Does the Atkins Diet Really Work? Here is my experience…
My name is Anne Walker, I am a social worker living and working in Phoenix, Arizona. Before I started the Atkins Diet, I had been clinically obese for more than 10 years. My weight issues started early in life, this is around the time I was in Junior High. Nothing is more frustrating and emotionally torturous as being an overweight teenager. Although I was not bullied in school, the fact that I was bigger than everyone else in my class and in school detrimentally affected my self-esteem and confidence. Although I had a deep interest in music and drama, I never had the courage and self-believe to pursue them because no one else in the music and drama club looked like me.
By the time I was in college, I was not just overweight anymore; this is when my doctor gave me the news that I was now clinically obese. This was not shocking news to me because I already saw the signs indicated by my rapidly deteriorating health. Some of the health issues I was facing include:
- High Blood Pressure
Though many people think that is a health condition affiliated with the older demographic, I started dealing with it in my early twenties. It is now that I have lost weight that it is becoming less of an issue.
- Sleep Apnea
From the time I started gaining weight rapidly in high school, sleeping became a nightmare for me. This meant that during the day I was excessively fatigued hence unable to concentrate and perform well at work. What did I do at night when unable to sleep? You guessed right, I relied on binge eating and unhealthy snacking for comfort.
- Psychological issues
Going through high school as a fat kid took a toll on me emotionally and psychologically. This is when I began seeing a therapist for help. Although am now a fully grown woman and a mother of one, I cannot fully say that I have outgrown all the emotional torture that comes with being overweight. This is something that I do not want to pass on to my little girl. Unlike me I want her to grow up confident in herself and appreciative of who she is and she looks.
Why I decided to lose weight…
When I got pregnant, my weight issues got worse and as a result, had an extremely difficult pregnancy. Aside from suffering from preeclampsia, I also gained too much weight and this made losing the weight post-pregnancy a real struggle. After giving birth to my little angel, my health deteriorated further and my blood pressure shot through the roof. This is when I decide enough is enough and went on my first ever diet. The first diet I tried was frustrating, it was too demanding and required completely cutting carbohydrates from my diet. While it did work for a while and I actually lost some weight, I soon suffered from ketosis due to carbohydrate deprivation and had to quit it.
Like any other desperate person trying to lose weight, I tried out different weight loss supplements, diets, and crazy workout regimens. Although some were successful in the short term, nothing really worked consistently. I was ready to throw in the towel when I came across Atkins Diet. My experience with this diet has been extremely pleasant and I am happy to say that I am steadily losing weight and it stays off, unlike all the other weight loss strategies I employed in the past.
It has been more than a year on the Atkins Diet and I am impressed by how much progress I have made. I am steadily losing weight and the results show in my health, I am happier and my energy levels and significantly elevated.
As a first time mum, this is extremely important to me because I want to be able to play with my daughter and I am Thankful that the Atkins Diet is giving me the capability to be an active and involved mother my kid’s life. In this detailed article, I not only outline my experience using this diet but also provide an objective and honest review so that you can make an informed choice when choosing a diet that can help you steadily lose weight and keep it off permanently.
So what is the Atkins Diet?
This is a highly popular low-carbohydrate diet that was developed in the early 1960s by a globally renowned cardiologist known as Robert C Atkins. Essentially, this diet is all about restricting carbohydrate intake and instead of increasing lean protein and natural fat intake. Atkins diet has several phases that are all geared towards weight loss and ensuring that the user is able to keep the weight off in the long term. It all starts with cutting down carbs intake significantly. Formerly known as the Atkins Nutritional Approach, this technique has been detailed in numerous publications and is credited with officially launching the widely popular low-carbohydrate trend.
Practical and easily fits into my busy schedule as a working mother
This diet includes healthy meals that are nutritious and low in calorie content. Additionally, they are quite easy to prepare making them easy to include in my diet despite my very busy schedule. My experience with this diet has been extremely pleasant and I am happy to say that I am steadily losing weight and it stays off, unlike all the other weight loss strategies I employed in the past.
The meals are delicious and portions normal making it easier for someone who recovering from being an overeater
At this point in my life, I was desperate to lose weight so naturally obsessed with the caloric content of every food type. I took my time to research all the foods that help in losing weight and their caloric content and how they aid health wise. Most of the foods in the Atkins Diet are not only healthy but also have low caloric content. It also doesn’t hurt that everything is quite tasty!
