Discover All About The Atkins Diet – Also Know As The Low Carb Diet

Nearly everyone has heard of the Atkins Diet by now, even if not necessarily clear on what it is. Some may even know it as the source of “low-carb” diet craze in the country, but don’t know much about it beyond that. Considered as controversial as it is revolutionary, the Atkins Diet has worked successfully for a tremendous number of people, and not so successfully for a good amount of others. This article aims to place a neutral and objective eye on this popular weight loss program.

Re-introduced in the 1990’s (after an initial period of popularity in the 1970’s), the Atkins Diet is the brainchild of Dr. Robert Atkins.

The diet works in several phases, the first – or the “induction period” – lasting only 2 weeks. In this phase, dieters are not to eat any more than 20 grams of carbohydrates of any form each day. The bulk of a person’s diet during this period, then, is fats and proteins. Usually, a dieter will reach their 20 gram limit on carbohydrates simply from the small amounts in foods like salad dressing, cheese, sauces, condiments, and vegetables.

Forbidden from a participant’s diet during this 2 week induction period are fruits, grains, breads, cereal, milk, and vegetables with a high-glycemic index (a measure of the effect a food has on the body’s blood sugar).

During this period, the body enters a state called “ketosis”, where it begins burning its own residual deposits of fat in order to produce the energy for which it previously had been relying on your regular consumption of carbohydrates.

Atkins also asserts that the source of most weight problems people experience is an “insulin-resistance” that causes overweight bodies to have difficulty converting carbohydrates into glucose (or sugar) which becomes energy. In this state of ketosis induced by the induction phase of the Atkins Diet, the insulin function of the body is affected in such a way that impedes the production of more fat.

After the two week induction period ends, dieters are then permitted to increase their carbohydrate allowance by 5 grams each week. In other words: they’re allowed 25 grams of carbs per day throughout week 3, 30 grams of carbs per day throughout week 4, 35 g in week 5, etc.

Depending on the person’s body type and weight objectives, this gradual increase in carbs should level off somewhere between 40 g and 90 g per day. At this point, the dieter is considered to have entered the “maintenance” phase of the diet, where they ought to remain for the rest of their lives. Although counting calories is not a part of the Atkins Diet, studies by the North American Association for the Study of Obesity found that adhering to the restrictions imposed by the Atkins Diet led to a decrease of 1,000 calories from participant’s daily caloric intake.

A quick perusal of the recommendations published by most traditional health experts and health organizations will reveal that 40-90 grams of carbs per day is still a miniscule amount compared to that of what they consider a “standard” healthy diet.

The Atkins Diet also contradicts authorities (US FDA and the American Cancer Society included) that extol the virtues of eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grain breads and cereals. According to Atkins, even “healthy” carbohydrates are harmful in large quantities.

Studies by the Annals of Internal Medicine and the New England Journal of Medicine have actually found that participants on the Atkins Diet experienced an improvement in heart disease indicators.

Like the 80’s and 90’s were to “low-fat” and “fat-free”, Dr. Atkins has helped make the early 21st century “low-carb”. Whether that’s for better or worse is up to you.

Common mistakes of Atkins dieters

The Atkins diet is one of the simplest weight loss plans to follow. Although the principles are clearly set out in the books, there are some common misconceptions that occur for dieters. These mistakes can make a big difference in the amount of weight you lose and effectiveness of the diet overall. If Atkins isn’t working for you, or you find yourself suddenly gaining weight after weeks of effective dieting, make sure you aren’t making any of these common mistakes.

First, make sure to be patient with your weight loss. If you lose 8 lbs per week on the Induction phase and then slow down once you enter ongoing weight loss phase, this is perfectly normal. The level of carbohydrate grams that are acceptable on the Induction portion of the diet are not meant to carry you through the rest of your dieting experience. Induction is meant to break you of carbohydrate cravings and detoxify your body from sugar. Starting with the ongoing weight loss phase, you will begin introducing small levels of carbohydrate grams each week. This may slow down weight loss a bit from the level it was at during Induction, but this is completely normal.

