An Overview Of The Atkins Diet

The Atkins diet is all about cutting carbohydrates from your diet, encouraging the body to burn fat for energy instead. The diet was created by cardiologist Robert Atkins and is not one you can follow for just a few weeks – it’s a lifelong approach to eating.

There are four phases of the Atkins Diet:

Induction – this is the first phase of the diet which lasts two weeks and is extremely restrictive in what you can eat, shifting your body from burning carbs to burning fat. The idea is that you consume no more than an average of 20 grams of net carbs per day. (Net carbs is the total carbohydrate content of a food minus its fibre content.)

Balancing – this is the second phase of the diet and it’s all about finding your personal carb balance by slowly increasing your intake of net carbs in increments of 5 grams each week.

Fine Tuning – this is the third phase of the diet and you’ll only transition from the previous phase once you’re within 10 pounds of your goal weight. Again, it’s about increasing your net carb intake but by higher increments this time of 10 grams. You’ll stay in this phase once you’ve reached your goal weight and maintained it for a month.

Lifetime Maintenance – this phase or permanent lifestyle means you can now start experimenting by reintroducing certain foods into your diet. It’s about remaining in control of your weight and tweaking your carb intake if you start to gain weight again.

The Atkins diet is also made up of 7 nutrition principles which are:

  1. A high protein diet which provides energy for the body and boosts your metabolism.
  2. A high fibre diet which regulates your blood sugar and helps with digestion
  3. A low sugar diet which ensures your energy levels remain steady throughout the day
  4. A diet which includes important vitamins and minerals which provide energy
  5. A diet which includes good carbs to avoid your body’s blood sugar and insulin levels spiking
  6. A diet which includes good fats to keep you feeling full for longer and protect your vital organs
  7. Exercise is an important part of the program, just like any other diet

If you’re ready to make a positive change in your life and you don’t give up easily, give the Atkins diet a go. Many people including celebrities have followed it and had amazing results. You might just be surprised. For more detailed information peruse the Atkins diet website.

Image via atkins.com

Celebrity Diets: Making Sense of the Latest Weight Loss Trends

Quit sugar. Go gluten-free. Banish carbs. Eat organic. Shun dairy. Only eat raw. Stock up on superfoods. Have plenty of fibre. Give red meat the flick…is your head spinning yet?

One week it’s “stop eating X” and the next it’s “only eat Y”, so if you’re more than a little confused about what you should be eating, then don’t worry because you’re not alone. Celebrities are spruiking diets and cookbooks more than ever now, and with most providing real evidence of the benefits they can seem very compelling. But how can all of them be right? If someone was to follow all the different advice what’s left to eat? Air?

Obviously it’s not possible to carry out all these varied diets at once without starving and putting your health at risk (especially when they’re not short-term fad diets but ones for life – like Gwyneth Paltrow and her gluten-free gospel). So if you don’t have any food intolerances or medical conditions, and are simply looking to improve your general health and wellbeing, then which diet is the best to sink your teeth into?

According to Lauren McGuckin, accredited practising dietitian and spokesperson for the Dieticians Association of Australia, there is no ‘magic bullet’ solution because our dietary needs are as unique as we are, and diets which point the finger at one particular food group or dietary component (such as carbs, sugar or gluten) simply cause confusion.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there. Blaming one particular dietary element as the cause for weight gain or other health issues is often not the answer and eliminating whole food groups can lead to nutritional shortfalls,” says Lauren.

“For the general population these often-drastic measures are also of little to no benefit, and because of their restrictiveness and the effort required to stick to the plan, they often aren’t sustainable.”

It appears many of these celebrity diets are also misleading in their portrayal, such as the gluten-free diet (which is really a low-carb diet in disguise), and going sugar-free.

“You don’t see results from the ‘no sugar’ diet specifically because you cut out sugar; it’s the act of eating less processed, sugar-containing foods and replacing them with lower calorie wholefoods that has the effect,” says Lauren. “Sugary processed foods and drinks, such as soft-drinks and lollies, are often also high in saturated fat and energy and are a major contribution to weight gain; so limiting these has always been a core dietary recommendation.”

So what do we do then? What should we be eating? According to the experts, there is no sexy solution and the answer is what most of us already know – forget the hype and get back to basics.

Here are some of Lauren’s top tips for eating well for life:

1. Follow Australian Dietary Guidelines
Eat plenty of fruit and veg; lean meat, poultry and seafood; low-fat diary; wholegrain/high fibre breads and cereals; drink plenty of water; and limit alcohol and foods high in saturated fat, added sugars and added salt.

2. Be individual and realistic
Tailor eating to your nutritional and health needs, and to fit with your lifestyle so you can maintain the diet for life.

3. Don’t cut out carbs
They’re a major source of fibre and other important vitamins and minerals. If you want to shed excess weight though, try halving your carbohydrate servings (e.g. cereals, bread, pasta, rice and potatoes).

4. Cook meals from scratch
You’ll reduce salt and sugar content, lessen the chances of additives/preservatives, be able to control the fat content, and improve your food quality by using fresh, top notch ingredients.

5. Eat fresh and unprocessed when you can
Less chemicals, additives and preservatives; and more satisfying as the stomach has to work more to digest wholefoods.

6. Be smart about fat – limit total fat intake for a slimmer waistline, but ensure you include vegetable-based fat sources for a healthy heart (e.g. nuts, avocado and olive oil).

7. Reduce your sugar intake
Limit the amount of sugary foods and added sugar you eat, particularly if you’re diabetic or watching your weight.

8. Eat the rainbow
No need to search for strange superfoods: there are cheaper ones already in your kitchen or garden. Eat foods with different (natural) colours to broaden the types of antioxidants you’re getting.

If your diet could do with a ‘tune-up’ or you suspect you might have a food intolerance, visit the Dieticians Association of Australia or see your GP.

Susan Taylor muses about life at One Woman Circus.