FAQ

What kind of sweeteners do you recommend?

A main goal of the Atkins Nutritional Approach is to stabilize blood sugar (glucose) and insulin levels through the restriction of carbohydrates. Sugar is a carbohydrate, so it is strictly limited. Controlling carbs naturally curbs sugar cravings. However, if you still crave sweets, Atkins suggest you use a sugar substitute. The prudent, moderate use of artificial sweeteners is usually acceptable. But be aware that not all sugar substitutes are created equal. Atkins recommend specific sweeteners that are safe and will not interfere with weight loss. Some people experience negative reactions to certain sweeteners, and the risk increases with the amount used. With all artificial sweeteners, the less used, the better. Atkins preference is sucralose, marketed under the name Splenda™. Derived from sugar, it is non-caloric, contains less than 1 gram of carbs and doesn't raise blood sugar. It has been used in Canada since 1991 and has been thoroughly tested for safety and efficacy. Sucralose is approximately 600 times sweeter than sugar. It is inert in the body's digestive system, quickly passing through without accumulating in tissues. In addition, it does not lose its sweetness when heated, so it can be used in cooking and baking. If Splenda™ is not available, saccharin is the next best thing. It can be safely consumed in moderate amounts�no more than three packets a day. Saccharin is marketed as Sweet 'n Low™. Acesulfame potassium, also known as acesulfame-K, another non-caloric sweetener, is approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar. Because it cannot be metabolized, it passes through the body without elevating blood sugar. Avoid natural sweetners such as fructose, lactose or maltose.

Can I have diet fizzy drinks while doing Atkins?

Spring, mineral or filtered tap water and herb teas are your best fluid options. If you must have soda, avoid caffeinated colas and look for brands, such as Diet Rite, sweetened with sucralose. Be sure to add any carbohydrates in these drinks to your daily carb count.

How do I know how much sugar substitute to use when adapting recipes?

Generally, one packet of any sugar substitute has the sweetening power of two teaspoons of sugar. Splenda™, which is a combination of sucralose and maltodextrin, comes in packets ideal for sweetening tea or decaf coffee. It also comes in a granulated form, which can be substituted for sugar, measure for measure. Simply substitute it for sugar, spoon for spoon or cup for cup, in your favorite recipes. Keep in mind that all sugar substitutes contain about 0.9 gram of carbohydrate, which you should count as 1 gram. Be sure to account for the amount you use in recipes in your daily carb count.

What is ketosis?

Ketosis is really a shortening of the term lipolysis/ketosis. Lipolysis simply means that you're burning your fat stores and using them as the source of fuel they were meant to be. The by-products of burning fat are ketones, so ketosis is a secondary process of lipolysis. When your body releases ketones in your urine, it is chemical proof that you.re consuming your own stored fat. And the more ketones you release, the more fat you have dissolved. If you are restricting the amount of carbohydrates you eat, your body turns to fat as its alternative source of energy. In effect, lipolysis/ketosis has replaced the alternative of burning glucose for energy. Both are perfectly normal processes.

Why can't I consume alcohol when I am doing Atkins?

You should not drink alcohol during Induction, but you can drink moderate amounts of alcohol during the Ongoing Weight Loss, Pre-Maintenance and Lifetime Maintenance phases of the Atkins Nutritional Approach. When given the choice, your body will burn alcohol for energy before it burns fat. But alcohol does not act as a carbohydrate so it will not interfere with burning fat in the same way that sugars and other carbohydrates do. Alcohol consumption may also increase yeast-related symptoms, such as bloating, gas and cravings for sweets, and can therefore interfere with weight loss. Beer, which contains yeast, probably has the most yeast-forming components of any alcohol. An occasional glass of wine or vodka is the best choice. Scotch and other grain-based spirits are more likely to promote yeast problems. Note: Use only mixers that contain no sugar or fruit juices. Even tonic water contains carbs. Sparkling Water, mineral water and diet sodas are better alternatives.

Since beginning Atkins, I am often constipated. How can I avoid this?

