What is the Atkins Diet
The Atkins Diet 1, 2 is a popular low-sugar or low-carbohydrate eating plan that was created in 1972 by cardiologist Dr. Robert C. Atkins who limited his patients’ intake of sugar and carbohydrates. The original Atkins’ Diet has 68% of total calories from fat, 27% from protein, and 5% from carbohydrates 3. The Atkins Diet, formally called the Atkins Nutritional Approach, has been detailed in many books and is credited with launching the low-carb diet trend.
The central rationale of this diet is that severe restriction of dietary carbohydrate (<10% of daily caloric intake), with its resulting ketosis, promotes lipid oxidation, satiety, and increased energy expenditure, factors that should promote negative energy balance and weight loss 1. Because the Atkins diet derive large proportions of calories from protein and fat, there has been considerable concern for their potentially detrimental impact on cardiovascular risk 4. Increased consumption of fat, particularly saturated fat, has been linked to increased plasma concentrations of lipids 5, 6, 7, 8, insulin resistance, glucose intolerance 9, 10, and obesity 11, 12. According to the American Heart Association Advisory 6, cardiovascular disease was lowered by about 30 percent, similar to the effect of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs when vegetable oil replaced saturated fat in the diet, according to the advisory. The switch to healthier oils also was associated with lower rates of death from all causes. The American Heart Association recommends aiming for a dietary pattern that achieves 5% to 6% of calories from saturated fat, that’s about 13 grams of saturated fats a day 7.
The new Atkins Diet now restricts sugars and carbs (carbohydrates) while emphasizing high protein and high fats – so that a person’s daily calorie consumption is comprised of:
- 40 percent carbohydrates,
- 30 percent protein, and
- 30 percent fat.
- The Atkins diet is very low in carbohydrate consumption: less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day and increasing to 50 grams per day.
As a result, many of Atkins dieters have successfully lost weight and kept it off – even though they had previously been unsuccessful on regular low-calorie diets.
Another unexplained, but important, observation was the spontaneous restriction of food intake in the low carbohydrate Atkins diet group to a level equal to that of the control subjects who were following a prescribed restriction of calories. This raises the possibility that the low carbohydrate Atkins diet may have been more satiating. Previous studies have suggested that, calorie for calorie, protein is more satiating than either carbohydrate or fat 13, 14 and it may be that the higher consumption of protein in the low carbohydrate Atkins diet group played a role in limiting food intake. Another explanation for restricted food intake in the low carbohydrate group is that food choices were probably greatly limited by the requirements of minimizing carbohydrate intake, and that dietary adherence per se may have forced caloric restriction due to practical factors. Although it has been proposed that ketosis developing from severe carbohydrate intake contributes to a decrease in appetite 1. Increased dietary saturated fat has been linked to certain types of cancer 15 and may have effects on cardiovascular 7.
In a study 16 comparing the dietary quality of popular weight-loss plans (their status on the New York Times Bestseller list) – the New Glucose Revolution, Weight Watchers, Atkins Diet, South Beach Diet, Zone Diet, Ornish Diet, and 2005 US Department of Agriculture Food Guide Pyramid (2005 Food Guide Pyramid) plans. The Dietary quality was estimated using the Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), a measure that isolates dietary components that are most strongly linked to cardiovascular disease risk reduction 17,18. The Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI) was developed to measured adherence to the 1995 US Department of Agriculture Food Guide Pyramid dietary guidelines and the quality within food groups and acknowledged health benefits of unsaturated oils 19. The score was then used to predict development of cardiovascular disease, cancer or other causes of death in the same population previously tested. Men and women with AHEI scores in the top vs. bottom quintile had a significant 20% and 11% reduction in overall major chronic disease, respectively. Reductions were stronger for cardiovascular disease risk in men than in women. The score did not predict cancer risk. The AHEI was twice as strong at predicting major chronic disease and cardiovascular disease risk compared to the original Healthy Eating Index (HEI) 20, suggesting that AHEI may be a better proxy of dietary quality 21, 22.
The AHEI incorporates several aspects of the original HEI 20, and therefore some components correspond to existing dietary guidelines (eg, to increase fruit and vegetable intakes). The AHEI has nine components for evaluating and determining dietary quality, including fruit, vegetables, nuts and soy, ratio of white to red meat, cereal fiber, trans fat, ratio of polyunsaturated fat to saturated fat, alcohol, and duration of multivitamin use 23. Seven of the nine AHEI components were used to calculate the AHEI score for each plan 23. Duration of multivitamin use and daily alcohol intake were not used because neither were addressed in the diet book meal plans.
