The Atkins diet is one of the most well-known and popular diets ‒ to the point that the Atkins name is an established brand that includes product lines of frozen food and meals, meal kits, treats, bars and those famous shakes. So how does it work, and what makes it different? We’ll look at how this groundbreaking diet got its staying power by producing sustainable results through healthy lifestyle changes.
What is the Atkins diet?
Now called the Atkins 20®, the original Atkins diet was introduced in 1972 by cardiologist Robert Atkins. The goal of Atkins is to learn your specific carbohydrate intake, and replace the amount of carbs that would cause you to gain weight with protein and healthy fats. With the increase of these ‘good’ foods, you will naturally feel fuller, leading to a reduction in appetite. Although highly recommended for weight loss, participants can also expect improved blood sugar, triglycerides, and (good) HDL cholesterol. Unlike most diets, it does not limit the amount of food you can eat ‒ only which types.
The four phases
The Atkins diet has four phases, created to jumpstart weight loss and introduce food restrictions.
- Induction – Limit the intake of carbohydrates to under 20 grams a day. Consume foods high in protein, high in (healthy) fats, and vegetables that are low-carb.
Balancing – Begin adding more nuts and low-carb vegetables into your diet. Small amounts of fruit may also be reintroduced.
- Fine-tuning – Once your goal weight is reached, begin adding more carbs until weight loss slows.
- Maintenance – You can enjoy as many carbs as you can, without gaining weight. This will vary per individual.
These phases are optional, and some people choose to skip or remain in certain phases. For example, many people remain in the induction phase, which is considered a ketogenic diet. Others will skip the induction phase, and start by introducing healthier nuts, fruits and low-carb vegetables. As long as the dietary guidelines are followed, the phases can be ignored all together, if one chooses.
Foods to avoid
Finding approved Atkins recipes online is easy, with thousands on the Atkins website alone. To help you stay on track, plan your week out in advance, or try meal prepping. Remember to avoid the following foods, and research replacements if you find yourself stuck:
- Grains – This includes wheat, rye, rice, barley and spelt.
- Sugar – Some natural sugars are fine, but any added sugars are a no-no. For example, soft drinks, cake, candy, fruit juices and more.
- Vegetable oils – Soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil and canola oil. Instead, try olive oil, grapeseed oil or coconut oil.
The following foods should only be avoided during the induction phase of the diet, and can be enjoyed in limited quantities thereafter:
- Starches – Potatoes or sweet potatoes.
- Legumes – Chickpeas, beets, beans, lentils and more.
- High-carb fruits and vegetables – Bananas, apples, pears and grapes are just a few high-carb fruits to avoid. Vegetables include starchy vegetables, such as carrots, corn, turnips and more.
How it is different
Upon learning about the Atkins diet, many people notice that it has a number of similarities to the ketogenic diet. In fact, the induction phase of Atkins is ketosis. The primary difference between the two is that during the Keto diet, you remain in ketosis throughout the entirety of the diet. This includes not only restricting carbs, but hitting protein and fat intake goals. On Atkins, you will gradually re-introduce a healthy amount of carbs. For many followers, this makes it more practical and sustainable in the long run. With the ketogenic diet, you have to restart the entire diet over with one mishap ‒ a very discouraging setback. While both of these are effective and healthy diets, one or the other is often preferred based on a person’s eating habits.
At Solutions Weight Loss, we have a dietary solution to fit the unique needs of each one of our patients. Our team of licensed and friendly medical staff gives you the encouragement and guidance to help you stay on track or get back on track until you reach your goals. Contact us today, to get started on your weight loss journey!
Diets get a bad reputation, particularly those that include calorie counting. But the Zone Diet is teaching people that calorie counting is merely a way to better control portions. A standard for healthy eating habits, portions are often overlooked ‒ yet remain one of the most effective methods for weight loss. Learn how this popular diet works, as well as the benefits and potential results, with our Zone Diet 101.
What is the Zone Diet?
