Atkins Diet : The Complete Guide

Atkins Diet Basics

The Atkins diet is not a new phenomenon. The diet first appeared in the late 1970s and has grown popularity in recent years in response to the low-fat diet craze. As dieters got trouble with low-fat plans, they searched for a new solution and Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution book found a fresh audience.

A lot of people have jumped on the Atkins bandwagon and there has been a lot of hype as a result. But what are the basic principles of the Atkins diet?

The Atkins diet is based on a theory of why we get fat. According to Dr. Atkins, the over-consumption of carbohydrates and simple sugars leads to weight gain. The way your body processes the carbohydrates you eat have more to do with your waistline than the amount of fats or calories that you consume. In his book, Atkins outlines a phenomenon called “insulin resistance.” He theorizes that many overweight people have cells that do not work correctly.

When you take in excess sugars and sugar, the body notices that sugars levels are elevated. Insulin is released from the pancreas in order to store glucose as glycogen in the liver and muscle cells for extra energy later on. However, your body can only store so much glycogen at once. As soon as your body reaches its limit for glycogen storage, the excess carbohydrates are stored as fat. This happens to everyone who eats too many carbohydrates.

However, insulin resistant individuals have an even harder time of using and storing excess sugars. The more insulin that your body is exposed to, the more resistant it becomes. Overtime, the pancreas releases more insulin and cells become insulin resistant. The cells are trying to protect themselves from the poisonous effects of high insulin. They create less glycogen and more fat.

As a result, insulin resistant individuals gain extra weight. The carbohydrates get converted into fat instead of energy. Other side effects include fatigue, brain “fog” (the inability to focus, poor memory, loss of creativity), low blood sugar (which can leads to hypoglycemia), intestinal bloating, sleepiness, depression and increased bloodstream sugar. There is much more than weight at stake when you are insulin resistant.

The remedy for people who are insulin resistant is a diet restricted in carbohydrates. The crux of the Atkins diet is a limitation of carbohydrates in all of its forms. The foods restricted on the Atkins plan include simple sugar (like cookies, sodas and sweets) and complex carbohydrates (like bread, rice and grains). Even sugars that are considered healthy, such as oatmeal, brown rice and whole wheat bread, are limited on the program.

The dietary plan has you restrict your carbohydrate intake to less than 40 grams a day. This will put the body in a state of ketosis. While in ketosis, your body will burn fat as fuel. Relating to Dr. Atkins’ research, the ketosis state will also affect insulin production and it will prevent more body fat from being shaped. Your body will begin using your stored unwanted fat as an efficient form of gas, and you’ll lose weight.

Another benefit of the Atkins plan is that ketosis will end your cravings for carbohydrates. If you’ve been living on a carb-heavy diet, you may have found that you simply cannot get enough carbohydrates. With carbohydrate restriction and ketosis comes a reduction in carbohydrate cravings. People who have been on the Atkins diet for some time report that they do not crave sugars as they once did.

Although the initial phases of the Atkins diet are rather strict, this program teaches you to restore balance to your diet in the long run. People who use the diet slowly reintroduce minimal amounts of carbohydrate into their eating until they find a comfortable balance between their health and carbohydrate use.

The basic principles of the Atkins diet have been adapted to many other low-carb diet plans. However, Atkins popularity still remains strong as one of the most effective low-carbohydrate solutions for those who are insulin resistant.

Atkins and Appetite Suppression

One of the most common, and surprising, ramifications of following the Atkins diet is appetite suppression. Many followers of the plan record that the between meal hunger pangs they used to experience fade away very quickly. This makes it easier to stay on the dietary plan and continue to lose weight. While other diets have their fans starving between meals, the Atkins diet offers relief from constant hunger. The Atkins diet, with its specific combination of foods and ingredients, has powerful hunger suppressing effects.

The first key component is the quantity of protein in the Atkins diet. Protein, more so than carbohydrates, has the power to satiate food cravings. If you have ever eaten a carb heavy food and then felt hungry afterward, you know that carbohydrates don’t have much staying power. Protein, when combined with a small amount of healthy fats, can keep you feeling full for long periods of time.

