The Atkins diet has gotten its name from its founder Robert Atkins, who was a cardiologist. This diet was created to keep the cholesterol levels balanced and improve heart health as well as overall health.
What is the Atkins Diet?
It is a low carb diet program similar to keto diet, which focuses on more healthy fats with lots of protein intake.
Atkins diet claims that by eating a low carb diet you keep your blood glucose levels stable which means less hunger cravings and less fat storage. This essentially makes it a high protein diet.
Many research studies support that diets low in carbohydrates produce weight loss results. (1)
Another widely referenced study has found that Atkins diet is very effective in losing weight. (2)
Robert Atkins believed that by restricting carb intake, you will be able to lose the right amount of weight, even if you keep taking foods rich in fat and protein, by controlling the body’s insulin. From 1970s onward he wrote several books about it which have received positive feedback.
The Atkins diet plan is comprised of four phases. These four phases are designed in a way that will help the dieter first in losing weight. Then it will take you through a phase of maintaining your weight, moving you towards good health, and keeping the diseases away.
Atkins Diet vs Keto
While both are low carb diets, the main difference is the gradual increase of carb intake in case of Atkins which is not the case in keto diet.
How Much Weight Loss can you Expect on Atkins?
Atkins diet program focuses on cutting out the fatty carbs and keeping insulin levels in check. Most of the insulin spikes and accumulation of fat in your body occurs due to processed sugar in foods and drinks.
When you cut out those, instead of feeding on those extra carbohydrates, your body starts consuming the energy from the fat that is already stored in your body.
Hence, the weight loss. According to the Atkins diet, you can expect to lose almost 15 pounds in the very first 2 weeks (of phase 1). However, it varies from individual to individual. You will also be losing weight in later phases if you keep on taking fewer calories than you burn.
The diet does not encourage you to count calories. But at the same time recommends that your daily calorie budget remains within the recommended limits. According to Atkins diet, daily calories should remain between 1500-1800 for females and 1800-2200 for males. This is in line with the daily intake recommended by Dietary Guidelines 2015-2010.
The Four Phases of the Atkins Diet
Let’s get you familiar with the phases of this diet.
The first phase is called the induction phase. You have to reduce your carb intake to 20 grams only. The carbs you are going to take will be coming from foundation vegetables, which have low amounts of starch in them, and most have high levels of fiber, like cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, etc. This is going to initiate your weight loss process.
You have to take protein and fat from eggs, fish, cheese, chicken, etc. at your mealtime.
Oils are also allowed but do not overdo them. You also have to drink lots of water, at least 8 glasses per day. This phase is going to last for two weeks of your weight loss journey with the Atkins diet. Most of your weight loss is going to occur in this phase.
The second phase of the plan is balancing. In this phase, you slowly start to add nuts, some more vegetables, and fruits in your diet. All of which are low in carbohydrates.
This phase lasts for two more weeks or depends upon the weight you’ve lost.
This phase is called the pre-maintenance or fine-tuning phase. Entering into this phase, you should be very close to your goal weight. You start to add more types of food into your diet by this time, like whole grains and vegetables with more starch. This phase lasts until you have reached your goal weight.
Then comes the last phase, which is going to last for the rest of your life. For this reason, it is called the lifetime maintenance phase. In this phase, you can keep on adding more varieties of carbs into your life, while keeping a check on your weight.
You should be, by this time, able to tell by the natural indications of your body that how much of whatever you should be consuming. Keep on adding whatever you like, but if you start noticing uneasiness or bloating, etc. i know that this is not the right food for you and cut it out.
This way, you will keep your health well maintained. The top foods that might cause you problems are, of course, junk foods and soft drinks, which even the healthiest person should avoid. Keep that fast food out of your diet and lead a happy, healthy life.
Now, let’s take a look at what your menu should be looking like for the Atkins diet.
Atkins Diet Menu
Breakfast: You can start off your day with nutrient-rich, scrambled eggs, made with onions, and sprinkled with black pepper. You can also put on some cheese. For drinking, you can have tea (green tea if you want to boost the weight loss process), coffee, water, etc. No processed sugar, please.
Lunch: You can have chicken with a green salad, topped with some olive oil. You can also have avocados or green bell peppers on the side for taste.
Dinner: For dinner, you can go with fish, with some salad. You can add fried onions and tomatoes in your salad too. For drinks, you can choose anything from beverages allowed in the diet.
