The Atkins Diet 101 - What Is It And How It Works

Atkins diet

If you are looking to lose weight and achieve a healthier lifestyle, there's a good chance that you've come across the Atkins diet plan in your research.

This is a wildly popular diet that bills itself as a "life-time approach to successful weight loss". The Atkins diet is a low-carb diet developed during the 1960s. The diet itself is based around four key phases and many people have found success with the program.

Wondering whether the Atkins diet could help you to get the results that you're looking for? Here's a closer look at everything you need to know about one of the world's most popular diets.

Who Is Dr. Atkins

Dr. Robert Atkins was an eminent physician and cardiologist from the United States. After earning his medical degree from Cornell University Medical College in 1955, he pursued a career in medicine and opened a private practice in New York four years later.

Unfortunately for Dr. Atkins, his practice was initially unsuccessful. Overcome by stress, Dr. Atkins fell into a depression and began to rapidly put on weight. He decided that he needed to do something about it.

Dr. Atkins pursued a low-carb diet after studying research performed by Alfred W. Pennington in World War II. Dr. Atkins was amazed at the results and began to incorporate this approach into his practice and put together the literature that made him famous.

Dr. Atkins continued his work and research over the course of his life. Tragically, he passed away at the age of 72 in 2003 after slipping on a busy New York street.

Foods You Can Eat On Atkins Diet

The Atkins diet was revolutionary. Dr. Atkins explained that a person can eat as much protein and fat as they like - just so long as they avoid those foods that are loaded with high levels of carbohydrates.

This dramatic diet plan meant that many mainstream sources lambasted Dr. Atkins and his research. The rise of other popular high-protein and low-carb diets demonstrate that Dr. Atkins was definitely on to something, though.

Here's a deeper look at the foods that you can eat on the Atkins diet - and those you should avoid.

Foods you should eat

These Atkins diet foods are encouraged while you're on the Atkins diet:

  • Fatty fish and seafood like salmon and trout
  • Nuts and seeds like almonds and walnuts
  • Healthy fats like avocados and coconut oil
  • Low-carb vegetables like spinach, asparagus, and more
  • Full-fat dairy in the form of butter and cheese
  • Pasteurized eggs
  • Meats like beef, pork, bacon, and more.

atkins diet plan

Foods you shouldn't eat

If you are going to achieve success on the keto diet, you've really got to avoid foods that provide you with carbohydrates like:

  • Grains such as barley and rice
  • Sugar coming from snacks like soda and fruit juices
  • Trans fats found in processed foods
  • Vegetable oils like canola and corn oil
  • Vegetables high in carbs like carrots and turnips
  • Fruits that are high in carbs like pears and bananas
  • Potatoes
  • Legumes

Why A Low Carb Diet

atkins diet foods

Now that we have a better understanding of Dr. Atkins and the way his diet plan treats certain foods, let's take a closer look at exactly why a low carb diet helps so many people to get the results that they're looking for.

Lose excess fat

The vast majority of people decide to pursue a low-carb diet because it can help them with weight loss. Low-carb diets achieve this because a lower level of carbs means that the body's insulin levels are lowered. This means that in turn, the body will begin to burn stored fat for energy. This is why low-carb diets help people to quickly burn through excess fat and achieve their weight loss goals.

Diets also help people to be more mindful of their eating. The Atkins diet puts strict rules in place in terms of carbohydrates, and this forces people to monitor what they eat and in what quantity. This can help people to reduce the amount of food that they eat.

Restrict calorie intake

A low-carb diet helps people to cut out refined carbs. This is great from a health perspective, given that those types of carbs are low in fiber and quick to digest. This means that after eating them, a person will typically experience a spike in their blood sugar level and feel hungry shortly after.

By cutting out refined carbs, people find it easier to control their appetite and restrict the number of calories that they eat over the course of the day. This gives them the power to put themselves into a calorie deficit and achieve their weight loss goals.

Tackle diabetes

is a low Atkins diet carb diet healthy

If a person is struggling with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, it's critical that they pursue a low-carb diet to control their blood sugar levels and triglycerides.

A low-carb diet can help a person suffering from diabetes to control their condition and reduce their risk of complications, limit the symptoms that they experience, and increase their longevity.

A low-carb diet is also a natural solution that helps to reduce dependency on expensive drugs that come with a range of side effects.  

Other Examples Of High Protein Low Carb Diets

You might find yourself wondering "is a low-carb diet healthy?" The popularity of these diets continues to rise - here's a look at some examples of high-protein low-carb diets:

The Keto Diet

The Keto diet is very similar to the Atkins diet - it focuses on low carb intake to help people burn fat and reduce the number of calories that they consume. The key difference, though, is that the keto diet allows for around 20% of calories to come from protein. That's 10% lower than the recommended 30% on the Atkins diet.

Keto is much more restrictive in terms of carbs, too, given that a person has to almost completely eliminate them to achieve ketosis.

The fact that the keto diet is much more restrictive means that for most people, the Atkins diet is often more realistic. In fact, lots of people following the keto diet find that they actually end up accidentally following something resembling the Atkins diet anyway.

The South Beach Diet

This diet also starts with the belief that high sugar causes weight gain, but it isn't quite as severe as the Atkins diet when it comes to forbidding carbs. Instead, this diet offers an almost even split of carbs, proteins, and fats.

This means that with this diet, you can still get the diverse nutritional benefits from fruits and a host of other vegetables while still losing weight.