The AHEI also provides quantitative scoring for qualitative dietary guidance (eg, choose more fish, poultry, and whole grains, and if you drink alcohol, do so in moderation). AHEI variables were chosen and scoring decisions were made a priori, on the basis of discussions with nutrition researchers. AHEI sought to capture specific dietary patterns and eating behaviors that have been associated consistently with lower risk for chronic disease in clinical and epidemiologic investigations. AHEI score of 10 indicates that the recommendations were fully met, whereas a score of 0 represents the least healthy dietary behavior. Intermediate intakes were scored proportionately between 0 (worst) and 10 (best). For example, zero vegetable servings per day was given the score of 0, and five servings per day or more was given a 10. For meat, when no red meat was consumed, the component score was set to 10. The multivitamin component was dichotomous, contributing either 2.5 points (for nonuse) or 7.5 points (for use). All component scores were summed to obtain a total AHEI score 23 ranging from 2.5 (worst) to 87.5 (best).
The results of that study 16 that compares the dietary quality of popular weight-loss plans (the New Glucose Revolution, Weight Watchers, Atkins Diet, South Beach Diet, Zone Diet, Ornish Diet, and 2005 US Department of Agriculture Food Guide Pyramid (2005 Food Guide Pyramid) plans), ordered from the highest to the lowest plan were:
- Ornish (score 64.6),
- Weight Watchers high-carbohydrate (score 57.4),
- the New Glucose Revolution (score 57.2),
- South Beach/Phase 2 (score 50.7),
- Zone (score 49.8),
- 2005 Food Guide Pyramid (score 48.7),
- Weight Watchers high-protein (score 47.3),
- Atkins/100-g carbohydrate (score 46),
- the South Beach/Phase 3 (score 45.6), and
- Atkins/45-g carbohydrate (score 42.3).
The Zone plan was lowest in energy (mean 1,025±122 kcal per day), whereas the 2005 Food Guide Pyramid plan was highest (mean 1,946±200 kcal per day).
Compared to other plans, the Atkins/45-g carbohydrate plan had fewest servings of fruit, the lowest white to red meat ratio, and was second only to the Atkins/100-g carbohydrate plan for percent of energy from trans fat. While the Atkins/45-g carbohydrate plan scored lowest in white to red meat ratio with a ratio of one, the Ornish plan scored the highest with a ratio of four because it is the vegetarian diet plan 16.
In a study 24 comparing 4 popular weight loss diets – 1) Atkins diet; 2) Zone diet; 3) Ornish diet and 4) LEARN (Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitudes, Relationships, and Nutrition) diet – where 311 free-living, overweight/obese (body mass index, 27-40) nondiabetic, premenopausal women in the US were randomly assigned to follow the Atkins diet (n = 77), Zone diet (n = 79), LEARN diet (n = 79), or Ornish diet (n = 76) diets and received weekly instruction for 2 months, then an additional 10-month follow-up.
In that study 24, weight loss at 12 months was the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes included lipid profile (low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol), high-density lipoprotein (HDL cholesterol), and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglyceride levels), percentage of body fat, waist-hip ratio, fasting insulin and glucose levels, and blood pressure. Outcomes were assessed at months 0, 2, 6, and 12.
RESULTS: Weight loss was greater for women in the Atkins diet group compared with the other diet groups at 12 months, and mean 12-month weight loss was significantly different between the Atkins and Zone diets. Weight loss was not statistically different among the Zone, LEARN, and Ornish groups.
Mean 12-month weight loss was as follows:
- Atkins diet -4.7 kg (-6.3 to -3.1 kg),
- Zone diet, -1.6 kg (-2.8 to -0.4 kg),
- LEARN diet, -2.6 kg (-3.8 to -1.3 kg),
- Ornish diet, -2.2 kg (-3.6 to -0.8 kg).
At 12 months, secondary outcomes for the Atkins diet group were comparable with or more favorable than the other diet groups.
CONCLUSIONS: In this study 24, premenopausal overweight and obese women assigned to follow the Atkins diet, which had the lowest carbohydrate intake, lost more weight at 12 months than women assigned to follow the Zone diet, and had experienced comparable or more favorable metabolic effects than those assigned to the Zone, Ornish, or LEARN diets. While questions remain about long-term effects and mechanisms, a low-carbohydrate, high-protein, high-fat diet may be considered a feasible alternative recommendation for weight loss.
In another study published in the Journal of American Medical Association, where a total of 160 participants were randomly assigned to either Atkins (carbohydrate restriction), Zone , Weight Watchers (calorie restriction), or Ornish (fat restriction) diet groups. After 12 months of maximum effort, participants on the Atkins Diet which had the lowest carbohydrate intake, lost more weight at 12 months than participants assigned to follow the Zone diet, and had experienced comparable or more favorable metabolic effects than those assigned to the Zone, Weight Watchers or Ornish diets. Each diet significantly reduced the low-density lipoprotein/high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol ratio by approximately 10%, with no significant effects on blood pressure or glucose at 1 year. Each popular diet modestly reduced body weight and several cardiac risk factors at 1 year. The participants all had trouble adhering to their regimens, although increased adherence was associated with greater weight loss and cardiac risk factor reductions for each diet group. While questions remain about long-term effects and mechanisms, a low-carbohydrate, high-protein, high-fat diet may be considered a feasible alternative recommendation for weight loss.
