So I’ve finished the first two weeks of the Atkins diet. And I want to get one huge misconception out of the way: it is NOT “all the fatty meats, butter, oil, cream, etc. you want.”
First of all, you are required to eat a certain amount of carbs each day, of which at least 12-15 [of 20, to start] must be from vegetables, including at least one salad made of greens (and whatever else you want), which is not at all carb-dense. 12-15 g. of carbs from veggies is, for me, one fairly large salad a day plus 3 more decent-sized portions of veggies (one with lunch, one with dinner, and one as a snack). So that’s a fair amount of food already.
Second, cream and cheese also have carbs, so you have to count those into your limit and they’re certainly not unlimited. (So do vegetarian proteins, which is why vegetarians start at a higher allowance–30 for lacto-ovo-vegetarians and 35 for vegans.) You are expected to only eat full-fat dairy products, for several reasons–fat aids digestion of calcium and vitamins, they make you full on a smaller quantity, and low-fat or skim dairy is higher in sugars.
Third, you are supposed to use just enough oil in cooking (olive or canola, only) or sauces/dressings (also allows sesame and other nut and seed oils) to be sufficient for the purpose. It is, however, recommended that you make sure to get a reasonable amount of oil/butter (2T/day) if your diet is otherwise low fat.
Fourth, assuming you’re eating all your carbs including all your veggies, on top of that you can have as many pure proteins (meat, poultry, fish, etc.) as you need to feel full but not stuffed. You are expected to shoot for about 4-6 oz. of protein per meal or 12-18 oz. per day, slightly more if you are a very large man. If you’re not losing weight at a decent rate, the first recommendation is to make sure you’re not eating too much protein.
By the way, I’ve heard it claimed (as if this were a bad thing) that the only reason Atkins works long-term is that people unconsciously start eating fewer calories. This is actually true, and why anyone would think it’s a problem with the diet is beyond me. I find it particularly ironic that this fault is touted by the same people who make the “unlimited quantities of steak and butter” claims. But yes, when you’re eating foods that are more filling and take longer to digest, then yes, you can eat fewer calories and not feel hungry. That’s the whole point.
Anyway, on to the question of what I’ve been eating …
2 eggs, coffee with cream, sometimes a bit of smoked salmon
caprese salad (tomato wedges and fresh mozzarella, tossed with extra virgin olive oil and basil)
mostly leftovers from dinner the night before
in an emergency, Gorton’s frozen fish filets in one of the non-breaded varieties, with veggies
chipotle-baked tofu; green beans
Moroccan-spiced mahimahi; asparagus
lemon herb baked tofu; broccoli with lemon butter
Greek-style baked cod with fennel, tomatoes, red onion, and feta
quiche with zucchini, red peppers, and Swiss and parmesan cheese
seitan fajitas (minus the tortillas) with peppers, onions, sour cream, and cheese; and cold avocado chipotle soup
tilapia baked with tomato and lemon juice; marinated zucchini
orange roughy [I know, I know, Expat already yelled at me] with safflower and garlic; zucchini and squash salad
Carl’s Jr Low Carb $6 burger (long story)
Thai coconut curry
sashimi, miso soup, and salad
plus nearly every night a green salad
celery sticks with ranch dip
sesame-roasted (or wasabi-roasted) seaweed (OMG so addictive!)
leftover vegetables from dinner
And the results
So far, I’ve lost a total of 7 pounds (sadly, less than 10% of the weight I need to lose). By the way, you’re supposed to measure yourself every day but track your weight by averaging each day with the days before and after.
I got a new scale halfway through, so I can only tell you my body composition as of that date–4.5 lbs. of fat lost, 2.9 lbs. of muscle gained, 1.1 lbs of water gained.
Measurements: 1/4″ off the hips and chest, 3/4″ off my thighs and upper arms, 1 1/4″ off my waist. (hey, gotta start somewhere!).
*By the way, a note on the girly stuff:* I didn’t ovulate this month, which is apparently common if you’re in Phase 1. Since we skipped trying this month anyway because I’m waiting to see if the wrist requires surgery, this was not a big problem for me, but it did freak me out a little. I’d only just gotten used to being able to depend on my body.
Where I go from here
The week of July 18-24, I get to eat 25g/day of carbs and add nuts (except peanuts), seeds, and wine or liquor with sugar-free mixers to my diet.
The week of July 25-31, I get to eat 30g/day of carbs and add legumes (including peanuts) to my diet.
The week of August 1-7, I get to eat 35g/day of carbs and add berries and cherries to my diet (and melon, which I dislike).
The week of August 8-14, I get to eat 40g/day of carbs and add yogurt and fresh cheeses to my diet.