How does the Atkins Diet work?


Atkins Diet, also know as the Protein Diet, has as its main principle reducing the carbohydrates intake as a way of losing weight in a short period of time. It was created by Robert Atkins, who wrote a series of books explaining how it works, how to use it and how to adjust it to your physical condition, so that everyone can benefit from the experience.

The objective of the Atkins Diet is to change how the metabolism works. Reducing your carbohydrates intake will trigger your body to burn more fat, using it as a source of energy which will favour the desired weight loss.

This is a 4 phase process (similar to other diets, as the Dukan Diet) which may vary according to your needs, which is to say, according to the pounds you want to lose. This is only a guide and a perfectly adjustable one.

READ ALSO: Can a protein supplement help you with during a weight loss process?

– During the first phase, called induction, the body must receive a new stimulus. Initially, you will reduce the carbohydrates intake only to 20g a day. The foods must be essentially vegetables poor on carbohydrates, high on vitamins, minerals, fibres, among other nutrients essential to the good functioning of our body. This induction procedure must last at least two weeks. In case you don’t have to lose much weight you can move to the second phase of the diet after the estimated period. During this phase, you should lose between 2 to 5 kilos per week.

– Most people feel a considerable difference during this first phase of the diet, but others think the process is very slow. It is natural that the rhythms of the weight-loss should be different because they vary according to the metabolism of each person and are also depending on the practice of physical exercise. The most important thing is to follow the rules and to be patient.

Essential points you should take into consideration:

– Make 3 normal meals or 4/5 small meals a day. You shouldn’t stay more than 6h without eating.

– You must include at least 115 to 175g of high protein foods on every meal (example: chicken, beef, veal, pork, fish, seafood, eggs, cheese and vegetable proteins). Depending on the physical structure, it can reach to 225g a meal.

Other examples of high protein foods:

Fish: codfish, sole, salmon, sardines, plaice, trout, tuna, etc.

Meat: turkey, duck, quails, etc.

Note: Some processed meat, as bacon and ham are cured with sugar, an element which will increase the amount of carbohydrates on food. For that reason, you should avoid them.

Seafood: clam, shrimp, squid, crab, lobster, etc.

Note: oyster and mussel are the highest carbohydrates seafood. Do not exceed the diary amount of 110g.

– The consumption of healthy fats is allowed. You can use a spoon of olive oil, sunflower oil, canola oil or soy.

Tip: do not let the oil reach excessive temperatures while cooking. Use it only when frying a dish in oil. Use nuts or sesame oil to season cooked vegetables or salads but not for cooking.

– You can use sugar free herbs or spices.

Examples: basil, hot-pepper, coriander, ginger, oregano, rosemary, pepper, garlic, etc.

– You can consume only 20 carbohydrate grams a day and 12 to 15 grams of the total 20 must be ingested through legumes and vegetables. You can eat more a less 6 bowls of salad and two cups of cooked legume a day. Calculate, in average, the amount of carbohydrates the vegetables possess.

Examples of foods that can make part of your diet: turnip, cucumber, fennel, arugula, lettuce, celery, aubergine, broccoli, Brussels sprout, onion, pumpkin, tomato, etc.

– During Induction all fruits are forbidden. After this phase, some fruits are included as: melon, strawberry and avocado.

– Avoid processed food, canned food, cookies, biscuits, honey, rice, corn, wheat flour, beans, lentils, potatoes, sweet potatoes, soft drinks, etc.

– On a normal day, you can eat up to 115g of extra cheese (excluding cottage or ricotta cheese, at least, in the initial phase of the diet), half an avocado, 10 black olives or 20 green olives, 28g of dairy cream or 2-3 spoons of dairy cream and even 3 spoons of lemon juice.

– You can use sugar substitutes that include sucrose (Splenda), saccharine, stevia or xylitol. No more than 3 packets a day and counting each one as 1g of carbohydrates.

– You can eat sugar free jelly.

– Drink water (minimum 1,5/2L, a day), herbs tea and coffee with or without caffeine, moderately.

– You must add two supplements to your plan: multivitamin and omega-3.

daily formula

omega 3 scitec nutrition

– If you decide to dine out, pay attention to what you eat. Avoid fried food, refined sugars and food prepared with flour.

– Learn to eat until you are satisfied, but not excessively full. If you are not certain, wait for ten minutes, drink a glass of water and eat only if you feel unsatisfied. When your appetite is low, just grab a low hydrocarbon snack.

– You mustn’t starve nor drink alcoholic drinks.

When you are 7kg away from your ideal weight, you can move to the second phase of the diet, called balancing. If you need to lose more than 13,5kg, you can stick to induction phase. The objective of the second phase is to discover the amount of carbs you can ingest and continue to lose weight, that’s why the amount of legumes you can ingest may increase. Begin by increasing the daily carb intake to 25g.

Tip: It is advisable to conciliate the diet with some physical activity to accelerate the weight loss process.

Move to the third phase, called Pre-Maintenance, if you are just 10 pounds away from your goal weight and moving at a good pace. In this phase, you discover how much you can raise your daily net carb intake, without gaining weight. It can last between 2 to 3 months.

Finally, in Lifetime Maintenance, the objective is to maintain the habits you’ve previously acquired but now, with the ingestion of approximately 100g of carbs a day. If at times you exaggerate the consumption of some foods, use the method of compensation the following day. By restricting the high carb foods and choosing high protein meals in order to extend the feeling of satiety.

In any case, if you have any doubts, you must consult your nutritionist and adjust your diet to your physical condition. You can also consider the possibility of adding a protein supplement to your diet especially for the workout days when you need to strengthen your body before and after the physical activity.

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N/d, Atkins Diet Information, n/d, adapted

N/d, A Dieta Atkins, n/d, adapted and translated from the original version

N/d, Atkins Low Carb Diet, n/d, adapted


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