One of the primary reasons people decide to go on specific diets, like low carb, is because they want to lose weight.
The Atkins diet is one of those diets. It has been shown to be effective for improving various markers of health, such as reducing diabetes and heart disease risk. While it might not be right for everyone, it cannot necessarily hurt to give it a try.
What is the Atkins diet, exactly? Which types of foods can you and can’t you eat while on this diet? Learn the rules and start planning your low-carb meals so you can obtain the results you want most from this diet.
Atkins Diet Review
If you are looking for a diet low in carbs that will potentially help you lose weight, if done correctly, the Atkins diet might be something you should consider giving a try.
The Atkins diet is meant to accomplish two things: one, to help your body burn more fat instead of burning primarily glucose, and two: to help you get started on your weight loss journey. Basically, people generally go on this diet because they want to adopt eating habits that will help them lose weight and keep it off. You will set a goal weight to start, and the duration of the first three phases of the diet will depend on how much weight you would prefer to lose.
Atkins Diet Plan Basics and Rules
Starting the Atkins diet involves moving through four phases, which is meant to help you gradually transition from a diet high in carbohydrates to one very low in carbohydrates. The first phase is the most important, so pay close attention.
Phase 1: Induction
This phase will ideally last for the first two weeks of your new diet plan. You will limit your intake to no more than 20 carbs throughout each day and make sure the majority of what you eat is high in protein and fat.
The rules of induction
- Do not skip meals or go six hours without eating during the day. Eat either three regular sized meals per day or four to five smaller meals.
- Eat only fat and protein, which can include red meats, poultry, eggs, fish and natural fat in the form of butter, mayo and vegetable oils.
- Eat 20 grams of carbohydrates each day. At least 15 of those should come from non-starchy vegetables.
- Cheese, cream and butter are the only acceptable dairy products in this phase. Do not eat any other dairy products or grains, such as bread or pasta.
- When you are hungry, eat the amount of food that satisfies you, and no more.
- Read food labels, and never assume a food is low carb without checking.
- Each packet of sucralose or saccharin (artificial sweeteners) counts as 1 gram of carbohydrate.
- Do not drink excessive amounts of caffeine.
- Drink a minimum of eight 8-ounce glasses of water every single day. This is in addition to anything else you drink and everything you eat.
- Take a multivitamin as a supplement to replace the nutrients you will not be getting from food during this phase.
At the end of the first two weeks, unless you are still far from your goal weight, you may move on to the second phase.
Phase 2: Balance
In this phase you will start to add more low carb foods to your diet, including foods like vegetables and a little bit of fruit. The purpose of this phase is to introduce different types of low carbohydrate foods back into your meals and snacks.
Phase 3: Fine tuning
Moving into phase 3 means you are getting pretty close to your goal weight, and when that happens, you will slowly begin adding more carbs back into your diet to make sure your weight loss slows down.
Phase 4: Maintenance
Once you have reached your goal weight and are satisfied with the results, phase 4 involves eating as many healthy carbs as you want to, or as many as your body can tolerate without regaining any of the weight that you lost.
Types of foods you can eat
- Meats, such as beef, pork and chicken
- Fatty fish and seafood, including salmon
- Healthy fats, such as avocados and various oils like coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil
- Full-fat dairy, including butter, cheese and yogurt
- Low-carb vegetables such as spinach, kale and asparagus
- Eggs, prepared any way you like
Types of foods you shouldn’t eat
On this diet you want to avoid foods high in simple carbohydrates, which often happen to also be high in empty calories and not very nutritious. So say goodbye to your favorite desserts and junk foods if you want to give this diet a try.
- French fries, potato chips
- Sugary drinks (soda and fruit drinks)
- Desserts like cookies, cakes and ice cream
- Candy and chocolate
- White bread (go for whole grain instead)
- Low fat foods, which are often extremely high in sugar
The Acceptable Food List will be a valuable resource for you while on this diet. If nothing else, this diet is very effective in helping you cut out foods you might be used to eating that just aren’t that good for you in general. The whole basis of healthy eating, after all, is learning how to replace foods high in added sugars and highly processed foods with healthier options.
What’s safe to drink?
As you probably guessed, water is a great beverage choice, especially if you are used to drinks high in sugar such as soda. Tea is also a great choice, especially green tea, which is full of antioxidants and good for you in a number of ways. In moderation, coffee and alcohol are also acceptable to drink on the Atkins diet.
Menu and Meal Planning
On a diet like this, you want to make sure you are not only following the rules, but that you are eating enough food every day to stay healthy. Here is a sample three meal and snack menu similar to a plan you might follow on the first phase of the Atkins diet.
