The Atkins diet is a diet in which one eats a low level of carbohydrates and larger amounts of protein, including meats, poultry, and fish. Dieters avoid simple carbohydrates (refined sugar and starch (ie.flour) as well as most forms of sugar, starches (including starchy vegetables like potatoes), milk (but not cream or cheese), and grains (including most breads). During the initial 'induction' phase, during which the dieter is limited to no more than 20 net carbohydrates per day, there is a long list of vegetables that are generally felt to be too high in carbohydrates for the Atkins diet, including sweetcorn, peas, potato and others. Some people include carrots in their list of no-nos. However, green beans and many other vegetables such as asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, courgettes/zucchini, aubergines/eggplant are OK and encouraged within the Atkins diet, even during the early stages.
Net carbohydrates are defined as total carbohydrates minus fiber content and sugar alcohols. It is net carbohydrates that are monitored by those practising the Atkins way of life. In fact, one of the first goals of Atkins is to discover your unique CCL, or Critical Carbohydrate Level. This number is simply the number of net carbs that can be eaten daily to maintain a fixed weight. There are four phases to Atkins:
- Ongoing Weight Loss
- Lifetime Maintenance
As one moves through the four phases, more variety in food types can be added to the diet, including some breads, fruit, etc. that are considered taboo during the very early stages.
Artificial sweeteners are generally used instead of sugar, and Atkins recipes have high levels of protein. Fat is not avoided. A typical Atkins-approved dessert might be fresh berries served with heavy cream mixed with splenda.
It should be noted that while Atkins works well for short-term weight loss for many people, its long term side effects are continually debated. Therefore, one would be wise to do research and consult a doctor before beginning this diet. Thereafter, your doctor will be able to advise you as to the frequency of additional physical check-ups.
The following recipes were created for the Atkins diet or are otherwise acceptable on it: