The Atkins diet is a type of low-carb diet that involves restricting one or more food groups to attain weight loss. The diet was created by a man named Robert Atkins who used the diet to lose significant weight. He then wrote a series of books describing the diet and how to use it so others could benefit from his experiences.
The Goal Of The Diet
The goal of the Atkins diet is to change the way the body’s metabolism works(much like the 6 meals a day diet). By limiting the consumption of carbohydrates, you can effectively switch your metabolism from burning glucose to burning body fat. The process is called ketosis and is triggered by low blood glucose levels.
The Atkins diet is broken down into phases (similar to several other diets like The Dukan Diet). The first phase is called induction. During induction your carbohydrate intake is restricted the most. The phase takes two weeks to complete and it helps quickly get the body into a state of ketosis. Dieters are allowed 20 net grams of carbs per day, 12-15 grams of which must come from salad greens and vegetables. In addition to the carbohydrate regulations, dieters must consume no less than 8 glasses of water per day (want to learn how to lose water weight? go to our how to lose water weight page to learn more). During the induction phase, you can expect to lose significant weight, up to 5-10 pounds per week.
The next phase of the diet is called the ongoing weight loss phase – or OWL for short. During this phase, carbs are re-introduced, but only at levels at which weight loss still occurs. Each week dieters can add 5 grams of carbs to their intakes. The goal is to continue losing weight while experimenting with foods and net carbs to find the equilibrium between weight loss and food intake.
Following the OWL phase is the pre-maintenance phase. Each week the net carbohydrates intake is increased by 10 grams until a point is found when the dieter stops losing weight, but does not gain weight either. Forbidden foods are allowed back into the diet once a week.
Lifetime Maintenance Phase
Once the pre-maintenance phase is complete, dieters enter the lifetime maintenance phase. The goal is to continue habits learned during previous phases at a rate where weight is maintained.
Numerous studies have shown that the Atkins diet does work. However, there are health complications associated with a low carb lifestyle. Before you begin the Atkins diet, you should speak with your doctor to weigh out the pros and cons to determine if it is right for you. For those who are significantly overweight, the Atkins diet may provide the answers you have been looking for.
Phase 1: Induction
The Atkins Diet is divided into 4 phases. The first phase is known as the induction phase. During this phase, dieters will drastically limit carbohydrates to less than 20 grams per day to force their bodies into Ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic process that utilizes an alternative energy source to rapidly burn fat.
The induction phase typically lasts for two weeks, though some choose to remain in this phase for longer periods of time as long as they keep shedding weight quickly. Depending on your starting weight, your health and your willpower, you may choose to stay in the induction phase for 3 or more weeks.
Lots Of Proteins And Fat
During the induction phase, dieters should aim to eat a lot of protein (which is also advocated in the popular Dukan Diet) and fat. Carbohydrate intake is very limited. It’s important to note that certain vegetables and fruits contain high amounts of carbohydrates, so sticking with the approved list of foods is essential. Fish, shellfish(also important in the Mediterranean Diet), poultry, meat, eggs and cheese are all great choices during phase 1 of the Atkins diet. If you’re in the mood for vegetables, celery, cucumbers, peppers, mushrooms and iceberg lettuce are all great choices. Of your allowed 20 grams of carbohydrates, roughly 12 to 15 grams should come from non-starchy vegetable sources rather than grains.
How To Improve Chances Of Success
If you’re finding it difficult to stay on pace with the diet, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of success. Eating 4 or 5 small meals throughout the day will help you feel better than eating 2 or 3 large meals. Try to avoid going for more than 6 hours during the day without eating. You should also try to consume 4 to 6 ounces of protein at every meal, including breakfast.
Eight Glasses Of Water Per Day
During the induction phase you should aim to consume 8 glasses of water per day. Many people confuse hunger and thirst, so drinking plenty of water will help keep your body hydrated while controlling unnecessary hunger cues. Try to avoid entering starvation mode with this method though, it can be dangerous and unhealthy. In addition to plenty of water, a multi-vitamin is recommended.