Some constipation is common during the first week of the Induction phase. This is due to the change in diet, especially the reduction of fruit and vegetable fiber. Be sure that you are taking in at least three cups of salad vegetables and not using your carb allotment on other foods. After the first few days, your body should adjust and constipation shouldn't be a problem. And when you begin to add more carbohydrates, your first choices should be more vegetables, followed by seeds and nuts and berries. If constipation continues, there are several remedies. First, make sure you are drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Inadequate hydration is the main reason for constipation. Most people, especially women, don't drink enough water and are slightly dehydrated much of the time. Second, consume some supplementary fiber in the form of wheat bran sprinkled on a salad, psyllium husks mixed with water or ground flaxseed blended into a protein drink. The amount needed to stay regular varies from person to person. Start with a tablespoonful. It may take a few days to find the amount that works for you. Do be careful not to use too much fiber; in excess, it can actually act as a binder. Finally, increasing physical activity often helps.

I am unable to get into ketosis even when I consume no carbohydrate. What should I do?

Some people do not produce enough ketones to show up in their urine. If you are experiencing a reduction in your appetite and an improvement in well-being and are losing weight or your clothes are feeling looser, there is no need to do anything differently. Remember, the lipolysis testing strips (LTS) are tools; making them change color is not the sole object following a controlled carb program. If you are not losing weight, you either have a strong metabolic resistance to weight loss or you are consuming "hidden" carbohydrates in the form of sweetened salad dressing, breading, etc. In this case, follow Induction strictly for five days. If the LTS still haven't changed even slightly, make sure you are not consuming excess protein and measure your salads to make sure you are not eating too many veggies. Still no change? Try cutting out tomatoes and onions, which are relatively high on the glycemic index. You may also benefit from nutritional supplements such as L-carnitine, hydroxycitric acid (HCA), and chromium�all of which aid in hunger reduction or weight loss. You may also need to step up the frequency and intensity of your exercise sessions. Note: Metabolic resistance can be increased by some medications. Also, some people with excessive insulin resistance are slower starters; patience is sometimes required.

I lost weight on Induction and for the first few months on Ongoing Weight Loss, but now the scale just won't budge. How do I get off this plateau?

First, before you assume there is a problem, ask yourself some questions: Are you feeling better? Are your clothes fitting better? (You may be losing inches, not pounds, because muscle weighs more than fat.) Are you still losing, but at a slower rate? You may just need to continue a bit longer, making slight modifications. These include: Decreasing the number of grams of carbohydrate you are consuming by 5 or 10 grams. Increasing the amount of fat and decrease protein. Finding and eliminating "hidden" carbs in the form of lemon juice, processed foods or medications that may contain sugar. Increasing your activity level. Consider replacing new medications that may affect your metabolism, such as hormone replacement therapy or antidepressants, after consultation with your physician. Drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. Cutting back on artificial sweeteners, cheese or excess protein.

Is it okay to drink light beer, which is lower in grams of carbohydrates? If you have yeast-related problems, such as bloating, gas, a coated tongue or cravings for sugar, you should limit beer or eliminate it from your diet. Otherwise, after Induction, you can drink light beer as long as it does not make you gain weight or stall your weight-loss efforts.

Could eating Atkins Advantage Bars be impeding my weight loss?

This varies by individual. If you have reached a plateau and are not losing weight, try omitting the bars until weight loss resumes. Alternatively, you could exercise more to burn the extra calories or try eating only half a bar. Remember, each bar contains approximately 220 calories and these added calories could be affecting your overall weight loss. The controlled carb way of eating has an advantage over low-fat diets in that you can take in more calories and still lose more weight, but don't regard that as a license to overeat.

I thought I wasn't supposed to be hungry on Atkins, but I am?

If you're hungry, eat; if you're starving, you should have eaten 30 minutes ago. Just as overeating can cause your body to resist weight loss so can under-eating because it slows down your metabolism. Eat adequate amounts of food and eat regularly. Also, be sure to eat enough fat (the natural kinds); foods containing fat and protein are the most satiating. Not eating enough fat will also interfere with your body's ability to burn its own fat for energy.

Why do have I have such terrible headaches while on Atkins?

