What is the Atkins Diet?
Dr. Robert C. Atkins created the Atkins diet in 1972 in a bestselling book that outlines the basics of the Atkins diet plan. He developed the diet to assist his patients with long-term weight management, conducting medical research and trials to prove the effectiveness of a low-sugar, low-carb, high-protein, and high-fat diet.
This low-carb diet is based on the idea that you can lose weight by eating as much lean protein and fat as you want if you eliminate all foods high in carbohydrates and sugar. Dr. Atkins’ diet regime continues to gain popularity due to its profound impact on blood sugar stabilization, weight loss, inflammation, metabolic syndrome, and heart health.
The Atkins Diet Weight Loss Program
Carbohydrates and weight are deeply connected—foods high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and flour are contributors to weight gain and obesity. The Atkins diet helps participants maintain a healthy weight or lose weight gradually. Studies show the effectiveness of low-carb diets without the need for calorie counting.
A primary reason low-carb diets work is because reducing carbs and increasing protein creates a feeling of fullness, curbing appetite and overeating and leading to a lower caloric intake. The Atkins diet also promotes weight loss by allowing your body to enter a state of ketosis: a metabolic state where your body’s metabolism switches from burning glucose (sugar) and begins burning stored body fat as its source of energy. The Atkins diet also helps stabilize your insulin levels, preventing blood sugar spikes that cause your body to store excess fat while regulating the imbalances that make us tired, anxious, and prone to craving and overeating.
Atkins Diet Guidelines
The Atkins diet has four core pillars: lose weight, maintain weight loss, achieve optimal health, and prevent common diseases and conditions. The Atkins diet strives to permanently change your eating habits to establish a lifelong approach to healthy eating. The diet plan has four different phases to ease your body into the routine of eating fewer carbs for long-term weight loss and management.
How Many Carbs a Day Can You Eat on Atkins?
- Phase 1: The induction phase consists of eating 20 grams of carbs per day for at least two weeks. Eat at least 115-175 grams of protein at each meal, and 12-15 grams of your net carbs should come from vegetables. Eat three regular sized meals (or four to five smaller meals) daily, and drink eight glasses of water per day.
- Phase 2: The next phase emphasizes balancing your low carb tolerance by slowly incorporating a wider variety of nutritious carbohydrates, such as nuts, seeds, berries, and cheese. People generally eat 25 grams of carbs during the first week of Phase 2 and 30 grams of carbs during the remaining weeks until weight loss is achieved. Increasing carbs gradually allows you to build a foundation for long-term results.
- Phase 3: Begin Phase 3 when you’re almost to your goal weight, and increase your carb intake by 10 grams per week. Steady weight loss is the main priority, so create a plan that works for your long-term weight maintenance.
- Phase 4: The final phase focuses on lifetime maintenance of your goal weight. Continue eating the same foods you enjoyed during Phase 3, but your fat intake may decrease as your carb intake increases.
What Can You Eat on The Atkins Diet?
Atkins’ low-carb approach consists of eating protein-dense foods and vegetables while eliminating all refined carbohydrates, sugars, and processed foods. Acceptable food options and foods to avoid during the Atkins diet are listed below.
What to Eat:
- Lean meats, like beef, chicken, pork, lamb, bacon, and more (red meat is not restricted)
- Fish and seafood, such as salmon, tilapia, and shellfish
- Leafy greens and low-carb vegetables, like spinach, broccoli, avocado, and others
- Nuts, seeds, and beans
- Healthy fats, including avocado oil, olive oil, and coconut oil.
- Dairy, such as cheese, milk, and butter (full-fat dairy is recommended)
- Beverages like water, coffee, and green tea (alcohol is okay in moderate amounts)
What to Avoid:
- Sugar, including soda, sports drinks, candy, pastries, ice cream, and others
- White flour products like bread, pasta, tortillas, and more
- Grains, like wheat, rye, and rice
- High-carb vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, corn, and beets
- High-carb fruits, like bananas, apples, and mangos
- Starches, like potatoes
- Trans fats and “low-fat” foods (prepackaged snacks and meals should be avoided)
- Vegetable oils, like canola oil and corn oil
Health Benefits of the Atkins Diet
Maintaining a state of ketosis is an effective way to burn stubborn fat and lose weight quickly. Weight loss results on the Atkins diet vary by individual, but it’s suggested the diet can help you lose up to 15 pounds in the first two weeks. It’s important to understand that the diet is meant to be a long-term solution to form better eating habits, and you should maintain an active lifestyle with daily exercise.
Other health benefits of the Atkins diet include its ability to prevent and improve common health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. Studies also show that following the Atkins diet can benefit heart health, specifically by improving triglycerides.
Is the Atkins Diet Right for Me?
As with most diets, there are a few things to keep in mind that will help you embark on a safe Atkins diet journey.
- Check with a doctor first - Before making any major changes to your diet, be sure to consult with a licensed physician, especially if you have medical conditions. A certified medical weight loss expert, such as those found at Diet Doc, will be your best bet because many general physicians don’t offer nutritional advice. Diet Doc’s nutritionists can make sure you’re on an Atkins diet regimen that does not interfere with your health and safety.
- Watch the protein - A high-protein diet is great for increasing satiety and building muscle, but too much protein can overload your kidneys. A DietDoc professional can help keep your protein levels optimal for your current weight.
- Be aware of potential side effects - Cutting carbs sounds simple enough, but it can take your body time to adjust to being without them. Many report low-energy levels, fatigue, and dizziness within the first two weeks.
- Keep eating fiber - Many carbs contain the fiber needed to improve digestion and trigger weight loss. If you reduce your carb intake, eat a lot of vegetables and other high-fiber options to make up for it.
- Watch your blood sugar - Diabetics and prediabetics must be careful before embarking on the Atkins Diet. If your blood sugar levels are unstable, please consult a health professional first.
How Can Diet Doc Help Me Stick to The Atkins Diet?
Diet Doc specializes in creating medically supervised weight loss programs personalized to your needs, goals, and lifestyle. Rather than recommending a one-size-fits-all diet, Diet Doc’s weight loss physicians analyze your unique body composition, health status, and psychological factors to form a diet regime customized for you to achieve and maintain long-lasting weight.
Receive medication from your physician to eliminate your food cravings and block the absorption of carbs while on the Atkins diet. After your free consultation, you’ll have access to certified weight loss doctors, expert nutritionists, and weight loss coaches who provide one-on-one phone support for help with meal planning, recipe ideas, and grocery shopping lists. Contact us today to begin your journey to a healthy weight and lifestyle with Diet Doc.
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