Affordable as compared to what I was spending earlier on food
Before I lost weight, I ate everything and all the time, this meant spending a lot of money on junk and processed foods. When I compare what I spend now on the Atkins Diet and what I spent earlier, there is no doubt that I am now spending way less on food which to me is a huge relief. Who knew eating healthily could be affordable!
My Experience with the Atkins Diet
Initially, what attracted me to the Atkins diet is that it is specifically designed to help a user lose weight and maintain a normal and healthy body weight in the long-term. The Atkins Nutritional Approach is responsible for helping me learn how to eat right, exercise appropriately and remain positive despite the numerous challenges I have faced and continue to face every single day.
The main dietary focus when it comes to the Atkins Nutritional Approach is ensuring that the user consumes the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to ensure optimal weight loss and the natural capability to keep the weight off in the long term. According to Robert C Atkins who came up with this diet regimen, most health problems affiliated with being overweight such as heart ailment, diabetes, and high blood pressure are a result of typically low-fat, low-protein and high carbohydrate American style diet.
According to this approach, you can have the fatty meat cuts, what is most important is controlling carbohydrate intake. Typically, this diet stays away from too many carbs especially white flour, sugar and other refined carbohydrates that are known to cause cardiovascular issues, blood sugar imbalances, and rapid weight gain. My meals mostly entail natural fats and proteins without any carbohydrates. Another huge component of this diet is high-fiber vegetables and colorful fruits that are packed with antioxidants.
When it comes to carbohydrate intake, this diet unlike most other is the market does not require you to do portion control or calorie counting. What you are required to do is pretty simple just track your carbohydrate intake, the system used in this diet is known as Net Carbs; this simply means that the total number of carbohydrates of an item minus the total fiber content of that item. For instance, ½ cup of raw broccoli has a total of 2.3 grams of carbohydrates and a total of 1.3 grams of fiber; this puts the net carb value at a total of 1 gram.
According to the creator of the Atkins Nutritional Approach, this technique when it comes to carbohydrates helps to ensure that your body is able to burn off the fat reserves and regulate blood sugar levels without being deprived of the nutrients needed to still remain healthy with a great immune system. In the meantime, you will not feel hungry and get the urge to overeat or binge on unhealthy food and processed junk.
One of the most impressive features about this diet is the fact that once you reach your desired weight goal, the system will help you to ascertain your personal carbohydrate threshold. This is the cumulative number of net carbohydrates that you can consume in a day without losing or gaining weight.
According to Robert C Atkins which as mentioned earlier is the creator of this diet, exercise is indispensable for anyone who wants to keep the weight off in the long term. This is because exercise comes in handy in accelerating the rate of fat metabolism and reducing how much fat is stored in the body as reserves. Instead of the fat being stored in the body, it is released as energy when you exercise.
Let us now look at the phases of the Atkins Diet
This diet has four main phases that are strategically designed to ensure that you gradually lose weight in a way that does not overwhelm your system. The idea to ensure that weight loss does not take a toll on physical and emotional wellbeing. When you are strong physically and of sound mind, it is quite easy to steadily lose weight and keep it off permanently.
Phase 1 – Induction
This is the most challenging part of the Atkins Diet because you are required to completely cut out carbohydrate from your diet an only eat a net carbohydrate content of 2o grams. You will get these carbs mainly from vegetables. The net carbs needed at this stage will be sourced from vegetables such as celery, cucumber, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, and peppers. These are healthy but still quite tasty.
Additionally, phase 1 also requires a user to eat a lot of lean proteins such as cheese, eggs, meat, and eggs. This must be included in every meal of the day except of course when you are healthily snacking in between meals. You do not really need to restrict the consumptions of oils and fats in this diet but you cannot have sugary baked goods such as grains, alcohol, nuts, bread, and pasta. It is also advisable to take at least 8 glasses of water in a day. This phase will only take a maximum of 2 weeks. Knowledgeable and experienced dieticians and nutritionists advise never going more than 2 weeks to avoid deprivation of adequate carbohydrates.
PHASE 2 – Balancing
When you begin phase two, it is time to start adding more foods into your diet. This stage is not as strict as phase one. At this Stage, your meals will include good carbohydrates that are unprocessed. Other common components of your diet at this juncture include whole grains such as rice, bread, and pasta, low-refined sugar, a broader range of fruits and vegetables and even sweet potatoes. After 14 days of largely eating proteins, I was happy to reach Phase two. This is also the best phase to begin gradually exercising.