Snacks: If you crave anything in the time between your meals, you can have some low carb snacks. These should only be twice a day in a minimum amount. Snacks you can take include nuts, olives, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, or a chocolate milkshake.
You can choose from a variety of foods. Make sure they are low in carbs, and that you do not overeat.
What Do You Eat on the Atkins Diet?
Foods that are allowed while being on the Atkins diet are:
Meat: Chicken, beef, lamb, etc.
Seafood: Salmon, shellfish, trout, etc.
Vegetables: Spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, etc.
Fruits: Strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocados, etc.
Eggs, butter, cream, cheese, yogurt, etc. are also allowed as there is no fat restriction, but these might not be taken to overeating levels.
Foods to be avoided
All types of junk and fast food, fizzy drinks, foods containing processed sugar, candies, etc. Grains like rice, rye, wheat, etc. Vegetable oils are also not allowed.
In the first phase, you are going to be avoiding apples, bananas, and fruits that are high in sugar. You can add them to the later phases.
Chickpeas, beans, lentils, potatoes, etc. are also not allowed during induction.
Let’s give you some delicious recipe ideas to make your diet healthy and tasty.
- The Asparagus and Leek soup:
This is a phase 1 diet, but of course, you can have it in the later phases too if you fancy.
Preparation time: 15 min
Cooking Time: 15 min
Butter stick, unsalted 2Tsp
Asparagus ¾ lb
Freshly chopped leeks 1cup
One Chicken Broth 14.5 oz can
Heavy cream 1/3 cup
In a pan, melt butter, then add the leeks and sauté for about 3 min. Cook for one more minute after adding asparagus. Sauté for 30 more seconds after adding garlic.
Boil broth in a pot.
Cover and simmer on low heat for 10 min until the asparagus is tender.
Mix cream, salt, and black pepper and blend until it is textured smooth.
Put everything in a bowl, and you have your healthy and delicious soup ready.
- The Apricot Glazed Brisket:
This is a phase 3 diet.
Preparation time: 10 min
Cooking time: 210 min
Beef Brisket 1 pound
Salt ½ tsp
Paprika ½ tsp
Black pepper ¼ tsp
Sugar-free Apricot preserves ¾ Tsp
Onions ¼ (raw)
Carrots ¾ (medium)
Put the oven to 475F and put brisket seasoned with salt, pepper, and paprika.
With the fat side of brisket down, put onions and diced around it. Let it cook for 15 min.
Now turn the fat side up, add ½ cup of water and cover. Put the oven to 300F. It will take 3 to 4 hours to become tender.
After cooking, take the brisket out and put it on a heated broiler pan. Put some jam on and broil for 5 min until the jam has turned slightly brown. Cover it with foil and let rest for 10 min before serving.
Enjoy your meal full of nutrients and taste.
Shopping List for Atkins Diet
It’s essential that you clear out all your pantry of any unhealthy foods or snacks. Some of the unwanted items include ice cream, breakfast cereals, sodas, bread, sugar, juices, and wheat flour.
Following is the list to shop for Atkins diet
Meat: Chicken, beef, pork, lamb, bacon
Shrimp and shellfish
Fatty fish: Trout, salmon, etc
Vegetables: Kale, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, onions, and asparagus, etc
Dairy: Heavy cream, Greek yogurt, cheese, butter
Berries: Strawberries, Blueberries, etc
Seeds: Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc
Nuts: Walnuts, Almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, etc
Fruits: Oranges, apples, pears
Extra virgin olive oil
Condiments: Sea salt, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, parsley, etc
Atkins diet pros and cons
Of course this diet works and is backed by science. It is definitely not a fad diet because medical research has found that it works.
But the Atkins diet is safe for short term periods and some quick weight loss. But it is surely not a long term weight loss solution because it restricts an important macro-nutrient, i.e carbohydrates to extremely low levels.
It’s also not a long term plan because of the addition of fats and lack of whole-grain foods.
This diet also poses some risks of getting kidney stones if you stay on a diet for an extended period of time, which is not suitable for maintaining your health.
It sends your body into ketosis due to loss of appetite because the further you proceed into the diet, the more it reduces your appetite. The slow metabolism will start to work against weight loss in the long term by drastically reducing basal metabolism rate.
But, if you are still serious after reading this Atkins diet review, then go ahead and stay focused. It is no doubt useful in rapid weight loss.
Keep in mind to take care of yourself by not overdoing it.