I often times tell people that I just count carbs, net carbs to be precise. I do not keep track of other macros like fat, calories or protein. That said if I had to pick one “diet” I follow more than any other I would have to say Atkins. So I thought I would give you a bit of the Atkins “backstory” and why I selected this way of eating and why I feel it is the easiest lifestyle to maintain.
The Atkins diet was developed in 1972 by a cardiologist named Robert C. Atkins and has several phases for weight loss and maintenance that are fairly easy to adjust to and stick with.
First let’s take a quick look at the overall phases of the Atkins’ diet.
Atkins 20 is the classic Atkins Diet that has been so successful for so many people over the past four decades. If you have more than 40 pounds to lose, have a waist of over 35 (women) or 40 (men), are pre- diabetic or Diabetic, this is the plan for you.
TRADITIONAL (CLASSIC) ATKINS PHASES
- Phase 1: Induction. In this strict phase, you cut out almost all carbohydrates from your diet, eating just 20 grams of net carbs a day, with 12 to 15 of those net carbs coming from vegetables. You should eat protein, such as fish and shellfish, poultry, meat, eggs and cheese but you want to restrict them to less than 25% of your plate and day. You should refrain from fruits, nuts, nut products/flours grains and alcohol during induction. You want to add good fats, such as butter, mayonnaise and avocados to your daily diet. You also want to drink plenty of water. A good rule of thumb is 1/2 your body weight in fluid ounces of water each day. This phase normally lasts two weeks.
- Phase 2: This phase is where you will spend the majority of your time while following this low-carb lifestyle. You should still get 12 to 15 net grams per day in the form of low-carb vegetables but you can can add in things like nuts, nut products/flour as well as sweets that contain alcohol sugars while continuing to avoid sugar-laden items and higher-carb wheat and grain products. You may add in low-carb fruits in moderation as well. You can also add in low-carb alcoholic drinks but you need to realize that your body will work to burn the alcohol off before it can go back to burning fat so you may stall a bit if you do imbibe.
While Atkins says that you can slowly (one food at a time and no more than 5-gram increments at weekly, biweekly, or even monthly intervals, whichever works best for you) most people tend to stick to less than 20 net carbs a day while in phase 2 so they continue to actively lose weight quickly. You should stay in this phase right up until you are approximately 10# from your goal weight.
- Phase 3: Pre-Maintenance is a phase where some people slowly start to up their carb count in 5 or 10 net carb increments unless they stall or start to gain weight. This helps you determine what amount of net carbs you can safely eat and maintain the weight you desire. Stay in this phase until you hit goal weight. How high can you go in net carbs? I wish there was a magic answer, but there’s not, it will all depend on your body, weight, physical condition, age and how active a lifestyle you lead.
- Phase 4: Maintenance is where you stay once you are at goal, adjusting your daily net carbs so that you stay there.
CARBOHYDRATES ROLE IN ATKINS DIET
While living the Atkins low carb lifestyle you need not track macros, calories or portion control. You just count carbs. Total Carbs MINUS Total Fiber MINUS Alcohol (NOT regular) Sugars when eating sweets = Net Carbs that can be absorbed by your body.
Watching and counting the net carbs consumed will enable you to go into what is called ketosis. Some people use strips called ketostix to establish when they are in ketosis. These ketone test strips check for ketones in your blood or urine. Ketones are substances that are made when the body burns fat for energy. Normally, your body gets the energy it needs from carbohydrate in your diet. But stored fat is broken down and ketones are made when you live a low carb lifestyle consistently.
This approach to consuming low net carbs burns off your body’s fat stores. It also can help regulate blood sugar (good news for diabetics) and help anyone achieve optimal health. Once at goal weight the careful monitoring of those same net carbs helps you identify your own personal carbohydrate tolerance so you can eat each day without gaining or losing weight.
WHY CHOOSE A LOW CARBOHYDRATE LIFESTYLE?
- low carb is a healthy eating plan that you can stick to
- there are any number of low-carb alternatives available
- you aren’t hungry as you eat until full
- you can lose weight fairly quickly & easily
- you have medical concerns the diet can help improve
As with any change in your way of exercising or eating be sure to check with your doctor before starting any weight-loss diet, especially if you have any health conditions. Most healthy adults will get the okay and love the results they achieve.
Most will or should opt for the classic (now called Atkins 20) diet plan and those are the phases outlined above.
If you’ve got less than 40 pounds to lose, or you need a wider variety of food choices right from the beginning, are pregnant or breastfeeding, then the new Atkins 40 was designed just for you.
Far less people follow the new Atkins 40 diet plan. You will find a full outline of that plan along with lots of other tips and tools on the Atkins site.
I just find that the vast majority, unless pregnant, nursing, or under doctor or dietitian’s orders lose far more weight at a much quicker pace if they stick with the traditional Atkins plan. It is with that plan in mind that every recipe on the site is vetted as you can always eat more but you cannot subtract carbs you have already consumed.
Those that eat low carb on a long term phase-by-phase basis, think of it as a lifestyle, not a diet. I for one lost the majority of the weight I needed to lose, 30# and 3 full dress sizes, in my first 90 days following the classic plan. I went on to drop yet another 10# and maintain at a size 4/6.
That said I still eat 20 net carbs each day. But there are lots of things I can enjoy and still do that. This website is a testament to that. While I admit to the use of supplements when I want to be “bad” and splurge I try not rely heavily on those and have adopted this healthy lifelong approach to eating for life. I feel and look younger than I have in years and you can too!
Want support while you live this lifestyle? Join us over at #TheLowCarbChallenge private Facebook group! We have some awesome member that are there for you to lean on! It’s a closed group so anything said in the group stays in the group! We’d be thrilled to have you join us!
In the meantime that’s the skinny on low-carb diets!
Ciao for now!
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Always consult your healthcare professional if you are currently taking medication, pregnant, trying to get pregnant, nursing, or if you have any other health condition before taking any products mentioned or applying any information contained herein.