Atkins Diet. Image source: ariellesmail
The Atkins Diet is one of the most popular diets. 1 out of 11 North-Americans were on the Atkins diet back in 2003-2004. People reported losing 20lbs of weight during the first 2 weeks on Dr. Robert Atkins’ low carb diet.
But is the Atkins Diet effective for fat loss? In this post you’ll get an overview of the Atkins Diet and how it compares with other fat loss diets.
How The Atkins Diet Works. The Atkins Diet is a low carb diet. Legumes, fruits and starches are out until later in the diet. This forces your body to use fat for energy instead of sugar. The Atkins Diet has 4 phases:
- Induction Phase. You limit your daily carb intake to 20g. These should come from veggies. The induction phase lasts 2 weeks.
- Ongoing Weight Loss Phase. You up your carb intake by 5g/day each week. This phase lasts until you’re within 10lbs of your goal weight.
- Pre-Maintenance. You increase your carb intake by 10g/day each week. Goal is to find how much carbs you can eat without gaining weight.
- Lifestyle Maintenance. Whole foods and moderate carb intake. You can go back to previous phases if you gain weight.
What’s Wrong with Atkins? The Atkins Diet has you focus on losing weight, rather than losing fat. Wrong approach as I explained in Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss. More stuff that’s wrong with the Atkins Diet:
- Little Fat Loss. Carbs bind to water. Dropping your carb intake causes weight loss: water loss. Track your body fat using a fat caliper and you’ll see your weight loss isn’t pure fat loss on the Atkins Diet.
- Not for Lifters. Muscles use carbs for energy. Without carbs, you’ll lack energy during high intensity activities like weight lifting. The Atkins Diet can only work if you’re sedentary.
- Muscle Loss. Atkins doesn’t mix with strength training. Without strength training, your metabolic rate will go down, you’ll lose muscle and you’ll have a harder time sticking to your diet.
- Yo-Yo Diet. After the big weight loss “” which is mainly water loss “” the first 2 weeks on the Atkins Diet, progress gets slower. Often a plateau follows, which can make you quit and regain everything you lost.
8 Nutrition Rules vs. Atkins Diet. The 8 Nutrition Rules is also a low carb/high protein diet. But unlike the Atkins Diet it has you cycle between lower & higher carb intakes so you lose fat while your muscles get carbs for energy.
- Carbs Post Workout. Limiting starchy carbs to post workout increases fat loss while giving your muscles energy for strength training.
- Simple. You don’t need to count macros with the 8 Nutrition Rules and there aren’t 4 phases. You just eat whole foods and limit carbs.
Note that the Anabolic Diet is also different than the Atkins Diet. On the Anabolic Diet you avoid carbs for 2 weeks too, but then you load carbs 2 days per week. Your body uses these carbs for weight lifting on weekdays.
The right way to go low-carb is to cycle your carb intake. You need carbs for strength training. And you need strength training so you lose fat not muscle. Always focus on fat loss so you know what your weight loss is.