Your headaches could be caused by a number of things related to the change in your eating patterns. The most common reason for headaches is caffeine withdrawal. If you were a big coffee or caffeinated soda drinker, this is very likely the cause of your headaches. You can take aspirin or Ibuprofen for relief. Withdrawal from sugar and other carbohydrates can also cause headaches. If the cause is withdrawal, the headaches should stop after a few days. Another common cause of headaches is food sensitivities. Are you now eating more of any food to which you might be sensitive? Foods and ingredients that frequently cause reactions include dairy products, nitrates (found in processed meats, for example) and anything that's fermented, cured or smoked. If so, eliminate all the potential culprits by eating only natural, whole foods such as fresh meat, poultry, fish and vegetables for three or four days. After that, reintroduce one new food every 48 hours. Keep a food diary so you can document your reaction to each and determine which one might be causing the headaches. Yet another possibility is that you are skipping meals. Doing so can trigger a drop in blood sugar that will often bring on a headache. Finally, are you taking your supplements of multivitamins and essential oils? Are you drinking enough water? Essential oils act as an anti-inflammatory agent, preventing headaches. (Headaches may also be caused by inflammation in the head or neck area or a nutrient deficiency.) Headaches can also be one of the first signs of dehydration. So make sure to consume at least eight 8-ounce glasses each day. If none of these recommendations give you relief, try seeing a chiropractor or osteopathic doctor to rule out a structural problem, such as poor posture or a pinched nerve.

I am a diabetic. Can i follow the Atkins Nutritional Approach?

Controlling carbohydrate intake has been shown to regulate blood-sugar levels and insulin production, therefore diminishing the need for medications. Of course, with any medical condition such as this, close medical supervision is essential, especially if you are already taking medications. Dosage will need to be adjusted as you limit your carb intake. Losing weight and controlling carbohydrate intake will also reverse or moderate insulin resistance. Many people are able to get off or avoid medications completely (with the exception of Type 1 diabetics); others will need to maintain a minimum dosage.

Why is caffeine unacceptable in the Atkins Nutritional Approach?

Excess caffeine can drop blood sugar levels and leave you craving sweets. If you're addicted to caffeine, you must give it up. The best way to do this is to segue from the high-octane stuff to decaf by gradually adding decaf to your full-force brew until you are drinking straight decaf, which you can enjoy with cream. Water-processed decaf is preferable because it does not use chemicals, as other decaffeinating processes do.

How many carbs does alcohol contain?

It varies by type of alcoholic drink. In the case of beer, read the label. For wine and spirits, refer to a carbohydrate gram counter. Wine usually contains about 2 grams of carbs per 3-ounce serving.

Why does Atkins have a metabolic advantage over low-fat weight-loss programmes?

The simple answer is that it takes more energy to burn fat for energy than it does to burn carbohydrate. Conventional thinking had been that the number of calories you consume (and expend) determines the use of storage of that energy. Eat fewer calories and use up more of them and you will lose weight. However, low-fat diets are hard to stay on and their high carbohydrate content often leads to food cravings and bingeing. In contrast, by controlling the intake of carbohydrates (carbs) and thus burning body fat for energy, individuals on Atkins can eat high fat, satisfying foods that contain more calories and still lose weight. That edge is called the metabolic advantage.

Is it true that Atkins works simply because it's a low-calorie diet?

No. While some people who do Atkins may eat fewer calories than before, it is not because the programme is restrictive or unduly limits food intake. They may be eating fewer calories because they are generally less hungry and less obsessed with food. On the other hand, studies show that someone doing Atkins can eat more calories than does a low-fat dieter - and lose more weight.

Can I do a low-fat version of Atkins?

Fat is the mechanism that makes controlled carbohydrate weight loss work. The Atkins Nutritional Approach teaches you how to use fat to your advantage. When you are doing Atkins, fat is your friend not only becasue it is satiating but also because it slows down the release of glucose into the blood. By moderating blood-sugar swings, fat reduces carbohydrate cravings. Dietary fat, in combination with controlled carbohydrate consumptions, accelerates the burning of stored body fat. When your body uses fat, rather than glucose for fuel, the metabolic process is called lipolysis. However, you do want to be sure to eat good fats. Natural, healthy fat is found in olives and olive oil, seeds, nuts, seed and nut oils and butters, avocado, and oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackeral as well as in butter. Saturated fat, found in meats, butter and coconut oil, poses no health risk when balanced with other fats such as polyunsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats. You will burn both dietary and body fat for energy when carbohydrate consumption is controlled and you stay at or beneath your carbohydrate threshold. the kinds of fat you should avoid are chemically altered, processed hydrogenated oils, which can be found in shortening, and most commercially packaged processed foods. Foods such as cookies, biscuits, pretzels, crisps, non-dairy creamers, cereals and baked goods often contain trans fats. Take time to read the ingredients list and avoid hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. Look for cold-pressed or expeller-pressed oils, and store them in a dark, cool place to keep them from going rancid or oxidizing. Also be sure not to burn oil or allow it to smoke while cooking. People who try to do their own low-fat version of Atkins will not only find themselves hungry; they also will not achieve the weight-loss results of those who consume healthy fats.