Probably one of the most powerful urge for food suppressing foods on the Atkins diet are eggs. Eggs are a great form of quick and easy protein. A recent study showed that eating eggs for breakfast would actually stave off food cravings through the rest of the day. The research concerned two groups of women. One group ate eggs for breakfast time and the other acquired a breakfast of bagels and cream cheese. The calorie count for both breakfasts was exactly the same. The subjects kept track of what they ate all of those other day and answered questions about their levels of craving for food and satisfaction throughout the day. The results demonstrated that the women who ate the eggs for breakfast experienced more satisfied throughout the entire day. They ate less at each meal than the ladies who were in the bagel group.

Eggs contain about 6 grams of protein each. This helps to even out blood sugars and produces a feeling of satisfaction. Both of these factors help to curb cravings. Egg yolks also contain lutein and xenazanthin. These nutrients have been shown to have incredible effects on vision health. So it’s important to eat the whole egg, and not merely the white. Eggs contain choline that is important in brain functioning and memory. These nutrients are just an added benefit to the appetite suppressing qualities.

Broccoli and cauliflower, two of the acceptable vegetables on the Atkins program, also have appetite-suppressing effects. These vegetables are very bulky and they help make your abdomen feel full. When your tummy feels full, it will actually make a chemical response in your body. Your body will reduce its hunger because it thinks that your abdomen is full of high calorie foods. This will happen whatever is in your stomach. You can achieve the same results with water and psyllium husk fiber. Both broccoli and cauliflower provide bulk in your diet and are essential vegetables on the Atkins plan.

The Atkins diet focuses on eating small protein balanced meals a few times per day. This will help keep your bloodstream sugar stabilized and avoid carbohydrate urges. With high carbohydrate diets, you are driving the wave of carbohydrate highs. After you eat, you feel great and full. Then a few hours later, you come crashing down and are hungrier than you were previous to eating the carbohydrate. This cycle continues and, over time, you will eat more and gain weight. The protein, fat and vegetable foods of the Atkins plan put your blood sugar back in balance. They provide just enough of each type of food, with a proper amount of carbohydrates (from the vegetables). The vegetables provide quick carbohydrate energy, and the protein gives the meal stamina. This mixture helps suppress your urge for food.

The Atkins diet is actually a craving control diet that can help suppress your appetite. If you’ve had a problem with carbohydrate desires before, this new way of eating can help control those yearnings. The more you eat on the program, the better your cravings will be controlled and the easier it will be to follow the diet.

Atkins and Diabetes

The Atkins diet principles lay the foundation for a healthy, more balanced way of eating than the standard American diet. Its emphasis is on using good sugars in balance with adequate protein. This is in stark contrast to what most Americans eat on a daily basis. The average American eats lots of processed foods that have hidden sugars and highly processed carbohydrates. This has put most People in America on the road to diabetes and pre-diabetic conditions. What is sad is that diabetes has a predictable set of stages and that they can be easily acknowledged.

The road to diabetes has to do with something called the glycemic index. All sugars are rated on this index with regards to the level of insulin reaction they produce. Foods that have a high glycemic index rating will cause your pancreas to release a great deal of insulin to break down the amount of sugars and carbohydrates (which produce high levels of glucose). The refined carbohydrates and sugar that make up the vast majority of the American diet rank very high on the glycemic index.

We are able to more readily digest these foods as children, because our bodies function more efficiently in our youth. There may have been part effects, like putting on weight and mood swings, but they didn’t stand out. As we age, however, these symptoms begin to grow and become more prevalent. The nation-wide obesity epidemic is a result of high-carbohydrate diets and unstable blood sugar levels.

Many people who are overweight are also insulin resistant. Insulin level of resistance means that the insulin is not doing its job in removing blood sugar from the blood stream. The pancreas gets over worked and it produces massive amounts of insulin, sometimes 20 times more than the body actually needs. This results in the blood glucose dropping to extremely low levels. This sets off a chain response in the body that leads to a release of adrenaline to correct the blood sugar problem.

With age, blood sugars and insulin difficulties become more aggravated. The problem is called “hyperinsulinism” and is a precursor for type II diabetes. It is normally accompanied by high blood pressure and high triglycerides.

