Atkins Diet: Your Questions answered
Starting any diet can be a big decision. To confidently adopt a new healthy eating regime or weight loss plan that you can incorporate into your everyday life on an ongoing basis, it's important that you have all the facts. So, to help you decide if Atkins is the right diet for you, we have brought together some of the most commonly asked questions and answers about Atkins, its approach and its products. We hope it helps.
General questions about the Atkins Diet plan
Q: How is the new Atkins Nutritional Approach / Diet plan different from the original Atkins diet? A:
The new Atkins Nutritional Approach is based on the same principles as the original Atkins Diet, which can help you lose weight successfully, but it has been improved in order to:
- give you more flexibility in what you eat
- allow you to include carbohydrates in your diet
- Train your body to burn fat for energy rather than banning fats altogether
- Include more options for vegetarians, vegans and those who want to limit their meat intake
This new nutritional approach is not just about dieting to lose weight; it has four distinct phases to encourage a lifelong plan of health eating; from Induction which jumpstarts weight loss, to Lifetime Maintenance, which encourages eating habits that maintain your weight on an ongoing basis.
Q: How do I know when to move from one phase of Atkins to the next? A:
Like a lot of things involved with the Atkins diet plan, it all depends on what you want. If you have only a few pounds to lose, you can move through the phases quickly or start at a later phase, get to your goal and progress to Phase 4: Lifetime Maintenance.On the other hand, if you have a lot of weight to lose, you may want to stay in a certain phase for a longer period of time. Alternatively you might like to slow down and enjoy more variety in your diet. The key to moving to the next phase is that it is always up to you.
Think about these three things:
- How much do you want to lose?
- How fast do you want to get there?
- Are you willing to trade rate of weight loss for more variety in your diet?
Then, go from there.
Q: How long can I stay on Induction? A:
Depending on how much weight you need to lose, you can safely continue with Induction as long as the following two conditions are met:
- You feel well and are experiencing a high energy level, normal sleep patterns and stable moods.
- You are not bored. Boredom could lead to cheating and undermine your efforts.
However, it is important to understand the entire Atkins Diet Plan. We should all adopt a healthy balanced diet as part of everyday life and therefore the ultimate goal of the diet plan is to advance from the Induction phase through Ongoing Weight Loss and Pre-Maintenance, culminating in Lifetime Maintenance, which should then become your permanent way of eating.
If you have a great deal of weight to lose, you can stay on Induction for six months or even more. When you switch to Ongoing Weight Loss, your rate of loss will naturally diminish. On the other hand, if you have a modest weight loss goal, say 20 pounds, and lose the first pounds rapidly, it is important to move through the more liberal phases so you can establish the good eating habits that will become part of your ongoing lifestyle and put an end to yo-yo dieting.
Q: Is it dangerous to lose weight very quickly? A:
When you start the Induction phase of Atkins, you may experience rapid weight loss for the first time in your life. Don't worry. What makes the initial drop dramatic is that you lose a good bit of water weight in the first three to four days. After four days or so, however, you will also begin to lose body fat. Men and people who have a lot of weight to lose are more likely to lose weight more rapidly at the start of the Atkins diet plan.
Losing weight too fast becomes an issue if:
- You're not eating enough, which could make you lose lean muscle mass.
- You feel sick, weak, dizzy or fatigued.
But if you feel well, you're probably not losing weight too quickly. If you have just a few pounds to lose, you might slow the pace so that you can continue to learn good eating habits before progressing through the phases to Lifetime Maintenance.
Q: Doesn't the limited number of servings of vegetables and lack of fruit on the Induction Phase of Atkins fail to provide enough fibre? A:
The diet will give recommendations as to how many carbohydrates you should be eating, depending upon which stage of the plan you are following.Fibre intake can also easily be increased by supplementing your diet with foods such as wheat bran. Once you add more vegetables, berries, seeds and nuts back into your diet, you will be consuming more fibre.