Several recent trials compared low-carbohydrate vs traditional low-fat, high-carbohydrate weight-loss diets 25, 26, 27, 28, 29. A meta-analysis that pooled the results of these early trials concluded that low-carbohydrate, non–energy-restricted diets were at least as effective as low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets in inducing weight loss for up to 1 year 30.
The Atkins’ Diet Plan
- High fiber vegetables, protein (fish/seafood, poultry, beef, pork, eggs, plant-based), healthy fats (olive oil, avocados, nuts, butter), dairy (cheese, Greek yogurt) and low-glycemic fruits (berries, cherries, melon). If carbohydrate tolerance allows: legumes, higher starch vegetables and whole grains. Avoid: sugar, refined flour, trans fat.
In essence the Atkins’ diet is very similar to a healthy diet – a diet that is rich in fiber that are whole and natural foods and low in sugars and carbohydrate. The main reason low-carb diets are so effective for weight loss, is that when people reduce carbohydrate intake and eat more protein, their appetite goes down and they end up automatically eating fewer calories without having to think about it.
The effectiveness and health benefits of a low-carb approach like the Atkins’ Diet has been shown by over 80 clinical studies. The science has demonstrated low carbohydrate diets, like the Atkins result in more effective weight loss and improvement in certain health markers when compared to some other weight loss programs. In fact, almost any diet that helps you shed excess weight can reduce or even reverse risks factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
The Atkins’ Diet focuses on both quantity and quality of carbohydrate intake.
The key was understanding that everyone’s metabolism can use two different types of fuel for energy – either sugar (and carbs that are quickly turned into sugar by the body), or fat. But the type of fuel you burn can have a big difference in losing or maintaining weight. A typical diet reduces calories, but is still high in carbohydrates (and thus sugar). As a result, many people constantly cycle between sugar “highs” (where excess sugar is actually stored as fat in the body) and sugar “lows” (where you feel fatigued and ravenously hungry – for more carbs and sugar). For many, it’s really hard to lose weight that way.
What To Eat
The main dietary focus of the Atkins Diet is eating the right balance of carbohydrates, protein and fats for optimal weight loss and health. According to the Atkins Diet, obesity and related health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, are the fault of the typical low-fat, high-carbohydrate American diet. The Atkins Diet says that you don’t need to avoid fatty cuts of meat or trim off excess fat. Rather, controlling carbs is what’s important.
The Atkins Diet holds that eating too many carbohydrates — especially sugar, white flour and other refined carbs — leads to blood sugar imbalances, weight gain and cardiovascular problems. To that end, the Atkins Diet restricts carbohydrates and encourages eating more protein and fat. However, the Atkins Diet says it is not a high-protein diet.
Foods to Eat
You should base your diet around these healthy foods.
- Meats: Beef, pork, lamb, chicken and others.
- Fatty Fish and Seafood: Salmon, trout, sardines, etc.
- Eggs: The healthiest eggs are Omega-3 enriched or pastured.
- Low-Carb Vegetables: Kale, spinach, broccoli, asparagus and others.
- Full-Fat Dairy: Butter, cheese, cream, full-fat yoghurt.
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
- Healthy Fats: Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocados and avocado oil.
As long as you base your meals around a fatty protein source with vegetables or nuts and some healthy fats, then you will lose weight. It’s that simple. However, the American Heart Association cautions people against following the Atkins diet because it is too high in saturated fat and protein, which can be hard on the heart, kidneys, and bones. The lack of carb-rich fruits and vegetables is also worrisome, because eating these foods tends to lower the risk of stroke, dementia, and certain cancers. Most experts believe that the South Beach and other less restrictive low-carbohydrate diets offer a more reasonable approach 31.
The Atkins Diet doesn’t require calorie counting or portion control. It does require you to track your carbs, though. It uses a system called net carbs, which is the total carbohydrate content of an item minus its fiber content. For example, a half-cup of raw broccoli has 2.3 grams of total carbs and 1.3 grams of fiber, putting its net carb value at 1 gram.
The Atkins Diet says its approach to carbs will burn off your body’s fat stores, regulate your blood sugar and help you achieve optimal health, while not leaving you feeling hungry or deprived. Once you’re at your goal weight, the Atkins Diet also says it will help you identify your personal carbohydrate tolerance — the number of grams of net carbs you can eat each day without gaining or losing weight.
