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What is the Atkins Diet?

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My name is Teresa Cedeno, I’m a personal trainer and I’m going to help you manifest a healthier life.

Whether you’re into fitness, personal development, or general wellness, everyone is talking about diets. It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the promises diets make. The amazing before and after photos can get you excited, but it’s vital to make an objective analysis of the diet’s recommendations, restrictions, and have an exit plan. — so let’s take a closer look at one of them, the Atkins Diet.

P1: What’s Unique about Atkins? / What can & can’t eat?

The Atkins Diet was created by cardiologist Dr. Robert Atkins in 1972 through his book titled, “Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution.” He was inspired to research and write the book because of his own hardships with a struggling business, depression, and weight-gain. He found promising results from studies conducted during world war 2. In these studies soldiers lost an average of 22 lbs over 100 days from a low-carbohydrate diet.

So then he turned this research into his own diet and thus the Atkins diet was born! It's a flexible, low-carb diet designed for weight loss and diabetes management. It utilizes net carbs as a way to monitor your carbohydrate intake.The reason it's based on net carbs is because the body is picky and is only able to break down certain forms of carbohydrates, any fiber is flushed out. You measure a food’s net carbs by subtracting the fiber from the total carbs listed on its nutrition label. Here’s an example, a sweet potato contains 26 grams (g) of total carbs and 4 g of dietary fiber therefore it has 22 g of net carbs.

Using the idea of Net Carbs, Atkins created a surprisingly flexible diet with three different versions Atkins 20, 40, and 100. The number corresponds to the amount of carbohydrates you are allowed per day. With Atkins 20®, you consume 20 grams of net carbs a day, 12-15 grams from vegetables and the remainder from dairy, dressings, and/or Atkins products. This plan is recommended for those who have over 40 pounds to lose or are diabetic.

On Atkins 40®, you consume 40 grams of net carbs a day. You would still get 12-15 grams from veggies and the remaining from Greek yogurt, fruit, nuts, whole grains, and legumes. Unlike the 20 plan, the Atkins 40® is designed for those who have less than 40 pounds to lose or are non-diabetic nor pre-diabetic. It’s also for those that are pregnant, nursing, or on the Atkins 20 diet, but want more variety.

And with Atkins 100™, you consume 100 grams of net carbs a day and you would enjoy an extra 1-2 ounces of protein per meal. Atkins 100™ is for those who want to maintain their current weight and still get the benefits of a low carb lifestyle.

Per day, you are expected to consume 6 to 8 glasses of water, 12-15 grams of net carbs from fruits and veggies, and 2 to 4 tablespoons of healthy fats per day. Your protein would vary between 3-6 ounces per meal. A daily multivitamin would also be recommended to fill in any nutritional deficiencies according to the Atkins website.

The other unique aspect of the Atkins' diet is that it offers its own product line of ready-made meals, shakes, bars, and desserts. Most, if not all, of the products contain only 2-5 grams of net carbs. Now that I have defined the 3 versions let talk about how it does what it claims.

P2: How does Atkins change your body / The benefits?

So how does the Atkins Diet change your body? Well, just like the Keto Diet, the Atkins Diet aggressively restricts your carbohydrate intake causing you to eliminate a lot of processed foods. You also lose water weight because one gram of carbs holds on to 2-3 grams of water. And Atkins is a protein and fat based diet which keeps you satisfied for longer.

I mentioned that Atkins is good for diabetes, this is because The Akins 20 and 40 diets decrease your body’s insulin response. Insulin is a hormone released when glucose is detected and it promotes the absorption of glucose into muscles, liver, and fat cells. When blood sugar is high in a diabetic individual it can lead to a rapid heart rate and shortness of breath. Atkins uses the glycemic index to restrict foods that have high insulin response. This index measures how much a specific food increases your blood sugar levels. A meta-study looking at low glycemic index diets showed significant improvements in body weight, BMI, LDL and total cholesterol. All of which are important for diabetic patients to monitor. Despite the benefits, those with diabetes should be aware Atkins isn’t flawless, let’s see why.

P3: The bad aspects of the Atkins Diet

Any diet should consist of moderate portions, that includes Atkin’s products. Just because it has Atkins written on it doesn’t mean you should overindulge or assume it’s all around healthy for you.

The other downside of the Atkins diet is that it may be unintentionally discouraging you from eating fruit. According to the Carb Counter Guide, fruits range from 3-23 net carbs. Atkins recommends sticking to lower net carbs so one might stay away from fruit in order to achieve that, however, fruits are vital to health. They contain copious amounts of vitamins and minerals while being a low calorie side dish or snack. Truth be told, fruits are high in carbs but they are high in a carb known as fructose, which scores low on the glycemic index. Meaning it is not going to raise your insulin levels rapidly. So fruit is still good for you and you should eat it! Besides the downsides it is important for the sustainability of your progress to plan your exit strategy, which we’ll take a look at next.

P4: The exit strategy

Lucky for you the Atkins Diet has a built in exit strategy. The Atkins 100 plan is a guide to maintain your weight, and decrease your risk of metabolic diseases like diabetes. That said, Atkins’ exit strategy is still relatively restrictive. According to The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, average individuals should consume between 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates a day. Despite it being half to a third of the recommended amount, the Atkins 100 is enough to eat in 5-6 servings of fruits and veggies a day.

P5: Manifest Challenge:

Alright, let’s wrap this article up with the Manifest Challenge. Let me know on Instagram what you like about the Atkins Diet? Or if you’ve tried their products? The link to my instagram is below.

Thank you for reading and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts about the Atkins Diet!

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  4. Carbohydrates: How carbs fit into a healthy diet - Mayo Clinic › in-depth › art-20045705


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