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How Much Protein Can Be Eaten on the Atkins Diet?

by
author image J.M. Andrews
J.M. Andrews has been a professional journalist for more than 20 years. She specializes in health and medical content for consumers and health professionals. Andrews' background in medicine and science has earned her credits in a wide range of online and print publications, including "Young Physicians" magazine.
How Much Protein Can Be Eaten on the Atkins Diet?
The Atkins diet features protein as a major component. Photo Credit steak image by tomcat2170 from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

If you know much about the Atkins weight-loss diet, you may think of it as a high-protein diet--and you'd be right. The Atkins diet allows seemingly unlimited quantities of protein. However, to get the full benefits of the Atkins diet plan, you need to consume carefully calculated amounts of carbohydrates along with that protein.

Significance

The Atkins diet aims to stop your body from burning carbohydrates for energy and change your body's metabolism so that you burn fat for energy instead. By changing the balance of what you eat to focus far more heavily on protein and far less on carbohydrates, the Atkins theory states, you can retrain your body to burn the fat in your diet and the fat stored in your body for energy.

Diet Beginning

When you first start the Atkins diet, you can eat all the protein you want. The diet does not place a limit on protein consumption. This means you can enjoy all types of fish, including salmon, tuna, trout and sardines, all types of poultry, such as chicken, duck, goose and even pheasant, and all types of meat, including beef and pork. However, you need to watch prepared meats, such as bacon and ham, because they can contain carbohydrates in the form of added sugar. In the initial stages of the diet, you can't eat unlimited cheese or other dairy products because they also contain some carbohydrates.

Middle Diet Phases

As you move along in the Atkins diet and continue to lose weight, you can add in different types of proteins, according to the diet's official website, Atkins.com. You still can eat all the unprocessed meat, poultry and fish you want, which gives you access to unlimited protein. But you can also consume limited amounts of different types of protein-containing foods that also contain some carbohydrates. For example, in phase two of the diet, you can eat about 3/4 cup of ricotta cheese or cottage cheese each day, and you can eat about 30 almonds in a day.

Balancing

Once you reach the maintenance phase of the Atkins diet, you can continue to eat as much protein as you want in the form of plain meat, poultry and fish. You can eat protein from other foods that also contain carbohydrates, such as cheese, nuts and processed meats, as long as you continue to track the carbohydrates you consume. In the Atkins diet maintenance phase, you will need to make sure you keep your carbohydrate consumption low enough so that you don't begin to gain weight again.

Considerations

High-protein consumption in the Atkins diet could promote some health problems, such as higher cholesterol levels, according to the nutrition department at Northwestern University. In addition, people who eat as much protein as they want, as the Atkins diet encourages, might risk developing the painful disease gout or even kidney stones. High-protein diets also lack some important nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D.

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