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Atkins Diet - All About This Low Carb Diet

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The Atkins diet is a food plan with less carbohydrate content. Read the article below to learn about the purpose and phases of the Atkins diet.

Written by

Dr. Saberitha

Medically reviewed by

Sumiya Sulthana

Published At June 2, 2022
Reviewed AtMarch 22, 2023

Introduction

A cardiologist named Robert C.Atkins proposed a diet plan called the Atkins diet in 1960. It is also known as Atkins nutritional approach. The main focus of this diet plan is more proteins and fats but limited carbohydrates. The Atkins diet comprises four phases for maintaining the ideal body weight. It is directed toward a long life with a healthy diet plan. The specific eating habits of the Atkins diet provide better health.

What Are the Purposes of the Atkins Diet?

The various purposes of the Atkins diet are as follows;

  • It helps to boost the energy level, and the individual can carry out physical activities.

  • It helps to reduce high blood pressure and metabolic-related diseases in the body.

  • The individual can enjoy different food varieties mentioned in the diet.

  • The Atkins diet helps to lose excess weight by restricting carbohydrate intake.

  • The Atkins diet helps individuals to change their food habits with a proper diet plan.

  • The systemic diseases related to food habits like obesity can be corrected by following the Atkins diet.

  • The Atkins diet helps to reverse the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

  • It also reduces the blood sugar level and improves type two diabetes.

  • It controls the triglycerides level and improves blood cholesterol.

What Is the Atkins Diet Plan?

  • The Atkins diet comprises carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in balanced proportions.

  • It modifies the typical American diet consisting of low-fat, high carbohydrates into an adequate diet.

  • In the Atkins diet, the individual need not avoid meat-containing fat, as it focuses only on controlling carbohydrates.

  • A diet rich in sugar, refined carbs, and white flour may result in imbalances in the sugar level, and the individual gains weight. But the Atkins diet restricts such dietary plans.

  • An Atkins diet can be modified according to the individual's requirements, like a vegan diet or a vegetarian diet.

  • It also emphasizes the health problems that might occur due to a low carbohydrate diet.

What Are the Four Different Phases of the Atkins Diet?

The individual can start any of the three phases depending on the weight goals.

  • Phase 1 - Induction - The individual must restrict the diet by eating only 20 grams of carbohydrates. It should be particularly from vegetables. As per the nutritional guidelines, a person should intake 45 to 65 percent of carbohydrates from the daily calories. But the Atkins diet comprises only 10 percent of carbohydrates. It primarily focuses on green vegetables like beans, broccoli, and cucumber. Every meal should contain protein obtained from foods like fish, cheese, butter, egg, soy-based foods, and meat. The induction phase restricts alcohol, baked food items, and nuts. The individual following this phase must drink eight glasses of water daily. This phase lasts for about two weeks, depending on the weight loss goals.

  • Phase 2 - Balancing - This phase is a continuation of the induction phase. The individual should continue eating 12 to 15 gms of carbohydrates from the vegetables. The nutrient-rich foods like nuts, berries, and seeds can also be added to the diet in this phase. The individual should stay in this phase until the body weight is about 4.5 kilograms from the goal weight. Drinks like coffee and green tea can be taken by the individuals on the Atkins diet as it has antioxidant properties.

  • Phase 3 - Pre-Maintenance - In this phase, the individual can start eating fruits and whole grains along with vegetables. The individual can add ten grams of carbohydrates to the diet each week. This phase should be continued until the individual reaches the goal weight.

  • Phase 4 - Lifetime Maintenance - After reaching the goal weight, the individual can repeat the same process for the entire life.

What to Expect After the Atkins Diet?

  • An individual can lose up to 6.8 kilograms in phase 1.

  • Initially, the body tries to lose water content. But the unwanted weight can be reduced during phase 2 and phase 3.

  • There is less calorie intake due to restrictions on the carbohydrate level.

  • The protein and fat give a stomach full feeling to the individual.

  • Recent changes in the Atkins diet include the intake of extra salt and supplements like vitamin tablets for nourishment.

What Are the Risk Factors of the Atkins Diet?

  • Diabetic patients must consult a medical professional before proceeding with the Atkins diet, as it involves changes in the food.

  • Animal foods rich in high-fat content can increase the risk of cancer.

  • Restricting the carbs suddenly in the diet makes the individual weak and exhausted.

