Atkins Diet Review – Does The Low Carb Food Diet Help You Lose Fast?
Unless you’ve been living on Mars, chances are you’ve heard of the Atkins diet – and probably know someone who’s tried it, if you haven’t done so yourself. After all, it’s a diet that sounds too good to be true. To shift those pounds quickly you simply need to start the day with bacon and eggs, snack on chunks of cheese, top coffee with cream and feast on steaks fried in butter.
Most everyone on the plant has at one time or another been on at least one diet. And all of us have seen hundreds of fad diets come and go. In early 1970 Dr. Atkins release a book that many thought would just be another flash in the pan fad diet, but here we are 46 years later and people like Melissa Milano are writing their own Atkins inspired recipes. The Atkins diet seems to ebb and flow in popularity, but one thing remains the same. People continue to claim that it works and more and more people are not only losing weight, but actually keeping it off.
Not exactly the typical foods you’d find on the shopping lists of most slimmers who’ve grown up with the idea that a low-fat diet is the best way to lose weight. But like all things that sound too good to be true, there’s a catch.
And in the case of the Atkin’s diet, it means that filling up on high-fat foods needs to be balanced by giving up most carbs including bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, chocolate, crisps, biscuits, cake – even fruit, milk and some veg in the early stages.
Nevertheless, the Atkin’s diet has captured the hearts – and tastebuds – of everyone from A-list celebs such as Jennifer Aniston and Renee Zellweger to business men, teachers and housewives. In fact, at its peak in late 2003, more than three million Brits were estimated to have tried the diet in an effort to shape up and slim down.
In spite of this, the Atkins Diet has caused the biggest weight loss debate in years, generating almost as many column inches as advocates of the diet have claimed to lose from their waistline. And even today, nutrition experts have still not been won over. Here’s the lowdown…
What’s the theory?
Devised by the late Dr Robert Atkins, this is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. Dr Atkins’ theory is really quite simple: when you cut out carbs, your body is forced into burning its fat stores to provide it with energy; as you burn more calories when your body burns fat compared with carbohydrate, you’ll lose weight more quickly; by cutting out carbs, blood sugar levels remain more stable throughout the day, and so prevent overeating.
How does the Atkins Diet work?
There are four phases to the Atkins diet. The first phase is called Induction, which must be followed for at least two weeks, although this phase can be continued for much longer if you can bear it!
During Induction, you must severely limit your intake of carbohydrate to a tiny 20g a day (most of us eat around 250g a day). As well as avoiding carb-rich treats such as biscuits, cakes, chocolate, crisps, fizzy drinks, croissants and pastry, this also means ditching bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, milk, fruit and most veg from the menu.
In contrast, you can eat unlimited amounts of red meat, chicken, fish, cheese, eggs, mayo, cream and butter. It’s during the Induction phase that your body switches from burning carbs to burning fat and blood sugar levels stabilise.
The second phase, known as Ongoing Weight Loss, allows you to slightly increase your carb intake – by 5g daily for a week at a time – until you find your Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing Weight. This is the maximum amount of carbohydrate you can eat each day to lose between 1 and 3lb a week.
For some people, this may only be 25g carbohydrate, for others it might be 50g. Nevertheless, it’s still considerably lower than most of us are used to and really only allows for the introduction of a few more veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds. Bread, potatoes, rice, pasta and breakfast cereals are still off limits!
It’s time to enter phase three, called Pre-maintenance, once you have just 5-10lb left to lose. During this phase, you increase you carb intake by 10g each day for a week at a time. The idea is to slow down your weight loss to no more than 1lb a week in an effort to prepare your body for the final phase, weight maintenance.
By now you can start to include tiny amounts of traditional starchy foods such as porridge, bread and pasta – and we are talking tiny amounts! For example, just 40g cooked brown rice or 30g cooked pasta each provide 10g of carbs!
The fourth and final phase, Lifetime Maintenance, aims to help you maintain your weight. While you can have a slightly more varied carbohydrate intake, most people need to limit carbs to less than 90g a day – that’s still only around a third of what most of us eat a day. The result: you’ll be following a low-carb diet for life.
So how much weight can I expect to lose?