What are Polyols / Net Carbs?

Net Carbs are the carbohydrates that impact blood sugar and are theo nly carbs you need to count when you do Atkins. Not all carbohydrates have the same metabolic effect on our bodies. Ingredients such as polyols (e.g. glycerine and maltitol) have a minimal impact on blood-sugar levels compared to carbohydrates such as sugar and bleached flour. Not all countries measure carbohydrates the same way. For example, in the United States, fibre is considered a carbohydrate whereas in Europe and many other areas of the world, fibre is not considered a carbohydrate and is reported seperately on food labels. Net Carbs do not include fibre, nor do they include certains carbohydrates like polyols (including sugar alcohols), which act as sweeteners. Since food labels in the UK distinguish the fibre content from the carbohydrate content, if there are no sugar alcohols in a product, the number of grams of carbohydrates reported on the label is equal to the Net Carbs. If you are looking at labels on foods from countries that list fibre as a carbohydrate, make sure to subtract the fibre from the carbohydrate grams to get the Net Carb count. In the case of unprocessed foods such as vegetables and berries, you may need to use a carb gram counter. If you do, make sure to subtract the fibre from the total carbohydrate count if the gram counter includes fibre in its totals. When you look at the Nutritional Information panel on certain low carb products, you may see other ingredients listed under the overall heading of carbohydrates. As mentioned above, these can include polyols, which are further distinguished as sugar alcohols, such as maltitol and glycerine. Since none of these ingredients impact your blood sugar in any appreciable way, you can subtract the grams of carbohydrate in them from the total grams of carbohydrate in order to find out the number of grams of net Carbs. Atkins products list the grams of Net Carbs in the centre of the Atkins Seal on the frontof the package.

How can I get adequate fibre while doing Atkins?

Fibre is found in plant-based foods, such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. In the Induction phase of Atkins, when such carbohydrate foods are more restricted than in later phases of the Atkins programme, some people experience constipation. Supplementing with fibre is one way to relieve the problem. Fibre keeps your gastrointestinal tract working properly and helps lower cholesterol, among other benefits. A tablespoon or two of wheat or oat bran, psyllium husks or ground flaxseed will meet your fibre requirements during Induction when your total Net Carb intake is limited to 20 grams daily. Keep in mind that Fibre supplements must be taken with plenty of water.

You can eat a lot of eggs on Atkins. Isn't all that choleterol unhealthy?

If Atkins had to name a perfect food, the egg would be it. While many foods supply a handful of vitamins and minerals, eggs are nature's perfect food. The egg is one of the few foods that can provide all eight essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein (as well as choline). Since our bodies don't manufacture these eight substances, we have to get them through foods or supplements. The yolk of an egg is full of protein, so eating egg-white omelets, for example, means missing out on the most nutrient-dense part of the egg. More over, the cholesterol found in an egg will have no impact on your total blood cholesterol when following a controlled carbohydrate nutritional approach.

Do I need to exercise to lose weight on Atkins?

You may be able to lose weight without exercise, but it is not recommended. Exercise not only speeds weight loss, helps maintain a healthy weight and enhances muscle tone, it also offers a host of other health benefits, like a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood preasure, colon cancer and type 2 diabetes. Weight-bearing exercise is also essential to maintain bone mass in men amd women, especially as we age. Select a form of exercise that you enjoy. Whether walking, running, swimming, bicycling. You actually need to engage regularly in two kinds of exercise, Isometric, or dynamic, exercise is aerobic, meaning it increases the heart rate and the blood pressure. Swimming and brisk walking are good examples. Isotonic, or static, exercise such as weight lifting builds muscle, but does not significantly increase the heart rate. Any amount of increased activity is helpful, so start gradually and aim to move your body every day, whether it is walking through your neighbourhood, bicycling with the kids, or hitting the gym. Make an effort to add activity to your daily routine too. For example, take the stairs instead of the lift or get off the bus a few stops early.