Struggling With Cravings
Many people find themselves struggling with cravings for sweet foods during the induction phase. To combat these cravings, you can enjoy foods sweetened with artificial sweeteners including Splenda, or you can have a serving of sugar-free gelatin. Atkins products coded for the induction phase are also acceptable choices.
Finding Acceptable Foods
The induction phase can seem restrictive, especially at restaurants, but with a little diligence you will be able to find acceptable foods. Beware of gravy’s made with corn starch or flour as well as salad dressings that contain sugar. Look for grilled entrees and ask for salads to be served plain or with oil and vinegar on the side.
Up To Fifteen Pounds Of Fat Loss
If you follow the rules closely, you can expect to lose up to 15 pounds during the induction phase, giving you a nice jump-start on your personal way how to lose weight. Like any diet, the first steps are often the hardest, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you make a mistake. Use the available tools and guides to make the first step of the Atkins diet as easy as possible.
Phase 2: Ongoing Weight Loss
Phase 2 of the Atkins Diet is known as the ongoing weight loss (OWL) phase. During this period, dieters will gradually increase their carbohydrate intake, re-introduce certain foods to their diets and discover their carbohydrate level of losing (CLL). Dieters can expect to continue losing weight during the ongoing weight loss phase, though not at the same rate as during the induction phase.
The Main Objective
The main objective of the OWL phase is to discover how many carbs you can consume while still losing weight. Finding the right balance between carb intake and weight loss will allow you the greatest flexibility in your diet while still getting the results you want.
How To Start
To begin the OWL phase, you will increase your carbohydrate allowance to 25 net grams. If you continue losing weight, you will increase your carbohydrate allowance each week until you reach the critical point at which weight loss stops. Determining your personal CLL is the first step in permanently changing your eating habits.
During the OWL phase, participants will re-introduce nuts, seeds, berries, low-carb fruits, additional dairy products, certain vegetable juices and legumes (juicing for weight loss is a healthy choice and is used in the popular juicing diet). The OWL phase acts as a transitional stage that prepares the dieter for the final stage of the diet. The greater variety of foods and increased carbohydrates allowance is a welcome relief from the more restrictive induction phase.
Drinking Enough Water
As you explore your carbohydrate tolerance, it’s important to continue drinking plenty of water. Dieters are encouraged to consume 8 glasses of water per day to stay hydrated and keep their bodies running at optimal levels. You should also continue taking your multivitamin or supplements (like the raspberry ketone diet) during this stage.
Some of the foods that you will re-introduce during phase 2 includes cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, fruits such as blueberries or strawberries, tomato juice and lemon juice. If you choose a convenience food (prepackaged food), be sure to note the serving size, then subtract fiber from total carbs to get your net carb content.
Fighting Low Energy Levels
Some dieters find that they have decreased energy levels during the OWL phase. To combat this, be sure that you are getting enough salt in your diet. Fatigue can be a side effect of a fat-burning metabolism. As you increase your carbohydrate intake, you should notice this side effect lessening. Be careful with the salt though and teach yourself how much sodium per day is healthy for you.
Creating A Healthy Eating Plan
Phase two is the first step in changing the way that you eat. The goal of the Atkins diet is to create a healthy eating plan that you can maintain for the rest of your life. After phase two, dieters will enter into the final stages of the diet that will prepare them for life after Atkins. Knowing your CLL and how to use it is a valuable tool that you can use to maintain a healthy weight for the rest of your life.
Phase 3: Pre-Maintenance
Phase 3 of the Atkins Diet is known as the pre-maintenance phase. By this time you should be roughly 10 pounds from your goal weight and you should still be losing steadily. You should have a rough idea of what your daily carbohydrate allowance should be as you head into the final stage of learning to control your weight through diet.
The Main Goal Of This Phase
The pre-maintenance phase will allow you to further explore your carbohydrate tolerance as well as which foods you can and cannot handle. There are five objectives that you will master during the pre-maintenance phase to help you reach and maintain your goal weight.
Objective 1: Slowly lose the rest of the weight required to reach your goal. You should only have about 10 pounds to lose at this point, however those last 10 pounds are going to come off more slowly than the rest of the weight because during phase 3 you are going to slowly change your diet as you approach the final, permanent way of eating.
