The Atkins diet is a low carbohydrate diet created by Dr. Robert Atkins. The basic concept is that high carbohydrate intake causes obesity, so it aims to limit excessive carbohydrate intake and prioritise protein intake.
The essence of the Atkins diet
The Atkins method has helped many people achieve their ideal body weight in a short space of time, without fasting or self-indulgence.
The Atkins diet is all about getting rid of the extra pounds without starving yourself, and all you have to do is follow the rules and instructions in the book “Dr. Atkins’ revolutionary diet”.
It is made up of four phases, and each of them has an important role to play in gradually accustoming the body to a completely new way of eating, which will lead to weight loss in a short time.
As each phase builds on the previous one, we only need to expand our knowledge as the weeks go by, so that we can keep the diet up week after week.
The aim of the diet is for everyone to find the maximum amount of carbohydrates that will keep the weight loss going, and also to keep our appetite under control, avoid massive binge eating and become more active and energetic.
The Atkins diet has just a few basic principles that really need to be taken seriously in order to get the results you want in a few weeks’ time.
Low carbohydrate consumption means that the body has to start burning fat, which will then lead to weight loss. The diet is especially good to start for people who like to eat and like different kinds of meat, or who want to achieve spectacular results in a relatively short period of time.
In rare cases, the Atkins diet is also recommended by doctors for children with epilepsy in the short term, as low carbohydrate consumption can help to manage various neurological symptoms.
The phases of the Atkins diet
The main aim of the diet is not just to lose weight, but also to maintain it, so that if you have managed to lose the extra kilos over a period of weeks or months, you don’t end up slowly putting back on the same weight or, if necessary, even more than you lost.
To ensure that this does not happen, the Atkins diet starts with a 2-week introductory phase, during which you can learn the principles and the most important rules of the diet.
In the second phase of the diet, you will continue to follow the rules you have been used to for weeks, but you can start to introduce some foods into your diet that you have been avoiding for the last few weeks, and then start to increase your carbohydrate intake.
In the remaining two phases, we will work on developing habits that will help us to maintain this lifestyle in the long term.
The first phase
The first stage of the Atkins diet is the introduction when you essentially start to get your body used to a whole new way of eating. This phase should take about 2 weeks, during which time if all the rules are followed to the letter, fat loss will begin.
In this first phase, you can eat red meat, fish, poultry, shellfish, seafood, and eggs. Carbohydrate intake should not exceed 20 grams per day during this period.
You should avoid bakery products, breads and pastas, sugary foods and vegetables with a high starch content (corn, potatoes).
You can also eat small amounts of cheese, sour cream and cream. Instead of sugar, we should switch to sweeteners and make sure that we drink at least 2 litres of fluid a day, including neither alcohol nor caffeinated drinks.
Perhaps the second phase is best for those who have found the first 2 weeks difficult. In this phase, you have already started to burn fat and start to experience weight loss, which gives you the extra motivation to keep going.
In the second phase of the diet, you can increase your daily carbohydrate intake by an extra 5 grams, as long as weight loss is your primary goal.
Here you can eat slightly more cheese and cottage cheese. You can start to include a variety of oilseeds in your diet, and you can also start to eat potatoes, corn and legumes again.
In the second phase of the Atkins diet, berries can be introduced into the diet.
The Atkins method is all about gradualness. This is because people get used to the new rules relatively quickly, and afterwards it becomes much easier to keep the weight off, which also helps to prevent the excess pounds being put back on.
At this point in the Atkins diet, it is possible to eat a variety of carbohydrates, but we just need to make sure that we do not exceed the amount of carbohydrates needed to maintain the desired weight.
In the third stage, the extra 10 grams of carbohydrate intake gives us the opportunity to eat foods we haven’t had the chance to taste for weeks. From now on, you can eat fruit and vegetables again, as well as lots of hummus and even Greek yoghurt.
Although we have come to the last stage in the list, this does not mean that we will forget everything we have learnt and go back to our old way of life.
When we reach the fourth phase, we should only strive to maintain the target weight, but to do this we must continue to pay attention to the most important rules, and of course to carbohydrate intake.
The aim of this phase is not to regain the extra kilos lost after 1 month. With the rules learned in the previous weeks, new tastes and recipes, and new eating habits, we can keep this lifestyle for life.
By this stage of the Atkins method, everyone should know exactly how much and what type of food their body needs to keep itself in bomb shape.
Atkins diet allowed foods
Once you have set the ideal amount of carbohydrates for yourself to maintain your weight, you can see that this diet is not really about starvation and a belly full of food, but about trying new tastes and textures.
You are free to eat fish on the Atkins diet, which can be tuna, salmon, trout or even herring. You can eat chicken, turkey, duck, goose, or even pheasant and quail.
It’s best to avoid half-prepared foods and cook for yourself if possible, as this is the only way to know exactly what’s in the food.
Of course, you can use any spices you like in your food, just make sure that none of them contain sugar.
Salad dressings are also much better if you make them yourself, using lemon juice, fresh herbs, oils and vinegar (avoid balsamic vinegar because of its sugar content!)
As for oils and fats, it is best to use (unrefined) sunflower, nut, soy or sesame oil in your meals. Margarine should be avoided at all costs, replace it with good quality butter, it is a healthier and tastier option.
As caffeine makes our blood sugar levels unstable, it’s a good idea to cut out caffeinated drinks, coffee and tea completely.
Dangers of the diet
Whatever the diet, we should always remember the importance of a varied and balanced diet. If we completely deprive ourselves of some important things, we may find ourselves with a serious vitamin deficiency, with mild symptoms of fatigue, tiredness and anaemia.
Unfortunately, a large vitamin deficiency can also lead to very serious health problems, so it is important to be careful about what you consume.
Experts say that whatever lifestyle changes you make, it’s best to include some exercise in your life, starting with just a few minutes of walking or cycling a day.
Atkins diet frequently asked questions
When does weight loss start?
One of the most frequently asked questions about the Atkins diet is how many days or how many weeks you can expect to start losing weight. As every body is different, it is impossible to say exactly, but the introductory phase of the diet is designed to do just that, to start burning fat by reducing carbohydrate intake.
How many meals a day should I eat?
Many people also wonder how many meals a day they will need to eat on the Atkins diet. It’s definitely worth eating 4-6 meals a day, precisely to avoid a sudden onset of hunger and massive binge eating. Have a breakfast, a snack, a lunch, then a snack in the afternoon, a dinner, and if necessary a make-up dinner, of course, taking care to watch your daily carbohydrate intake!