What is the difference between a carbohydrate gram counter and the glycemic index?

A carbohydrate gram counter typically lists the total carbohydrate value of a food item. When doing Atkins, however, the only carbs that matter are net carbs, which are provided in Dr.Atkins New Carbohydrate Counter (Vermilion 2003) and at www.atkins.com/uk. The glycemic index is a mesure of how quickley a given carbohydrate raises your blood-sugar levels. You can use the glycemic index to choose carbohydrate foods that will have a relatively low impact on your blood sugar, but remember, when doing Atkins your total Net Carb intake is of utmost importance.

How long can I stay on Induction?

The longer you consume no more than 20 grams of Net Carbs daily, the more body fat you will burn. Depending on how much weight you need to lose, you can safely continue with Induction as long as the following three conditions are met: 1. Your blood chemistries, lipid values, blood pressure and blood-sugar levels continue ti improve or remain stable and within normal limits. 2.You feel well and are experiencing a high energy level, normal sleep patterns and stable moods. 3. You have excess body fat to lose and are not within 10 pounds of your goal weight. 4. You are not bored. Boredom could lead to cheating and undermine your efforts. However, it is important to understand that Induction is only the first phase of the Atkins Nutritional Approach. The ultimate goal of the programme is to advance from Induction through Ongoing Weight Loss and Pre-Maintenance, culminating in Lifetime Maintenance, which should become your permanent way of eating. By following these steps, you can find your Critical Carbohydrate Level for Losing (CCLL), also known as your carbohydrate threshold for losing and ultimately your Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium (ACE) the amount of net carbs you can consume daily without gaining or losing weight. Segueing from one phase to another will help you internalize healthy eating habits which will become your permanent way of eating. The Atkins lifestyle will help you maintain a healthy weight, feel good and decrease your risk factors for chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. That being said, if you have a great deal of weight to lose you can certainly stay on induction for up to six months. When you switch to Ongoing Weight Loss your rate of loss will naturally diminish. On the other hand if you have a modest weight loss goal say 20 pounds, and lose the first pounds rapidly, it is important to move through the more liberal phases so you can establish the good eating habits that will become part of your ongoing lifestyle and end yo-yo dieting.

If I stay at less than 20grams of net carbs a day, Why can't I eat some carbs in the form of a slice whole grainbread or even a chocolate bar?

There are two reasons this approach won't work. For one, all carbohydrates are not created equal. The Atkins Nutritional Approach is designed to prevent blood-sugar levels from spiking and causing the overproduction of insulin - a hormone that helps convert carbohydrates to body fat. The first carbohydrates you need to add back to your diet when you move beyond induction are more vegetables, then seeds and nuts, then berries and then -if you are still losing- small portions of legumes and grains. even bread made from 100% wholewheat flour contains enough refined carbs to produce this insulin-raising, fat storing effect in many people. Later if your weight loss is progressing well and you have increased your daily carb intake, you may eat an occasional slice of wholegraon bread. Secondly, Atkins is not just about rapid weight loss- it's about learning to eat only nutrient-dense carbohydrates for the rest of your life. These are foods that are packed with the most antioxidant vitamins and healthh phytochemicals relative to the amount of carbohydtates-so you're getting the best of both worlds. Once you are close to your goal weight and are approaching your threshold for carb consumption, if you are like most people you will be able to enjoy a slice of wholegrain bread, half a banana or even the occasional potatoe.

I lost weight on induction and for the first few months on Ongoing Weight Loss, but now the scales just won't budge. How do I get off this plateau?

First, before you assume there is a problem, ask yourself some questions: Are you feeling better? Are your clothes fitting better? (You may be losing inches not pounds, because muscle weighs more than fat.) Are you still losing, but at a slower rate? You may just need to continue a bit longer, making slight modifications. These include: 1. Decreasing the amount of net carbs you are consuming each day by 5 or 10 grams. Also be sure you are not taking in more grams of carbs than you think by neglecting to consult a carb gram counter or disregarding portion sizes. 2. Increasing the amount of fat and decreasing protein. 3. Finding and eliminating "hidden" carbs in the form of lemon juice, processed foods or over-the-counter medications (such as cough syrup) that may contain sugar. 4. Increasing your activity level. 5. Replacing new medications that may affect your metabolism, such as hormone replacement therapy or antidepressants, but only after consultation with your doctor. 6. Drinking at least eight 250ml glasses of water daily. 7. Cutting back on artificial sweeteners, cheese or excess protein.

