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tabby cat considering an Atkins low carb diet

A low carb diet like the Atkins can be appealing if you love meat and fish...


The Atkins diet

One of the highest profile diets of recent years, the Atkins diet - named after its inventor the late Dr. Richard Atkins, is a four stage low carbohydrate diet.

How does the Atkins Diet Work?

Restriction of carbohydrate intake causes a change in the body's metabolism, which induces dissolving of fat or lipolysis within the body. This changeover of the body's metabolism from burning glucose to burning body fat begins when the body enters a state called ketosis because it has run out of surplus carbs to burn and use as energy.

Basically - stop eating carbohydrate and your body will start to burn up your fat as a source of energy - resulting in fast weight loss.

The Atkins Diet Induction Phase

During the initial 14 day induction period, carbohydrate intake is restricted to 20 grams a day - the of this first stage idea is to 'kick start' the process of burning fat from your body rather than from the food that you eat. Fruit and many vegetables are off limits in this stage.

The Atkins Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL) Phase

In the OWL phase, you are allowed to graduallly increase your daily intake of carbohydrates by five grams a day up to a limit of around forty grams.

You need to carefully watch your carbo intake level untill you find the amount of carb that allows you to lose one or two pounds a week. This is your Critical Carbohydrate Level. Foods you might start eating at this stage could be some dairy products and low carb vegetables.

Atkins Pre-maintenance Phase

Rather like gently applying the brakes on a car to ensure a smooth stop, the pre-maintenance phase is started when you are 5 -10 pounds short of your ideal weight.

You adjust your Critical Carbohydrate Level so that you are losing around one pound a week which prepares your body for the maintenance phase without too much of a shock.

Atkins Maintenance Phase

When you have reached your ideal weight and found the highest level of carbohydrate at which you can maintain it you are in the maintenance phase.

It's given this name because like all diets, you can't just lose weight and then revert to your previous heating habits without gaining the pounds again - your new weight requires maintenance!

During this stage ( the rest of your life!!! ) you can experiment with adding good (unprocessed or partially processed) carbs such as Fruits, Vegetables, nuts and seeds to your allowed foods to create a more balanced diet.

Consult your doctor or medical professional before beginning any diet or exercise plan.

Atkins Diet - image of SteakWhat foods does the Atkins Diet suggest?

A days eating on the Atkins diet Induction Phase might look like this:

Breakfast on the Atkins Diet

  • Bacon and eggs or
  • Scrambled egg with salmon

Atkins Lunch

  • Cheese omelette or
  • Burger with salad

Dinner on Atkins

  • Grilled fish with veggies and salad or
  • Chicken with mushrooms and pepper or
  • Steak and salad

Atkins Diet Recipes

Atkins Diet Home Page (External site - opens in new window)

Advantages of the Atkins diet

The four stages of the Atkins diet make it easy to follow, and some users have reported significant weight loss in the two week induction phase, making it a good option if you need to lose weight fast.

If your a confirmed carnivore, it's probably the most attractive diet for you, as you can eat unlimited protein-rich and high-fat foods.

The Atkins diet plan has meal plans and recipes for both vegetarians and vegans.

Disadvantages of Atkins

If you're a big fan of vegetables, bread and dairy products other diets might suit you better, as this diet is restrictive. Diets that limit entire food groups tend to have lower success rates than less-restrictive diets.

Can cause bad breath (Ketosis - when the body burns fat stores for energy) and headaches in the initial stages.


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