Also, people are different and react differently to the diet. Some people lose weight in spurts, and other lose weight more steadily. A plateau can last for a few weeks and then voila, you’ve lost five pounds in a matter of a few days.

Make sure you are avoiding caffeine in all of its forms as well as aspartame, a common artificial sweetener. Both of these chemicals can impact blood sugar levels negatively. Look out for caffeine in coffee and diet sodas. Watch out for aspartame in diet sodas and sugar-free gelatin. These can cause cravings for sugar and take your body out of ketosis after just one serving.

Watch your daily intake of cheese. Although cheese is on the acceptable foods list, it does have small amount of carbohydrates. Your best bet is to limit your cheese intake to 4 oz per day. You can have more on special occasions, but it should not be used as your mainstay for protein. Meats, eggs and tofu are much better choices and don’t contain carbohydrate grams.

Remember to emphasize vegetables during Induction and beyond. Your carbohydrate grams should be primarily derived from leafy, green vegetables and other acceptable vegetable choices. Vegetables fill you up without spiking your blood sugar. They provide essential fiber and nutrients that help your weight loss efforts and overall health. After induction, you should have 3-4 cups of salad and 1 cup of cooked vegetables each day. Make sure the vegetables you are using are on the acceptable foods list. Eliminating vegetables from your diet can shut down your metabolism and cause your weight loss to stall.

It is also very important that you eat regularly while you are on the Atkins plan. Never go more than five waking hours without eating a combined snack of protein and fats. Two things happen when you skip meals. First, you cause a blood sugar drop that will have you craving carbohydrates like bread and sugar. Secondly, continued periods of not eating will slow down your metabolism and make it even harder to lose weight.
Finally, make sure you are drinking enough water each day. Water has a myriad of benefits for every human being, not just those on the Atkins diet. Thirst can sometimes be masked as hunger, so staying well hydrated will keep you from craving foods you shouldn’t be eating. Water also helps you avoid constipation, which is an occasional side effect of the Atkins diet. Drinking 8 eight ounce glasses of water per day will also help you flush out the toxins from your system that are produced when you burn fat.

These common mistakes can make people frustrated with the Atkins diet when there is no need to be. If you are just starting out on the diet, make sure to prepare yourself for these mistakes. If you’ve been on the diet for some time, evaluate your eating habits and make sure you are following the program correctly.

Carbohydrate Substitutes for the Atkins diet

Cutting down on carbohydrates with the Atkins diet is easy when you see the wide variety of proteins and vegetables that are on the acceptable foods list. However, it does take some time and adjustment to get used to this new way of eating. A lot of the American diet centers around complex carbohydrate foods like breads and pastas. Snack foods are full of sugars and refined carbohydrates. This new way of eating will challenge your old habits. However, there are many carbohydrate substitutes that can fill in the gap.

Some of the most popular replacement items are sugar substitutes. These can be good or bad depending on how you react to them. Each person has a different reaction to artificial sweeteners like aspartame and Splenda. They can be helpful in baking low-carbohydrate treats and making things taste sweet without risking sugar use. However, many people find that using artificial sweeteners makes them crave sugar even more. If you find you want more sweet treats after drinking a diet soda or eating a snack made with Splenda, its best to eliminate them entirely from your diet.

Bread is the number one challenge that Atkins dieters face when looking at their new diet plans. Bread is a staple food for many people, and eliminating it can be somewhat of a problem. There are some low carb breads available out there, but you have to watch for hidden carbohydrates and other unacceptable ingredients. If you are ambitious, you can try making your own bread out of almond flour or other non-traditional flours.

Many people say that they love pasta, but people vary rarely eat it plain. The best part about pasta is the topping. So taking those toppings (meat, cheese and vegetables) and putting them over something else is an easy solution. Many people who follow the Atkins plan have found that squash makes a good pasta substitute. Spaghetti squash, a yellow orange gourd with stringy insides, is a natural base for homemade meat sauce. Zucchini is also a good pasta substitute. You can grate in into fine pieces or chunk it up into sections to act as a base for sauces. Lasagna is easily made with large pieces of eggplant as a substitute for the noodles. The meats and cheeses used in lasagna are low-carb so there’s nothing to worry about there.