I have been able to do Atkins succesfully, but now that I am in the pre-maintenance phase, my appetite has increased. Why and What can I do to manage it?

It can become more difficult to control your appetite when you are no longer primarily burning fat for energy. Or you may have added a food that may be de-stabilizing your blood sugar, contributing to hunger, or the re-emergence of cravings. Examine what foods you've recently added and determine if one of them contains sugars or refined grain. Be sure that you are maintaining a regular intake of protein and fat and if eating more of acceptable foods assuages your hunger, eat a bit more. If all else fails, stop the most recent additions until you get your appetite under control.

I am in the pre-maintenance phase. My weight varies by a few pounds every day. Is there any other way to determine when to stop increasing my weekly carb intake?

It's natural for your weight to vary from day to day, which is why we recommend you do not weigh your self every day, but from week to week, you should be seeing a difference in the way your clothes fit. For some people adding 10 additional grams of carbs each week to their daily menu may be too much. Try dropping back to 5 grams increments.

Can a vegetarian follow the Atkins Nutritional Approach?

While scientific research supports the advantages of consuming a diet that incorporates healthy quantities of poultry, fish, pork and beef, many individuals are committed to vegetarianism for a wide range of reasons. Atkins is a viable option for vegetarians - especially those who consume excess starch (refined grains, pasta, potatoes, crisps and other snack foods). By following a controlled carb vegetarian approach, individuals benefit from a more satisfying, nutrient-rich way of eating. Proteins, such as tofu, tempeh, seitan, eggs and cheese, nuts and seeds can be substituted for meat, poultry and fish. In addition to low-glycemic vegetables and fruits, lentils and other legumes, nuts and seeds are encouraged, depending on one's carbohydrate tolerance, known as the Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium (ACE). During Induction, vegetarians should pay special attention to their fat intake, being sure to use generous amounts of olive oil and other fats and enjoying appropriate foods, like avocados and olives, to ensure that they are consuming enough calories. Vegetarians should also take advantage of Atkins' array of low carb products, many of which are made from soy.

I'm still hungry while doing Atkins. Why?

If you're hungry, eat! If you're starving, you should have eaten 30 minutes ago. Just as overeating can cause your body to resist weight loss, so can eating too little, which slows down your metabolism. Eat adequate amounts of food and eat regulary. Also be sure to eat enough fat (the natural kinds, like olive oil, fatty fish and avocado). Foods containing fat and protein are the most satiating. Not eating enough fat will also interfere with your body's ability to burn its own fat for energy.

I always eat too much during the holidays and inevitably leave the table overstuffed. How can i avoid this situation?

Most of us spend hours at the dinner table during the holidays. It's easy to overdo it - and combining protein and fats with too many carbohydrates can lead to indigestion. The key to feeling well after holiday meals is to create an eating strategy. 1. Stick to fats and protein-rich foods: They are far more satiating than carbohydrates, and can help you avoid overeating. Sugary foods and other refined carbs are more apt to cause indigestion. So load up on turkey - but pass on the stuffing; or if you simply can't resist it, have a small portion. Instead, focus on nutrient-dense carbs such as leafy green vegetables. 2. Odd as it sounds, a good strategy is to eat a small meal before attending holiday dinners or other parties. All too often, people skip lunch because they know they will be sitting down to a big dinner. But you're better off having a meal or a filling snack so you can get you blood sugar under control before you face an array of tempting carbohydrate foods. 3. Drink plenty of water: Not only will drinking water help you feel full; it also helps you flush toxins from your body. 4. Don't deny yourself completely: Giving yourself an occassional treat - within your carbohydrate threshold - is part of the Atkins programme.

How much water should a person doing Atkins drink?

On any eating regimen, the usual recommendation is a minimum of 2000ml, or eight 250ml glasses, of water per day. Many people, particulary women, suffer from inadequate hydration, so it is important to be diligent about drinking water throughout the day. Drinking sufficient water will also help flush toxins from your body and combat such problems as constipation and bad breath. Note that coffee, tea and diet sodas do not apply to the daily minimum, but should be considered supplemental. Adequate hydration also assists with weight loss.