First published in 1995, the Zone Diet was created 30 years ago by biochemist Dr. Barry Sears. Originally developed to prevent early death from heart attacks, it is said to balance hormones and reduce inflammation – which Sears proposes are a factor in weight gain, illness and aging. By keeping your hormones balanced, or “in the zone,” your metabolism will work more efficiently. Dieters are said to lose between 1 to 1.5 pounds of fat a week. To achieve these results, followers eat a ratio of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat.
Zone Diet Blocks
The Zone Diet can be followed using one of two methods, both of which are equally effective. Beginner – or first-time dieters – may prefer to start with the hand-eye method before progressing to the Zone food blocks. Each is based around a “zone-friendly” plate, with portions from the three major nutrient groups: fat, protein and carbs. First, divide your plate into thirds and fill it as follows:
- One-third of your plate should consist of lean protein, close to the size and thickness of your palm.
- Two-thirds of your plate will be carbs, preferably with a low glycemic index ‒ to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
- A small portion of monounsaturated fats.
The hand-eye method is a simplified version that does not require calorie-counting. By using your palm size and eyes, you can estimate a correct portion size. Your five fingers are a reminder to eat five times a day, and to never go without eating for more than five hours. For example, each meal may consist of the recommended carbs and protein, with a snack of healthy fats in between.
Once you have mastered the hand-eye method, or if you prefer calorie counting, the Zone block method will help you precisely balance every meal. Adult males are recommended around 1,500 calories daily, and adult women 1,200. A Zone block is made up of one of each nutrient block:
- Protein block: 7 grams
- Carb block: 9 grams
- Fat block: 1.5 grams (or 3 grams for a fat-free protein)
The number of zone blocks you consume in a day varies by your weight, height, waist and hip measurements. On average, an adult male will consume 14 Zone blocks a day, while a woman will consume 11. As an example, a typical meal will likely consist of three to five Zone blocks, but a snack will only be one.
Approved Zone Diet Food List:
Lean Protein – Skinless chicken or turkey, fish or shellfish, beef, pork, lamb, egg whites, tofu or soy, cheese, milk or yogurt.
Carbohydrates – Mainly vegetables, some grains and a little fruit – such as peppers, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, squash, oatmeal, quinoa, couscous, cranberries, guavas, citrus and more.
Fat – Nuts, chia seeds, or natural peanut butter, avocados, oils and tahini.
Foods You Should Avoid:
Unlike most other diets, there are no foods that are banned in the Zone diet. However, the following should be avoided, as they increase inflammation:
High-sugar fruits and vegetables – This group can include bananas, pineapple, raisins, cranberries, peas, potatoes and corn.
Processed foods – From soda, to cereal and bread – this group includes items that are processed, refined or contain added sugars. Other items include pasta, bagels, muffins, cookies, cakes and candy.
Coffee and tea – Acceptable from time-to-time; however, a minimum of eight eight-ounce glasses of water should be consumed daily.
Pros and Cons of The Zone Diet
The Zone Diet is lax, with its own share of pros and cons. It is a long-term diet meant to improve your overall health, rather than stop once a goal is met. For this reason, it is important that you choose a method you are able to maintain. While calories do count, you are not required to count them, unless you choose to do so. When dining out, Zone-friendly plates are easily found. However, you will likely have to plan to take some home. If you prefer eating in, an abundance of recipes and meal plans are available online. And most importantly, you will never go hungry or find yourself bored. Despite being portioned, these meals will keep you full and allow for delicious dining.
At Solutions Weight Loss, we encourage all of our patients to seek a lifestyle change, rather than a temporary diet. Not only will you see long-lasting results, but you will feel them! Dr. Newsome, and our team, can help you achieve your weight loss goals and maintain a healthier life. Everyone is different and deserves personalized recommendations and individualized attention. Contact us today!