- Mozzarella cheese with 6 cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup mixed greens with vinaigrette dressing
- 1 cup mixed greens with salad dressing of choice
- 1 chicken breast
- ½ butternut squash or 1 cup broccoli
- Celery with peanut or other nut butters
- Unsweetened full-fat yogurt with whole fruit
- Cottage cheese with fruit
- Hummus with vegetables
- Homemade popcorn with butter
Grocery Shopping List
The foods you buy at the grocery store will differ depending on which kinds of meals you need to prepare for the week ahead. Here is a list of foods you can pick up to start the first phase of the Atkins diet off right.
- Dill pickles
- Cheese cubes
- Hard cooked eggs
- Tubers (potatoes, sweet potatoes)
- Nuts and seeds
- Legumes (lentils, peas)
Does the Atkins Diet Work?
The Atkins diet, like any other diet, completely changes the way you eat. When diets work, it is often either because people learn to control their calorie intake and portions better or because they simply learn to be more mindful of what they are eating every day, instead of just eating whatever sounds good whenever they want.
The Atkins diet works the same way. Especially in the first two weeks (the first phase) of the plan, you end up eating far fewer calories than normal because of the strict dietary restrictions. Overall, you also end up eating high amounts of protein on this diet, which also helps you eat less because it fills you up the way carbohydrates won’t.
Reviews and Weight Loss Results
The Atkins diet seems to be a pretty effective means for weight loss. These results speak for themselves.
“Hey! First off I’m Maddie. 25 and from SC.
I have been doing Atkins for the past 5 weeks. Before that, I simply counted calories, but after hitting a plateau for a month, I started Atkins and it’s been working wonders for me since!
I have lost 105 pounds so far. Started at 360 and am now 255. I started losing weight May 2015, lost 70 pounds, got pregnant in November ’15, and lost 35 pounds after having my son in July.
The most difficult part of this diet is not eating bread or pasta (which I LOVE), but the easy part is being able to eat bunless bacon cheeseburgers and remain carbless!
To anyone interested in this diet, I highly recommend! This diet forces your body into a state of Ketosis. It burns your stored fat as energy, therefore you lose the unwanted fat/weight. I plan on sticking with this diet until I reach my goal weight of 175, and I will remain fairly low carb after that.”
Before and After Success Stories
“I was on Atkins for 3 months last year and lost 3 stone (about 42 pounds). I maintained the weight loss until July 27th of this year when I started back on Atkins. To date, I have lost a total of 60.4 pounds and about 60 inches on my arms, legs, waist, hips, belly and chest. I have about 20 lbs left till I will be happy.
The first 2 weeks is the hardest trying to get your head around a meal without carbs and the sugar withdrawals but after that, it gets easier. The more you experiment with your foods, the more you learn to love it! I now can’t imagine meals with all the added carbs. I don’t see them as real food anymore. My advice to those interested in the Atkins diet? Don’t cheat you will end up putting twice as much weight on!!”
“I have been doing the Atkins diet since the 1st August 2014. My weight before Atkins was 80kg. In 1 month my weight dropped 12kg. And it has been static weight until today. My waist before was 36 inches and I’m happy today because it is now 32. I had to stop my Atkins after 3 months because I got breast abscess. In March 2015, I had minor surgery to remove the abscess. I took antibiotics to recover my health. Because of the antibiotics and not being on Atkins, my weight returned to 75kg in a few months. That was a bad effect during my recovery process. Then I got back on my track in March 2016. I have enjoyed many running events, hiking, some outdoor sport and a little bit of workouts and Zumba at home only. Then I lost 7kg. I’m not as disciplined in my diet this year. I am just doing phase 3 & 4 in my Atkins diet. Now my weight is still on 68/69kg. Atkins said if you do a lot of muscle workout your weight may be static. But I am happy today because my migraines are gone, my feet are not in pain and my body no longer feels lazy.
The most difficult part about the diet is how to manage your carbs accurately everyday. When you see rice, bread or any type of carbs you cannot control your mind at all. If you want to reach your goal, you must focus and have discipline to do it. The easiest part when doing diet is drinking plain water like you drink any caffeine or soda. Plain water will help you loss more weight and will get fast result of loss.
My advice before you start Atkins is you must be ready to do it. And remember, the weight is not important to worry about because the inches lost is most important. Eat more green food and green tea to get better results. Less sugar, less carbs and more workouts will help you get to a healthy weight. Good luck for everybody in Atkins.”
The Atkins diet will help you cut way down on the amount of sugar you consume each day, which is great … as long as you make sure to replace those foods with choices high in protein and fat. Figure out new and healthy ways to prepare fruits and vegetables, as they are relatively low in carbs even in larger portion sizes. Set a weight loss goal and track your progress to keep yourself motivated to reach it.