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-reduction plan.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit educational medical heart. Promoting on our web site helps assist our mission. We don’t endorse non-Cleveland Clinic services or products. Policy
The Atkins weight-reduction plan has some advantages and will be simpler to comply with than different diets. However that doesn’t imply you need to load up on steaks and butter each night time. Registered dietitian Maxine Smith, RD, LD, explains the advantages and dangers of this weight-reduction plan plan.
What’s the Atkins weight-reduction plan?
Heart specialist Robert Atkins created the Atkins weight-reduction plan within the Nineteen Sixties. He believed that carbohydrates — not fats — have been answerable for well being issues and weight acquire. In consequence, his weight-reduction plan centered on consuming loads of fats, some protein and only a few carbs.
“The purpose of the Atkins weight-reduction plan is to change your metabolism. You burn saved physique fats, reasonably than carbs, for vitality,” says Smith. “And you are able to do this should you comply with the weight-reduction plan intently. However it’s not for everybody, and there could also be well being dangers concerned.”
How does it work?
The Atkins weight-reduction plan doesn’t restrict the quantity of fats you’ll be able to eat. And also you received’t need to depend energy or measure portion sizes.
However you’ll have to depend carbs. Fastidiously. The Atkins weight-reduction plan severely restricts carbs, particularly within the early phases. It makes use of a monitoring technique referred to as internet carbs, which is the entire variety of carbs minus its fiber content material in grams.
“Usually, your physique makes use of carbohydrates as gas,” explains Smith. “Once you don’t eat carbohydrates, your physique turns to saved physique fats, which the liver breaks down. This course of creates ketones, which the physique can then use for vitality.”
Phases of the Atkins weight-reduction plan
There are 4 phases of the Atkins weight-reduction plan, beginning with essentially the most restrictive and steadily getting simpler. “Starting at part 1 promotes extra weight reduction,” Smith explains. “You can begin the weight-reduction plan at a later stage, however you received’t lose as a lot weight.”
- Section 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 purpose of part 1 is to provide quick weight reduction.
- Section 2: This part permits as much as 30 internet carbs. You continue to drop extra pounds, though not as shortly as you probably did in part 1.
- Section 3: You’ll be able to enhance your internet carbs by as much as 10 grams per week. Proceed this part till you attain your goal weight.
- Section 4: This can be a upkeep part, 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.
Different Atkins plans permit 40 or 100 internet carbs from the beginning. They’re designed for individuals who have much less weight to lose or need to keep their present weight.
Advantages of the Atkins weight-reduction plan
The Atkins weight-reduction plan has been round for many years, and it has some advantages. This weight-reduction plan works for some folks as a result of it:
- Received’t make you hangry: “Protein and fats suppress the urge for food, which is a bonus for individuals who really feel hungry on different diets,” Smith says.
- Cuts energy: For those who’re limiting your carbs, you’re additionally slicing out many unhealthy meals which are widespread within the American weight-reduction plan. Assume white bread, fried meals and sugar. “Most American diets are 55% carbohydrates or greater,” Smith says. “For those who reduce out all these carbs, you’ll most likely eat fewer energy general and drop extra pounds.”
- Controls blood sugars: Consuming only a few carbohydrates will help management blood sugar, particularly in individuals who have diabetes.
Dangers of the Atkins weight-reduction plan
Though Atkins will help folks drop extra pounds, it has some drawbacks. The weight-reduction plan:
- Permits processed meats: Who doesn’t love bacon? Nicely, the American Coronary heart Affiliation, American Most cancers Society and World Well being Group, for starters. Processed meats might elevate the chance of coronary heart issues and sure cancers. However as a result of they’re low carb and excessive fats, many individuals following Atkins eat a variety of them.
- Excludes wholesome meals: Many individuals prohibit fruits and a few greens to remain underneath their carb restrict. These meals include essential nutritional vitamins, minerals, disease-fighting phytochemicals and fiber. “Eliminating meals teams could cause nutrient deficiencies and well being issues,” Smith says.
- Has unwanted effects: Consuming a really low-carb weight-reduction plan like Atkins could cause electrolyte imbalances, constipation, dangerously low blood sugar and kidney issues.
- Promotes processed meals: The Atkins weight-reduction plan sells and promotes bars, shakes and ready-made meals that assist folks persist with the plan. However a lot of these things include synthetic sweeteners, processed elements, high-saturated fats and sodium that received’t do your well being any favors. “A protracted record of elements isn’t a great signal,” Smith says.
- Has questionable long-term advantages: “We don’t have proof that this weight-reduction plan is nice for you over the long run,” Smith says. “The entire research have checked out the way it impacts your well being for lower than a yr or two.”
Give attention to wholesome meals
For those who resolve to comply with the Atkins weight-reduction plan, take an entire meals strategy:
- Restrict or keep away from processed meats and different processed meals.
- Eat healthy fats, like these present in fish, nuts and olive oil.
- Embody wholesome carbs, like recent fruits and entire grains, as a part of a wholesome, long-term consuming plan.
When you’ve got diabetes or any well being circumstances, speak to your physician earlier than beginning a weight reduction plan. Don’t attempt Atkins should you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or have kidney illness.