After years of using a high-carbohydrate diet, you will finally become fully diabetic. Insulin is the body’s major fat creator and extra pounds usually accompany past due onset diabetes. Pre-diabetic conditions, if not treated effectively, will lead to diabetes indefinitely.

However, there are easily identifiable warning signs to diabetes that appear early. Your family doctor can perform insulin level tests that will let you know if you are at risk for pre-diabetic conditions, and studies show that low-carb diets like Atkins can help. Controlling your bloodstream sugar is one of the most effective methods to controlling pre-diabetic conditions.

The Atkins diet helps effectively control blood sugar. The combination of proteins, fat and good sugars will keep the body satisfied without the roller coaster effect. Controlling carbohydrates in quantity as well as type will help limit the insulin spikes. This will let your pancreas work in the way that it was meant to be, and it’ll decrease the likelihood of your developing pre-diabetic conditions. It’s a vicious routine that, if left unchecked, can lead to diabetes later in life. When the Atkins diet is followed effectively it produces stable blood sugar during the day and helps you stay off the road to diabetes.

Atkins Diet Foods

Atkins diet foods are easy to find and available everywhere. There are various varieties to choose from, whether you pick prepackaged low-carb diet foods or make your own meals. No matter how you want to do the Atkins plan, there is a solution out there for you.

You’ll need to keep the Atkins food pyramid in mind when you make food choices. The Atkins pyramid looks much different than the USDA Food Guide Pyramid. The base of the pyramid consists of protein sources such as eggs, fish, beef, chicken and tofu. On a daily basis, your daily diet should consist primarily of these foods. The second tier has low glycemic vegetables like salad greens, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and spinach.

The third tier is made up of berries and avocado. Fruits should be used on an occasional basis after the initial stages of the Atkins diet. Vegetable and seed oils, cheese, dairy, nuts and legumes are used sparingly and in appropriate portions. While the FDA pyramid has oils and body fat at the top peak, the Atkins pyramid places whole grain foods in this spot. Whole grain foods should be utilized very occasionally and don’t make up the mainstay of the Atkins diet.

When you start the Atkins plan, you’ll need to make sure you understand which foods are acceptable for your stage of the program. The Induction phase is the most restrictive, but it only continues two weeks.

You owe it to your dieting success to stay within the acceptable foods list. One of the best ways to do this is to follow the Atkins menu programs that are printed within the New Diet Revolution publication. There are also Atkins cookbooks and cookbooks that are geared toward other low carb diets that are helpful in formulating meal plans.

It’s a helpful idea to use a cheat sheet of acceptable Atkins foods wherever you go. If you are out and about and hungry, the last thing you want to do is to try to think back your memory to figure out what you can and cannot eat. Holding a list of acceptable foods with you will make finding a snack or food while out on the run easy. You can’t always rely on “low carbohydrate” labels to tell you whether or not something is diet friendly. Ever since low carb became the new diet trend, manufacturers have been jumping on the bandwagon to attract Atkins dieters. They label items low carbohydrate to sell products and do not have your health in mind. Relying on foods from your own personal list is the best way to stay on the plan.

Another good resource for keeping track of the appropriate Atkins foods is an online diet program. There are several available. Some are free and some have a little monthly fee. The programs require you to register and then they provide you with personal weekly menu plans based on your needs and your carbohydrate gram level. There are normally printable every week shopping lists that make picking up your Atkins diet foods from the grocery store easy and quick.

Atkins diet food is easy to find once you know what you are looking for. The books, food pyramid and online resources can help you make better food choices and stick to the dietary plan for the long term.

Atkins Shopping Tips

When you begin the Atkins diet, you are entering a new world of eating. And nowhere is that more apparent than at the supermarket. Abruptly, all of your stand-by foods like macaroni and cheese, pasta and bread are no longer on your shopping list. When you go shopping for the first few times you may feel like a fish out of drinking water. However, with a bit of practice you’ll feel just as comfortable as you were with your previous shopping lists.

Successful Atkins shopping starts before you reach the store. There are plenty of resources for shopping lists online and in Atkins books. Before you head for the store, make a summary of the week’s quality recipes and then decide what you will have to make each meal. Make sure to purchase low-carb snacks for in between meals.

