Would The Atkins Diet “Meat” My Needs?
What Makes a Diet “Atkins”?
The Atkins diet was developed by Dr. Robert Atkins. I guess he got a bit arrogant and named it after himself…or more than likely he didn’t come up with a creative name and the industry analysts named it. That is usually how this goes.
Anyways the Atkins diet is the most well-known low-carb, high fat diet. It is popular due to the dramatic weight loss results seen from those who follow it such as the well-known A to Z Diet. The idea behind the diet is that it encourages your body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates and/or glucose as the main fuel source.
What is the Atkins diet and what are these “phases” it consists of? The diet consists of 4 different phases you must put your body through in order to successfully maintain this way of eating.
In Phase 1, you can eat protein, healthy fats, cheese, eggs and vegetables. The rules of the program discourages you from eating more than 20 grams/day of total net carbs. The creators offer a guideline/point system to be followed that indicates to you when you have reached your maximum daily carb intake. You maintain Phase 1 for at least 2 weeks and this is when the greatest form of weight loss usually takes place. You are to avoid nuts, berries, yogurt, fruits, legumes, breads and grains.
In Phase 2, you are able to add back in the previously listed items, mostly vegetables, to avoid plus you up your carbohydrate intake in 5 gram increments based on your weight loss goals. The creators of the diet want your body to become “used to” eating carbs again so that you don’t experience a dramatic weight gain when you have reached your goal weight. You may stay in this phase for several weeks or more.
In Phase 3, also called the “Pre-maintenance Phase”, you are supposed to ‘up’ your carb intake by 10 grams per week – however, if your weight loss plateaus or you begin to experience unhealthy food cravings, you are to decrease your carb intake by 10 grams per week.
In Phase 4, referred to as the “Lifetime Maintenance Phase”, you should be able to read your body and know what your ideal net carb intake should be each day, in order to maintain your weight loss and avoid gaining weight. You should be able to eat this ‘magic number’ and maintain within 5 lbs of your ideal weight.
Each meal is constructed around the combination of protein, fat (in various forms including oils and butter) fiber and carbohydrates only in the form of high-fiber vegetables. One of the main differences between the Atkins diet plan and the Paleo diet is that the Atkins diet doesn’t rule out any kind of fat or distinguish “good fat” from “bad fat”. Most significantly they Atkins diet doesn’t put as much of an emphasis on unprocessed foods. The Atkins diet foods consist of protein at every meal, however fatty cuts of meat are allowed and even encouraged. This can be encouraged in the Paleo diet, but it is more controlled and in the form of unprocessed animal meat.
Again all of this varies based on who you ask because there are several versions of the Paleo diet and several versions of the Atkins diet.
The Atkins diet also does not discriminate against any dairy except at the Induction Phase or Phase 1. It discourages carbohydrates in the form of fruit, more restrictively than the Paleo diet does.
What Will I Give Up in the Atkins Diet?
The “Induction Phase” or Phase 1 is the most restrictive as you are supposed to only eat protein, fat, some dairy and little carbohydrates. The main restrictions are grains and sugar.
In each Phase, you slowly add back in items to ‘test’ your body and see what it can handle without significant weight gain. The only true consistency in what they believe you should avoid is ‘processed foods’ and ‘added sugars’ found in soft drinks.
What Do I Get?
Following this diet includes encouraging you to eat 4 or 5 smaller meals throughout your day or 3 big meals and 2 snacks. There is supposedly no need to count calories unless you are not seeing weight loss or meeting your weight loss goals. In that case, they recommend 1500-1800 calories per day for women and 1800-2200 calories per day for men.
In addition to a somewhat loose restriction on the amount that you can eat on this diet, Atkins (the company) has created their own line of shakes, protein bars, snacks, desserts and even pre-cooked, frozen meals for the busy businessperson or stay-at-home parent. Again this stuff is processed, but it is a better “get out of jail free” card compared to other health bars.
They believe that even if you lack an “iron thumb” you should be given the opportunity to lose weight by eating the right foods and therefore provide that option for you.
What Else Should I Know?
The Atkins diet, even with the passing of it’s creator, has become it’s own brand with books, various products and weight loss supplements, recipes and more. They have created a market for this diet, with various foods being offered in grocery stores, draped with their label.
What’s the Skinny?
So the Atkins diet can get the job done. I like the unprocessed nature of the Paleo diet, but this still works because it focuses on the right type of foods. Also this is a nice option because the Atkins diet understands that each person’s genetics are unique. They don’t try to shoehorn you into a diet. They let you add back in carbs to start to learn about how your body works. This helps you see very clearly how well your body does or doesn’t respond to carbs and sugar.
It’s time we go down south by the panhandle and check out the South Beach diet.