Another common problem for Atkins dieters is finding a good substitute for rice. One popular solution is to use cauliflower. Simply place the cauliflower florettes in a food processor and chop them until they are rice sizes pieces. Then microwave the “rice” without water. The pieces will come out fluffy and ready to be used in casseroles or as part of a side dish.

Cauliflower is also a popular potato substitute for Atkins dieters. This time, puree the cauliflower until it is smooth and creamy, just like mashed potatoes. You can add your favorite low-carb topping to it like bacon, sour cream and cheese.

Pizza is a favorite food for many people, but there are Atkins friendly solutions for homemade pizzas that taste just as good. You can make small pizzas using low-carb tortillas as the crust. You can also use the same method with large Portobello mushrooms. If the alternative crust options don’t sound good to you, you can also try a pizza casserole with all of the ingredient layered in a casserole dish.
These substitutes will help you avoid indulging in your high-carb favorites while on the Atkins diet.

Carbohydrate Cravings and the Atkins diet

Carbohydrate cravings are difficult to deal with, especially when you are trying to maintain a low carbohydrate way of life. However, carbohydrate cravings are not just a matter of will power. As Dr. Atkins points out in his book, carbohydrates produce a flood of insulin and a rise in blood sugar. There is indeed a physical trigger for carbohydrate cravings, and it is one of the reasons that it is so easy to develop a high-carbohydrate, low protein way of eating.

There are many signs of physical carbohydrate cravings. You will experience a compelling hunger for carbohydrate rich foods. Overtime, you will develop a growing need for starches, snack foods and sweets. Additionally, you may experience cravings and weight gain after using some of the carbohydrate act-a-likes such as sugar substitutes and alcohol.

High carbohydrate foods are everywhere, which makes the cravings even harder to overcome. Eating the high-sugar, refined starch foods will feed your cravings and create more, much like a drug habit. In fact, high levels of carbohydrates produce high levels of the brain chemical seratonin, which is the chemical found in Prozac and other anti-depressants. So eating high levels of carbohydrates is self-medicating. People with low levels of seratonin are prone to using carbohydrates like a drug.

Tension and stress can also lead to overeating carbohydrate-laden foods. When we are tense, the adrenal gland creates more cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that stimulates production of a brain chemical that causes carbohydrate cravings. It also stimulates insulin, which leads to blood sugar dips and more fat storage.

Considering all of these factors, it may seem impossible to live on a low-carbohydrate diet. However, following the Atkins plan is one of the best ways to break the cycle of carbohydrate addiction and take back your life and your health. The Atkins plan helps you take control of your cravings and rid yourself of years of damage caused by eating too many carbohydrates.

While on the Atkins diet, you may experience some carbohydrate cravings from time to time, especially during the initial phases of the diet. However, these will lessen as your body becomes more used to eating a protein-centered diet. In order to keep your cravings in check, eat small meals or snacks that contain protein every few hours. This will keep your blood sugars stable and avoid the “crash” you feel when you go hungry. Skipping meals will cause drops in blood sugar and leave you craving sweets.

Protein and fat, which are the focus of the Atkins plan, will give your body extended energy. Make sure you are getting enough levels of the essential fats. Sometimes an Omega 3 fish oil supplement will help stave off carbohydrate cravings.

Cravings for foods can sometimes be caused by dehydration. It’s a good rule of thumb to drink a glass of water before reaching for any type of snack. Sometimes thirst can mask itself as hunger. When your body is properly hydrated, it will run more efficiently and you will see a decrease in cravings.
Recognize that there is a physical addiction to carbohydrates that will need to be broken. Don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed with cravings for carbs after the first few days on the plan. This is normal. Your body is used to running on a diet full of sugar and carbohydrates. It will take some time to adjust to this new way of eating. Normally, these feelings don’t last more than the two-week induction period. Stay committed to this new way of eating and you will see the benefits quickly.