Also, plan for modifications to the meals for other people in your home. You won’t be able to make totally different foods for yourself as well as your family for the future. The best strategy is to use the main meat dish for your food for the whole family and then a carbohydrate aspect dish for your family. For example, if you are eating meatloaf you can add half a potato for the other people of your loved ones.

Once you’ve made your meal arrange for the week, its time to hit the store. When you arrive, buy your protein items and produce first. This may sound very simple and like it won’t make much difference, but it’ll. Once you’ve packed your cart with all of the suitable foods, there won’t be room for much more.

Consider buying your meats in mass. This will save you lots of money if you understand where to get family sized packages of meat. When you buy meats in large quantities, you can also cook it in bulk as well. Taking time a few days per week to cook meat makes it simple to follow the Atkins plan. You can cook your meats before hand and have it ready to go when you need it. You can purchase ground beef, poultry pieces, small steaks and even seafood in bulk.

Cheese, if you can tolerate it, can also be purchased in mass. Many stores offer store-brand cheese in large bricks. You will have to make sure to read the labels before you purchase any cheese. Make sure that when you take in cheese to consume some fiber (salad or raw veggies) as well. Having large blocks of your favorite cheeses on hand can make it easy to grab a quick snack between meals.

As you walk around the store, stick to the outer edges. The external aisles have the freshest food. Think about your neighborhood supermarket. Most often the deli, the meat counter and the produce section are all along the sides of the store with the packaged items in the aisles. That is especially important if you are in the original phases of the Atkins diet. You’ll want to remain away from all packed foods during induction, even if they are low carb packaged foods. Once you add more carbohydrate grams to your daily limit, you can start to experiment with low-carb packed foods.

That leads to the next important tip – browse the labels! Just because an item says it is low carb, it may have hidden sugars. Do your investigative work at the grocery store so you won’t get home with products that cause you to gain weight.

Shopping for the Atkins diet will take some time to get used to. You’ll be navigating parts of the supermarket that you may not be familiar with. You’ll also be purchasing items you’ve never cooked before. However, with planning and dedication low carbohydrate shopping will become easier. Just remember to make a list before you visit the store and stay toward the outer aisles of the grocery store. In no time, you can an experienced low carb shopper.

Carbohydrate Cravings and the Atkins diet

Carbohydrate cravings are difficult to deal with, especially when you want to maintain a low carbohydrate way of life. However, carbohydrate urges are not just a matter of will power. As Dr. Atkins points out in his publication, carbohydrates create a flood of insulin and a rise in blood glucose. There is indeed a physical trigger for carbohydrate urges, and it is one of the reasons that it is so easy to develop a high-carbohydrate, low protein way of eating.

There are many signs of physical carbohydrate cravings. You may experience a convincing hunger for carbohydrate rich foods. Overtime, you will develop a growing need for starches, snack foods and sweets. Additionally, you might experience desires and weight gain after using some of the carbohydrate act-a-likes such as sugar substitutes and alcohol.

High carbohydrate foods are just about everywhere, which makes the yearnings even harder to overcome. Eating the high-sugar, processed starch foods will feed your cravings and create more, much like a drug habit. In fact, high degrees of carbohydrates produce high levels of the brain chemical seratonin, which is the chemical substance found in Prozac and other anti-depressants. So eating high degrees of carbohydrates is self-medicating. People with low levels of seratonin are prone to using sugars like a drug.

Tension and stress can also lead to overeating carbohydrate-laden foods. When we are tense, the adrenal gland creates more cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that stimulates production of a brain chemical that causes carbohydrate cravings. It also stimulates insulin, which leads to blood sugars dips and more fat storage.

Considering all of these factors, it could seem impossible to live on a low-carbohydrate diet. However, following an Atkins plan is one of the best ways to break the cycle of carbohydrate addiction and take back your life and your health. The Atkins plan can help you take control of your urges and rid yourself of many years of damage caused by eating too many carbohydrates.