I have never exercised in my life so this was quite a challenge for me. I started slowly with simply walking and swimming since this is one of my favorite past times. I am still in phase two because I have still not reached my ideal weight. This phase is supposed to last until you lose all the weight you intend to. After following Phase 2 for more than a year now, I can say that the results are beyond what I expected, I have lost close to 80lbs, and my goal is to shed 100lbs before I embark on Phase three. With the current trend, there is no doubt that I will be there soon.
PHASE 3- Pre-maintenance
This is arguably the most important phase and I can’t wait to get there. This is because it involves celebrating your success by implementing efforts that will help you keep the weight off in the long term. There are no food lists in the phase, the main intention is to keep eating healthy and in moderation.
At this juncture, you know enough about choosing the right food and are also able to make a meal plan that is healthy, delicious and still does not encourage fat accumulation in the body. If you feel that you have gotten out of track then it is best to get back to either Phase ONE or TWO. This is the reason I want to be mentally and physically prepared before eventually moving from Phase two to Phase three and four.
PHASE 4 – Lifetime Maintenance
This is a long-term phase that is specifically meant to help a user develop healthy eating habits, exercising and generally learn to live a healthy lifestyle all-around. It is estimated that weight loss during this second phase is one or two pounds weekly. When you are on Phase two, you get all the necessary information needed to remain steadfast in your weight loss efforts such as techniques, tools, and tips to help maintain your normal body weight for the rest of your life.
Atkins Diet has worked for me because it is created with the welfare of the users’ in mind. The end goal is not just getting you to the ideal weight you have always desired but also ensuring that you have the capability and knowledge to remain there for the rest of your life.
Let us look at a typical day’s Menu when you are on the Atkins Diet
A typical breakfast meal when on this diet will include scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese and sautéed onions. The acceptable beverages for breakfast are included; herbal tea, diet soda, tea, water, and coffee. Sugar is strongly discouraged.
A typical Atkins Diet lunch consists of a light vegetable salad mainly made up of greens such as spinach and kale. The dressing will mostly feature either bacon or avocado along with an allowable beverage such as diet soda, water or even herbal tea.
A typical dinner when following the Atkins Diet will be more emphasized on ensuring that there are no bad fats or and cholesterol that can undermine your weight loss progress. What I realized when on this diet is that what I was taking was just a healthier variation of my favorite foods which made it easier for me to not cheat.
Typical dinner meal will include stir-fries, baked salmon steak, asparagus, and arugula salad with cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. Additionally, there are a lot of green vegetables such as kale and spinach. Sauces are mostly made from vegetable purees to help ensure you don’t use supermarket bought brands that are high in cholesterol and bad fats.
Mistakes I made using the Atkins Diet
In just a year I have lost more than 80 pounds because I researched exhaustively to ensure I got everything right. As a mother, I was doing it for my child and was committed to being healthy and happy so that I could be a better parent. Here are 4 mistakes I made earlier on and how you can avoid them in case you choose the Atkins diet;
Mistake One – Counting the total carbs instead of the net carbs
The Atkins diet requires you to count the net carbohydrate intake which is simply the total carbohydrate count in grams minus the total fiber count
Mistake Two – Skimping on the green vegetables
When I started out, I focused more on cutting out carbohydrates and forget how important it was to include more veggies in my diet. What most people don’t realize is that vegetables are rich in healthy carbs that can help to prevent ketosis which is a state where the human body is deprived of carbohydrates. The Atkins diet requires 12 to 15 net carb grams in form of nutritious foundation vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, spinach, and kale.
Mistake Three – Lack of enough water
No diet is will help lose weight steadily without water. This all-important beverage serves numerous functions in your diet from helping give the feeling of satiety to ensuring important body processes such as digestion and nutrient absorption go on without a glitch.
Mistake Four – Going salt-free
Anyone who is trying to lose weight will tell you that they never stopped researching on how to make the journey more successful. There is so much information online that salt derails weight loss and this is probably what made me cut off salt from my diet completely.
Later on, I learned that avoiding salt completely will lead to excessive fatigue, general body weaknesses, lightheadedness, muscle cramps. These undesirable symptoms are because the body is losing water in addition to minerals and there is an adequate replacement of both. When on the Atkins diet the body is transitioning from storing fat as reserves to converting reserves into energy. This diet is largely diuretic so there is no need to avoid salt in order to minimize water retention as many people claim.