Dr Atkins claims you can expect to lose 6-10lb in the first two weeks of Induction, which should slow to 1-3lb a week once you enter the Ongoing Weight Loss Phase. During Pre-maintenance, you can expect to lose 1lb a week at most.
I keep hearing about ‘net carbs’. What are these?
Not all carbohydrates can be digested by the body. Fibre, for example, passes through the body without affecting blood sugar levels. The Atkins diet focuses on those carbohydrates that can be digested and therefore affect blood sugar levels.
The ‘net’ carbohydrate value of a food, simply refers to the amount of digestible carbohydrate a product contains. In the UK, this is equivalent to the carbohydrate content given in the nutrition information chart on food packaging.
I’ve noticed there are loads of low-carb products available. Should I try them?
The availability of low-carb products has grown tremendously in the past few years and you can now buy everything from low-carb pasta, soups and bread to tomato ketchup, shakes and chocolate. If you decide to follow a low-carb diet such as the Atkins plan, these can add variety to your diet.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that these products can be expensive and many add few other nutrients to your diet. They are also often higher in fat and/or calories than the standard product, making them a less suitable option if you’re trying to lose weight by a more balanced method such as counting calories.
Atkins Products Available
Some of us have no time at all, not just those with kids, who do not want or need to be on the diet and need their own meal plans, but also those of us working 18 hour days. For those of us there is a complete line of Atkins products to cover all of your dietary needs.
From Breakfast to Dinner and from Drinks to Sweets it is all there ready to be ordered. What is better than a keyboard to door shopping while losing weight?
Atkins Lift Protein Bars & Drinks
For that on the go need for energy and boost to your busy day, Atkins offers their energy drinks and protein bars. These products have been specifically designed to give that extra push to get through that meeting or dance rehearsal after a nine hour day.
The Atkins Lift Protein Bars are specifically produced with 20-21 grams of high quality whey protein as well as 4-5 grams of carbohydrates to keep you going without the need for that sugar high. The Atkins Protein Bars are not only gluten free, but they are also free of maltitol and erythritol.
Atkins Lift Protein Bars
- Atkins Lift Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bar
- Atkins Lift Salted Caramel Crunch Bar
- Atkins Lift Chocolate Brownie with Almonds Bar
- Atkins Lift Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bar
Atkins Lift Protein Drinks are designed to be a refreshing burst of fuel for your body, they are colored and flavored with only natural ingredients and packed with 20 grams of whey protein with less than 2 grams of carbohydrates.
- Atkins Lift Protein Drink – Berry
- Atkins Lift Protein Drink – Lemon
- Arkins Lift Protein Drink – Orange
Atkins Frozen Meals
You have either just gotten home from a nine hour day topped with a trip to the gym and have no desire to cook. You worked a nine hour shift, came home and did homework with the kids and then fed them and now it’s time to make your special low carb meal.
Atkins has your back with their Frozen Meals which will not only assist in your weight loss and with the taming of your cravings but they are convenient and appetizing. You may need to add a salad on the side or some vegetables to ensure you are meeting your daily required carbs. But from morning to night Atkins has all you need to feel satisfied with just a quick zap of the microwave.
Enjoy delicious, prepared meals on the Nutrisystem plan! Browse Their menu of popular, top-rated diet foods to help you feel satisfied while you lose weight fast.
- Chicken with Cheese and BEan Burrito
- Egg with Sausage and Cheese Burrito
- Stone Fired Cheese Pizza
- Stone Fired Pepperoni Pizza
- Stone Fired Three Meat Pizza
- Stone Fired Vegetable Pizza
- Bacon Scramble
- Farmhouse Style Sausage Scramble
Lunch & Dinner
- Chicken Parmesan with Pasta
- Meat Lasagna
- Mac & Cheese
- Roasted Turkey with Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
- Beef Teriyaki Stir Fry
- Beef Merlot
- Beef Fiesta Taco Bowl
- Chicken Margherita
- Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo
- Chili Con Carne
- Crustless Chicken Pot Pie
- Italian Style Pasta Bake
- Meatloaf with Portobello Mushroom Gravy
- Mexican Style Chicken & Vegetables
- Orange Chicken
- Sesame Chicken Stir Fry
- Shrimp Scampi
- Swedish Meatballs
Even though we have been told since birth that Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and with dieting it really is, not all of us like to eat in the mornings. For those that prefer to drink their breakfast instead of picking up that coffee go for a Atkins Shake. Each one has been packed with minerals, vitamins, calcium and protein and are sure to get your day on the right foot.