Atkins Snack Choices

We live in a society of nibblers. Long gone are the traditional three square meals per day. Today, people eat at their desks, catch a snack in the afternoon and eat late night goodies. Most, if not all, of these snacks are carbohydrate based and full of sugar. This poses a challenge to people who are trying to follow the Atkins plan. Snacking is a necessary part of keeping your blood sugar up, but most packaged snack foods are forbidden on the plan.

Sweet snacks are high in calories, full of empty carbohydrates and offer no nutritional value. But they sure are popular. There is actually a Snack Food Association that tracks sales of packaged snack foods. It is estimated that Americans eat 3.1 billion pounds of chocolate. Snacking has increased more than a third since 1988. Sales of snack foods gross over $30 billion a year.

If you’ve been a snack food junkie you’ve become used to eating carbohydrates of the worst kind. Snack foods are made from highly refined carbohydrates like white flour, white sugar, corn meal and corn syrup. They are high in trans-fats (which is a contributor to clogged arteries). All in all, they are probably one of the worst food choices you could be making.

But there is hope! You can conquer your love of snack foods by making Atkins-friendly snacking choices. Before you can make the switch, make sure to educate yourself. Understand just how dangerous trans fats can be by reading up on them. Then read the ingredients label of your favorite snack foods. You may be shocked to discover how many trans fats, artificial flavorings and preservatives that you are eating.

Next, get rid of all of the snack foods in your house. If its not there, then you can’t eat it. Junk food is not good for anyone in your home so ignore your family’s complaints and do what is best for the health of everyone.

Now you’ll need to replace those snack foods with some better choices. Giving up your snack foods is not the same as giving up snacks. Snacks should be a part of your daily eating plan because it will help you from becoming too hungry and indulging in high-carbohydrate treats.

There are plenty of low carbohydrate snacks that are easy to make and simple to have around the house. String cheese sticks or small cheese rounds are very easy to keep in the refrigerator. Meat snacks are also a good choice. You can buy jerky strips and other meat products that keep well for long periods of time. When you buy cheese or meat sticks, make sure to read the labels carefully for hidden carbs.

There are low carb instant soups available that are very easy to make and satisfying if you are craving something hot. Low carb soy chips and celery can help with “crunchy” cravings. Try adding peanut butter or cream cheese spread to add more protein to these snacks. Also, you can’t beat a handful of nuts for a high-protein, quick snack.

All of the previously mentioned snacks are good for the initial phases of the Atkins diet and beyond. If you are past the induction phase, you can enjoy berries with cream as a snack. There are also many acceptable fruits that make good snacks for the pre-maintenance phase.

Atkins Shopping Tips

When you start the Atkins diet, you are entering a new world of eating. And nowhere is that more apparent than at the supermarket. Suddenly, all of your stand-by foods like macaroni and cheese, pasta and bread are no longer on your shopping list. When you go shopping for the first few times you may feel like a fish out of water. However, with a bit of practice you’ll feel just as comfortable as you were with your previous shopping lists.

Successful Atkins shopping starts before you reach the store. There are many resources for shopping lists online and in Atkins books. Before you head for the store, make a list of the week’s recipes and then decide what you’ll need to make each meal. Make sure to purchase low-carb snacks for in between meals.

Also, plan for modifications to the meals for other people in your home. You won’t be able to make totally different meals for yourself and your family for the long term. The best approach is to use the main meat dish for your meal for the entire family and then a carbohydrate side dish for your family. For example, if you are eating meatloaf you can add half a potato for the other members of your family.

Once you’ve made your meal plan for the week, its time to hit the store. When you arrive, buy your protein items and produce first. This may sound very simple and like it won’t make much difference, but it will. Once you’ve filled your cart with all of the acceptable foods, there won’t be room for much more.

Consider buying your meat in bulk. This will save you lots of money if you know where to get family sized packages of meat. When you buy meat in large quantities, you can also cook it in bulk as well. Taking time a few days per week to cook meat makes it simple to follow the Atkins plan. You can cook your meat before hand and have it ready to go when you need it. You can purchase ground beef, chicken pieces, small steaks and even seafood in bulk.

