Atkins Diet / Low Carbs Diet For Weight Loss
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Atkins Diet / Low Carbs Diet For Weight Loss
The possible causes of Weight Gain that might be managed by Atkins Diet:
Carbohydrates are usually the body’s primary source of energy. They get broken down into glucose and enter the blood stream to be delivered to various tissues and organs.
It is important to maintain proper levels of glucose to allow the body to function properly. However, excessive carbohydrate consumption can lead to weight gain for various reasons:
- You will feel hungry: carbohydrates are digested much more quickly than proteins or fats meaning they pass quickly through the digestive system. Consequently, this leaves the individual hungry because there is no feeling of satiety. This results in additional calories consumed, and hence more weight gain.
- Your body will not burn fat: when carbohydrates are consumed, the body automatically uses them as a primary energy source because they are the easiest to access and metabolize. As a result, fat stores remain untouched.
- Fat storage will increase: the carbohydrate consumption is associated with an increase in insulin hormone production that affects the fat storage. Accordingly, when insulin levels become high as a result of increased carbohydrates consumption, the storage of fat is increased. This promotes weight gain further.
Learn everything about weight gain and obesity and find all the natural solutions to reduce weight naturally, including various diet programs, alternative medicine, vitamins, supplements, herbal medicine, and home remedies.
How the metabolism works:
Our body uses nutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) for growth, development, and energy so it can function properly. While carbohydrates and fats remain the main sources of energy, proteins are mainly used to support the body’s growth, repair tissues, maintain muscles, and fight diseases.
Compared to fat molecules, carbs burn much faster and can be easily converted into energy. That’s why carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy. They are broken down into glucose by the liver, and they enter the blood stream to deliver proper energy and nutrition to various tissues and organs.
That’s why it’s important to maintain proper levels of glucose in the body, so that it can function properly.
Why Atkins Diet helps reduce Weight:
The Atkins diet is categorized as a low carb eating plan that focuses on proteins and fat consumption. There are several reasons supporting the fact that this type of diet can promote weight loss, including:
1- Satiety: an increased consumption of fat and protein will increase satiety because these nutrients pass slowly through the digestive system.
Therefore, they can maintain a feeling of fullness for a longer period of time. As a result, less amounts of food are taken daily and less calories consumed. Hence, weight loss is promoted.
2- Fat burning: when carbohydrates are consumed in the diet, the body uses them as the first source of energy. This is mainly because carbs can be easily processed and metabolized into glucose, unlike fat that requires much more effort.
Hence, our bodies are not efficient in burning fat in general, especially that they are not used to do so because carbohydrates are always available in our diet.
Given that the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) for carbohydrates, based on the modern diet guidelines, is 45% to 65%, our body is loaded with carbs.
Accordingly, it gets most of the energy required easily from burning carbohydrates. Hence, there’s no real need for the body to move into a fat burning stage to produce energy.
The Atkins diet is a low carbs diet, hence by restricting carbohydrates it decreases the main energy source of the body which is glucose. Accordingly, the body becomes forced to find another source of energy in order to survive, and thus turns to burning fat so it can produce this alternative energy.
Accordingly, this promotes weight loss because it depletes the carbohydrate stores in the body, hence the body become forced to start burning fat.
3- Insulin levels: insulin is a hormone that plays a role in fat storage. Accordingly, when insulin level is high, fat storage increases and vice versa.
The Atkins diet promotes weight loss, because a low carbohydrate diet is associated with decreased insulin levels, therefore decreased fat storage.
Accordingly, the diet can help people looking for a slim or fit body to burn the stubborn fat that remains stacked in the fat cells, which is usually very hard to get rid of.
How Atkins Diet works for Weight Loss:
The Atkins diet works by restricting carbohydrates in the diet. Hence, once carbs become limited, the body loses its primary source of energy. This would impose on the body to start looking for an alternative source of energy in order to survive.
Given that fat is the only alternative source, the body becomes forced to start using it and hence shifts into a fat burning mode.
The Atkins diet can achieve this metabolic change by restricting the carbohydrates daily intake at only 20 up to 40 g of carbs per day, depending on the type of diet followed.
You can check the section on the various Atkins diet types to understand more about this.
Accordingly, this carbohydrate restriction forces the body to use fat stores as an alternative source of energy because carb stores are depleted, and hence this promotes weight loss.
Furthermore, it is known that the body is normally more efficient in burning carbohydrates for energy compared to fat as it is easier to access and metabolize. That’s why our bodies are not used to burning fat, and hence they are not efficient in doing so.
However, by following the Atkins diet, with time the body becomes more efficient in burning fat, and hence better results can be seen eventually.
Another contributing factor to weight in the Atkins diet loss is low insulin levels. By lowering carbohydrate intake, insulin levels will decrease.
Insulin is a hormone that plays a role in fat storage, so the more carbohydrates are ingested, insulin levels tend to increase as well as fat storage. By lowering carb intake, insulin levels will decrease and fat storage will be reduced while promoting the fat burning process.