Objective 2: Test your body’s tolerance for carbohydrates. During the OWL phase, you discovered your body’s carbohydate level for losing. During the pre-maintenance phase you will see if you can adjust that number slightly higher as you slow down your weight loss. To find out if you can enjoy more carbs, increase your limit by 10 grams per week and keep track of your weight.
The amount of weight you lose per week during this phase is going to be dramatically lower than before. You may only lose half a pound per week, but you will continue moving towards your goal.
Objective 3: Try adding additional foods into your diet and watch your body’s reaction. During phase 3 of the Atkins Diet, you’ll be able to introduce some carbohydrates that were previously off limits to see how your body responds. Some people can tolerate high-carb foods while some people can only eat certain ones or none at all. Phase 3 will allow you to explore these foods and find out which ones you can or cannot eat.
Objective 4: Discover your Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium (ACE). Once you’ve lost all of the excess weight, the next step is to find the point at which you neither gain nor lose. This level is known as your ACE.
Objective 5: Maintain your weight. Once you’ve figured out what your ACE is, the next step is trying to maintain your weight at a constant level for one month. Once you achieve this, you are ready to move on to the final phase of the Atkins program.
Enjoying Food Without Stuffing
Remember that the goal of the Atkins program isn’t just to lose weight, it’s to lose weight and keep it off for good. This means you must learn a new way of eating that will allow you to enjoy your food without packing your body full of excess carbs that will change the way your metabolism works. With a little bit of diligence at first, this new way of eating will soon become a lifestyle.
Phase 4: Maintenance Phase
The fourth and final phase of the Atkins program is known as the maintenance phase. During this time you will continue with the program to keep the weight off. Using the knowledge you learned about your personal ACE, you will maintain your weight for the rest of your life. The Atkins Diet is not just a fad diet – it’s a whole nutritional approach that will revolutionize the way that you look at food. When done correctly, the diet is easily maintained for the rest of your life, leading to a healthier and more active lifestyle.
More Energy For Exercise
In addition to dietary changes, many individuals find that their interest in recreational sports or other types of exercise increases as their weight goes down and their energy levels go up. Losing weight will help you finally live the type of life you’ve always wanted. Swimming for weight loss is a good example of the right type of exercising one should do to lose weight fast.
Using The Tools You’ve Discovered
Using the tools that you learned in the pre-maintenance section will help you stay at your goal weight for the rest of your life. The maintenance part of the plan is more than a phase – it’s a way of life. You’ll essentially be using your ACE to count carbs and make smart eating decisions every day from here on out. With time, knowing which foods to pick and how many carbs are in each one will become second nature.
Continuing The Diet
When you begin feeling better about the way that you look and the way that you feel, you’ll want to continue with your progress and maintain your new weight. If you need extra support, reaching out to the Atkins community is a great way to get in touch with people like you who have been in your shoes. Give support, get support, learn, share and interact with people who have been in your shoes.
Done With Dieting Forever
The best part about the maintenance phase is the feeling of knowing that you are done with dieting forever. Once you lose the weight and learn how to keep it off you will never have to struggle with fad diets and reoccurring weight gain ever again. The Atkins diet will change your life for the better, giving you the tools you need to stay healthy.
Prove Is In The Numbers
The Atkins Diet has worked for thousands of people and it can work for you too. The feeling of knowing that you’ve gone on your last diet forever is priceless. Best of all, the plan is easy to use and easy to follow. Each step spells out what you can and cannot eat and the final phase even gives you the tools you need to stay motivated for the rest of your life. Stop dieting by changing the way you eat with the Atkins Diet.
Pros and Cons of The Atkins Diet
You’ve probably heard a lot of mixed messages about the Atkins Diet. Like any high-profile weight loss solution, the Atkins Diet has many supporters and many opponents. Wading through the sea of information can be difficult and time consuming.
Instead of trying to find all of the facts yourself, take a look at this brief list of pros and cons to determine if the Atkins Diet may be the solution you’ve been looking for. Read on to discover some of the pros and cons of the diet, while getting some insight to one of the most popular diets on the market:
- It works. People who successfully complete the diet not only lose weight – they keep it off. The Atkins Diet is broken down into 4 simple phases to teach you everything you need to know to reach your goal weight and maintain it for the rest of your life.