Like many diet plans, the Atkins Diet continues to evolve. It now encourages eating more high-fiber vegetables, accommodates vegetarian and vegan needs, and addresses health problems that may arise when initially starting a low-carb diet.
Although the Atkins Diet originally said that exercise wasn’t vital for weight loss, it now acknowledges that exercise is important to weight loss and maintenance, as well as for achieving other health benefits.
The 4 Phases of the Atkins’ Diet Plan 2
Phase 1: Induction 32.
Phase 1 is about transforming your body into a fat burning machine and kickstarting your weight loss. By limiting the amount of carbs you eat, your body will switch its main fuel source from carbs to fat.
In this strict phase, you cut out almost all carbohydrates (total carbohydrate minus dietary fiber and sugar alcohols) from your diet, eating under 20 grams of carbs a day, mainly from vegetables, for 2 weeks. The Atkins plan refers to fiber and sugar alcohols as nonimpact carbohydrates, and thus not part of the total carbohydrate count 2. Instead of getting 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates, as recommended by most nutrition guidelines, you get only about 10 percent. “Foundation” vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, celery, cucumber, green beans and peppers, should account for 12-15 grams of your daily net carbs. You should eat protein, such as fish and shellfish, poultry, meat, eggs and cheese, at every meal. You don’t need to restrict oils and fats, but you can’t have most fruits, sugary baked goods, breads, pastas, grains, nuts or alcohol. You should drink eight glasses of water a day. You stay in this phase for at least two weeks, depending on your weight loss.
- As a rough guide, start at Phase 1 if:
+ Your goal is to lose 14lbs (7kg) or more
+ You’re inactive or have a slow metabolism
+ You’ve regained the weight you once lost
+ You want to lose a little bit of weight, but quickly
- Phase 1 guidelines 36
The induction phase is about helping you distinguish hunger from habit, and changing the amount what you eat to suit your appetite as it decreases.
When you’re hungry, eat until you’re satisfied but not overly full. If you’re unsure, wait ten minutes and have a glass of water to see if you’re still hungry. If you don’t have a big appetite at mealtimes, instead of skipping your meal, have a small low carb snack.
To start your low carb diet, there are a few rules you need to stick to.
+ Eat 3 regular sized meals a day or 4-5 smaller meals
+ Don’t skip meals or go for longer than 6 hours during the day without eating
+ Eat at least 115-175 grams of protein-rich food for every meal (up to 225g for taller men)
+ Eat 20g of carbs per day
+ 12-15g of your carb total should come from cooked vegetables and salad
+ You can also take a daily iron-free multivitamin/multimineral tablet and an omega-3 fatty acid supplement to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need
+ Drink 8 glasses of water (or other acceptable drinks) per day
- Which Carbs Are Off-Limits for Now ?
There are some carbs that you should avoid during the Phase 1:
• Fruit (other than rhubarb, which is really a vegetable). Avocados, olives, and tomatoes – all of which are actually fruit – are fine
• Fruit juice (other than 2 tablespoons lemon and/or lime juice a day)
• Caloric fizzy drinks/juice
• Bread, pasta, muffins, tortillas, crisps and any other food made with flour or other grain products, with the exception of low-carb products with 3g of net carbs or less
• Any foods made with added sugar of any sort, including but not limited to pastries, biscuits, cakes, and sweets
• Alcohol in any form
• Nuts and seeds, nut and seed butters, and nut flours or meals, with the exception of flax meal and coconut flour. (Nuts and seeds are okay after two weeks on Phase 1)
• Grains, even wholegrains
• Kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, and other pulses
• Starchy vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squash.
• Dairy products other than cream, soured cream, single cream and aged cheeses. No cow’s or goat’s milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese, or ricotta for now
• ‘Low-fat’ foods, which are usually higher in carbs
• ‘Diet’ products, unless they specifically state ‘low carbohydrate’ and have no more than 3g of Net Carbs per serving
• ‘Junk food’ in any form
• Products such as chewing gum, breath mints, cough syrups and drops, or liquid vitamins, unless they’re sweetened with sorbitol or xylitol. You can have up to three a day of those. Count 1g per piece
• Sauces which contain added carbs such as BBQ, cocktail, ketchup, pasta sauces etc.
• Tomato sauce, tinned or stewed tomatoes, tomato purée and tomato paste are all acceptable in Phase 1, as long as they contain no added sugar.
