There have been many myths around Atkins over the years, but here’s how science is proving a low carb lifestyle gets the balance spot on.

First a spot of low carb myth-busting…

As a nutritionist, I’ve always been a big advocate of low carb lifestyles and during my time at Atkins, I’ve seen many myths surrounding it come and go.

As more scientific studies into nutrition are made, more evidence is gathering in support of a balanced low carb diet. While science may have taken a little longer to catch up, Atkins’ position as the low carb expert has remained the same for over forty years.

We have, of course, evolved our approach over time in line with the latest scientific advice, yet from time to time I do still hear some of the old perceptions of Atkins being voiced. So let’s start by busting one of these myths.

The myth: Atkins is limited

One of the lasting myths is that Atkins is a limited diet that offers little variety in what you can and can’t eat. Meat, eggs, cheese. That’s about it.

This simply isn’t true. With Atkins you taking out the ‘bad’ carbs and what’s left? Everything else!

So, even from the first day on a low carb diet like Atkins, you can eat lots of green leafy vegetables so you’ll get plenty of nutrients and fibre. Match your veggies with a moderate protein source, such as a juicy steak, chicken breast or salmon, add some healthy fats from foods like avocado, oils, butter, olives or cheese and you have the beginnings of a well-balanced, low carb diet.

Low carb means no crash

Just as important as the taste is your body’s reaction to the food you eat. When you eat a high carb meal this creates a ‘spike’ in your blood sugar, which we know as a sugar ‘high’. This is quickly followed by a ‘crash’, a dip in blood sugar which leaves you craving more and feeling lethargic and irritable.

With a low carb approach, you’re reducing the bad carbs and eating enough protein, fat and complex carbs to help your blood sugar levels stabilise. Many people find that cravings are reduced, moods are more balanced and energy may increase.

Feeling fuller for longer

To put this into perspective I wanted to compare some typical UK meal choices to Atkins choices and you’ll see how the nutritional value breaks down:

 

Breakfast 

High Carb Breakfast

Bowl of cornflakes with semi-skimmed milk, glass of orange juice & 2 slices of white toast with jam and butter.

Carbs – 143g Sugar – 49g (over 12 tsp)

 Low Carb Atkins Breakfast

2 egg omelette filled with sliced mushrooms, chopped red pepper and grated cheese.

Carbs – 3g Sugar – 2g

The first choice is loaded with carbs, setting you up for a mid-morning sugar craving. The Atkins breakfast contains more dietary fat and protein so you’ll feel fuller till lunchtime, although it’s fine to have a healthy mid-morning snack if you want one.

 

Lunch 

High Carb Lunch

Baguette filled with tuna mayonnaise and sweetcorn. Packet of crisps and a fizzy drink.

Carbs – 129g, Sugar – 40g (10 tsp)

Low Carb Atkins Lunch

Salmon salad with romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, ½ avocado and feta cheese drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. 

Carbs – 9g, sugar – 5g

 

The baguette, crisps and fizzy drink gives very little in the way of nutrition compared to a large colourful salad.  The salad vegetables are jammed with antioxidants and other health-giving nutrients. The sugar in the salmon salad comes from the natural sweetness of the vegetables.

 

Dinner 

High Carb Dinner

Gammon steak with chips, beans, fried egg and slice of white bread with margarine.

Carbs – 93g, sugar – 12g (3 tsp)

Low carb Atkins dinner

Chicken thigh and mushrooms simmered in cream sauce with cauliflower rice and crispy kale.

Carbs – 10g, sugar – 2g

The high carb dish is full of the kind of ‘stodge’ which is sure to leave you sleeping in the armchair by early evening! The low carb Atkins dish takes 20 minutes to make and tastes fresh and delicious – one of my family favourites!

How does the day stack up?

High carb day – 365g carbs with 101g sugar
Low carb Atkins day – 22g carbs with 9g sugar (no added sugar)

 

You’ll find lots of other great low carb recipes on our website and I’d love to hear about some of your favourite dishes. If you haven’t given Atkins a try yet, then why not? It’s not just for losing weight, you can clean up your diet and improve your health through the food choices you make… and that’s a fact!

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Posted by Linda O'Byrne
Atkins Nutritionist