Q: I'm used to counting calories. How many am I allowed on Induction? A:
The Atkins Diet Plan counts grams of carbohydrate instead of calories. Some research has shown that on a controlled carbohydrate diet, more calories are burned than on a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, so there is a certain advantage to the controlled carb approach. But understand that this does not give you a license to gorge.
The real goal of the Atkins programme is to learn eating habits that will enable you to permanently maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. This includes changing old habits such as overeating that contributed to your original weight problem. We would also recommend that a healthy eating plan should be used in conjunction with taking regular exercise (always consult a doctor before embarking on a new exercise regime).
Q: Can I drink alcohol whilst following the Atkins diet? A:
You should not drink alcohol during Induction, but you can drink moderate amounts of alcohol during the Ongoing Weight Loss, Pre-Maintenance and Lifetime Maintenance phases of the Atkins Nutritional Approach.
The body burns alcohol for fuel when alcohol is available. So when it is burning alcohol, your body will not burn fat. This does not stop weight loss, it simply postpones it. If you have added alcohol to your regime and suddenly stop losing weight, discontinue your alcohol intake. Please remember, all alcohol should be drunk in moderation – women should not exceed 14 units per week, men 21.
Questions about food
Q: Will I ever be able to eat pasta again? A:
By the time you reach your goal weight, you will have added many foods back into your diet. If you have a relatively high threshold for carbohydrate intake and are someone who is relatively active, you may be able to reintroduce moderate portions of pasta by the time you are in Pre-Maintenance or Lifetime Maintenance.
Atkins nutritional approach – general
Q: I heard that people on Atkins learn to eat more fatty foods like bacon and eggs, so when they go off the programme, they can end up putting on more weight than before. A:
Atkins provides a lifetime eating plan to help you stick to a healthy balanced diet on an ongoing basis. People can become overweight because they eat sugary and other processed, refined foods and their bodies aren't able to use up all the calories. In all phases of the Atkins diet, it is a good idea to get much of your fat from oily fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines; nuts and seeds and olive oil which have well-documented health benefits. Secondly, if a person does the Atkins diet, loses weight and then returns to their old way of high carbohydrate eating, whether or not they incorporate bacon and eggs, they will likely regain the weight.Eating a high fat, high carbohydrate diet, is a recipe for disaster. The point is that Atkins is a way of eating for a lifetime. The gradual process by which you learn new healthy eating habits reinforces healthy habits.
Q: Can I do a low-fat version of Atkins? A:
This is not recommended. Fat is the mechanism that makes controlled carbohydrate weight loss work. The Atkins Nutritional Approach teaches you how to use fat to your advantage. When you are doing Atkins, fat is satisfying and also slows down the release of glucose into the blood. By moderating blood sugar swings, fat can help reduce carbohydrate cravings. Dietary fat, in combination with controlled carbohydrate consumption, encourages the burning of stored body fat. However, you do want to eat good fat.
Natural, healthy fat is found in olives and olive oil, seeds, nuts, seed and nut oils and butters, avocado, and oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel. You will burn both dietary fat and body fat for energy. However, when you reach Pre-Maintenance and Maintenance and are no longer in a primarily fat-burning mode, it is prudent to reduce saturated fats and keep good fats in your diet.People who try to do their own low-fat version of Atkins could not only find themselves hungry, but they also may not achieve the weight loss results of those who consume healthy fats.
Q: Are there any medical conditions that can interfere with a person's ability to do the Atkins diet? A:
Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers may do the Lifetime Maintenance phase but should not do any of the weight-loss phases of AtkinsIt is not advisable for children under the age of 16 to diet.
If you are worried about dieting when you have a particular medical condition, it is advisable to consult with your doctor before embarking on any plan.
Read more like this:
Is the Atkins diet plan right for you?
How it works
Myths and Facts
The 4 Phases
Tips for Success
Click here to view the Atkins 14 day sample meal planner
Diet and Weightloss
Vitamins and Supplements