The last few weeks I’ve been radio silent across my blog and social channels. Mainly due to things being crazy busy at work, but I’ve also recently started a new diet and haven’t been in the most productive of moods. As the title suggests, I’ve decided to give the Atkins diet a go! I actually went on this diet a couple of years ago, but the pounds have creeped back on – so I’m starting the Atkins diet again.
Why Am I Starting The Atkins Diet?
I used to be a comfortable size 14 and in some tops could even fit into a size 12! Now however, I am struggling to fit into my size 16 trousers and refuse to buy anything bigger. I’ve probably put on around 1.5 stone in the last 2 years. But aside from the physical weight gain I also feel really unhealthy. Which is why I have decided to try a low carb diet again. It worked for me a few years ago and I probably would have kept the pounds off, had I stuck to healthy eating habits. So I am kickstarting a healthier lifestyle by starting the Atkins diet.
Which Low Carb Diet Should I Try? Dukan VS. Atkins…
There’s a few options for low carb diets out there. I’ve personally tried both the Atkins and Dukan. And whilst I managed to lose weight on both, ultimately I found the Atkins easier to follow and adapt to my lifestyle. You don’t have to count calories and you can always check if something is allowed by reading the nutritional label. There are two options for the Atkins diet; 20 and 40. These refer to the amount of net carbs* you are allowed in a day.
Atkins 20, is the more extreme version and is good for those looking to lose a lot of weight or lose it quickly. Essentially you limit your intake of net carbs* to 20 a day. If you don’t have as much weight to lose you can start with a limit of 40 grams of net carbs. Read more about the Atkins diet and it’s 4 phases here.
The Dukan is also easy to follow, in that you don’t have to count calories. However rather then just limiting carbs, you also have to change your eating habits. Similar to some fasting diets, you have to alternate how you eat. The easiest way to follow it is to eat pure protein (only meats, no veggies) on one day, then eat a mix of vegetables and meats on the next day. Alternatively you could do this rotation 4 days on then 3 off.
Some people prefer this because again you don’t have to count calories or carbs. However, it’s quite restrictive and you have to do a lot of meal prep in advance to make it affordable.
(*Net carb is calculated by taking the carbohydrate count minus the fibre count.)
But Isn’t Low Carb Just Meat?
Not necessarily. Most of your meals should be high in protein and fat, but you should also get a good share of fibre. This is usually in the form of vegetables such as broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, eggplants and mushrooms. As long as you are able to stick to the carb limit, you are able to eat as much as you like.
The Atkins is also a healthier choice as you have to cut out sugars completely. This includes fruit and fruit juice. Most people don’t realise that fruit are very high in sugars and assume drinking fruit juice is just as good as eating it. However eating fresh fruit isn’t unhealthy with regards to sugar as they are high in fibre. However the diet does make you give fruit up entirely until you are nearing your goal weight. This is difficult at first, however you are able to reintroduce these back into your diet and still lose weight.
One thing I’ve learnt with the daily carb limits is to be clever with the types of food you can choose from. For example, I recently discovered an edamame noodle that tastes really good but is so high in fibre that it has no carbs in it! There are also a wide range of really filling dishes that are very low carb that are made with a mix of meat and vegetables. Check out this great recipe on the Atkins website for a tasty moussaka.
So What Can I Eat?
Protein is your best friend. Meat and high-fibre vegetables are the best choices. Think chicken, steak, fish, bacon, pork chops etc. In terms of side dishes you could have steamed broccoli, cauliflower cheese, sweet potato and courgettes. There are even low-carb options for bread and pasta.
For the Atkins you have a lot of options available for lunch on the go from the supermarket as well as some cafes and restaurants. Even Pret a Manger have a lot of low carb options actually and list out the carb counts for their foods. My go-to lunch option is their ‘Italian Chicken Chef’s Salad’ or the ‘No Bread Avocado Crayfish’. Just beware of the carb count on sauces and dressings. And most supermarkets offer cooked meats (plain no sauce) that are great for throwing onto a salad.
The key thing is to make sure you are prepared for times you might get peckish. These are the times when you are likely to crack and snack on junk food. Easy and healthy snacks can include cherry tomatoes, ham slices, cheese sticks and pickled cucumbers. For an unhealthy but crave-satisfying option, try cheese crisps or pork scratchings. If you’re craving something on the sweet side, there are a bunch of easy low-carb recipes for cakes and cookies. An easy option is sugar-free jello!
Does It Really Work?
When I last did the Atkins I lost over 2 stone. So yes, I think it does work. And just over a week in I’ve already dropped 7 lbs. Note, that this is primarily water weight but I can already feel the difference. I’m not as bloated and feeling my clothes fit better. In the first couple of weeks if you follow it correctly you can lose up to 10 lbs.
I know it’s early days yet so I’d need to review in a few months to see if it really works. One thing is for sure, losing weight is just the first half of the battle. The more important part is switching to a healthier lifestyle with less snacks, sugar and better portion control.
Have you ever tried a low-carb diet? What diet works for you? Do you have any of your own diet tips to share?