If you want to lose weight, the Atkins diet is a simple way to do the low-carb, low sugar thing – here’s nutritionist Linda O’Byrne’s advice on how to get maximum weight loss with minimum hunger
So you’ve decided you want to lose weight. But now what? Do you count your calories, try fasting for a couple of days each week – or is it the amount of fat, carbs or sugar that you should be watching?
Choosing the right eating plan can be confusing, but one thing is certain, a diet low in sugar and carbohydrates such as bread and pasta is effective weight loss.
In fact, the benefits of a low-carb diet are research-backed too. A study by Bazzano in 2014 was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and compared a low-carb diet to a low-fat diet.
The low-carb diet was found to be more effective for weight loss but also other health factors, such as a reduction in cardiovascular risk factors.
That’s why we asked, nutritionist Linda O’Byrne, a specialist in the Atkins diet to talk about following a low-carb balanced diet for maximum benefit, and and to explain how this approach to eating can help you lose weight and maintain a healthier lifestyle.
What is the Atkins diet anyway?
Atkins is a low-carb, keto-friendly diet that’s also low in sugars and rich in moderate proteins, fats and vegetables. However, it’s not a diet that cuts out carbs completely; it simply takes out the ‘bad carbs’ – namely sugary, refined ones such as white bread, chips and crisps.
How does Atkins lead to weight loss?
On a typical UK diet, the average person consumes around 350 grams of carbs each day, which is usually ample to fuel the body. However, this means we never really tap into fat stores (which can be used as an efficient source of fuel for the body on low-carb and keto-friendly diets) and any excess is stored as body fat – leading to weight gain.
By following Atkins, your body is stimulated to burn its own fat reserves, instead of using the carbs in your diet as its primary fuel. By reducing your carbs, your fuel source is switched from burning carbs to burning fat by way of ‘ketosis’. This means you’ll lose weight and are less likely to store fat too.
It’s an easy to follow diet that can lead to real weight loss.
What can you eat?
On Atkins you can continue to enjoy tasty foods with proteins, fats and fibre, so you’ll feel satisfied and full. By eating foods that don’t spike your insulin levels, your blood sugar is stabilised so you’ll also experience more energy, your cravings disappear and you will feel less bloated.
From day one your eating plan will include green leafy vegetables alongside moderate protein sources such as chicken breast, steak or salmon. These are combined with healthy fats such as avocado, oils, butter, olives and cheese.
For vegetarians, Atkins is still a great way to follow a lower carb, balanced diet. Instead of getting your protein from meat, you can get it from kidney beans, black beans and chickpeas. Plus, you can try incorporating tofu, tempeh, eggs and cheese into your dishes. Fat sources include avocado, oils, butter and olives.
11 diet swaps that make the low-carb diet easy
Linda O’Byrne gives her tips on easy ways to tweak your diet and lower your intake of carbs.
1. Replace pasta with spiralised vegetables
Try making your own alternative to pasta at home by spiralizing courgette, carrot or other veg. You can buy a gadget to help you make perfect swirls or just use a grater. Serve with chicken or fish and make your own spicy tomato sauce or a tasty creamy sauce.
Get a chocolate hit that’s low-carb
Swap your afternoon chocolate bar for an Atkins bar, which contains a fraction of the carbs yet tastes just as great (or even better!). A filling 60g Atkins bar contains typically 1-3g carbs, compared to 30-40g in a typical chocolate bar!
Control your coffee choice
Avoid high sugar lattes from your local coffee shop and make your own version using unsweetened soya milk, espresso and a dollop of sugar-free whipped cream on top. A tall latte is typically around 17 grams sugar, compared to two grams for your home-made version!
Stick to wine
Alcohol can be loaded with carbs so avoid beer, cider and sugary cocktails and stick to wine. It’s your choice whether you prefer red or white, but pinot noir is typically lower in carbs than other reds. For white, stick to crisp, dry wines for fewer carbs. Remember to drink water between each drink; not only will it stop you from getting a hangover but you’ll feel fuller and less likely to give into cravings.
Do your own barbecue meat
Having a BBQ? Don’t buy store-bought meats, which come with cereal fillers, or sugary marinades. Save pounds and lbs, by making your own BBQ feast. Skewer chicken pieces with vegetables, for healthy, colourful kebabs. Or make your own burgers using mince meat, spices and a bit of chopped chilli and avoid the heavy burgers you find in shops.
Go no carb Mexican
Most Mexican food is great on Atkins with plenty of protein, guacamole, salsas and salads but use large lettuce leaves to wrap up the tasty fillings rather than carb-heavy tortillas.
Have a fry up without the carbs
By all means enjoy a full English breakfast but omit the carb heavy beans, hash browns and toast – and double up on bacon, eggs and mushrooms (the best bits!)
Cauliflower pizza is actually really nice
Might sound a little odd, but you’d never know you were eating cauliflower and it’s so easy to make. Just cut some cauliflower into florets, blend into small pieces, then mix with mozzarella, parmesan, seasoning, garlic and 2 eggs. Spread into a pizza shape on a baking sheet covered with baking powder, bake for 20 mins, then add the desired toppings and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Make the salad the main event
Salads can be great but can also be boring…don’t just stick to limp lettuce, make yours a tasty treat by adding olives, feta, sliced avocado, sliced jalapenos, chorizo slices, crushed nuts and other low carb additions.
Don’t get too hungry
Many people skimp on calories when trying to lose weight and it just doesn’t work. On Atkins, we recommend three meals with two between-meal snacks. So your blood sugar levels stabilise and you never feel hungry. Try one of our tasty bars for one of your snacks for a mid-morning or afternoon treat.
Try an Atkins Bar
As Linda explains, Atkins bars are a great way to snack between meals and not ruin your eating plan. They’re low in sugar as well as carbs so are ideal for if you’re out about on the go or need a pick me up pre- or post workout.
- Fudge Caramel – a soft and chewy bar with a fudge filling and caramel layer, £2.19
- Chocolate Peanut Caramel – packed with peanuts and topped with a chewy layer of caramel, £1.49
- Chocolate Coconut – succulent coconut enveloped in creamy like chocolate, £1.49
- Chocolate Break – a tasty chocolate bar, perfect for a cup of tea £3.25 for a pack of 3 bars
- Chocolate Decadence – a treat of a chocolate bar, £2.19
- Chocolate Brownie – a deliciously indulgent chocolate brownie, £2.19
For further information abut the Atkins diet and the range of recipes and products available visit atkins.com.
Register for free
To learn more about the Atkins diet, register for free on Atkins.com. You’ll find a range of recipes to follow, a personalised plan and will get the support of an online community of thousands.
NB: If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have a medical condition or are under 18, please seek professional advice before you change your diet.