What is the Atkins Diet?
photka/ShutterstockPerhaps the original low-carb eating plan, it emphasizes protein and fats while restricting carbohydrates, particularly those from refined, processed, or starchy sources such as bread, pasta, and baked goods. Plenty of fresh vegetables provide fiber, and in lieu of counting calories, followers track their net carbs (the number you get when you subtract dietary fiber content from total carbohydrates on the nutrition label). The tactic is said to slash weight and keep it off by balancing blood sugar levels, reducing hunger, and decreasing fat storage. Developed in the 1960s by cardiologist Robert Adkins, MD, its popularity has remained steady ever since, especially with the recent surge in adopting a ketogenic diet, which forces the body to burn fat instead of carbs. Dana Cohen, MD, an integrative medicine physician in New York City and author of the upcoming book Quench, worked with Dr. Atkins and shares her favorite Atkins-approved grocery items. Here's what it's like to follow a ketogenic diet.
Oleksii Mishchenko/ShutterstockContrary to some nutrition programs that emphasize low-fat egg whites as a protein-rich breakfast choice, the Atkins Diet wants you to eat the whole egg. That's because the yolk provides necessary fats your body needs for the plan to work correctly. "I will dice half an avocado, drizzle extra virgin olive oil, add a pinch of sea salt and then add a fried egg on top—it's delish, nutrish, and easy," says Cohen. The combo of healthy fats and protein make it a filling meal. Here's how to make the perfect scrambled eggs.
Sergey Eremin/Shutterstock"For lunch, I'll eat any greens, and lots of them," says Cohen. "Arugula is my favorite." Spinach and kale are also good choices, as they're high in vitamins K, C, and A, as well as minerals.
parasolia/ShutterstockTechnically a fruit, cucumbers are super low in calories with a high water content, which helps fill you up. Eat them as a snack or as a salad topping. You can also scoop out the seeds and make cucumber boats and fill with your favorite Atkins-approved topping.
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bjphotographs/Shutterstock"Trader Joe's offers wild Pacific salmon that's already cooked. I will pick at this throughout the day or flake it on top of a salad," says Cohen. Salmon is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids—if you opt for canned, you'll get the added benefit of calcium from the edible bones. These are the signs you're not getting enough calcium.
kampon warit/ShutterstockBell peppers are high in vitamins and fiber. Make an Atkins-approved dinner by stuffing them with a mixture of cooked protein such as chicken or fish, mixed with veggies like onions, garlic, greens, or fresh herbs, and baking in the oven with extra virgin olive oil on top. These are the healthiest vegetables you can eat.
farbled/ShutterstockWhile many low-calorie diets shun beef for leaner chicken or turkey, the Atkins Diet embraces its higher fat content. "I like to get grass-fed beef and make a creative side dish, like mashed cauliflower with butter and sea salt," says Cohen.
Rathaporn Nanthapreecha/ShutterstockWhether fresh or canned, tuna is high in protein and healthy fats. "I'll do canned chunk light tuna once a week—it has less mercury than white tuna," says Cohen. Dollop it on salad or dip sticks of celery, carrots, cucumber, or another favorite veggie in it.
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JLMcAnally/ShutterstockPickles are a great Atkins snack; just be sure to check the sugar and salt content before buying. "Don't get bread and butter pickles—those are soaked in sugar," says Cohen. Try these energy-boosting snacks.
luckakcul/ShutterstockTiny but mighty, chia seeds are a goldmine of protein, healthy fats, and fiber. They also make a healthy, Atkins-approved dessert. "I make pudding with chia seeds, half-and-half, monk fruit sweetener, and some blueberries," says Cohen. The fats and protein provide a satiating solution to any sweet tooth. This is why you should eat more chia seeds.
GoncharukMaks/ShutterstockYes, you can eat cheese on the Atkins Diet—the key is moderation. "I'll buy tons of veggies and make a huge salad with protein on top and a little cheese," says Cohen. Bleu cheese is a great choice, because it's so flavorful, you only need a light sprinkling for a big flavor impact.
jiangdi/ShutterstockRejoice, avocado lovers—you can still enjoy your favorite green fruit on the Atkins diet. Avocados are packed with healthy mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, which help keep you feeling full longer and balance blood sugar levels.
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Alexander Rutz/ShutterstockThis is a non-starchy veggie, which means it won't contribute too many net carbs toward your total for the day. Sautéed it with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper for a flavorful side dish or salad topping. These are the foods skinny people eat all the time.
AlessandraRC/ShutterstockCruciferous vegetables like broccoli are high in fiber and low in carbs, making them a good Atkins choice. Roast them in the oven or add them raw to a salad.
HikoPhotography/ShutterstockStock up on full-fat yogurt and cottage cheese. You can even have whipped cream. "Berries with real whipped cream is a good dessert," says Cohen. Read on for 35 ways nutritionists sneak more food into their diet.