What is the Atkins Diet?
The Atkins diet is named after its founder, Dr Robert Atkins and is a long-term plan to encourage the body to burn fat. People on the Atkins diet drastically reduce the amount of carbohydrates they eat and go through specific phases of dieting in order to achieve long-term results. The phase the person is in determines the kinds of foods they eat.
Phase 1 serves as the introduction to the Atkins diet and is fairly restrictive in nature. During this 2 week period, carbohydrates are restricted to a very small daily intake (20 grams per day) and fruits and nuts are banned. This first stage is about burning fat and learning to cope without the simple carbohydrates that many people crave. Meals during this period will include vegetables, lean meat (such as turkey, pork and chicken), eggs and natural fats (such as olive oil and avocado).
This stage is also known as the ongoing weight loss phase. This is the longest phase and will last until the individual is close to their goal weight. During this stage, healthy foods such as fruit and nuts will be introduced. Carbohydrates will initially be limited to 25 grams per day which will increase by 5 grams each week.
This phase is also known as the pre-maintenance phase; it is usually started when the individual is within 10 pounds of their target weight. This stage is all about stabilising your diet and gradually increasing the range of foods you eat, while still losing weight. Carbohydrates should now be increased further up to around 50-60 grams per day.
This stage is also known as the lifetime maintenance phase and is for people that have managed to stay at their goal weight for a month or longer. This phase is all about keeping the weight off and continuing to eat healthily. By this point you should have established your daily intake of carbohydrates and should have a good idea of which foods you should eat regularly and which you should monitor carefully.
How much weight can I expect to lose?
Anything is possible if you put your mind to it and make a long-term commitment to change the way you live your life. Initially, most people find they lose weight very quickly, with many people losing a stone each week during phase 1. The amount of weight you lose will depend heavily on how much weight you have to lose in the first place; if you only have a couple of pounds to lose, you may wish to consider a less radical plan that modifies your current diet rather than changing it dramatically. If a person diets for long enough they could lose a huge amount of weight but they must continue to eat healthily if they want the weight to stay off; weight loss will be much more gradual during the latter stages of the diet as the individual has less weight to lose.
What are the advantages of Atkins?
Atkins has been scientifically proven to be an effective weight loss programme and it does aim to instil good eating habits, without forbidding some of people�s favourite foods. Although the diet is quite regimented it does still offer the individual a lot of choice regarding which foods they can eat. The diet also ensures a degree of independence as dieters are encouraged to find their own suitable level of carbohydrate intake. Atkins also allows people to eat quite a lot, rather than offering dieters tiny portions.
Are there any disadvantages?
The main disadvantage is that dieters have to measure out and count carbohydrates in each meal they have and initially the amount of carbohydrates that can be eaten is very low, which many people may find difficult to adjust to.
Sample menu plan:
- Breakfast: Omelette made with 3 eggs, cream and a spinach and cheese sauce, half a ham steak and a cup of tea or coffee (decaffeinated)
- Lunch: Salami and cream cheese roll, salad (made of green leaves only) and dressing
- Tea: Chicken with cream and almond sauce, broccoli, salad leaves and dressing