Why Atkins Diet worked out for me?
I believe that this diet has worked out great for me because it takes a scientific approach to weight loss, one that is focused on helping you shed off the extra weight and make lifestyle changes that will help keep the weight off permanently. Other than the initial weight loss of 9 pounds which I rapidly lost on Phase one, I have not lost weight that quick gain. On most weeks is loose between 1 to two pounds.
I am slowly but surely working towards getting the weight that I have always desired. This has made me a better person because I am more hardworking, patient and exercise a great deal of self-control and self-discipline to keep going even when I am tempted to cheat and stray from the diet which happens on a daily basis. I continue to pay the quarterly fees and this way I consistently receive techniques, tips and effective guidelines that keep me on track every single day.
Will it really work for me?
Everyone is different, and nothing works universally to deliver the same results, there is no doubt in my mind that the Atkins Nutritional Approach will help you lose weight and keep it off permanently. I have struggled with weight issues all my adult life and I was able to shed it off not because I am any different from other overweight people but because I took the initiative to try and never got discouraged no matter the physical and emotional toll that it had on my body. I am healthier, happier and a better wife thanks to the Atkins Diet. It is a diet purely based on scientific evidence, what I love about how the Atkins diet works is that there are no unreasonable claims. The promise is slow but steady weight loss.
There is no denying that losing weight is extremely challenging, never let the negative voices discourage you from achieving your goal because there is nothing miraculous about the process. If you put in the work, you will get impressive results. It is all about eating healthy food and maintaining an active lifestyle preferably one with a well-thought-out workout regimen.
In a nutshell here are the main health benefits of the Atkins Diet:
- No more heartburn or acid reflux
Ever since I got on the Atkins diet the heartburns and acid refluxes that were the order of the day for me are no longer a common occurrence. I now eat comfortably and don’t have to deal with these frustrating and embarrassing conditions. The reason the acid refluxes and heartburns no longer affect me is that the acidic content of the food I eat has significantly reduced. It’s amazing how much I did not know before trying out the Atkins diet!
- Elevated energy levels
As a social worker dealing mostly with kids, a large part of my job entails dealing with kids. The best way to relate to children is by engaging in physical activities that they like. This was not a possibility for me when I was obese but now it is and I am having the time of my life. Atkins diet has elevated my energy levels and recently I tried out a variety of new things including yoga, hiking, and even dance lessons. After all the years I suppressed my love for music, I am finally able to pursue it and it feels pretty awesome!
- Higher self-esteem and self-confidence
There is no doubt that being confident with physical contributes heavily to self-confidence and self-esteem. In just one year, I have transformed from a meek social worker to an ambitious and committed worker and I am even thinking of going back to school so I can get the chance to one day run for
- Better sleep
When overweight sleeping is uncomfortable, in fact even finding a mattress that feels great is extremely challenging. I suffered from sleep apnea making it harder to breathe and sleep soundly through the entire night. Additionally, being overweight comes with sweating profusely which makes the summer months the hardest when it comes to sleeping soundly throughout the night.
- Better breathing
Breathing is extremely difficult when you have fat pressing against your lungs. Additionally, you are not able to handle any strenuous activity or even simple normal daily activities such as walking around. Shortness of breath was the order of the day and sometimes it was so bad, I literally felt like I was dizzy and almost collapsing each time I tried to challenge my body physically. It is now the case now as I can now practice yoga and even go o the gym regularly.
- Ability to resist cravings for carbs, sugar and processed foods
Eating an entire bucket of chicken and fries was a normal part of the day for and I frankly saw nothing wrong with it. Now the thought of all that greasy and oily food is disgusting to me. I am now capable of choosing what I want to eat, the amount to eat, how to cook it right and what it adds to my body and health.
- Helps drink more water
Water is important whether one is trying to lose weight or not. Before when I was overeating, almost all the times my tummy was too full to handle any more water and this essentially ensured that I was unable to include it in my regular diet regimen.
Are there any side effects of the Atkins Diet?
When I started the Atkins diet the feeling of fatigue was overwhelming especially during the day. This is because you are moving from eating all the time to relying on your body to convert fat reserves into energy that can sustain you throughout the day. It takes time before your system adjusts to this new status quo. After the first 14 days of the challenging phase ONE, I started getting better. Not only was the fatigue gone but energy levels were now through the roof. This initial exhaustion is common in most diet that requires significantly cutting down carbohydrates.