“Dear Nelly. The Atkins diet was quiet a global food phenomenon just a few years ago, but I have not heard much about it of late. Does that mean it may not work for me?” Stanley from Ely, UK
Is Atkins right for you?
The Atkins diet is very popular, but is it right for you? Before you start down the low carb road, you should take some time to decide whether low carb is the right way for you to lose weight. Just because it has been effective for others doesn’t mean it will be right for you. No specific diet works for everyone, and you may even find that a type of low carb diet that works better for you than another. There are many things to consider before you start the Atkins diet.
The Atkins diet is very popular, but it also comes with a lot of criticism. Health experts, doctors and diet specialists come from all different opinions when it comes to the Atkins diet and other low carb diets. Some believe that it is dangerous, some say that it is a healthy method to lose weight and others say that it works on a short-term basis.
However, there are also thousands of individuals who have found success with the Atkins diet. They can speak from personal experience and know that the diet works and it is an effective means of keeping weight off. There are thousands of testimonials that tout the benefits of the low carb way of living.
There are many typical criticisms of the Atkins diet. One of the first is that the diet it too high in fat. The butter, oil and fatty meats that are used in the Atkins diet are a far cry from the low-fat diet fad that recently swept the nation. For many people, the low fat mindset has prevailed and they cannot fathom eating real butter or cream with their meals. It seems like too much fat at first glance. However, those that pay close attention to Dr. Atkins guidelines and follow the program closely know that the diet focuses on good fats. Extra virgin olive oil and other helpful fats are emphasized. The proper use of these oils is important to brain function and mood management.
Another popular Atkins criticism is that it focuses too much on food and not enough on exercise. This is an unfair claim because the Atkins books clearly spell out a need for exercise. There is a lot of attention paid to food choices because they are an integral part of the program, and they are different foods than what people are normally used to eating. However, this does not mean that exercise is not an integral part of the Atkins program. Aerobic and anaerobic exercise regimens are encouraged, and both will greatly increase your weight loss efforts.
Many Atkins critics feel that the diet is hard to keep up in the long term. Critics in this category will admit that Atkins is effective in short-term weight loss efforts, but point out that the lifestyle is hard to maintain over time. However, people who have had long term success with Atkins claim it is one of the easiest diets to follow for significant periods of time. The Atkins plan has rich food that is forbidden on other programs, and it has appetite-suppressing effects. When you combine this with the quick weight loss, a motivating factor for many people, Atkins is easy to stick to long term.
The side effects of Atkins, like constipation and bad breath, have also been a topic that Atkins critics are quick to point out. However, these side effects are not as common as critics make them out to be. If they do occur, the side effects normaly only last through the first phase of the diet. Additionally, drinking additional water will normally take care of both problems rather quickly.
There are pros and cons to many diets. If you don’t particularly enjoy preparing and eating meat, then Atkins is probably not for you. But if you are considering Atkins, make sure to look beyond the common criticisms for the truth about the diet.
First, evaluate your past dieting history. If you’ve been trying to lose weight for a long period of time, you’ve no doubt tried a wide variety of diets. Take note of the different diets you’ve tried over the years. Write down the basics of each diet, what worked and what didn’t. Also, write down why you didn’t stay on the particular diet. Evaluate your experience with high carbohydrate diets. These types of diets include most low-fat and calorie controlled diets. How did you feel while on these types of diets? Were you hungry, obsessed with food or experiencing negative reactions? Or did you feel full of energy and generally good?
If you’ve had experience with low carb diets, write that down as well. Past the negative effects of the first week, how did eating low carb make you feel? Why did you stop using the low carb diet?
The answers to these questions will help you decide whether Atkins is right for you or not. If you’ve had good experiences with low-fat diets and bad experiences with other low carb diets, then Atkins is probably not for you. If other low-carb diets have worked but not without difficulty, then you may have been on the wrong type of low-carb diet and Atkins might work better. If you’ve had bad experiences with both types of diets, then you may have better success with a modified Atkins diet.
Your food and eating behaviors can also give you a clue to whether or not Atkins is a good choice for your weight loss efforts. Carb sensitivities are indicated by a certain set of behaviors. You may be carb sensitive if you feel like eating right after you’ve finished a meal. You will also feel strong urges to eat throughout the day. You may feel dizzy, fuzzyheaded and fatigued without getting a boost from sugar or another carbohydrate. Carb sensitivity is also shown when you feel sluggish after eating. This occurs especially after you eat a meal rich in sugars and carbohydrates. If you experience these symptoms frequently, you may have carb sensitivities. Try paying close attention to how carbohydrates affect you and if you continue to experience these symptoms, try doing a low carb diet.
Your success on the Atkins diet can also be determined by your medical and family history. If you have any pre-diabetic symptoms, or diabetes itself, a reduced carb diet like Atkins may be right for you. Significant weight gain can also be helped by the Atkins diet. Normally, the more overweight you are, the more likely you are to have high blood pressure, high triglycerides and high blood glucose.
If any member of your family has diabetes or is significantly overweight, this can also put you at risk for these conditions. Your tendency toward these conditions on a genetic level can mark a necessity for a low carbohydrate diet like Atkins. The Atkins plan has been shown to improve weight and control blood sugar issues. If these are problems in your family history, then you may want to consider the Atkins diet.
There are a lot of good reasons to try the Atkins diet. Whether you have responded well to other low carb diets in the past or you have a medical history that warrants a controlled carbohydrate diet, the Atkins diet can meet your needs.
Pros and cons of the Atkins diet
The Atkins diet is one of the most popular low carbohydrate diets on the market today. Its popularity has sparked dozens of look-a-like diets who center on the same principles of high-protein, low-carbohydrate eating. There are a lot of fish in the sea when it comes to choosing a low-carbohydrate plan.