- Cookies & Creame Shake
- Cafe Caramel Shake
- Dark Chocolate Royale Shake
- French Vanilla Shake
- Milk Chocolate Delight Shake
- Mocha Latte Shake
- Strawberry Shake
- Strawberry Banana Shake
- Creamy Chocolate Shake
Atkins Snack, Meal and Protein Bars
When you take carbs out of your life you may find yourself a bit peckish between meals and rather than grab what you are used to, Atkins suggests that you pick up one of their Atkins Bars as your between meal snack. These bars are packed with fiber and protein which will assist with craving and hunger between meals.
- Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Bar
- Dark Chocolate Cherry & Nuts Bar
- Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar
- Vanilla Fruit & Nut Bar
- Blueberry Greek Yogurt Bar
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bar
- Chocolate Chip Granola Bar
- Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bar
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bar
- Cinnamon Bun Bar
- Cookies n’ Creme Bar
- Mudslide Bar
- Peanut Butter Granola Bar
- Peanut Fudge Granola Bar
- Strawberry Almond Bar
- Classic Trail Mix
- Sweet & Salty Trail Mix
- Caramel Chocolate Nut Roll
- Caramel Chocolate Peanut Nougat Bar
- Caramel Double Chocolate Crunch Bar
- Cashew Trail Mix Bar
- Coconut Almond Delight Bar
- Dark Chocolate Almond Coconut Crunch Bar
- Dark Chocolate Decadence Bar
- Triple Chocolate Bar
- Chocolate Chip Crisp Bar
- Chocolate Hazelnut Bar
- Cranberry Almond Bar
- Chocolate Oatmeal Fiber Bar
- Peanut Butter Fudge Crisp Bar
Just because it is working does not mean that your desire for a nice tasty piece of chocolate is going to disappear. Satisfy your sweet tooth and feel like you have really indulged without all of that sugar intake.
- Dark Chocolate Raspberry Squares
- Dark Chocolate Fudge Squares
- Caramel Nut Chew Bar
- Chocolate Candies
- Chocolate Caramel Mousse Bar
- Chocolate Coconut Bar
- Chocolate Covered Almonds
- Chocolate Peanut Candies
- Milk Chocolate Caramel Squares
- Nutty Fudge Brownies
- Pecan Caramel Clusters
- Peanut Butter Cups
- Peanut Caramel Cluster Bar
Weather you have decided that Atkins 20 or Atkins 40 is the diet plan for you, there are meal plans available to you online. Just like everything else with Atkins whether you need to eat on the go or enjoy making your meals from scratch, one of these meal plans will fit your needs.
- Quick-Start Meal Plan
- Standard Meal Plan
- Foodie Meal Plan
- Quick-Start Meal Plan
- Standard Meal Plan
- Foodie Meal Plan
Does the Atkins diet have any side effects?
Unpleasant side effects can occur with the Atkins diet. To start with, burning fat results in the production of substances called ketones as your body enters a state called ketosis. This can result in bad breath, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, insomnia and nausea. Constipation may also occur as a consequence of avoiding typically high-fibre foods such as fruit, veg, beans, wholewheat pasta, brown rice, wholegrain breakfast cereals and jacket potatoes.
When it comes to long-term side effects, many health professionals are concerned that the Atkins diet may have serious dangers. While the high intake of fat, particularly saturates, may increase the risk of heart disease, there are also concerns that the unbalanced nature of the Atkins diet may lead to nutritional deficiencies, which cause health problems in later life.
For example, poor intakes of bone-building calcium (found in dairy products) may increase the risk of osteoporosis, while poor intakes of antioxidant nutrients (found in fruit and veg) have been linked with a host of health problems ranging from heart disease and cancer to premature ageing and cataracts. Some experts are also worried that high intakes of protein may cause kidney problems or weaken bones.
Are there any other bad points?