By following the Atkins diet, it’s also important to note that carbohydrates are re-introduced gradually throughout the later phases of the Atkins diet. Accordingly, the individual weight is always monitored to assure it is maintained at the desired target level.
Atkins Diet foods for Weight Loss:
The Atkins diet promotes foods that are considered low in carbohydrates or carbohydrate-free for consumption. These foods include:
- Fish and seafood
- Pork, turkey, and chicken
- Non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, lettuce, cucumber, kale, asparagus…
- Unrefined oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, walnut oil…
- Full fat dairy including butter, heavy cream, sour cream, and hard cheeses that are high in fat and low in carbohydrates such as blue cheese, American cheese, Swiss, cheddar, feta …
- Herbs and spices
Atkins Diet phases:
The Atkins Diet is divided into four consecutive phases, which are induction, balancing, pre-maintenance, and lifetime maintenance consecutively.
Phase 1: Induction Phase
This phase is the most restricted phase in terms of carbohydrates as it is does not allow any carbohydrate intake.
The purpose of the induction phase is to shift the body from relying on glucose and carbohydrates for energy to using the body fat stores to achieve this.
This phase results in the fastest weight loss because the body is using fat as its primary energy source because carbohydrate sources are no longer available.
The duration of this phase is at least two weeks and could stretch to more, but the time is usually individualized depending on personal improvements.
Depending on the type of diet used, the individual should receive either 20 g or 40 g of carbohydrates per day in this phase.
Carbohydrates here are mainly from vegetables comprising 12-15 g of the total carbohydrate intake, but not from fruits as they are not allowed at this stage due to their sugar content.
The focus is on proteins in each meal, and there is no restriction on fats and oils.
Phase 2: Balancing Phase
In this phase, the carbohydrate intake is increased gradually over time by adding 5 g of carbohydrates to the diet each week.
The purpose of this phase is to monitor the maximum amount of carbohydrates that the body can tolerate while still losing 1-2 pounds per week. Once this is achieved, you should no longer add carbohydrates weekly.
Similar to the induction phase, 12-15 g of carbohydrates should be coming from non-starchy vegetables. However, unlike phase 1, the balancing phase allows some low carbohydrate fruits and starchy vegetables.
Thus, this phase allows intake of some nutrients that are rich in carbohydrates such as nuts and seeds, in addition to the proteins and fats recommended in phase 1.
Phase 3: Pre-maintenance Phase
By this phase, you might have become closer to your targeted weight. Accordingly, this phase allows for adding more foods items to your diet to maintain your weight, or adjust your carbs intake to find your balance if you still need to lose more weight.
The duration of this phase depends on every individual, however it stops whenever the weight loss goal is achieved.
Addition of carbohydrate containing food such as whole grains, starchy vegetables, and fruits is recommended in this phase.
However, it is important to monitor weight regain in this phase and change the carbohydrate intake accordingly.
Phase 4: Maintenance Phase
The maintenance phase starts once the goal of the individual is achieved and can continue as a long term life style.
The amount of carbohydrates in this stage depends on how much an individual’s body can tolerate carbs without gaining weight, based on trials from the previous phases.
For example, if the intake of more than 150 g of carbohydrates a day, during the pre-maintenance phase, showed that the person is gaining back the weight, then less than 150 g of carbohydrate from various sources should be eaten.
Atkins Diet for Weight Loss: what to avoid
The Atkins diet restricts carbohydrates consumption and tends to eliminate many foods based on their carbohydrate content.
Accordingly, the diet removes the following foods from the diet:
- All types of grains, legumes, and starches
- Sugar and alternative sweeteners
- Sugar sweetened beverages and drinks
- Most fruits and vegetables that are high in carbohydrates
- Starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn
- Vegetables oils like corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil …
- Condiments including bagged sauces and mixes
- Most dairy products that are high in carbohydrates such as milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese
- Reduced fat and diet products
Following the Atkins Diet for weight loss: precautions
There are several side effects that might come along when you follow a low carbohydrate diet such as the Atkins diet. When there is an elimination or even restriction of carbohydrates from the diet, symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, headaches, sleep disturbances, trouble breathing, irritability and mood swings, and bad breath might occur.
Digestive problems also happen with the Atkins diet due to several reasons such as constipation and diarrhea. Even nausea might follow as a result of inadequate fiber intake secondary to carbohydrate restriction.
Another important factor to pay attention to is nutritional deficiencies. Certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies are prevalent when omitting a food group or certain food types. The Atkins diet restricts carbohydrates and fruits, and this increases the risk of nutritional deficiencies.
Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new treatment.
Precautions for diabetes patients:
An additional and dangerous complication can happen if the body is accumulating high amounts of ketone bodies that can show up in the blood and urine.
This is known as a diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), and is a serious complication for patients with diabetes. It can be life threatening and dangerous, and therefore people following an Atkins diet should always do proper monitoring and conduct regular tests to check their blood and various health indicators.
Published September 2020