What is the Atkins Diet?

The Atkins Diet is a diet meal plan/diet created by Dr. Robert Atkins, an esteemed American cardiologist. He conducted research that discovered the benefits of a different nutritional approach to traditional diet methods. He advocated that it was about eating the right foods rather than eating less.


The aim of the Atkins Diet is to help people lose weight by limiting their intake of carbohydrates to control insulin levels. Dieters are permitted to eat unlimited amounts of fat and protein. Originally vegetables were very restricted due to their carb content but over time the diet has evolved to allow more vegetables that are high in fibre.


Meal prepping for the Atkins Diet can be complicated as it may change the way you eat dramatically. It can be helpful to follow a healthy meal plan containing some of the foods listed below.


How Does the Atkins Diet Help you to Lose weight?

The low carb content of the diet allows your body to enter a state of ketosis. This enables your body to begin burning its fat stores to convert into energy rather than relying on glucose. This process enables you to lose fat and therefore weight.


Foods containing carbohydrates are divided into those that have a high glycaemic level (high GI) and those that have a lower glycaemic level (low GI). The GI level of foods determines how quickly blood sugar levels (glucose) are increased after food consumption, To enter ketosis you need to keep your blood sugar levels low.


High GI foods are made up of refined carbohydrates that make your blood sugar spike. These include white bread, pasta and sweets.


Lower GI foods have fewer carbohydrates and have less effect on your blood sugar levels such as vegetables that are rich in fibre and whole grains.


There are 4 phases of the diet plan starting with a very restrictive carb intake of 20g net to help your body reach ketosis and gradually relaxing to 120g net of carbs per day.


Foods to Eat

The best foods for the Atkins Diet are fresh whole foods, but you can buy premade snacks that are designed to meet the nutrient requirements of the Atkins Diet.


You may eat:


  • Meat and fish including processed meat such as ham and bacon.
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus and leafy greens.
  • Low sugar fruit such as berries, citrus and apples.
  • Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and pulses.
  • Plant fats such as olive oil, avocados and seeds and nuts.


Menu ideas include cheese omelette, chicken salad with snacks of hard-boiled eggs and Greek yoghurt.


Foods to Avoid

The following foods should be eliminated from the Atkins Diet as they are high in carbs with a high GI:


  • All starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn.
  • Fruits with a high sugar content such as mango, pineapple, banana and papaya.
  • Processed sugary food such as biscuits, cookies, cakes and soft drinks.
  • Refined carbs such as white bread and pasta.


Risks of the Atkins Diet

The severe restrictions of food and the elimination of some foods that are considered to be healthy such as soft fruits and starchy vegetables means that you are at risk of electrolyte imbalances and constipation.


The low carb intake can also cause dangerously low blood sugar and kidney problems.