Acceptable low carb vegetables and salads:
- Your 12–15g of carbs works out at about 175 g (6 oz) of salad leaves plus 200–300 g (7–11 oz) cooked vegetables
About 30 g (1 oz) or a big handful of each of raw salad leaves comes in at less than 1g of carbs:
• Bok Choy
• Lettuce, all types
• Sprouts, all kinds
• Beans, French, broad, green
• Swiss Chard
• Bamboo shoots, tinned
• Olives, black or green
• Gherkins, dill or sour
• Radishes, Daikon
• Spring onions
• Sweet peppers, any colour
You can enjoy any prepared salad dressing that has no added sugar and no more than 3g of carbs per serving (1–2 tablespoons). A better lower-carb option is
to make your own vinaigrette with olive oil plus either vinegar, lemon or lime juice. You can have up to 2 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice a day.
• Blue cheese dressing
• Caesar salad dressing
• Italian dressing
• Ranch dressing
• Celery salt
• Chilli peppers
• Ginger root
• Italian seasoning
• Lemon or orange peel, grated
Aim for 115-175g (in weight) per meal, or 225g if you’re a larger man. Atkins recommend you weigh your food in the first week so you get a feel for the size of your portions. From then on, it’s ok to estimate.
If you don’t have scales at home, here is a rough guide of portion sizes:
115g is 1 palm-sized fillet of fish, meat or tofu.
175g is a 1.5 palm-sized portion
225g is a 2 palm-sized portion
- Acceptable low carb fish, meat & poultry 37.
Now you’ve got to grips with your new low carb lifestyle, you can start to enjoy a greater variety of foods. In this phase you will find your carb tolerance – that’s the level of carbs you can eat daily while still losing weight at a steady pace. In Phase 2, you will increase your carb intake by 5g increments to find your carb tolerance. You can now add nuts, seeds, berries and certain cheeses to your menu. By increasing your carbs gradually, you’ll find out exactly how many carbs you can eat while still working towards your goal weight. It’ll form the foundation of your low carb lifestyle in the long term.
This phase involves increasing net carbohydrate intake to 25 g/day, and each week thereafter net carbohydrate intake is increased by 5 g. When weight loss ceases, net carbohydrate intake is decreased by 5 g daily to reinitiate weight loss, you continue to eat a minimum of 12-15 grams of net carbs as foundation vegetables. You also continue to avoid foods with added sugar. You can slowly add back in some nutrient-rich carbs, such as more vegetables and berries, nuts and seeds, as you continue to lose weight. You stay in this phase until you’re about 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) from your goal weight.
- Phase 2 might be right for you
If you don’t have that much weight to lose, want greater food variety or if you are vegetarian, you can skip Phase 1 and start in Phase 2. Our BMI counter or our nutritionists can help you decide what Phase is best for you.
- As a rough guide, starting in Phase 2 is right for you if:
+ Your goal is to lose less than 14lbs (7kg)
+ You’re happy to lose weight a little more slowly
+ You have more weight to lose but want to enjoy more food variety
+ You’re vegetarian
- Phase 2 guidelines 33
In Phase 2, you will increase your carb intake little by little to find your carb tolerance. You can now add nuts, seeds, berries and certain cheeses to your menu, as well as Atkins food products.
+ By increasing your carbs gradually, you’ll find out exactly how many carbs you can eat while still working towards your goal weight. It’ll form the foundation of your low carb lifestyle in the long term.
+ Remember, weight loss in this phase usually happens at a steadier pace than in Phase 1. Be patient, if you stick to a few rules, you will get to your goal.
+ Vegetarians start at 30g of carbs per day
+ You can add an extra 5g of carbs per week (up to 40g) to find your carb tolerance
+ You can now add nuts, seeds, berries and certain cheeses to your diet
+ You can now enjoy Atkins food products
+ Monitor your daily carb intake – which you can do using a carb counter
+ Eat plenty of natural fats
+ Continue to take your multivitamin, multimineral and omega-3 supplements
+ Consume eight glasses of water (or other acceptable fluids) per day
Nuts and Seeds
Chestnuts are very high in carbs and should be avoided, as should salted nuts, because they are difficult to eat in moderation. Nut spread products like Nutella contain added sugars, so avoid them too.
Acceptable low carb nuts and seeds:
• Brazil nuts
• Coconut (fresh or grated and unsweetened)
• Pine nuts
• Pumpkin seeds
• Sesame seeds
• Soy “nuts”
• Sunflower seeds
Berries, Cherries, and Most Melons
The fruits suitable for Phase 2 are lower in carbs than most other fruits. This is because their fibre content is relatively high and fruit sugar content is relatively low.
Acceptable low carb fruits for Phase 2:
• Blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, fresh currants, gooseberries, loganberries, raspberries, and strawberries
• Cherries, sour or sweet
• Unsweetened cranberries and cranberry sauce made with acceptable sweeteners only
• Melon: cantaloupe and honeydew (but not watermelon)
If you want the extra variety in your diet, you can now add pulses. Alternatively, you may choose to wait till Phase 3 if that suits you better. Pulses are a great filling addition to salads or as a substitute for rice. You can enjoy the dried, tinned or pulses that are sold fresh or frozen like green soybeans (edamame) and baby lima beans.
