Many diets have come and gone over the years and yet, the Atkins diet has remained popular ever since its inception during the latter half of the 1970s. Offering a “high-calorie means to remain thin”, such an option is obviously appealing to those who find it difficult to maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI). What are the fundamentals of this diet? Might it be a useful tool within your arsenal or are there better ways to achieve your weight loss goals? Performing an objective evaluation is the best way to draw a transparent conclusion.
A Quick Look at the Diet Plan Itself
The Atkins approach is centred around the single principle. When consumed in excess, carbohydrates will be stored as fat. Atkins meals are therefore:
- High in protein and fat.
- Relatively high in calories.
- Low in complex carbohydrates.
This strategy might initially seem to make sense. The body will turn to existing fat stores (a source of energy) in order to metabolise protein and fat. In theory, this should lead to a decrease in weight over time.
What Foods Should and Should Not be Consumed?
Judging from the observations outlined above, it should not come as a surprise that Atkins dietary plans are rather unique in terms of the foods that can and cannot be consumed. Here are some of recommended foods:
- Meat such as chicken, pork and beef.
- Fatty fish (including salmon and trout).
- Full-fat dairy products (butter, cream cheese, yoghurt).
- Low-carbohydrate vegetables (kale, spinach and broccoli).
There are likewise plenty of foods to avoid including:
- Fruits high in simple sugars.
- Substances high in refined carbohydrates (including pasta and enriched white bread).
- Vegetables high in starch (examples include potatoes and corn).
- Sugary snacks and soft drinks.
Most proponents suggest eating between three and four meals per day alongside snacking when needed. The main intention here is to consume calories before the body enters into a “starvation” mode.
Atkins Versus Keto: Are There Any Differences?
At first glance, the Atkins approach may appear quite similar to other keto (ketogenic) diets. There is still one difference to point out. Most Atkins diets will allow individuals to gradually increase the amount of carbohydrates that they consume. Keto strategies limit the number of carbs to a specific level throughout the duration of the diet. The intention here is to encourage the body to remain in a constant state of ketosis (when it metabolises fat as opposed to glucose to obtain energy).
The Pros and Cons of an Atkins Diet Plan
One of the main reasons why the Atkins plan appeals to many individuals involves the ability to consume many foods that might be restricted when following other diets. For example, typical Atkins snacks could include substances such as beef jerky, hard-boiled eggs or traditional Greek yoghurt. Furthermore, the ability to eat smaller meals throughout the day can help to stave off hunger pangs and feelings of lethargy.
However, there are also some very real concerns to note. The body requires carbohydrates to metabolise protein. If it is unable to tap into existing fat sources, muscle mass can become compromised. Individuals may also note a significant rise in cholesterol levels; a danger for those with existing cardiovascular problems. Finally, the relatively restrictive nature of the Atkins approach (particularly in terms of fruits) does not offer the recommended dosages of vitamins and minerals.
Atkins for Weight Loss: Hope or Hype?
While the Atkins approach has gained a significant amount of attention over the years, we need to remember that the firm itself (Atkins Nutritionals) filed for bankruptcy in 2005. This was due in no small part to the potential dangers outlined in the previous section.
The bottom line is that there are plenty of other ways to lose weight without starving the body of vital nutrients or placing the cardiovascular system at risk. For instance, the adjustable gastric balloon offered by Spatz3 will limit your caloric intake so that the body metabolises fat in a healthy manner. However, you can still consume all of the tasty fruits and vegetables that you have come to enjoy. While the Atkins diet may still gain attention, numerous cutting-edge alternatives are now at your disposal.