Archive for September 14th, 2012
The average person has tried at least 3 diet plans in his or her lifetime, most of the time with little to no success.
Often times, fad diets are just that, diets and not a long term way of life. This is where the Atkins diet differs. It teaches you how to eat in order to maintain your weight loss without having to adhere to a limited calorie intake. Atkins is based around the idea that eating the right foods, consisting of mainly proteins and vegetables, turns your body into a fat burning machine. By limiting carbohydrate intake, the body turns to fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates and the fat burning begins! Fat now becomes your body’s primary source of fuel as opposed to carbohydrates, burning fat that’s stored throughout the body and helping you lose weight. This not only makes you leaner and lighter but it makes you healthier too. By the end of the plan, you will have improved your health and your looks!
As long as Atkins has been around, there have been critics saying the diet plan is unhealthy and leads to an unhealthy way of life. This is exactly the opposite. Most diet plans limit calorie intake, leading to fatigue and weight gain when the diet is ceased. Atkins does the opposite. It encourages you to eat until you’re full as long as you’re eating the right foods. There are 4 phases in the Atkins plan and, when followed correctly, they can lead to a healthier, lighter you without having to survive on several hundred calories a day! Phase 1 is the strictest, consisting of mostly protein, fats and vegetables. Phase 2 expands your diet slightly allowing a few more foods and continuing with moderate to rapid weight loss results. Phase 3 is referred to as the “Pre-maintenance” phase and is achieved when a you are 5-10 lbs from reaching your weight loss goal. Phase 4 is the final phase and is commonly referred to as the “Lifetime Maintenance” phase because it is intended to continue in order to maintain the achieved weight loss and become a way of life.
Phase 1 is the strictest phase and can generate a weight loss of up to a 15 pounds in just two weeks. This phase should last no more than 2 weeks, limits carbohydrate intake to no more than 20 grams per day and is intended to put your body into what is known as ketosis. Ketosis, in simple terms, is the state in which the body is now using fat for energy. When you limit carbohydrate intake, your body turns to fat for energy and generates more ketones. This is what leads to the elevated weight loss. In order to adhere to the carbohydrate intake during this phase, meals should consist of mostly protein with vegetables and fats added as well. Fish, poultry, beef, shell fish and fowl are allowed as long as they aren’t cooked in fruit juices or sauces containing sugars such as teriyaki or sweet & sour sauce. Cheese, eggs and some condiments (including mayonnaise, mustard, butter and oils) are allowed, as well as herbs and spices not containing added sugar. Choices during Phase 1 of the Atkins plan can seem limited so creativity in the kitchen is key in order to survive this phase. By preparing ahead of time and having cooked chicken, beef, poultry and vegetables readily available to eat, a dieter will not feel as deprived on this plan and will be less likely to reach for carbohydrate laden temptations.
In Phase 2 of the Atkins diet, more foods are added to the diet, allowing 5 additional daily net carbohydrates per week. Weight loss still continues during this phase but at a slower, more consistent pace. During phase 2, the diet plan allows for dairy, nuts and some fruits in limited amounts. Cottage cheese, almonds, sunflower seeds, strawberries, lemon juice and heavy cream are some of the foods allowed in Phase 2 in limited amounts. Many of these foods are available in pre-packaged containers for convenience and do not require any cooking or preparation. This makes this phase easier to adhere to and allows for continued weight loss with more variety in your diet.
Phase 3 is the first of two maintenance phases. This phase, referred to as the Pre-Maintenance phase, allows you to keep adding carbohydrates, losing weight slowly and getting accustomed to your new lifetime eating plan. In Phase 3, carbohydrate intake increases to 50-70 carbohydrates per day and the amount of additional foods available to eat are endless. Added foods in Phase 3 include but are not limited to :
- Starchy vegetables including potatoes, yams and carrots
- Legumes including black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans and lentils
- Grains including oatmeal and rice
- Fruits including watermelon, mango, kiwi and banana
By Phase 3, most dieters are accustomed to a decreased carbohydrate intake and eating even a fruit seems like a treat. Reaching this phase means you are only a few pounds from reaching your weight loss goal. By reaching this phase and adding so much more variety to your diet, you are able to continue to lose those last few dreaded pounds and get accustomed to your new way of life.
By the time Phase 4 is reach, you should have reached your weight loss goal. This phase is not so much a phase as it is a way of life designed to help you maintain your healthy, new weight. All of the acceptable foods in phase 3 continue to be allowed in phase 4 with modifications of added foods that you have eliminated while on the diet plan. After completing the diet plan, you are able to reintroduce foods you have completely eliminated (such as refined sugars, including cake, ice cream and cookies) but in moderation and mainly as a treat on special occasions. Discipline, a trait required with any of one of the diet plans you may choose to follow, is required before, during and after losing weight in order to maintain it.
Overall, the Atkins diet is an excellent way to help you lose weight without limiting calorie intake or requiring you to go to bed hungry each night. Calories are not limited and you can eat until you are full, as long as stick to the foods on the allowed list during each phase.