eggs: Eggs are high in protein and should be consumed daily during the diet.
Fish: Fatty fish and other seafood are also suitable for consumption during this diet. Salmon, Tuna, and trout are some of them.
Should not eat –
Potatoes: Potatoes are high in carbohydrates in the form of starch, and as such, it is one of the main foods you must avoid.
Soft Drinks: Soft drinks contain a very high amount of sugar, which will deter your progress.
Rice: Rice is high in carbohydrates and should be avoided.
The pros and cons
The Atkins Diet has been around for decades and is popular even today with its modern iterations. However, like all diets, it has its pros and cons. Based on research, here are some of its pros and cons:
- It is an easy-to-maintain diet. Most diets can be challenging as they call for a significant change in the things people eat, but the Atkins Diet already includes food people are used to.
- The diet is not strict in terms of the “portions” you consume. The only thing you would need to remember is to cut down your carbohydrate intake significantly. It is convenient because you do not have to measure every food you take.
- Unlike low-fat diets, low carbohydrate diets like the Atkins Diet fill your appetite. It is an advantage for people who have problems with feeling hunger on low-fat diets.
- Low carbohydrates consumption helps to maintain blood sugar levels and consequently helps combat diabetes.
- There is a lack of fiber in the diet. Fiber is an essential nutrient for the body that helps in digestion and improves appetite.
- The high protein and saturated fat nature of the diet are suspected to increase risks of heart diseases and even cancer.
- Experts argue that it is not a well-balanced diet. The Atkins diet excludes food that provides you with multiple nutrients that are important for your body.
- The first phase of the diet has many side effects due to the deficient intake of carbohydrates. Symptoms like constipation, fatigue, dehydration, and dizziness are some of them which people have found to experience in the first few weeks of the diet.
- Following the diet also has a risk of low blood sugar levels, and research also shows that a high protein diet has chances of reducing kidney health.
Trying to lose weight can be tricky and complicated. But trying to find the proper diet can also be an equally taxing challenge. All popular diets have their problems and benefits; it is about finding the right one for you.
The Atkins diet is a low carbohydrate, high protein, and fat diet, not for everyone. It is advised to consult your doctor before you start any diet plan.