Studies have shown that low-carbohydrate eating has many benefits. There have been scientific results that low-carbohydrate diets like Atkins do create significant weight loss without having to restrict calories. People who use the Atkins diet have also reported this. There are studies that show that low-carb eating improves triglycerides, reduces blood glucose for diabetics and pre-diabetics and increases good cholesterol (HDL). Low-carbohydrate dieting has been scientifically proven to improve insulin sensitivity, decrease blood pressure and lower blood insulin levels. When compared with low-fat diets, low-carb dieters lose less muscle mass.
Although not scientifically proven, there are many common benefits reported by Atkins dieters and other low-carb dieters. These include an increase in energy, a reduced craving for sweets, better concentration, improved mood and an lessening of depression type symptoms.
However, there are also some benefits that are specific to the Atkins diet. If you have been a low fat dieter in previous years, you’ll enjoy eating all of those “forbidden foods” that you once had to go without. Steak, butter and cream are a regular part of Atkins dieters’ meals. There is a certain pleasure that goes along with eating foods that were once off limits. Atkins dieters are encouraged to eat their full of rich meats, cheeses and fats and oils.
Atkins is also simple to use, compared with some other low-carb diets on the market. There are some basic food carbohydrate counts that you’ll need to learn, but after that, you are free to eat from the acceptable food lists.
Dr. Atkins also emphasized finding your own personal carbohydrate level. Different people have different levels of carbohydrate tolerance. While some gain weight on just 90 carbohydrate grams a day, others can live comfortably at 120 carbohydrate grams. During the ongoing weight loss phase and pre-maintenance phase of the diet, you will learn your personal carbohydrate count that will help determine your carbohydrate goal for life.
The popularity of Atkins is a double-edged sword for dieters. There is a lot of information available on the diet, which makes it easy to find resources and support. There have been many, many Atkins books written and there are endless amounts of websites that offer tips and group support. However, everyone has heard of Atkins and probably has an opinion on it. There are some big misconceptions out there about the nature of the diet, and you’ll no doubt have to defend your new way of eating from time to time.
There are some other minimal downsides to using the Atkins program. You do need to count carbohydrates in everything you eat to make sure that you are staying within your personal carbohydrate range. There is also the issue of Induction, the most hotly debate aspect of the plan. Induction can be difficult to get through if you’ve had a diet that centers on carbs and sugar. Also, many people try Induction and mistakenly believe that this is the way that the whole diet is going to be. They end up quitting before they get into the actual Atkins plan.
Sometimes, although it is not common, people will experience a carb crash on the 3rd to 5th day of the diet. This reaction is a result of their body finally experiencing ketosis, or running on fat instead of carbohydrates. The effects are transient, but many people have sworn off low-carb diets entirely because of this.
Overall, with the minor drawbacks considered, Atkins is one of the most popular low-carb diets for a reason. It works. Thousands of people have had success with the Atkins approach to the low-carb way of living.
Planning for Atkins
When it comes to the Atkins diet, your success will lie in your planning. Making sure you have the proper foods on hand when you begin your diet will go a long way toward your ongoing weight loss. There are many suggestions for Atkins diet meals in the Atkins books, and there are plenty of resources online for Atkins and low-carb recipes.
Planning your meals and snacks will be an important part of your life when you are on this diet. That advice really goes for any diet. When you eat whatever you like, you gain weight. Your current weight and health problems is a direct result of letting your eating habits go unchecked for this long.
As with all diet plans, becoming used to the Atkins way of eating is going to take some time and adjustment. The standard American diet relies heavily on carbohydrates and other restricted foods. Many people grew up on carbohydrate heavy favorites like spaghetti and meatballs, meat and potatoes and pasta casserole. It is going to take some effort and patience to get used to eating in an entirely new way.
There are two different approaches you can take in adjusting your diet. You can find replacements for your favorite foods with “mock” carbohydrates. For example, lasagna made with eggplant or zucchini instead of pasta is much more carb-friendly than the regular variety. Spaghetti squash noodles make a good substitute for spaghetti noodles. There are also many low-carb or carb-free replacements for bread, pasta and sugar products.
The second approach is to find out how to make new recipes that center around meats and other low-carb foods. There are a wide variety of meats that are acceptable on the Atkins plan. If you are used to just eating ground beef or chicken on a weekly basis, you’ll be surprised by the variety of meats that are out there. Try incorporating pork, lamb and ham into your weekly routine. You can also experiment with game fowl like Cornish hen, quail and pheasant. If you’ve never been a fan of fish, try a different variety. Some people who don’t like trout find they have a love of salmon or another fish. Don’t forget shellfish like mussels, clams and shrimp. These foods are all acceptable and can add variety to your diet.
Make sure to have some easy to prepare foods on hand for snacks and quick meals. For example, thin sliced cucumbers, radishes and celery mixed with lemon mayonnaise makes a great low-carb meal or dinner salad. Fried peppers, mushrooms and garlic served on arugula with feta cheese is another good option.
Research and try out different low-carb recipes so you have a good base of knowledge of what to prepare for meals. The most important step you can take in losing weight is planning. Getting a good arsenal of easy to prepare meals will prevent you from hitting the drive through or going to a restaurant and breaking your diet.
If you have delicious food to look forward to everyday, you’ll be less bored with your diet. Even during the restrictive induction phase, there are many food combinations that you can use. At first glance, the vegetable and meat options may seem restrictive. But this is only in comparison to what you have been used to eating. With a little planning and creativity, you can find something interesting to eat every day.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article.