Can i drink milk when doing Atkins?

Not in the Induction phase. Milk is not permitted because it contains too many carbohydrates, including lactose, a natural sugar. If you're craving milk, try diluting heavy cream with water, as a substitute. Although cream is almost 100% fat, it does contain some lactose, so most people need to limit their intake to a maximum of 120ml daily to lose weight. (Be sure to count the carbs.) If you're not losing weight as quickly as you'd like, limit cream intake to no more than 50ml daily. When you are maintaining your weight, you can drink moderate amounts of whole milk.

Can i drink fruit or vegetable juices while doing Atkins?

Not during Induction. When the fibre is removed and there is a more concentrated source of the vegetable or fruit, as in juice, it may have a more profound impact on blood sugar and therefore should be avoided on Induction. Tomato and most vegetable juices are acceptable in later phases, as is grapefruit juice by the time you reach Pre-Maintenance.

After months of following Atkins, i started cheating. What's the best way to get back on plan?

When someone "cheats," they often experience carbohydrate cravings by unstable blood-sugar levels. The first thing you need to do is go back on Induction for a week or so to get your blood-sugar level under control. When you are no longer craving foods high in carbohydrates and your energy level feels stable , you can move beyond Induction again. Pay careful attention to what happened that led you to "fall off the wagon" and make sure not to let it happen again. This experience can be useful, if it teaches you to limit future episodes, providing another tool to assist you in Lifetime Maintenance. But don't fall into the trap of being too strict and denying yourself completely; this could lead to more cheating. Giving yourself an occasional treat - within your carbohydrate threshold - is part of the Atkins programme.

I've heard that doing Atkins will give me more energy, but since i've started the programme i feel weak and lethargic. Why and what can i do?

The first thing you must do is check with your doctor and make sure these symptoms aren't the result of a medical condition. If nothing is medically wrong, you may be suffering carbohydrate withdrawal as you start the Induction phase. Headaches, irritability, nausea, dizziness and fatigue are the most common symptoms. If you have a tendency to get migraines, carbohydrate withdrawal may trigger them. If you're going to experience withdrawal, it generally starts within 12 hours of changing your diet. Fortunately, it generally doesn't last more than four or five days, although occasionally it can last up to a week. If you're not taking multi-vitamin, such as Atkins Basic 3, sometimes taking supplement is all you need to address the fatigue. It's important to understand that your body has been running on a glucose (sugar) metabolism all your life. Glucose is the body's preferred source of fuel because it burns fast. Atkins sets up an alternative metabolic pathway for producing energy : you switch from a primarily glucose metabolism to a fat metabolism. Withdrawal occurs during the adaptation period in which that switch takes place. Until you adapt to this new fuel source, you may feel tired, have headaches or experience other symptoms. When your body becomes accustomed to burning fat for fuel, these symptoms should go away. In the meantime, you may alleviate them by increasing your carb intake slightly. Do this by eating more vegetables, such as salad greens, spinach and broccoli. Once your body adjusts and symptoms have abated, reduce your Net Carb intake to 20 grams per day again. One way to keep your energy up is to eat snacks rich in protein and fat throughout the day. At home, try a slice of turkey or cream cheese on celery. On the go, pack some cheese cubes, almonds or an Atkins Advantage Bar. Some people try the Atkins programme for three or four days and then give up, which never gives their bodies the chance to make that metabolic switch. You don't start to burn fat until about the fifth day of the programme. Once you switch to a fat metabolism and your body adapts, you should feel energized. Most people say they get a "rush" after four days.

How will doing Atkins help to lower my cholesterol?

There are two sources of energy to fuel our bodies : glucose (sugar) and fat. When you sufficiently restrict carbohydrates you will force your body to predominantly burn fat for energy. When you burn dietary fat for energy, it is metabolizes rather than gets stored and therefore poses no serious health risks. Your stored body fat is also burned. That's why not long after you start doing Atkins, a blood test will reveal a lower level of triglycerides, which will bring down your total cholesterol and raise your good (HDL) cholesterol.

Since starting Atkins, i have bad breath. Can i use breath mints? Any other suggestions?

