Sunday, 5 December 2010

Diet #5, New Atkins, New You

I'm sorry to say that I didn't really stick to the Alkaline diet. It didn't inspire me, probably because there were no obvious and immediate advantages - which is probably why you don't hear of many people doing it. I've been eating pretty much normally this week: on the plus side, one of the things that people kept telling me about was that "as soon as you start eating normally you'll put it all back on again". I'm happy to say that I only put on a pound in the last week, so the start weight for Atkins is 10st3lb.

Atkins is the diet that I have been dreading most so far. Although it sounds so easy to say "no carbs", when I think about what I eat every day - breakfast cereal, bread, pasta, crackers and crisps, I'm overwhelmed by an impending sense of doom. What am I going to eat?? Eating cheese as a snack is so counter-intuitive it makes me want to cry.

Friends who've done this diet rave about it. Someone tells me they lost a stone in two weeks before a big holiday, someone else told me that her husband did it and it worked brilliantly, another friends parents are doing it, apparently. Anyone who hasn't done it thinks that I'm mad. They're probably closer to the mark.

I've borrowed "New Atkins, New You" from the library, and a friend has loaned me the Dr Atkins New Diet Cookbook, and I'm all set. For those of you who don't work in offices where every diet has been tried and tested, discussed and disected around the watercooler in minute detail, the principle of Atkins sounds straightforward. When you eat, your body produces blood sugar (glucose). When you eat carbs, your glucose level goes up rapidly. Insulin is released to lower it - the insulin enables some of the glucose to be used for energy, and the rest is stored as fat. When you restrict your carb intake, less glucose is produced, and your body turns to the next source of energy, fat - which is where the weightloss comes in. You literally consume yourself!

Although the book makes it clear that this diet sets no limit on the amount of food you can eat, the lists of food that you can eat is hugely restrictive. The induction diet is the strictest of all. The list of "free" food includes meat, fish, chicken, eggs and cheese. Fortunately, the "new" Atkins also includes lots of vegetables, and caffeine, neither of which were available on the old diet. However, there are many more foods that are strictly forbidden - fruit, foods made with flour and/or sugar (including bread, pasta, biscuits, crisps, cakes and sweets), alcohol, nuts and seeds, grains, pulses, vegetables not on the acceptable list (parsnips, potatoes, carrots, squash), dairy products (other than cheese, cream and butter), diet products, junk food and chewing gum. Atkins recommends starting with the induction diet for a two-week period, followed by an ongoing weight loss stage (called OWL - reminds me of Harry Potter), then premaintenance, and finally maintenance.

I should point out that the book is clearly written for an American audience. Although it's been "translated" into English, replacing ounces with grams and dollars with pounds, the chapters are peppered with phrases like "are you ready to be happy?", which makes me cringe, and want to leap, Tom Cruise-style, onto my sofa in equal parts. Throughout the book, they're keen to point out their scientific credentials: studies have shown that eating one or more eggs each day does no harm, although I wonder what they mean by one 'or more' and how many you would have to eat before you did do yourself some harm? I also read that this is based on an old-fashioned diet, when refined flour and sugar wasn't available. Which sounds good until you realise that lots of the restricted things on the list were available before, like rice, potatoes and fruit. Atkins also advocates adding salt to your diet - like half a teaspoon a day. And it recognises that the lack of fruit means that you miss out on vital nutrients, so they recommend you supplement with vitamins.

My trip to the supermarket today included a load of ingredients that I've never bought before - rye flour, ricotta and marscapone, cream of tartare, as well as a shedload of eggs and three different types of fish. I'm going to make the courgette loaf and the rye bread from the Atkins cookbook, as well as the peanut butter cookies, so that I have some food for breakfast and snacks. Luckily, we stayed in a hotel last night, so I had a huge plate of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast, plus a home-made chicken salad for lunch, and chicken sausages for supper. Two cheese snacks and a plate of asparagus later, and my pee'll stink as badly as my breath!


  1. Goodness, we are doing the same idea almost completely simultaneously (have a swatch at if you are bored out of your brain).

    Mental, there was nothing on the net then all of a sudden, two of us!!!

    It's a bit of a lark though eh (I'm finding it hard to get the time to reading all the books though)?

    I'm about to hoist myself onto the scales for tomorrows weigh in for the Paul McKenna diet (it's week 5 of the diets).

    Did Atkins on week 3, my pee smelled of Chicken.

    Keep up the 52 diet faith and the writing!

    All the best
    Fat Mark

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