I am happily cruising right along, noticing subtle changes in my clothes and generally enjoying the low-carb lifestyle. So for this week’s update I decided to post five things I love about the Atkins diet:
1. Distinguishes Between Good Fat and Bad Fat – When I first did the program back in 1999, it was at the suggestion of a co-worker who was having great results. Having been fully indoctrinated at that point into the low-fat, high-fiber, calorie-counting mindset, it boggled my mind that I could eat things like full-fat cheese, butter and — wait for it — real whipped cream! Not only that, I could even enjoy my morning cup of coffee with my preferred half-and-half, instead of watery, icky skim milk, sweetened with stevia (although now I use Truvia). Ah, the simple pleasures!
So what exactly is good fat? According to the Atkins site:
Good fats are all fats which are naturally found in foods; they are not heat processed, and are therefore not damaged. Especially important good fats are the essential omega-3’s, but any fat that’s normally found in food- like avocados, eggs, flaxseed, olives, coconut and nuts can be a good fat when consumed in a healthy diet.
All foods containing fat – even pure oils – contain a mixture of three kinds of fat- saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. (Foods are often identified by their predominant fat – for example, olive oil as “monounsaturated,” butter as “saturated” – but all real foods contain mixtures of the three).
Bad fats are damaged fats. They include oils that have been used and reused in frying. Bad fats are hydrogenated oils, also known as “trans-fats.”
Good fats are absolutely essential for human health. They provide the building blocks for many important hormones and structures in the human body. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, are the building blocks of anti-inflammatory hormones.
For more information on good vs. bad fats, visit the Atkins site.
2. Offers A “Kick-Start” to Weight Loss – Phase One, also called Induction, is perhaps the most commonly misunderstood part of the diet. Too many people assume the strict 20 grams of carbs per day allotted during Induction applies to the entire diet. Actually, many of the Atkins‘ diet fiercest critics (including members of my own family) have no idea that it’s a Four-Phase plan. Phase One helps your body get to ketosis (fat-burning) quicker by limiting carb intake and of course, cutting out sugar permanently while forbidding “bad carbs” like those found in bread, pasta and rice. You eat green, leafy vegetables including spinach, green beans, broccoli and asparagus and of course proteins such as eggs, poultry, fish, chicken, turkey, and meat. It’s recommended to stay in this phase for at least two weeks before moving into Phase Two, Ongoing Weight Loss (the phase I am currently in).
As Atkins explains:
Induction is your initiation into the Atkins Diet weight loss program. All too often, people confuse this first phase of the program with the whole Atkins Diet, but Induction is only the first of four progressively liberal phases. The two main objectives of Induction are:
- To switch your body from burning primarily carbohydrates (in the form of glucose) to burning primarily fat (including your body fat) for energy
- To jump-start weight loss
To encourage your body to burn fat, you’ll initially consume only 20 grams of Net Carbs per day. The carb foods you’ll eat in this phase are primarily vegetables low in carbs but rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients, including fiber. For specifics on how to do Induction, see How to Do Induction Right.
It’s not essential to start Atkins in the Induction phase, but doing so is the fastest way to blast through the barrier that blocks your fat stores, enabling you to transform your cells into an army of fat-burning soldiers. You’ll stay in this phase for at least two weeks, unless you have very few pounds to shed and they come off very quickly, in which case you can move sooner to Phase 2, Ongoing Weight Loss.
3. Packs Their Website with Helpful Information and Recipes – Unlike back in 1999 when I bought Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution book, read it from cover-to-cover then highlighted and carried around with me everywhere, today I can simply go to the Atkins website for guidance, clarification and of course, fabulous recipes to keep the taste buds happy! If you so desire, there’s even an online community where Atkins dieters can encourage, inspire and educate each other so if you’re the kind of person who enjoys and benefits from that kind of support, it’s right at your fingertips. No need to drive anywhere for a weekly weigh in! And by the way, I still own the book.
4. Makes Great Products for Busy Dieters – In addition to all of the tasty food you can consume on the Atkins Diet, you can also supplement/substitute meals with their delicious line of low-carb products. My favorites? The Wild Berry, Vanilla and Strawberry Shakes. But you can also enjoy Atkins Peanut Butter Cups, Protein Bars and even an All Purpose Baking Mix (to create yummy low-carb alternatives for pancakes, muffins, etc) and Atkins Penne Pasta. Abbondanza!
5. Easily Adapts to Your Lifestyle – With the exception of having to resist the temptation of bread (at least until you get to Phase Four – Maintenance) at a restaurant, Atkins easily lends itself to eating out, entertaining and generally enjoying life. Because it’s so much simpler to count carbs than calories and due to the fact that good fats are allowed, you can savor an endless variety of menu options — even a Caeasar Salad (hold the croutons) and Eggs Benedict (without the muffin). If you don’t want to eat bacon, fine. You don’t have to. Ditto for eggs, steak or anything else you don’t want to consume. There’s so much to choose from, you have the flexibility of selecting the proteins, vegetables and fats that tickle your unique taste buds. But no matter what you choose to eat, you will feel full and satisfied since the menu options are all nutrient-dense foods.
Bonus: If you come from a family in which generational diabetes is a reality, this is an excellent program to help you avoid/manage that difficult disease. I decided a looong time ago as a little girl observing my grandmother administer shots to herself that diabetes was not for me. Thanks to Atkins, even if I do eventually have to deal with diabetes, I’ll be in a much better physical position, though I’m hoping adherence to the plan will keep me out of the danger zone.