Founded by Dr. Robert Atkins, the Atkins Diet, also known as Atkins 20, is a low-carbohydrate diet that limits the intake of starchy vegetables and high sugar fruits, instead focusing on nutrient-dense foods rich in fiber.
Initially frowned upon by health authorities, studies show the saturated-fat focused diet leads to weight loss and improved blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides. More so, research notes that the Atkins diet can balance health and alleviate obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, likely caused by the high-carb and processed American diet. Carbohydrate consumption including foods with refined sugars and white flour lead to blood imbalance, weight gain, and cardiovascular issues. The Atkins diet intends to balance one’s health by cutting carbohydrates to regulate blood levels and appetite.
Similar in structure to the keto diet, the Atkins diet works to transition the body from burning carbohydrates for energy to instead burning fat for energy.
The goal of the Atkins Diet is to eliminate the constant ups and downs that carbohydrates have on our sugar levels. Instead, by limiting carbs, the body focuses on burning fat for energy, ultimately leading to more steady sugar levels, and lowering hunger cravings and fat storage in the body.
How it works: There are multiple plans available on the Atkins Diet.
- Atkins 20 - This is the standard ketogenic diet on the Atkins plan, designed to work best for individuals wishing to lose more than 40 pounds, and/or who are diabetic or pre-diabetic. This plan limits carbohydrate intake to under 20 net grams of carbs per day.
- Atkins 40 - This is a more flexible version of the ketogenic Atkins diet, created to work best for those with less than 40 pounds to lose, or for individuals that are pregnant or breastfeeding. This plan limits carb intake to under 40 net grams of carbs per day, while offering a wider variety of foods to incorporate into your diet right from the beginning.
- Atkins 100 - This plan allows individuals to live a low-carb lifestyle without the goal of losing weight. Instead, people on this plan can incorporate healthier habits and a wide variety of food choices designed to help maintain their current weight. It is based on portion control and eating around 100 net grams of carbs per day.
The Atkins diet requires tracking carb intake using the net carb system, the total carbohydrate content minus fiber content. As the diet continues to evolve, there are four phases intended to meet one’s personal goal weight:
- Phase 1 Induction initiates with ketosis by consuming 20 grams of net carbs including high-fats, high-proteins, and low-carb vegetables daily for two weeks.
- Phase 2 Balance requires a minimum of 12 to 15 grams of net carbs in foundation vegetables, adding berries, nuts, and seeds while avoiding processed foods.
- Phase 3 "Fine-Tuning" continues with an increase of fruits, starchy vegetables, and whole grains when 10 pounds closer to weight goal.
- Phase 4 Maintenance allows healthy carbs such as fruits, beverages like coffee and soda, legumes, and starchy vegetables in moderation when goal weight is met.
Benefits: In addition to weight loss (or weight maintenance), the Atkins Diet has been found to reduce the risk factors for heart disease, insulin resistance, and diabetes. In addition, the high-fiber intake associated with the Atkins Diet can lower risk factors associated with the colon.