Created in 1972 by cardiologist Robert C. Atkins, the Atkins Diet has become an incredibly popular choice for those looking to lose weight. Unlike other diets that restrict fats, Atkins reduces carbohydrates (sugars) while encouraging dieters to consume protein and fats.
Atkins Diet: The Basics
The Atkins Diet is focused on leading dieters to discovering the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fats they need in order to achieve weight loss and optimal health. Dr. Atkins believed that consuming too many carbohydrates — in particular, sugar, white flour, and refined carbohydrates — resulted in blood sugar imbalances, cardiovascular problems, and weight gain. Atkins noticed that when dieters increased their consumption of protein and fat while restricting carbohydrates, weight loss and improved health were the result for the overwhelming majority of people.
Since it’s launch in 1972, the Atkins Diet has evolved and refined its dietary recommendations. The diet, as it currently exists, places an emphasis on eating high-fiber vegetables, as well as offering vegetarian and vegan options for those wanting to eat more plant-based proteins.
The Atkins Diet is popular because, unlike other diets, it doesn’t require portion control or counting calories. However, for the diet to be successful, individuals must be willing to count carbs. Using a system called “net carbs,” dieters are encouraged to track the total carbohydrate content of a food item minus the fiber content it contains. For example, a cup of raw broccoli has 4.6 grams of total carbs and 2.6 grams of fiber, putting its net carb value at 2 grams. Tracking net carbs allow the dieter to see where their personal threshold for carbohydrate consumption exists.
Phases of the Atkins Diet
Phase 1: The Induction Phase
This initial phase is very strict as it eliminates almost all carbs from your diet, except those from vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, green beans, celery, peppers, and cucumber. During the induction phase, dieters will consume fish or shellfish, poultry, meat, eggs, and cheese, at every meal. Oils and fats are not restricted, but most fruits, sugars, grains, nuts and alcohol need to be avoided. Dieters are strongly urged to drink a minimum of eight glasses of water daily.
Phase 2: The Balancing Phase
During this time you gradually add back nutrient-rich carbs, such as more vegetables and berries, nuts and seeds. Avoiding foods with added sugar is still essential at this stage such as bread, pasta, bakery goods, and candy.
Phase 3: The Pre-Maintenance Phase
During this time you slowly increase the types of foods you eat to include fruits, starchy vegetables, and whole grains. Monitoring your net carb consumption is critical at this stage as you’ll be determining what amount of carbohydrates your body needs to maintain your new weight. When weight gain begins to occur, it’s important to cut back on the number of carbs being consumed daily.
Phase 4: The Lifetime Maintenance Phase
A person has reached this phase when they have reached their target weight loss goal and are successful at monitoring their net carb intake to prevent future weight gain.
Sample Atkins Diet Menu
Curious about what you’d eat on the Atkins Diet? Here’s a sample menu for a typical Induction Phase day:
Breakfast. Scrambled or fried eggs with onions and cheese. Allowed beverages for the Induction Phase include coffee (no cream/sugar), tea (no cream/sugar), water, diet soda or herbal tea.
Lunch. Vegetable salad with chicken, bacon, and avocado, along with an Induction Phase beverage.
Dinner. Baked or grilled salmon, with a side of asparagus, and an arugula salad with cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, along with an Induction Phase beverage.
Snacks. Dieters typically are allowed two snacks per day. Snacks options include low-carb Atkins Diet products, such as granola bars or chocolate shakes, as well as food items allowed during the Induction Phase such as celery and cheddar cheese.
Those following the Atkins Diet can experience some side effects, including headaches, fatigue, constipation, dizziness, and weakness. Before starting any weight loss program, be sure to consult with your doctor to get their feedback and suggestions.
Nutrient-Rich Vegetables are Essential to the Atkins Diet
Here at Tommy’s, we believe vegetables are an important nutritional component to any diet. That’s why we’re committed to making the most delicious and nutritious flash-frozen vegetables you’ll ever try. If weight loss is a goal for you, pick up a bag or two the next time you’re at the supermarket – we’re certain you’ll find them a tasty and welcome addition to your menu plan!