The Atkins diet was promoted and brought into the mainstream public by Robert Atkins, where he came across a study in 1963 from the journal of the American medical association published by Alfred W. Pennington in 1958 called “Weight Reduction”.
The diet was originally considered unhealthy and demonized by the mainstream health authorities, mostly due to the high saturated fat content. However, new studies have shown that saturated fat is harmless
Since then, the diet has been studied thoroughly and shown to lead to more weight loss than low-fat diets, and greater improvements in blood sugar, HDL (the “good” cholesterol), triglycerides and other health markers
Despite being high in fat, it does not raise LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol on average, although this does happen in a subset of individuals
The main reason low-carb diets are so effective for weight loss is that when people reduce carbohydrate intake and eat more protein, their appetite goes down and they end up automatically eating fewer calories without having to think about it
The diet has four phases:
Induction: Cut carbs down to only 20g per day for 2 weeks to kick-start your weight loss and only eat high fat/protein foods.
Balancing: After the 2 weeks you slowly reintroduce carbs back into your diet and you’re allowed between 25 – 45g of carbs per day.
Pre Maintenance: Continue to reintroduce carbs back into your diet until weight loss slows down, but you can only do this when you’re very close to your goal weight (10 pounds or less from your goal weight).
Lifelong: You have now reached your goal weight and you simply maintain this weight for as long as you want by eating a healthy and balanced diet from whole foods including carbs, fats and proteins.
However, these phases are a bit complicated and may not be necessary. You should be able to lose weight and keep it off as long as you stick to the meal plan below.
Some people choose to skip the induction phase altogether and include plenty of vegetables and fruit from the start. This approach can be very effective as well.
Others prefer to just stay in the induction phase indefinitely. This is also known as a very low-carb ketogenic diet (keto).
Foods to Avoid
You should avoid these foods on the Atkins diet:
Sugar: Soft drinks, fruit juices, cakes, candy, ice cream, etc.
Grains: Wheat, rye, barley, rice.
Vegetable oils: Soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil and a few others.
Trans fats: Usually found in processed foods with the word “hydrogenated” on the ingredients list.
“Diet” and “low-fat” foods: These are usually very high in sugar.
High-carb vegetables: Carrots, turnips, etc (induction only).
High-carb fruits: Bananas, apples, oranges, pears, grapes (induction only).
Starches: Potatoes, sweet potatoes (induction only).
Legumes: Lentils, beans, chickpeas, etc (induction only).
This diet has its advantages and disadvantages
-Promotes rapid weight/fat loss.
-Has been proven to work.
-Not as time-consuming (IIFYM diet) or expensive as other popular diets (juice diet).
-Can enjoy many high fat/protein foods such as sirloin steak, mature cheddar cheese, whole eggs, spam, corned beef, roast pork, bacon etc.
-Low carb causes a lack of energy, fatigue, and even dizziness.
-Nutrient deficiencies due to lack of food choice.
-Can cause headaches (especially women on their period) and bad breath.
-Lack of fiber may cause constipation and bowel problems.
To sum up, the Atkins diet could work for you, but as with anything to do with your diet you will need to experiment thoroughly to know how your body responds to certain foods/macronutrients. As some people lose weight faster on the high carb – low-fat diets and others high fat – low carb.