Every diet plan – including the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet and the ketogenic diet – work on the principle of modifying the portion of certain foods or food groups consumed on a daily basis, as well as eliminating certain types of food entirely. Now, the Whole30 diet program is sweeping the nation as not just a weight loss program (it pointedly does not use the word “diet”), but a supportive community of devotees dedicated to achieving and maintaining a truly transformative quality of life experience.
Developed by co-founders Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig in 2009, Whole30 is designed to change the way you eat and feel in 30 days. The website describes the program as “… a short-term nutrition reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.”
While that sounds like a pretty tall order, Whole30 achieves all of this and more by explicitly targeting the individual’s emotional and habitual relationship with food. The program revolves around breaking unhealthy behavioral patterns, putting a full-stop to stress-related comfort eating, and reducing carbohydrate and sugar cravings. Many people on the Whole30 program report having achieved food freedom within the 30-day period.
The purpose is to understand how your body responds to some foods. You eliminate these foods completely and then gradually reinstate them after 30 days. If you think these foods still work well for you, fine, and in case you find something that helps your body feel good, that’s even better!
The foods on the Whole30 program
Whole30 doesn’t ask you to leave your favorite foods forever. You are only asked to abstain from eating some foods and beverages for 30 days, and then slowly reinstate them. As mentioned earlier, the aim is to understand how your body responds to some foods.
Here is a partial list of permitted foods:
- Vegetables – Eat as many as you want.
- Fruits –Allowed in moderation, due to limits on sugar intake.
- Seafood – Allowed, including shellfish.
- Unprocessed meats – Make sure they don’t contain added sugar or preservatives.
- Eggs – No limit.
- Nuts and seeds – Allowed, except for peanuts (which is a legume, rather than a tree nut).
- Coffee – Allowed, but only without milk products or sugar.
- Oils and ghee – Olive and coconut oil are allowed, as well as ghee (clarified butter).
Following is a partial list of foods to avoid during the 30-day program:
- Dairy products – Includes cheese, butter (except for ghee), yogurt, cow’s milk, kefir and cream (sour or otherwise).
- Legumes – No members of this family, including soy (soy sauce, tofu, edamame or miso), peas, chickpeas, peanuts and lentils.
- Grains – Includes wheat, corn, quinoa, sprouted grains, millet, rye, bulgur, buckwheat, amaranth and sorghum.
- Alcohol – Abstain completely during the 30-day period, including using alcohol for cooking. Vanilla extract is also on the forbidden list.
- Added sugar in all forms – including artificial sweetener – This includes sugar in natural forms, such as maple or agave syrup. Check the label when shopping, as many items include some type or amount of sugar.
- Junk food – Almost needless to say. No baked goods, snack foods, ice cream, etc.
- MSG, sulfites and carrageenan – Common additives in processed foods. Carrageenan is a common additive in natural foods, and has been implicated in digestive system conditions.
The Whole30 community and forum
As mentioned earlier, Whole30 provides plenty of support and encouragement for those following the program. The Whole30 Forum is designed to help navigate the Whole30 program, ask questions and seek advice from the program’s experts. Those who have been through the program can share their success stories and provide motivation for others.
From features, updates and news from the Whole30 team to rules, regulations, recipes and books, you have everything on the Whole30 Forum that you wish to know and ask. There is something for everyone on the Forum – how to follow Whole30 with a medical condition, Whole30 for athletes and Whole30 while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Interacting with others sharing the Whole30 experience creates a community feeling, which greatly helps boost motivation. The Whole30 Community is like a close-knit family where you can get answers to questions, as well as track your meals, progress and results – and even share your recipes and success stories.
If the Whole30 program has had a positive effect on your life, you can become a certified Whole30 coach and help others by offering your resources and services to your local community.
We at Solutions Weight Loss encourage everyone to follow a healthy lifestyle by whatever means achieves the best result for each individual. If you’ve tried other programs and diets but feel that a medically supervised weight loss program may be what you need to achieve long-term results, contact us to schedule an appointment with Dr. William E. Newsome and learn about your options.