Products such as baked beans are made with added sugar so you should avoid them. Hummus is fine, but watch out for bean dips made with sugar or starches.
Acceptable low carb pulses:
• Black beans
• Black-eyed peas
• Broad beans
• Butter beans
• Haricot or navy beans
• Kidney beans
• Peas, split
• Pinto beans
Tomato and lemon/lime juice
In Phase 1 you could have 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice; now you can have:
• 50 ml (2 fl oz) lemon or lime juice
• 125 ml (4 fl oz) tomato juice or tomato juice cocktail
Phase 3: Pre-maintenance 34.
Phase 3 is all about helping you establish a long-term way of eating so you can stay happy and healthy for good. You’ll gradually build up your carb tolerance, so by the time you’re ready to move on to Phase 4, you know exactly what works for you.
In this phase, when you are very close to your goal weight, you continue to gradually increase the range of foods you can eat, including fruits, starchy vegetables and whole grains. You can add about 10 grams of carbs to your diet each week, but you must cut back if your weight loss stops. You stay in this phase until you reach your weight goal.
During Phase 3, you will increase your carb intake by 10g per week. This is so you can find your carb balance – the ideal level that will allow you to reach your goal weight and stay there. Everyone’s different, so it is just trial and error. Take it at your own pace and listen to your body.
By the time you reach your goal weight and have kept it there for a month, you should have a pretty good idea of what amount and type of carbs your body can handle, and what it can’t.
Fine-tuning your carbs
If your cravings come back or your weight loss stalls, drop your carb intake by 10g for a week, then introduce an extra 5g until you find your level. In this final ‘fine-tuning’ stage of your plan, you’ll discover the balance between what you can eat and maintaining your ideal weight.
Remember, weight loss will be slower as you work find your carb balance. Be patient, if you stick to a few rules, you will find the carb limit that will help you stay at the weight your happy weight.
+ You can add an extra 10g of carbs per week (up to 100g) to find your carb balance
+ You can now add pulses, starchy veg, more fruits and grains to your diet
+ Monitor your daily carb intake – which you can do using our carb counter
+ Consume eight glasses of water (or other acceptable fluids) per day
Here’s an overview of the additional low carb foods you can enjoy in Phase 3:
Before adding extra fruit into your low carb diet, add pulses if you haven’t already. However, if you’re not a big fan of lentils and other beans, simply skip them.
- Other Fruits
As with the berries, cherries, and melon that you added in Phase 2, introduce these higher-carb fruits in small quantities, starting with one at a time and only once a day. Tropical fruits such as banana, mango, and pineapple are considerably higher in carbs than other fruits, so wait till you’ve seen how you tolerate other fruits before trying them. As long as it’s made without added sugar, you can enjoy a small portion of jelly, jam, preserves, and fruit preserves made from Phase 3 fruits.
Always try to have fresh or frozen fruit wherever possible, but make sure the frozen varieties have no added sugar. Tinned fruit in water or juice is fine, but avoid syrup.
Acceptable Phase 3 fruits:
• Kiwi fruit
• Peaches or nectarines
- Starchy Vegetables
You’ve been eating plenty of foundation vegetables in the first two phases of the New Atkins Diet. After reintroducing other fruits, it’s time to try to reintroduce the rest of the vegetable family. Like foundation vegetables, these vegetables are high in fibre and antioxidants; however, they’re higher in carbs.
Acceptable Phase 3 vegetables:
• Corn on (or off) the cob
• Jerusalem artichokes
• Potatoes, sweet and white
• Winter squash
- Whole Grains
Right at the top rung of the carb ladder are grains, which is why they are the last wholefood group to be reintroduced. Not everyone can tolerate grains and the
products made with them, so go slowly and find out what works for you. Products made with wholegrains are acceptable, but remember that the carb counts may vary greatly from one product to another.
Make sure you don’t confuse refined grains such as white flour and white rice with wholegrains. Baked goods, including bread, pitta, tortillas, biscuits, and cereals made with refined grains are still a no-no, with the exception of low carb products. Products made with wholegrains are acceptable, but the carb count may vary greatly from one product to another.
Acceptable whole grains for Phase 3:
• Couscous, whole-wheat
• Kasha (buckwheat groats)
• Wholemeal flour, wheat berries, bulgur, and cracked wheat
• Oat bran and porridge oats (not instant)
• Rice, brown, red, or wild
In Phase 3 you can also increase your daily intake of whole milk to 125 ml (4 fl oz), but continue to steer clear of low-fat milk and other low-fat dairy products. You also can experiment with low-carb products that have up to 9g of Net Carbs per serving.
