The Atkins Diet is a popular weight loss plan that focuses on a low-carb diet. Weight loss will vary person to person, but overall, most low-carb diets result in fairly quick weight loss. There are a few phases of the Atkins diet with the first initial phase being the most difficult. The induction phase or first phase of the diet may come with some typical side effects of very low carb diets. These could include: headache, moodiness, bad breath, fatigue, changes in your bowels, nausea, and mental fatigue. Although the first phase of the Atkins is difficult, it'll be worthwhile in the long run.
EditDealing with Side Effects of the Atkins Diet
- Drink coffee and tea. One typical side effects of following a very low-carb diet like the Atkins diet is putting your body into ketosis. This is where your body uses ketones for energy instead of it's usual glucose (a carbohydrate). Headaches are one of the most common side effects of headaches.
- An easy and all natural way to help fight headaches is to sip on a caffeinated beverage. Studies have shown that caffeine is a promising headache reliever.
- Many times, headaches are from enlarged blood vessels in the brain pushing on your skull. Caffeine serves as a vasoconstrictor and makes those enlarged blood vessels become smaller and more narrow and thus relieving your pain.
- Caffeine works quickly and you may notice some relief within 30 minutes. In addition, the effects may last up to three to five hours.
- Both tea and coffee are sources of caffeine with coffee being higher in caffeine. Most 8 oz cups of coffee have around 80 – 200 mg of caffeine. Try drinking one to two cups for headache relief.
- Although you can find caffeine in drinks like sodas, sports drinks, and energy drinks, these are generally not on the approved beverage list for the Atkin's diet.
- Try over-the-counter medications. In addition to headache, ketosis and low-carb diets may also make you feel a little nauseous or change your bowel habits up. Try taking some OTC medications to help relieve any of these side effects.
- If drinking a hot cup of joe doesn't help with your headaches, try taking an OTC headache medications. These are generally safe for most healthy people and will provide you with some relief. In addition, look for a headache medication that contains caffeine as this helps the medication work more quickly and effectively.
- If you experience any constipation or diarrhea you may want to consider taking some OTC medications for these side effects as well. Take a gentle laxative or stool softener at the first sign of constipation. If you let constipation go for too long, it can get worse and require more aggressive treatment like an enema.
- Nausea is another side effect that can make the first few days or weeks of the Atkins's diet difficult. Drink fluids often to help prevent nausea. Try hot ginger tea, club soda or ginger ale but avoid dairy products as these can make nausea worse. You can also take an OTC anti-nausea medication for additional help.
- Stock up on mints and sugar-free gum. Another temporary side effect of the Atkin's first diet phase is bad breath. Again, this is typically due to ketosis, but can be remedied very easily.
- Brushing your teeth on a regular basis is always a good way to prevent bad breath. Consider purchasing a small travel-size toothbrush and toothpaste to keep with you in your purse, car or office. Brush more often and make sure to brush the back of your tongue thoroughly.
- There are some mouthwashes that are also formulated with antibacterials to help get rid of bad breath as well.
- In addition to a more rigorous dental hygiene program, consider sucking on sugar-free mints or chewing sugar-free gum. Make sure to check the sugar and carb content to ensure they'll fit into your diet.
- Do minimal physical activity. Being a little tired, fatigued or having some mental fogginess on the first few days or week of the Atkin's diet is common as well. Limit your physical activity until these side effects have passed.
- Due to the fact that Atkins is a diet that is restrictive, especially on carbs, it is essential that you do not overdo it physically.
- It's typically recommended to do about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical cardio plus one to two days of strength training each week. This might be too much right at the beginning of your diet. Instead of doing moderate-intensity cardio, try doing the same amount of low intensity cardio. Activities like walking or a leisurely bike ride might be more easy (and fun) to do while you're doing a very strict diet.
- Exercise may also help you keep a positive mindset on this difficult part of the diet.
- Go to bed earlier. It's not surprising to feel a little tired or even a little moody the first few days of the Atkin's diet. Get enough sleep to help blunt these effects.
- You typically need about seven to nine hours of sleep each night. If you don't currently get this amount, you might really notice that fatigue or mental fogginess common to low-carb diets.
- Try going to bed earlier each day your on the first phase of the Atkin's diet. Stay in bed later if you can as well.
- Build a support group. With any diet it is helpful to have a support group to encourage and motivate you to stay on track.
- Many studies have shown that regardless of the diet type, dieters that had friends or family members supporting them did much better with their diet and lost more weight compared to those without a support group.
- Tell friends or family members about the Atkin's diet and your goal to lose weight. Ask if they would support you and even ask if they'd be interested in joining you.
- In addition, the Atkin's diet has many options of support on it's own website. Check it out for more support resources.