Cheese, if you can tolerate it, can also be purchased in bulk. Many stores offer store-brand cheese in large bricks. You’ll need to make sure to read the labels before you purchase any cheese. Make sure that when you eat cheese to eat some fiber (salad or raw veggies) as well. Having large blocks of your favorite cheeses on hand can make it easy to grab a quick snack between meals.

As you walk around the store, stick to the outer edges. The outer aisles have the freshest food. Think about your neighborhood grocery store. Most often the deli, the meat counter and the produce section are all along the sides of the store with the packaged items in the aisles. This is especially important if you are in the initial phases of the Atkins diet. You’ll want to stay away from all packaged foods during induction, even if they are low carb packaged foods. Once you add more carbohydrate grams to your daily limit, you can start to experiment with low-carb packaged foods.

That leads to the next important tip – read the labels! Just because an item says it is low carb, it may have hidden sugars. Do your investigative work at the grocery store so you won’t get home with products that cause you to gain weight.
Shopping for the Atkins diet will take some time to get used to. You’ll be navigating parts of the grocery store that you may not be familiar with. You’ll also be purchasing items you’ve never cooked before. However, with planning and dedication low carb shopping will become easier. Just remember to make a list before you visit the store and stay toward the outer aisles of the grocery store. In no time, you’ll be an experienced low carb shopper.

Atkins for Dieting

Most people around the world by now have heard of the Atkins diet. It has been one of the most highly touted and highly controversial diets of our time. Those who love it have nothing but great things to say about it but those who are critical are not shy about their opposition either. The largest criticism when it comes to the Atkins, or low carb diet would be the near absence of whole grains, which are considered the cornerstone to a healthy diet by many.

Dieting with the Atkins diet involved eliminating a large degree of carbohydrates from your diet. In the past there hasn’t been as much of an emphasis on fitness and exercise with the Atkins diet as there seems to be currently. This is good news however as an active fitness regime is as essential to successful weight loss as cutting calories and in this case cutting carbohydrates.

You should take great caution that you are getting accurate information when it comes to Atkins dieting if this is something you are considering in order to meet your fitness and weight loss needs. There is a great deal of misleading and incorrect information that is floating around out there when it comes to the Atkins diet and weight loss plan. First of all, weight loss is the direct result of burning more calories than you consume. It doesn’t matter how many or how few carbs you enjoy or deny yourself during the day if at the end of the day you’ve consumed a few thousand calories too many.

The notion that you can eat anything you want during the day as long as there are no carbs is simply incorrect. Calories still put on the pounds whether you are using the Atkins plan for weight loss or not. That being said there are some interesting insights in this diet and a good man of the foods that are eliminated are those that have the most complex sugars for the body to dispose of. For this reason there are many who have followed the honest to goodness plan to tremendous results.

If you are considering dieting with the Atkins plan you should realize that this is a lifelong commitment in order to achieve the maximum benefit of the plan. There will be lesser restrictions as you reach the maintenance phases of the plans but you are making a conscious decision to pretty much sacrifice a good deal of the carbohydrates that many of us have enjoyed throughout our lives. This is a concept that is much easier said than done over an extended period of time and especially in a society when most of us cannot commit to a mate for that long.

At any rate, dieting with the Atkins plan has produced results for a good deal of people around the world. The news of these results has made it one of the most talked about, tested, and tried systems for dieting on the planet and many people have mixed reviews. Those who love it and feel that it is effective are enthusiastic in its support though those that are honest will admit that you do feel as though you are sacrificing a good deal for the sake of your dietary needs. Those who hate it hate it, and there is nothing that is going to change their opinion. The only way to know for sure is to try for yourself.

Atkins Diet Foods

Atkins diet foods are easy to find and available everywhere. There are many varieties to choose from, whether you pick prepackaged low-carb diet foods or make your own meals. No matter how you want to do the Atkins plan, there is a solution out there for you.

You’ll need to keep the Atkins food pyramid in mind when you make food choices. The Atkins pyramid looks much different than the USDA Food Guide Pyramid. The base of the pyramid consists of protein sources such as eggs, fish, beef, chicken and tofu. On a daily basis, your diet should consist primarily of these foods. The second tier has low glycemic vegetables like salad greens, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and spinach.