Phase 4: Lifetime maintenance 38.
You move into this phase when you reach your goal weight, and then you continue this way of eating for life. You know the ins and outs of low carb living
off by heart by now, so you won’t be surprised to hear that the work doesn’t stop just because you’ve hit your goal. If you keep the carb balance that you’ve refined over the last weeks and months, there’s nothing to stop you staying at your goal weight indefinitely.
Phase 4 is all about helping you enjoy your healthier, low carb life in the future – and keeping you at the weight you’re happy with. You can enjoy all the foods that are acceptable in all of the previous phases. Both phase 3 and 4 are based on the number of grams of carbohydrate needed for weight stability (45 to 100 g/day). Foods high in protein and good fats (ie, unsaturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated) are recommended, although no limit is placed on intake of saturated fats 2.
Low carb for life
Going forward, you can continue to eat the same variety of foods you enjoyed in Phase 3 with one slight adjustment – your fat intake may go down as your carb intake increases.
Being active is important to for a balance, healthy lifestyle. If you’re not already exercising, now is the perfect time to get moving. As well as reducing your risk of a number of illnesses, it’ll help you keep the weight off.
Keeping your Atkins edge
You know the ins and outs of low carb living off by heart by now, so you won’t be surprised to hear that the work doesn’t stop just because you’ve hit your goal. If you keep the carb balance that you’ve refined over the last weeks and months, there’s nothing to stop you staying at your goal weight indefinitely.
If you do have a period where things slip and you gain weight or your cravings come back, don’t panic. You can get back your ‘Atkins edge’ by simply dropping your carb in take by 10 to 20 grams to regain control.
**The Atkins Diet acknowledges that you may initially lose water weight. It says that you’ll continue to lose weight in phases 2 and 3 as long as you don’t eat more carbs than your body can tolerate.
What About Vegetarians ?
It is possible to do the Atkins diet as a vegetarian (and even vegan), but difficult. You can use soy-based foods for protein and eat plenty of nuts and seeds. Olive oil and coconut oil are excellent plant-based fat sources.
Lacto-ovo-vegetarians can also eat eggs, cheese, butter, heavy cream and other high-fat dairy foods.References
- Atkins R. 1992 Dr. Atkins new diet revolution. New York: Avon Books
- Atkins RC. Atkins For Life: The Complete Controlled Carb Program for Permanent Weight Loss and Good Health. New York, NY: St Martins; 2003.
- S.T. St. Jeor, B.V. Howard, T.E. Prewitt, et al.Dietary protein and weight reduction: a statement for healthcare professionals from the Nutrition Committee of the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism of the American Heart AssociationCirculation, 104 (2001), pp. 1869-1874
- Blackburn GL, Phillips JC, Morreale S. 2001 Physician’s guide to popular low carbohydrate weight-loss diets. Cleve Clin J Med 68:761, 765–766, 768–769, 773–774. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11563479
- American Heart Association. Recipes for Cholesterol Management. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/CholesterolToolsResources/Recipes-for-Cholesterol-Management_UCM_305655_Article.jsp
- American Heart Association. Advisory: Replacing saturated fat with healthier fat could lower cardiovascular risks. http://news.heart.org/advisory-replacing-saturated-fat-with-healthier-fat-could-lower-cardiovascular-risks/
- American Heart Association. Saturated Fats. https://healthyforgood.heart.org/Eat-smart/Articles/Saturated-Fats
- Law M. 2000 Dietary fat and adult diseases and the implications for childhood nutrition: an epidemiologic approach. Am J Clin Nutr 72:1291 S–1296S.
- Bennett PH RM, Knowler WC. 1997 Epidemiology of diabetes mellitus. In: Sherwin RS, ed. Diabetes mellitus. Stamford: Appleton and Lange; 373–400.