- Build a support group. With any diet there will be challenges. Having a support group can provide you with the motivation and encouragement to stick to your new diet plan.
- Ask friends, family members or coworkers to be your support group. Tell them about your new diet and long-term weight goals. They may even want to join you.
- A support group can also help you with the mental difficulties of following a diet. It can be challenging day after day to stick to a more strict plan like the Atkin's diet.
- Studies show that those people who have a support group can follow a diet longer, stick to the plan and lose more weight than those who do not.
- Start a journal. Journaling about your new diet and long-term goals can be a great coping mechanism for the difficulties that sometimes come along with following a diet. Sometimes the act alone of journal ling is enough to keep you sane and accountable to yourself.
- Use a pen and notebook, journaling app or online site to start your journal. You don't have to journal everyday, but it might help you get all you thoughts out on paper.
- You can also use your journal to keep track of your weight progress or food journal throughout your Atkin's diet.
EditStarting the Atkins Diet
- Review allowed foods and approved recipes. Whenever you're starting a new diet, it's important to have a full understanding of exactly what you're allowed to have and what you're not. This will make your transition to the diet much easier.
- The Atkins diet is a very specific type of low-carb diet. It's divided into four phases with a specific list of approved foods and serving sizes in each phase.
- In phase one, you're allowed to have: full-fat cheese, fats and oils, fish and seafood, poultry, eggs, meat, herbs and non-starchy and green vegetables (known as foundation vegetables).
- Stock up on these foods in your home so that you have all the approved foods at your fingertips to prepare meals and snacks.
- Eat every two to three hours. Eating every few hours is a good way to prevent hunger, but is also a recommendation made specifically by the first phase of the Atkins diet.
- This diet recommends eating three meals daily plus two snacks or going for five to six small meals a day. Do not go more than three hours without eating.
- Waiting a long time in-between meals or skipping snacks can make you more hungry and more likely to eat an unapproved food since you're so starving.
- Pack meals and snacks in advance to keep with you at all times. This can help prevent a situation where it's time to eat, you're hungry but have nothing that fits into the phase one approved foods list.
- Eat the right amount of carbohydrates. During each phase of the Atkins diet you'll notice they provide you with a very specific amount of carbohydrates to eat each day. It's important to follow this guideline strictly.
- The first phase of the diet limits you to a total of 20 g of carbs daily. It recommends not going above the 20 g of carbs daily, but also ensuring you eat at least 18 g of carbs daily.
- Eating less than 18 g of carbs daily doesn't increase or speed up your weight loss and also most likely means you're not eating enough of your foundation vegetables.
- Spread your 20 g of carbs throughout the day. This can help keep you feeling a little more even keel throughout the day. If you spend all 20 g of carbs at breakfast, you may notice more of those low-carb diet side effects in the afternoon.
- Drink adequate fluid. The Atkin's diet along with most other diets recommend consuming adequate amounts of fluid each day.
- Water is essential for your general health even when you're on a diet. In addition, drinking adequate fluids as mentioned before can help combat nausea and constipation associated with a very low-carb diet.
- The Atkins diet recommends drinking eight 8-oz glasses of fluid each day. However, more general recommendations suggest drinking up to 13 glasses of water daily. This will depend on your age, gender and activity level.
- You shouldn't feel thirsty throughout the day and your urine should be very pale yellow by the end of the day if you're adequately hydrated.
- Consider taking supplements. The Atkins diet suggest staying in phase one for at least two weeks or until you're about 10 – 15 pounds from your goal weight. If you have a more significant amount of weight to lose, you might consider taking some dietary supplements.
- The first phase of the Atkins diet is very limited and cuts out several food groups (like fruits, starchy vegetables and grains). If you plan on staying on this phase for an extended period of time, it might be a good idea to take some dietary supplements to help prevent any nutrient deficiencies.
- A great "backup" vitamin is a general multivitamin. Take one a day to help cover a variety of your nutrients each day.
- You may also want to consider taking 500 – 1000 mg of calcium daily since many dairy foods are restricted.
- Don’t forget to get 12 to 15 grams of carbs per day from foundation vegetables. The fiber in vegetables will help you to feel full longer.
- Feeling tired, cranky and shaky on the first few days of Atkins is common. You can curb this by drinking plenty of fluids, taking vitamins and focusing on B12 for energy and withdrawal symptoms.
- Always talk to your doctor before starting any new diet program. Also, talk to your doctor if any symptoms do not go away or are making you physically ill or uncomfortable.
- Pick Atkins Diet Products
- Fight Carbohydrate Cravings on Atkins
- Avoid the Pit Falls of the Atkins Diet
- Use Dr. Atkins' Diet as a Vegetarian or Vegan