While on the Atkins diet, you may experience some carbohydrate desires from time to time, especially during the preliminary phases of the diet. However, these will lessen as your body becomes more used to eating a protein-centered diet. In order to keep your yearnings in check, eat small meals or snack foods that contain protein every few hours. This will keep your bloodstream sugars stable and prevent the “crash” you are feeling when you go hungry. Skipping meals may cause drops in blood glucose and leave you craving sweets.

Protein and fat, which are the focus of the Atkins plan, will give the body extended energy. Be sure you are getting enough degrees of the essential excess fat. Sometimes an Omega 3 seafood oil supplement can help push away carbohydrate cravings.

Urges for foods can sometimes be caused by dehydration. It’s a good rule of thumb to drink a glass of water before reaching for any type of treat. Sometimes thirst can mask itself as food cravings. When your body is properly hydrated, it will run more effectively and you will visit a decrease in cravings.

Recognize that there is a physical addiction to carbohydrates that will need to be broken. Don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed with urges for carbs following the first few days on the program. This is normal. Your body is used to running on the diet filled with sugar and sugars. It will take some time to adjust to this new way of eating. Normally, these feelings don’t last more than the two-week induction period. Stay committed to this new way of eating and you’ll see the benefits quickly.

Is Atkins right for you?

The Atkins diet is very popular, but is it best for you? Before you start down the low carb road, you should take some time to decide whether low carb is the right way so that you can lose weight. Because it has been effective for others doesn’t suggest it’ll be right for you. No specific diet works for everyone, and you may even find a type of low carbohydrate diet that works better for you than another. You can find many things to consider before you start the Atkins diet.

First, evaluate your past dieting history. If you have been trying to lose weight for a long period of time, you’ve no doubt tried a wide variety of diets. Take note of the different diets you’ve tried over the years. Write down the basics of every diet, what worked well and what didn’t. Also, write down why you didn’t stay on the particular diet. Evaluate your experience with high-carb diets. These types of diets include most low-fat and calorie managed diets. How do you feel while on these types of diets? Were you starving, obsessed with food or experiencing negative reactions? Or did you feel full of energy and generally good?

If you’ve had experience with low carb diets, write that down as well. Past the negative effects of the first week, how do eating low carbohydrate make you feel? Why did you stop using the reduced carb diet?

The answers to these questions will help you decide whether Atkins is right for you or not. If you have had good experiences with low-fat diets and bad encounters with other low carb diets, then Atkins is probably not for you. If other low-carb diets have worked but not without difficulty, then you may have been on the wrong kind of low-carb diet and Atkins might work better. If you’ve had bad experiences with both types of diets, you might have better success with an altered Atkins diet.

Your food and eating behaviors can also give you a clue to if Atkins is a good choice for your weight loss efforts. Carb sensitivities are indicated by a certain group of behaviors. You may be carb sensitive if you feel like eating right after you’ve finished a meal. You will also feel strong urges to eat each day. You may feel dizzy, fuzzyheaded and fatigued without obtaining a boost from sugar or another carbohydrate. Carb sensitivity is also shown when you are feeling sluggish after eating. This occurs especially after you eat a meal rich in sugar and carbohydrates. If you experience these symptoms frequently, you might have carb sensitivities. Try paying close attention to how carbohydrates impact you and if you continue to see these symptoms, try performing a low carb diet.

Your success on the Atkins diet may also be determined by your medical and family history. If you have any pre-diabetic symptoms, or diabetes itself, a reduced carb diet like Atkins may be best for you. Significant putting on weight can also be helped by the Atkins diet. Normally, the greater overweight you are, the more likely you are to have high blood circulation pressure, high triglycerides and high blood glucose.

If any member of your family has diabetes or is significantly overweight, this can also put you at risk for these conditions. Your tendency toward these conditions on a genetic level can mark a necessity for a minimal carbohydrate diet like Atkins. The Atkins plan has been proven to improve weight and control bloodstream sugars issues. If these are problems in your loved ones history, then you may want to consider the Atkins diet.

There are a lot of good reasons to try the Atkins diet. Whether you have responded well to other low carbohydrate diets in the past or you have a medical history that warrants a controlled carbohydrate diet, the Atkins diet can meet your needs.