- Diabetologia. 1997 Apr;40(4):430-8. High saturated fat and low starch and fibre are associated with hyperinsulinaemia in a non-diabetic population: the San Luis Valley Diabetes Study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9112020
- Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Dec;68(6):1157-73. Dietary fat intake does affect obesity! https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9846842
- Diabetes Care. 1998 Dec;21(12):2069-76. Genes versus environment. The relationship between dietary fat and total and central abdominal fat. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9839096
- Int J Obes. 1990 Sep;14(9):743-51. Effects of a high-protein meal (meat) and a high-carbohydrate meal (vegetarian) on satiety measured by automated computerized monitoring of subsequent food intake, motivation to eat and food preferences. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2228407
- Eur J Clin Nutr. 1996 Jul;50(7):409-17. Breakfasts high in protein, fat or carbohydrate: effect on within-day appetite and energy balance. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8862476
- Nutr Rev. 1998 May;56(5 Pt 2):S3-19; discussion S19-28. Dietary fat consumption and health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9624878
- J Am Diet Assoc. 2007 Oct; 107(10): 1786–1791. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2007.07.013. A Dietary Quality Comparison of Popular Weight-Loss Plans. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2040023/#R10
- Evaluating adherence to recommended diets in adults: the Alternate Healthy Eating Index. McCullough ML, Willett WC. Public Health Nutr. 2006 Feb; 9(1A):152-7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16512963/
- Diet quality and major chronic disease risk in men and women: moving toward improved dietary guidance. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Dec; 76(6):1261-71. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12450892/
- The Healthy Eating Index: design and applications. Kennedy ET, Ohls J, Carlson S, Fleming K. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7560680/J Am Diet Assoc. 1995 Oct; 95(10):1103-8.
- Kennedy ET, Ohls J, Carlson S, Fleming K. The Healthy Eating Index: design and applications. J Am Diet Assoc 1995;95:1103–8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7560680?dopt=Abstract
- Public Health Nutr. 2006 Feb;9(1A):152-7. Evaluating adherence to recommended diets in adults: the Alternate Healthy Eating Index. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16512963/
- Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Dec;76(6):1261-71. Diet quality and major chronic disease risk in men and women: moving toward improved dietary guidance. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12450892/
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition December 2002, vol. 76 no. 6 1261-1271. Diet quality and major chronic disease risk in men and women: moving toward improved dietary guidance. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/76/6/1261.long
- The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), JAMA. 2007;297(9):969-977. doi:10.1001/jama.297.9.969. Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women: the A TO Z Weight Loss Study: a randomized trial. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/205916
- Brehm BJ, Seeley RJ, Daniels SR, D’Alessio DA. A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003;88:1617-1623. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-lookup/doi/10.1210/jc.2002-021480
- Foster GD, Wyatt HR, Hill JO. et al. A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity. N Engl J Med. 2003;348:2082-2090. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa022207
- Stern L, Iqbal N, Seshadri P. et al. The effects of low-carbohydrate versus conventional weight loss diets in severely obese adults: one-year follow-up of a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2004;140:778-785. http://annals.org/aim/article/717452/effects-low-carbohydrate-versus-conventional-weight-loss-diets-severely-obese
- Yancy WS Jr, Olsen MK, Guyton JR, Bakst RP, Westman EC. A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 2004;140:769-777. http://annals.org/aim/article/717451/low-carbohydrate-ketogenic-diet-versus-low-fat-diet-treat-obesity
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- Harvard University. Harvard Medical Publications. Low fat, low carb, or Mediterranean: which diet is right for you ? http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/low-fat-low-carb-or-mediterranean-which-diet-is-right-for-you
- Atkins – Phase 1: Kickstart your weight loss – https://au.atkins.com/why-atkins/the-phases/phase-1-induction/
- Atkins – Phase 2: Low carb confidence. – https://au.atkins.com/why-atkins/the-phases/phase-2-ongoing-weight-loss/
- Atkins – Phase 3: Find your carb balance – https://au.atkins.com/why-atkins/the-phases/phase-3-pre-maintenance/
- Atkins – Phase 4: Going low carb for life – https://au.atkins.com/why-atkins/the-phases/phase-4-maintenance/
- Atkins – Phase 1: Kickstart your weight loss – https://au.atkins.com/why-atkins/the-phases/phase-2-ongoing-weight-loss/
- Atkins – Your Atkins food guide for all phases – https://au.atkins.com/static/default/files/documents/pdf/Atkins%20Food%20List.pdf)
- Low carb cheeses
• Blue cheese
• Cream cheese
• Goat’s cheese
• Mozzarella, made with whole-milk
• Cornish Hen
Make sure you check the labels and only the pick the brands with acceptable sweeteners and zero grams of carbs.
Acceptable low carb beverages:
• Coffee (caffeinated or decaffeinated, hot or iced) and espresso
• Tea (caffeinated or decaffeinated)
• Herbal teas and infusions without added sugar
• Soda water
• Diet fizzy drinks sweetened with non-caloric sweeteners, such as Diet Coke, Pepsi Max and Diet Lemonade
• Sugar-free tonic water
• Carbonated water – must say ‘no calories’
• Unflavoured soy/almond milk
• Cream – single or double
Acceptable low carb artificial sweeteners:
• Splenda or Sweetex (sucralose)
• Truvia (a natural product made from stevia)
• Canderel (a blend of aspartame, acesulfame-k, sucralose and stevia)
• Sweet’n Low (saccharin)
• Xylitol (available in health food shops and some supermarkets)