The third tier is made up of berries and avocado. Fruits should be used on an occasional basis after the initial stages of the Atkins diet. Vegetable and seed oils, cheese, dairy, nuts and legumes are used sparingly and in appropriate portions. While the FDA pyramid has oils and fats at the top peak, the Atkins pyramid places whole grain foods in this spot. Whole grain foods should be used very occasionally and don’t make up the mainstay of the Atkins diet.

When you start the Atkins plan, you’ll need to make sure you understand which foods are acceptable for your stage of the program. The Induction phase is the most restrictive, but it only lasts two weeks.

You owe it to your dieting success to stay within the acceptable foods list. One of the best ways to do this is to follow the Atkins menu plans that are printed within the New Diet Revolution book. There are also Atkins cookbooks and cookbooks that are geared toward other low carb diets that are helpful in formulating meal plans.

It’s a helpful idea to use a cheat sheet of acceptable Atkins foods wherever you go. If you are out and about and hungry, the last thing you want to do is to try to think back in your memory to figure out what you can and cannot eat. Carrying a list of acceptable foods with you will make finding a snack or meal while out on the run easy. You can’t always rely on “low carb” labels to tell you whether or not something is diet friendly. Ever since low carb became the new diet craze, manufacturers have been jumping on the bandwagon to attract Atkins dieters. They label items low carb to sell products and don’t have your health in mind. Relying on foods from your own personal list is the best way to stay on the plan.

Another good resource for keeping track of the appropriate Atkins foods is an online diet program. There are several available. Some are free and some have a small monthly fee. The programs require you to register and then they provide you with personal weekly menu plans based on your needs and your carbohydrate gram level. There are normally printable weekly shopping lists that make picking up your Atkins diet foods from the grocery store easy and quick.

Atkins diet food is easy to find once you know what you are looking for. The books, food pyramid and online resources can help you make better food choices and stay on the diet for the long term.

Atkins Diet Basics

The Atkins diet is not a new phenomenon. The diet first appeared in the late 1970s and has grown popularity in recent years in response to the low-fat diet craze. As dieters had trouble with low-fat plans, they searched for a new solution and Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution book found a new audience.

A lot of people have jumped on the Atkins bandwagon and there has been a lot of hype as a result. But what are the basic principles of the Atkins diet?

The Atkins diet is based on a theory of why we get fat. According to Dr. Atkins, the over-consumption of carbohydrates and simple sugars leads to weight gain. The way your body processes the carbohydrates you eat have more to do with your waistline than the amount of fat or calories that you consume. In his book, Atkins outlines a phenomenon called “insulin resistance.” He theorizes that many overweight people have cells that do not work correctly.

When you eat excess carbohydrates and sugar, your body notices that sugar levels are elevated. Insulin is released from the pancreas in order to store sugar as glycogen in the liver and muscle cells for extra energy later on. However, your body can only store so much glycogen at once. As soon as your body reaches its limit for glycogen storage, the excess carbohydrates are stored as fat. This happens to everyone who eats too many carbohydrates.

However, insulin resistant individuals have an even harder time of using and storing excess carbohydrates. The more insulin that your body is exposed to, the more resistant it becomes. Overtime, the pancreas releases more insulin and cells become insulin resistant. The cells are trying to protect themselves from the toxic effects of high insulin. They create less glycogen and more fat.

As a result, insulin resistant individuals gain extra weight. The carbohydrates get converted into fat instead of energy. Other side effects include fatigue, brain “fog” (the inability to focus, poor memory, loss of creativity), low blood sugar (which can leads to hypoglycemia), intestinal bloating, sleepiness, depression and increased blood sugar. There is much more than weight at stake when you are insulin resistant.

The remedy for people who are insulin resistant is a diet restricted in carbohydrates. The crux of the Atkins diet is a limitation of carbohydrates in all of its forms. The foods restricted on the Atkins plan include simple sugars (like cookies, sodas and sweets) and complex carbohydrates (like bread, rice and grains). Even carbohydrates that are considered healthy, such as oatmeal, brown rice and whole wheat bread, are restricted on the program.

