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What Is the Atkins Diet, and Is It Healthy?

A giant, juicy hamburger with no bun. Eggs and bacon for breakfast — however maintain the fruit. These are examples of meals you’ll be able to eat on the low-carb, high-fat Atkins weight loss program.

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The Atkins weight loss program has some advantages and might be simpler to observe than different diets. But that doesn’t imply you need to load up on steaks and butter each evening. Registered dietitian Maxine Smith, RD, LD, explains the advantages and dangers of this weight loss program plan.

What is the Atkins weight loss program?

Cardiologist Robert Atkins created the Atkins weight loss program within the Sixties. He believed that carbohydrates — not fats — had been answerable for well being issues and weight achieve. As a consequence, his weight loss program targeted on consuming loads of fats, some protein and only a few carbs.

“The goal of the Atkins diet is to change your metabolism. You burn stored body fat, rather than carbs, for energy,” says Smith. “And you can do this if you follow the diet closely. But it’s not for everyone, and there may be health risks involved.”

How does it work?

The Atkins weight loss program doesn’t restrict the quantity of fats you’ll be able to eat. And you gained’t should rely energy or measure portion sizes.

But you’ll have to rely carbs. Carefully. The Atkins weight loss program severely restricts carbs, particularly within the early levels. It makes use of a monitoring methodology referred to as internet carbs, which is the whole variety of carbs minus its fiber content material in grams.

“Normally, your body uses carbohydrates as fuel,” explains Smith. “When you don’t eat carbohydrates, your body turns to stored body fat, which the liver breaks down. This process creates ketones, which the body can then use for energy.”

Phases of the Atkins weight loss program

There are 4 phases of the Atkins weight loss program, beginning with probably the most restrictive and progressively getting simpler. “Beginning at phase 1 promotes more weight loss,” Smith explains. “You can start the diet at a later stage, but you won’t lose as much weight.”

  • Phase 1: You eat 20 grams of internet carbs a day. For reference, the common banana has 24 internet carbs, and a potato has 31. The aim of section 1 is to provide quick weight reduction.
  • Phase 2: This section permits as much as 30 internet carbs. You nonetheless reduce weight, though not as shortly as you probably did in section 1.
  • Phase 3: You can enhance your internet carbs by as much as 10 grams per week. Continue this section till you attain your goal weight.
  • Phase 4: This is a upkeep section, the place you’ll be able to eat as much as 120 internet carbs a day so long as you keep at your goal weight.

Other Atkins plans permit 40 or 100 internet carbs from the beginning. They are designed for individuals who have much less weight to lose or need to preserve their present weight.

Benefits of the Atkins weight loss program

The Atkins weight loss program has been round for many years, and it has some advantages. This weight loss program works for some folks as a result of it:

  • Won’t make you hangry: “Protein and fat suppress the appetite, which is an advantage for people who feel hungry on other diets,” Smith says.
  • Cuts energy: If you’re proscribing your carbs, you’re additionally slicing out many unhealthy meals which can be widespread within the American weight loss program. Think white bread, fried meals and sugar. “Most American diets are 55% carbohydrates or higher,” Smith says. “If you cut out all those carbs, you’ll probably eat fewer calories overall and lose weight.”
  • Controls blood sugars: Eating only a few carbohydrates will help management blood sugar, particularly in individuals who have diabetes.

Risks of the Atkins weight loss program

Although Atkins will help folks reduce weight, it has some drawbacks. The weight loss program:

  • Allows processed meats: Who doesn’t love bacon? Well, the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and World Health Organization, for starters. Processed meats might elevate the chance of coronary heart issues and sure cancers. But as a result of they’re low carb and excessive fats, many individuals following Atkins eat quite a lot of them.
  • Excludes wholesome meals: Many folks limit fruits and a few greens to remain beneath their carb restrict. These meals comprise vital nutritional vitamins, minerals, disease-fighting phytochemicals and fiber. “Eliminating food groups can cause nutrient deficiencies and health problems,” Smith says.
  • Has negative effects: Eating a really low-carb weight loss program like Atkins could cause electrolyte imbalances, constipation, dangerously low blood sugar and kidney issues.
  • Promotes processed meals: The Atkins weight loss program sells and promotes bars, shakes and ready-made meals that assist folks persist with the plan. But lots of these things comprise synthetic sweeteners, processed components, high-saturated fats and sodium that gained’t do your well being any favors. “A long list of ingredients isn’t a good sign,” Smith says.
  • Has questionable long-term advantages: “We don’t have evidence that this diet is good for you over the long term,” Smith says. “All of the studies have looked at how it affects your health for less than a year or two.”

Focus on wholesome meals

If you resolve to observe the Atkins weight loss program, take an entire meals strategy:

  • Limit or keep away from processed meats and different processed meals.
  • Eat wholesome fat, like these present in fish, nuts and olive oil.
  • Include wholesome carbs, like contemporary fruits and entire grains, as a part of a wholesome, long-term consuming plan.

If you could have diabetes or any well being circumstances, discuss to your physician earlier than beginning a weight reduction plan. Don’t attempt Atkins should you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or have kidney illness.

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