Atkins diet: How does it work, How to use the stored fat, Phases, The Atkins 40 plan, Foods to eat and avoid, Benifits and Adverse effects

Atkins diet is composed of less of carbohydrates and more of fat and protein to lose weight by controlling insulin levels.

Updated: June 16, 2022


Atkins diet is composed of less of carbohydrates and more of fat and protein to lose weight by controlling insulin levels.
It encourages the dieter to eat more high-fiber vegetables and do more exercise. The diet is designed to reduce the intake of carbohydrate as the main reason for putting on weight is the consumption of refined carbohydrates, especially sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and flour. It is named after Dr. Robert Atkins, an American cardiologist, who had created the Atkins diet in the early 1970s.
The Atkins Diet has four core principles. The aim is to lose weight, maintain weight loss, achieve good health and lay the permanent groundwork for disease prevention.

How does it work?

The Atkins Diet works on ketosis, where the metabolism of your body switches from burning glucose, or sugar, as fuel to burning its own stored body fat. Ketosis occurs when glucose levels are low. This is because when glucose levels are low, insulin levels are also low and the body switches to using its own stores of fat as a source of energy.
The glycemic index is a scale that ranks carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100, based on how quickly they increase blood sugar levels after eating, and by how much. Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and candy, contain high levels of glucose and are called high glycemic foods. The carbohydrates enter the blood rapidly, and they cause insulin levels to rise quickly. Some other types of carbohydrates, such as oats, do not affect blood glucose levels so quickly or so severely. They have a low glycemic load, and they appear lower down the glycemic index.
The total carbs minus fiber and sugar alcohols is Net carbs. Sugar alcohols have a minimal effect on blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates those with a low glycemic load are the best for this diet. The diet encourages adherents to use vitamin and mineral supplements to make up for the lack of vitamin-rich foods.

How to use the stored fat?

If there is no glucose in the body, ketosis will occur and the body will transfer some of the fat stores in fat cells to the blood to be used as energy.
The Atkins diet works on the basis of low carbohydrate diet. This causes the body to burn more calories than it would on other diets, because it encourages ketosis.
The saturated fat intake of a person should be kept to a maximum of 20 percent of all the calories they consume. The Atkins diet can lower, and sometimes eliminate the need for medications for people with type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome.
Although watching carbohydrate and glucose intake are a vital part of diabetes care, the Atkins diet is not a simple solution for diabetes.

Phases of Atkins diet:

The Atkins diet has four phases:

Phase 1: Induction

In this phase calorie consumption from carbohydrates is limited to less than 20 grams each day. Carbohydrates come mainly from salad and vegetables, which are low in starch. The dieter is recommended to eat high fat, high protein food with low carbohydrate vegetables, such as leafy greens.

Phase 2: Balancing

In this stage nutrient dense and fiber rich foods are added as additional sources of carbohydrates. These include nuts, low carb vegetables and small amounts of fruit.
These can be added gradually:

  • 25 grams is added during the first week of phase 2
  • 30 grams during the second week, and each subsequent week until the person stops losing weight
  • When the person stops losing weight, the daily intake of carbs is reduced by 5 g until they slowly start to lose weight again.

Phase 3: Fine-tuning, or pre-maintenance

In this phase, the dieters increases their carbohydrate intake by 10 g each week until they begin to lose weight very slowly.

Phase 4: Lifetime maintenance

In this phase, the dieter starts adding a wider range of carbohydrate sources, while carefully monitoring their weight to ensure it does not go up.

The Atkins 40 plan:

This is a version of the Atkin diet which starts with 40 g of net carbs a day, instead of 20 g. If the weight of a person starts to go up, they should return to their daily carbohydrate intake and cut out any of the new carbohydrates they have been introducing.

Foods to eat and avoid:

Foods to eat include:

  • meats, including beef, pork, and bacon
  • fatty fish and seafood
  • eggs
  • avocados
  • low-carb vegetables, such as kale, broccoli and asparagus
  • full-fat dairy products
  • nuts and seeds
  • healthy fats, such as extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil
  • Suitable drinks include water, coffee, and green tea.

You can follow the below menu for a day for an example:

  • Breakfast: Cheese omelet with low-carb vegetables
  • Lunch: Chicken salad with nuts
  • Dinner: Meatballs with vegetables
  • Snacks might include leftovers, a hard-boiled egg, Greek yogurt, or nuts.

Foods to avoid include:

  • sugar, such as soft drinks, cakes, and candy
  • grains including wheat, spelt, and rice
  • diet and low-fat foods, as they can be high in sugar
  • legumes, such as lentils, beans, and chickpeas
  • High carb fruits, such as bananas, apples, and grapes and high carb vegetables, such as carrots, should be avoided during induction phase.

Benifits and Adverse effects of Atkins diet:

The Atkins diet can help prevent health conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. However, losing weight on many diets can achieve this.
Some people experience adverse effects in early phases which include:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • constipation

Ketones can buildup as a result of this diet. This is because your body use up fat rather than glucose for energy when you restrict carbohydrates. This can lead to nausea, headache, mental fatigue, and bad breath.
People who use diuretics, insulin, or oral diabetes drugs are not recommended to follow the Atkins diet. It is not suitable for people with kidney disease. Also Pregnant or breast feeding women should not follow this diet.


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