The diet has you restrict your carbohydrate intake to less than 40 grams a day. This will put your body in a state of ketosis. While in ketosis, your body will burn fat as fuel. According to Dr. Atkins’ research, the ketosis state will also affect insulin production and it will prevent more fat from being formed. Your body will begin using your stored fat as an efficient form of fuel, and you’ll lose weight.
Another benefit of the Atkins plan is that ketosis will end your cravings for carbohydrates. If you’ve been living on a carb-heavy diet, you may have found that you simply cannot get enough carbohydrates. With carbohydrate restriction and ketosis comes a reduction in carbohydrate cravings. People who have been on the Atkins diet for some time report that they do not crave carbohydrates as they once did.

Although the initial phases of the Atkins diet are rather strict, the program teaches you to restore balance to your diet in the long run. People who use the diet slowly reintroduce minimal amounts of carbohydrate into their eating until they find a comfortable balance between their health and carbohydrate use.

The basic principles of the Atkins diet have been adapted to many other low-carb diet plans. However, Atkins popularity still remains strong as one of the most effective low-carbohydrate solutions for those who are insulin resistant.

Atkins and Sugar Cravings

Sugar is everywhere you look and it might pop up in some surprising places. Did you know that most whole grain breads have at least one form of sugar in them? We have a national sweet tooth epidemic. Even if you don’t eat a lot of sugary treats you may experience intense sugar cravings in the first few weeks of the Atkins diet. So many “healthy” carbohydrate foods have hidden sugars in them, your body may be experiencing withdrawal.

The problem with sugar is that your blood sugar is tied into your energy levels and your overall health. When your blood sugar is too low, you will experience intense cravings. High blood sugar is a result of eating high-sugar meals. When you eat concentrated sugar, your blood sugar will raise to high levels. Your pancreas thinks there is something wrong and then it secretes insulin to lower the blood sugar. As this happens more, you can create pre-diabetic conditions in your body as your pancreas becomes worn out and eventually cannot secrete insulin.

Fortunately, getting started on the Atkins diet plan can put a stop to this cycle. However, this doesn’t mean that sugar cravings go away automatically. Sugar products are everywhere and temptation is sometimes hard to fight.

The best way to approach sugar cravings is with planning. If you maintain a balance of protein, fat and fiber in your daily diet you will prevent blood sugar drops that lead to sugar cravings. Also, do not go too long between meals without eating. Snacks are an important part of keeping your blood sugar stable. Have some handy snacks like cheese, nuts, seeds and boiled eggs on hand with you so you can quickly stabilize your blood sugar without turning to sweet treats.

Sugar cravings can also be a sign of a nutritional deficiency. When you are low on magnesium, you will crave chocolate and other sweets. Zinc and chromium can also stave off sugar cravings. If you aren’t taking a good multivitamin supplement with these minerals, start immediately. If you are and you are still experiencing cravings, consider trying additional supplements of these nutrients.

Another tactic is to brush your teeth. Many Atkins dieters find that brushing their teeth or using Listerine breath strips can help with cravings. Both methods will numb your mouth and prevent you from wanting to eat. Drinking two large glasses of water can also help eliminate cravings. If your stomach is full, then you’ll be less likely to reach for a sugary treat.

Sometimes out of sight, out of mind is the best approach. If you find yourself overcome with cravings while you are at home, get outside and take a walk. The distraction will have you forgetting your sugar craving in no time. Calling a friend for support or logging into an Atkins support forum can also go a long way toward preventing you from succumbing to sugar cravings.

Having a low-carb version of your favorite treat is another good idea. You are less likely to feel deprived if you can have a satisfying low carb treat. There are a wide variety of low-carb products available on the market that can beat your sweet tooth. Low-carb yogurt, chocolate, ice cream and candy can all help you stay on the Atkins plan and still get something sweet to eat.

Sugar cravings are a reality of following the Atkins plan, but the previous tips will help you overcome them and stay committed to your weight loss efforts.