Lipolysis, the process during which your body primarily burns fat as fuel rather than glucose, generates ketones, the by-products of fat breakdown that are released in your breath and your urine. While this can be annoying, the good news is that ketone breath is chemical proof that you're burning stored fat. Drinking plenty of water helps dilute the concentration of ketones. Parsley, too, is a natural breath freshener as is oil of peppermint drops available at health food stores. (Read the label to ensure that it contains no sugar.) Chewing fresh parsley or taking sugar free capsules, which can be found in any health food or chemist, will also help. As long as you drink enough water, the bad breath caused by ketosis usually lasts only a few weeks.

Since i have started doing Atkins i have had terrible leg cramps. How can i alleviate them?

During the first week of Induction, some people experience a strong diuretic effect. When you lose a large amount of water as you do at the start of any weight-loss programme, you also lose electrolytes, which contain the minerals potassium, magnesium and calcium, resulting in leg cramps. To replace these vital nutrients, salt your food to taste and take a mineral supplement that includes calcium, magnesium and potassium, such as Atkins Basic 3.

What medications interfere with or need to be adjused while i am doing Atkins?

You will need to stop taking unnecessary over-the-counter medications, such as cough syrup or cough drops, with added sugar. Many prescription medications also inhibit weight loss, among them birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy, steroids and anti-arthritis medications, beta-blockers and antidepressants. Talk to your doctor to see if an alternative approach can be found. There are also several categories of drugs that can cause adverse effects when taken while on a controlled carbohydrate eating plan. First are the diuretics, because reducing your carbohydrate intake alone can have a dramatic diuretic effect. Second, since Atkins is so effective at lowering high blood sugar, people who take insulin or oral diabetes medications that control blood sugar can end up with dangerously low blood-sugar levels. Your health care provider will need to closely supervise and possibly adjust your dosage, since the weight-loss phases of Atkins will naturally normalise your blood-sugar levels. In combination with the pharmaceuticals you are taking, you could put yourself at risk for hypoglycemia. Third, Atkins has a strong blood-pressure lowering effect and can easily convert blood pressure medications into an overdose. If you are currently taking any of these medications, you will need your doctor's help to adjust your dosages. Be aware that overmedication may not occur immediately. Blood pressure may not fall until enough weight is lost. Monitoring your own blood pressure is helpful so you can notify your doctor if the pressure drops too low.

I have kidney stones. Will doing Atkins cause an attack?

There is no evidence to indicate that people who do Atkins suffer a greater frequency of kidney stone attacks that people who follow another dietary regimen. If you have kidney stones, however, you must observe the rule about drinking eight or more glasses of water per day. Continue to see your doctor regularly so that he or she can monitor your condition.

Doesn't all the protein you eat when doing Atkins cause kidney and liver problems?

There are no studies showing that Atkins causes kidney or liver problems in healthy individuals. Reserch trials that looked at liver, kidney and heart function in participants on low carbohydrate diets similar to the Atkins approach showed no negative effects. Of course, patients who are already suffering from advanced kidney disease are restricted in everything they consume, including water, so Atkins would not be appropriate for them.

I suspect i may have an underactive thyroid. Could that be why it is so difficult for me to lose weight?

Your thyroid gland's main function is to regulate the speed of your metabolism. So it is not difficult to understand that if it is underactive - the medical word is hypothyroid - your slowed metabolism makes you more resistant to weight loss. To find out whether you have hypothyroidism, your doctor will do blood tests to evaluate your production of thyroid hormones T4 (also known as thyroxine) and T3 (your body converts T4 to T3), as well as another hormone called TSH. However, these clinical tests do not catch all cases. First think about whether your are experiencing any of the signs of an underactive thyroid. These include sensitivity to cold, weight gain, hair loss, fatigue and lethargy, depression, dry skin, chronic constipation, poor nails, poor memory and elevated cholesterol levels. If so, use the Barnes technique of basal metabolism to ascertain if you are hypothyroid. Simply take your temperature orally four times a day (before each meal and before you go to bed) for four days. Average your temperature each day, and if it is consistently below 36.7 degrees Celcius, you are likely to have a sluggish thyroid. If it is significantly lower, you should bring this information to the attention of your GP, who will likely prescribe thyroid hormone replacement therapy. (Do be aware that not all doctors take basal metabolism as seriously as they should.)