  • Constipation is the main side effect of low carbohydrate intake. Some individuals have diarrhea due to the intake of animal foods.

  • The individual might experience dizziness and headache due to the change in diet plan.

  • Nutritional deficiency might occur due to insufficient fiber content in the Atkins diet.

  • Since phase 1 restricts the carbohydrate intake to less than 20 grams, it can result in serious medical conditions like ketosis. It is a condition in which the body does not have enough glucose for energy. It results in the breakdown of the fat stored in the body. This eventually leads to ketone buildup in the body. Ketosis can cause nausea and bad breath for some people.

  • The patients taking medications like diuretics, Insulin, and oral diabetic drugs should not follow the Atkins diet as it interferes with the drug metabolism (it needs to be followed under medical supervision teams like doctors and dietitians).

  • The Atkins diet should not be followed by breastfeeding and pregnant women as it influences the baby's development.

Conclusion

In recent years, the Atkins diet has evolved by encouraging the individual to eat more vegetables rich in fiber content. Research has shown that people can regain weight once after stopping the Atkins diet plan. Calorie restriction for the short term can help people lose weight. However, the individual must consult a dietician before restricting the calories for the long term. Unlike other diet plans, exercise is not recommended in the Atkins diet. According to the Atkins diet, exercise helps in maintaining the ideal body weight and is vital for leading a healthier lifestyle but it is not essential for losing bodyweight. However, research says the Atkins diet cannot be tolerated for the entire life. It can only be followed for a phase.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

How Can I Reduce My Stomach Fat?

Abdominal fat or belly fat can be reduced by following a few strategies like eating plenty of soluble fiber and a high protein diet. Avoid alcohol and fatty food substances to reduce the belly. In addition, a healthy diet plan helps reduce stomach fat.

2.

Is the Atkins Diet Good for Losing Weight?

Yes, the Atkins diet helps in losing weight easily. The main aim of the Atkins diet is to eat meals with limited carbohydrates and the right amount of essential proteins and fats. It does not restrict the intake of calories.

3.

How Much Weight Can I Lose on Atkins in a Month?

The weight loss journey varies with each individual. However, if phase 1 or the induction phase is followed appropriately, the individual can lose 6.8 kg or 15 pounds. The Atkins diet helps in losing water weight also.

4.

What Can I Eat on the Atkins Diet?

Since the Atkins diet focuses on protein, you can eat meat like chicken. The fried foods should be replaced with fresh vegetables like mushrooms, eggplant, beans, tomatoes, and high-fiber microgreens. To add more flavor, you can include bell pepper and olives. Only three to four ounces of cheese are preferred in the Atkins diet. You need not avoid butter and oils in Atkins's diet.

5.

What Foods Are Not Allowed in the Atkins Diet?

Canned fruits like pears, sugary foods like soft drinks, pastries, preserved meat, vegetables with high carbohydrates like carrots and turnips, and fruits with high carbohydrates like bananas, oranges, and grapes are prohibited in the Atkins diet. However, there are more food restrictions only in the induction phase.

6.

Can You Eat Bananas on the Atkins Diet?

Bananas should not be consumed in the Atkins diet because they are considered fruits rich in carbohydrates. It is not suitable for carbohydrate-restricted diets.

7.

Can I Eat as Much Meat as I Want on Atkins?

The core portion of Atkins's diet is proteins. Of course, you can eat as much meat as you want in the Atkins diet. Poultry foods, beef, or seafood can be included in your diet plan.

8.

What Is the Difference between Atkins and Keto?

The similarity between the Atkins and the keto diets is that both are low-carbohydrate diets. But in the Atkins diet, the carbohydrate intake is gradually increased. The Atkins diet helps maintain blood pressure and raises good HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Hence it reduces the risk of stroke and heart attack.

9.

Should I Exercise with Atkins?

The Atkins diet does not recommend any exercise. It is based on the fact that exercise is not essential for losing weight. It helps to maintain the body mass and builds lean body mass. The Atkins diet improves mood and health.

10.

How Long Does It Take for Atkins to Work?

At least two weeks is necessary for achieving your weight goal in the Atkins diet. The individual should eat only 20 grams of carbohydrates in the induction phase. After attaining the essential weight goal, skip any of the four phases. You can also follow a particular phase for the long term to maintain the body weight.
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Sumiya Sulthana
Sumiya Sulthana

Nutritionist

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