Because so many foods are off limits, the diet can get very boring with the result that many people give up after a short while. It’s also almost impossible to follow the Atkin’s plan if you’re a vegetarian as nuts, seeds, beans and many vegetables are banned in the early stages. Most experts also believe the Atkins plan fails to teach people about the basic principles of a balanced, healthy diet, which science irrefutably proves can help keep us healthy and free from disease.
The main positive is that people can lose considerable amounts of weight, really quite quickly and this can be very motivating. The diet also encourages people to cut out most processed carbs and alcohol. Thanks to it allowing plenty of red meat and high-fat butter, cream, cheese and mayo, it’s also the one diet that’s got men talking about the need to lose weight. In many cases, this talk has turned into action, with many men following the Atkins diet in an effort to lose their beer bellies!
What do the experts say?
The scientific jury’s still out on whether low-carb diets really do burn fat and most experts agree more research is needed to identify the long-term health risks and benefits. The Atkins Diet certainly flies in the face of healthy eating guidelines, which recommend less fat and more fruit, veg and high-fibre carbs.
Nutrition experts are particularly worried that the diet may increase the risk of heart disease as it’s potentially very high in fat, especially saturates. Not even revised guidelines for fat intakes from Atkins Nutritionals – the company set up by the late Dr Robert Atkins to sell his products and promote the diet – have helped qualm most health professional’s fears.
While the company recommended that no more than 20 percent of our calories should come from saturates, this is still twice as much the recommended amount for a healthy heart. Most experts also worry about the dangers of encouraging people to eat less fruit and veg – there’s overwhelming evidence that these foods can protect us from a host of diseases including cancer.
Is the diet still as popular as it once was?
It seems more of us are starting to serve spaghetti with our Bolognese, roast potatoes with our Sunday lunch and rice with our curries. According to new research, the popularity of the Atkins diet has taken a massive dive in America. The latest figures revealed that in January 2004 more than nine percent of people in the US were following the diet, but by November 2004 this had dropped to less than four percent.
Meanwhile, if book sales are anything to go by, it looks like the same is happening in Britain. In December 2004, bookshops reported that sales of Dr Atkins infamous diet book were just one tenth of those a year ago, when hopeful slimmers bought more than 110,000 copies in one week alone.
Numerous health scares reported in the press have appeared to turn many people against the Atkins regime and at last we’re beginning to take notice of the concerns of nutrition experts. Revelations that Dr Atkins was obese and suffering from heart problems at the time of his death have done little to help the low-carb cause, even though it was later claimed that these problems were the result of medical treatment.
Even at the height of its popularity, a Weight Loss Resources poll in October 2003 revealed that nine out of 10 members thought there should be guidance from the Department of Health about any potential problems linked to the Atkins Diet. Now it seems, the diet will lose many of its fans before official guidelines can be developed!
From a practical point of view, while fried eggs and bacon for breakfast every day may initially sound tempting, most people will be left craving a piece of toast and a banana within a few days.
It’s also worth pointing out that the Atkins diet almost certainly offers a reduction in calories – and this will definitely help you lose weight. For example, even though the diet suggests you can eat unlimited amounts of calorie-packed butter, mayo and cream, the foods they are typically served with are banned, which ultimately limits the amount you eat.
For example, cream is traditionally served with fruit, mixed into a pasta sauce or served with coffee – but fruit and pasta are banned and coffee is limited. Similarly, butter is traditionally spread on bread or served with potatoes – and again both are off limits, leaving you few choices for eating more butter.
Meanwhile, most people find there’s only so much meat or eggs they can eat, before tastebuds become tired with the same flavour. Again, this works to limit the quantity eaten.
Like most nutrition experts, the potential high fat content of the diet concerns me. Even if followers don’t eat huge amounts, I’m not keen on the idea of a diet that suggests it’s OK to eat large amounts.
Meanwhile, having spent years trying to encourage people to eat more fruit and veg, I find the idea of ‘banning’ or ‘limiting’ these foods appalling – this to me is a huge step backwards. After all, even our great, great, great grandparents recognised the importance of eating more of the green stuff!
Ultimately, until more research is done to identify the long-term risks or benefits of the Atkins diet, I would err on the side of caution. If after reading this, you still want to give it a go, I’d suggest only trying it for a couple of weeks at most and then transferring to a longer-term, lower-fat diet that includes a wide range of foods, including carbs!