What is the Atkins Diet and is it Right for You?

Chances are you’ve seen the commercials…  Sharon Osbourne, home of iconic metalhead – Ozzie … talking about how much she loves the Atkins diet.  But, what is the Atkins diet and is Atkins right for you?

What is the Atkins Diet and is it Right for You

What Is the Atkins Diet?

The Atkins diet came about when Dr. Robert C. Atkins wrote a book and started promoting it in 1972. Normally, this diet is recommended for weight loss, as it is a low-carbohydrate diet. Supporters claim you can eat as much protein and fat as you’d like, as long as you cut out the carbs. Since then the Atkins diet has become known for its weight loss and greater improvements in blood sugar levels.

Atkins diet - low carb graphic

Recommended for weight loss, Atkins is a diet high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates. When you reduce your intake of low carb foods and eat more protein, your appetite will go down and you will eat fewer calories. This is because protein takes longer to digest, which makes you feel fuller, longer.

There are two forms of the Atkins diet and to understand them we need to look at how Atkins defines net carbs.

cartoon low-carb-high-protein atkins dietAtkins defines net carbs as:

Carb grams MINUS grams of fiber and grams of sugar alcohols.

The Atkins 20 program limits you to 20 grams of net carbohydrates during the initial phase called “induction”.

On the other hand, the Atkins 40 program allows 40 grams of net carbohydrates during the induction phase, giving you a little more flexibility with the foods you eat.

The Atkins Diet Is a 4-Phase Plan

Phase 1 (Induction)

During the induction phase of the Atkins diet, you are limited to either 20 or 40 grams of net carbohydrates per day, for two weeks, depending on the program you are following. You are able to eat high-fat and high-protein foods along with low-carb vegetables such as leafy greens.

Normally the induction phase lasts for two weeks; however, you can extend this time according to your weight loss goals. Once the induction phase is over, you can slowly begin to add healthy carbs back into your diet plan.

atkins phase1 protein

Phase 2 (Balancing)

Phase two of the Atkins diet is called “balancing” and focuses on long-term weight loss, allowing you to increase your daily carb total gradually (5 or 10-gram increments) depending on which of the two programs you are following. You will also add a variety of foods to your diet with antioxidant-rich berries, nuts and seeds, and many low-carb vegetables.

atkins phase 2 foods

Phase 3 (Fine-Tuning)

Phase three of Atkins diet is called “fine-tuning” and you get to add more carbs until your weight loss is in the desired range. These carbs include high glycemic carbs, like grains and root vegetables and high glycemic fruits.

atkins phase 3 foods

Phase 4 (Maintenance)

Phase four of the Atkins diet is called the maintenance phase and allows you to eat all the healthy carbs you want as long as you stay in your target range. This keeps you from regaining the original weight.

What Foods Can I Eat on the Atkins Diet?

The following foods are a safe bet for either plan:

  • atkins diet what to eat - sugar-free condimentsLow-carb veggies such as broccoli, cucumbers and spinach
  • Protein such as beef, chicken, pork and eggs
  • Fish such as salmon, cod, flounder and herring
  • Healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil
  • Full-fat dairy such as cheeses, cream and yogurt
  • Nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds
  • Legumes (beans)
  • Fruit such as berries

Atkins Diet foods to eat and not to eat

The Atkins diet is very simple to follow and lose weight, as long as you add a fatty protein source, vegetables or nuts and some healthy fats to your meal plan and stay away from carbs – especially grains and sugars.

Have you tried the Atkins diet? If so, tell us your experience in the comments below!

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