The lowdown on the New Atkins diet
Remember the Atkins craze of the early 2000s? Well, the low-carb diet has had a bit of makeover and is now known as the ‘New Atkins Nutritional Approach’. The diet focuses on healthy living and maintaining weight by eating a combination of lean meats, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and dairy.
The New Atkins features four different phases and you’re actually able to choose which phase to begin with, depending on your personal needs and goals. The core focus of the diet is carbohydrate control, and is based on the theory that if your body has access to carbohydrates, it will transform them into energy, with excess carbs being stored as fat. So if carbs are restricted, the body will burn fat for fuel instead, leading to weight loss. However, it does encourage you to eat ‘good’ carbohydrates, i.e. the ones that have minimal impact on your blood sugar levels.
So here’s a breakdown of each phase – plus a handy dandy menu sample for each stage!
PHASE 1: INDUCTION
This phase lasts for two weeks and is best suited to those who: tend to yo-yo with their weight; have more than 12 kilograms to lose; have a slow or inactive metabolism; or want to lose weight quickly. In this stage you’ll focus on eating protein, vegetables and natural fats. You’re allowed to eat 20 grams of carbohydrates daily – 12-15 of which should come from nutrient-dense vegetables (such as kale, spinach, and bok choy). Other foods you’re allowed to eat include eggs, chicken, lamb, fish, spinach, broccoli, avocado, tomato, cheese, olives, and olive oil.
PHASE 2: ONGOING WEIGHTLOSS
You can start on this phase if you: have less than six kilograms to lose; have more than six kilos to lose but want a wider range of food choices; or are willing to lose weight more slowly. The diet becomes a lot more varied in this stage and introduces different vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds, berries, low-sugar fruits, a variety of dairy products (like cottage cheese and whole-milk yoghurt), and for some, lentils and kidney beans. You’re allowed 25 grams of carbs at this stage and must start increasing your activity levels.
PHASE 3: PRE-MAINTENANCE
This phase is for you if you: are within four kilos of your goal weight; want to maintain your weight but boost your energy levels; or are willing to lose excess weight slowly. Your food choices will expand gradually during this phase as you learn how many carbs you can eat while maintaining your weight. In this stage you can expect a lot of lean protein, colourful, fibrous vegetables and fruits, and whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa.
PHASE 4: LIFETIME MAINTENANCE
The final stage is all about following a healthy and sustainable eating plan and making sure you’re being active. Depending on how your body digests carbohydrates, you can consume up to 100 grams of carbs a day.
Would you try the New Atkins Nutritional Approach? What would be the hardest food for you to give up if you go on a diet?
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