When we started our low carb journey, I had only ever heard of the Atkins Diet in regard to a low carb lifestyle. It wasn’t until the last year or so that I learned about others. Since Atkins is probably the most well known, lets take a look at the pros and cons of it.
The Atkins diet is one of the most popular low carbohydrate diets on the market today. Its popularity has sparked dozens of look-a-like diets who center on the same principles of high-protein, low-carbohydrate eating. There are a lot of fish in the sea when it comes to choosing a low-carbohydrate plan, though.
Studies have shown that low-carbohydrate eating has many benefits. There have been scientific results that low-carbohydrate diets like Atkins do create significant weight loss without having to restrict calories. People who use the Atkins diet have also reported this. There are studies that show that low-carb eating improves triclycerides, reduces blood glucose for diabetics and pre-diabetics and increases good cholesterol (HDL). Low-carbohydrate dieting has been scientifically proven to improve insulin sensitivity, decrease blood pressure and lower blood insulin levels. When compared with low-fat diets, low-carb dieters lose less muscle mass.
Although not scientifically proven, there are many common benefits reported by Atkins dieters and other low-carb dieters. These include :
- an increase in energy,
- a reduced craving for sweets,
- better concentration,
- improved mood and an
- lessening of depression type symptoms.
- improves triclycerides,
- reduces blood glucose for diabetics and pre-diabetics and
- increases good cholesterol (HDL).
- has been scientifically proven to improve insulin sensitivity,
- decrease blood pressure and
- lower blood insulin levels.
However, there are also some benefits that are specific to the Atkins diet. If you have been a low fat dieter in previous years, you’ll enjoy eating all of those “forbidden foods” that you once had to go without. Steak, butter and cream are a regular part of Atkins dieters’ meals. There is a certain pleasure that goes along with eating foods that were once off limits. Atkins dieters are encouraged to eat their fill of rich meats, cheeses and fats and oils.
Atkins is also simple to use, compared with some other low-carb diets on the market. There are some basic food carbohydrate counts that you’ll need to learn, but after that, you are free to eat from the acceptable food lists.
Dr. Atkins also emphasized finding your own personal carbohydrate level. Different people have different levels of carbohydrate tolerance. While some gain weight on just 90 carbohydrate grams a day, others can live comfortably at 120 carbohydrate grams. During the ongoing weight loss phase and pre-maintenance phase of the diet, you will learn your personal carbohydrate count that will help determine your carbohydrate goal for life.
The popularity of Atkins is a double-edged sword for dieters. There is a lot of information available on the diet, which makes it easy to find resources and support. There have been many, many Atkins books written and there are endless amounts of websites that offer tips and group support. However, everyone has heard of Atkins and probably has an opinion on it. There are some big misconceptions out there about the nature of the diet, and you’ll no doubt have to defend your new way of eating from time to time.
There are some other minimal downsides to using the Atkins program. You do need to count carbohydrates in everything you eat to make sure that you are staying within your personal carbohydrate range. There is also the issue of Induction, the most hotly debate aspect of the plan. Induction can be difficult to get through if you’ve had a diet that centers on carbs and sugar. Also, many people try Induction and mistakenly believe that this is the way that the whole diet is going to be. They end up quitting before they get into the actual Atkins plan.
Sometimes, although it is not common, people will experience a carb crash on the 3rd to 5th day of the diet. This reaction is a result of their body finally experiencing ketosis, or running on fat instead of carbohydrates. The effects are transient, but many people have sworn off low-carb diets entirely because of this happenstance.
So the drawbacks to the Atkins diet look like this;
- Defending your way of eating
- counting carbs at each meal and snack
- carb crash (also called carb flu) which only lasts a few days
- Thinking you only get 20 carbs per day for the rest of your life (you will move out of phase 1 and get more types of food soon)
Overall, with the minor drawbacks considered, Atkins is one of the most popular low-carb diets for a reason. It works. Thousands of people have had success with the Atkins approach to the low-carb way of living.