What is the Atkins Diet?
The Atkins diet is a low-carb diet for weight loss that works on the principle of reducing carbs and eating more protein and fat so that the body can lose weight by burning stored food more efficiently. When you restrict your intake of carbohydrates, your body goes into a state called ketosis in which the body burns its own fat more efficiently, thereby producing ketones as a by-product of fat metabolism. Note that if you are a diabetic or you are at a high risk for developing kidney disease, the Atkins diet is not for you.
At less than 20 g per day, the Atkins diet has the fewest carbs amongst a variety of low-carb diets.
The Atkins diet consists of four phases:
Phase I – Induction phase: Here you’ll kick start your weight loss losing up to 15 pounds in the first two weeks.
Phase II – Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL) phase: You can add more types of food and more carbs in your diet and you’ll still lose weight.
Phase III – Pre-maintenance phase: You’re 10 pounds from your goal. You add carbs but lose weight. You gain control.
Phase IV – Lifetime maintenance phase: You maintain your weight with the right kinds of food.
Atkins Diet at a Glance
- The Atkins diet tends to reduce your appetite because you consume very few carbohydrates.
- Portion size is less important than the types of foods you are allowed to eat.
- You are not allowed to consume refined sugar, milk, white rice or white flour.
- You are allowed to eat meat, eggs, cheese spreads, whey cheese, mayonnaise fish, shellfish and fowl.
- You can cook with butter.
- You can add olive oil on your salads.
- After the two-week induction period, you can eat fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods.
- You are allowed to have snacks in between your meals. Atkins diet snacks have to be carb-free or low-carb.
Atkins Diet Snacks
Snacking is not mindless eating in between meals. These are sort of mini-meals that help provide nutrients required by the body as well as help manage hunger. Your Atkins diet snacks should basically come from these food groups:
- Nuts and seeds
- Low-fat dairy products
- Whole grains – except in Phase I
- Fruits and vegetables – except in Phase II
Keeping in mind that you shouldn’t go beyond 20 g of net carbs in a day and just 9 g of net carbs per snack, you can choose from the following Atkins diet snacks.
Cheddar cheese is an all time great Atkins diet snack because a tablespoon of cheddar cheese has almost no net carbs. Goat cheese and parmesan cheese are close behind with 1.5 g of net carbs per tablespoon. However, do not go overboard with cheese since it has no fiber. Too much cheese may upset your stomach.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a good choice for the Atkins diet snack. They are rich in protein but most of them are quite rich in carbs as well. So choose wisely. Pecan nuts, macadamia nuts, walnut, hazelnut and coconut are the best choices because all of these have less than 1 g of net carbs per tablespoon of the nut. Sunflower seeds have 1.5 g of net carbs per 2 tablespoons.
Egg may seem more like a meal and not a snack, but it really doesn’t matter since it is filling and it’s a very low-carb food. An egg has just 0.5 carbs. Boiled egg is ideal but you can fry an egg or two and have it with ketchup.
Although fruits are very good as snacks, go slow with fruits when on Atkins diet. Apples and oranges are high on sugars. But, one-fourth of a cup of avocado (0.5 g carbs), or cranberries (2.0 g carbs), or watermelon (2.6 g carbs), or cantaloupe (3.0 g carbs), cherries (4.2 g carbs), or pineapple (4.3 g carbs), and one apricot (3.1 g carbs) or lemon (3.8 g carbs) are good Atkins diet snacks. It’s better to drink water than to drink fruit juices because the latter are usually full of sugars.
Sugar-free jello is a tasty, carb-free Atkins diet snack. One cup of sugar free Jello has only 10 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g carbs and just 1 g protein. You can eat it alone or with cottage cheese and a sprinkling of nuts. You can also make sugar-free lime Jello with coconut milk. Dissolve the powder in a cup of boiling water, add half a can of coconut milk, and then add the rest of the water. Stir well, cool it and set in the fridge. However, sugar-free Jello pudding is a definite no-no because it contains modified food starch.
Atkins Protein and Energy Bars
Atkins bars have plenty of protein, fiber, vitamins and mineral and only a few net carbs. This snack will help you eat right and get you closer to your goal. Choose from a wide selection of bars. To name a few – caramel fudge brownie bar, chocolate chip granola bar, marshmallow mudslide bar, peanut fudge granola bar, S’mores bar, sweet and salty almond crunch bar. Do read the labels and check if it’s suitable for the Atkins diet phase you are in.
Atkins Baking Mix
If you are in the mood for baking, you can bake breads, muffins, pancakes, biscuits and cookies with Atkins Cuisine All Purpose Baking Mix. The container has about 22 servings of 40 g per serving of the mix. Each serving contains only 5 g of net carbs and 20 g protein. The baking mix is suitable for Phases II, III and IV.
Tips for Atkins Diet Snacks
- Opt for protein based snacks that contain only 1-2 g of carbs per snack.
- Make sure that the snack you buy does not contain hidden carbohydrates. Check the list of ingredients for hidden carbs.
- Although cheese is allowed in the Atkins diet snack, it may hinder your weight loss. Limit cheese to 2 ounces per day.
- Minimize or avoid consuming sugar-free peanut butter cups and Atkins shakes. They tend to slow the progress of weight loss in some dieters.
- Read the labels to find out if the snack bar or the mix you are buying is suitable for the Atkins diet phase you are in.
- Drink plenty of water. They help burn fat faster.