- It’s popular. Because it’s popular, it’s easy to find information, support, tips and tricks to be successful at the diet. Almost everyone has heard of the Atkins Diet and almost everyone knows someone who has tried it. That’s a huge network of resources to draw on if you decide to go down that road yourself.
- It’s simple. The diet is based on the easy principal of avoiding carbs. You don’t need to know the science behind the diet — all you need to know is what to eat and how much of it to eat and the diet spells those things out in black and white to make it easy.
- It provides a thrill. The diet creates a situation where losing huge amounts of weight very quickly becomes a reality. The thrill of stepping on the scale and seeing the pounds flying off is something that can be thrilling and even a little addicting.
- It’s personalized. The Atkins Diet works on finding your own individual level of carbohydrate consumption that results in weight loss. You can personalize the diet to work for you and your specific body type. If you find a food that you don’t like, you don’t have to eat it. If you find a food that makes you gain weight, you don’t have to eat it. There are enough choices and guidelines that you can shape the diet to work for your needs.
- It’s popular. Because it’s popular, that means everyone has heard about it and everyone is talking about it. Where there is talk there is rumors. Rumors spread lies. Lies create stereotypes. So be ready for some unfavorable reactions from friends and even family if you decide to try it out.
- You have to count carbs. People who don’t enjoy counting things will not like this diet. You have to read labels, figure out net carb contents and then count them and keep track of them throughout the day.
- The induction phase is brutal. This is the most restrictive part of the diet and it has become the main part that people think of as soon as they hear the term, “Atkins”. Luckily, induction can last as little as 2 weeks.
- It can get boring. Having to constantly restrict your carb intake can lead to boredom. The first part of the diet is very restrictive and it can get old quickly, which leads some people to prematurely quit the diet.
Now that you have an idea of what some of the pros and cons are, you can decide for yourself if the diet is right for you. If it is, rest assured that there are plenty of resources to help you succeed at the diet and reach your goal weight.
Atkins Diet Side Effects
If you’re thinking about losing weight, you may be considering the wildly popular Atkins Diet. The diet claims that you can change the way your metabolism works by cutting out carbohydrates in your diet and then slowly re-introducing them while continuing to lose weight and achieving your goal.
Wealth Of Information Available
Many people have tried the Atkins diet, which has given physicians a wealth of information about both the short and long-term side effects of reducing carbohydrates in the diet. You may have heard of some of the side effects of the diet already, but a few may surprise you.
One of the most common side effects in the early stages is fatigue. Typically, your body burns carbohydrates for energy, but when you first begin the Atkins Diet you reduce your carbohydrate intake to almost nothing in an effort to change your body’s energy source. This change takes a little time and there is likely going to be a lag between your last bite of pasta and the point at which your metabolism finishes changing. During this transitional time you might feel a little bit more tired than usual. Fatigue is one of the most common side effects of the Atkins Diet. To combat this, make sure you drink at least 8 glasses of water per day and slightly increase your salt intake. A well-rounded multi-vitamin containing omega fatty acids can also help.
Fatigue isn’t the only side effect that accompanies the diet. Doctors have linked the diet with an increased risk of cardiac problems, elevated cholesterol, osteoperosis, gout and kidney stones. People with a personal or family history of these types of illnesses may be at an even greater risk. You should always let your doctor know when you begin the Atkins Diet in case you experience any adverse health effects.
Bad Breath And Constipation
Quitting carbohydrates will also lead to possible bad breath and constipation. This is due to the changes happening in your metabolism. Breath mints and laxatives can help alleviate these side effects.
Warnings From Respectable Organisations
It’s important to note that several health organizations such as the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society warn consumers against the diet because of it’s possible effects on health. These organizations also site an increased risk for strokes, diabetes and obesity.
Decide For Yourself
Only you can decide if these side effects are worth the potential reward of the diet. If you are unsure of the risks, speak with your doctor about your plans and always seek medical attention if you experience any side effects on any weight loss diet.